Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Favorite Things

Wedgewood’s Brier Hill Pizza. Photo by Robert C. Trube, 2014. All rights reserved.

It’s been a crazy week that I won’t even try to go into. I thought for this weekend I would keep it light and fun and write about some of my favorite Youngstown things. I could make this a long list, but I’ll keep it to ten. That way, you can add to it. Let’s celebrate all of our favorite Youngstown things!

  1. Brier Hill Pizza. My favorite is Wedgewood’s but I bet we can have quite a debate about that one alone. Brier Hill pizza is a Youngstown original, and almost any Youngstown pizza is better than pizza anywhere else. I know.
  2. Downtown Youngstown at Christmas growing up. The lights on the Square, the displays in the store windows, and the toy selection in each store.
  3. Idora Park. The Wildcat. The Midway. WHOT Days. The Fun House. The Rockets. The Merry-go-round, The Rapids. It was all good.
  4. Cycling through Mill Creek Park in summers, sailing down those hills, pushing the curves as fast as possible. No helmet. Probably amazing that I’m still alive.
  5. Spending class breaks during college in the Butler. So much good art work. So FREE.
  6. Skyscraper cones at the main Isaly plant. There may be other ways to get more ice cream on a cone, but it looked and tasted awesome.
  7. Mill Creek Park again. Skating across Lake Glacier on cold, clear winter nights and then drinking hot chocolate by the fire.
  8. Lunch breaks at Jay’s Hotdogs downtown when I worked at McKelvey’s. I could eat for less than an hour’s work at minimum wage.
  9. The scary wonder of blast furnaces at night, making the Valley look like it was on fire.
  10. DiRusso’s Italian sausage sandwiches. Elephant ears. Lemonade shakes. Everything else about the Canfield Fair. The smell of all that food was part of the wonder of the fair. It was all good.

Like I said, we’re just getting started and I’m sure some of your favorites will be different than mine. No problem. There’s enough to go around, just like any meal at your grandma’s.

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

25 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Favorite Things

      • Handel’s ice cream! Cruising around Lake Newport in the summer. Fish fry’s and pierogi during lent. All the pizzerias.

    • Bob, I’ve been thinking about the fish and fries place I mentioned in the comment above. I have a vague memory that the long-gone Northside place was called something like “Ready Fry” and it was on either Belmont or 5th Ave. But I cannot find any sign of it. I was wondering if anyone has any memory of it?

      Thanks for all of your posts. I’ve been gone almost 50 years and Youngstown still looms so large in my memory.

  1. The chocolate frostee-like cone from the stand in the basement of McKelvey’s, near the only escalator in Youngstown, and not far from the shoe department with its fluoroscope where you could see your toes wiggle in the new shoes about to be bought.

  2. Great Minds think alike i’m in the middle of making my first food video and yes it’s about great pizza’s in the valley .
    Thanks Bob

    Joseph Napier Sr.
    Napiervision Productions

  3. Friday night high school football, the beautiful Main library, the OLD theater on Belmont with the 3 faces on the side.! Are they still there?

  4. The chocolate malt at Strouss’ is the first on my list, too, not least because my grandmother worked that counter. Not only were they delicious and forming a wonderful memory for 60 years later—-they were free and came with a kiss. Thank you again and still, Grandma.
    I can attest that, having left the Youngstown area in 1975 and searched for good pizza while living in four other states, we’ve never found better pizza than in Youngstown regardless which you choose. Our favs were Belleria Pizzeria (on Albert St.) and Cornersburg Pizza (before moving away

  5. Brier Hill with onions from Cornersburg Pizza in Cornersburg (Mrs. Lu!) is the defining memory for me. When I’m in the area, I still stop by there for a pie.

    BTW, this is great content for those of us who grew up in that special part of the world.

  6. Indora Park fries, Westgate Pizza, working at the Western Reserve Room in the Strauss’ downtown while going to YSU. Mill Creek Park, going to see plays at the Youngstown Play house. Just a few of the great memories that came flooding in to my mind while reading this post. Such a mood lifter! Thank you for the break from the here and now, even if only for a short time.

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