Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Erie Terminal

I wrote recently about student safety patrols.  One of the fun “perks” of being a patrol boy was the annual trip to Cleveland to see an Indians game. We took the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad out of the Erie Terminal in downtown Youngstown, located at 112 Commerce Street, where Phelps intersects with it. After those trips as a boy, I never gave the building a thought, even though its six stories were a dominant feature in the Youngstown skyline seen from Youngstown State. I’m sure I passed by it when I was working at McKelvey’s. Passenger rail service continued until January 14, 1977, though it had been dwindling to a few passengers a day for some time.

At one point, it was a very different story. The Erie Railroad had passenger service between New York and Chicago.  Youngstown was exploding, growing from 133,000 in 1920 to just over 170,000 in 1930. Until after World War 2, the quickest way one traveled between these cities was rail. Four major railroad trunk lines converged in Youngstown. So in 1922, the Erie Railroad commissioned Youngstown architect Paul Boucherle as architect for a six story building that would serve as terminal for the Erie Railroad’s passenger traffic and offices for the railroad. After completing this rectangular Classical Revival building in 1923, Boucherle moved his own architectural offices into the building.

The building sat vacant after rail traffic ended and the Erie Lackawana consolidated into Conrail. In 1986, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Youngstown Multiple Resource Area. There are a number of historical buildings that are included in this listing for downtown Youngstown and the significance of listing is to deem the building worth historic preservation, which may qualify those preserving the building for tax breaks.

In the early 2010’s Dominic Marchionda, a native Youngstowner joined with a New York property group to form NYO Property Group. The renovation of the Erie Terminal (now Erie Terminal Place) was one of his first projects, which also include the Wick Tower and the conversion of the Stambaugh Building to a DoubleTree Hotel. In 2012 the renovated building was opened with a cookie shop, brew pub and art gallery on the ground floor and 40 modern apartments on the upper floors. The original wood doors were refurbished, windows were replaced to match the originals, and masonry cleaned and re-pointed. The picture above was taken before work began, and the before and after are stunning.

The property is a popular off-campus alternative for Youngstown State students, located near the Business College and just down the hill from campus. In 2017, the university actually leased five rooms to provide residences for seventeen international students. The building is managed by LY Property Management, which handles rentals. You can get a great glimpse of the apartments and other amenities at the website.

There are questions about the future of the property. In July of 2019 it, along with The Flats at Wick, by YSU, were listed for sale with Platz Realty. The university is in negotiation for The Flats at Wick. No buyer is mentioned for Erie Terminal Place, which is listed at $6.35 million. There are financial issues with the Flats, which is in foreclosure proceedings for default on a $5.5 million loan. Also, Dominic Marchionda, along with former Mayor Sammarone, and Finance Director Bozanich are facing 101 corruption charges for which they were scheduled to go on trial in June of 2020. All three had entered not guilty pleas to the charges. Recently, Judge Maureen Sweeney ruled to separate Dominic Marchionda’s trial from the others and subsequently former Mayor Sammarone plead guilty to two charges. Due to the pandemic, trial dates have not been set.

With college enrollments up in the air as is the nation’s economy, it’s hard to say what will happen next with this almost 100 year old building. It’s a survivor, and one hopes for many good years ahead as the university and downtown continue to grow together.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Daniel L. Coit and Coitsville


US Census, Ruhrfisch, Map of Mahoning County with Municipal and Township Labels, licensed under (CC BY-SA 3.0) The file has been converted to .jpg form. Coitsville is in the northeast corner of the county.

Coitsville Township is a small township in the northeast corner of Mahoning County. The township website includes photographs of cornfields, sheep, wildlife preserves and woodlands. In 2010, the population of the township was 1,392 people. It’s most famous resident was educator William Holmes McGuffey and was also the home of long time Vindicator political reporter Clingan Jackson. The existing township is only about half of the original township, parts of it going to Youngstown, Struthers, and Campbell. Amos Loveland was the first to settle in Coitsville in 1798. The History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties lists these residents by 1801: James Bradford, David Cooper, Andrew Fitch, John Gwin, Amos Loveland, James Muns, William Martin, Samuel McBride, Alexander McGreffey, John Potter, Rodger Shehy, James Shields, James Smith, John Thornton, William Wicks, James White, Francis White.

