Remembering ‘Old Delaware County’


By Kay Conklin - Contributing columnist



In this article, I will be picking up where I left off in my previous article of two weeks ago. I had written about some of the happenings in Delaware County from early 1900s up until the year of 1950. For this article, I have again used the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce booklet, “100 Years of Business 1907-2007” for the statistics I have quoted.

I remember the very minute it became 1950! I was 13, and it was New Years Eve. By then, there were only four of my siblings and me still living at home with our parents. When everyone else had gone to bed, I stayed awake to see the excitement that was sure to take place when midnight came. I don’t know why I expected to have something great happen, but I thought it would. I knew everyone was asleep. But, when 12-midnight hit, nothing happened! Not one bit of noise or any shining lights, as I had assumed would happen. Not at our house or any other house I could see on the street outside. What a letdown it was for me! Here it was a new decade, a half-century mark, 1950 had begun, but not a sound or a light anywhere to be heard or seen! So, I went to bed.

A few changes started taking place in the world of having fun, when a new roller skating rink (Skater’s Haven) was built between Delaware and Worthington. It fit right in with an article written in 1952, by the Gazette staff of Virginia Cruikshank and “Red” Reed: “Delaware County—whether it likes it or not, is designed to be a Central Ohio playground…with the Columbus Zoo, zoo park, O’Shaughnessy Dam and the Scioto Reservoir.” Little did they know what the future held for Delaware County!

Another event that happened was when a City Municipal Court was established in Delaware. Henry Wolf was elected Delaware’s first Municipal Court Judge. During that first year for him on the bench, in fall of 1953, our senior class from Willis High School sat in on his court for 1/2 a day. The case I remember most was of a woman who had run a red light. By the time he got finished letting her know, in no uncertain terms, the awful thing she had done, I knew, then and there, that I would never, in my whole life, ever, run a red light! And I haven’t.

One of the next good things that happened was the A&W drive-in opening on South Sandusky Street. It was the first time to have a carhop take our order and deliver it to our car. I remember them having “baby root beers” that were either free, or at a cost of 5 cents.

In 1955, the face of Delaware City began to take on its new look. Land was being subdivided and rows of houses being built in a place called “Delaware Meadows.” It was the city’s first multi-street housing development. It was truly the first of many new subdivisions to be added to the plat books at the courthouse.

Then in 1961, the People’s Store opened on West William and soon moved to North Sandusky. That store had the best sales of anywhere I had ever been. Thanks to the Kaufman owners, when they cut prices, they were really cutting the original correct price it had been, not some made-up price to make it look like a sale. Next things that opened were the Playhouse on the Green, Delaware Bowling Lanes, and the Pizza Villa. The Pizza Villa became a popular hangout for teens in Delaware. They had pictures all over the walls of every teen who had ever worked there. And we can’t forget that’s also when the Branding Iron Restaurant opened on Strartford Road, with Stubby Bowen as the owner.

In 1965, PPG came to Delaware and set up as the first occupant of the new Delaware Industrial Park.

Then in 1967, “a total of 1,360 soldiers from Delaware County were pressed into service for the Vietnam war with six casualties. The Cold War period between Korea and Vietnam saw the service of 660 citizens from the county.” (This is a direct quote from the Chamber of Commerce booklet from 1907-2007.)

Moving on to 1971, on a bitter cold night, the William Street Methodist Church had a fire that caused a total loss of the sanctuary of the church. A firewall saved the education unit. Such a terrible hot fire on such a cold night that caused $450,000 in damages!

In 1974, the Del-Co Water Treatment Facilities were dedicated to provide water distribution to rural areas. And while writing about water, the Mingo Park Swimming Pool was opened to the public by 1975.

Skipping over the ’80s, the most interesting part of watching Delaware County grow has to do with the population of Delaware County, and how much it grew over a period of just 10 years. From 1990 to 2000 was the major part of the 16 years I was in office as the Delaware County Recorder. During those 10 years alone, Delaware County population went from 67,482 in 1990 to 111,714 in 2000. That was an increase of 44,232 persons. Our daily mail deliveries of documents to be recorded in the earlier years went from being a handful to sometime in the later years, being carried in by the tubs full.

When did we ever start talking about there being an “Old Delaware County” as opposed to just “Delaware County,” anyway? For me the answer is very simple. It’s when Polaris came into the picture. Until then, downtown Delaware had about everything anyone in the county would need. But when those 44,232 more people came to live in Delaware County in the 1990s, everything changed. It changed where you got groceries, where you ate out, where you bought your clothes, where you went to the movies, where you went to school or church, where you bought your cars, as well as where you went to your doctor. We had only 67,482 people living in the whole county in 1990, but by adding those 44,232 more, in that next 10 years, it definitely was not “Old Delaware County” anymore.

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By Kay Conklin

Contributing columnist

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.

Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.