Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mill Street

My brother Bob put this picture up on Facebook. That's Bob on the left, my sister Sandy, and me. It was taken from just outside the house trailer we lived in on Mill Street, in Norwalk, Ohio, my birthplace. It must have been taken in 1954 or 1955.

The house with the white wood siding is where the Scotts lived. They were our landlords. There were two other trailers further back off the street than ours.

This image from Google maps shows that the Scott's house is still there. Our trailer would have been straight ahead of you, with its front door facing the Scott's house.

The little pieces of concrete in the grass were probably a pad outside our trailer door, plus a short piece of sidewalk. It wasn't a big trailer. In fact it was a very small one. Most camping trailers now are larger. (Update: Mom says it was 37 feet long, had two bedrooms and a small bathroom with a shower.)

The shorter brick building on the right wasn't there. That area was all grass and there was a big shade tree there. The taller brick building partially shown on the far right is the old mill, which was boarded up then, but has since been made into a bed and breakfast.

This view also from Google maps is looking back toward the Scotts house from the end of Mill Street, which was only that one block long. It shows the mill with its stone lower half. I remember big shade trees along Mill Street. Perhaps they were victims of the Dutch Elm Disease that spread across the contry a few years after we moved to Michigan.

The two-story white house on the left, which is across the street from where our trailer was, was where my Dad's mother and father lived. They died when I was very young and I can barely remember them.

I don't remember the snowman-making picture, but I do remember a lot about Mill Street. My Dad was driving for Norwalk Truck Line, which wasn't far away. We sometimes dropped him off there in the car, especially when his truck was parked in a remote lot called the Pea Patch that was a block or two further on a narrow gravel street. The first car I remember us having was a used black 1952 Cadillac. My Dad, who had been a car nut in his younger days, would occasionally bring home a used Cadillac and greatly upset my Mom. After the Cadillac we had a white 1954 Ford station wagon "with a Thunderbird engine," they always said. It was also said that "it never used a drop of oil." We used Shell oil, and bought Shell gasoline whenever we could, and I do the same today. Shell gas when I can get it, Shell oil, always, in my pickup, motorcycle and semis.

I wouldn't attend school until we moved to Michigan, and in Norwalk, while Bob and Sandy were in school, Mom and I often walked to the shopping district a few blocks away, with Mom pushing the stroller with my infant brother Bill in it. Downtown Norwalk seemed busy and bustling, and it may have been, although the population was only 10,000.

Norwalk is on US 20, probably a busy route in those pre-Interstate days, being the main east west route through the upper Midwest, passing through places like Buffalo, Cleveland and Chicago as it made its way coast to coast along what is roughly the route now taken by I-90. I'm guessing Norwalk, which is the seat of Huron County, was the shopping destination for the immediate surrounding area, which is still a farming area dotted with very small burgs. Sandusky, 29,000 then, was16 miles away, and after that the big city would have been the huge metropolis of Cleveland, 60 miles to the east.

This is Norwalk today, also from Google.

Mill Street is at the other end of the business district, six blocks ahead on your right.

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