No one by the name of Coit. Similar to Boardman, Coitsville is named after the land investor from the Connecticut Land Company, Daniel Lathrop Coit. Coit, along with Moses Cleaveland (after whom Cleveland is named–they dropped the first “a”) and Joseph Perkins were among the earliest involved in the company. As was the case with many members of the company, including Elijah Boardman, Daniel Coit purchased lots 1 through 28 in township 2 in the First Range, giving the township his name, but never moved there.

So who was Daniel Lathrop Coit? His family traces Glamorganshire, Wales, and John Coit came to Salem, Massachusetts in 1638. Daniel was born in 1754 to Joseph and Lydia (Lathrop) Coit in New London, Connecticut. He moved to Norwich with his family in 1775 and apprenticed with his uncles Doctors Daniel and Joshua Lathrop, apprenticing in their mercantile and pharmacy business. In 1782, when Daniel had passed he and Joshua became partners in Lathrop and Coit in a growing business. He represented the business in dealings in England and traveled throughout Europe. While in France, he dined with Benjamin Franklin. When Joshua retired, he entered a partnership with Thomas Lathrop, and met a girl in Lathrop’s house, Elizabeth Bill, who in 1785 moved into his new home as his wife.

With increasing trade difficuties with England, he eventually sold out his mercantile business and joined the Connecticut Land Company in 1796. In addition to purchasing the land that became Coitsville and selling its lots after they were surveyed, he had, through inheritance, interests in the “Firelands,” a large tract of land west of the Western Reserve given to indemnify Connecticut residents for losses from fires started by Benedict Arnold and British General Tryon during the Revolutionary War. While never residing in Ohio, he visited five times, including a trip on horseback through Pittsburgh up to Cleveland, no doubt stopping at Coitsville. While he pursued other ventures, his land ventures in Ohio were the most profitable. His son Henry married and moved to Ohio where he also was successful with land ventures. Daniel Coit died in Norwich in 1833 at the age of 79.

In addition to his involvement with the Connecticut Land Company’s critical work of surveying and settling the Western Reserve, Coit’s family produced at least one famous descendent. His daughter, Eliza Coit married William Charles Gilman. One of their sons was Daniel Coit Gilman, the first president of Johns Hopkins University, the first university in the United States to combine teaching and research at the graduate level along the lines of European universities. He also established the hospital at Johns Hopkins, one of the premier medical facilities in the country.

And that’s the story of Daniel Lathrop Coit and his family, and how Coitsville got its name.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown – Student Safety Patrols

AAA stamp

USPS AAA Commemorative stamp, Charles R. Chickering, USPS Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Public Domain.

Were you a patrol boy or patrol girl when you went to elementary school in Youngstown. At Washington Elementary, where I went to school, you could be on the safety patrol if you were in fifth or sixth grade. When I was in school, the safety patrol was limited to boys. This was from 1964 to 1966. Girls were already participating elsewhere.

The safety patrol were basically crossing guards at the crossings by our school. We had an assigned patrol schedule made out by the student captain. At our school, this covered morning, mid-day for kindergarten, and end of the day. Safety patrols had to wear a distinctive belt of an off-white webbing with a belt, shoulder strap, and badge that would be pinned to the shoulder strap on your chest. (Now the belts are electric green). Some call these Sam Browne belts. The old webbed belts would get dirty, and once every week or two, I would have to scrub my belt at the laundry tub with soap and a scrub brush.

When students were ready to cross, guards would look to see that no cars were rapidly approaching the intersection or in the crosswalk, then either hold flags saying “stop” on long poles, or they would walk out into the crosswalk, holding their arms out, as is pictured in the stamp image above. When it was not safe to cross, you stood on the curb and held your flag across the intersection to block students from crossing.

