The Steel Mills

The steel mills were there when I was born and they were there when I left in 1946.  I thought that they would always be there but oh how things change. My Uncle Phil told me that we were crazy going to California.......he said, "this is where the jobs are" but he was wrong about that.  On my last visit to Ohio in 2009, the steel mills were gone as were the people in them that made steel. Youngstown was not the same either. It was thriving during my high school years and the busses to Struthers always filled to capacity with standing room only. In the photo below, the bus I used to take home is parked at the curb and you can just make out the Strand theater behind the memorial. The Tod Hotel also a familiar sight.


The Public Square in Youngstown

It seemed just like empty shells of what it once was. If ever there was a couple of picture to show where the jobs all went in the years leading up to 2010, these next two are it. The steel mills are gone, the jobs are gone, the people are gone. If we ever hope to get it back, we need to start making things in the USA again. Pots, pans, toasters, TV's, Cars.........everything.  We absolutely need to see the words Made in USA on the back.  You can read more here to see the rise and fall of the steel mills.

stop 14

Youngstown Sheet and Tube Stop 14

walton hill

YST Stop 14 As It Looks Today

There were no emission regulations back then so dirty  black smoke was constantly spewing out of the large chimney stacks.

steel mill

The  YST Campbell Works

 One of the very fond memories I have is the large Railroad Steam Engines that were everywhere in the massive railroad yards that surrounded the steel mills.


The Huge Steam Engines

 My Brother and I would often go down to the railroad yards and pick up coal that had dropped off the railroad cars and at times we were quite close to those huge steam engines.

railroad yard

The Yard Where We Picked up Coal

We heated with coal back then and there were no filters.  Our furnace was very old and the inner core was cracked so the house would often get some smoke coming out of the registers until the fire got hot enough for just heat to come out.

The Area We Lived In

Most of the houses in my hometown were two story tract type homes with  a basement. The picture below was taken before I came along. A model T-ford sits alongside the house.  On the back of the picture in my Mother's handwriting, it reads "Our first house in America after we moved. Also our first car. The family on the steps. We had just returned from a drive. Thrilling".

house and car

919 Wilson St. Struthers, Ohio

The family must have kept the Model T for several years because in this picture below, I am seated in the front seat alongside my Mother.  In the back seat is my Grandmother and Grandfather Walker.

model t

The Model T and Me

 It was not until after the war that many of the new homes were single story with a crawl space under the house and no basement.

bent tree

Bent Tree in 2009

After having gone back to my hometown in 2009, I found that the neighborhoods were much the same. The porch at Bent Tree was enclosed and new paint but the house looked much the same to me. New houses were built from our place all the way up to Poland Rd and there were no longer any open fields behind us or behind the houses across the street from us.

There was a Mom and Pop store on our street and us kids would often stop in there to get popsicles or penny candy. The 5th Street Grade School was only 3 blocks from our house and almost all of the kids walked to school.

fifth st school

The 5th St. Elementary School

  Mr. Creed was the principal of the school and the only two teachers I remember are Miss Yoder who taught 1st Grade and Mr. Meyers who taught 5th grade.

Lake Hamilton was about a mile away and my Dad and I would often go fishing there. All of the places we fished had names like Perch Inlet, Bluegill Inlet, Sunny Pond, and the Dam. It was very rare to go fishing there and not catch anything. The outlet at the Dam flowed into Yellow Creek which passed through downtown Struthers and then on into the Mahoning River.

Yellow Creek Park was right at the foot of Bridge St. and Lowellville Road. There was a playground there and a picnic area.

yellow creek park

 At some point and time, they put cement walls on both sides of the creek there in the park and it made an excellent ice skating rink in the winter time. More often than not we would go skating at night and there were bon fires we sat by to keep warm on the cold winter nights.

In 1939 or so, they put in a public swimming pool at the bottom of Wetmore drive.  It was a very unusual design with a sandy beach surrounding the entire  pool. They played music there all day long and I will never forget the song "Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit"  I met Dolores Kaltenbaugh at the pool in Struthers and she was my very first girlfriend.

When I was about 10 years old, we moved from Wilson St. to  Poland Ave. It was in the summer time and school was out so I had a hard time adjusting to new friends and found myself riding my bicycle up to Wilson Street to play with my old  gang.


 Once school started, all that changed and I began walking back and forth to school with kids from the Poland Avenue and Creed Street area, namely Bill O'Hara, Jack O'Hara, Jim Ahrens, Billy Ahrens, Bill Pusser, Margaret Pusser, Georgeina Pusser, Fred Pusser and George Pusser. I went to High School when I entered the 7th Grade.

my sister eva

My Sister Eva Was the Oldest

This is Eva in the back yard at bent tree. She was the first to leave home. Her and Emma Sebok who lived two doors away, went to California to live.

