CUYAHOGA FALLS: Police Chief Tom Pozza has received an unusual letter from the past.
The letter was composed 50 years ago when Pozza was only 4 years old. Its writer has been dead since 1999.
Menzo D. Preston, chief of police in Cuyahoga Falls from 1946 to 1964, wrote the note in 1962 as the city celebrated its 150th anniversary. It was addressed to the police chief of 2012, the city’s bicentennial year.
Karen Duffy McPherson, a resident of Reynoldsburg, discovered the letter while going through family memorabilia to compile scrapbooks.
Her grandfather was Russell H. Duffy Sr., the city’s first police chief, who served from 1922 to 1946. Before Duffy, town marshals kept the peace in Cuyahoga Falls. Preston, who succeeded Duffy as chief, was McPherson’s great-uncle.
Born in Madison in 1899, Preston lived most of his life in Cuyahoga Falls. He graduated from Falls High in 1918 and served in the Army during World War I. During his military service, he spent two wild days pursuing Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa south of the border.
Preston worked for the Cuyahoga Falls school board as a truant officer before joining the police department in 1938, one of only 10 men on the force. He worked his way up to sergeant, captain and acting chief before taking over the helm in 1946.
As part of the city’s sesquicentennial festivities, Preston wrote a letter in August 1962 to his future successor.
“In the last paragraph, he talked about all the changes in the Falls in the past 50 years, 1912-1962,” McPherson said. “He also imagines the changes in the coming years, 1962-2012.”
Fifty years later, the future is now. Here is Preston’s letter:
• • •
Chief of Police
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Aug. 20, 2012
This is the year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the City of Cuyahoga Falls, and I feel there is no better place to live and work.
At this time, we have a population of approximately 49,000. There are approximately 20,300 registered automobiles in the city. We have a police department of 47 men: One Chief, Three Captains, Three Lieutenants, Six Sergeants and 34 Patrolmen.
Our city covers 8¼ square miles and we can foresee very little chance of increasing in size, since we are surrounded by Akron and several small communities. We have two shopping areas, one on Front Street (Route 5) between Broad Blvd. and Stow Street and one on State Road (Route 8) approximately 1½ miles long.
There have been so many changes in living conditions during the past 50 years it is difficult to imagine what it will be like in 2012. With lots of luck, I remain,
Very truly yours,
Chief of Police
Aug. 16, 1962
• • •
Chief Preston retired in January 1964, more than a year after writing the sesquicentennial letter to the future. He was 100 when he died on Nov. 12, 1999.
Preston lived to see many more changes in the city.
In 1962, he couldn’t imagine that the downtown would be converted into a shopping center. The city closed Front Street in 1978 as part of an urban renewal project.
In 1962, he didn’t think that the city could grow, but it did just that in 1985 when Cuyahoga Falls merged with Northampton Township, tripling the size of the community and winning Blossom Music Center as a prize.
Preston also couldn’t predict the demise of the State Road Shopping Center or the transformation of Howe Road into a giant retail hub.
His instincts were right about the letter, though. It inspired the current chief to write a letter of his own during the Cuyahoga Falls bicentennial celebration.
Pozza, 54, a 30-year veteran who became chief in January 2011, wrote a note to his future successor in 2062.
Fifty years early, the future is here. Here is Pozza’s letter:
• • •
Chief of Police 2062
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
This August 2012, we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the City of Cuyahoga Falls. After growing up here, going to school here, and working here for the last 30 plus years, I am convinced that there is no better place to live, work or raise a family.
At this time, our population stands at around 50,000 residents. We have a police department of 71 officers, consisting of one Chief, one Captain, four Lieutenants, nine Sergeants and fifty-six Patrol officers.
Our city covers 25.6 square miles. We have one major shopping area located on Howe Ave. We are anxiously awaiting ground breaking on our newest shopping area, Portage Crossing, located at State Road and Portage Trail. Acme #10 located on State Road is currently under re-construction, building a bigger, more modern grocery store.
During the summer months, Rockin’ on the River events, along with other festivals at the Riverfront amphitheater, provide family fun entertainment for everyone.
With all the positive changes and growth occurring right now, it is difficult to imagine what the city will be like in 2062. May God Bless you and the City of Cuyahoga Falls.
Very Truly Yours,
Thomas L. Pozza
Chief of Police 2012
• • •
Once again, the long arm of the law reaches from the past into the future.
Happy 200th birthday, Cuyahoga Falls — and special future greetings to all the people of 2062. Happy semiquincentennial!
Beacon Journal copy editor Mark J. Price is the author of The Rest Is History: True Tales From Akron’s Vibrant Past, a book from the University of Akron Press. He can be reached at 330-996-3850 or email@example.com.