Obviously, you had to be on duty in all kinds of weather. Slushy snow was probably the worst because you would have soaked feet when it was all over. The best were those glorious days of fall or spring, especially when you got to leave class early for your duty. We also had periodic training meetings led by the captain or lieutenant, under the oversight of our advisor, a teacher.

One of the ways the safety patrol was recognized every year was that they had a Junior School Patrol Day at a Saturday afternoon game at Cleveland Stadium. We all congregated at the Erie-Lackawanna Terminal downtown to take the train to Cleveland. We’d watch the game, root for the Indians, fill our stomachs with hot dogs, walk back to the train station and arrive back home in the early evening. We’d also get a certificate from the American Automobile Association (AAA) at the end of the year recognizing our service at the school awards assembly. The AAA provided our belts, badges, and crossing flags as well.

The AAA started the School Safety Patrol program in the 1920’s (the 1902 date on the stamp is when the itself started). By that time, cars had become common and posed a danger to students walking to school. They developed safety manuals for training patrols. They even created a pledge:

“I pledge to report for duty on time, perform my duties faithfully, strive to prevent accidents, always setting a good example myself, obey my teachers and officers of the patrol, report dangerous student practices, strive to earn the respect of followers.”

Now, there is even online video training for safety patrols. Today there are more than 600,000 safety patrollers in 32,000 schools. Many places, however, have now replaced them with adult crossing guards. Youngstown no longer has student safety patrols.

There are some very famous safety patrollers. They include presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas,  former Chrysler exec Lee Iacocca, and baseball personality Joe Garagiola. There were many others of us, not famous, who learned responsibility and leadership, and learned how to look out for others on the safety patrol.



Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Living on a Budget Youngstown-style

vintage youngstown postcardOur country has been hard hit by unemployment during the current pandemic. Growing up in working class Youngstown, many of us went through tight times. I remember a period when my dad was unemployed in the ’60’s, and under-employed for a period of time. Unemployment checks didn’t go very far, and there were no supplements. At other times, union workers were on strike and had to live on strike pay, as long as it lasted. Here are some of the ways we got by:

  1. We grew, caught, and shot our food when we could. We had gardens, canned, fished, and hunted. We went out and picked strawberries, apples, other fresh fruit from local fruit farms. Going picking took care of one meal as you picked and ate.
  2. Many of our favorite dishes came from inexpensive staples. Brier Hill pizza, haluski, pierogies, and what my mom called “slumgullion,” a cheap stew.
  3. We bought “day old” bread from the Wonder store that cost less than half a regular loaf. Fried baloney sandwiches were a great treat.
  4. Dad used to get “retreads” for his tires. As long as the sidewall was in good shape, this was a lot cheaper than a new set of tires.
  5. Cars were easier to work on and many guys did their own oil changes, brake jobs, tune ups and even engine repairs.
  6. Clothes were saved and mended for hand-me-downs. Somehow, mom always made us look presentable for school.
  7. We started doing odd jobs early–cutting lawns, baby-sitting, raking leaves, shoveling snow, delivering papers. Some men did house painting or other home repair work for hire; women took house cleaning jobs.
  8. I’m used to a lot of books around the home. Back then, we brought armloads of books home from the library. No videos. Just books.
  9. We went to matinees or double features. If we went to movies as a family, it was to the drive-in and brought our food.
  10. When we couldn’t pay to go to sports games, we played. Sometimes we got by with baseballs wrapped in electrical tape or basketballs worn smooth that you had to pump up before, and sometimes, during the game.

One big resource many of us had were extended families that lived nearby and helped out. Grandparents, aunts and uncles. I spent most of one summer during this time with grandparents. I suspect one less hungry mouth helped the rest of the family get by.

The funny thing was that we not only got by but had a rich life growing up.  War stories and baseball biographies were great for rainy days. My friends and I spent hours over the family Monopoly game, making and losing imaginary fortunes. The equipment wasn’t the greatest, but our games of baseball, football, or basketball were no less fun for it. The money we earned at those odd jobs gave a sense of pride and taught us how to work and be responsible.

