During the time as a boy before my teens we lived on East Market Street in Lima. Dad spent a lot of time at the Avenue Café on Bellefontaine Avenue. It was a walk down the alley behind our house, through Lincoln Park, across Elm Street, down another alley that ran along side a coal yard, and across Bellefontaine Avenue where the Avenue Café stood.
It occupied the first floor of a large a two story wooden building painted grey. On the weekends the place was packed with blue collar workers who worked at Lima’s eastside factories.
On payday weekends I went with Dad. He’d give me a couple of dollars to get rid of me for a while.
During the fall I walked over to Lima Stadium to watch football games. When the game was over I walked back to get Dad.
At other times of the year I walked down to Davis’ Drug Store that was on the same block as the cafe. They had a small lunch counter where they served burgers, sundaes, sodas, and flavored Cokes.
My routine was to buy a Sporting News and read it at the lunch counter. I alternated my Cokes from plain, to cherry, to vanilla, and to chocolate. When the place was about to close I’d walk back to the Avenue Café and get Dad.
I recall those walks home with a special fondness. Especially the walk down a brick sidewalk that led through Lincoln Park. It was lined with trees and dimly lit with a street light.
Each season of those walks are fresh in my mind. There were hot Summer evenings when the bugs buzzed in tight formation around the street light. The damp Spring walks were fresh with the sound of tree frogs and the odor of the moist earth. I recall the Winter walks huddled deep in our coats as blowing snow drifted across the sidewalk. It seems that most of all I recall crisp fall evenings kicking through the leaves that collected along our pathway.
Dad and I talked about sports nearly all the way. He told me about the old days. I hung on every word. Even when hearing the story several times they were never tiring.
There was one night I’ll never forget. I’ll relate that next week.