Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Ten Fall Activities

Lake Cohasset

Lake Cohasset, Photo (c) Bob Trube

I just came back from a trip and found my yard littered with leaves. That is the sign for me that fall has officially arrived. Cool crisp days. Early sunsets. First frosts. Football Fridays. All this set me to thinking of my top ten fall activities as I was growing up in Youngstown. Your list might be different but I bet at least a few of these are on yours!

10. Raking leaves into big piles and jumping into them. Wasn’t this a clever way for our parents to get us to rake the leaves?

9. Burning leaves when this was still allowed. Nearly every late afternoon, you could scent the smell of burning leaves in the air. The pyromaniac in me loved doing this. Thankfully, I never set anything on fire I wasn’t supposed to!

8. Hayrides at some of the rural farms in the area. Always more fun if you were with a girl, but I remember great evenings singing folk songs, eating fried donuts, drinking cider around a campfire.

7. Haunted houses. Weird lighting effects. Skeletons and ghouls that would leap out at you. Headless horsemen. Great for raising money for local causes.

6. Touch football after school. Seems like most of my buddies growing up weren’t good enough to play on a team but that didn’t keep us from playing epic contests at Borts field, pretending we were Frank Ryan, Jim Brown, or Gary Collins (those were the years I was a Browns fan). No helmets, no pads but can’t remember any of us getting hurt. We did manage to get muddy.

5. Pressing the most colorful leaves we could find into books between sheets of wax paper. Forgetting you did this until you cleaned out your parents’ house years later.

4. Listening to or watching the World Series. Most of the time it seems we were either rooting for the Yankees or against them. Sadly, no Indians teams to root for back then. So glad it is different now. This could be the year!

3. Football rivalries and homecomings. Our big rivalry was the Chaney-Austintown Fitch game. Every school had one.

2. Making our Halloween costumes. It was cheaper and somehow more fun to go as a pirate, bum, princess, or tramp then any of the cheesy costumes they sold at the store. And some people rewarded creativity with candy!

1. Probably for everyone, the big activity was walking, riding, or driving through Mill Creek Park savoring the smell of the leaves and the myriad of colors. I most loved how some of the trees seemed to glow with a light of their own on dark and rainy days.

While summer was probably my favorite season as a kid (no school), I think the fall season is probably my favorite now. I still love working in the yard on those cool, crisp days and the colors and smells of autumn leaves. While I’ve outgrown some of my favorite activities from those growing up years, I still enjoy the memory of them. How about you?




Cold Weather — The Book Lover’s Friend

In our patch of the world, the weather forecasts for the next week are downright chilly and our weather man even used the dreaded “polar vortex” phrase last night. It occurred to me that for the book lover, this is not such a bad thing:

1. I can feel good about not doing yard work when sleet is flying! No one else is out there either.

2. For the same reason, it is a good time to prowl your favorite book store. The ones that serve hot coffee or tea or cocoa are especially nice.

3. Or maybe it’s time to check out the latest additions to your local library. Ours even has a fireplace!

4. It’s a great time to catch up on those reviews and book lists for new ideas of books you’d like to read.

5. If you feel the need to do something that is considered household work, this is a great time to cull your own personal library and donate or sell those books.

6. Christmas is not too far off and it can be fun to think about the books you might give a literary friend!

7. If you log your books on Goodreads, LibraryThing, or a similar site, it is a great time to catch up on these entries and let your friends know what you’ve been reading.

8. Don’t forget, as Winston Churchill famously counselled, to “fondle” your books! Look through your shelves, open up something you’ve wanted to read some day and skim through some sections just to get a good sense of why you might still want to read that book, or not!

9. Of course, this is a great chance to catch up on past posts from Bob on Books (had to get a promo in somewhere!). A great place to start are my “The Month in Reviews”  posts which I do at the beginning of each month of books I reviewed the previous month.

10. Last of course, and what we’ve all been waiting for, is that this is the chance to snuggle up in that comfortable chair, with comfy shoes or slippers, a warm drink, and that book that will transport us into book lover bliss!

So when everyone is bemoaning the arrival of chilly weather or, as people in my city do, go bezonkers at the sight of a snow flake, you can quietly smile to yourself and think of the good book just waiting for you!