I grew up in the small, picturesque Village of Medina, not far from the shores of Lake Ontario. Dad told me the village was named when a man knocking on a door said, “It’s me, Dinah.” This tall tale still makes me smile.
Our family home was located on Park Avenue, a sheltering, tree-lined street where carriage steps and hitching posts can still be seen. Our house was a large, green Victorian with a white porch across the front where Mom would hang baskets of pink flowers. The inside had hardwood floors, French doors, a corner fireplace in the living room, pocket doors, a built-in china cabinet and a stained-glass window on the stair landing.
When I was a child, I especially loved the coal cellar, where I had a clubhouse despite the filthy remnants of coal and spider webs. Down the street, the POWs were housed in a barracks that later turned into an elementary school. Mom used to watch the soldiers march past our house. Some were employed at the H.G. Heinz factory, which turned into Fisher Price Toys years later.
Recently my sister and I spent a wonderful day together strolling down Main Street. It was a pleasant surprise to see several new businesses now occupying the beautiful old buildings. Our grandfather owned McElwee’s grocery store on Main Street for several years. Thanks to the kindness of the current owner, we were allowed to visit the second floor, where Mom spent the first five years of her life. She once told me that her favorite place to sit was on the windowsill ledge, where she could watch people and horses stroll by. I went to the exact spot and felt her presence.
Medina is rich in history, beginning with Culvert Road, the only road that passes under the Erie Canal. It’s always wet from continuous leaks and Dad always beeped the car horn as we drove underneath. St. John’s Episcopal Church is listed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! for being the only building sitting in the middle of a street. Newell’s Shirt Factory made high-end dress shirts, which were purchased by John Jacob Astor, Winston Churchill and several presidents. Medina is also home to Bent’s Opera House, which showcased performances in the 1800s.
A journalist once said, “Medina, child of the Clinton Ditch, is a house founded upon rock.” Sandstone quarries put Medina on the map. Many homes, churches and buildings around the village, as well as the U.S. Capitol, Buckingham Palace and the Brooklyn Bridge, contain Medina sandstone. The Erie Canal added to the town’s prosperity, a stopover point for shipping sandstone and agriculture grown from the rich farmland on the outskirts of town.
Medina has its own falls, Oak Orchard Creek, and streams where we canoed. The village now has a total of four stop lights and once had its own movie theater, the Dipson Diana, where tickets cost 50 cents.
The entire length of Main Street at Christmastime was beautiful, with large white garlands, snowflakes, twinkling white lights and Christmas music. On snowy nights, it was magical. I spent many hours ice skating on the rather bumpy outside ice rink and warming up in the wooden shed.
Medina’s motto, “Roots in the past, eyes on the future,” shows the village’s resilience to keep improving and remain a wonderful place to live. Medina will always have a special place in my heart.