Come walk with me in the neighborhood.
Our route of passage won’t be the sidewalks off streets surrounding my residence, or yours. Those walkways might be covered with snow and ice. At the least, the paths will be cold to tred this time of year.
No, this will be a walk along an indoor street, a thoroughfare through time that seems quite realistically like a neighborhood of the past. At some point of the winter during a visit to the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, I plan to scale the stairs to the second floor and step off through the museum’s Street of Shops. You can come along.
We will walk, quite literally, through history.
This is no idle stroll, although when I take my gallery walks, I keep to a leisurely pace and pause at each point in history that interests me. Inside the museum and out of any inclement weather, I comfortably can tarry in front of each exhibit in the Street of Shops and study the way things were in days that preceded our time.
We might look in through a doorway to see a doctor administering to a young child. We may peer through a window to watch a dentist at work. I suggest taking a glance into the general store to see the shelves full of store-bought goods. We can wave at the smiling store clerk, if we want.
If you need to quench your thirst, we may share a stop at the neighborhood tavern, admiring the hotel lobby when we pass through. We can walk by the corner gas station, watching the attendant bend beneath a car’s hood to check the vehicle’s oil. This was the common way of doing business once at full-service stations.
I remembered that during a previous walk on the Street of Shops. Each time I walk this historical center of town, I listen to the audio explanations of some of the displays. In 2012, several members of the community and museum staff were asked to lend their voices to the recordings for shops on the exhibit, and much regarding the past can be learned by listening to their words about days gone by.
A cabinet maker’s workshop, a barber shop, a toy store and a lawyer’s office are other locations in the historically accurate museum exhibit—so accurate that, with imagination during a walk, you can begin to believe you really are strolling through a town that existed decades ago. That pioneer home and the buggy shop across from it—they seem real.
“Step back in time as you walk through our Street of Shops, a life-size replica of a historic town,” McKinley museum’s website notes. “Visit the Dannemiller Store, Gibbs Manufacturing Company, the Eagle Hotel and our fire station—complete with a horse-drawn fire engine. Kids can even slide down a real fire pole!
“Be sure to stop at our model train layout, housed inside a replica of downtown Canton’s train station. Here you will see the historical and working relationship of the Pennsylvania Railroad and our community.”
It is a thoughtful walk, both educational and entertaining and a wonderfully interesting way to spend part of a winter day.