Growing Up In Columbus with Some History

I grew up in the area just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio, now called German Village.  I lived at 559 City Park Ave., a few houses north of Beck Street.  My parents bought our home for $3000 in the early forties.  Our phone number was 2098, then MA was added later to make it MAin-2098.  My dad Harry G. Cook worked for Schmidt's Packing Company on E. Kossuth St. which is now a restaurant called "Schmidt's Sausage Haus" selling the famous half-pound "Jumbo Cream Puff." The Schmidt family still owns the Schmidt business complex. The main packing plant is currently an apartment complex.

Dad later attended night school to learn welding at Franklin University, which was located in the YMCA building on Long St.  After graduation, he took a job at Jaeger Machine Co. where he worked as a welder building cement mixers until he retired.   Jaeger started making small cement mixers around 1920 using the Hercules Gas Engine, although they were all marked with the Jaeger name.  They later made a multi-piston mixer into the early forties when they began building full sized cement mixers on trucks. (Dad often told me he was the only US Gov. certified welder at Jaegers)

The Ice Man:  One of the things I remember was the ice man delivering ice to each home.  Back then, most everyone had only ice boxes and depending how well insulated the ice box was, and how often the doors were opened, the ice melt rate varied.  If someone needed 25, 50, 75 or 100 lbs of ice, they would put a preprinted sign "ice" in their window with the correct amount upright so it could be read from the street.  The ice man would then use an ice pick and cut large blocks to the size that was needed by the customer, and carry the ice into the homes using a large hook and a leather pad on his shoulder.

As kids, we would follow the wagon for miles reaching in the back and gathering the ice chips caused by cutting up the large blocks.   This was a great treat for us kids living in the south end with no other means of getting ice to chew on.

I also remember the vegetable man who would drive up and down City Park Ave. shouting "VEGETABLES," stopping every half block or so selling fresh vegetables to City Park residents who gathered around the vegetable wagon.   As a kid, I couldn't get over watching the men holding fists full of cash.  This was also the era of the ragman, milkman and milk trucks delivering milk to homes.  I also remember the "Omar Man" who also went from door to door, and often heard the radio jingle "I'm the Omar man, knocking at your door, if you taste my bread (mmmm boy), your gonna want more"©.

Update... As a teenager, I decided to add my experience of being sent to the poultry store located on Forth near E. Fulton St. when my parents decided to serve chicken for dinner, we didnít go to KFC, but to a poultry store where live chickens were in wooden cages. My brother and I would order two chickens, which were pulled from the cages, feet tied together, charging us fifty cents each, we then carried them home by their feet. My dad would then proceed to end their lives using a clothesline, and my Mom would boil water to get them ready to eat.  Iím leaving out the details to keep this a "G" rated story.

Coal: Sometimes when we would come home from school, there was a big pile of coal on the sidewalk, and we knew that we had a big job awaiting us that night.  Most homes around us used coal as a fuel to heat their homes, and coal was delivered to homes to be dumped and loaded into the basement coal bin through the coal door.  For fifty cents more, the delivery man would take care of this for the home owner, but our dad would always save the money and have us do it.

Electric Street Cars:  In the late forties, Columbus had electric street cars that ran up and down High St. and in fact, just next door to our home at 559 City Park, was a block long building housing the street cars overnight.  As kids, we would sneak under the hanging doors, press a button, and move the cars back and forth.  The building later became "Walkers Car Wash," then sometime later the building became the "Old World Bazaar."  I believe it's currently used for office space.

For more history of Columbus and great images of High Street with streetcars, you should visit this site which called "A Walk Down High Street". 

DDT:  My brother Larry and I would ride our bikes behind a vehicle spraying DDT fog for miles. It would drive all around the neighborhood alleys making a big cloud of fog, and we would spend hours riding our bikes in the fog, never realizing that we were breathing in poison.  Maybe this had something to do with my not doing well in school.

Stores:  I remember a shoe store called Gilberts on E. Town St, and when we needed and bought a pair of shoes, we were given a ticket to be redeemed at the back of the store for a toy. They had a glass case with several toys we could choose from, and at Easter, you could even select a live chick.   We would also visit Lazarus shoe department when we were running around downtown so we could look at the bones in our feet using an xray or fluroscope machine. Of course we were always chased away. The machine shown here is located at the Lakeshore Museum Center in Muskegon, MI   Then there was Reiners Bakery on the corner of Third St. and Hoster which was near our home on City Park.  Every morning you could smell the fresh bakery.  On weekends we would walk over and buy bread so fresh they couldnít cut it on the slicer.  Their donuts were twice the size you buy these days, and tasted so good.  At that time, a dozen was sixty five cents. I recently found a bakery selling the size and I believe same recipe of Reiners in Jackson, Ohio called Four Mile Bakery open only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.    I should also mention the toy store on Third Street called the Keller Toy Shop located at 633 S. Third St. where we would buy small toys and our basic set of eight crayons we were allowed to have, and I guess I should also mention Luckoff's Department Store on E. Main St. where we would often buy our Mom her household gift items.  I also need to mention Nelsons Magic Shop where I spent most of the money I earned.

