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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I miss the bakery
I remember all those places also. When we camped out in my backyard, we’d wake at the crack of dawn and walk down burney, and all the way to the Bakery and get rolls and doughnuts. John Dalhover owned Harold’s and we became pretty good friends as he and several other customers were avid gun enthusiasts. John had a 6 foot sewer pipe leading from his basement wall, to a bullet trap, with a target retriever. Spent many an hour there. We also reloaded all .45 shells in his basement. He had an enormus gun collection, all in glass fronted racks. Some bastards broke in while he was on vacation and stole the entire collection. Had to be worth 100 grand in that day’s money value. I am sad to hear it has changed so much. I probably would not recognize it all now.
So many memories! Growing up in Mt Washington was the best! I would love to be ten years old again, just for a day, and spend it uptown! 🙂 And even tho it wasn’t in uptown proper, the Mt. Washington Rec Center was a great place, too! Remember how they would add the pool chemicals to the water and then the KIDS would get in and walk in circles around the pool to mix them? Ahaha! That would never happen today, but it’s a great memory!
Since you mention the Rec, not sure if you had ever read this article.
Friday Night At The Rec
I did not live in Mt Washington but I would visit my aunt and cousin Jane. I looked forward to going to the pool when I would visit and spending time with relatives. It was a nice community and lots to do since I was from the country with neighbors some distant apart.
I love these reminisces! They are so much fun!We used to walk to Pasqaules Pizza place after school too! Remember that? Come to think of it we walked everywhere! Hmmmm……that’s why we were so skinny then even with regular doses of Mt Washington (or Warshington as some of my siblings still say) Bakery thrown in!
Riding our bikes to Elston and cutting through the hatchery is one of my memories plus playing 4 square after school each day.
When did the Orphan’s Fest/Feast end? I remember we used to go to a parade and then to that all the time when I was little.
I believe the last year for the FEast was in 1986. In 1987 the facility became Beech Acres and provided other services but was no longer an orphanage. The Orphan’s feast was held annually for 137 years.
Tom, I just read several of your helpful and historic comments regarding Mt. Washington. I married into the Donovan family, long time Mt. Washington residents. Just today I spoke to Kathy Alfieri at US Bank. Her father-in=law was Mr. Alfieri – do you recall his first name and that of Mrs. Alfieri – number of children? Names?
Too many questions – but please do your best.
Thanks for reading. I knew Mike Donavan growing up, he was a school mate and I believed lived on the lower end of Birney Lane near 5 Mile. Is he a relative? In my day adults were never called or referred to by their first name so all adults were on Mr. or Mrs. I knew of some the children but was not friends. The only name I recall was Karen, who was several years older than I. I believe the family lived on Salem Ave.
Not everyone was always well mannered at the Elston. One night a few of us caught a few lighting bugs on the way down there, and let them go during the movie. Funny as hell.
Wish I had a nickel for every hour I spent in Harold’s and Alfieri’s.
Sled riding one winter, I hit a wood pile at the bottom of the big hill in Stanberry Park. My ankle was swollen to the size of a grapefruit.
Tom: how did you remember the names of all those places?
I don’t know how I remember them, I just do. I have a mind for remembering such trivia. it is either a blessing or a curse. The problem is, my brain is so full of these trivial facts I cannot remember important things.
Tom – Please contact me! 🙂
Glad to. Please provide contact info or use the Feedback Form at https://townehouse.net/feedback/
The Mt.Washington swimming pool was a wonderful place, even though it was only 3ft. deep and then when the rec center was built (and we had bathrooms) it was a dream. So many fun times including Jr. Canteen dances on Wed.evenings,variety shows, sports etc.