Interview with Herb and Betty Huddle

November 30, 2006

Interviewed by C. Wangrin

CW: Mr. Huddle, would you tell us where and when you were born?

HH: I was delivered at home in Harrison Township at the corner of roads N and 10 by Dr. Fiser of Malinta in Oct., 1930. I have two brothers and one sister. My wife Betty was born 1 1/2 years later near Colton, Ohio.

We both lived through the great Depression and World War II. Times were tough but our parents had their own gardens, apple orchards and meat. We had our chores to do after school.

For Christmas I remember we got one toy or item. One year I got a pair of high-top shoes with a pocket knife, another year a lead soldier-making set, another year a Lionel train set.

We learned to drive a B John Deere tractor at age nine. We got our driver's license at age 14 during the war and hauled grain to town in a Model A Ford truck.

I remember during the 1940's we got running water and a bathroom with a stool, a coal furnace, a telephone, a TV, two new Farman tractors and a new car including a new 1946 Willys Jeep which I drove to high school.

I graduated in 1948 from Napoleon High School and went to work at the L. S. Dunbar Co. in Napoleon, an International Harvester dealer, as a mechanic. Later I was hired by the I.H. Co, Toledo district as Assistant Service Supervisor. Following that I became an IH dealer in Michigan, but sold out and went to work for the new Campbell Soup plant in Napoleon in 1956. I stayed there for 38 years, 4 months, retiring in 1995. Betty and I were married May 6, 1951 and we raised four children, two boys and two girls.

CW: Mr. Huddle, would you briefly describe your museum that you have here behind your house?

HH: Betty and I have our museum located here where we live, which is about 2 1/2 miles southeast of Napoleon. We started the museum probably 15, 16 years ago and in the museum we have WWII vehicles and memorabilia and also we have International Harvester display of a refrigerator, air conditioner and other things that International Harvester made back then in the early '50's. Those units still work. We also have a collection of lawn tractors made by International Harvester from 1961 up to 1980 and we also have a lot of toy tractors and everything is International Harvester. We have pictures, memorabilia and the counter is set up like the IH dealership would look like back in the early '50's. In the other part of the museum we have Willys Jeeps which were manufactured in 1944 on up until the '60's. We have a total of ten Jeeps in the museum here that have been completely restored.

CW: And they're interesting.

HH: To restore a Jeep it takes about a year to take them completely down to the bare frame, have them sandblasted, go through and overhaul the transmission, the engines, and then put them together and have them ready to run. We put the Jeeps in a lot of parades around Napoleon especially on Memorial Day and also at the Fair. Also these Jeeps get a lot of miles on them just traveling in closed vans. Daimler Chrysler usually takes two to three of them to what is called Camp Jeep each year. At Camp Jeep they are put on display for other people to look at. Sometimes they take them as far away as California, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and next year I don't know where they're to go.

CW: But they'll notify you when they're ready I'd imagine. HH: Yes, right.

CW: You have to have your Jeeps ready I suppose.

HH: Yes. They contact us, come and pick them up in a closed van and bring them back about a week later.

CW: Do they have a certain model that they want?

HH: They usually take one civilian and several military because they like to display the military Jeeps which were made back in the '40's and early '50's. The military Jeep was designed back in 1940. The Bantam Motor Car Co. along with Karl Probst, an engineer designed the Jeep but then the Bantam Motor Car Co. was in receivership and only got an order to build 1700. It ended up that the Willys Overland Co. in Toledo, Ohio started making the military Jeep and then they couldn't make enough of them so the Ford Motor Co. in Detroit made 278,000. The Willys Co. made 365,000. The earliest Willys Jeep that we have from WW II was made in 1944. That's our favorite Jeep. We usually have it in the Memorial Day parade.

CW: That must be a job to keep them all running smoothly.

HH: Today's gasoline goes stale in about 6 months and so the biggest job is to keep the gasoline fresh and also to keep the batteries up. So it's quite a job to maintain them and keep 'em all in running order, which we do and we keep them all in running order all the time and we start them up and run them several times during the year to keep 'em in good shape.

CW: Well good. Now, to get to some local history, what's your earliest memory as a child?

HH: Well the earliest recollection was probably when my brother and sister went to school. The old Spangler School house was just across the road from where we lived, down by the Turkeyfoot Creek and they were so close that they would come home for lunch and also even to go to the restroom rather than use the ones which were behind the schoolhouse down by the woods, Glicks' Woods.

