Neighbors from long ago

RoyHodge_WEBby Roy Hodge

I sometimes think I have a good idea for a column and start writing. Some of those times I am typing away and suddenly think, “Wait a minute, this sounds very familiar.”

The reason for that thinking, of course, is that I came up with the same idea and wrote basically the same column a few years ago.

That happened recently when I started thinking of some of the folks who lived on Wiman Ave. during the more than 50 years our family lived on the street. All of those neighbors and many others “always” lived on our street, at least as long as I can remember up to when my mother left her home in the late 90’s.

It seems like everyone knew everyone else who lived there.  My neighbors from long ago must have made an impression on me. Many decades after I lived there I can remember most of them very clearly.

This is what I wrote when I got thinking about Wiman Ave. A couple of years ago; the notes in parentheses are my recent thoughts:

There was an interesting mix of neighbors on our street. I remember a little bit about a lot of those people.

Mr. Howe had to be the oldest man. I remember him sauntering by our house with both hands clasped behind his back. My father said that Mr. Howe was a master carpenter, and I think I remember him saying that he built his house on our street. (I remember him building some very solid steps at my grandparents’ back door when he was in his 80’s.)

Mr. Lucas was in charge of the escalator, the first one in Syracuse, at the W. T. Grant’s Store in the city’s downtown.  His son, Jack, as our next door neighbor, was my nemesis. Maybe it would be clearer to say that he was five years older than I was, and picked on me constantly.

Mr. Lindsay, our next door neighbor, never tired talking about his Scotch heritage, and Mrs. Lindsay told fortunes by reading tea leaves. The Lindsay’s grandson, Tucker, who at one time lived down the street from us, and later on with his grandparents, was my best friend. (Mr. Lindsay, next door, was a mason by trade.)

We thought that Miss Wilson and Mr. Burke were the crabbiest people on our street, but maybe they had their reasons. Miss Wilson lived next door to the Fero family and Mr. Burke lived one house away from our home.  (Those were the two locations on Wiman that there was almost always something going on in the street in front of the houses).

Mr. Haynes was a captain in the Syracuse Fire Department. Mr. Jutton was also a fireman. Mr. Fero was an agent at the railroad station. Many men on our street worked at factories.

Mr. Carroll worked at the Suburban Park amusement park as a ride operator. I helped his wife, Betty, find worms to sell to fishermen for bait. I’m not sure that his wife, Betty, worked but she was always busy doing something. For a couple of years I went to bed early during fishing season and got up a couple of hours later to go out in the neighborhood’s grassy yards to “pick” earthworms which she sold to bait shops.

I can also remember making wreaths with her at Christmas time which we sold to friends and neighbors. She and I were good enough friends that she helped me learn to drive and she accompanied me on my driver’s test.

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