Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Alleys of Lititz

This was originally published in the Lititz Record-Express in my column named "On Second Thought."  Hope you enjoy the reprise.

What happened to the Alleys?  Not the bowling alley (it was torn down to make more parking space for the Warwick House—now the Tin Soldier—that’s another column), but the street wannabes that ran between the streets?  I grew up in an alley.

The alley between Lincoln Ave. and Market Street was my domain.  I prowled it like a tiger cub learning the predatory ways.  What, at the time, were my best friends were on the other side of the alley.  Mike Long, Yvonne Yeagley, Marcia Male (and her brothers) and Ed Wiker (who lived in the converted warehouse along Liberty St) were the main contributors to youthful crime and childhood warfare.

It was this alley where I was first shot in the head.  Explains a lot, doesn’t it?  I was shot by a BB gun and it did, “almost put my eye out”.  I never did find out who fired the shot [UPDATE:  After this appeared in the local newspaper the perp confessed but I choose not to make this information public.], I just know I was hurt and bleeding and my mother was going to pour hydrogen peroxide into the gaping wound (slight exaggeration for effect).  The scar eventually joined the one I got while living at Poplar Grove when “Timmy Tokes hit me with a wock”.  Jim Stokes is all grown up now and doesn’t even remember inflicting the pain—but he sure does know how to split wood (and the price is pretty good).

Go west on this alley and you eventually end up on Broad St.  But before you get there, there is another small alley that runs north and along it was my first Disneyland.  Snavely’s Auction was a barn along Market St. and a covered area in which items to be sold at the next weekly auction would be stacked.  I believe that it was at Snavely’s auction that my grandmother got me my hobby horse which passed down to my son Christopher and is now in the possession of Cole Aspen Knight, who enters his second year in March [UPDATE:  He's a teenager now and will probably be angry with me if he reads this].  It’s still in Lititz.

It was also at Snavely’s that I picked up (for $2.50) a cordless record player.  It stood four feet high and had to be carted home on my red Radio FlyerÔ wagon.  It required no electricity and all you had to do was crank it up to play a record.  I loved the auctions, partly because I could get a complete meal for 15 cents (a 10 cent half pint glass bottle of chocolate milk and a 5 cent bag of Burkholder’s Potato Chips).

Bruce Smith was the bully of Lincoln and Liberty and was the reason I would cut through the Klopp walkway (across Lincoln) and into the alleys behind, on my way to school.  Passing Lincoln and Liberty would get me beat up (I never was beat up but I sure was intimidated).

The alleys south of Lincoln Ave. were fantastic.  Coming out the back gate at the Klopp house you entered onto an alley that curved south to butt up against another alley and intersect with yet another that heads toward Five Points (and Clair’s Store), but curves west again at the church (now an apartment building) to meet up with Liberty.  It was my own personal labyrinth but contrary to the myth, my Minotaur was at Lincoln and Liberty.

One of the alleys in this maze was named Rodney and would get you to Annie Hershey’s Store on New (or Apple or New whichever it was that year) St.  Along the way you would pass one of Lititz’ nascent industries, operating out of a garage.  Oehme Bros. began baking pies and inventing pie-baking equipment in a garage that was just down the alley from their home, which was sort of the center of my meandering alleys.  There were days that on my way to school I would pass by the bakery and smell apple pie in the offing while at the same time get a whiff of chocolate from the Wilbur-Suchard plant.

Alleys conjure up many scenes of youthful days in Lititz.  Lanes?  Well, lanes just sort of sit there keeping streets from banging into one another.  This, apparently, is progress.

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