This is a many part series that I am writing about a quick trip to Ohio to return to my roots. If you haven’t read the other items, please do so now before you get into this story.
June 13th started in Muncie, Indiana with breakfast with my brother Bob and his wife Mary Lou. Then off to Troy, Ohio to visit Riverside Cemetery and pay respects to my dad and my grandparents.
Then came the short trip to Celina, Ohio where I spent my youth from age 9 to 15 years of age. On our way from Troy we drove through Piqua which is where I was born. Celina has always been considered my home town. I left there in September 1949 to move to Kansas City, Missouri to live with my Uncle Ray and Aunt Edith Moore for my last three years of high school. I returned to Celina a couple times - once for a family reunion while grandma was still alive in 1950 and then later that year for her funeral service.
The last time I visited Celina was just after high school graduation in 1952. I have made many plans to come back to Celina but none ever matured. Then with a diagnosis of Ideopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, my daughter said “enough dreaming about going back -- let’s go now!” So this quick trip to this area was hurriedly planned and we packed a lot into four days.
With Brenda driving, we came upon the sign welcoming us to Celina (see below). We were entering Celina from the East on Market Street. We drove by The Daily Standard where I was a newspaper carrier and came to the corner of Market and Main -- downtown Celina. We parked and started taking picture of the area. Downtown hasn’t changed -- just got older.
The corner of Main and Market is where the City Web Cam is located. There is a tall tower southeast corner which has the camera that is on 24-7. I look it up every day to see the activity of that corner. I told my wife, Ann, that we would be on that corner Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Ohio time and will be waving to her. I had mentioned it on my BLOG and have been told by several people that they also had tuned in to see us. Well - here we are on Saturday afternoon and decided to give her a call anyway to see us. She did and we talked and waved. Just a warm up for Sunday appearance.
We walked down to The Daily Standard building which was closed and took a couple of pictures. On our way back to the corner of Main and Market I saw an old Buick driving toward the corner going our way. I waved and the driver waved. I caught up to him and asked what year this car was -- he responded “1946 and I’m going to park around the corner and want to talk to you”. That was our introduction to a very interesting person named “Whitey”. He deserves his own story on this trip so I won’t say anymore about him now. Stay tuned.
After walking down Main street to see the downtown area, we got into our car and found our motel (thanks to Whitey) and checked in. We stayed there for two days and nights. It is the West Bank Inn located across the highway from Grand Lake. The Inn has 5 rooms up and 5 rooms down. Each has a view of the lake. We were down in 105. After unpacking and resting for a while, I called Karl Allmandinger who was the only person I knew living in Celina.
Karl and I knew each other in Junior High. He was one year ahead of me. He married Helen Howell who at one time was my brother Ben’s girlfriend. She attended the same church that my grandpa was the pastor. Actually lived a block from the church. Helen and I were friends for the 6 years I lived there.
My cousin, Eileen Nixon, went back to Ohio in 1999 for a family reunion on her dad’s side. Her mother Doris was my dad’s sister. I asked Eileen when she stopped in Celina to visit our Uncle Carlan to take some pictures for me. She did and those pictures appeared in my autobiography as “current” pictures of places I knew. I asked her to find Helen who had married Karl. She called the home and found that Helen spends time volunteering at the city library. So she met Helen there and we got re-connected through the email system. A couple of years ago, Helen died ending their 56 year marriage. Karl kept the emails coming and a connection with Celina. During my last visit to Celina in 1952, Helen and I sang a duet in the church. You can read about that here.
Karl, Brenda and I went out to one of the towns better eating establishments called “CJ’s HighMarks” and enjoyed the evening talking and enjoying too much good food. In fact, Karl and I had pork chops and he got to take two home for later. Karl is a good representative of people who live in Celina. He was born in the farmlands surrounding Celina and has lived there all his life. I read the obits on The Daily Standard web site daily and a good many of them were born in the area and lived their entire lives there whether it would be 60 years or 95 years.
After dinner, we got a tour of Karl’s home and looked through a photo album of their 50th wedding celebration. That ended our Saturday - second day of our trip.
Dick standing by the Celina Welcoming Sign.
Downtown Celina from the corner of Market and Main.