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Making The Trip To Town

Admit it: We are creatures of habit. And that is not always a good thing, especially moving forward in and around Wheeling.

For years, my parents routinely drove to and from our home in the suburbs of Wheeling to downtown via the National Road. Piling us kids in one of a long line of station wagons that served the large family, they drove past the car wash in the quonset hut, past Elby’s Big Boy restaurant and the Fulton Dairy Queen, traveling west up Wheeling Hill. Along Wheeling Hill, we admired the beautiful flowers tucked into the cut-out garden on the north side of the hill.

You wouldn’t know it now by looking, but there used to be several houses literally buried into the side of the hill as well. I remember seeing young children on the porches, wondering where they played with no front yard to speak of.

Of course at the top of the hill, we gave a wave to Mingo, the statue of the Native American with his arm outstretched. From the crest of the hill, it was a toss-up as to which side of the hill we would descend. To the right of Mingo, you could head down the hill where it meets Seventh Street. At the bottom of Seventh Street, you could turn right to head toward Warwood or left to head downtown via Main Street, which was properly known as W.Va. 2. It’s still that way.

However, if you decided to take the road to the left of Mingo, you would pass the entrance road to Vineyard Hills public housing. You would ride past Lincoln School and the steep set of steps that brought students from the housing development down to the school. As you entered downtown, the Sears store was at the corner of 11th and Chapline streets where my mother did a lot of shopping.

The ride to town routinely took no more than 10-12 minutes and it was scenic. When Interstate 70 was completed and my mother learned not to fear driving through the Wheeling Tunnels, the trip took less time.

In the coming weeks, months and years as I-70 is refurbished, we must learn how to make our soon-to-be longer commute as pleasant as those childhood trips to town. Start planning now. Leave earlier. Use common sense. Pay attention. Slow down and be kind to others. Mingo will be watching.

Heather Ziegler can be reached at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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