Monday, May 26, 2008

Wells and Third Street - Then & Before Then

PTC Bus Stop

Corner of Wells Street and Third Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46808

My Grandparents (my mother's parents) lived in Fort Wayne almost their entire life (with the exception of a few years where they lived in Jackson, Michigan).

My Grandpa was born and raised in Fort Wayne. He always lived in the downtown area - Main Street, Clay Street, DeWald, Union Street.

The last house that my Grandparents lived in (before Grandpa died) was on Third Street. They picked it because it was a duplex, it had a huge yard, and it was within walking distance of everything that they cared about.

I've mentioned before that my Grandparents didn't drive. Ever. They always got around on foot or - sometimes - we took the bus. When they lived on Third Street, this is the bus stop we used to stand next to in order to catch the PTC bus.

As you can see from this picture, it almost looks "park" like. It has two nice benches and beautiful shade trees. I remember when those shade trees weren't tall enough to shade anything. And one day, while waiting on the bus to pick us up, I mentioned to Grandpa that they should have planted bigger trees so we had some shade during the hot weather.

That's when he told me about why these trees were so brand new.

It turns out, that just a few years before, a Firehouse - specifically Firehouse #6 - used to occupy the space that we were standing on.

A Firehouse?! Neat!

Me: But what happened to the firehouse? Did it not have enough fires to put out?

Grandpa: The city needed to put that firehouse out on Coliseum Boulevard. People moved out of the inner parts of our city to the suburbs and in case there are fires out in the new parts of the city, they've got a fire house close by.

Me: How come there can't be both (fire stations)?

Grandpa: Sometimes, when you only have one pot of money to pull from, you have to make a decision - one or the other.

He told me that it was built in the late 1800's and that before there were shiny trucks - there were horses which used to take the firemen and their equipment to whatever establishment needed them.

Me: Wow! Horses used to walk on these streets?!

You can tell, I was easily fascinated as a child :).

As I drove by this spot this weekend, I stopped and took the picture you see at the beginning of this blog entry. I sat on one of the bench's and I thought about the time that I spent in this area as a child. You never think - in the moment - how much time you spend "waiting" for something (and back then - it was a bus) and how those moments are great pockets of opportunities that should never go to waste.

In my case, I was such an inquisitive child and I often wonder - if handheld games and other modern things were around then - would I have turned them off and had these types of conversations with my Grandparents (especially as we walked downtown or waited for the bus)?

Sadly - probaby not. So I guess I'm thankful that my Grandparents didn't drive. I'm thankful that the PTC bus program operated during that time, and I'm thankful that my parents let me spend oodles of time with my mom's parents.

1401 Wells Street - Firehouse No. 6 - 1920

1401 Wells Street - Firehouse No. 6 - 1975


Richard said...

My parents and I lived in the apartment right behind this firehouse. When I was 2 we went over one night for them to play cards and eat chili. Ed Roberts was a fireman there and he had hidden my coat in the engine room. I went in to get it and he was chasing me just for fun. I slid along the floor and hit my head on the bell which was on the front bumper. They took me to Saint Joe Hospital for stitches and I still have the scar on my forehead today.