When Doug lived in Youngstown, Ohio, its steel mills glared the smoky red of eternal sunset. World War II troop trains rushed through and Dad had charge of the tracks they trod. To eight-year-old eyes, it seemed like the center of the world.
Now, Youngstown’s twilight was economic. Nonetheless, it would be fun to find the old homestead, 440 Fairgreen. We drive out Belmont Avenue, looking for Fairgreen; after 10 minutes we pass beyond the city limits.
An amused tire clerk with a big, detailed map says that in ‘ Youngstown, street signs vanish, never to be replaced.
By counting blocks we find the cobblestone street on which we would play ball until the police came to chase us away, and the house, a handsome brick two-family two-story.
Thereafter, out South Market Street not only were street signs gone, but route signs, too, in an area where 62 developed several hic-cups. We executed some sudden turns, much to the consternation of others in the traffic flow. Youngstown’s lovely park, Millcreek, tempts us with a leafy entrance-way, its sign intact.
Canfield was next, one-time farm village, now a neat exurb clustered around the park and boulevard of its carriage past. In prospering little Salem, billboards told of a hot political campaign for the office of “Principal Law-Giver” (district attorney? sheriff?).
The Other Road heads due west from Salem to Canton, largely on four-lanes, including the busy city of Alliance. East of Canton it becomes indistinguishable from an interstate, then joins I-77 for about a half-dozen miles.
Canton’s one true diner, George’s, was closed. George himself had moved to a mall, leaving the ’58 Kullman behind, soon to reopen as a Bingo parlor.
Foregoing Canton’s Football Hall of Fame, we called on a friend who guided us among Route 62’s Amish and Mennonites.
A Federal Highway Administration road guide of the late .30s exclaimed of their numbers even then, and the land has favored them more than in Western New York. They have huge farms houses and hams scrubbed clean, field silage neatly tied up for the approaching winter.
Suddenly, the traffic flow jammed. With the bravado of the uninitiated, we ventured onto a parallel road, little more than a farm trail along a ridge. From that vantage, we could see an Amish buggy in a ditch at an intersection amid a kaleidoscope of flashing red and blue lights. It was the image we took to bed that night in Motel 6.