Dick Hoffman’s father peddled milk from a horse-drawn buggy in the 1930s. He’d bring the horse home after work, and all the neighborhood kids would come out to pet it.
“Kling Street was a nice place to live,” said Louise Kiltau, who lived in the neighborhood and also attended Leggett Elementary.
Kiltau, joined by two brothers from the old neighborhood, and Hoffman, joined by his son and brother, were among 23 former Akron graduates from the early 1940s who gathered at Farmer Boy restaurant on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue on Friday for a semiannual reunion.
“It’s really amazing that we still have that many around that could still show up,” said Richard Lott, who attended with his wife, a Hower High graduate.
The reunion brought back classmates from as far as Columbus and Carrollton, and memories from even farther away.
The group shared a nostalgic lunch, with talk of tin-can telephones attached by waxed string that doubled as roller skates when wrapped around a shoe. “We made our own toys,” Kiltau explained. And they rarely complained.
A thin sheet of snow blanketing barely sloped hills kept the neighborhood kids along Kling and Thornton streets out in the cold until the sun went down.
“We had a hill called Bunker Hill. And we lived down there,” Kiltau said.
Dick’s brother — Ray Hoffman — remembers stealing vintage Pepsi signs from the local grocery store and bending the sheet metal into a disc.
“Your sleds didn’t last long because the runners wore out,” Ray said of the bumpy hill. “I still have some cinders in my knees from that hill.”
A whistle from Ray’s mother would beckon the Hoffman boys back to their Kling Street home.
The kids never got in the trouble they hear about today. “They were innocent things,” Kiltau said.
“Plus we didn’t get caught,” Ray said, laughing with his brother.
It was tough for Ray to talk about the old neighborhood without remembering the war.
“One of the big things was growing up during World War II,” said Ray, who turned 10 years old when the war ended. “We lost a few people on our block.”
Many in the group, ranging in age from 78 to 85, served their country, including Buster May, who turned 85 on Monday.
“Buster, didn’t you serve?” Kiltau asked.
“That was when I had blond hair,” the retired Akron police sergeant joked.
May remembers attending Leggett Elementary, then South High School, “which is now an Aldi’s,” he said. He drew chalk lines around dead bodies while serving on the police force from 1953 until the practice became outdated.
Lott, 84, also attended Leggett, then graduated from West High School in 1948.
“I went straight over to the Mediterranean,” he said of his six years in the Navy. “At least I wasn’t where the fighting was.”
He’s done a great deal of living since he turned 80 years old.
A former Cuyahoga Falls policeman and an auxiliary police officer in Springfield, Lott served in Cuyahoga Falls until last year, when he ushered traffic during the bicentennial parade as a reserve officer.
He turns 85 in December, on the day of his four-year wedding anniversary.
“He married me on his birthday,” his wife, Lois, jokes, “So he wouldn’t forget.”
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or email@example.com.