I was fascinated with the March 16 issue of the Northeast News that I just had to have a hard copy. I was able to find one and pleased I did as the neighborhood map on the front page was holding my attention. You see I lived on Ninth Street and then at Seventh and Cypress all before age 5 and I never realized I lived in the Lykins neighborhood until I studied your map. A little later in my life we moved to North White, as the family bought a house in what I thought was the “White Farms,” but in reality it was the Indian Mound area.
Reading the article and reviewing the map brought back some memories about life in Northeast, things that were good but seem to be gone out of life. The first thing I thought of was that my mother always had a copy of the Northeast News in the house, a valuable document with grocery ads and coupons. Oh yeah, neighborhood news too!
The neighborhood was full of kids and I was happy about that, some friends to interact with, a joy to me. We got acquainted and began to play. We didn’t need something organized with times, uniforms and places to go, we played in the street. While the boys played baseball, the girls roller skated, only stopping for traffic or meals.
The Northeast neighborhood was a friendly place, almost everyone spoke to you or waved and if you didn’t know someone, you knew someone who knew the someone you didn’t know. And on your block you had more than one mother, which you didn’t realize until you did something wrong and then it was too late. Not every block had that advantage and as we grew and began to travel through other parts of the neighborhood we began to understand that.
It was easy to select a church. The neighborhood was rich with churches and rich with choices of denominations and a good part of the neighbors attended. Sunday was a quiet day in the neighborhood, except many of us could hear the ringing for church bells. We attended and always had something for the collection plate, which leads me to another memory: Many of the people from the neighborhood didn’t go far for jobs, the demand for labor was high at places like Armco, Pryor Brass, Vendo, and Union Wire rope to name a few. Those jobs didn’t make us rich but I don’t remember us hurting for much of anything.
There was enough satisfaction with most of us of living in Northeast that trouble was at a minimum and the majority of the neighbors felt safe and secure. Law enforcement was not needed very often.
There were also other things that helped make the neighborhood great such as the parks. Northeast had some nice parks and as us kids grew older, we were able to take advantage of the ball diamonds at the Northeast Athletic Fields. Those were organized activities and normally reserved for Saturday while school was out. Interesting to me those facilities served us well into adulthood as many of us returned to “the old neighborhood” to play adult softball.
Recreation was one of the many things the neighborhood had to offer. One did not need to go out and about to shop for various needs, the neighborhood was loaded with locally owned grocery stores and many gave you weekly credit for your food purchases until payday, try that today! Did you need medicine? There were as many pharmacies individually owned, I might say, as there were grocery stores, and everyone had a soda counter where you get a cold soft drink and spend some social time with friends. There were many other neighborhood services not mentioned that helped the neighborhood be the neighborhood. Montgomery Ward provided the large department store shopping experience without the need to travel downtown. Later in life it provided jobs to neighborhood youth, a great resource.
As I reflect on those days, we had it good, and may not have completely understood how good it was. Life’s positive values were a part of the majority of the area and many of those haven’t been retained in today’s world and to me those days, times and friendships are worth a reflection. The values that are being reintroduced through homeowner and volunteer effort are positive to see and will have a profound effect on neighborhoods. The recovery and preservation efforts are outstanding and will serve to bring back some values not seen in awhile. Don’t be defeated, keep pitching in on those neighborhood cleanup projects, the effort is not only necessary but worthwhile and valuable. Get to know your neighbors and their children and who knows, maybe baseball will return to your street.
– Al McCormick