With this article, 1812Blockhouse begins a new series, Richland Recollections, that will feature remembrances of Richland County as told by those who lived here.
Today’s article features Sally (Huber) Lanyon, who grew up in Mansfield in the 1950s. On Thursday, we featured an article about Sally and her upcoming return for a book signing next week at Main Street Books. She is the co-creator of Brutus Buckeye and co-author of “The Autobiography of Brutus Buckeye: As Told To His Parents.”
Sally recently shared the following memories with 1812Blockhouse. It’s a great read!
“I grew up in one of four matching houses on Arlington Avenue, red brick on the bottom and white horizontal wood slats on the top. Three of our yards ran together sans fences and two of them backed up into Jake and Mary Peters’ farm. Our lot went uphill into an electric substation, but the corner bordered on their farm, which had no electricity. We used to maneuver the fence to trek into the fields, dodging the cows. During growing season, my Mom sent me, via the street, to buy corn and tomatoes from Jake. His sister Mary didn’t speak to us, and I think Jake spoke mostly German. Some afternoons we’d see an unshaven Jake teetering toward his farm with a bottle of something in a brown paper sack and shaking his fingers at kids at play.
We never locked our house or car doors. My two brothers played endless basketball in our driveway, shooting at a basket Dad erected on the garage. All the kids on the street between Fairlawn and Linden knew each other and felt comfortable hanging out in mostly any house or heading down to the tennis courts or the swampy field beyond to scoop up pollywogs to watch as they transformed into frogs. My parents probably didn’t know where I was half the time, but it didn’t matter as long as I came home in time for dinner. On summer days we named the shapes of clouds and in the evening we played Hide’N’Go seek until dark.
I was a climbing tree sort of girl. I remember hanging upside down on our Silver Maple trees in our front yard or another tree in the next block close to Crawl’s (sp?) Corner Store, but my favorite was to climb the tall pine trees on the Draffan Estate and declare it a secret fort. I also loved to walk the grounds of Kingwood Center, especially during tulip season, and admired the inside of the house when I played in a piano recital there.
We walked and rode our bikes freely, walking to Brinkerhoff Elementary and walking or riding to Johnny Appleseed Junior High and Mansfield Senior. I tell my sons that I carried my cello uphill both ways in the snow to Junior High. One day that was nearly true. We were often saved from bad weather by Lou Farber’s mother offering to drive. In the summer, I’d ride to the Woodland Club for tennis and swimming, explore the countryside along Millsboro and Trimble or head to the park where the Blockhouse stood.
I have many memories within a 4 or 5 block area from home. Walking to Mrs. Hall’s home next to Brinkerhoff for piano lessons, playing on the hill-side slide (no longer there) and swings in the park at Fairlawn and Arlington, visiting with my grandmother Hamilton who lived for awhile above the beauty shop on Fairlawn, buying cherry sodas and candy at Crawls, taking naps on a mat and learning how to draw a star at Mrs. Robbin’s kindergarten. At one of my high school reunions, someone brought a picture of our K class. All but two graduated from high school–the Stevenson twins moved to California.
We attended the First Presbyterian Church which was downtown before it moved to Trimble Road. It was an amazing stone building with semi-circular seating and a narrow balcony that I feared falling from. I loved the intricate stained glass windows. I remember being a Towel and Basin girl there, playing piano for Wee Kirk, attending Sr. High Sunday school taught by George Sauder and crammed in the kitchen for lack of space, playing table games on Sunday nights at Youth Fellowship, and sometimes singing with the Adult Choir led by Lemoine Derr, who was also our high school choir director.
After church in the summer, we’d race down to Clearfork Reservoir to sail our Flying Scot and have picnics with the other sailors. Corn cooked on the grills was the best! In August, I loved picking blackberries next to the sailing club. A whole afternoon’s effort would fill only one pie!
My mother’s mother and grandmother were part of our lives in Mansfield. My grandmother Lois Hamilton had TB (tuberculosis), so we were never allowed to kiss her. She lived near us but sometimes had to be in the Richland Sanitarium where she had a small record player. Her favorite song was Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender. My two brothers and I had to get TB tests every year from the home health nurse. My great grandmother Grace (“Mum”) Lowrance was 85 when we moved her from her home in Louisiana that still had an icebox that took deliveries from an ice truck to our home in Mansfield. Mum was deaf from one of those epidemic fevers, but she read our lips or we wrote notes on a pad. Her favorite TV show was Lawrence Welk. Mum taught me several forms of solitaire. She was always a lady, attaching a fresh flower to her cane. My bedroom was moved to the attic so she could have my room until we were able to put on an addition to the house. She lived to be 100!
Miscellaneous memories: Looking forward to a week every summer at Hidden Hollow camp. Attending Y dances with boys hugging one side of the room, and girls, the other. Wearing a 1900’s dress and sharing a role in the Senior Class play with Diane Dewald. Breaking my foot when I fell off a cliff at Mohican State Park and getting the cast off just in time for the Senior Class play. Carelessly throwing a dart that landed in the arm of Larry Beer. Playing Spin the Bottle at a party in someone’s basement on Taylor Road. Being captain of the crossing guards at Brinkerhoff School. Carpooling to cello lessons at Ashland College and having to listen outside the room to David Cooper play flawlessly and feeling remorse I hadn’t practiced. Narrating a swim club show that my Dad didn’t attend because “When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” Shopping at the department stores on the square and getting your feet x-rayed for shoes. Wearing a red skirt and red sweater for the “M” club cheering section.
Other fond memories: Mansfield ski lodges with icy moguls outside and warm fire inside, greasy pizza from Leaning Tower and root beer floats from A&W, hoping not to see a crash while at the same time hoping for a minor mishap at Mid-Ohio Race Track, the fireworks displays at Arlin Field with the announcer who led us in Ohhs and Ahhs.
My favorite mis-memory: As child I thought the hill on Arlington Avenue in front of my house was excitingly steep, especially in the winter when it was turned into a sledding hill. When I visited the house with my husband 20 years ago, I wondered when the hill had been smoothed it out. It wasn’t the hill of my memories!”
The book signing will take place at Main Street Books on October 3 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. All are welcome to attend.
Photo: Courtesy of Sally Huber Lanyon