Massillon, Ohio

Massillon, Ohio

(The city was named for an official of a long ago royal French court.)


      The heart of the city lies in a deep (by Ohio standards) valley.  By now some of its

     stores may be boarded up and empty the way they were on our last visit in 2001.

     Everybody migrates to the mall nowadays to buy what they want.  There used to be

     two movie houses in the city, one at the beginning of the town coming from the

     direction of Canton and one on the same main street, Lincoln Way,  on the other

     side of the valley; they’re both gone now, of course.  They were genuine movie

     theaters, not the cheaply constructed mall type of modern times.


     My Dad and I and my stepsister Linda and my stepmother Mildred used to go to a

     place called “Smitty’s Diner” on Lincoln Way on the far side of the valley.  The

     diner’s exterior walls were made of  silver colored shiny metal; the inside was filled

     with leather backed booths and a counter with round leather stool seats that you could

     twirl.  You could order a wonderful roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes smoth-

     ered  in delicious brown gravy.  Smitty was a large bald headed man in a dirty apron

     who never spoke much.


     My Dad traded Swiss cheese (he sold it to bars and grocery stores from a black Chev-

     rolet panel truck) for neckties from Jewish haberdashers.  “This is my boy,” he would

     tell them proudly.  I was a teenager then.  “Nice looking boy, Walter,” one of the hab-

     erdashers would say.  “He takes after his mother,” my Dad would say.  “Do you have  

     a nice tie for him?” “Sure, Walter.  Do you like this one sonny?”


     I went to a Greek restaurant a few times and the men behind the counter would yell

     at each other in loud hard voices so that you might think that they actually hated one

     another.  That was just the way they were.


     Steel, glass, bricks, hard concrete sidewalks, restaurants, banks, bars, barber shops,

     churches, bowling alleys, clothing stores, convenience stores, the five and dime,

     beauty parlors, office supply stores, groceries, furniture emporiums, Germans, Jews,

     Greeks, Blacks, Italians, Slavs, Irish.


     Have they opened the steel mills again?  They were what used to give the city its life.

     Is the city still struggling, working hard to stay alive, shouldering its way through an

     uncaring world?

Joseph Buehler

Joseph Buehler has published over a hundred poems in the UK  in Sentinel Literary Quarterly, in Australia in Otoliths, in Dublin in H.C.E. Review, in Canada in Ottawa Arts Review and widely in the US in ArLiJo, Nine Mile Magazine, The Opiate, Futures Trading, Indiana Voice Journal, The Tower Journal , North Dakota Quarterly and elsewhere.  He and his wife Trish moved to Georgia over fifteen years ago.



  1. nice stroll down memory lane. writing is a perfect vehicle for these trips.

  2. Wonderfully detailed memories. That last paragraph is a stunner.

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