I can remember her sending us a crate of oranges for Christmas. It was unheard of to have oranges in the winter time in Ohio back then so it was quite a treat for us.

babs army

My Sister Babs at the end of WW2

My sister Babs had graduated from nursing school and also joined the army. She was sent off to a large hospital in Kentucky. Because she was a registered nurse, she was automatically eligible for the rank of Lieutenant.

After the War, she moved with us to California and put her nursing skills to good use by buying a convalescent  home.  She went on to buy a small convalescent hospital.  She was the most successful member of our family.









Struthers, Ohio in the 30's and 40's

I was born in a small town in Ohio in 1930. Dr. Schofield paid a visit to the house and delivered me.  It was during the great depression and there was no money for hospitals.  We lived on Wilson St. and I have always referred to it as "Bent Tree" because of the tree out front that my Mother ran into when I was an infant and it never grew up straight.

gw 3 months old

Me in November 1930 Three Months Old

bent tree

Me in the front yard at Bent Tree in 1937....Latura house in background

For reasons unknown to me, the numbers were changed on all of the houses on Wilson Street so the house I was born in is no longer numbered 919.  This happened many years after we moved from there.  At the time, we were the last house on Wilson Street on the left hand side as you headed west towards Poland Road. 

Although times were bad, we always seemed to have a car.  The first one I remember was a  tan 1934 Ford Sedan with suicide doors. I found a picture of my Dad standing alongside this car in one of my Mother's old albums.  It was stuck to another picture so I had to rework the right hand side of the car. The garage we had was all but falling down at the time and my Dad never fixed it, probably for lack of funds to do so.

34 ford

My Dad and the 34 Ford Sedan

All of the areas in Struthers had nicknames and ours was Dogtown. To the East of us was Nebo, to the North was Lyons Plat. The street next to ours was Creed Street and the nickname was also Creed Street. Slop Hill was the area to the southwest of us.  I have no idea how we got the various nicknames but they were constantly used.

When my parents first moved to Wilson Street, it was a black ash road and it was not until 1937 or so when the WPA came along and put in curbs and paved it from 5th Street to where it ended just west of our house. There was a natual spring just behind our house slightly to the west and two creeks emanated from this spring, one flowing west to east behind our house and one flowing north alongside our house.  They both made their way down to 5th Street Park and probably to Yellow Creek from there. No one seems very happy in the following picture.  It looks like there is plenty of food on the table though. The tree directly behind was a green apple tree and absolutely delicious.  I suppose the tree got plenty of water from the creek that was directly behind it.


My Sister Eva, My Grandmother Lizzy, Me, My Mother, My Brother George and my Dad

Directly across the street from us was the Barnhart's and my best friend Barny lived there.  His real name was Harold but we always called him Barny.  He had an older sister  Marjorie and every year she would take all of us kids to Idora Park.  I can remember all of us walking up the dirt road to Poland Road and catching the bus to Youngstown, then from there we caught another bus and headed to the south side of Youngstown and eventually Idora Park.  The Barnhart's had a Victrola record player and Marjorie would sometimes invite me over to listen to records.  In turn, we had a radio and her and Barny would come over and listen to "The Shadow". Barny's Dad would often drink before coming home from the steel mill in Struthers and he used to beat his wife quite often and sometimes the kids.  They had a white terrior dog  named Queenie and it had pups and they gave one to us.  We named it Spot.  She lived to a ripe old age and even made the trip to California with us in 1945.  I was in the Navy and my mother wrote to me that Spot had died.

During the War, my Dad was the lord of the radio and would often listen to short wave broadcasts from Great Britain. Many of my parents relatives still lived in England and he was concerned about the news coming directly from London as opposed to what was being broadcast on the USA stations. I thought perhaps that I might find on the internet, a radio similar to the one we had back in the 1930's and as luck would have it, I found the exact radio that my Dad bought. It was a Western Auto "Truetone" Radio.

truetone radio

Our Western Auto truetone Radio

The dial on this radio was quite unique in that it had the radio stations printed on the face. As I mentioned above, my Dad would often listen to London using the short wave feature. These too were printed on the face.  The stations I most often selected were WKBN and WFMJ in Youngstown, KDKA in Pittsburgh, and WJR in Detroit.


