Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Northwest Ohio, 1972-73

My earliest memories trace an elliptical orbit around two places: Lima and Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

If you ask me where the first place is that I remember living, my mind goes to this house on North Main Street in Lima:

That picture’s from sometime in 1972-73. (Here’s what the house looked like in summer 2012.)

But I also have many memories of the farm and house in Upper Sandusky where my mom grew up, since we lived there while my dad was serving in Korea in 1971 and ’72. While I can remember several things about being there, I can’t say that I recall having a sense of home in those memories, the way I do about the house in Lima.

That’s me and my maternal grandfather, Reuben Schoenberger. Here’s another one:

The pieces I remember from the farm and the farmhouse are mostly sensory snapshots: The smell of dirt and wood and oil in the barn, and the pile of gravel behind it where I played; sitting on the metal cover to something in the yard (a well, maybe, or a cistern?); the place under the front porch where I crawled with the family dog, Alfie; the pattern on the kitchen floor; the yard and the long driveway tucked into the cornfields.

That’s me and my grandma Joan and Alfie. I can remember that tricycle seeming huge – it had a double-decker step on the back! and needing those block-and-band accessories to reach the pedals. (Those things had a long life: after I outgrew needing them on the tricycle, they went into the box of toy blocks that lasted through me and my brothers.)

Now let’s go back to Lima.

I seem to think this area was just off the kitchen, at the back of the house. I still remember exactly how that rug felt under my hands and knees, and beneath the wheels of my toys. The wooden toy box in the background? My grandpa made it, and I still have it. And I remember taking everything out of it and making a complete mess of the room so that I could sit in it.

This was my parents’ second car (according to the back of the picture). Again, I can remember the texture of the seats. At some point, the Bug developed a hole in the backseat floor, and I wasn’t allowed to ride there. I loved two things in particular about the car: riding with the top down, and pushing the button that made the windshield washers squirt. This latter activity was most fun when carried out unsupervised with my best friend, Alberto – he’s in the middle of the photo below:

Alberto and his family lived next door, and it seems like every interaction I remember between our families involved laughing. Also, I could eat his mom’s homemade tortillas by the dozen. Man, they were good.

Finally, a trio of seasonal pictures, starting with me and mom in winter:

Summer. (I don’t know who that guy is, but I loved that swinging pole thing, and I love the ’70s feel of this picture.)

And fall. Me and my trike and our dog, Punkin.

Punkin got lost for a couple days once. I think I remember dad saying he found her out in a field by some railroad tracks.

Larger versions of these pictures – and a couple others – are in this Flickr photoset.

February 11, 2014 Posted by | 1970s, Family history, Ohio, photos | , , , , | 2 Comments

U.S. 30 – There And Back Again

Earlier this month, my mom and I took a day trip across the state – mostly on U.S. Route 30 – to catch up with some friends we haven’t seen in a long time.

Oddly enough, I started my day here

Cairo, Ohio

– then drove several hours and wound up here:

Cairo, Ohio.

Driving to western Ohio with mom can be fun, since it gives me a chance to pick her brains about growing up out in farm country, and talking about my earliest memories.

We spent a few hours in Columbus Grove, which took a big hit from that summer storm that plowed through the Midwest:

That’s wind damage. Wind damage – and not from a tornado, either. The town also lost enough trees that a week later, there was still a pile of debris a couple stories high waiting to be shredded.

We also had a good time talking with people who’ve known me since I was born – and my “aunt” Judy made it nearly two hours before bringing up the time that they invited me over to attend a demolition derby and her son Brian and I spent a few subsequent hours destroying his Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars by slamming his heavy bedroom window frame down on them. (“…we’re playing DEMOLITION DERBY, that’s what!”) I can’t blame her – from a parent standpoint, it’s a good story, and if I was her, I’d bring it up every time I saw me, too.

Since we were in the area, after mom and I left, we drove down to Lima. I last drove through here in the early 1990s on another trek around the state.

Here’s the first house I remember calling home:

The house was gray when we lived there in the early 1970s – in fact, I’m pretty sure it was the same gray as the garage in the background.

But the neighboring house – where my best friend Alberto lived – is the same red as I remembered it:

And here’s another place that sticks in my memory (although I’m pretty sure the building was just a home back then, and didn’t have the addition on the back) –

Albert and his siblings and I used to play in this yard on the other side of his house. Apparently, one day we were playing cops and robbers and we were loud enough to disturb the woman who lived here, and she came out and told us something to the effect that if we didn’t quiet down, she was going to go get her gun and she was going to play, too.

I don’t remember any of that. What I do remember is my dad carrying me around our driveway while I was crying because I was scared of the police who were called to the scene.

Other memories of this place are better: My tractor-tire sandbox in the back yard, and the swingset, and the homemade tortillas Alberto’s family used to make, and playing with my Evel Knievel motorcycle on the front sidewalk, and Alberto and I playing with the windshield washers on my dad’s VW bug, and our families goofing around and laughing together outside.

Mom and I wandered through Lima a bit finding our way back to Interstate 75, then picked up some ice cream cones and headed east on U.S. 30 again for the return home.

July 19, 2012 Posted by | 1970s, Family history, Ohio, Travel | , , | Leave a comment


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