My Jobs:  As a young boy, I started working by delivering papers in the south end. I began with the Morning Journal and enjoyed the summers, but the winters were hard because of having to get up very early before school in 14 below zero temperatures, and walking about a mile to pick up my papers which were dropped off on Whittier Street. If the paper truck was late, I would often stand in a phone booth and burn the pages from the phone book just to keep warm. Later I decided to stop the morning job and deliver the Columbus Dispatch which was one of the afternoon papers.  The other was the Columbus Citizen which later merged with the Journal to form the Citizen-Journal.
When I was older, I took a job selling popsicles and ice cream bars by riding a bicycle cart around my neighborhood. Then during the Ohio State Fair I would go back to selling morning newspapers, sometimes staying into the afternoon to sell either the Dispatch or Columbus Star, which at the time was more of a picture newspaper.

Ten Cent Movie:  During the summers of my early childhood years, my brothers and I would walk up to the Southern Theater and watch a double feature for 10 cents.  I also had lots of friends in the neighborhood like Ernest Norris, Ron Hurst, Tom Merz, Tommy Gunn, Joe Hover and Basil Poston. Tom Merz and I would play a marble game called Poison for hours everyday.  I also remember going to school and when coming home, there was a carnival set up on an empty lot near our home.

Rollerland: I should also mention that roller skating at Rollerland was my favorite thing to do all during my school years. We started skating there on Saturday afternoons using clamp-on skates which were provided free, but they kept coming off while skating.  Then one Christmas morning my brother Greg and I received some used shoe skates.   I really loved skating at Rollerland and being with friends.  I also liked the great sounds of their organist Bob Keller, which sounded a lot like Lenny Dee's Plantation Boogie or JD's Boogie Woogie By Jimmy Dorsey. During the early sixties, black children were not allowed to skate until after midnight and only to 45 RPM records.  At the time, that was the way it was, but now I feel ashamed for not trying to change this unfair practice. Here's another you tube video from the Cleveland, Ohio area. Oh the memories!

Livingston Methodist Church: All of the Cook brothers were raised attending the Livingston Church  (Did you notice the electric bus wires?) which was located on the corner of Third Street and Livingston Ave.  I have so many good memories of attending Sunday School, Church and especially Vacation Bible School at the church.  Once a year the church also sponsored an all day picnic at the South Side YMCA Park where Mr. Nelson Hennis would walk about tossing peanuts followed by droves of children, including me.  The old church was torn down to make way for interstate 70, and a new church was built where my parents owned a Dairy Queen (Like this one in RI ) which was also torn down for the new highway, but ODOT sold the land to the church instead.

We all attended Stewart  Elementary  School.  When I left the sixth grade, I attended Mohawk Junior High School.   Then our family moved to 1204 S. Washington Ave.  and I was enrolled at Barrett  Junior  High.  My brothers Larry and Alan transferred to Siebert Elementary after our move. This Siebert picture shows the new school that replaced the old school building that they attended.   After graduating from Barrett, I attended South High School, graduating in 1960. (Have you seen my South page?) While I was at South, my transportation was mainly a Harley 125 Hummer  Motorcycle.  I bought it in 1958 when I was 17, and have been riding some type of motorcycle ever since, and here's my current motorcycle.   While in High School I really enjoyed being in Senior Choir and getting together in small groups harmonizing in the halls of South.

I decided I should also add my memory of Columbus radio stations that played a big roll in my life.  As a youngster, I assembled a crystal set, and the first station I heard was WBNS airing the Arthur Goffery program. In high school, I entered a contest with WBNS that played a sound tract and the audience was to write a story based on the content. I came in second and won a table radio. When growing up, my family would always listen to WBNS the Early Worm with Erwin Johnson. He always began his program with Tommy Dorsey's "Song Of India" which he faded out and he would always say "Good Morning Everybody" and continued with more of the song before starting his program.

I should also mention WCOL and Dr Bop (aka Hoyt Locke) who introduced me to Rock and Roll. He would always begin his show saying "This Dr Bop, the little boy in the gravel pit eating his Buckeye Potato Chips".   Mr. Locke later moved to Milwaukee working at the radio station WAWA and becoming Dr. Bop all over again doing radio remotes in a doctor's outfit.  Later in life I became friends with "Tip Carpenter" the chief engineer of WCOL when I was the "Gates Man" for a few years.