Everyone in my family but me was born outside the United States. My two older sisters Evelyn and Hylda, were born in Glasgow, Scotland. My Mother was born in Liverpool, England in 1896 and my Dad in Hawick, Scotland in 1892.My brother George (Nook) was Canadian and became a US Citizen when he joined the army in 1942.  He went through basic training and very quickly found himself fighting in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He was a basket case for about a year when he finally got back home. My Mother never really passed along the names and addresses of all the relatives we have across the Atlantic so there will be many that I never get to know or meet.

As I go through the picture albums, I keep coming across photos that just have to be part of this Biography.  The following picture is of my Uncle Phil Diana and my aunt Lillian Diana standing along their brand new 1937 Lincoln Zephyr.  My Uncle Phil loved this car and would never take it out of the garage if the weather was bad.

1937 Lincoln

Aunt Lil and Uncle Phil and my dog spot.  That's me to the left and  to the right behind the car is Mr. Carney working in his garden and the Cabuno house top center.

Many of the things that happened at Bent Tree will always remain in my memory. We never had an electric refrigerator all the time we were there.  An Ice Man would deliver 25 and 50 pound cubes of ice that would go into and ice box. Us kids would always make our way under the tarp of his truck and chip off some small pieces of ice to suck on during the hot summer days. I happened to be under the tarp getting some ice one day and the ice man didn't see me and took off down the street with me in the back. When we got to Sebok's, we were going fairly fast and my brother saw me back there and told me to jump off. I did as he said and when I hit the ash road, my arms and knees got all cut up by the sharp edges of the ash. They took me home and down into the cellar and put me into a wash tub and scrubbed me off with a brush in order to get all the ash removed from my skin.  I was a mess for a week and vowed never to get on the ice truck again.

ice box

This is a picture of the ice box and it sat on the landing that went down to the basement

mom car

My Mother sitting on the bumper of their car

These were the young years, flying kites out in the field behind the house, playing Marbles down on 8th Street near the streetlight, raiding the apple trees up at Creed's house, picking up groceries at the store down on 5th Street for my Mother in my side boarded wagon, catching fire flies in a mason jar in the field just north of the house, hop-scotch, tag, rubber gun fights..........then came the move to 239 Poland Avenue in 1940 and the young years were over.

239 house

This is our house on the corner of Poland Ave. and Creed St

The house next door belonged to the Patterson's but it burned to the ground sometime in the 1970's. There also used to be a garage at the end of the driveway but it's gone too. The garage that belonged to us was behind the house on Creed Street.but in 2009, the owner of the house told me that it had also burned and that he could not build it back on the same foundation as there was some county ordinance that would not permit it to be right up against the property line like it used to be. One thing I looked at in this picture was the driveway.


I built this brick driveway

Poland Ave. used to be made of bricks and the City of Struthers or the State decided to re-pave the road. Rather than just put asphalt over the bricks, they jack-hammered the bricks out and were hauling them off. My Dad had me gather enough bricks to pave the driveway so I stock piled them and then set about chipping the cement off them (no easy chore) After they were all cleaned, I began setting them in place making two rows up the somewhat steep drive.

pic of me in back yard

This is a picture of me in the backyard with our dog Spot

The hat I had on was part of a uniform that I wore as a traffic guard at Struthers High School. Each day at noon and again at 3pm, I would go to one of three stations around the school and direct traffic. I don't recall any benefits for doing this other than getting out of class early.

 When the war started on December 7, 1941, I was attending the Sexton Street School. It only went to the 6th grade and so they set up the 7th grade for us at Struthers High School.  The schools were very strict then and there was no talking unless you were called upon to do so. Infractions were handled by Mr. McBride and the punishment was always a paddling.........a very hard paddling that would make even the strongest cry out and you could hear it in every classroom on the second floor.

winter in struthers

This was winter time in Struthers.  In the background is the Seymour house.  They had a barn in the back of the house and inside was a casket and I remember one day all of us guys had sneaked in there and were making dares as to who would crawl into the casket. I don't think any of us ever did.

Mrs. Seymour was always calling the cops on us for one thing or another.  Mostly for playing tag football on Creed Street. I can remember one Halloween we gathered some cow manure and put it in a paper bag on her front porch and then set it on fire and rang the door bell and ran like crazy and hid.  Well you can guess what happened and the police were there cruising all around looking for anything suspicious.

nook in army

My Brother George Joined the Army as Soon as He was Eighteen

After he had gone to radio school, he soon found himself in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He was a spotter for the 9th Air Force. He was one of the lucky ones and made it back home after the war.