None of this is to make light of the struggle people face today. The suddenness of how everything has changed has caught us off guard. Whole businesses have gone from profitable to closed in a day. The complication of a potentially dangerous illness is unique. But there was a “Youngstown tough” that we grew up with that we can remember and learn from. We can get through this.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Benjamin F. Wirt


Benjamin F. Wirt, from The Biographical Annals of Ohio (1902). Public Domain

I have two memories of Wirt Street growing up. One was that I dated a girl for a while in Liberty and often, the quickest (though a bit scary) way home was down Wirt Street from Belmont to the West River Crossing Freeway to the West side. The other was as the site of a driving mishap. I was in college and went to visit a friend at Allegheny College. Driving home the morning after a snow storm, I had edged my way down Wirt Street to where it bent to the right, just before the freeway entrance, and I hit a patch of ice, banging into the curb. It “only” resulted in a bent tire rim and a badly knocked out of line front end. It was dad’s car so I paid. Not the happiest of memories of Wirt Street (now Wirt Boulevard).

The Wirt family, of which Benjamin F. Wirt was the most famous, is one of Youngstown’s early families, and I cannot be certain after whom Wirt Street was named, or if it simply represents one of Youngstown’s early families as does Wick Avenue. Peter Wirt was born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and moved to Youngstown after the War of 1812. He had a farm in the Brier Hill district and so the street name may possibly be attributed to him. His son William was born in Youngstown in 1826. He worked as a builder and contracter. He married Eliza Sankey in 1849 and Benjamin was born during the family’s brief stay in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, in Mercer County, in 1852.

Benjamin was a graduate of The Rayen School in 1869 and went on to read law with W. D. Woodworth, was admitted to the bar in 1873 and joined his teacher in a firm now called Woodworth & Wirt. They remained partners until 1880. In 1881 he married Mary M. McGeehen of New Bedford, Pennsylvania and they took up residence at 31 West Rayen Avenue. From 1880 to 1896, he practiced law on his own, handling many important court cases. He entered into partnership with M. A. Norris in 1896, then was elected to the state senate for two terms from 1899-1903 (This is based on his listing in the Biographical Annals of Ohio: A Handbook of the Government and Institutions of the State of Ohio published in 1902). Other articles list him from 1889-1893, but based on the listing, I believe these in error. His terms began just after those of William R. Stewart in the state house of representatives (incidentally Stewart read law in the firm of Woodworth & Wirt!).

Wirt ended his partnership with Norris in 1901, practiced alone until 1911 and then formed the firm of Wirt and Gunlefinger. He served as president of the Equity Savings and Loan Company, changed in 1920 to Federal Savings and Loan Company, one of Youngstowns major lending institutions of the time. He also served as president of the Sons of the American Revolution.

The lasting legacy of Benjamin F. Wirt stems from his and his wife Mary’s collection of rare books, documents, coins, artifacts, and art works.  He had a library of over 4,000 books, one of the largest private libraries at the time in northeast Ohio. Many were rare or first editions. He was a fan of Ohio author William Dean Howells and the collection included correspondence with Howells sister-in-law Eliza, as well as proof sheets and autographed letters. Upon his death in 1930, his estate was placed in trust and it was hoped that the trustees would establish a museum to properly display his collection. The collection remained in storage until the 1960’s. In 1962 Judge John Ford appointed five trustees to carry out Wirt’s last wishes. There was not enough in the trust to build the museum. However, an agreement was reached in 1965 that the Mahoning Valley Historical Society would house and exhibit the collection within the Arm Family Museum, where it is housed to this day.

Wirt followed the path of many of Youngstown’s distinguished citizens. He came from one of the early families. He made his mark in the practice of law, represented Youngstown in state government, led one of the city’s important financial institutions, and left a lasting legacy to the city, enriching its cultural life, and providing resources to researchers to the present day.


Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — William R. Stewart


Photograph of William R. Stewart in the George Washington Williams Room of the Ohio Statehouse, featuring all the African-American legislators in Ohio

He was the son of one of the first African-American families to settle in Youngstown. He was the first African-American legislator from Youngstown. He helped secure the funding to build the first Market Street Bridge and secured taxpayer funding for Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital. After returning from two terms in the state legislature, he worked another six decades as an attorney in Youngstown and at his death in 1958 was called the “dean of the Mahoning County Bar.”

William R . Stewart was born to Lemuel and Mary Stewart on October 29, 1864, in New Castle, Pennsylvania. A year later, the family came via canal boat to Youngstown, where Lemuel Stewart worked as a bricklayer, in partnership with P. Ross Berry, who built 65 structures in the Youngstown area, including a number in downtown Youngstown’s Diamond Block.

While going to school, he joined his father in bricklaying work, and graduated from the Rayen School in 1883. After a short stint with a railroad that soon became defunct, he began reading law in the law office of Woodworth and Wirt. He earned enough in a side business of cutting through red tape to obtain pensions for Civil War veterans, that he was able to enroll in the University of Cincinnati Law School, meeting his wife Consuela, a medical student. They returned to Youngstown where he set up a law practice in the Diamond Block and she practiced medicine as Youngstown’s first female Black physician until passing in 1911.

In 1895, he won election to the Ohio Legislature, running as a Republican. He served two terms there, from 1896 to 1899. In addition to his work on securing funding for the Market Street Bridge and Saint Elizabeth’s, he helped pass an anti-mob violence bill, and one placing justices of the peace on a salary rather than funding them by a fee system. He legislated for police and fire pensions.

He returned to Youngstown, developing an extensive law practice. One of his cases was a landmark railroad case under the new federal liability act. He established the right of his plaintiff to establish his claim based both on state and federal law, a precedent cited in many legal texts. Because of his experience with pensions, he became a trustee for the Youngstown Police Pension Fund. He served on the Youngstown Interracial Committee promoting racial understanding. He was also an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Stewart obit

Screen capture from Google News Archive of Vindicator, April 5, 1958, p. 1 story on the death of William R. Stewart.

After the Diamond Block was demolished, he moved his offices to the Union National Bank building. His pride and joy, though was his Tod Lane home, particularly his rose gardens. He also had a library of over 1,000 volumes. Late in his life, a hip fracture limited his mobility, and he died in his home on April 5, 1958 at the age of 93. He left an estate of a half million dollars, quite sizable for his time.

That caught my attention. He was born during the Civil War and lived until I was nearly four years old. He came to Youngstown when the small village was turning into an iron and coal center. He helped his father and P. Ross Berry build some of its buildings. He served in the state legislature, connected the South Side to downtown and witnessed the transformation of the city into a major industrial center. He was a civic leader respected by the whole city as well as within the black community and sought to foster interracial understanding.

It is surprising to me that his name, as far as I know, appears on no structure or monument in the city. His contributions were numerous, and until I came across his name while looking for something else, I never knew about him. Now I do, and I hope by writing about him, I can contribute to his memory in the city.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Dana School of Music


Unknown., “William Henry Dana, founder of the Dana Musical Institute. ,” Trumbull Memory Project, accessed April 17, 2020,

During 2018-2019, Dana School of Music celebrated its 150th year. That’s an interesting number, because Youngstown State is only 112 years old. It points to a history that goes back to 1869, to a rented room above a hardware store in Warren, Ohio, at the corner of Market and Main Streets. Back of that story was a man who had a vision for quality music instruction at a time when many music conservatories had abysmally low standards.

William Henry Dana was born in Warren, Ohio in 1846. At the age of 16, he went to Williston Seminary to study civil engineering, following in the footsteps of his father Junius, a civil engineer in Warren. He left his studies to serve in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, returning after the war to work with his father. His real interest, though, was music, and he went to Baxter University of Music, graduating in 1869.

After graduation, he returned to Warren. He had been dismayed by the low standards of instruction in many music schools and determined to set up a school that was different. This included:

Daily Instruction. Compulsory studies. Stated hours of study and practice and these guarded against interruption. Salaried teachers whose life and interests are centered in the school’s best welfare. (Catalogue, 1931-32, p. 6 via JSTOR).

