By Erik Pekar, Town Historian
The cannon that was located on the green at the corner of North Street and Pine Street has been a curious subject of many longtime or former Granville residents. While everyone agrees there was a cannon there, opinions differ on how long it was there, and when and why it was removed.
The Captain Israel Harris Chapter, the Granville chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, placed a flagpole in the park at the corner of North and Pine Streets in the village on May 30, 1916. The members of the D.A.R. chapter also desired to secure a cannon to place there with the flagpole and made efforts to acquire one.
July 26, 1916 was a big day for the Captain Israel Harris Chapter. Walter H. Rathbun drove a cannon to the park for the chapter. It was reported at the time that “a force of men were ready to assist him to unload and the cannon was soon in its place in the park and will be an attraction to passersby… Mr. Rathbun knew of one which had been stored in his father’s barn at North Granville for years and kindly volunteered to loan and bring it there. His kindness will be much appreciated.”
Rathbun’s cannon had been used at the North Granville Military Academy, which fired the cannon at patriotic observances. It is unknown whether the military academy bought the cannon for its own use or if it dated from the Civil War or earlier. It is also unknown if the cannon was ever used for any military training exercises at the academy.
The cannon was a sizable one, but not the largest. It was placed with the barrel facing north. Its wheels were spaced a couple of feet apart, and concrete holders were placed underneath the wheels.
As time passed, the youngsters did not know about how the cannon was placed, only that the cannon was an object in the green at the street corners. The more behaved children played ball in the green. However, there were some who were more mischievous. As Morris Rote-Rosen noted in his “Main Street” column of Aug. 16, 1956, “…the hoodlums didn’t think so. Year after year the cannon was knocked over or dragged down the highway until the wheels were removed. But that didn’t stop them either.”
It was likely around this time that the cannon’s barrel was filled with concrete, to further deter vandalizing of the cannon. This situation may have been why the Captain Israel Harris Chapter was amicable to removing the cannon when the time came.
In September of 1942, Granville conducted a scrap metal drive for the war effort. World War II was in full swing. The editorial “D.A.R. Cannon” in the Sept. 24, 1942 issue of the Sentinel noted: “The cannon on the green at the intersection of Pine and North streets is going the way of all good things, to help win the war. The Daughters of the American Revolution are donating it to the Salvage Committee. We hope it gets several Japs in its service this time. It probably has a history and we hope its present mission will make even better history.” The cannon had been on the green for 26 years.
The concrete holders for the cannon survived into the 1960s, but eventually disappeared. Thelma Hicks recalled in 1974 to publisher MacArthur Manchester that the cannon was turned into scrap metal, as well as an old flower urn at the Granville D&H station. Manchester noted this in his Editor at Large column of May 30, 1974. The flagpole which was placed at the park in 1916 by the Captain Israel Harris Chapter was replaced with a new flagpole in 1976, as part of Granville’s celebration of the American Bicentennial. The flagpole still stands today.
The cannon was truly a piece of Granville history, first in usage by the military academy in North Granville, and then as part of the park at the corner of North and Pine Streets. It became a landmark in Granville during the time it graced the corner. The loss of the cannon to a World War II scrap drive is a better fate than others which have been suggested over the years. The memory of the cannon long outlasted its presence in Granville.
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Granville’s female bowlers were in for a treat on March 5, 1953. A news item in the same-dated issue of the Sentinel proclaimed, “Champion Woman Bowler At Ritz Alleys Today”, and noted “The queen of the world’s bowlers comes to Granville today… to regale local fans… on the kegling lanes at the Ritz Alley.”
This woman bowler was Marion Ladewig, who was from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was active in competitive bowling from the 1940s to 1964. Between 1950 and 1963, she was voted the Bowler of the Year by the Bowling Writers’ Association of America. Ladewig is the only woman to have won, in the same year, the titles for the City, State and National All-Events tournaments held by the Women’s International Bowling Congress; she won them all in 1951.
On that afternoon, Ladewig came to Granville and demonstrated her skills at the Ritz Diner and Recreation on Main Street, then owned by Michael “Jumbo” Caruso and Cosimo Grottoli. A group of girls from Granville High School were in attendance. Granville photographer Pat Mulhair also attended the event, and took a photo of Ladewig as she bowled. Ladewig signed the photo afterwards, with a dedication to the owners of the Ritz Diner and Recreation: “To Mike Caruso and Cosimo Grottoli, my sincerest best wishes.”
After 1964, Ladewig went into a quiet retirement. She passed away in April of 2010, aged 95. The photo of Ladewig in Granville resurfaced around that time.
The Ritz Diner and Recreation building was on the north side of Main Street on the east side of the Main Street bridge. The original building was built by J.J. Hayes, and the bowling alley was an addition. The building was torn down in 2006 as part of the construction of the new Main Street bridge.