by Roy Hodge
After living in Fulton for more than 32 years, I now live back in Syracuse not far from the street where I grew up. It’s close enough that I drive past my old street many times a year. And that’s what I do — drive by.
The last time I went that way I decided to take a short detour and drive down Wiman Ave. As I approached my old street I thought of the words of a song: “Who says you can’t go home?” it starts, and continues by saying, “There’s only one place they call you one of their own.”
That last statement may have been true, but only for a few years. There were no familiar faces as I turned the corner and drove down the street. Visiting the neighborhood I grew up and stayed familiar with for another 30 years was a strange thing.
I drove down Wiman Ave., which I had done hundreds of times over the years, and something in me expected to see the same people, doing the same things, the same kids playing in the street, even the same flowers in the same yards.
We who lived on Wiman Ave. always say Ave., not Avenue, (or just plain Wiman) when we call the street by name. I don’t know why — that’s just the way it is. Maybe it’s because it’s easy to pronounce Ave. If you try to pronounce St., the abbreviation for street, it comes out Saint.
Wiman Ave. is a one-block street between two other streets, which start one block from what is now Route 81 and work their way west. When I was young it was always a pleasant tree-lined street. It was far enough from the closest streets that had buses and headed towards downtown that it was a nice quiet place to live.
During my recent visit to Wiman Ave., there were school buses on the street. We never saw school buses on the street when we lived there. When I was in elementary school I walked back and forth twice a day to McKinley School, which was a mile or so away.
Later I walked to Roosevelt Junior High, which was closer, and after that to Valley High School, which was further.
There have been a few changes on Wiman Ave. The most obvious and the one you notice first as you turn on to the street from Newell St. is that Steve Gilbert’s grocery store is gone — not just closed but gone. There is a nice patch of green grass in its place.