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Thanks for the Memories!

In partnership with the YSU Art Department and partially funded by a Wean Foundation Neighborhood SUCCESS Grant, Lit Youngstown is helping to create a mural on Andrews Ave. downtown.

The first step was to solicit memories from those who remember downtown–yesterday and long ago. We share the memories here. Some will be selected by YSU art students for a memory ribbon, painted throughout the mural design.

If you would like to send a memory, please do, here. We will keep the link open, so future art classes can add to the mural. There will soon be a website dedicated to the project, so we can follow the progress.

Thank you, so very much, to those who responded. Our downtown and downtown neighborhoods hold a central place in our collective memory.

In the 80’s downtown was the mega center for entertainment, pop locking boogaloo dancing and break dancing. Competition winners guest-hosted the Ron Daniels variety show. –Erick Thomas

Grew up in Westlake Terrace homes on MLK. My life has not been same since the apartments were torn down. My kids are growing up in Youngstown, also. —Georgianna Lynch

Incredible to see up-and-coming rock band Rush at the Youngstown Agora in the late ’70s. Professor-on-the-Drums Neil Peart worked like the mechanism of a clock, guitars lay the inside of that theater open like heart surgery. –Joyce Zitkovich

I remember looking at the Christmas displays in the windows at Strouss’ and Hirshberg as a little girl, followed by seeing Santa and dinner at The Spaghetti House. It was magical! –Sharmon Lesnak

Going downtown, walking past the Strouss’ building with my grandma, and shopping at McCrory’s.  –Cheryl Jonesco

My first and favorite memory of downtown — our annual Christmas shopping trip with my dad and sister. We’d walk hand and hand down Federal Street under falling snow, enjoying the Christmas lights as we passed all of the decorated downtown landmarks. –Ruthanna Salreno

When I was a kid, I’d go downtown at night to see the ice sculptures. They were so nice to look at, so I’d take pictures of them all. –Melba Hall

It was a blue collar union town. You could buy a house, a car, and retire on a pension. –Ben Lariccia

Youngstown and YSU helped me find my voice and my passion. I now work to share my voice and the stories of Youngstown throughout the nation. –Maxwell Gocala-Nguyen

My dad would take us to company picnics to Idora Park every summer. –Amanda Baker

Taking kids classes at the Youngstown Playhouse, followed by eating a lemon custard from Parker’s Frozen Custard in Mill Creek Park. –Sassy Pickard

I remember looking at the tall flames from the steel mills while driving down 680 with my parents. The flames scared me, but I always felt safe once we’d reach my grandparent’s house on the South Side. –Michelle Trebus Spence

As a life-long Youngstown native, all of my earliest memories center around big dinners at the Dawn, wedding soup at Kravitz’s, and bocce nights at the MVR. –Julia Aromatorio

I remember the “Party on the Plaza” in the 80’s. It was a summer treat, and the Idora fries dipped in vinegar and the elephant ears made those four cut blocks smell amazing. –Justin Crockett

Walking across the skyway with my mom and dad into the Strouss’ Dept. Store at Christmas. –Gene Gonda

My paternal grandfather, Oscar Godfrey Gilberg, was a Swedish immigrant who worked for the Youngstown Street Department. –Karen Blackburn-Moretti

Being able to navigate Uptown on my own at 10, my dad’s music store, Jones Drug Store, Stambaugh-Thompson’s, F.W.Woolworth, G.C. Murphy, and SS Kreskey, Cicero’s, The Mansion, and the Colonial House…Mr. Wheelers, Kings Jewelry, Nehi Bottling Co., and the sound of Youngstown-Southern train 5 to 10 times a day. Got Married in 1972 and our first apt. was on W. Philadelphia Ave. (Joe Viano sharpened knives across the street), then we moved to W. Boston. –Al and Debbie Pezzenti

The rain slips past the street lights in waves like steps, like flying. It hovers before the bright orange bulbs down the street. –Alex Myers

Going to the Pyatt Street Market with my Dad, the smell of the meats and cheeses, beautiful fruits and vegetables, tasting that just-picked tomato, speaking with farmers as a very shy child. –Lori Factor

As a 7-year-old born in a farming family, my first memory of Youngstown is Pyatt Street Market. I worked our stand with my grandma, making sure the radishes and onions were fully stocked. –Shana Zimmerman Smith

Winter days, sledding at Crandall Park with my neighborhood friends. –Angeline J. Laboy

I love the way people give directions using landmarks disappeared long ago. –Liz Hill

Hopping in the station wagon with my siblings, our parents driving downtown for a puppet show on the square and then running around the cement “petals” of the fountain! And then a stop at Strouss Dept. Store for a chocolate malt: 4 malts, 9 spoons. –Maureen O’Neil

As a toddler, I was fascinated by the “man on Market” looking south on Wick Ave–the  streetlights of the Market St. bridge resembled the body of a man. The  a 50 ft. round neon Amaco gasoline billboard at the corner of Woodland & Market St. –Eric Clausen

My husband and I had our first date at YSU’s homecoming dance, a lively fun filled night with friends. Thirty years later, we are still dancing. –Chris Gibowicz

In the 60’s I worked at Strouss’. I remember waiting for a bus after work and seeing the hustle and bustle of the cars, the buses, people, beautiful windows of Strouss’. –Alice Fabinak Morrow

I remember getting dressed up and riding the bus downtown to go Christmas shopping with my Mom & Grandma, the stores, windows and streets decorated. –Cathy McCartney

Shopping at Strouss’ Bargain Basement with my mother and sister made for very special outings, particularly during the Christmas Season. When Strouss’ closed, we physically ached for the loss of our beloved ritual. –Maureen Reardon

It was a treat to visit the Rose Garden in Mill Creek Park on Summer Sundays after church. My sister and I loved somersaulting down the grassy hills and walking carefully among the roses. The Four Seasons statues were curious. –Elaine Malley-Snider

The only reason I traversed downtown was to go to the original Cedars Lounge, which felt like a Youngstown Cheers. –Jon Locketti

I couldn’t wait to go on the Tunnel of Love in Idora Park. My friends and I would go with girls we liked to see who we could get a kiss from. I’d also hitchhike across town as a boy to Schwebel’s to have a snack and drink, watching traffic go by. –Hal Larson

Earliest memory of Youngstown was our trips to the Health Food store on Federal. The old guy, Searl, would give me and my sisters a healthy pop that we loved. Sometimes my Mom would lock us in the car and run in and I would observe all the people walking around. I especially remember looking at the Edward Powers Auditorium, empty, but fascinating. –Debbie

I remember sitting on my grandparents’ on W. Myrtle Ave. after The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of peace, had been brutally murdered. I saw soldiers, and tanks drive past, on their way to Hillman Street, to squash the erupting violence. –Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin

I came to Youngstown in July of 1983 to be the Protestant Campus Minister at YSU. I focused on issues of social justice and civil rights and we often gathered around the Peace Pole, which I had placed between Tod Hall and Kilcawley Center. –Jim Ray

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