Autumn in Syracuse

Autumn is here and there’s evidence of summer’s end as the heat reluctantly is turned on, and that air conditioner that’s still in the window, it’s time to take it out.

It’s during these times when I remember Syracuse at its best. Like the days of my youth when It was fun to take an old appliance box and slide and/or roll down Thornden Park hill, It didn’t matter that you felt like you wanted to vomit when you were done.

Another sign of summers end is the arrival of hardy Mums. I hate hardy Mums because it means that summers done.

It’s early Sunday morning and for the 19th year I’m out delivering urban CNY to my church distribution sites. In a small church an older man teaching a hall area full of children, “Now, if you want to have friends, you have to be friendly too.” He was paraphrasing something from the bible.

In the 1960’s we lived within walking distance of Bethany Baptist church, so there was no excuse not to attend. And we had options since every residential area had a business district – East Genesee Street had the Regent Theater, Liberty Market, The 5 & 10 Store, Sam Teckler’s used furniture, Essie’s Store, Harvey’s Drug Store.

North of Harrison Street where we lived was the Marshall Street business district which had The Red Barn and Carrol’s fast food places along with Jiffy King Subs,and the Orange Student Bookstore, (one of my first jobs stocking books).

Syracuse Transit busses ran regularly and at rush hour they’d be packed with commuters and instead of traffic being sent to the ‘burbs this traffic was within the city of Syracuse.

And at Christmas we attended the annual Crouse-Hinds Christmas Party at Loew’s Theater. Tom & Jerry cartoons shown on a giant screen and visits from the Magic Toyshop cast in full costume. At the end as you were leaving there were tables that stretched the length of the ornate lobby with toys for kids of all ages. There was an age appropriate toy for everyone.

There was something special here in Syracuse, large global companies like Crouse-Hinds were headquartered here. I believe both Crouse and Hinds are buried at Oakwood Cemetery. Carrier Corporation, Marcellus Casket, and the candle manufacturers on the north side placed their brand on our city, and now with buy outs and globalization those days of local mega businesses are gone.

But there was something special about this place when Archibald Stadium was still standing, Since then we’ve lost 40,000 people, the only traffic jam is made up of suburbanites “hi- tailing it outta here” at rush hour. But on the positive side there are private developers and individuals that haven’t give up on Syracuse. Beyond the Mall mania there are little bright spots all over town that something good is happening or about too.

Perhaps our urban future is based on how well we learn and remember from our checkered past.