I always have considered myself lucky of living during this time period in the history of the world. Later in my life I was also fortunate to work at WBNS-TV working with Tom Ryan, Bill Pepper, Tom Gleba, Chuck White, Joe Holbrook, Flippo (the King of Clowns), Luci of Luci's Toyshop and Dick Zipf who was the funniest man I had ever worked with.  Often when I was the "cameraman" for one of his programs, I had to release the camera to keep it from shaking I was laughing so hard.   I would also like to mention some of the behind the scenes people at Channel Ten that made an impression on me during my ten years of employment.  They were Ron Giles, George Cobb, Bill Hamilton, Curt Lutz, and Mike Hawkins who is currently working at ONN Radio.   I later moved to Lancaster to become the chief engineer at WHOK aka WLOH in Lancaster, Ohio. 

After writing this page a few years ago, I thought I would update it with additional memories. At the age of eleven I was walking around the state fairgrounds watching Sally Flowers do her TV remote, she even had me come up on stage to interviewed me, so I was on TV that day.

I often watched a TV show staring Spook Beckman and his assistant Marilyn Daye (who also was a big band singer).  Once he took her purse and emptied it on camera discussing the contents. It was very mean of him, but very funny at the time. They later married and she became Mrs. Beckman. Spook also had a very popular radio show in Columbus that lasted for years.

Ed Gordon (born in 1933) writes:

Our milkman used a horse drawn wagon (Moore's & Ross, later Borden's). I can still remember him filling a metal carrier which held enough for 2 or 3 houses and walking to each house to deliver and pick up the empties. His horse would follow along at the curb and be in place for him after he was ready to return to the cart to refill his carrier.

I starting working on my 18th B'day at the Farm Bureau Ins. Co., I stayed there for 37 years and was able to retire at age 55 from what was then Nationwide Ins. Co.

One day I was sitting on our front steps (E. Mound St. house) and a westbound truck lost its left front wheel. The wheel just separated from the truck and kept rolling but veered to the left. I watched it jump the curb and hit the iron fence about 3 houses from where I was sitting. Most of those houses, including mine, had what amounted to a picket fence made of iron. It continued to roll west until hitting a concrete wall that stopped it. The fence had a dent in the railing. I went down the block to have a closer look and the truck driver did the same. At this point I should explain that at that time there were still old trucks around that did not have modern tires with tubes. The wheel had a thick band of rubber on its outer surface. I'm sure there were springs on the truck, but no cushioning whatsoever from the solid "tires". Incidentally, directly across the street from my house was a large brick commercial bldg. called "Columbus Buggy Parts". It was then doing business as an auto and truck parts company.

What do you remember?

Picture History: Some of the pictures below are from old post cards, photos from my mom Mary M Cook, and some photos I took of downtown Columbus in 1966 while making an amateur radio QSL card.  A few years later, I made another QSL card featuring covered bridges after moving to Lancaster, OH.   I'm showing it here because it never got printed after I took a job in Athens, Ohio.

Thanks to Bev Truax here's a link from the Columbus Library 1913 Columbus Flood Images. If you're on Facebook, you may also want to look up "Southside Columbus Alumni" which have hundreds of images from the south end of current and past Columbus, Ohio.

I found an old Columbus, Ohio real estate book from the 60's while cleaning out someone's basement here in Athens.  I enjoyed looking at the pictures and the low prices so I decided to add a few of the pages here.  If you also enjoyed viewing them, make sure you leave a comment and if the response is high enough, I'll add more later.

Old Real Estate Pictures:

I recently visited my boyhood home and the German Village Schiller Park Area and the large German homes around the park.   As a child, I almost lived at Schiller Park! They have some great activities offered for the kids of the south end.   You may also want to view the Columbus, OH German Village Society site.

Columbus Männerchor: As I was taking the last few pictures of Schiller Park and my old school, Stewart Avenue (I played on this same Jungle Gym when I was six years old), I heard music and singing and decided to follow the sounds.  I saw a big tent beside the Männerchor and when I walked over to High Street, I realized it was the last day of their annual Octoberfest celebration.   I stood around the tent for a few minutes enjoying the music.

Before heading back to Athens, I decided to head over to Port Columbus and take a picture of the oldest control tower used back in the forties and before it was torn down.  I notice it every time I drive by it's 5th Ave location, and imagine how it was used back then.   While I was near the airport, I also took a picture of the latest control tower located near Lane Aviation, and the new parking garage.

Here's two sites for more information about Columbus that may be of interest.

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