CW: (laughs) That was probably like the old 'back house' on the farm.

HH: Oh yes. (trouble with the recorder)

CW: I remember Orley Sturdevant.

HH: Yes. Later he became the Truant Officer and bus driver for the Napoleon School system until 1936. Until then there was a school every two miles so if you lived within that radius you had to walk to school so you probably had to walk at least a mile regardless of the weather, and being a one-room school all the grades were in that one room and were taught by one teacher. Later that school, which is still there, became the building where we went to vote and now it's the township house where the township has its snow plow and other equipment stored there. Also it could be rented for private parties and so forth. We started school in 1936 and rode the school bus to Napoleon, and they closed the Spangler School.

CW: Do they have township meetings there still?

HH: Once in a while they have a meeting there but it's very unusual. I don't remember the last time it was used.

CW: In the winter it would probably cost so much to heat it up just for one meeting it wouldn't be worthwhile.

HH: Yeah, and also for water and restroom facilities you'd have to bring in portable equipment. Some of my other early experiences I can remember is one time our neighbors, the Delventhals who lived down the road—we were always very friendly with the neighbors--and they came down one time and a bunch of us boys and girls went snipe hunting. 1 was the one that had to hold the bag out in the road to catch the snipes. If anybody's ever been snipe hunting.. I didn't realize it at the time but when you held the bag out there in the dark on a lonely road at night you were the only one out there and the rest of them left. So that was the trick. (laughter)

CW: I wonder if that's where the expression `left holding the bag' came from?

HH: It could very well be and there is such a thing as a snipe bird but I've never seen a real one. But I can remember when on Halloween we used to play tricks. At that time everybody had a privy or backhouse that was out somewhere behind the house or by the corn crib and the thing was to push them over, and I can remember ours being pushed over. One time down the road they took a manure spreader all apart and put it up on the roof of a barn. I'll never forget seeing that up there! There were all kinds of things like that were done near Halloween but it was never too destructive. I can remember one time on a dark night that they were going to upset our privy and my Dad came out the door and they started running. The fellow hit the clothesline with his neck and it flipped him down to the ground. I'll never forget that. (laughs)

CW: There's a story about pranksters depositing an outhouse on the main street of Archbold. Did you ever hear anything about that?

HH: Well they probably did, probably did, yeah. (laughs) Outhouses were a favorite subject around Halloween. Used to be a lot of kids in the neighborhood; of course they lived a quarter, a half mile or even a mile apart but we always went ice-skating on the creek in the winter time. We'd play hockey and we'd see how far down the creek we could skate. We could go one or two miles on a Sunday afternoon, and there was just enough hills in our area that we would ski and go sledding, which was always a lot of fun! In the summertime we would swim in the creek.

CW: What's the name of that creek?

HH: It's Turkeyfoot.

CW: I wonder where it got that name, any idea?

HH: Well there's one leg of the creek that goes into the Maumee River on the south side and there's one that comes in on the north side, and they both come in at about the same area so if you look it from up above in the air it looks like a turkey's foot, so that's how it got its name, I believe.

CW: Yeah. That's strange, that it would be one creek but it would be approaching the river from both sides.

HH: Well my other memories of being a child. . . there used to be just hundreds and hundreds of ring-neck pheasants here and in the fall we'd go hunting with my uncle and people would even come from Toledo. It was nothing at all to walk down through a field and scare up 25 or 30 pheasants and you could get your limit in no time. But those days are all gone. That was back in the late '30's and '40's. Nowadays it's very rare you ever see a pheasant. We seem to have more white-tailed deer now than we ever had before. When I was a kid growing up we never saw a deer in this area, and the other day when we were shelling corn I chased five of them out of the corn field: a big one with a rack, two does and fawns. Almost every field that you went into you could chase out deer, so deer are getting to be a very bad problem around here because at night they're traveling and people run into them with their cars so there's a deer accident probably every night or so within the county.

CW: Is that right!

HH: They do a lot of damage. Our granddaughter hit one a couple months ago. CW: Did it wreck her car?

HH: (laughs) About $1500, $2000 damage. Yeah, it just came out of nowhere along the road just about dust and that's the way it happened. There's nothing you can do 'cause once they start out they just seem to head for you. It's quite a problem around here.

CW: There's a story about pranksters depositing an outhouse on the main street of Archbold. Did you ever hear anything about that?

