Wheeling resident Kate Quinn shared photos and memories of growing up in the city's Woodsdale section during the post-war Baby Boom era with an appreciative audience at the Ohio County Public Library Tuesday, June 17.
Quinn presented her program, "Woodsdale Kids," for the library's Lunch With Books series. The audience, which filled the library's auditorium, included many former and present residents of the Woodsdale neighborhood.
The history buff, who is still collecting photographs for the project, said she has added a number of photos to "Woodsdale Kids" since her most recent session, held at Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church a couple of months ago. Quinn also plans to present a program for the Wheeling Area Historical Society Monday, Sept. 8.
Jeanne Finstein, president of the Friends of Wheeling, added that a book, "Walking Woodsdale," is being prepared for publication, probably in a year.
Hydie Friend, executive director of the Wheeling National Area Heritage Corp., said, "We want to keep growing this collection." She said the old photos possibly may be posted online as a blog.
Quinn, who grew up in a big house on Poplar Avenue with five sisters and three brothers, related anecdotes and shattered myths from their childhood. For instance, she was disappointed to learn that a neighborhood physician had not stored surgically-removed tonsils in display cases in his living room, as had been rumored. She also revived debate about whether a large rock on the lawn of St. John's Episcopal Chapel at Heiskell and Maple avenues was a 500-pound block of granite from Massachusetts or a meteorite.
Showing several photos of scenes from the old Woodsdale School, she quipped, "The teachers were amazed - all of us Quinn kids could read, but we couldn't tie our shoes." Referring to a photo of the large, old mansion (now demolished) that housed the Children's Home of Wheeling, Quinn said one of her brothers regarded the building as "a constant reminder that life could get worse."
Quinn related the tale of her grandfather, Russell B. Goodwin, who served as Wheeling's mayor in the 1940s and lived at the corner of Maple Avenue and Woodlawn Court, ordering a crate of live squirrels because he thought Woodsdale had an insufficient population of the critters.
However, when the big wooden crate was delivered to his home, the family soon discovered it contained "giant" squirrels - as big as cats and dogs -that proved to be such nuisances that eventually Goodwin called an exterminator.
But there were good pets in Woodsdale, such as Goodwin's dog, Jeff, who followed the letter carrier on his daily route, and the Quinns' dog, Skippy, who served as the neighborhood "policeman," went door to door collecting leftovers and visited another neighbor's house to watch television.
Quinn said one of her brothers remembered the odd sight of "our dog resting in an overstuffed chair and watching TV with Mr. Smoot."
Quinn also showed photos of several former Woodsdale businesses, including the Pike Pharmacy (located on the current Sheetz site), Johnson's Grocery on Heiskell Avenue, Huffschmidt's Grocery (where youngsters purchased junk food and comic books) on the opposite side of Heiskell Avenue, and Colonel's Drugstore and Jake's Toy Store, located side by side on Edgington Lane.