Nancy Dively and Memories of North Canton
by Natalie Dhyanchand
Living her whole life in North Canton, Nancy Dively has seen the city grow and change over the years. She remembers the days when crime was relatively unheard of and the entire neighborhood was one big family; when you did something wrong in someone else’s backyard, that mother took care of it. The days when she rode her bike everywhere, the days when she would go to West Park and play all night until dusk. Each child’s parent had a different calling; some would whistle, some would shout, some would yodel.
In the community several things were different. The center of town contained a pharmacy which included a soda fountain where many kids hung out. There were no drive-ins, and in fact, very few restaurants, as most families ate at home. There were no alcoholic beverages in town, and it remained alcohol-free until it was put on the ballot and the neighborhood voted yes. Erik’s Grocery Bag was the first to carry it. Todays “YMCA” was known as the community building, located in the same spot and close to a library and a doctor’s office. Most of the time spent during winter was in community building, as it had a four-lane bowling alley and a gym with a stage. Hower street had a swimming pool that people played in the summer.
There were two movie theaters, a ten cent theater where the library currently is, and an outdoor one in the place where Papa John’s now exists. The Belden Village mall area did not exist yet, and the whole area was just a field. The fire department was behind the bank in the center of town; it was also jail and city hall. The Glenwood hill contained a civil defense tower. Boy scouts volunteered here to look for unidentified flying planes with binoculars, as there was no radar yet.
One block on Cleveland Avenue contained Hummels, Nye’s Department Store, and Zimmerman’s restaurant. That whole block burnt down, causing excitement in the community as everyone gathered around to watch this rarity. The gazebo by City Hall was manned by a policeman. While he was out on his bike, he could look down the road to see a blinking light in the center of the road, notifying that he had a call. On Halloween, the boys in town decorated the square in a competition between Greentown and Uniontown; sometimes they had outhouses or a buggy from Hartville up on a building. The Hoover company occasionally rented out Idora park in Youngstown and invited the whole town to attend for free. The Hoover company played a big part in the citizens of North Canton’s lives, as boss Hoover believed that the town was his family.
Nancy spent her days doing a variety of things. She went to Zion church on South Main Street, which was central to many of her activities. In fellowship she learned about a lot of different religions, and visiting these other churches, she became aware that North Canton was relatively void of poverty, as compared to other towns. She also participated in Girl Scouts and helped out the community through this organization. She worked at the library as well.
Growing up, her father worked at Goodyear and her mother went back to teaching during Nancy’s junior year at high school. Not many cars were around back then, in most households, each family owned one car. After her mother went back to teaching, the family got another one.
Nancy went to school in the Portage Street building for grade school and then went to NoCaHi, which is now torn down. For her freshman year the new school, Hoover, on Fair Oaks, was then built; her class was the first one to go freshman to senior there, and her brothers’ class was first to graduate. Jackson and Hoover’s rivalry still existed back then, and Louisville and Glenwood were soon added to the mix. These being the only schools, most everyone went there. The Catholic kids came over freshman year but were already well known due to the familiarity of the neighborhood.
In school, Nancy played clarinet in the band, violin in the orchestra, and sang in the choir. In sixth grade, her class played with the high school orchestra for the first time, performing Pomp and Circumstance for the high graduation. Band and orchestra were seventh through twelfth grade, and ninth through twelfth was automatically marching band. There was a freshman chorus, and also a girls glee club. Diveley started out as an alto but changed to a soprano in her 40s, which is what she truly was.
In one marching band performance at Carrollton, the playing field was so muddy after the football players dug it up that the marching band members lost their shoes and the bass drums went over backward. On another occasion, Nancy’s clarinet broke in two in the middle of the event. It was an old clarinet that belonged to her uncle that had simply come to the end of its time. Many concerts and plays were performed. Where nowadays we do West Side Story, back then they did the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, such as The Mikado and Pirates of Penzance.
Graduation was held at the civic center in Canton, and the gym there was used for many other events such as sports and shows. One significant difference between then and now is that there were really no female sports between schools, due to the cliché that women weren’t supposed to be sporty. However, Nancy played volleyball and basketball in the gym in school.
After giving it up a couple times, Nancy still attempts to play clarinet in the Canal Fulton band, but what she really carried over from her past is her singing; she sings in A Chorus for a Cause and has also sung in the Canton Symphony Choir. She became a medical technician, using the science and math she learned in high school and worked at Aultman hospital. While working as a medical technician, she also worked as a paramedic and an interior designer for Griffin Home Decorating, taking the place of the interior designer that normally worked there.
She later quit and was involved in the symphony chorus.