Sunday, November 14, 2010

1960's Memories of Skyline Drive Part 5

So far, I've talked a lot about things at the west end of East Skyline Drive. It's about time (as this blog series is drawing to a close) that I get to the east end of the street! That would be where E. Skyline Drive meets Palm Springs Drive at Willow Park.

This part of the neighborhood has gone through a lot of change since the mid-1960's. Back then, E. Skyline Drive did not connect up with W. 35th Street to the east. Since it didn't connect with Leavitt Road either, you had to access it by Palm Springs Drive or Marshall Avenue.

The aeroplat map from the early 1960's (below) shows why it didn't connect up with W. 35th Street. (Click on it for a larger view.)

The property outlined in red was in the way.

And what was on that property? It may seem hard to believe now, but that is where the Louis Hait Stables were located. The earliest city directory listing I could find was in 1964 at 1475 W. 35th Street. The last listing was in 1969.

I can still see the large barn on the property in my mind. It was towards the W. 35th Street end and the top of it was visible from Palm Springs Drive. I remember seeing horses there too, perhaps from some Willow Park vantage point.

Although I never ventured in close to get a good look at the barn, I happen to know someone who did – my brother Ken! He and a few pals checked it out on a few occasions.

Here are Ken's observations (right from the horse's mouth)!

"They referred to it as "Doc Heights' [sic] Horse Barn." It was dark, had stalls, and was full of horse crap.  As I recall, the building was in pretty good shape. We only went in a few times, it was hard to get to but I don't remember why, a lot of brush or barbed wire maybe. Also there was absolutely nothing to do in there, no horses.  It was pretty well hidden in the brush.

Anyway, the property was developed in the 1970's. Edgewood Drive was extended north from W. 38th Street across the property to meet up with W. 35th Street, and W. 35th Street was finally connected to E. Skyline Drive.


Willow Park was the scene of a lot of memories in the late 1960's. There was the creek, that was fun to explore, and good for catching turtles, crayfish and minnows. Plus, Lorain had a really good Parks and Recreation Department back then, and I remember some great summer programs at the park. It seems there was always something going on – crafts, games, etc. –  to keep the local kids entertained. The summer employees at the park that coordinated the activities were really nice.

The playground equipment at the park back then (long since removed and replaced) was of the standard variety; a wooden carousel that you could spin around on (and get pretty dizzy) and the 'spring riders' that the small fry could bob around on.

The shot at left, while not from Willow Park, shows what I'm talking about. It's from a great flickr® site of vintage Ohio Spring Riders, which you can access by clicking here.

Willow Park, as many of you remember, was not only for play. The park and its well-known bridge over the creek was an important hub for getting to school.

Kids who lived over by Meister Road had to walk through the park to get to Masson Elementary and Masson Junior High; those of us who lived by Masson had to go through the park to get to Admiral King (unless you wanted to walk all the way to Ashland Avenue).

For those of you who walked to Admiral King through Willow Park, here's a 'virtual tour' down the ol' sidewalk, photographed this summer. (Click on each for a larger view.) Hope there's no bullies on the bridge!

Of course if you followed the sidewalk across Meister Road, you hooked up with the sidewalk that I knew as 'the blacktop' (discussed here).

You'll notice that the bridge looks a little different. Apparently it was replaced in the 1990's, judging by a dated plate mounted on it.

Willow Park is still an impressive neighborhood park, and it was well-maintained when I walked through it. Here's a view of the creek looking east from the bridge. (The creek looks like it's still in its natural condition, although not as deep as it used to be.)

And here's the view to the west from the bridge.

Here's what the park looks like these days.

And if you were going to head home, back up the sidewalk to Palm Springs and/or E. Skyline Drive, it looked like this.

The Louis Hait Stables would have been to the left of the white house at the top of the sidewalk, beyond its backyard and a wee bit south.

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