Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Your Favorites of 2020

Liberty Plaza, probably in the 1960’s. Photo by Hank Perkins, used with permission of the Mahoning Valley History Society Business and Media Archives collection (http://mahoninghistory.org).

Hard to believe this is the last weekend of 2020. I suspect most of us are glad to see it go.

It has continued to be a joy to write about our home town and to read all the comments, many of which add valuable information to the article that I had not come across. In fact one of the top posts this year was suggested by a reader! So with that teaser, here is the top 10 countdown of your favorites, based on the number of views each received. The links will take you to the original post.

10. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Elijah Boardman and Family. Boardman was one of the investors in the Connecticut Land Company which held and sold the land in the Western Reserve. A political career in Connecticut prevented Boardman from living in the township but bore his name, but he surveyed the land and died during a visit to Boardman. This post led to the suggestion that I write about the Simon family, which turned out to be the second most popular post of the year.

9. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Forest Lawn Memorial Park. My parents and my grandparents on my mother’s side are buried here. I wrote about why the land ended up a cemetery rather than a real estate development and how it represented a new trend in cemeteries when it was developed.

8. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — John Struthers. Another of those individuals after whom one of the smaller towns near Youngstown is named. One of the interesting stories is that the town didn’t bear his name until his more successful son reacquired the land his father had owned and sold along Yellow Creek and renamed the settlement in his father’s honor.

7. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Our Parents Worked. Written on Labor Day weekend, I remembered how hard our parents worked in Youngstown’s businesses and industries to give us a better life. Many of you responded with stories of your parents.

6. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Frank Sinkwich. He was one of the football greats to come out of Chaney High School, winning a Heisman Trophy, playing for the Georgia Bulldogs.

5. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Ed Matey. Former teacher, football coach, and athletic director Ed Matey died this summer. He was one of my teachers at Chaney High School and I wrote a piece combining my memories and a retrospective of his career.

4. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown–The 1918 Pandemic in Youngstown. With this year’s pandemic, I thought it would be interesting to look back on the 1918 pandemic, going through Vindicator issues from 1918 to give an account of what things were like in Youngstown.

3. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — William R. Stewart. He was Youngstown’s first Black legislator in the state house. He was also one of Youngstown’s most successful attorneys. To my knowledge, there is no structure or monument to remember him in the city.

2. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Simon Family. This was one of those suggested posts. I wrote the post about Elijah Boardman. A Simon family descendent (who at the time lived in our neighborhood unbeknownst to us) suggested I write about the Simon family and arranged to have a number of great photographs sent. This was fun to write and I loved the great response!

1. Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Liberty Township. I suspect the great Hank Perkins picture of Liberty Plaza drew people in. But I also heard from many former and present Liberty Township residents.

I can’t tell you how interesting it is to learn and write about our local history. Often one story leads to another, as was the case in this list. I hope you enjoy these ten snapshots of our local history. I look forward to the things we will discover together in 2021!

To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!

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