HH: Well they probably did, probably did, yeah. (laughs) Outhouses were a favorite subject around Halloween. Used to be a lot of kids in the neighborhood; of course they lived a quarter, a half mile or even a mile apart but we always went ice-skating on the creek in the winter time. We'd play hockey and we'd see how far down the creek we could skate. We could go one or two miles on a Sunday afternoon, and there was just enough hills in our area that we would ski and go sledding, which was always a lot of fun! In the summertime we would swim in the creek.

CW: What's the name of that creek?

HH: It's Turkeyfoot.

CW: I wonder where it got that name, any idea?

HH: Well there's one leg of the creek that goes into the Maumee River on the south side and there's one that comes in on the north side, and they both come in at about the same area so if you look it from up above in the air it looks like a turkey's foot, so that's how it got its name, I believe.

CW:. Yeah. That's strange, that it would be one creek but it would be approaching the river from both sides.

HH: Well my other memories of being a child. . . there used to be just hundreds and hundreds of ring-neck pheasants here and in the fall we'd go hunting with my uncle and people would even come from Toledo. It was nothing at all to walk down through a field and scare up 25 or 30 pheasants and you could get your limit in no time. But those days are all gone. That was back in the late '30's and '40's. Nowadays it's very rare you ever see a pheasant. We seem to have more white-tailed deer now than we ever had before. When I was a kid growing up we never saw a deer in this area, and the other day when we were shelling corn I chased five of them out of the corn field: a big one with a rack, two does and fawns. Almost every field that you went into you could chase out deer, so deer are getting to be a very bad problem around here because at night they're traveling and people run into them with their cars so there's a deer accident probably every night or so within the county.

CW: Is that right!

HH: They do a lot of damage. Our granddaughter hit one a couple months ago.

CW: Did it wreck her car?

HH: (laughs) About $1500, $2000 damage. Yeah, it just came out of nowhere along the road just about dust and that's the way it happened. There's nothing you can do 'cause once they start out they just seem to head for you. It's quite a problem around here.
clutch in. I had to stand up to push the clutch in 'cause it was so stiff. But those were the days that I can remember we learned how to drive the tractors at about nine years old.

CW: They needed boys on the farm in those days.

HH: Yeah, you had to have a lot of help to farm back then because everything was manual labor. I can remember the time that he promised that he would take us to the zoo. It was on a Saturday morning and he said, "Now if you kids hoe all the Canada thistles out of the pasture field I'll take you to the zoo." So that's how we were able to go places. We had to work for it.

CW: Well that's a good idea. Keeps the boys occupied, teaches them how to work.

HH: Then of course we always had chores to do to feed the cattle; then in the fall we would put silage up in the silo. I remember we would play hooky from school and we would sit up in the top and dispense the silage around in the silo. I remember moving the spout around so it would stack evenly inside the silo. So I would get out of school to do that, but that was a scary job too, especially when the silo wasn't very full and it was empty and you sat up there about 40 feet above the ground and you sat up there on a plank across the silo.

CW: And if you'd fall, you'd…

HH: Oh yeah, if you fell you'd be a goner. Yeah, that was all work too, and I remember bringing in the corn in from the field, stalk and all and running it through the chopper. Then later on that all changed too. It got mechanized so it was all chopped up in the field and then blown into the silo all chopped up.

CW: Do you have any other memories of . . .

HH: Let's see here. I have a couple notes here. I'll cross them off as they appear. Oh I remember one time we used to do a lot of trapping. We would trap muskrats and coon and possum and mink. At that time, during the early part of the war muskrats would bring in $3.00, up to $5.00 for a skin. So it was very profitable for farm kids to go trapping. We would set out a lot of traps along the creek and also in the field. A lot of the coons would go into the field tiles and that's where we would catch them.

CW: Wasn't it dangerous to reach in there to get them?

HH: Oh well yeah it was but then you had a trap that had links of chain on it so you would try not to get too close to it. Back then you'd either shoot the animal or hit it with a club, which doesn't seem very nice but back in those days that's the way it was done.

CW: You'd have to do that or it would attack you, I would think.

