The first department store in Portage County (Chic & Shabby/the Root Store)transformed into a source for home decorating with a distinctive touch…a craftsman fascinated by and devoted to clocks… a fledgling lawyer, an experienced attorney…the Barber of G-Ville…lawn and garden equipment gurus…a quilt shop drawing craft persons from all over the state and beyond…a podiatrist…an audiologist…a community food cupboard offering a lifeline to community members in difficulty…tools for every need and every handyman…a dream-come-true shop full of one-of-a-kind items, fun to own, fun to sell…memories…gone.
You could have received your first haircut, first Buster Brown shoes, first riding mower, first hearing assistance device, first quilt pattern like Grandma used to make, settled your first lawsuit or traffic ticket there on the block. Maybe the older among us attended an event/performance in the Buckeye Hall, bought seeds or a buggywhip at the hardware, took Grandpa’s railroad clock to be regulated, picked up a last-minute gift at the local shop. No more.
Fire is no respecter of memories. Wood that is over one hundred sixty years old—and counting—has no defense against destruction. A fire department that is one hundred fifty years old, proud, brave, well-equipped and ably- assisted, cannot defeat the beast. It can defend an intact perimeter, it can protect lives of citizens in the area, it can provide vigilance against a return of threat. The firefighters did what they could; they did their job, they did it well. Fire takes. Memories live on.
Local law enforcement stepped up to the challenge as well. Police officers of Garrettsville, Windham and Hiram and the county sheriff’s office managed crowds of spectators and disruptive traffic patterns, with incoming fire department equipment from other communities. Fire is disorder. They kept order.
One structure survived. Brick endured. Two attorneys can credit masonry for saving their livelihoods and their clients’ interests. A slender reed stood up to save all that escaped the onslaught. The third Little Pig was right!
Fire can be a motivator. That will be next. Garrettsville will now do its interpretation of the mythical Phoenix, wherein the fabulous, crested bird dies by fire then rises again from the ashes, purple and gold and red and yellow and blue. The spirit of fire will rise to bring the community back.
Already, there are efforts in motion to support the activities and the clients of the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard. A search is on to find a new location. Donations are coming in–food items, household supplies, monetary gifts, etc—IGA(“Hometown Proud”), the United Methodist Church, Middlefield Bank, the Portage County Mental Health & Recovery Board, the James A. Garfield Local School District, the internet are all playing a part. The Chamber of Commerce has met to begin planning the moves going forward. Co-ordination of volunteer recovery efforts will be the first item of business. Every business owner able and willing to return will be welcomed and assisted and appreciated. Prayers have gone up. The word is out : Garrettsville will rise.
Phoenix it is!