Monday, December 29, 2008
G.C. Murphy's (and the donuts)
Lincoln Bank (and the church-like ceilings)
B&B Loans (and the guitars and other instruments in the windows)
Riegels (and the smell of tobacco)
And then - there was the clock that hung off of the Peoples Trust Bank building.
It was located in a sweet place - near the corner of Wayne and Calhoun. It was across the street from Murphy's and directly next to a building that used to be called Grand Leader (and I think later - Stillman's Department Store).
The clock was really cool because it had four sides of glass and was enclosed by an impressive brass-looking shell. It was affixed to the building and as I walked under it, I always imagined that one day, it might fall down and hit me on the head.
Never anyone else - just me :). I was such the drama queen - even then.
In 1982, Fort Wayne, in its many we-must-tear-down-every-decent-building-in-sight adventures, rid itself of the Peoples Trust Bank building HOWEVER - someone had some forethought to store the clock away.
I'd like to hug that person. Seriously.
Because now, in all of its glory, it has returned (according to the Downtown Times) and is now located outside the Baker Street Train Station.
Here are some pictures of the clock's past lives that I scooped up from my favorite place - CONTENTdm (ACPL).
This was just a painting of the clock on the side of the Peoples Trust Bank Building...
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I don't know what made me go over to the Fort Wayne Newspaper site last night or even, what made me browse through the obituaries. Seems like an odd thing to do, doesn't it?
And then I saw it - the obituary for Donald G. Scott.
Founder of Scott's Foods.
Entrepreneur and employer of hundreds of thousands of Fort Wayne citizens.
And a man who knew the right way to pack a damn bag of groceries.
I kid you not.
In 1985, I applied for the position of cashier at Scott's. There was a massive 'job fair' like event and I went in and filled out the paperwork and talked with a couple of HR-types.
Don Scott was there. He shook my hand and asked me why I wanted to work for him. I must say, when you're 18 and applying for your very first 'real' job, stuff like this can be intimidating. But you see - I had absolutely no idea who he was or how important he was. I was just 18. Fresh. Naive. Big-eyed wonderment. And all about complete honesty.
I looked up at him and said, "Sir, I'm not sure why I want to work for you specifically. I'm looking for my first job, one that can help me pay my way through college. I saw the advertisement in the paper and thought I'd come down here and apply.
He looked at me, sort of gruff like and said, "I like honesty. You work hard, you'll get far in life young lady."
I smiled and didn't think much of it. After all, it was the same type of advice that my grandpa used to give to me.
When I received a phone call that they wanted to hire me and I would be starting with the next training class (out at the Decatur Road Scott's training facility), I was elated! I was still in high school and didn't yet have my driver's license so there were some logistics to making this work. But gosh - I remember that time like it was yesterday.
A woman named Marty was our "trainer". We were up on the second floor of the store in a conference room at the start of our training. She took us through the history of Scott's and the philosophy of the company. When I saw Don Scott's picture, I just about died of embarrassment. Sheesh! I should have given him a more eloquent answer than what came out of my mouth.
But oh well - I was here. I did get hired.
Part of the training was not only 'book learning' but also hands on with the register. That was the fun part! Scanners were fairly new (I think that they were "NCR" machines) and so we were learnin' in a high tech fashion.
There was one particular day though, that everything was non-high tech.
That was the day that Don Scott made an appearance. He was there to teach us how to bag groceries properly.
This man was passionate about groceries being packed in a way that maximized space, evenly distributed the weight of the goods, and most importantly - ensured that the customer left with their high quality items in tact.
It was one of my most favorite training sessions - ever - from any company I have been employed at.
Even today, when I go to the grocery store, I still pack like Don Scott taught me. I separate out the frozen from the dry goods. I layer the bottom with canned goods and the top with boxes. I separate out the eggs and bread. They can go on the very top of each bag OR they can have their own individual bag.
