Mother had a rose garden in
the back yard, as well as other flowers, including lots of lilies of the
valley. A grape arbor yielded delicious Concord grapes and little
sweet red ones. A gardener planted vegetables, including corn, in an
area below the back hedge. This section was bordered by currant
bushes and Mother would pay me and the children in the neighborhood a
penny a box to pick them.
There were only four houses
on our side of the street. Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Savage, an elderly
couple, lived in the house next to us to the south. He was the
owner, I believe, of a stationery store in downtown Syracuse. To the
north were Mr. and Mrs. Roy Carpenter with three boys, and then Mr. and
Mrs. Sanford with two girls and a boy.
I remember five houses on the
west side of the street but the names of only three families. At the
corner of Lexington Avenue lived Mr. and Mrs. Walter Stone. He was
mayor of the city at that time. They had two grown girls who took
care of me occasionally. Then there were the Harneys, with two boys.
Mr. Harney and later the boys operated Harney's Men's Shop. The
younger one, Irving, was my brother Nick's age, eleven years older than I.
The two of them were close friends through all their lives. Many
years later, when I was grown and met Irv at parties, he'd embarrass me by
saying, "I remember changing your diapers."
Across the street from the
Savages was the Meatyard's house. He was the owner of Meatyard's
grocery store. A new house toward the south was being built next to
them. One night there was a terrible storm. It blew in the
glass window in the little front room where I slept when I was young.
My father and brother Charles rushed in, in the middle of the night, and
took me to another room. Then they nailed some boards across the
window to keep the wind and rain out. We were very surprised in the
morning to discover the partially built house blown over to lean against
the Meatyard's house. The report I remember was that Mr. and Mrs.
Meatyard didn't even know it had happened until they went downstairs and
discovered the living room chandelier on the floor and the house leaning
against theirs. The Meatyard's had a baby girl, Annette, born when I
was about five years old.
All of the houses were at the
north end of Allen Street. There were open lots toward Genesee
Street. Lexington ended at Allen. Beyond it to the east was a long
hill, great for sledding in the winter. Fayette Street, down below
the 200 block where Allen Street ended, was not yet a street, only trolley
tracks. At the bottom of the slope to the east, the tracks turned
south toward Genesee Street on what is now Ellis Street. At the
corner where the trolley turned there was a shuttle trolley that went up
the hill and down again for the people who lived up there. It was
free and we kids used to ride it up and down the hill. Also at the corner
was a small pond full of pollywogs and frogs.
Down a steep hill beyond
Fayette trolley tracks and parallel to them was the Erie Canal. I
remember my brothers being warned never to go in it. But I recall a
couple of times when they came home soaking wet. So I think they did
go in it. I saw it only once, when a nurse girl took me down as she
hung tight to my hand. It is now Erie Boulevard.
Behind our house was a long,
gentle slope that went down to the trolley tracks where they turned toward
Genesee Street. Then there was a hill going up. In the
distance we could see the first Onondaga Country Club, built in 1898, all
At the corner of Genesee and
Allen were big open fields. There was a path cutting kitty-corner
across the one on the right so I could reach my friends the Bestables
easily. Theirs was the first house on Genesee from the corner of
Allen, a large rambling house, probably at one time a farm. There
was an open field next to it, then the Bradley's house. It too was
large, and there was a big barn at the side, great for playing. Down
behind were fields of corn, vegetables and fruits. Across Genesee
from the Bradleys was another big, formal house, at the corner of
Cambridge, where Grandma Bastable lived. She was the owner of the
Bastable block and theater in downtown Syracuse, which burned down in 1923
and where the State Tower Building now stands.
Also on Genesee Street, at
the southwest corner of Allen, was a big stone house occupied by a family
by the name of Pennock. There were no young children living there.
I remember they were nice to us kids on Halloween and had candy or hot
chocolate. This was long before the trick or treat era. It was
usually just trick - soap the windows or stick a toothpick in the doorbell
to make it keep ringing. But we never did any tricks at the
There were several nice
houses toward the south on Allen Street, in the 400 to 600 blocks.
On the left side of Genesee to the east beyond Allen Street, were two big
homes where the Danns lived. Grandma and Grandpa lived in one, and
the father and four children lived in the other. Their mother was
dead and they were taken care of by a nurse/governess who seemed awfully
stern and scared me. There was a cross-lots path from behind the
Savage's house to the Dann's back yard, so we could go back and forth
without going all the way around the corner. For several years,
beginning in the '50s, it served as the Jewish Community Center.
The neighborhood that I grew
up in was all very open, so different from what it is now. Others
may not agree, but this is the way I remember it.
On the cover: A winter scene
provides the backdrop to Ione Nicholson Tracy's childhood home at 315
Allen St., Syracuse.
1993, The Herald Company