Walking along Batavia's memory lane
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Walking along Batavia's memory lane

Jul 13, 2023

I've enjoyed walking the streets of Batavia this summer. I am going to take you on one of my walks. This walk is like taking a trip back to when I was young. Everything is jumbled, but certain places take me back to that time. 

Walking down Liberty Street, I stopped and looked at a small new park. That was the place where my favorite bakery stood, Pellegrino's. I loved their jelly doughnuts, bread, and pizza. I loved the smell of garlic and onion from the open windows as I walked to Mass at St. Anthony's Church.

Walking by St. Anthony's Church makes my heart so sad. I can imagine hearing children playing outside for recess or walking quietly into church for Mass. I remember being at my Aunt Maggie Worth's wedding and her wedding reception at the Community Center.  I never imagined St. Anthony's would close; I know more churches will follow. Back in the day, when those church doors opened, hundreds of people would pour out of the doors, another sad chapter. 

Walking by Kibbe Park, I remember taking our daughters swimming in the wading pool. If we needed a part for our television set, there was a neighborhood store on Jackson Street we could walk to for a part for our TV set.  

Now I'm walking by the Pok-A- Dot, and that reminds me of all the times our dad took us there to give our poor mom a break from her six kids. 

Southside Deli, the former Riccobono's, is where we bought Italian cheese for Sunday sauce. Joe Rose's novelty store on Ellicott Street was where you could buy all those crazy gadgets we loved. Was that where my brothers bought caps and Chinese handcuffs? They even sold fake poop and fake vomit.  

You can't forget Angie's Restaurant, located near Joe Rose's. 

I'm now on Main Street, which fills me with sadness like all my baby boomer friends. No sense rehashing what we lost, but we shared great memories from Main Street in its heyday.  

I'm now walking by St. Joseph's Church and the school I attended as a child. Those memories are filled with nuns, jump roping, and playing basketball on the tarmac. We didn't have a gym then, so we made our fun.   

I was trying to look into Quartley's store window on Washington Ave the other day. I remembered all the mom-and-pop stores on almost every street corner. The store closest to you was your favorite. When I was young, my store was Red and White on Ross Street. We would take our recyclable glass pop bottles to the store to get our change for making purchases from the penny candy box. 

Growing up on Evergreen Drive, John Kennedy School was in our backyard. We watched it being built. I remember roller skating with our ball-bearing skates on the sidewalks, hoping I would not lose the skate key. 

Now walking has taken me to our New Pool behind MacArthur Park. It was a summer filled with swimming and friends. We couldn't wait for the doors to open, pay our 25 cents, and get our key for our locker. We wore the key on our ankles.   

Every park I would walk by had another special memory because in the summer, our days were spent at our park, and our park would be competing in the Park Parade in August. 

Walking down Richmond Avenue, I stopped and looked at the hill at State Street Park, what we called it back in our day. Going down that hill in our flexible red flyer wooden sled was so much fun on Saturday afternoons. 

It seems now that I'm in my  70s, those cherished memories just bring a smile and sometimes tears to my eyes. There is one word that describes how I am feeling:  nostalgic. It was a slower lifestyle, surrounded by family and friends and creating our memories. I hope you can also feel that contentment of the 60s I am reliving on my daily walks! 

By Anne Marie Starowitz, https://www.thebatavian.com

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