When I happen to go through a non-self serve line, I often get remarks from the cashiers or bag boys/girls about the meticulous way in which I pack up my groceries. I just tell them that I used to work in a grocery store and this was how I was taught. Seems second nature to me.
Don Scott. I'll never forget your pragmatic approach to the 'right' things nor the opportunities that you gave me and hundreds of thousands of other kids in Fort Wayne. Yours is a life to emulate. Rest in peace sir.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I was chatting with someone just a few days ago. I asked them what their plans were for Christmas and they asked me mine.
Oh...how times have changed.
When I was little, my grandparents were the center of the universe and wherever they were - that's where Christmas was.
Initially, Christmas was at the apartment building - 808 Clay Street.
(Pictured: Wayne E. Roy, Irene Roy, Kristina Frazier, Frank Frazier, Patricia S. Frazier - Christmas 1967)
Everyone - my Aunts (Carolyn and Barb), their husbands (Jim and Bob), and my parents, plus me, my sister, and eventually my two cousins - Wendy and Cindy...we all gathered here and celebrated Christmas.
Church was a priority. My great-grandmother (Helena Starost Roy Kline) was a devout catholic and my Grandpa and his three daughters were obedient attenders of catholic mass - especially on Christmas. Cathedral was just a hop, skip and a jump away - which was good because we could walk there and back from the apartment building.
As you can see from this picture, my grandpa is dressed up. This was his "Sunday suit" - or at least that is what I called it. He wasn't one to wear fancy things - but you could count on the suit coming out for Christmas, Easter, weddings, funerals, and baptisms :).
My grandma wasn't much of a church goer. She would stay behind - busying herself in the kitchen. You could always count on pleasant smells (and sometimes unusual as my grandma was known to stray from the typical Christmas feast).
My grandparents moved to Jackson, Michigan sometime in the early 70's.
Even though my family (and Aunt Carolyn's) was in Fort Wayne and Aunt Barb's was in Elkhart - it was never doubted that we would all travel up to Jackson, Michigan and celebrate Christmas together as a family.
(Pictured: Kristina Frazier, Patricia J. Frazier, Cindy Baughman, Wendy Welker - Christmas 1975)
We would usually drive up the day / night before so that my mom and aunt's could help my grandma with all of the cooking.
Grandpa liked to sit in his big, overstuffed brown recliner chair, watching his black and white television, smoking his cigar.
The four cousins - well - we had an absolute blast! I have to tell you that only having one sibling at the time (my sister) was boring and frustrating. Getting to hang with Cindy and Wendy was awesome because it was fresh blood to pick on! Normally though, we'd play board games, dress- up, go out side and sled, etc....There was never a time where we sat around and asked to go home. Being at grandma and grandpa's house was always awesome.
This is where I distinctly remember the grown-ups and kids table. The grown-ups sat around the dining room table and the four girls - well - we got our own table. It was a 4 x 4 card table with folding chairs to boot.
(Pictured: Patricia S. Frazier, Frank Frazier - Christmas dining room table, 1975)
Some other traditions that stand out for me - my grandma allowing us to pick one ornament from the tree to take home and my grandpa getting on the floor and handing out the gifts, one by one. As a kid whose family struggled to make ends meet, Christmas was the motherload from a gift perspective. The night before we opened gifts - none of us girls could hardly sleep.
In the late 70's, my grandparents moved back to Fort Wayne and they lived in the Sheridan Court Apartments on Union Street.
(Pictured: Kristina Frazier, Frank Frazier, Patricia S. Frazier, Patricia J. Frazier, Jason Frazier - Christmas 1978)
This was the very last Christmas that we would spend together as a family unit - that is - me, my siblings, and my parents. My parents split up a month after this and everything in our lives changed.
Despite my parents divorce (and my two aunt's all divorcing and re-marrying), my grandparents had this unspoken thing about keeping the Christmas tradition alive.
In the early eighties, they moved to a house on Third Street. And even though I was in high school and my sister, and cousins were also moving up into "that age", the Christmas tradition was not to be messed with.
