The below letter was submitted to The Vindicator and was the catalyst for a column written by Vindy Editor Todd Franko. That column appeared Sunday, May 10, 2015. Click here for a Facebook photo collection in regard to thie letter and Franko's column.
When your own mortality turns from a suspicion to an awful certainty, you begin to think of the things you owe.
I’m going to pay up while I can.
Some years ago the township of Boardman changed the name of a street, Statler Avenue, to the correct Stadler Avenue. At the time, a Stadler Court was added as well.
While annoyed residents had to change mailbox signs, I found one woman living there who understood why the change was made. She purchased her house from my grandfather, Frank Stadler. The street is named for him – so, a much belated thank you to Boardman for correcting this.
Frank’s house was directly behind the dance hall he built on Southern Blvd. at the end of the trolley line. The dance hall (and I am tempted to put those words in quotes) was at the last car stop from town, out in what was then the boondocks.
Born in Erie, PA in 1876, Frank drifted off in his twenties to play violin, mandolin and guitar and organize social events and concerts in the Pennsylvania hinterlands.
Finally, not too far into the 20th century he landed in Youngstown. For 50 years, his name was synonymous with entertainment. He gave music and dance lessons and helped form the Mandolin Club to cash in on that craze. Stadler’s Dance Studio was on Federal Street and helped birth every other dance studio up to 1950. In his later years, he was associated with Yankee Lake, Idora Park Ball Room, Stambaugh Auditorium and, at the end of his career, he managed the Elms Ballroom.
An entrepreneur, he brought entertainers like George Gershwin, Rudy Vallee and a very young Bing Crosby to Youngstown.
I was told he made and lost three fortunes.
In 1906 at age 30 he married Emma (Susie) Eckert, then 19, who gave him two children, Donald, my father, and Grace, both now deceased.
When my mother, Phyllis, died 15 years ago, my last excuse for returning to Youngstown expired as well.
Now I see, again via Google, that my childhood home has been demolished and the lot is grown over with grass. In many ways I feel sad about Youngstown. Growing up in the '50s and '60s, I experienced the seeds of decline, steel industry mismanagement, rampant rackets and crooked officials, the 80-plus bombings that never got solved.
Yet, I am proud of my grandfather and his contributions.
And, although I will probably never return, a small part of me is still there in the shape of green road signs with my name, my father’s name, my grandfather’s.
Thank you, Boardman.
Donald A. Stadler