My high school class will celebrate its 45th reunion this year.
Yep, the good old class of ’74 (that’s 1974, not 1874). “We’re so great that never before has been a class like ’74.” It says that right there in the yearbook. Well, all right, I never said we were all that creative. I guess we could have worked on humility a little bit, too.
The point is when you run into these milestones you start thinking about the past. The older you get, the more you think about the past because, after all, there’s a lot more past than there is going to be future. We might as well make the best of it.
I’ve been thinking how things have changed in Troy in the past 45 years. For those of you who are younger than 45 or maybe have lived here only 30 or 40 years, which means in another 30 years you might be considered almost a native, here are some things you might not know about Troy back in the early 1970s.
Brukner Nature Center was just about to open. The Miami County Park District was just getting started. There was no Duke Park. There was no Hobart Urban Nature Preserve. Looking back, there was a definite shortage of public park space.
The junior high was at Van Cleve School. The boys’ locker rooms there were pretty similar to the dungeons at the Bastille, only they smelled worse.
No one wore seatbelts. Cars had them, we just ignored them. I drove around in Volkswagen Beetle and if I would have hit a butterfly it probably would have been a fatal accident. Score one for public education and law enforcement.
Score two for public education and law enforcement when it comes to litter. There always was trash along the side of just about every country road back then. I remember trash floating around the Miami River. It required the “don’t be a litterbug” campaign and some stiff fines to change society’s habits.
If you were a member of the class of 1974, you might hang out at Donaleeo’s or Cassano’s or get something to eat at Ording’s or K’s. Donaleeo’s and Ording’s are gone and Cassano’s has moved so many times it’s hard to keep track. K’s will never change. We could have a nuclear war and K’s would be the only place left standing.
There was Penney’s Department Store downtown and an Uhlman’s Department Store, too, until it burned down in 1970. Troy’s most famous fire! Most of the stores that were downtown then are long gone. I still miss Jay’s, where we stocked up on candy and comic books. Troy Sports Center and Brower’s and, of course, K’s are still with us.
The Miami River actually had speedboats and water skiers and sometimes even drag boat races. It was a much louder place back then.
The library was still in the Hayner mansion. The librarians there were recruited for their relentless pursuit of total silence. If you sneezed once, you got a dirty look. Sneeze twice, and you’d find yourself out on the street faster than a drunk being evicted from a Dodge City saloon.
The Miami County Safety building was brand new. It replaced the old jail, which was pretty much like the dark hole of Calcutta. Alas, the safety building wasn’t any more attractive then than it is now.
The police station was next to the city building. The fire department was on that block, too, until it moved to a new building in 1966. The city even had its own power plant until it sold it to DP&L in 1971.
Yet, somehow, Troy in many ways still looks the same. When my old classmates who live out of town return to Troy later this year they’ll make comments about that. Then, after the obligatory talk about our latest ailments, we’ll talk about the good old days. Maybe, for a little while – well, at least until 9 or 10 p.m. — we’ll be kids again. For a short while it will seem like things really haven’t changed at all.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com.