The main difference about the house on Third Street is that instead of just visiting it, I also lived there for a period of time. It didn't ruin my excitement about seeing everyone and by this time, I was starting to like some of my grandma's weird food selections :).
(Pictured: Kristina Frazier, Cindy Wilkins, Wendy Welker, Patty Frazier - Christmas 1985)
This picture here - is extremely precious to me. It's the very last photo of me, my sister, and my two cousins...taken with my grandfather. Five months later, he would become very ill and less than a year after that, he died.
Christmas has not been the same since.
My grandma lost the spring in her step and eventually, we all drifted away.
There have been a couple times that an effort has been made for all of us to get together.
(Pictured: Cyndi Wilkins, Kristina Frazier - Christmas, 1994?)
But most of the time, it doesn't happen. Some of it had to do with the strain in the relationships between sisters (my mom and two aunts) and sometimes it was just a question of other obligations and/or distance that some lived away from Fort Wayne.
To be quite honest, there have been several times - holiday or not holiday - where I have chosen not to take part in a family get together because of my own anxiety. Since the death of my grandfather and the multiple changes that my cousins have gone through - I just don't know how to "be" around them. For years, my sister, Cindy, and Wendy - we were glue for each other...Through the second round of siblings (ugh - all boys!), to the divorce of our parents (and their subsequent remarriages). The multiple moves, the multiple dysfunctions of the family (i.e. drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, sexual abuse, depression...). The boyfriends, the jobs, the cars, the booze...
Now, it is as if we don't even know each other.
So you remember, at the beginning of this entry, I said that I was chatting with someone about what our plans were for the Christmas holiday...
After I told this person what I was doing, all of these memories came flooding back to me (in about a span of four seconds). I remember writing to her, "it's bizarre how relationships change over time". That was my way to acknowledge that my Christmas has a definite hole in it. The absence of my grandfather, the silent treatment from my father, and the evaporated relationships that used to be - Me, Patty, Cindy, Wendy.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
There was more to the "Spotlight On Youth" program. Here are the other three pages. If you click on each thumbnail, it should be larger and therefore, more readable. Just in case, I decided to list the names of all of the people who were in this particular recital. Are you one of them? Do you know any of the folks listed?? If so, let me know!
Jill Ann Shaw
Jo Lynn Shaw
Tina Le Compete
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
On May 17, 1973 (my parent's 7th wedding anniversary), I performed for my very first time in front of an audience in a dance recital held at South Side High School.
I don't remember being nervous. I do remember loving all of the fun costumes that I got to wear. The stage seemed enormous - I've never been back to South Side since so I don't know if I was comparing it to the stage at Indian Village Elementary (and that was small in comparison) or if South Side's was really humungous!
That's me - girl on the end (all the way to the far right). You'll notice that what I'm doing seems to be just a tad bit different from the other two girls. My grandma swears up and down (even to this day) that I was doing the routine perfectly and the other two girls were missing their moves. Dontcha just love grandma's?!
In this picture, I am almost in the middle (count four over from the right). I seem to be doing pretty much was everyone else is but NOTICE the swinging arms and the amount of space between me and each girl beside me :). Is it my imagination OR are those other girls lookin' at me?! Was I doing something special or were they watching a freak show in motion? I guess we will never know....
I am not in this picture.
Nor in this one.
But you see, these four pictures, along with the program, are the only physical/tangible things I have left from my Marlene's Dance Studio days.
My red hair bow, my red tutu, and the red/white striped outfit, and my tap shoes you see in the first and second picture - I packed those very carefully into a box that I kept with me at almost all times. When we had to pick up and move to yet another house or another school in the later years, it was part of the stuff that I kept close to me - like my identity box.
Whenever I felt lost or insignificant or sad - I would look at the stuff in my box and be reminded that I was someone who mattered and despite what was going on around me, everything would get better. That was the hope that I needed to hold on to in order to get through that day or night or week or month.
