A look back at Canton’s history sparks memories, wishesFacebook page celebrates town's past
Recently, through all the glory that Facebook offers, I joined a group called “Remember Canton When…” As a lifelong resident of Canton, and a child of lifelong residents of Canton, I was interested in reading the memories and recollections of others who call or used to call Canton home. What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, or the sense of loss for a town that used to be so full, so busy, that you couldn’t find a parking spot on Main Street.
After joining the group recently, I eagerly sat down with my parents to read all the posts. A majority of the group members come from my parent’s peers, 50 to 60-plus in age, with wonderful memories of Canton’s heyday. As I called out names of people who were posting and what they had to offer to the group, Mom and Dad would laugh at their own views of the past. There was Dad recalling “cutting The Little Boy” parking lot and Mom remembering shopping at Dick Shulman’s with her own mother. Indeed, my grandmother even made the list — as a retired high school teacher, former students recalled how they hated algebra but loved Mrs. Mitchell!
A majority of the memories were related to the old YMCA, the 5 and 10 store, the Community Store, Champion Paper Company (now known as Evergreen) and so much more. Grabbing a “boscoe burger” and a cherry lemon sprite from The Little Boy showed up dozens of times. Car dealerships, record shops, gas stations and colorful characters all from the past 60 years or so filled my screen as I read the entries to my parents. What emerged out of the time we spent together was an overall picture of a town where family and community were essential, and you could find all you needed without ever having to leave the city limits. Later, when I returned back to my own family, also being raised in Canton, I told my husband how I wanted to bring some of that back to Canton. What could be done? As it turns out, something is already being done. STEPUP Canton, a program designed to garner growth and prosperity in the town, has been granted monies to get projects started.
I am not the only one who wishes for a return to the Canton of years past. How fantastic would it be to fill the shops on Main Street once again, to take my children down the streets during Christmas?
I’ve witnessed the people of Canton come together to fight for their jobs at the paper mill, to help neighbors during a record flood, to support the boys of fall on the football field, and to laud the veterans and working class in parades. I believe that the hope is still there. I hope in 20 years my kids come to their father and me with their own look back at the Canton of their past.