HH: Yeah, so that was the way you got spending money and enough to buy a small '22 rifle. I can remember sending out from the Sears Roebuck catalogue and I bought a new rifle that was about seven or eight dollars for the '22 rifle that we used. Then in the fall we always had so many things to do. We always had so much fun that I can remember shucking walnuts—now if you shuck walnuts—anybody that's ever shucked walnuts—y'know you get a walnut stain on your hands and you can't get it off. Well we rigged up an ingenious way that… Dad had a Model A truck there and we would take an eaves trough and we would jack up one wheel of the truck and we would stick the eaves trough underneath the wheel and then we would roll walnuts down the eaves trough and let the tire do the shucking of the walnuts. It seemed to work pretty good, but you had to still take off some of the shuck that was left and that's where you ran into gettin' the walnut stain all over your hands and when you'd go to school why everyone'd look at your hands and say, "What happened to you?" (laughs) But there's no way of getting the walnut stain off.

Then another thing: when we were mowing the hay we always mowed the hay with a horse-drawn motor that was hooked on to the tractor and then later we had a John Deere tractor that was attached right on to the mower. It was nothing at all to run into a bumblebees' nest right there in the field and every three or four rounds you would run into a bumblebees' nest. Well the problem was that when you ran into a nest you stirred them up and then the next time around they were there waitin' for you, so you had to swat the bumblebees with your hat and try to get by 'em because the next time around you were gonna run over the top of them so that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.

CW: Those were black walnuts, weren't they?

HH: Yeah

CW: Didn't some people just drive back and forth over them? HH: Yeah, I suppose they did. That would work too. CW: You'd have to have a lot of them, I suppose, to do that.

HH: One of the earliest memories that we had was that one of the neighbor boys and I decided that we'd build a tree house. We picked out a big old oak tree back of the woods and we built a tree house up in there about 20, 25 feet off the ground. We used to play in that tree house and had a lot of fun and that tree house was there for about 30 years or more, 40 years, and then the tree finally died and the tree was cut down so there wasn't much left of the tree house up there, but we had it all enclosed; we had a lot of fun.

CW: It must have been pretty sturdy to last that long.

HH: (laughs) We had a lot of nails in it, I guess, but we had a roof on it so if it rained or snowed it didn't come inside. But that was one of my early childhood things.

CW: My kids did a tree house. I thought, "Well, they can't get into any trouble." First thing I knew I looked out and they had a second story on it. (laughs) I thought, "Oh wait a minute. This is kind of dangerous."

HH: One of the things we used to do in wintertime that I had mentioned before was we used to skate on the creek. Then if the creek came up and came out of its banks… Back then it seemed to freeze more and we would have quite a lot of water and ice in the pasture field, which was quite a big area. We would skate on that and then I had mentioned that we did some skiing and slide down the hill with a sled, but we also used to put a rope behind the car and we would ski behind the car being pulled by the rope down the road and go in and out of the light poles, which was kind of dangerous but it was fun and back in those days I guess we didn't have much sense. We weren't afraid like you are when you get older.

CW: Well you surely didn't go the speed they do now. You probably put it in crawl or something.

MI No, nobody drove very fast back then. Cars didn't go very fast. If you went 30, 40 miles an hour on a stone road you was going' pretty fast. When we were probably ten or twelve Dad got a motor scooter for us boys and they were made over in Malinta by the Orthwein brothers and it was quite a thing. They made a pretty nice motor scooter and we would ride that around.

CW: Did they have a little factory they started there in Malinta?

HH: Yes. Before that they had made lawn mowers. They devised and patented a lawn motor which Sears bought their patent and sold through their catalogue.

CW: Is that right? Is that Myla Orthwein's father?

HH: I don't know, but it was Orthwein Brothers right there at the north edge of Malinta.

So during the war then we always liked the Jeep, the World War II Jeep. We followed that through the pictures that we saw on the news reels and everything and we fell in love with the Jeep, so after the War my Dad and brother and I bought a brand new civilian Jeep in 1946.

The Willey Overland Co. in Toledo converted over from military to civilian Jeeps that could be used on the farm. The made quite a few modifications to them. They changed the gear ratio and made the windshield higher and put better seats in 'em but basically they still looked like the military jeep. But when we bought that we were able to drive that Jeep to high school for a couple years off and on and we were the talk of the school because we were the only ones that drove a Jeep to school.

CW: Did they use them as trucks too?

HH: They used them as cars, trucks, tractors. We used to rotary hoe with ours, used to rake hay, we used to pull a bailer with it. Things that were unique about the ... right after the War and during the War a farm boy could get a drivers' license at the age of 14 which was a restricted license that you had to do the driving for farm use but at 14 I got a license and we would haul grain into Vocke's Mill which was located there in Napoleon on the north side of the Maumee River bridge. We would drive a Model A Ford truck and haul wheat up there, which was quite a thing for a young fellow. I got to drive that thing up town and go into Vocke's Mill with it because I can remember in those days the brakes on a Model A weren't very good and you had to just stand up on the brakes to stop 'em. When you had to turn them into Vocke's Mill you had to be in the line of traffic and make a right turn into the Mill. Sometimes you had to block traffic to get in there because sometimes the vehicles were lined way up on to the river bridge bringing loads of wheat into the mill, Vocke's Mill.

