Karen S. Kastner Youngstown Ohio

By | Rust Belt Company

Date Modified: 2 May 2017 | Date Published:

NOMA Mural, Organization North of Madison Avenue, Madison Ave, Elm Street, YSU Campus, Youngstown State University, Youngstown Ohio, Downtown Youngstown

Mural Signaling NOMA Organization North of Madison Avenue Youngstown Ohio Picture. – Photo Credit / Karen S. Kastner

Youngstown Ohio – (Karen Kastner) So I’m at Commerce Street and Wick Avenue in downtown Youngstown and, all at once, I have to make a decision about my route to the Main Library of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, where I would like to return some BBC DVDs–my favorites.

Wick Avenue is closed thanks to the much needed and even exciting $4.4 million Wick Avenue Improvement Project–a big sign says so, and it’s been all over the news. Should I turn left or right onto Commerce Street? I turn left, and start following the brightly colored detour signs, which tell me to turn right up the hill along Fifth Avenue toward the Academy on the Hill (Youngstown State’s alter ego). It’s the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, and since school is already in session, traffic is heavy.

As I continue to follow the detour signs, they take me east (right) along the north side of the YSU Stadium (which has two sides now–home and visitors–as opposed to the single side when I earned my degrees here) on a road with no name that I can see. I stop at a couple of stop signs and then the detour signs tell me to hang a right. Quickly, I maneuver my Honda into what I find to be a small university parking lot barely large enough to turn around in.

I feel stupid.

Downtown Youngstown, $4.4 Million Dollar Wick Ave Improvement, Wick Avenue, Commerce Street, Youngstown Ohio, YSU, Youngstown State University

Signs Posted 4.4 million Wick Avenue Improvement Corner Of Wick Avenue Commerce Street In Downtown Youngstown Picture – Photo Credit / Karen S. Kastner

All my adult life, I have had that trouble with signs. If there is signage to warn motorists that we are to go in a certain direction soon, I jump the gun and turn now. Perhaps I can attribute this to my somewhat militaristic upbringing. My sweet, smart, dignified dad had served in the Navy during World War II and had often ordered my sister and myself to “police [clean] the area,” “hit the deck” or “report to the car at O-three-hundred hours (3 a.m.)” to depart for vacation. Once the trouble with signs begins, I usually get lost as any and all of my friends who have waited for me inordinate amounts of time (especially before cell phones and GPS systems) to meet them somewhere can attest.

My all-time tardiness record, reports Jim Heinrich, with whom I worked at The Vindicator and who retired from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a year ago, amounted to an hour and a half. By the time I arrived at the Strip District (a strip along the Allegheny River not involving strippers) restaurant where I was supposed to meet him that day, he was sunburned but happy to see me as he had come to believe I had been killed in an accident.

But back to the Wick Avenue Experience.

So I turn around and get back on no-name road just north of the stadium just barely aborting yet another premature right turn into yet another university lot. I felt really quite grown up and sophisticated when I avoided that second sojourn out of my way.

Pete the Penguin--Pete in the form of fire hydrants graces the Youngstown State University campus.

Pete The Penguin In The Form Of A Fire Hydrant Graces The Youngstown State University Campus Picture. – Photo Credit / Karen S. Kastner

When I reach Wick Avenue again, the signs indicate that the detour has ended. I expect to be able to turn south onto Wick to make my way to the library, but the avenue was open only a matter of maybe a hundred feet. Instead, I cross Wick, going straight, but veer slightly right onto another unnamed road and then turn right into a parking lot for university housing. There were Penguin fire hydrants everywhere! The parking lot gates, usually down, I’m sure, are up, so I proceed through the Smoky Hollow neighborhood where several people I know grew up and drive toward MVR Club, 410 N. Walnut St., where I get a takeout menu for later. Italian beans! Wedding soup! The meatballs!

I drive along Walnut and through university parking lots the back way to return my DVDs at the Main Library, where they seem glad to see me.

Detour sign that misled me--This is the detour sign that led me mistakenly into a small parking lot off a service road on the north side of YSU's Stambaugh Stadium.

Detour sign that misled me–This is the detour sign that led me mistakenly into a small parking lot off a service road on the north side of YSU’s Stambaugh Stadium Picture. – Photo Credit / Karen S. Kastner

As I cross Rayen Avenue and go south down the hill, it occurs to me that if I had gone right at Commerce Street and Wick Avenue instead of left, I would have arrived at the library in a few minutes instead of a half hour.

Exercise equipment poised--Wick Park boasts this equipment just waiting for enthusiasts to brave the cold.

Exercise equipment poised–Wick Park boasts this equipment just waiting for enthusiasts to brave the cold Picture. – Photo Credit / Karen S. Kastner

Then I do the whole thing again, driving along Rayen Avenue and Fifth Avenue, this time stopping at Wick Park, where there is outdoor exercise equipment poised for use; at Dorian Books, 802 Elm St., where used volumes and other goodies abound; and at the new North of Madison Avenue, where a mural, signs and buildings are freshly organized. I tuck the latter away for a feature article or column idea coming your way soon!

From the near North Side, I traverse the East Side so I can see what the Golden Dawn, 1245 Logan Ave., has for its luncheon specials. Yep! Cabbage rolls! My favorite…

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