I've never lived in Johnstown, but ...

By   eloon1@jcpenney.com

   I've never lived in Johnstown but I've visited several times over the last 40 years. My father and his family have a history in Johnstown that goes back over 100 years. The geneology charts my Dad has put together list the names of Hasselbauer, Louise Goebert, Mary Zehnder, John Heilman, Thelma Heilman, Naomi Heilman-Brehm, Helen Heilman-Bradley, Frank Scholly, Bill Scholly and others. My grandparents were born in 1898 and 1901. My Dad was born in 1919 at 423 Pine Street. The Scholly's lived at 513 Forrest Ave were my grandfather was born. I have notes that someone lived off Ohio St. in W. Moxham. The men in the families worked at Bethleham Steel and Lorain Steel. Family stories tell of my great-grandfather John Heilman running a hotel that was on Horner St.

   My grandparents moved from Johnstown to Washington DC during the depression. My Dad joined the army during WWII and traveled with the service for the next 20 years. With other family members still in Johnstown and a weekend cabin in Reynoldsdale, just 7 miles from Bedford, we would make visits back to Johnstown in between changes in Daddy's duty stations. In the mid 60's my grandparents retired back to Johnstown and lived on Rosemary Lane which I believe is in the Southmont area of Johnstown.

    As a child I loved going to Johnstown because I always thought it was so pretty. The drive through the mountains was spectacular. The curvng mountain roads afforded breathtaking vistas of the valley at each turn as we approached the town. Later we would go to "the cabin" in Bedford. It was nestled next to a creek that was low enough to wade in and my brother could catch fish . That's where Uncle Gearld taught him to mount fish heads on flat boards. There were times we couldn't go to the cabin because it had to "dry out" after the creek had risen due to a big spring snow melt.

   One year after college I made my first trip to Johnstown by myself...on a bus. After I was married I still brought my family to Johnstown to visit my grandparents. As I got older I really came to love the looks of the town. Older homes with wrap around porches and swings. Gardens with hollyhocks reaching up the sides of white houses along the slopping roadsides. I met my grandfathers sister one time. She and her husband collected antiques and showed me their basement full of things. The walls were lined with old licenses plates and a cobblers bench sat in the middle of the musky smelling room showing years of use.

   For the last couple years my Dad has been working on a series of tapes he calls "The Way It Was". They consist of stories he remembers of growing up in Johnstown. Miller's Dairy, Alwines Dairy, Point Stadium, Stuber's Meat Market and Furst Grocery (I think I have that name right). He went to Meadowvale School and remembers his Dad bringing home the Cleveland that would be their car for several years. Of his mother washing clothes in the wooden washer. Their move to Ben's Creek on Somerset Road, swimming at Crystal Park and Ideal Park and the memories go on.

   Now I have adult children of my own. My son is old enough to remember our trips to Johnstown but my daughter was too young. It has been years since I've visited Johnstown and recently I asked my Dad (now 82) if he'd like to make a trip back with me. If my daughter could come I would love for her to see it also. It is a showplace for another kind of life. At least that is how I remember it. Every town and community has it's good times and bad but they always see it through and Johnstown certainly has a history of showing their pride and will to show they stand for something.

Elaine Looney
Dallas, Texas

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