Cab driver, you better take me home
Cab driver, once more around the block
Never mind the ticking of the clock. (The Mills Brothers)
My first ride in a taxi cab was from Wellsville to East Liverpool just a few hours after I was born. That would have been on our back steps on Center Street behind Isabelle Sapanaro’s Beauty Salon. Yea, I know, I was a step-child. Although I grew up in East Liverpool, I spent a lot of time here in the village and have some great but sometimes fuzzy memories.
I remember walking up a long flight of stairs to get to a candy store. It was better if you knew what you wanted before you got there because the old woman was not patient with kids spending a few pennies on some candy. I wonder if anyone remembers Oscar. It seems to me like he constantly wore an old coat and rubber boots, no matter how warm it was outside. I would always stare at him when he walked past my grandmother’s house. I was fascinated by him and very curious. I remember him as a sort of fixture in the town like Isaly’s or Johnnie’s Lunch.
Then there was my beloved smashed money collection. I kept this at my grandmothers because that is where I always collected it. It was mostly pennies that we put on the railroad tracks, but I had a few nickels and dimes in my extensive collection. We use to walk around the five & ten for hours just to spend a quarter. I always got a pea-shooter and always shot my sister Chris in the head with something, and I always had it taken away from me. It became a ritual.
We were constantly being warned to stay off the cannons that were in the road-side park. I was never afraid to climb on them but I was scared to walk in front of them in case they accidentally went off. I don’t remember its name, but there use to be a children’s home that we would drive past and my sister would inevitably tell me, "That’s where you used to live." She was probably bitter about the pea-shooter thing.
My grandmother had a huge buckeye tree in her back yard. When the buckeyes started to fall, her yard was buckeye heaven. It would go something like this:
"Grandma, can I take some buckeyes home?"
"Well, I don’t know, I really like ‘em, but I guess you can take some home."
My grandmother was a real Tom Sawyer—"Hey look at me, I’m having so much fun painting this fence." It always worked though, and we would carry bag after bag of buckeyes back to our house. We always tried to find something to do or a way to play with those buckeyes. After years of study and research, I found that the best thing to do with a buckeye was to use it as sling-shot fodder.
One day Chris and I hit on the idea of putting a note in a bottle and throwing it into the river. All my grandmother had was an empty Clorox bottle, so we wrote two notes and stuffed them inside the bottle. Chris wrote something like: If you find this note call 385-0318. Love, Christine Carmichael. Mine was more like: HELP ME OR I WILL DIE CALL 385-0318 OR YOU WILL DIE. We threw the bottle in the river, went home and waited for the call that never came.
I loved growing up on the Ohio River, and I love being here now. I love walking on the same streets that my great grandparents did. I love the dusty dream of five generations being rocked to sleep by the rhythm of the water and the gentle rattle of a train passing into the deepest blue of the night.