You Really Can’t Go Back

End of Oakwood, looking East

Last week I joined the Township Park group on Facebook and got involved in some of the discussion there. I pulled up the old neighborhood on Google maps and in the satellite view, I recognized almost nothing. I had to enter the address to find the location of the old house. What struck me from the aerial view was the amount of erosion that had taken place. I could see both ends of Lake Road, one at the park and the other at Sunset Point and I could picture where the road had once been, connecting those ends. The Google view of the neighborhood did not prepare me for the view from the ground.

This past weekend I made the trip up to Footville and, on the way, made a detour into Painesville to see the old neighborhood. After I got off the freeway, I went down Lindmar Drive to see my grandparents’ old house. I don’t think it’s there any more. The street looked nothing like it did in my youth. Back then it was more open and spacious. Now it seems overgrown with shade trees and the houses are all packed together. I almost wasn’t sure if I was on the right street but the church at the corner of Lindmar and Chestnut told me I was.

Painesville is like an alien world to me now. So much has changed since my youth there. I’ve noticed many changes over the years as I’ve passed through or visited the library. It is not the same city.

I made my way to the neighborhood where I grew up. I wasn’t ready for what I found. The streets had the same names and were laid out the same but that’s all they had in common with my memories. Oakwood Boulevard seemed much shorter, I was at Shady Lane/Kenilworth before I knew it. I found my old address but the house where I grew up and even the garage were gone, replaced by newer, uglier structures. I felt as if all the love and labor my father had put into them was for naught. It was much the same for the whole neighborhood. All that still existed from my youth there were my memories.

Then I ventured to the park. Of course, it had changed too but in a nicer way, at least above the lake. I found that Lake Metroparks had taken it over and expanded the ball fields and built a community center. I walked down the walkway to “the beach,” or rather where there was once a beach. One of the old stone piers is still there but now there are just large blocks of stone placed along the shore in a attempt to hold back the erosion.

After the park, I traced my way back through the neighborhood,then across to Sunset Point which, like Township Park, was eerily dark and unfamiliar. The only familiar structure I saw was Lester’s gas station, still standing but long abandoned. The new developments along Lake Road and Bacon Road seemed bright and cheery in stark contrast to the old neighborhoods they border.

Obituary Update

When I last visited Dad back in September, I obtained a number of obituaries from the microfilm archives at the Morley Library in Painesville. Soon after that visit, I put them in web format but I didn’t upload them to my site right away. I finally got around to redoing my obituary index files and got everything uploaded earlier this month. Sorry it took me so long.

Here are the obituaries I added:

More obituaries can be found at Rick Romig’s Genealogy Project.

Footville & Westfield Visit

I finally made my way up to Footville to visit Dad for a couple of days. I had originally intended to go up the previous weekend but I had some oral surgery late in the week and I didn’t think it would be prudent to make the drive while taking pain killers. When I called Dad last week to let him know I was coming, he told me that he was going to visit Ruth but I was welcome to stay anyway. Since I planned to go up on Friday and return Monday, I’d get to spend some time with him. Since part of the trip was to do some research and just relax, it worked out pretty well. I had considered postponing the trip another week but I’m needed for the big move this weekend.

On the way up I paid a visit to the Genealogy and Local History Room at the Morley Library in Painesville. Armed with my list of obituaries, I began looking them up in the Telegraph and News-Herald archives. I managed to locate all but one of the obituaries on my list. I couldn’t get Mabel (Warren) Pettit’s because there was apparently an error when that edition of the paper was filmed and the obituary page was not filmed. Now I should have nearly all of my grandaunts and granduncles in the Warren and Webster lines. In the next few days, I’ll be working to get them on the web page.

On Saturday, I drove up to Westfield to see if I could find the graves of Aunt Pat and my cousins, Jeff and Vicki Ossman. I located the church but, apparently the cemetery next to the church was not the correct cemetery. It’s the St. James Cemetery and, as far as I know, they were all buried in the Westfield Cemetery, located around the corner on Academy Street. It turned out that the cemetery is much larger than I had anticipated. I began walking up and down rows of graves and stumbled upon an Ossman family plot but it the John and Minnie Ossman family plot. I wander through a few sections and realized that finding the graves would be a stroke of luck and I could easily spend the entire day looking. I had forgotten to write down Uncle Paul’s number before I left the house. I did find a sign which had an address for the Westfield Cemetery Association. I’ll write and see if they can provide me with some information. I’ll try again next summer.

The trip to Westfield has a secondary objective, Skinny-Dip Falls in Chautauqua Gorge. I headed in the general direction based on what I thought I remembered from the directions I’d received. Unfortunately, I did not remember them correctly, nor did I remember to print them and bring them with me from Dayton. It turns out I had passed by the side road which would have led me to it. Another reason to make a trip next summer.

I spent the time alone at the house relaxing, doing some yoga, and reading. During the day, I spent as much time outdoors as I could as it was warmer outside than it was inside the house. The house is very well insulated, to say the least. Whenever I was in the house, I found it necessary to don a sweatshirt.

The book I was reading was Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. It’s a factual account of Plymouth Colony in the 55-years between the voyage of the Mayflower and King Phillip’s War. He tells the real stories behind the myths and the stories the myths either don’t mention or they gloss over them. Fascinating reading and several direct ancestors are pivotal characters. It certainly gave me a new appreciation for the hardships they faced in coming to New England. The book also gave me a greater understanding of the differences between the Puritans and the Pilgrims. Though they had similar religous views, the Pilgrims were generally much more tolerant than the Puritans.

The time with my father was well-spent. I always come away with some new knowledge and practical lessons in farmer-engineering and self-sufficiency.

Obituaries Added

As long as I was working on the genealogy, I searched the Morley Library Obituary Index and look for some obituaries to find when I’m next in Painesville. There are about 20 obituaries on my list so I could be in the library a while and I’ll be busy with them after I return to Dayton. The list is mostly Warren and Webster relations that I haven’t yet gotten.

I noticed that two were in the last couple of years so I was able to find them online at The New-Herald. The two I found online, Arlene June Boerner and Lois H. Smith Hathcock Brown, are now up on the web site.

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