West Side Park

by John Shumanow


I lived on South 12th Street and went to South 17th Street school. We used to walk to school thru West Side park. During the wwwII the military used the park as a holding camp, but I have not found any information about it. They had Tents in the park and artillery cannons. My Sisters were in their teens. and dance music came thru loud speakers. Although the area could be lighted up, during the war we had black outs. That area was at the 13th street entrance of the park. Sadly I also remember the Stars displayed in the windows of soldiers that were killed We also had Block parades for collecting paper and metal for the war effort. My mother saved the used oil from cooking in coffee cans.

The park in the 1940's had a lake and a terraced lover's lane with wisteria vines growing all over it. The park had a soft ball field and a base ball field. A tennis court at the top of the hill. In the winter we used the hill for sledding and skiing. If you entered the park from 13th street you would pass a flat surface area where dances were held. We used that area for roller skating. At the top of the hill was a round covered band stand and we gathered around with blankets or chairs to listen to the musicians that played for us. During the summer arts and crafts were free to the children. There was a building with toilets and two large sand boxes for the children. Just beyond the sand box were swings and a merry go round. Further down they had a area for older children with swings and see saw. When I was growing up West Side Park was a paradise for children and a safe place to play. I have fond memories of those days.

16th Avenue had all the shops. You could buy live chickens in a store and another store live fish that swam in marbled tubs at the front of the store We watched them swim (Carp) through the front windows. When I was 8 years old I would go shopping for my mother. I lived on the corner building of 12th and 16th Avenue The building had a candy store. The Avenues were lain with cobble stones and the streets red brick. We had the Trolley cars with electric poles going up and down the Avenues. I can still smell the ozone from the spark they made. So many memories. We also had man push a oven on wheels loaded with sweet potatoes. melted butter and brown paper to hold the potato what a treat for 5 cents. I'll stop now because there a so many good memories of my childhood.


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