Memories of Juler Avenue stretch all the way to Florida

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published February 23, 1994 in The Suburban Life, added February 13, 2015.

Jay and Jill Hanson home  covered with mud after playing at a nearby construction site on Juler Avernue in the late 1940's.

Jay and Jill Hanson home covered with mud after playing at a nearby construction site on Juler Avernue in the late 1940’s.

When I wrote about my street, Juler Avenue, several months ago and compared it to that of TV’s Mr. Rogers, which is “the way a neighborhood ought to be,” I opened up a can of comments.

People stopped me on the street.  They collared me in Kroger’s to tell me stories.  Joggers would pass my house and call out:  “I loved your column about your street.”

And I got letters.

The best of the letters came from Jill Hanson.  Jill now lives in Jupiter, Fla., but from the age of 3, she grew up on Juler Avenue, three houses from where I now live.

The Hanson family moved to Juler in 1947, just ahead of the post-war boom that suburbanized Madeira.  The two houses on the corners of Wesley Court had not been built then.  Nor had the houses at 7408 and 7410 Juler.

For awhile, the Hansons were immediately surrounded by construction, and Jill remembers that her brother, Jay, took her to play at one of the construction sites, when he was about 5 years old, and she was about3, where they rolled in the mud.  When they returned home, they had to be hosed off at their “above ground pool” (a washtub).

When they first moved to Juler, it was a dead-end street, with cows and corn down at one end, and horses behind Dr. Madden’s veterinary hospital at the other end.  At Christmas each year, Jill remembers that Dr. Madden put up a crèche with real live animals.

Jill’s description of the street as it was then sounds pretty much as it is now with a diversity of older and younger families.

“We had Mr. Glaser,” she wrote, “who was a veteran of the Spanish American War.  He marched every year in the Memorial Day Parade, until he couldn’t walk anymore and had to ride.”

She remembers Mrs. Bartels, who at 91 is now the oldest resident on the street.  “Mrs. Bartels was a seamstress then,” Jill said, “and she made matching, dotted Swiss pinafores for me and my little sister before we were school age.  She also made my first St. Gertrude’s uniform.”

Jill remembers a car pool one summer to take the neighborhood kids to the Kennedy Heights swimming pool to learn to swim.  This was before the Madeira Swim Club was built.  “The Coxes had a little Crosley car,” she said, “so we really had to crowd in when it was their turn to drive.” Jill remembers backyard carnivals for polio, clubhouses, and backyard campouts.

“One summer’s night,” she wrote, “my brother and I invited all the neighborhood kids to camp out under army blankets in our backyard.  Everyone said yes, but it ended up with just Jay and me.  And we did not make it through the night.  Too many scary noises.”

She remembers that Santa Claus once came door to door on Juler before Christmas.

Jill’s brother, Jay, who is today a respected and popular teacher at Madeira High School, also remembers childhood fun on Juler Avenue.  But he colors his memories with a slightly different brush than doe his sister.

For instance, Jill remembers that Jay organized a club in an apple tree in their side yard where no girls were allowed.  Jay says if that story appears in print, he will deny it.  He insists he cannot remember ever taking part in such a sexist venture.

But he does remember his boyhood friends, Mike and Roger Parrish, who lived on Miami Avenue in back of the Hansons.  The boys dug a tunnel running from the Hanson yard to the Parrish yard.  The Parrishes had a barn in their backyard, which the boys used for a clubhouse.

“They also had an old 1934 Ford,” Jay said, “and we spent a lot of hours rebuilding it and trying to get it to run.”

Mike and Roger’s mother, Geneva, remembers the summer that the kids built a rocket ship in the Parrish backyard.  The structure grew taller and taller, almost as high as the house, and the kids put a chair on the very top of it, where the pilot was to ride.

One day, a man came into Braun’s Drug Store, where Geneva worked, and asked, “What’s that monstrosity the kids are building in your yard?”

“That is not a monstrosity,” Geneva said.  “I’ll have you know that’s a genuine rocket ship and it’s due to take off for the moon any day now.”

Jill Hanson says that her mother used to say that one of the reasons they loved Juler Avenue so much was the safety it provided for children.

That factor was true for my children and it is still true today.  A quiet street, with little traffic, Juler is a safe cocoon for kids.

Everyone knows the kids and watches out for them too, all up and down the street.

When my sons were growing up on Juler hot-tempered Kelly had a penchant for running away from home when things didn’t go his way.  He’d grab up his sleeping bag, hop on his bike, still equipped with training wheels, and head down to live at the “horse camp,” Dr. Madden’s place at the end of the street.

Lavaun Toft, who lived nearby, would keep an eye on him till he simmered down and decided he’d had enough of the nomadic life and would return home.

Usually, this took about five minutes.

Jill Hanson’s letter indicates that Juler Avenue, in spirit, hasn’t changed since the 1940’s.  We who live here hope it never will.

My street, Juler Avenue.

When I wrote that Juler Avenue, like Lake Wobegone, is a place “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,” Juler Avenue denizens took over the slogan for their own.

Iona Weber repeats it constantly to remind herself to be strong enough to do what she has to do.  And one woman is needlepointing it on a pillow.

I hope Garrison Keillor doesn’t sue.

In May 1992, Ethel Boyd invited her best friends and neighbors over to her house to celebrate her 89th birthday with coffee and cake.

In May 1992, Ethel Boyd invited her best friends and neighbors over to her house to celebrate her 89th birthday with coffee and cake. Ethel was a classic Juler Avenue stalwart.