Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where I Was

While tens of millions of other people were visiting the New York World's Fair in 1964 and 1965 I was having several adventures of my own.

Few were as memorable as my visit to the Toledo Health Center.

Here's what it looked like back then:

And here's what it looks like now:

It seems to be one of the few places from my young life that's survived more or less intact.

Although I only went inside it once, it was a building I had already seen many times (and would see many more times during the next 12 years) because it was on the route that our bus took from downtown to where I lived.

As much as I might like to poke my head in again and look around now, I'm sure I wasn't looking forward to doing so back in the summer of 1964. I was set to enter kindergarten that fall, you see, but before they would let me through the classroom door I had to get my vaccination. I don't think I knew what a vaccination was or why exactly I had to get one, but I did know that it involved some sort of needle and needles were among my least favorite things in the whole world. Buildings that contained needles weren't far behind.

It was a sunny day - probably a late Saturday morning - when my mother escorted me up the long front walk and through the main doors. The lobby was remarkably spacious, cool, quiet, and dim. It seems to have been illuminated only by the indirect sunlight coming in the front and back entrance doors - is that possible? The highly polished dark floors added to the gloom.

One or two women seem to have been working at the circular work station in the center of the lobby. They didn't strike me as being very young - or very much anything at all, really. Once my mother explained what we were there for one of these women escorted us into a small room to the right (east) of where we had come in. I suppose she asked me to take my shirt off. Whatever she did, my anxiety grew. After fiddling with my right shoulder a bit not far from my neck, the woman went over to a portable work station in front of us and wrote some things down.

Unable to control my anxiety any longer, I told her in no uncertain terms, "If this hurts, I'm going to scream!" Screaming seemed to me to be the very worst thing I could do under the circumstances and I really, really wanted her to know that I wasn't about to settle for anything less just to be polite.

"I'm done," she informed me. "You've already have had your vaccination. You'll be free to go in just a minute."

What I'd thought was mere prep work had in fact been The Deed itself.

For perhaps the first time in my life, I was both relieved and embarrassed. Little did I know that these feelings would come to characterize my relationship with the medical community for much of my life.

I wish I could now say that as soon as the nurse escorted me from that I room I tore through the rest of the building and memorized what was going on in every nook and cranny I burst into, but I cannot. We quickly left the same way we had come in and that was that. As previously stated (go on - check if you don't believe me), I never made it back in. I still have no idea what might be going on in all those other spaces. I suppose it's just as well.

What I can now say is that Toledo seems to have been unduly proud of its Health Center. Multiple views of it seem to have been put on many postcards (though I can't easily imagine many of them ever being sent to anyone).

Here are two examples:

And here are two of the descriptions that I found on those postcards:

And - just for good measure - here's a photo I found of the Health Center as it was being constructed:

That's Cherry St. on the right. I think that might be a good ol' Community Traction bus there headed north on it. Maybe it's the very bus that took me to the Health Center 11 years later, but probably not.

And not that it matters, but... virtually all the other buildings you can see in this photo were long ago reduced to rubble.

Bonus points if you can say whether or not that's a good thing.

And many more bonus points if you can tell me the names of the models of the cars that appear in this entry's first photo. (I spent a lot of time trying to track them down and I'll love you forever if you come up with the same names that I did!)


  1. I'm pretty sure I used to own a later version of the leftmost car--in the same color, but mine was usually waxed better.

    The green car might be a wrecked Beemer. I'm reluctant to try to turn up any research about it because I'm not sure I'm ready for the burden of being loved for the rest of my life. The last time somebody promised to do that, it turned out very badly.

  2. On the other hand, if it was a Mercedes, then I could say, "That's the way the Mercedes bends."