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Part 1 of the walk home

Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part column. The second chapter will be published Aug. 30.

This is a column about my experiences in walking home from church on a cold Sunday morning. Perhaps it will jog your memory of other places in Warren so very long ago.

It was 1943. I was 8 years old. I didn’t particularly like going to church services.

Our minister was the Rev. Charles Rush at Emmanuel Lutheran Church at the corner of Buckeye and Cherry on the west side of good old Warren. He had a booming, sonorous voice that would certainly keep you awake, and he actually wore a cutaway coat and tails that reminded me of a giant penguin. He may have been the last of the people I knew who wore pince-nez glasses.

I liked him as a person, but his scary sermons just weren’t my cup of tea. Besides, it was tough to sit still for more than an hour.

Mom, with her nightie under her housecoat, would drive me to Sunday school, which was about an hour before church, then rush back home to make sure Dad and Sis were up and to get ready for church.

Instead of going to church after Sunday school, I had the option of walking home. Dad had checked the mileage on the odometer in his ’41 Chevy and found it to be exactly 2.5 miles from church to our house on the east side of Warren on Genesee next to the water tower. (We called it the standpipe.)

It always seemed to be an icy-cold winter day when I would begin my walk east on Buckeye as Mr. Klingensmith pulled that huge-knotted rope in the narthex to ring the bell to call all to worship. As I went past Tod Avenue Methodist church, I could hear the parishioners there earnestly belting out their hymns, and crossing Tod, I would go by Tod Avenue Elementary that seemed so very quiet on a Sunday morning.

Further down Buckeye, was the bus garage where Dad worked. On an especially cold day, I would stop in to say hello to Dunn, the only mechanic on Sunday duty. (I never did find out whether Dunn was his first or last name.)

After a short conversation about dogs with Dunn, I would continue past the Chevy dealer on the corner of West Market and Buckeye where the neon sign said “O.K. Used Cars.” Inside on the showroom floor would be a polished up and refurbished ’41 or ’42 Chevy on display. Sometimes, there would be just an empty floor. There were no new cars to be had because of the war.

My journey continued past Warren Parts and Hill Farm Equipment. Oddly, several residences along the way had front porches three feet below the sidewalk level. After the flood of 1913, West Market in that area had been raised that amount and homeowners were given money to raise their homes — but most decided to just keep the money.

Next was Thumm’s and the D.A.V. building, and finally, right next to the bridge over the Mahoning, was the A&P — an early supermarket.

Crossing Mahoning (or is it Main?) I walked past the dirty gray sandstone courthouse with a temporary (for the duration of the war and too long after) U.S. Savings Bond building spoiling the symmetry of the courthouse grounds. The soaring elm trees were beautiful and graceful — even without their leaves.

This ends part one. Come back Aug. 30 for part two.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com

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