MERRY CHRISTMAS HHCA and Happy Holidays
We are blessed to celebrate Christmas this year in much better circumstances than last year. What a difference a year makes! As a world – we were faced with such uncertainty, left feeling anxious about the future as the pandemic spread with no hope for a cure in sight. We are so much safer this year and have a far better grasp of how to help ourselves and our loved one through this virus.. Certainly we are not out of the woods – but we are headed toward a much brighter time.
HHCA is nothing more than people – you and me – working to make our little piece of real estate a better place to live. We do it by being neighborly. It is such a pleasure to see it all around me. People walking by to talk, to drop off gifts, to check on neighbors and to be helpful if someone is in need. Soon we’ll be out shoveling snow so our neighbors and delivery people can make an easier go of it. Some will offer to pick up items at the store when they are headed out and the neighbor isn’t feeling well or is uneasy going out in inclement weather. This is the stuff we do because it makes us richer and more fulfilled in our lives. If you have children teach them how to be helpful to neighbors. If they are old enough to shovel walks, there are neighbors who need the work done and are willing to pay for the work. If you are in need of the help, email me and I’m hoping I can find you a neighbor who will help you out. If you want to be called upon to help a person in need – email me I’ll put you on my Snow Squad list.
Take note in the neighborhood of the beautifully decorated homes! It’s all about the spirit of seasons and the fun of making the neighborhood a little more fun and festive. Some homes are beautiful in daylight – others when the lights are on after dark. It is a wonderful time of year to stroll or drive the area. Be sure to take in Channel St at night!
My phone can’t get the night lights at the Swisher Mansion – but do make a point of seeing it at night – it is spectacular.
Long Time Coming!!! But well worth the wait!!!
Patience and perseverance
About 11 years ago there was storm that blew through Newark with high winds that brought down a huge white oak tree on top of Doug and Beth Pheneger’s garage. In the garage was Doug’s prized Chevy he had bought when he was 15 years old. He learned lots about cars by working on it… he had even reupholstered the seats. The oak crushed his dreams when it crushed the car. It was so bad that the back fins and trunk were buried in the concrete floor. Doug and Beth had so looked forward to summer cruises and car shows together and the storm dashed the dream. There are 2 ways to handle misfortune, ball your eyes out and feel sorry for yourself or say I’m coming back … even better. They got their car back from Fred Abraham’s restoration shop the end of November, 11 ½ years after the storm… the last car Fred did before he retired and he wanted it to be right for his friends. AND IT IS!
Patience and perseverance …. And it’s back better than it left the factory. Be sure to wave when you see this car cruising around town this summer! And as Paul Harvey would have said “and now you know – the rest of the story”.
ALLEYS – with many many hundreds of miles of roads to take care of – the City of Newark has priorities established for which ones get paved and patched. Obviously well used roads will get more attention. Dangerous hazards come before all other priorities. Alleys are the absolute lowest of the low on the priority list. But still – they are on the list. The secret to getting on the list is to raise awareness and BE KIND and PATIENT. Call and ask for their help. Give them the address of the concern (pothole, noisy manhole cover, broken storm sewer, street light out, traffic light malfunctioning, tree town on roadway, dead animal in roadway….etc. These folks take care of incredible amount of duties and territory. After many years or requesting the 300-400 & 500 block of Hudson Ave alleys got a “makeover” with the pothole patching machine. I personally stopped and thanked them (a great way to make them feel appreciated and welcomed incidentally)… and they responded with smiles.
B-25 Bomber Crash remembrance
4 years ago I was approached by Doug Stout – a historian with the Licking County Library – who asked if I would be interested in coming up with a way to keep a huge part of Newark history alive… the B-25 Bomber Crash on Hudson Ave. My immediate response was sure. I then invited Doug to share with HHCA at a meeting the incident and pictures he had collected on the incident. It was a very informative presentation. We had HHCA folks then volunteer to help figure out what we can do to commemorate the incident. We were ready to get together and move…. Then came COVID. Literally – it killed my interest as we were unable to meet as a group. Doug on the other hand took the opportunity to delve deeper into his research. He called me 2 weeks ago to tell me he has done a full video documentary on the events of the crash with lots more information than he had presented to our group.
I previewed a small portion of the documentary and asked if it could be shown in its entirety when it is finished – to the HHCA and the neighbors who would like to attend. Doug also has spoken with the owner of the property on Hudson Ave that was damaged that is situated on the corner of Hudson Ave and Wyoming St. about making a commemorative plaque to honor the men and women who perished in the incident. He was very receptive. There will be much more news on this in the near future. This is exciting.
Walking Tour of Historic Hudson Avenue Brochure
Many years ago Bobbi Meldahl made a very professional brochure documenting many residences on Hudson Ave. The HHCA has recently re-printed the brochure and it is available to anyone who request them. They will be available via request at firstname.lastname@example.org or pick them up at a future HHCA meeting. It is set up as a walking tour. There are 40 homes and buildings featured and an interesting history on each including the time period it was build, the style of architecture and the original owners.
I will leave you with this Christmas Story….. well worth the read!
It was Christmas Eve 1942. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.
We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Daddy wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Daddy to get down the old Bible.
I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Daddy didn’t get the Bible instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.
Soon he came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now he was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew he was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my coat. Mommy gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what..
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Daddy was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Daddy pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed.
“I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.
Then Daddy went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. I asked, “what are you doing?” You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked. Mrs.Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?
Yeah,” I said, “Why?”
“I rode by just today,” he said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, he called a halt to our loading then we went to the smoke house and he took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.
“What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy.”
We rode the two miles to Mrs.Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Daddy was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was he buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?” “Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”
Mrs.Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Mrs.Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.
“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Daddy said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then he handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at my Daddy like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.
“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” he said. Then turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.” I wasn’t the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.
My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Daddy handed them each a piece of candy and Mrs.Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I’d never thought of my Daddy in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Daddy had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Mommy and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.
Daddy insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave. My Daddy took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn’t want us to go. I could see that they missed their Daddy and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door he turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We’ll be by to get you about eleven. It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.” I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.
Mrs.Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles. I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Daddy turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something. Your Mother and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough.
Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your Mom and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Daddy had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. He had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Mrs. Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside of my Daddy that night. He had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life..