It’s just the way a neighborhood should be

Left: Gus Uebel remembers the day he moved to Juler Avenue, May 30, 1938. He has lived there for 55 years. Center: Mrs. Catherine Byus has lived in her house on Juler Avenue for 51 years. Right: Mrs. Mildred Bartels has lived on Juler for 64 years.

By Regina Villiers. Originally published May 19, 1993 in The Suburban Life, added May 15, 2020.

     “It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood,” sings Mr. Rogers of children’s television fame.  Then he ends by singing, “I always wanted to live in a neighborhood just like this.”

     Every time I hear him, I share his sentiments.  I feel exactly the same way about my own neighborhood – my own street, Juler Avenue.

     When we moved here, I had already moved 28 times in my life; and I was ready to settle down.  I had lived in the city, in the country and on the shores of Lake Erie.  I had lived in a three-story house overlooking a golf course and in a basement apartment.

     And I’d had several experiences with subdivisions, places with cloned people and houses “like little boxes, and they all looked just the same,” to quote Pete Seeger’s song from the ‘60’s.

     So, when I finally landed on Juler Avenue, I felt just like Goldilocks who ended up in Baby Bear’s chair and found it just right.

     Most writers’ dream of living in a cabin in the woods, where they can write in peace and in privacy.  Juler Avenue is my “cabin in the woods.”  There may be quieter streets than Juler, but I have not lived on them.  There are only occasional interruptions to my solitude.

     There may also be streets with more history than Juler, but Juler has its own story.

     According to the old-timers on the street, Juler Avenue was named for a Dr. Juler, who once owned it and lived here when this was all farmland.

     When I first moved here, Juler’s story was told to me by Margaret Luti who lived here almost since the beginning of the street until her death a few years ago.     

     Juler Avenue, Mrs. Luti said, originated as a country lane leading through Dr. Juler’s farm to his house.  She also said that Dr. Juler planted all the lovely, old trees that lined both sides of Juler.

     Mrs. Mildred Bartels, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday and who has lived on Juler for 64 years, describes vividly the way it was.

     The original street, she says, was only about half as long as it is now and it was a dead-end street.  You entered it from Miami Avenue, coming through the open space that now runs alongside Joann Blanck’s house.

     The street went down to Dr. Juler’s house, which sat in the areal where the Doug Oppenheimers and the Jack Johnstons now live.

     The large, new Johnston and Oppenheimer houses were built just a few years ago at the south end of the street, adding to the length of Juler.

     The long-term residents bemoan the fate of the beautiful, old trees which once made the street a shady oasis in summer and a glorious column of color in the fall.  Many of the trees have succumbed to age, and others have just been cut down.

     Eileen Stacy says they have replaced their yard’s original tree, which died, with one exactly like their old tree, and she wishes everyone would do the same.

     The original tree still thrives in my yard. A huge patriarch of a tree, it rules over and protects my entire front yard.

     The principal beauty of Juler Avenue, to me, is the diversity of its houses and its people.

     There are big houses, small houses, and in-between houses.  But none of them “look just the same.”

     There are families, and there are single people.  There are young families like the Kieners, the Bishops and the Schweppes, all with young children.  There are us in-betweens, who once were the young people, but now our children have grown up.

     But the real stars of Juler Avenue are its many older people – people whose lives have counted, and are still counting.

     In addition to Mrs. Bartels and her 64 years of life on Juler, there are others who have lived here more than 50 years.

     Gus Uebel, who’s always on call to us women without husbands when we need a handyman or a man’s advice, has lived on Juler for 55years.  He moved here, with his wife Marian, on May 30, 1938.  Gus admits to being 86years old.

     Catherine Byus has lived here for 51 years.  Mrs. Byus, who moved here March 21, 1942, remembers picking blackberries in back of her house.  “It was just a big field then,” she said, “part of the Bain’s farm.”

     Mrs. Margaret Stouffer has also lived here more than 50 years, moving here in 1941.

     Although she hasn’t lived here 50 years, Mrs. Ethel Boyd is one of the true “golden oldies” of Juler Avenue.  Ethel will celebrate her 90th birthday May 22.  Everyone knows and loves Ethel and recognizes her three-wheeled bike.

     There are many others who have also lived here for a long time.  My neighbors, Geoffrey and Esther Akester have lived here for 48 years.  Louise Kemp has lived here for 42 years, and Mrs. Mary Roflow for 39 years.

     In the years I have lived here, many old friends and neighbors have died.  Names that come quickly to mind – Kenny Kemp, Marian Uebel, Ruth and Boyton Cox, Althea King, Frank and Louise Thesing, Ray Stouffer, Clifford and Margaret Luti, Alice Parr.  Names and faces, now only memories but who was once an important part of Juler Avenue.

     But Juler Avenue continually renews itself, and therein lies its hope.  I’m sure it will continue to be a friendly street, and that it will remain my quiet “acing in the woods” with only minor distractions now and then.

     My street, Juler Avenue.  It seems almost to have been lifted from Garrison Keillor’s book, “Lake Woebegone Days.”  “Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

     I always wanted to live in a neighborhood just like this.