When I was growing up in Syracuse, downtown was an exciting place to go. I would meet my mother after school at the bus stop at Midland and Newell streets, or walk there with her from our house. I would often go downtown with my grandmother for lunch and the movies.
That bus stop was about half way between McKinley School and our house. (I remember that Midland Ave. in that area was still paved with cobblestones. My father told me that the cobblestones gave the horses that pulled the wagons and carriages on that street years ago better traction on the road.)
We would get on one of the red and yellow city buses and ride downtown. It was a busy place in those days. Downtown was anchored by the Dey Brothers and E. W. Edwards department stores. Other large stores included Chappel’s, The Lincoln Store, The Addis Co., Flah’s, and in later years Sibley’s. Also, W. T. Grant’s, McCrory’s, Wool- worth’s, Kresge’s, and the Clark Music Co.
There was the Economy Book Store, Ed Guth’s Hobby Shop, a half dozen shoe stores, Conde Toy Shop, Wilson’s Jewelry Store, men’s and women’s clothing stores, and probably dozens more I don’t recall. The Mohican was downtown’s only grocery store.
There were movie theaters – Loew’s State and Loew’s Strand, RKO Keith’s, Paramount, Empire, Eckel and the Civic Theatre. There were restaurants – Child’s, and Waldorf Cafeteria – and one of our favorites, The White Tower, which served delicious hamburgers before McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. There were lots of small shops and places like the Karmelkorn Shop, and Planter’s Peanut Store.
Hotel Syracuse, the Onondaga Hotel, Jefferson Clinton Hotel, the Yates Hotel and Mizpah Hotel, all in downtown Syracuse, were busy serving the city’s visitors.
Downtown at Christmas time was a special time for us. My mother usually took us “to the city” for our annual visit with Santa. I loved the decorated streets and store windows, even when I was too old to sit on Santa’s lap. Going downtown was an enjoyable after school and weekend activity for us. Now, it’s “to the mall.”
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I have a good friend who is also a regular reader of this column. Just about every week lately she responds to what I have written by throwing a figure at me. That, it turns out, is the number of times a certain word appeared in my most recent column.
I started this little game after the Sept. 8 column about the State Fair when I asked how many times I mentioned sausage sandwiches. It was eight and my friend answered correctly.
In the column of Sept. 22, I was talking about reading “The Book of Garlic,” and about receiving rules for raising garlic several years ago from my friend and Patriot co-worker Sophie Drozda. I didn’t ask readers that week, but my friend threw the number 24 at me. That was the number of times that I mentioned the word garlic.
In the Oct. 6 issue, I mentioned the words grandma and grandmother eight times. In a follow-up article in the Oct. 13 column, it was 19 times for those two words.