You may remember that in my November column I wrote about New Milford. Since that column, I have heard from two people regarding their days living in New Milford.
Bill Anderson sent me a copy of his column that he wrote for the Record-Courier in 1996. According to Bill's column, the "glory" days for New Milford were between the 1920s and 1930s. There were two blacksmith shops, two coal yards, one of which was also a lumber yard. There were three general stores, three gas stations, one of which repaired cars.
The blacksmith shops shod horses and repaired farm implements. Later, in 1929, when the schools went from horse-drawn wagons (they called them kid hacks), the blacksmiths did welding for the school buses. There were four school houses.
When Bill was 1 year old, his family moved to into a home that had been one of those school houses on Hattrick Road. An elderly neighbor who had attended school in that building told Bill that this building had once been used as an Underground Railroad stop for the slaves. He stated that much has been written about the Underground Railroad using various stopping locations but to his knowledge no one ever mentioned New Milford as being one of those stops.
H.B. Camp had a home on Hattrick Road. In front of his house was a large stone platform and steps leading down to the ground. This was used for people getting out of the buggies at the edge of the road. Bill jokes that New Milford was the "Center of the World."
When Bill was a child, the kids would ride the wagons to the lumber mill and then to Tallmadge Road. They would help the farmers drive cattle from their farms to the railroad. They would be paid a few pennies to keep the cattle out of the people's yards and flowers. Bill graduated from Rootstown High School in 1942, and shortly thereafter joined the service for World War II. He now lives in Kent.
The year Bill graduated, Nancy Stetz was born. Her Dad, Andrew, was born in Cleveland and her Mom was from West Farmington. Her Dad was a hunter and he was the first diagnosed Ohioan to catch Rabbit fever (vaccines are now available). He had various jobs throughout the county. For one of his jobs, he helped build the Windham housing project during the war. He then worked at the arsenal, and they bought a home on Greenwood Road in 1943.
Their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Guithier told them that their two-story garage with a windowed basement was once used as a school. Their address for years was P.O. Box 4. Later when home delivery started, they were Route 1 and then Route 2. Nancy told me she misses Meachum's little grocery store in New Milford.
She used to walk the old street car line path to buy penny candy. They also collected pop bottles for the two cent deposit. In those years they used to watch the trains go by and were thrilled that they were invited to look inside a caboose on a disabled train.
She told me, "Growing up in New Milford was a wonderful experience. Nice neighbors and we never locked our doors. I and my two sisters, Judy and Linda, always felt safe riding our bikes. Summers we went swimming at Woodlee's pond or Hickory Hills."
Her first job was picking grapes at Slimak's nearby. At 16, she worked summers at Woolworth's in Ravenna.
She graduated from Rootstown in 1960, and had some wonderful teachers. Some of her favorite teachers were: Lena DeSimeo, Bob Dunn, and Mr. Whitaker. She told me," William Conley also taught us about life, not just the textbooks. He also gave us advice on choosing a mate and on handling money." Nancy also stated, "I remember we were taught to respect our teachers and authority. If we misbehaved, they were allowed to paddle us, and that seemed to work."
(My school was much the same. We were taught respect. I had an elementary gym teacher who told us not to boo at sporting events as it was poor sportsmanship).
Nancy and husband William Laing (1960 Randolph graduate) now live in Shalersville.
This is the last of my articles on New Milford ("The Center of the World"). Next month, I need your help. As February is the "love" month, I would like to write about the "loves" of Rootstown. This could be between a man and woman, a child and his pet, a teenager and his iPad, or anything about Love.
Please email or call me -- firstname.lastname@example.org.