When I was 17, my box disappeared forever and as silly as it may sound, it's something that still makes me sad. It's just "stuff" - I know...the symbolism of its existence though - reinforced so many things for me and without it, well...I'm not even sure what to say. It may be the reason why I started this blog about a year ago. Maybe this is my new identity box...
Monday, December 22, 2008
Things were not so (I'm looking for the right word)...'corporate' and 'big'.
There were many small business owners not only for retail but also for services. I don't know if my parents consciously patronized small business owners, but it seemed like we did a lot of that thing back in my childhood.
One of my stories from last month (http://childofthefort.blogspot.com/2008/10/imagination-can-alter-life.html) explained how me, my sister, and my friend Erika, became interested in stuff like tap and gymnastics.
And sometime in 1972, we began lessons over at Marlene's Dance Studio.
Who was Marlene?
I didn't really know back then. When I started to look into writing this blog entry, I became curious and I looked through a lot of stuff, trying to piece things together.
Unfortunately, it was her obituary that gave me the most background information about her. Marlene Huntley died in March 2002 at the age of 63. She was originally from Bay City, Michigan and had worked at Hall's on Bluffton Road as a waitress for several years.
I don't know if she had a professional dance background or how she decided to open up her own dance studio. I also don't know when her studio shut down or how her life played out (with the exception of what the obituary told me). I guess yet another mystery that will go unanswered...
Marlene's dance studio was located - get this - on West Dewald Street.
West Dewald is perhaps - not the hot, happenin' area that it once was, but back then, the neighborhood was clean, safe, and full of kids who rode their bikes and played kickball and dodgeball in the street. I haven't been back in that area for over 30 years - I wonder what it's like today???
Marlene didn't have a fancy dance studio. Nope. She used her house for lessons. It looked like the area that would have been her living room was completely ripped up/redone to look like a dance studio. There were hardwood floors, a mirror that stretched from ceiling to floor and covered an entire wall. There was one of those ballet bars fastened to the wall where the mirror was. She had tons of vinyl and one giant/loud record player that was quite awesome to six/seven year olds...
Note: Thanks to Scott Howard for locating Marlene's house on google street maps....it barely resembles the place I used to visit 2 times a week.
My mother signed me and Patty up for tap and acrobatics (aka gymnastics). Tap was my thing. Gymnastics - not so much. I think it was because I was tall and lanky and not very bendy :).
After school, my mom used to make the three of us (me, Patty, Erika), practices our new hobby on our enclosed front porch. During the winter time, it was really cold so we would start out with our winter coats on.
I think if anyone would have seen Erika doing a back bend with her big old parka coat on, they would have had a giggle. She was challenged with the hood (always) and we had quite a debate on whether the hood (with the furry stuff on the outside of it) should be up or down. Down guaranteed major repercussions including accidentally smacking yourself in the head (with the hood) on the way back up from the back bend or with it up, you risked major static cling (thanks to the Indiana winters - dry dry dry climate).
I guess if my parents would have just heated the area - this would have taken away the whole parka dilemma :).
We knew that when it was time for Gilligan's Island, we were done practicing on the front porch and we could come in to watch Marianne, Ginger, and the Professor.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here's another picture of the same spot - now vacated by the car dealer. I took it in July 2008 as I was driving out of town.
My husband (then boyfriend) purchased his first car from this place in 1988. It was a Ford Escort - grey. I think - actually - it was a 1988 1/2 - which was weird but that's how Ford labeled it.
Oh - and he had a car before the Ford Escort but it was inherited from his dad SO you know - it was a big deal making this particular purchase on his own. If I remember correctly, it cost him about $7800.
Friday, December 12, 2008
But you know, not when I was 1 or 2 years old. That stuff, I rely on from my family.
The one story that has been told to me from the beginning of time is the one that involves me terrorizing my Aunt Barb.
When I was born, she was still in high school - in fact - I think she was a freshman in high school. Until I arrived, she was "the baby" of the family. And then here I came - and I turned her world inside out :).
