April 25, 2011


Interviewer’s note: Diana discusses her early childhood, growing up in Troy, Ohio

I was born in 1942 so my earliest memories of Troy only go back to the late 1940’s. I don’t have any memories of the war or the years immediately afterward.

I started Kindergarten in 1947 when I was four. At that time, the only kindergarten was at Heywood school and parents had to pay for us to attend. Troy had city buses then and I took it to and from kindergarten. Right after the war, most mothers were busy with younger children, and most did not have cars. The bus dropped us off uptown, near the SE corner of the square, and I walked the rest of the way to my house. When I look at the class photo, there are 40 children and only one teacher, Miss Porter, and an assistant.

I went to ‘old’ Kyle school (Interviewer’s note: on the site of the present Kyle building) for first and second grade. My second grade class was a combined first and second, I guess the school was getting crowded by then. I remember the school as being a pretty big, forbidding place, classrooms in the corners with an open area in the center. At Christmas time, we had a pageant. Girls were dressed as angels and stood in the corners, holding candles. I wanted to be an angel but was told I couldn’t be because I wasn’t blonde! Diversity and self-esteem were unheard of then. For third and fourth grade, we went to ‘new’ Forest school, while ‘old’ Kyle was being torn down and ‘new’ Kyle’ being built. It was a pretty long walk from my home on South Market, but lots of us walked together and picked up classmates along the way, so it was pretty fun too. I was going to school there when we had the big snowstorm (1950). We got a whole week off. For fifth, sixth and seventh grade, it was back to the new Kyle school. All the eighth graders from the various elementary schools went to the ‘old’ Forest school, a big old building with the outside fire escape stairways . It has since been torn down. (Interviewer’s note: now the playground for the current Forest school). Then two years at Van Cleve High School and the last two years at the new (current) high school. We walked or rode bikes to school, and until I was in high school, we went home for lunch.

It was a much more innocent time and Troy was a very safe place for children. When I was a bit older, all the children went to the Mayflower Theater every Saturday. We went alone, no parents, but it seemed like every kid in town was there. We would see about ten cartoons and a cowboy movie or two. During intermission, the management would go onstage and pick ticket numbers. If you had the right number, you would go up and get a prize. I don’t remember winning any prizes, but my husband won a game of horseshoes. Each horseshoe had Roy Rogers’ name on it. It seems like lots of the prizes were Roy Rogers items, such as membership cards to the Roy Rogers Club. Roy was very popular in me era, first in the movies, and later on his TV show.

I can still remember the people in his show, the names of their horses, dog, the jeep, etc. He was a very fine role model for us at the time. Roy came to Troy several times, mostly to attend the trap meets in Vandalia. He and his son stayed at the Helen of Troy Motel (Interviewer’s note: now the site of the Goodwill store on West Main Street), or at a farm near Piqua where he could board Trigger. I never met him, but know people who remember him and his son.

We didn’t have TV until the mid 1950’s so movies were a popular entertainment then. When I was growing up, there were two movie theaters in town, the Jewel on East Main St. and the Mayflower, which still exists. The most popular shows in Troy were the Ma and Pa Kettle movies and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The lines to get in went all the way back to Sanders Ice Cream Store, behind the theater on north Plum Street. Sanders was a great place to go after the movies. The Sanders building was torn down and replaced by a parking lot. I also remember the Troy-Dixie drive in theater, down on Rt. 25 South, that came a little later, but was a very fun place to go in the summer. The movies would start when it got dark.

Although none of us had TVs when I was growing up, we were never bored. We learned to keep ourselves entertained. We were able to ride our bikes all over town. The Trojan Swimming Pool at the north west corner of Ridge Avenue and West Main Street was a fun place to hang out in the summer. We’d ride out bikes there and spend most of the day. No air-conditioning back then either, so we had to figure out ways to stay cool too. We played outside a lot, usually until it got dark, playing tag or catching lightning bugs. I also spent a lot of time at the Troy library, now the Hayner Cultural Center, and most of us children attended Vacation Bible School for a couple of weeks, after regular school ended for the summer.

Back then Polio was a terrible problem in the summer. Vaccines hadn’t been developed yet. The Troy newspaper printed a daily list of the new polio cases in town. Often we wouldn’t be able to go to the swimming pools if it seemed like polio was spreading. The worst cases had to go to the hospital in Dayton where they had iron lungs. I remember when the vaccine was developed, and standing in line to receive the Salk vaccine. Later on, children received the Sabin oral vaccine. Children today have no knowledge of how terrible and frightening Polio was and how wonderful it was that the vaccine was developed and getting polio was no longer a great threat.

The Greyhound buses came through Troy back then. The station was on West Franklin Street, I guess you could say in the Lollis building, although not part of the Hotel. The entrance to the station has been bricked over. Sometimes we would take the bus to Dayton to go shopping or Piqua to visit relatives. Troy had two taxi services, City Cab, on the southwest corner of the square and Gillis Cab, on the north west side. Not everyone had cars then and public transportation was commonly used. There was also a passenger train that came through Troy about 7:00 in the evening. Sometimes we would go to the train station and watch it arrive. It was pretty exciting to see the folks on board and wonder where they were going. Sometimes in the summer, Cincinnati Reds’ excursion trains would run. The train would start in Wapakoneta, make stops along the way, including Troy, and deliver us to the Cincinnati terminal. From the terminal, we would walk the few blocks to Crosley field, street vendors all along the way, very much a festival atmosphere, and everyone had lots of fun, even if the Reds lost.

Most of the grocery stores were pretty small, no supermarkets or carts back then. There were several small stores all over town and people usually bought their groceries daily. We got our meat at a meat market and the milkman delivered milk to the homes. I guess the grocery stores didn’t have much in the way of coolers or freezers. I remember the ‘popsicle’ wagons in the summer, pushed by teenage boys. We were always excited to hear the bells of the wagon coming and hoped we could buy a popsicle. They cost a nickel and drumsticks were a dime.

As far as memories of downtown Troy, I remember Murphy’s 5 & 10, on the SE corner of the square - they had a large selection of comic books and live goldfish and birds. Morris’s 5 & 10, was in the Harr’s building where the Bakeshop is now. Fulkerson’s drug store was around the corner, on West Main Street, they had a soda fountain there and we used to go there for cherry cokes. There was Oxley's drug store too, on the West Side of South Market Street. It was next to the Famous store (Lapinskys). They gift-wrapped the purchases so beautifully, making roses out of the ribbon instead of bows. On the northeast corner of the square, there was a ladies clothing store (Jean’s), along with a children's clothing store (Mabelle Ellen’s). Then there was David’s Shoe Store on the corner. We used to get our school shoes there; we would try them on and then put our feet in an x-ray machine to check the fit and see if we had enough room for our toes. That was pretty exciting to us. I’ve heard the x-ray machine is still there in the Saidleman building. It seems like all the stores were filled and busy, no malls then.

Overall it was a great time to grow up and Troy was a wonderful place to live. We knew where all our friends lived, and we were able to explore all over town on our own. We children were able to develop our imaginations, keep ourselves busy and entertained, and develop a sense of adventure, with only a few scraped knees, mosquito bites, and/or a very rare broken limb. We were well-behaved and respectful. I feel lucky to have grown up in that era.

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