Friday, August 12, 2011

Remembering Alliance...

There is this group on Facebook called “You Know You’re From Alliance…” and people have been blowing up the site with memories from their childhoods. It’s been so much fun reading their memories and everyone’s comments after each one.

But…I have to say…: “Did I grow up in the same town??”

Either that, or I’ve just forgotten every memory I ever had of the place.

No, that’s not really true. I have wonderful memories of Alliance. But the specific details that people are recalling with names and businesses and locations, well, that’s a little murkier for me. Of course, I can’t tell you all the streets I drive to get myself home every day now – and I’ve been traveling those same streets for nearly nine years. AND I’m an adult.

Besides, as a kid, my tether wasn’t all that long.

I would add some of my own memories to the site itself, but I wouldn’t want everyone coming back at me with corrections. I’d say, “I remember ice skating somewhere near Mt. Union College.” And people would respond with the exact location, the names of the people who monitored the skaters, and the specific thickness the ice needed to be before skating was allowed.

I don’t remember any of that. All I remember is getting new ice skates. I don’t remember where we got them, but it surely was somewhere in town as we didn’t go to the “big city” of Canton for much. It was apparently too far away.

I remember King’s department store and Woolworth’s. I remember taking sewing lessons somewhere down on Main Street. And I remember going to Sugar & Spice bakery after church on Sundays where my dad bought chocolate frosted cream stix every week, which were the best cream stix I ever had. We never ever had maple or vanilla frosted cream stix, by the way. Only chocolate.

But do I remember where Sugar & Spice bakery was located? Nope. I didn’t know then and certainly don’t know now!

When I was a kid, we were allowed to walk or ride our bikes to Buckeye Village Market, which felt like freedom to us since that meant we could cross State Street. I’m not even sure what we bought at Buckeye, unless it was the odd can of corn or loaf of bread that mom needed for dinner that night.

I do remember buying my own birthday cake at Buckeye when I turned 16. My mom was out of town taking care of my sick grandmother and my dad, of course, was working. So I was responsible for making my birthday dinner for the five of us. Dad even gave me money and told me to buy a birthday cake.

Normally, I was the baker in the family, so all our birthday cakes were homemade. (Read: not as good as store bought birthday cakes.) So, even though I was mortally embarrassed to go to the bakery and order a cake for myself, I did it because a store-bought birthday cake was a real treat. And my brothers and sister would’ve killed me for passing up the opportunity. So off I went. Except that I knew the girl taking the order. It was the owner’s daughter – and I had been in the same class as her younger brother. I first told her that it didn’t need any writing on it – but she insisted. “Who’s it for, Jane? Your brother John – or is it for Andrew? Or maybe your little sister?”

“Um, nooo…,” I finally stammered. “It’s for me.”

The look she gave me was filled with pity. “Aw, Jane,” She said. “You have to order your own birthday cake?”

She probably thought my family was horrible.

Interestingly, I have absolutely no memory of getting that cake home. I can’t imagine schlepping a store-bought birthday cake across State Street and down…uh…y’know…that one street...before getting to…um…that other street before turning down Crestview.

Yikes. I need a remedial memory course. Either that, or a map.

But, let’s see – what else can I remember? Oh, I remember some other little store named…um…maybe, Meadowbrook? We’d ride our bikes there to get something cold to drink in the summers. I don’t remember what we got to drink. Other people have remembered the exact old-fashioned drinks they drank and where they drank them. Sheesh. Maybe I should have recorded more about the town in my diary and less about, say, “The Partridge Family” or “The Monkees.”

Wow. So many of my childhood memories are of food stores. Apparently they were the only ones close enough. The stores with the “good stuff” – like clothes and jewelry and shoes – were too far away. Probably why I don’t much care for grocery shopping today, but never pass up an opportunity to hit Macy’s or DSW.

As a kid, we played more in my neighborhood than around town. But I remember having a blast running and pogo-stick jumping and hoola-hooping and tree climbing. And we didn’t come home until we heard Mom ring the bell for dinner. (Yes, sadly, we were summoned by a ringing bell.)

Of course, once we were of driving age, my world opened up a little bit and I have lots of great memories of fun times with my friends. Maybe I’ll try to recall some of those memories next time. Hopefully, it won’t be, “I remember that one time when we were driving around that one place – you know – and we had fun.”

But don’t expect me to remember the name of the street we had fun on. Not gonna happen. After all, I haven’t taken that remedial memory course yet.

And I still don’t have a map.

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