History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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Growing Up on West 122nd Street During the War Years
By Carol Nichols Henninger, 2015
In 1941, when I was barely three years old, I moved to 3615 West 122nd Street with my parents, William I. and Olga (Becker) Nichols. The house was a classic double with a fireplace in the living room, a built-in window seat and china cabinets in the dining room, and a large front porch. We lived upstairs and the owners, Edward and Alma Pintner, lived downstairs.
My Mom delighted in finding just the right furniture. Although she and Dad were able to buy some things new, gently used pieces were fine, too. Mom found an old gate-leg table with four ladder-back chairs and a pretty curio cabinet in the attic which she was able to buy from the Pintners. She spent a lot of time refinishing them to use in our new home.
I remember waking up in the quiet of the morning on an over-cast day and hearing the sound of the fog horn drifting in off Lake Erie – something I’d never heard before.
My grandparents, William J. and Anna (Calvey) Nichols, along with my Dad’s sister, Margaret Ann, lived nearby at 3615 West 123rd Street. I remember being there when my aunt was getting ready for her wedding on November 29th 1941. The reception was at the old Banater Hall at West 119th and Lorain Avenue. Hardly a week later on December 7th, Pearl Harbor was attacked and we were at war with Japan.
I remember listening to President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats while sitting in our darkened living room with my Mom during the ‘Blackouts”. At this time Dad worked nights at Cleveland Twist Drill on Lakeside Avenue at East 49th. The radio was our main source of news and entertainment. During this Golden Age of Radio, “Big Band” music, comic and mystery shows provided a brief respite from the war.
On the brighter side, there was a restaurant on the north side of Lorain Avenue near West 123rd Street where the delicious aroma of hamburgers and onions drifted outside. On more than one occasion, my Dad “just had to stop” and get some to take home. They even made our house smell good! Troesch’s Bakery, at 13004 Lorain Ave., was another favorite stop.
When I helped Mom bake cookies and we happened to have some walnuts left, she’d put one in her apron pocket before we went outside. If our tame squirrel was around it would take it right out of her hand.
Bread and milk were delivered to your door or ‘milk chute’ and the iceman made his rounds to homes that still used “ice boxes.” All the kids came out looking for a refreshing chunk of ice on a hot summer day. I still remember running to tell my Mom when I heard the “Paper Rex” man and his horse coming down the street. It seemed she always had a bag of worn out clothes or newspapers ready for him. All the kids wanted to pet the horse. For some reason the coal truck coming down the street didn’t get the same attention.
We lived near Cooley Avenue so it was a rather long walk up to Linnet Avenue and over to Nathaniel Hawthorne School where I attended afternoon Kindergarten in the fall of 1943. Along the way there was a house on our street that had two weeping mulberry trees in the front yard. I called it the “Umbrella Tree House”.
Mom never dreamed the furniture she found in the attic back in 1941 would still be serving her family well into the 21st Century. These same pieces have been in my home and used for family gatherings for many years, and will always be the source of many happy memories – both then and now."