Musings, Thoughts & Commentaries
Stark County, Ohio, is where my roots are planted.
I wanted to show my daughters where I came from. I had taken my wife, Mailyn, back to visit in 1998 when we returned my father’s ashes and poured them on the ground beside mom’s grave in Union Cemetery in Louisville, Ohio. Now it was time for all of us to make the sentimental journey.
We loaded up into our Budget Rental Chrysler SUV with sliding side doors and headed out from our hotel in Richfield. I drove my Kalifornia Grlz south on the Interstate, around Akron, and cruised down I-71 through Canton. We passed the Football Hall of Fame on the right side directly opposite Aultman Hospital where I was born. Downtown Canton looks smaller than I remember it but the same; a miniature version of my memory. The same Dave Towell Ford Dealership with the same sign. The same Bender’s Restaurant (including a polite “Ladies Bar” with separate entrance) but boarded up and then there's President William McKinley’s home. He rests in a nearby tomb in the park. (My family got one of his high silk hats somehow, but Dad sold it in his farm auction, probably for a few dollars.) On the opposite corner is the Frank T. Bow Federal Office Building. Frank T. Bow was the congressman who appointed me to West Point. I wrote him a letter every year starting with scrawling, hand-written letters on lined, grade school tablet paper when I was 9 and continued through high school with typewritten letters on fine bond paper. On our high school class trip to Washington DC, I excused myself for an afternoon to knock on his door at the House Office Building (you could do things like this in 1959.) His secretary, seeming to know me, announced, “Congressman Bow, Tom Anthony, a constituent from your district is here to see you.” I had no appointment. Congressman Bow answered, loudly, “Send that boy in!” He knew me. I might or might not have had the highest score on the exam given to the hundreds who applied and took special government exams to earn his appointment that year, but he appointed me. He knew me.
The County Seat and Courthouse looks exactly the same, where Uncle Holland Anthony had worked for the County Auditor, Joe Yoder (a cousin) and where I networked with politicians (like Kenneth E. Motts, the country recorder who recorded birth and deaths and has a cemetery named for him and former Congressman, Jimmy Secomb) to get appointed to West Point and the old Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith office where I opened my first stock portfolio when I was 12; investing and trading stock on money made in my rabbit business. I still trade stock. The first stock I bought was Anaconda Copper; I thought people would always need copper. People still need steel too, but the Republic Steel mill in south Canton is a pile of dusty rust.
We circled around and across railroad tracks no longer in use and came back to Tuscarawas Street by the First Evangelical and Reformed Church, where my mom took me--but I didn’t like the monotone church music. That could have been a reason I became Catholic. We continued East past Wyler’s Dairy where dad delivered our milk, 35 gallons per day, past Tom Tolles’ home. Tom went to church with me and became my roommate at Case Tech in Cleveland before he moved to Florida and fathered Tom Tolles Jr, the famous golfer.
When religiously persecuted Germans settled the area in the late 1700’s they named the town and township “Osnabruck” after their home. But the name of the town was changed to “East Canton” 100 years ago when the German language was deemed politically incorrect during W W One. The township name is now spelled an anglicized “Osnaburg.”
I was back home when west of Canton on Route 30 we passed a green roadside sign, “Osnaburg.”
To be continued...
Tom Anthony is a West Point Graduate and combat veteran who spent his professional civilian career in global business all over the world. He has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Anthony also lived in Mindanao for seven years.
Copyright 2017 Tom Anthony.