Friday, September 19, 2014

Our Sylvania Neighborhood

A contemporary poster of Main Street (upper left) offered by Tarta, our public bus system, juxtaposed with the historic Chandler building (upper right), once a hardware store, now a popular cafe, and other Main Street delights, including Harmony in Life and Brieschke's Bakery (lower right.) The ubiquitous painted benches invite guests to have a seat, slow down, and enjoy the neighbohood!
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine, could you be mine?"  

It's the song Mr. (Fred) Rogers sang to my rapt children, who believed he spoke directly to them. "I like you just the way you are," he told them reassuringly.

Our neighborhood then was the Old West End, an oasis of grand Victorian and turn-of-the-20th-century homes near downtown,  all splendid, all different styles. An architectural feast, near the elegant Toledo Museum of Art. It was a community becoming in the 1960s and '70s: neglected homes restored, young people and families moving in to fix them up, an historic neighborhood reborn. All of us who ever lived there have a special place in our hearts for the Old West End.

Many years have passed since our Old West End days, many changes, many experiences and life lessons, lots of moving on, to new places, new jobs, new families, new horizons.

Our neighborhood today is Sylvania, Ohio, a suburban town north of Toledo, and it's my grandchildren's turn to revel in an intimate, familiar sense of place. It's that feeling that hugs us like a warm blanket; that means safety and security. It's a feeling we carry into adulthood and elderhood, no matter where we end up. A comfort zone.
Around my apartment house, which sits between Harmony in Life and Mitchell's Clock Shop,
and across from Haymarket Square, which includes Maumee Kitchens, Sodbusters, Shear Madness, the new Earth to Oven bakery. A few steps north is Keith's salon, Angela's Angels, and Frogtown Computers. A few steps south, past Reeb's Funeral Home and the Historic Museum and Village, you're at the ever-popular J&G's Pizza, the Sylvania Credit Union, Kevin Charles Salon.   
Today my whole family, my kids, my grandkids and my great-grandson, all call Sylvania home. It's the first time in over 30 years that we are all together in one place, just a few blocks from each other.  In walking distance. Four generations gathered together in one neighborhood!

The weather's been nice as we head into fall and I've taken lots of photos. I turn from the bad, horrible news of the day and take a walk.  A breath of fresh air. It's peaceful. The old and the new blend, the homes and the shops, the residential and the commerical.  My great-grandson Philip's school is nearby, and the library, a hospital, several churches, lots of shops, the town hall and the police station. The neighborhood has it share of parades, house tours, art exhibits, the Tuesday Farmers' Market,  historic sites and public events.  Always something going on.

Mr. Rogers would like this neighborhood, I think to myself, as I stuff books and DVDs from the library into my book bag and head toward Chandler's to meet a friend for coffee. My daughter waves to me from the Sylvania Advantage Office. "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood."

The old and the new adorn Main Street: Element 112 and Treo's; Reve salon, the Music shop, TK Lane's; the new office of Sylvania Advantage; SPACEBAR, a new computer store; the reliable Bel Main Upholstering, the veritable Hudson Art Gallery, and Haymarket Square.  

The historical parts of Sylvania: Historical Village and Heritage Musuem, with its graceful Gazebo and gardens; and the Francixan Center on the campus of Lourdes University, where I spend many happy hours listening to lectures and talks, meeting friends, and keeping my mind active and learning. The colorful bench welcomes one and all..  

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