I had taken out my yearbook from my senior year in high school to flip through on the thirty-fifth anniversary of my graduation, and because in COVID-world, my mind likes ridiculous nostalgia-tinged research projects, I went through all of the business ads at the back to see how many were still around after 35 years, Out of 75 companies, there were 27 that were, as far as I could tell, still in business, although some had changed names.
Some are long-standing Upper Arlington favourites, such as the Chef-o-Nette Diner and the Tremont Goodie Shop. Lair’s Hallmark, Strader’s Garden Centre, and the Diamond Cellar are still northtwest Columbus mainstays. Darron’s Furniture, which is a small, one-off store, still survives, as does Howard’s Barber Shop. Others have evolved with the times, such as Chesrown Oldsmobile-GMC, which is now Chesrown Chevrolet-GMC. Most of the big real estate businesses of the late 80s have been subsumed into other companies. Wolske & Blue, a law firm, is now Wolske & Associates. DaVinci Ristoranti is now Caffe DaVinci.
The vast majority of students in Upper Arlington had senior photos taken at one of three studios: Petty, Tri-Village, and Scott Hurt. Only Tri-Village has survived, likely because it was not centred on a single photographer.
The businesses that have closed are overwhelmingly restaurants, clothing and specialty stores, and the personal businesses of my classmates’ parents–including orthodontists, lawyers, interior designers, custom seamstresses, The restaurants–Ziggy’s Continental, Jack Bowman Steakhouse, and the roast beef sandwich chain Rax (once a rival to Arby’s), among others, were all huge back in 1985. Tremont Hardware, Tremont Pharmacy, and the Inkstone were all stores in the old Kingsdale Shopping Centre–about the only business there that has survived from 1985 is the rather famous MCL Cafeteria, where I ate as recently as last fall.
Some of the businesses recall the old Lane Ave. Center – Larson’s Toys, in particular, a mainstay until just six years ago. Lane Ave. was at the time a strip mall that had been enclosed, and it featured one of the first food courts in the area. Early in the 2000s the entire structure was remodeled back into an outdoor-based shopping center called the Shops on Lane Avenue. We still often visited on our Columbus trips to have Chinese food at China Dynasty–which, in 1985, was the Peasant on the Lane restaurant.
Upper Arlington is an interesting town. Since it’s largely residential, the basic look of the place has not changed significantly since 1985. But almost all of the business areas have been significantly altered, and now many of the schools are being rebuilt. It evokes an odd sense of both familiarity and unfamiliarity–the streets and the houses much as they have always been, everything else gradually morphing into something I no longer recognize as the place where I lived during my formative years. It’s not been home for a very long time, but yet, it always will be. I have always been happy that I left central Ohio to come to Canada, where I feel more at home in many ways than I do in Columbus, but I lived at the house on Windermere Rd. for the longest uninterrupted period I’ve lived in any single place–twelve years, plus three more when I lived at the OSU campus and spent summers at home, and then a year and a half more when we moved back after I finished my doctorate. Since then, we have spent no more than five years in any one place–our current home is actually the longest we’ve stayed in one place since I’ve married. That’s probably why I do feel that throbbing sense of nostalgia particularly acutely right now.