When I was a young boy my family moved from South Fairmont to Camp Washington to Mt Washington, where I lived from age seven until I enlisted in the Navy 10 Years later. It seemed like much longer. Mt Washington in the fifties was a much different place than it is today. The main street was a two lane highway going east and west. If you went west, the road turned into three lanes, and the middle lane would change the direction of traffic flow depending on the time of day. If you went east you soon ran out of the populated area and were in farm country.
The business district, several blocks in both directions from Beechmont and Corbly was known to all Mt. Washingtonians as “uptown”. At that time there was a movie theater called “The Elstun”. During a period of time it was possible to get a free pass to the movies by visiting almost any merchant in the area. The pass would allow one to attend a Saturday matinée double feature and cartoon for free. The theater was one of the old style theaters with heavily cushioned seats in three sections withe the rows of seats cascading downward. On the end of several rows were double seats, designed either for couples or very large people. The screen was behind heavy curtains and the movie would start, the curtains would slowly part, and dead silence fell over the crowd until the end. Mr. Elstun would remove rowdies in an instant and everyone knew it and acted accordingly.
The Elstun, like most of the businesses in “uptown” were privately owned, and are now gone. At one time there were three family owned pharmacies, Alfieri’s, Alan’s, and Chili’s. I liked Alfierie’s the best because the comic stand was located right next to the soda fountain. One could buy a nickel coke or a chocolate phosphate and sit and browse comic books for hours on end. The pharmacies have all closed, along with Ecfkert’s (later Scott’s) five and dime, Harold’s Grill, Albers, Mt. Washington Bakery, Hamburger Heaven, and many others. The small town feel of “uptown” is gone. It is just another business district like anywhere else.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Stansberry Park in this article. Many hours were spent on the park’s nature trails, wading in the “crick” turning over rocks looking for crawdads. The swings, the slides, the big sandbox, and sledding down the big hill are still popular to this day. If you need to jog your memory further, let us not forget Gatchett Chevrolet, Park and Shop, Bob’s Pharmacy, and the Orphan’s Feast. Also still around after all these years are the 5/3rd Bank, The Mt. Washing Public Library, and T.P. White and Sons., and the symbol of Mt. Washington and its landmark, the Mt. Washington Water Tower. It is nice to sit back and remember “uptown”. I miss those days.
Those are my memories, what are yours?
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