With those principles, Dana established the Dana Musical Institute. At first his father was opposed, perceiving most musicians in the same class as drunkards. Apparently William won him over, because he became the main financial supporter of the school and served as secretary of the Institute until 1906.

In 1871, tuition at the Institute, only the third to in Ohio after Oberlin and Cincinnati, was a mere $75 for a full year of instruction. Initially most of the students were from the Warren area but the quality of instruction and affordable tuition attracted students from throughout the Midwest and Northeast, They rapidly outgrew their rented facilities and moved to a four story mansion on Park Avenue and High Street that once served as a stage coach stop. Eventually, women’s and men’s dormitories were added.

There were high standards for students and faculty. Students were required to attend church as well as twice-daily chapels, and had a curfew and could not drop out of their studies except in cases of illness. All the faculty were to be married, of an age to be respected by the students and devoted to the school’s interests.

Dana matched discipline with musical excellence. He pursued studies abroad in England and Germany, was a member of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and authored several texts on music theory. By 1911, it was chartered to grant Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Music degrees.

William Henry Dana died in 1916. His son Lynn B. Dana, vice president from 1901, became president upon his father’s death. He was a concert pianist, Royal Academy of Music member and serve a stint as president of the Ohio Music Teachers Association, pioneering the Standardization of Music Teaching.

After a dip in enrollments during the first World War, enrollments climbed to 700 in the 1920’s. At this time, the Dana Music Institute claimed to be the only music school in the world to support its own string quartet, string orchestra, symphony orchestra, military band and chorus.

In 1931, Ohio required music degrees be granted from accredited colleges. The Institute was only a conservatory, not an accredited college. Dana attempted to establish cooperative relationships with Hiram, and later Kent State. During this time, enrollments dropped from 700 to 253.

In the fall of 1941, the school moved to Youngstown, was renamed the Dana School of Music, and became part of what was then Youngstown College. Sadly, Lynn B. Dana died before the beginning of classes, that year. An epoch of the Institute in Warren ended. But a new one in Youngstown began which has carried on to this day.

In my day on campus in the early 1970’s, I remember going to recitals at the old recital hall which is now the Sweeney Welcome Center, part of YSU’s Admissions Office. In 1977, the Dana School of Music moved into newly opened Bliss Hall, which continues to serve as its home.

In an article in YSU Magazine on Dana’s 150th anniversary it featured the diverse range of outstanding musicians trained at Dana:

  • John Anthony, a local rock guitarist.
  • Jazz musician Sean Jones, artistic director of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, and Chair of Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins.
  • Baroque flutist Mary Oleskiewicz
  • Pianist Christina Reitz.
  • Gospel musician Mark Jackson
  • Trombonist Bob Matchett
  • Country music songwriter and member of the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Bob DiPiero.
  • Soprano Amanda Beagle
  • Billy Beck, member of the R & B supergroup, the Ohio Players.

What is impressive to me is the musical excellence across so many genres of music. I also knew many others whose excellence took the form of teaching careers in schools, inspiring students to love and make great music. It shouldn’t be surprising that such excellence might be found here. It was the passion of William Henry Dana. And now it is a 150 year tradition.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Packard Brothers

Packard Brothers

James Ward Packard and William Doud Packer

For most of us, the Packard name has one of two associations. Many of us from the Mahoning Valley attended concerts or other events, including productions of the Kenley Players, at the Packard Music Hall in Warren. Others may have worked, or knew someone who did, at Packard Electric, later Delphi. If you are an auto buff, you may remember Packard automobiles.

All of this traces back to two brothers, James Ward Packard and William Doud Packard, born two years apart in Warren, Ohio in 1861 (William) and 1863 (James). Their father was a prominent Warren businessman and the family had been involved with lumber mills, hardware stores, hotels, and an iron rolling mill. After James graduated from Lehigh University in 1884 he returned to Warren, won a patent for an incandescent light bulb, and joined with his brother William in forming the Packard Electric Company in 1890. The original business focused around the manufacture of incandescent bulbs until this was spun off to General Electric, who for a time had been a silent partner. This occurred around 1903.

