Sitting in my ratty recliner on this Thanksgiving weekend morning has me reflecting on our past.
I read this morning that another part of Fremonts business community has announced that they will be closing up shop. Swint-Reineck hardware has announced that they will be closing after serving Fremont for well over a century. This isn't a blog to blast companies that aren't local, or folks who support them. I'll leave that for other forums and blogs. This simply is just to look back, and remember.
Remember when Swint-Reineck was located downtown? They had department store neighbors like Josephs, Penneys, The Lion Store, Montgomery Ward, and Marconi's. Clothing stores abounded along Front St. Names like Lytles, Lords, Bintz, Richards, and Pfisters provided clothing options to the local shopper. You had the option of eating and drinking at Creightons, and Nickles Cafe, along with the restaurants at the Hotel Fremont. Speaking of "The Fremont" travellers could stay there, or at the Hotel Jackson, or at the Colonial Hotel(before it became seedy). Those three were forerunners of the Fort Stephenson Hotel which later became what we now know as the Fort Stephenson House.
All those businesses survived because folks travelling across Northern Ohio had to go through downtown Fremont to get to their destination. If you were going from Toledo to Cleveland on US 20 you came through Fremont on State Street. If you were headed from the Columbus area to Lake Erie, you came through downtown on SR 53 on Front Street. If you were travelling from Lima to Sandusky you followed US 6 through downtown. And in those days there was only one bridge over the Sandusky River. The State Street Bridge carried all the traffic over the River as the Miles Newton Bridge was not even thought of yet.
I can still recall wanting to go downtown when my parents would head down there for shopping. The streets were busy with folks doing their business. And during the holidays it was a treat to walk from store to store with the snowflakes falling around you.
The long-ago memories didn't just exist downtown. If you needed to buy groceries you didn't have to go to a Super K-Mart or Wal-Mart to do it. All you had to do was go to your neighborhood corner store. They were all over Fremont. Now don't confuse these neighborhood markets with the party stores of today, they are nothing like that. In our west side neighborhood we would patronize Stierwalts Market at Napoleon and Spruce Sts. They were one of literally dozens of neighborhood markets all over the city. If you look closely as you go through town you can see remnants of these little stores. Names like Schwartz, Koebels, the Stadium carryout and more come to mind. And if you wanted a special treat there were the soda fountains that provided good stuff. Behrens at East State and Fifth Sts, Trempers downtown, and my favorite, Falquettes at West State and Franklin Ave, were places where you could get a sweet treat. I still recall Joe Wise calling us all by name as we came into Falquettes as we walked home from Stamm School. You don't get that at Wendys or McDonalds.
The few links to our past are becoming fewer and fewer. Grund Drugs downtown is one of the few links to our history that comes to mind. It's a sad fact that times and memories change.