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At Home on Lena Avenue
By Carol Nichols Henninger
From 1948 to 1954, I lived with my parents and grandparents in a neat white bungalow with a trellised front porch at 12014 Lena Avenue, off West 130th Street. Noise from the nearby railroad yard was muffled by the dense woods and acres of tickle grass that grew to the edge of the property lines. The homes were far apart, with tall maple trees shading the front lawns, more like the outskirts of a village than a city street.
My grandparents, Adam and Caroline Becker, bought the house in 1928, just before the Great Depression. By 1948, when my parents (the Nichols), my brother and I came to live there, the backyard vineyard, fruit trees and berry plants had matured, keeping the kitchen humming during canning season. Freshly filled jars were stored in the fruit cellar, which was always cold no matter what time of year and a great place to escape the summer heat.
At that time, Producers Milk Company, as well as the Laub and Spang bakeries, among others, still delivered to your door. As did some local grocers, like George Santa's Food Market on West 130th at Kirton Avenue. In the fall, the Penrose Coal Company would fill your coal bin with a supply intended to keep the furnace stoked all winter.
I remember the Thanksgiving snowstorm of 1950, one of the deepest snowfalls in Ohio history. The men of the neighborhood formed a block party to clear a lane all the way down the length of the street while the women kept them supplied with hot coffee and plenty to eat.
My brother William and I went to Longmead School, just a few blocks away, but we later transferred to Annunciation School. In 1951, we took part in the ceremony when the cornerstone was laid for the new church building. Walking home from school, one of the popular spots was Chesnik's Deli on West 130th at Milligan Avenue. We considered ourselves lucky when Mrs. Chesnik made chocolate covered ice cream bars on a stick, and we got there before they were sold out.
On the evening of June 8th 1953, we were sitting on the front porch when my father pulled into the driveway and yelled, "There's a tornado! Get into the basement!" Instead of running to take shelter, we silly kids ran off the porch to take a look and saw the funnel cloud in the distance beyond our garage, just before it touched down less than a half-mile north of us. We were totally unaware of our narrow escape but faced a serious scolding later.
The building boom following WWII was spreading to southeastern West Park. New smaller homes were sprouting up between the larger older ones that stood far apart for many years. A new home was built next to our house on the site of what once had once been my grandparent's "Victory Garden."
In the fall of 1954, after being home to three generations of my family, the house on Lena Avenue was sold to settle Grandfather's estate. Since then, the appearance of the house has significantly changed, but I still remember it as it was, and the many cherished memories it holds.
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Send comments to the West Park HistoryCharles C. Chaney
05 August 2012