A collection of love letters written to the town.
My home in Toledo nurtured and raised me.
Our relationship started out rough. If my 9 year-old-self had its way, we never would have met. To be fair, it wasn’t you, it was me. I owe our initial meeting to my dad. After my parents divorced, his job at Davis-Besse brought him to Ohio. I remained in New Jersey with my mom. During the summer, I’d spend a month at a time in Toledo. My memory of those days consists of fun and sun. Roller skating on the sidewalks and at Fun Spot in Oregon. Endless summer nights and swimming at the neighbor’s home. And of course Cedar Point. The-all-day-roller-coaster-riding-late-night-fireworks-kind of days. We had a great relationship: Toledo and I. That was until my mom, step-dad, and I were to move permanently to Toledo. Visiting during the summer was one thing, but to live in a new state so far from what I knew in NJ, no thank you! I can’t remember if it was in my mind or actually played out, but I took down the “For Sale” sign in our yard. I believed that if the house didn’t sell, we couldn’t possibly move. As much as I hoped it wouldn’t sell, our house sold. And Toledo became my home.
From 5th grade on, I attended Northwood Local Schools. Attended college at Wittenberg University, and seminary at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus. Now I live in Missouri with my husband and daughter. For much of my youth I wanted to get out of Toledo, to explore the world. To see more and do more. I wanted to live in a big city. I couldn’t wait to get out in the world; leaving Toledo couldn’t seem to come fast enough. Much of my life has been planning and dreaming for the next adventure. I’ve been privileged to travel and live in great cities: Washington D.C. during college, Milwaukee during seminary, and even The Gambia West Africa for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’ve called home wherever it’s been that my head would lay that night.
Now with a child of my own, home takes on new meaning. My home in Toledo nurtured and raised me. Supported me. Cultivated in me a love of art and culture and music and theatre. The Toledo Zoo, the Toledo Museum of Art, musicals and plays at the Toledo Rep or Stranahan Theaters, and the endless options of restaurants expanded my horizons. Toledo is now a place I love to share with my daughter. A place to go home to and instill in my daughter the same feelings and love I have for the city.
So, Toledo, I do love you. I love how you raised me and provided opportunities to experience culture and nature and diversity. I love all the metro parks, especially Pearson Metro Park. And Maumee Bay State Park. I remember hot summer days walking the 3-mile loop at Pearson and walking the Boardwalk at Maumee Bay with my mom. We’d search for animals and have endless conversation about the next adventure in store. I loved swimming at Maumee Bay and attending concerts at the amphitheater. We even had a church service once at the park. And who can mention Toledo without words of gratitude for the Toledo Zoo? I first came to the zoo through the tunnel and then years later entered the zoo through the bridge over that same road dancing and singing, “Everybody’s Zooing it!” Ice cream and music under the stars filled my Sunday nights. Sam Szor and the band had me dancing in my seat to Broadway and Disney. I even celebrated my 10th birthday at the Toledo Zoo.
Toledo, I love that I can now share you with my daughter. All the adventures I experienced growing up are hers to discover. We have new memories waiting to be opened. You are still home, and a home I’m proud to introduce to my daughter.
We met up with Kim and her delightful daughter, Charlotte while they were ‘home’ visiting Kim’s Mom. We had a wonderful time with them at Pearson Metro Park and both Kim’s love for the park and her daughter shone through. It was so evident that Kim means it when she is proud that she can introduce Charlotte to Toledo, we wish them very many more fun trips home.