Do you miss anything? We all miss something, from time-to-time. No, I don’t mean when we lost or misplaced something and we cannot find it. Nor do I necessarily mean a loved one who is gone, because we will always miss that special person who meant so much in our life.
Did you ever like something, but now it is gone? For example, as a kid, there was a variety store on East Main Street called Jay’s. Most people, who were kids when it was around, remember it as a “penny-candy store,” but it was more of a variety store. The kids loved getting little bags of candy for pennies, but I am sure parents and dentists were not too fond of it.
This past week I was reminiscing about things I miss in Miami County, including businesses or attractions from the past that are no longer around. Here is a list of 10 things I miss in Miami County. Although, I am sure I could name several others.
Our first stop is in the Border City … Piqua. The first thing I miss about Piqua is the Heritage Festival on Labor Day. It was just a fun, all-around, casual event that something for everyone. Whether you enjoyed old-time performances, food, crafts or living history, there was something there for all to enjoy.
Also in Piqua was Terry’s Cafeteria, which was just a good old-style cafeteria with good food. The selections were varied so that parents could relish an old dish like cabbage rolls and children could get something they liked. The atmosphere was quiet and friendly and welcoming.
Travelling west on State Route 36 we arrive in Covington. Grandma’s Kitchen, which was located on the southeast edge of town on State Route 41, is still missed by many. This home style restaurant was owned and operated by the Old German Baptists. Not only was the setting clean and friendly, but the food was great. My favorite was always the chicken and noodles over the mashed potatoes. I had a friend who enjoyed the pork tenderloin, which to my recollection was about the size of a dinner plate, or at least a lunch plate. Unfortunately, a corporate operator bought the business and tried to institutionalize the operation and remain open on Sundays. As you can imagine, it did not go well.
Going south on State Route 48, if you were travelling during the Christmas season, you might wonder why there was such a large crowd gathered in Ludlow Falls. For many years, the Ludlow Falls Volunteer Fire Department presented the display of around 60,000 lights and a Nativity Scene over the falls and river, and it was always something to behold. It probably would not dazzle anyone jaded by all the modern electronic displays, but there was something about the chill in the air, hot chocolate, all those lights and the sound of the falls or, on occasion, the sheer beauty of the lights shining with the frozen falls and snow.
Coming into Troy, right at the west end was the Friendly’s Restaurant. I can remember over the years gathering there with various friends from Troy, Pleasant Hill, Ludlow Falls, etc. The food was good, but it was always fun to enjoy a scoop or two of ice cream. My favorite memories associated with Friendly’s is going there every spring following my daughter’s ballet recital. It was a treat for all her hard work, as well as a “cool down” from being in a crowded and hot auditorium.
At the other end of Troy was the Dixie Drive-In Theatre. Drive-in movie nights were always fun. I recall as kids getting dressed in our pajamas more than once and going to see “The Love Bug,” or “The Shaggy D.A.” or something like that. In those days, you had speakers you would hang on your car window for the audio. Except for a few remaining ones (one in Sidney), the joy of a drive-in movie is all-but-gone.
Back in downtown Troy, two iconic restaurants of the past are remembered fondly. Stagers and The Flash were two local diners that served some good, old-style food. I still think Stagers, which was located on S. Market St, served some of the best roast beef hot shot that I have ever had. The Flash over on West Main Street had some really good pie.
If we were going to prepare a meat dish at home or have a cookout, then my mom would always head over to Zwiebel’s at the corner of West Main and Elm Street, where Bob Grump would get just the right cut of meat for you. He would trim it to the size and particulars needed. Mr. Grump was always friendly and the store reminded me of markets you don’t see too often these days. Although, it is smaller, at least for the moment, Haren’s Market comes close to that old-style store and service.
I, for as long as I can remember, have always loved books and reading. So, it should come as no surprise that one of the places I miss is the Troy-Miami County Public Library, when it was in the Hayner Mansion. It was just a beautiful setting and something about the Tudor architecture and all the little “hidden corners” for reading that allowed a child’s imagination to come alive. Can you envision a 9-year old boy, who loved stories of King Arthur enjoying that “castle-like” setting?
Probably the thing I miss the most is the freedom and safety that I remember. Our parents could let us ride across town to practice, or to another neighborhood to go to a friend’s house, with little fear of something terrible happening to us.
What do you miss in Miami County from years past? I would love to hear from you.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org