Trip to museum in the ’Burg

I live on the west side of Warren. My little street leads west down to the Mahoning River. I could toss a stone across the river, and it would land in Leavittsburg. In fact, the first three digits of my phone number are the same as residents of Leavittsburg. Maybe that makes me a pseudo native of the ‘Burg.

On my way to the nearby hardware store in Leavittsburg, I must have driven by a certain place dozens of times without noticing. (I dutifully pay attention to the road.) It’s called the Leavittsburg Heritage Museum, which is a neat little gray and white building quite close to the road on West Market just west of that huge empty space you see that was once Leavittsburg High School.

Shirley Combs, president of the Downtown Leavittsburg Improvement Association, greeted me at the door to the museum one Thursday just before noon. She tried to excuse the smell of cooking cabbage. Since I seldom cook for myself, that aroma was heavenly. She showed me around. Shirley had contacted me via the Tribune Chronicle when she read one of my community columns.

In a little while Linda, Oleta and Rosemary joined us. It was kind of a photo sorting day. Shirley showed me a 1951 group photo of the Warren Transportation Company bus drivers and my dad, who was general manager of the company. Although I have had a copy of that picture for many years, the museum’s copy had a caption below it that brought back names to me that had been lost in the cobwebs of my mind for a long, long, time. Thank you, Shirley.

We sat around an oak school table that been salvaged from one of the razed Leavittsburg schools and reminisced a bit. They knew my Aunt Martha Bickel who ran the Bickel Restorium that was once a fine mansion in Leavittsburg. As it turned out, we had quite a few mutual acquaintances and friends.

After a nice little lunch of garlic chicken and cabbage and noodles (thus, the aroma), we continued chatting. They told me of the museum treasures, such as the A.L. Bascom videos taken from 8 mm film about students in the ’50s, the high school trophies from the 1920’s to the 1970’s, and the Erie Canal historical marker dedicated in 2015 that stands beside the building.

The Leavittsburg Heritage Museum building was generously donated to the DLIA in 1998 by the Polivka family, and serves as a place for the Trumbull County commissioners to meet. (That makes perfect sense.)

Of course, any little volunteer endeavor is always hurting for funds, and Rosemary and Oleta told me of their dream of having a paved parking lot so that cars could park there for their many community events — so they have many fundraisers. The organization has a tax exempt status, and the little association is involved with the community in many ways. Along with sprucing up the ‘Burg with a hands-on approach, they hold dances for community youth, sell memorabilia, host reunions and open houses, and sell historic Leavittsburg community calendars.

I left that little group with a few regrets. There was a lot to take in, and I’m sure I was not as appreciative of what the museum holds if I had taken more time. I also want to find out more about the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal that went right through Leavittsburg. But this was a work day for the ladies and I had an appointment to keep. You could take more time than I did to appreciate the archives and treasures of that great little community in that grand little museum. They’re open a couple hours the third Sunday of each month.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

columns@tribtoday.com

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