RoyHodge

Back in Syracuse

As I have written here before, I have spread my life around between Syracuse and Fulton. I was born and grew up in Syracuse, moved to Fulton where I lived for over 35 years, and now I’m back in Syracuse.

I’m not only back in Syracuse, but I live in a house which is about a mile from where I grew up and next to a park where I played.

As in Fulton business areas, things have changed during the years in the neighborhoods between the two houses.

South Avenue, at the bottom of the hill we live on, was a thriving business area. Now there are a few businesses in the area but a lot of empty spaces.

The Elmwood Theatre was one of our Saturday haunts when I was growing up. I became good friends with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, their sidekicks and horses at the Elmwood Theatre. The Elmwood has been replaced by a funeral service business. I don’t know if there is a message in that or not.

If you wanted to start counting the number of movie theaters in the neighborhoods as well as downtown, you would notice a large difference between the 40s and 50s and now. There were four theaters within walking distance from our house and at least seven downtown – a short bus ride away – when I was growing up.

And now? There are no movies in those neighborhood areas or downtown – but there are the malls and television.

There were two ice cream and soda fountain shops in the area and two or three taverns. One ice cream parlor has been replaced by a bank, the other by a convenience store. The bars are still there. The branch library I went to after school is gone, as is the pharmacy which was across from the Elmwood Theatre.

The Elmwood School building, where I used to go for Cub Scout meetings, is still there but isn’t open for classes (or Cub Scout meetings) anymore, but the Elmwood Presbyterian Church is still active. In fact, the area seems to have a lot of religion.

A building which was once a bank, as well as an entire business block down the street, have now been converted to churches. Some kind of business that I don’t remember, that looks like it has been closed for a long time, seemed to have a drive-in area at the front of the large building.  Maybe that building had been converted to a drive-in church.

What was once a large department store is now a small grocery store and an otherwise empty building. A dry cleaning store is still there but the butcher shop is gone. There are pizza shops and what looks like a recently closed restaurant.

The two ice cream stores I mentioned were a couple of blocks away from each other and they were both very popular. They were both run by Greek proprietors. I have fond memories of working at another ice cream store, which was also owned by a Greek businessman.

 To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
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