Reprint: Our Favorite Sign of Seasons’ Change

Janet Meads Green SS ’71 posts two important signs: Zesto OPEN and Zesto CLOSED. She reports that when the OPEN sign appears in March, cars honk and people cheer. People sound the horn and wave and turn their vehicles around to roll into Zesto on Broadway. They greet her cheerily with shouts of, “It’s about time!”, “Spring is here!”, and “Thank Heaven! The kids have been begging me to bring them!” Likewise, the ‘Will Close in 2 Weeks’ sign brings sighs and lines of families awaiting their last scoop of summer joy.

Janet has held the southwest Fort Wayne family together at Creighton and Broadway for many years, both part-time and full-time. Between 1970 and 1999, she divided her working hours between Eckrich and Zesto even as she and her husband Randy had their full time home in Romulus, MI. Randy, a pilot, flew out of Willow Run Airport. In 1999, they moved to Fort Wayne and Janet took over Zesto full-time. She calls the current Zesto building “a mansion now” compared to the 1949 unheated room where it began.

That building stands close to Janet’s childhood home at Wildwood and South Wayne Avenues. She shared the path to education as did many of us, South Wayne Elementary to Harrison Hill Junior High. If she had just been on the other side of the street, that path would have gone through Fairfield Junior High, as did many of her neighbors. That long walk from Wildwood to Harrison Hill shortened when she entered South Side. Janet had the makings of and enthusiasm for basketball stardom, but, as Archer Arrows reported two years ago, Title IX had just been passed. One year after she graduated, girls’ team competition started.

Janet has seen education roll forward around Zesto. Generations of high school girls from South Side and Bishop Luers worked there. She says that she has 40 ‘grandkids’ with three more coming. Among those former workers, Janet has several doctors, chiropractors, and dentists she can call on, and physical therapists who have helped her over the years. From her corner, she also oversaw the sad demise of Emmaus Lutheran School across the street as a company tried unsuccessfully to erase its religious setting for the Imagine School, which soon turned into Horizon School, and now sits eerily empty.

Sights and sounds from her perch have included very practical Spanish lessons, which she can use taking orders. An agitated hospital escapee stopped to get ice

cream in his hospital jammies, just before the police arrived. And a plethora of accidents as Creighton ‘runs into’ Broadway. Speeders and gawkers have had their comeuppance at that corner. Cars and motorcycles have sped through and paid the price to the men in blue.

All in all, Janet truly enjoys her position, the bustle, the faces, and the ice cream! Lines will form soon for families to buy and store her frozen treats, all of us trying to stretch those summer days until Janet posts that dreaded CLOSED sign.

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