As time trickles away I am increasingly grateful that I grew up in Goshen. I didn’t always appreciate, or even recognize, how fortunate I was as a child and adolescent. Sometimes I just wanted to get as far away from Goshen as possible. Other times I just wanted to be home again.
With the construction boom of the 1990s and 2000s, subdivisions have changed much of the dynamic of kids’ growing up experience. If somebody had told me they lived on a cul-de-sac when I was 10, I can’t imagine what I would have thought. All I knew at the time, was everything that was important to me was just a few pedals away on my BMX bike — my school, the city pool, the baseball diamond and my best friend’s house.
I would walk a half block to Hardings (and later T&L Supermarket) to buy baseball cards and get a gallon of milk for my mom. I would ride my bike to baseball games, my mitt wedged to the handlebars. In this era of travel sports and 40-minute commutes, I appreciate my simple Goshen childhood even more. Below is a list of a few of the Goshen memories and people that continue to come to mind decades later.
• Cars I drove while attending Goshen High School — 1978 Ford Courier (I guess you would call it a truck); 1975 faded maroon Chevy Nova (not the cool muscle car kind, but the straight-six grandma model); and a charcoal gray 1982 Mazda 626, 5-speed manual.
• Cars I wish I had in high school — Mazda RX-7; BMW 325i; or a Jaguar XJ-6.
• Favorite teachers through the years in Goshen Community Schools — Mrs. Nancy Groff (third grade, Chandler); Mr. Max Slabaugh (civics, GHS, senior year); and Mr. Mike Sorrell (business law, GHS, senior year). Actually, nobody really remembers what subject Mr. Sorrell taught. The goal each day was getting him to tell stories. Before you knew it, it was 55 minutes later and the bell was ringing. His most important lesson, I realize now, was to enjoy life as it happens.
• Favorite places to go on a hot summer day — Jason Kincaid’s halfpipe in West Goshen (I still remember my first drop-in); Shanklin Pool (best snack shop pizza in history); and The Olympia Candy Kitchen (best chocolate malt in history).
• Three summer memories of growing up in Goshen — Junior League baseball champions at Shanklin Park (Team Everett’s); Running behind the mosquito fogger truck as it drove down Reynold’s Street (not the smartest thing we ever did, but might explain a few things now); and back alley street ramps on fresh blacktop.
• Three people from my youth who are no longer with us — Al Charlton (step dad); Chris St. Germain (high school sweetheart); and Kris Kurtz (childhood best friend). I miss them all and think of them often.
• What was usually in my “jam box” in 1985 — “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot; “‘74 Jailbreak” by AC/DC; and “Pyromania” by Def Leppard.
• Songs you’d most likely hear at high school dances in the Whiteman Gym — “Word Up” by Cameo; “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory; and “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul.
• Favorite movies around 1985 — "The Kentucky Fried Movie;" "Police Academy" I and II (not III, IV or V); and "Night Patro.l"
• Jobs I had while in high school — Clean up crew at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair and district assistant at the South Bend Tribune’s Goshen office on Washington Street (across the alley from the current Electric Brew location).
• Best memories of hanging out downtown — Throwing toast at the screen during “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Goshen Theater; skateboarding during sidewalk days and sifting through new and used cassette tapes at World Records. Is it odd to think that pretty much anybody under the age of 45 has little or no memory of cruising on Main Street?
Simple times are good times. That’s what Goshen was for me. Simple. Good. That’s more than enough.
Michael Wanbaugh has been managing editor of The Goshen News since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @MWanbaugh. Read this and other TGN blogs at goshennews.com.