Packard_factory_no10_interior_1906 (1)

Manning Brothers Publishing / Public domain via Wikimedia

Meanwhile, James had purchased a car from the Winton Company, with which he was dissatisfied. He and his brother joined with George L. Weiss to form a company first called Packard & Weiss, later called the Ohio Automobile Company, and finally the Packard Motor Car Company in 1902. Their first car was built in 1899. The cars were built in the same buildings occupied by Packard Electric. Then Henry Bourne Joy, a wealthy Detroit industrialist bought a Packard, and was so impressed with the quality of the car that he formed a group of investors. While James Packard remained president, they moved the company to Detroit where Joy served as general manager and later chairman of the board. The Packard became known as the American luxury car, comparable to Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz. Packards were manufactured until 1958.

With the automobile manufacturing in Detroit, and General Electric taking over their incandescent bulb manufacturing, Packard Electric focused on the manufacture of the electrical components in automobiles–ignition systems, wiring harnesses, and other electrical components–for Packard and other auto manufacturers.

At this point the Packards were wealthy men. William built a Warren and Wetmore-designed home in Chatauqua with a duplicate in Warren. He donated the land for Packard Park, completed in 1915. In 1920, three years before he died, he set aside money in his will for a trust to fund a music hall and band. After Katherine Packard died in 1940, plans began for the music hall, which was opened in 1955 as the W. D. Packard Music Hall. The remainder of the trust was used for establishing and maintaining the Packard Band.

James passed away in 1928. Before he died he gave a $1.2 million gift to build what became the Packard Labs at Lehigh University, and the home of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. When the building was dedicated in 1930 a Packard “Ohio Model A” was donated to Lehigh and remains to this day in the lobby of the building.

In 1932, Packard Electric was acquired by General Motors, becoming part of its Delphi Automotive Systems in 1995. GM spun off Delphi in 1999 and declared bankruptcy in 2005 when the facilities in Warren with a history going back to 1890 were closed. The company had been known for some of the best automotive wiring components in the world.

While the Packard businesses are gone, their impact on Warren remains in the form of Packard Music Hall, the Packard Band, Packard Park, and The National Packard Museum.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Crandall Park


Sledding at Crandall Park, photo by Don Tankovich, used with permission.

I grew up on the West Side and both sets of grandparents lived on the south side. My only childhood memory was one time when my grandparents took me there. I remember the lake, a play area, tree-lined walkways, and heavily wooded areas. In more recent years, while my parents were still living at Park Vista, we drove past Crandall Park and the Crandall neighborhoods, which offered glimpses of their grand past.

Crandall Park is named after Nelson Crandall, who made his and his family’s fortune working at Brier Hill Iron and Coal Works. He was the secretary for the estate of Governor David Tod, and later collaborated with Henry Tod and John Stambaugh in building the Tod House in 1870. When Youngstown was still a village centered around the downtown, Tod bought a farm north of the village, bordering on the Trumbull County line at Gypsy Lane that also included the land that would become Crandall Park proper surrounded by many of the stately homes that survive to this day.

Beginning in 1904 The North Heights Land Company and the Realty Guarantee Trust Company acquired the land and began development of the area. The Realty Trust donated the ravined area of Andrews Hollow, the portion west of Fifth Avenue becoming Crandall Park, named after the Crandall family. They extended Fifth Avenue north to Gypsy Lane and built a collection of some of the grandest homes in Youngstown along the roads surrounding the park and nearby areas, homes that would be the residences of industry magnates like Thomas Bray, president of Republic Iron and Steel, Frank Purnell, President of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, Edward Clark, president of Newton Steel, and George Brainard, president of General Fireproofing. Philip Wick, Myron Arms, Joseph Schwebel, and Joseph Lustig also owned homes in the area.

