Sunday, April 17, 2011

Back in time, there’s a place that I remember

 

The other night while in one of those bored, introspective moods (there was nothing good on tv) I was idly looking at old photo collections online, & stumbled across this picture.  I didn’t think “hmm, that looks familiar” or “where have I seen this street before”, I knew immediately—East High Street (also known as Main Street) from the small town I grew up in, Waynesburg PA.

The only information attached to the few photos was “Greene County Archives” but I guessed them to be circa 1925-1930.   It was almost disconcerting, seeing how little things have changed since then. 

When I showed this to my sister Shawn, and said how I wished I could step into that old photo & pay those folks a visit, she replied “Yes, until you found a penny in your pocket with the current year on it” (you know, like Christopher Reeve in ‘Somewhere in Time’).  Well, I haven’t fallen in love with a sepia photograph of some woman from 80 years ago, I just want to put on a snappy derby hat and see how things really were back then.  But I’m guessing things on Main Street weren’t too different from how I remember it.

 

That same view of East High (Main Street) in Waynesburg, & how it looks today

 

As a kid in the late 1960s-70s, I can  remember when ‘downtown Waynesburg’ was still a major source of activity.  And on Saturday afternoons, before malls and monsters (masquerading as human beings) became part of the social consciousness, my parents thought nothing of dropping me and my sister Shawn off on a bustling Main Street for a few hours, free to do whatever we wanted.  We usually spent our hours chatting up Peg & Mabel (the clerks at Sun Drug), going to the movies or browsing the candy & toy departments of the local five & dime stores.  (I can still remember Shawn once asking me why McCrorys had wooden floors; I explained to her it was where poor people had to shop!)  Saturday matinees at the local theater usually had a line of 8-12 year olds in front, without a parent in sight.

 

Another old photo shows the original Opera House marquee; Wallace Beery & Marie Dressler are a big hit in ‘Min & Bill’ (1930)

I suppose I’ve been giving my hometown a little more thought than usual lately, as recently a friend from back home told me they were tearing part of Main Street down; it was alarming to see the photos of the rubble.  The Colonial!  Hudsons Jewlers, the Chinese Garden—gone! 

(Okay, I’m not feeling any real loss for these places, but they’ve been around forever, it seems.)   Coincidentally, one of the photos I found were of those same three buildings being renovated eighty years ago.

    

The recent demolition; those same buildings being renovated in 1930

When I posted one of these found pictures on Facebook, an old friend sadly commented on how much things had changed since we were kids.  While I agree with Jon, I can’t help but remember how my mom would often tell us kids how different things were in her time.  She’d point at the old Ullom & Baily’s Drugstore and say “When I was your age, my girlfriends & I would sit at the counter in there after school and drink cherry colas, there was a jukebox in the corner and we even danced.  Oh you kids have no idea how much fun we had back then…”  

I’m sure that thirty years from now, some kid in Waynesburg today is going to be telling his own children the same thing.  

5 comments:

  1. I wasn't ready for the end of this blog post - I just wanted to read on and on and on. A great/perfect song to go with it too. We're kinda' young to be so nostalgic! But didn't it all seem like a lifetime ago too. Anyway, love your writing as usual.

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  2. Great post! I remember shopping uptown with my Mom in Murphys and McCrorys.It seems like everything 'slid east' with Big Wheel,Hecks and the Greene Plaza.Sort of the same fate Washington Mall met when everything jumpedover Interstate 70.

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  3. Shawn, thanks for the nice nice response here (I love that song too) but I'm almost 50, I certainly don't feel too young!

    Chip, your 'sliding east' comment summed things up very well--I remember the week before starting third grade (at South Ward) going with my mom to get new shoes at GC Murphy's, & waiting in line behind a whole slew of kids... :)

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  4. Doug, I really loved this blog, and the song was just perfect... I don't have all of the memories that you have of Waynesburg ofcourse, but was still feeling a bit of 'homesickness' while reading this!

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  5. Thanks Courtney, that sure was nice to read! No matter where you are, or how long you've been gone, you'll always be part of Greene County :)

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