This picture is of me - looks like oh - 18 months? - in her bedroom on 808 Clay Street. What am I doing? I'm pointing at her albums. Most likely, albums that contained music by The Beatles as she was keenly obsessed with the young men from the UK.
The story is, when she came home from school, and I would hear her start to come up the stairs (or when I would peer out the window and see her entering the building), I would run to her room and start grabbing for her records.
This, of course, would cause a great reaction on her part. I hear that she used to chase me around the apartment in order to retrieve her beloved collection.
I never knew if I broke any of her 45's or 33's (gosh I hope not), but obviously, I had an ornery streak in me from a very early age :).
And yes - that streak - it's still alive and kicking.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
First, it was taken on the porch area of an apartment building in Fort Wayne which no longer exists (808 Clay Street). I think next time I'm in town, I'll want to look down Clay and see if I can capture the same scene (and showing how instead of a building - there's just a parking lot there).
Second, my dad is dressed in something other than jeans and a t-shirt. Now mind you - I've got lots to say about what he's wearing. I question the coordination of the colors and I wonder if high-waters were "in" back then or if it was just a case of him wearing what was handed down to him. I'm thinking the latter is the case.
Straight Creek, Kentucky. Lived in a five room little shack. Ten kids. Coal miner father. Mom who grew most of their food in the hills of KY. So yes, hand me downs - that was probably the case here.
I think he looks incredibly handsome. Not like in a Brad Pitt way though. It's hard to explain. When I look at this picture - his smile reminds me of how charming he could be. When my dad was sober and around, he was a really neat person. So - this picture - I think - it's like a snapshot of a good memory of him...
So....switching gears a bit....
My relationship with my dad has been non-existent for about 16 years now.
WOW! I didn't realize it was that long until I typed it out.
Generally, I am the type of person not to hold grudges and so if any one of my friends told me that they didn't have a relationship with their father, I would probably encourage them to stop that nonsense and reach out to them asap. After all, life is incredibly short and so many people end up regretting so much after it's way too late.
My situation is a little different.
My dad is remarried and his wife has a strong hatred for me. He won't go against her wishes and thus we are where we are today.
Over time, I have learned to compartmentalize the fact that there is a lack of a relationship but unfortunately, twice a year (Father's Day and Christmas), it sneaks up on me and the old wounds rear their ugly head.
Christmas - well - that's his birthday. And you know - that's just right around the corner...
Sunday, December 7, 2008
At first glance, I noticed, that this was a picture of me. After I had scanned it in and was looking to tag it, I really looked at it for the very first time.
I am in my Grandma and Grandpa's apartment - which no longer exists. 808 Clay Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana. My grandparents managed the apartments for some guy named Clyde Briggs and they lived there for about ten years.
When I was born, my parents moved into an apartment down the hall. I was the first grandchild and I spent a considerable amount of time with my grandparents.
Looking at the things that surround me in this picture, I am either in their bedroom or a spare bedroom. It's obvious that I'm gotten into stuff that belongs to others. I see mail on the floor. A book.
But what am I doing?
I'm putting on my grandpa's work shoes. They were black and had stiff laces. It's what he wore when he worked at the Fort Wayne Box Company.
I look at this picture and I laugh.
I don't remember it at all.
How conservative of me to just take my one shoe off and try his one shoe on. I always thought I was a throw caution to the wind kind of chick which would mean disposing of both shoes at the same time.
But still, I didn't know how to tie shoe laces back then. I slipped one shoe off (still tied tightly). Probably easier to explain just one shoe "coming off" then both shoes being off.
I do ramble on....but as I'm labeling this picture with things like 808 Clay Street, Apartment Building, Demolished, Grandparents Place, 1969, and Fort Wayne Indiana...I'm reminded that today would have been my grandpa's 87 birthday.
I'm usually very sad about these things but today - not as much as I have been in the past.
It's pictures like this that remind me...I was very fortunate to have a grandfather who loved me unconditionally...who taught me some of the best life lessons I've ever known...and who always knew that I was a little left of center...and to him...that was okay.