Man reminded of McDonald of yore


The closing out of another year makes me recall how things have changed. I was raised in a small quiet village almost three quarters of a century ago. The story by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” comes to mind.

Everyone wanted to live in McDonald, a community that offered wholesome family living.

It was a company town created by Carnegie Steel Co. employing about 3,500 workers. The stirring little village had many people coming and going for its three shifts at the mill, a bumpering trail of traffic passed through the heart of the village at the end of each shift.

As a small village, we had benefits (virtues) many larger towns never had. The village had a Y.M.C.A., teaching swimming lessons at McDonald High School, using its indoor swimming pool. We also had basketball and tennis courts with record hops on Friday night and a baseball field within a home run hit of a church. Beautiful Woodland Park, with its summer time activities for the children; old movies reeled in the park on the side of a sloping hill. The mill supplied the Halloween bonfire wood with blocking from the trains — it was a two-day burn. Village employees plowed the sidewalks in the winter, as we ice skated in a dugout pond, all viewed from the heart of town.

Two barber shops clipped the village — Bill Ague, with his shop walls covered with school photos and Lee Grant, as he cut your hair and sold cars on the phone simultaneously.

We had Boy Scout troops 46 and 48 that taught good values to its young citizens.

James Dean did not have anything on us; the old water tower building at the edge of town was the meeting place and clubhouse of “The Stokers Hot Rod Club” with its “radioactive,” custom cars. I shall remember this as the Ghost of Christmas Past.