by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
Last year at this time it was 64º and a touch humid. Today it is 27º , we have snow flurries and yesterday the bulbs, which are beginning to come up in the garden, were clearly outraged. Really, I thought they were going to write letters of protest or even start a petition online. But, naturally, this would be a fruitless endeavor. There is nothing you can do about the weather and I am assured by life-long Ashtabulans this has been an amazingly mild winter.
Stories of snow, covering homes, which brought all commerce to a stop have been shared with me. Ashtabulans are proud of their hearty ancestors, with good reason.
Despite the weather last night sixteen of us met at St. Peter's Church for a Lenten Pot Luck, sharing home-made dishes, which included my own Taco Casserole, the scrumptious Devilish Eggs contributed by Margaret Burnham and Sue Port, who also brought Potato Salad. Clara Saturday brought her Chocolate Cherry Cake. Umm.
City Councilman for the Ist Ward, Rick Balog and Anne Balog, brought their special sausage from Columbus, served hot and savory, with sauerkraut.
Clara. sitting next to me, shared her memories of the Ashtabula Mall, when she was working there at J. C. Penny's Clara ate lunch with her fellow employees at one of many restaurants in the Food Court. Jim Heath, on my other side, recalled when the town night club, Sardi's, burned down. Before then Jim's dad, now deceased, had managed to fall off the back patio there. Jim laughed, his Dad's antics clearly amusing him.
A whole lot of remembering was going on.
This morning on the way home from the YMCA the emptied buildings reminded me of the comments from Margaret Burnham on what Ashtabula was like, 'back in the day.' As one memory sparked the next, the past lit up. I mostly listened, seeing this town through eyes which remembered a community where all things seemed possible and kids did not leave to find jobs elsewhere.
Buildings marked with stark Xs, targeted for demolition in the near future, where business was growing are common now. Someone mentioned to me the night before Sardi's, opposite St. Peter's across Main Street, is also marked for demolition.
A bell will ring on March 20th, at St. Peter's Church, at precisely 7:02am. Peace, Justice, and Care of the Earth begins at home, here in Ashtabula.