As far as Crandall Park itself, by 1925 the lake had been created, tennis courts and picnic areas built. A pavilion was built in 1930, and the picnic shelter in 1936. As the photo above indicates, the hills of the ravine provided a great place for sledding, and when the lake froze, a great place for ice skating. The shelter and the picnic areas offered many locations for family gatherings. The park vied with Wick Park for the honor of most scenic city park in Youngstown.

Most of us remember this area with memories like these. Like other parts of Youngstown, it suffered decline with the mill closures in the late 1970’s. Housing stock south of the park has decline more but the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation has been working with neighborhood residents since 2014 to renew the area. The area has been designated the Crandall Park-Fifth Avenue Historic District. In 2017 the pavilion in Crandall Park was reopened after renovations.

One hopes this work continues. Grand homes, a beautiful park for community gatherings. Shaded streets and boulevards. A reminder of Youngstown’s grandeur, and perhaps a sign of hope for the future.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Milk and Egg Delivery

I remember when we used to get milk in glass bottles, and when you finished a bottle, you would wash it out and place it in an insulated metal box you kept outside your front door. Usually, about once a week, a milk truck would stop at your home, pick up the empties, and leave whatever your family had ordered. Often you would leave the money for your order in the box (it was a simpler, more honest time before “porch pirates”). When we were home during the summer, mom would always tell us to keep an eye out for the milkman from Dawson’s (not to be confused with Lawson’s, which came later) so we could get the milk in the house before it got warm. I also remember seeing the Isaly trucks in our neighborhood.

Isaly's milk delivery box

Isaly milk delivery box

Various caps were used to seal the milk. I remember the ones that were made of cardboard, usually with a message on top that said something like “wash bottle before returning.” They had a little tab in the middle that you would pull up to open the bottle. I have vivid memories of this. For a while, Dawson’s had a series that featured each of the fifty states. I believe they gave you a card to use as you collected these. Eventually, I got all fifty. I wish I still had it–it would probably be a collector’s item today.

We also had an egg man, an older local farmer, who delivered our eggs. His name may have been Bill. He delivered eggs in his car as I recall, and when it was in season, we would also buy fresh corn from him. Occasionally we bought brown-shelled eggs which tasted better. You paid him each week at the time of delivery.

Milk has been delivered in the United States since 1785 when farmers started delivering raw milk in Vermont. This continued for many years, often brought in galvanized pails, but there are limits to the distances it can be transported. Eventually milk pasteurization was introduced, mandated in 1910 in New York City. In pasteurization, milk is heated to around the boiling point, which kills much, but not all, of the bacteria (there is also a double pasteurization process that kills more). Pasteurization extends the shelf life of milk to up to three weeks. The milk we received was both pasteurized and homogenized, the latter being a process by which the fat molecules in milk are broken down, instead of rising to the top as cream.

Many companies, like Isaly’s delivered a number of other dairy products like heavy cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, and buttermilk, and sometimes other grocery items like orange juice and eggs. Part of the attraction, it seems of having these items delivered, was that they were the things you tended to use up most quickly, and it wasn’t always convenient to go to the grocery store just for them.

Two things may have changed this, at least for milk. One was the opening of convenience stores like the Lawson’s just up the street from our house, and the other was the introduction of plastic jugs, which were lighter, less slippery, and easy to carry. I suspect that prices were often better. Yet I remember the fresh taste of the eggs we got from the egg man and the just picked corn. I can’t remember if the milk was better, but I do have to say, I always liked milk as a kid, much less so today, so there might have been something to this.

It is interesting how things have come full circle. I do remember, even into the 1980’s or so, some small grocers in Youngstown delivered, especially to their elderly customers. They are all but gone now and for a while none of the larger chains delivered and people didn’t seem to want that.

Even before the current virus pandemic, that has been changing. Everyone from Amazon and its Whole Foods subsidiary to our local groceries and drug store will deliver. The Community Supported Agriculture movement of local farmers also delivers fresh produce to its subscribers each week. There is even a growing movement in Ohio allowing for raw milk deliveries.

As many of us would say in Youngstown, “everything that goes around comes around.”