By Tim Ashley
WARSAW — “I remember when that was a gas station.”
“I remember that class and the teacher.”
These are only a couple of the typical comments to be found on the several “I remember growing up in … ” Facebook group pages for Kosciusko County communities.
Businesses come and go or relocate, buildings are remodeled or razed, school teachers or administrators retire or pass away and other people move away. But the memories of what a town was like in the past remain.
And these Facebook pages give people a forum for sharing those memories, often with old photos included, in a way that simply couldn’t be done before social media came along. Communication is instant, photos can be downloaded and screenshots can be taken of the comments.
“Memories of growing up in or around Mentone” was started in September 2011. Tim Croy manages the page and said it was a slow-building page, but activity has picked up considerably in recent weeks and more people have joined the group.
“It’s for anybody associated with this area,” Croy said. “The town is split into two townships. It’s also for nearby areas or for people just passing through.”
Those moving into the community can find out the history of the town and longtime residents also want to know about the history and how things used to be. For one example, a recent post was about the beginning of paving streets in the town in 1913.
Croy, also actively involved at the Bell Aircraft Museum in Mentone, said he likes knowing about how the town originated. “It’s an opportunity to share what they know about Mentone,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be old, old stuff,” noting some people have posted items from only five years ago.
One thing among others he has discovered is Mentone became known as the “Egg Basket of the Midwest” because eggs were shipped all over the country by railroad from the town.
There is a core group of people who have a strong interest in the past, but others simply do not care about it. “If we don’t pass stories along, it will be forgotten,” he said.
The world has changed drastically even in just the last few years, he said “and it is not like it was even five years ago.”
He also believes interest in the Facebook page has increased since the onset of the pandemic because people generally have more time to spend on computers.
“I grew up in Warsaw, Indiana” is administered by Katrina Trier Frush, who grew up on Fort Wayne Street in Warsaw and took over as administrator eight to 10 years ago. She remembers Warsaw being much smaller then and having a “Mayberry feel.”
The page is for those who grew up in Warsaw, as well as those who live here now, those who visited family here as they were growing up and “even those who lived nearby but still love the town.”
Old school photos are shared on the page as well as buildings here and no longer here and photos showing the way things were several decades ago.
Shari Bibler Skaggs posted a comment to the page describing why it is important to remember the past. “As a scrapbooker and family historian, I think it is vital to preserve the past, enrich the present and inspire hope for the future,” noting future generations will only know of the impact of their ancestors if those memories are somehow recorded.
“You knew you grew up in Silver Lake, Indiana when:” was started in August 2011. Dawn Poe is the administrator of the page.
“I had seen other pages like the one I started about other towns and thought it would be great to reminisce about my childhood and others alike,” she said. “People like remembering the things and places that existed then that are no longer there.”
She added she believes it is always “a good idea to remember things of the past.” Kids felt safe then to play in any of the neighborhoods, Poe noted.
Another page for Silver Lake is called “Silver Lake, Indiana … my hometown.” Laurie Voss is the administrator and the page was started Oct. 22, 2012.
“I started it as a way of allowing people to follow what is going on in the town,” she said, noting the page is mostly for Silver Lake but also includes things or activities for the Claypool and Akron areas.
Voss said many younger people don’t know the history of the area and “they are amazed by the changes.”
Similar pages exist in Claypool, Milford, North Webster and Syracuse. Etna Green and Atwood have pages geared more toward providing information about the towns.