CW: That was just on the north side of the river, wasn't it?

HH: Yeah, the north side of the bridge. The mill is no longer there. Snyders have their new and used car lot there now. Of course we have the new bridge now and the traffic pattern is a little bit different. But that was an interesting experience too, growing up at that time.

CW: Did you have any mishaps with those brakes?

HH: No, I never did. I was always pretty careful. Of course you took a lot of responsibility at that time and being that young we took care of ourselves, watched out for things. (pause) Well, I'm getting near the end of my list here, so do you have any questions?        Oh, I can tell you how this museum came about, that Betty and I now have. Since I was interested in Jeeps during the war and had a civilian Jeep after the war Betty and I have been on trips to Europe twice now where my uncle had been in the service during World War II with the 101g Airborne Division.. We retraced all his steps. Well, while we were on this bus tour—there were five buses of 101g Airborne veterans.. We were not a Veteran but we were asked by my uncle to go with him. Every place that we went in Europe to visit there was always a bunch of military Jeeps that were owned by fellows that were collectors of military jeeps and they would follow the buses and they would go ahead of us and they would park and line up wherever we stopped. So wherever we went you always had this line of jeeps—military jeeps—and guys dressed in uniforms that would be there to help us off the bus. But anyway, I told my uncle that when I get back I'm going to buy a military jeep and that was in 1984 and that's when I got my first military jeep and that was expanded until where it is now, so now I have almost every style or modification of the Jeep that was made from 1944 on up through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and up. . . I do not have a Hummer, a military Hummer. They're too big and this building is small so we do not have room in this museum for anything like that.

CW: Well you certainly have an absorbing hobby, I'm sure.

HH: Thank you. We have had an Amateur Radio license since 1957. We also have model airplanes which we have hanging up there on the ceiling. We have P38, P51, Corsair, P40. We have those hanging from the ceiling. We have guns. We have guns from almost every country that was in World War II, Japanese, French, American, German. We also have a German machine gun at the doorway as you come in. It has a sign on it, "Did you wipe your shoes off?" We've got lots of stuff in here. Pictures and so forth.

CW: What are those hands there? Is that a sign or something?

HH: Well the story behind that is that if you look at it close it says "Nuts." General McAuliffe, when he was surrounded in Bastogne, Belgium, the Germans asked him to surrender and they came into where he was, his quarters, and asked him to surrender. He did not know what to reply and just off the top he said "Nuts!" and Colonel Kinnard who was his G-3 said, "Why don't we write that reply?" The Germans went back with that note that said "Nuts!" on it and they could not decipher what that meant. What that really meant was, "Go to Hell!"

CW: (laughs) I remember hearing about that.

HH: So that's what those hands up there really mean, the hands on the wall are on a spring that swings back and forth that says NUTS.

CW: And didn't that give them just enough time, it delayed the Germans just enough that the reinforcements could come in?

HH: Yeah, Patton came in then with the tanks. They were liberated then. But in the meantime on Christmas Eve the Germans bombed—they completely obliterated the town of Bastogne. Betty and I have been in Bastogne, Belgium, twice and we have memorabilia that my uncle brought back from Belgium. He has a tablecloth that was taken out of the hotel there because it was his job—it had snowed and it was his job to go around and collect white sheets and tablecloths so that our soldiers wouldn't stand out with their khaki uniforms, so it was his job to go around and collect them. When we were in Bastogne in 1984 I asked him if he wanted to go into the hotel. The hotel had been rebuilt and see whether or not they had missed the sheets. He said, "No, I'm not going to do that." We were there in '84 and then we were there in '94. We were on the Square in the center of town. They called it the McAuliffe Square now with a bust statue of him and a USA tank there.

CW: Is that where Byron Armbruster was?

HH: Yes that's correct. Also in here we have a German Luftwaffe pilot's jacket; we have American pilots' jackets, because, you know, the airplanes did not have heat in them and at that altitude it was very cold, so we have those types of uniforms and jackets, boots, etc.

CW: They're like the present motorcycle jackets, they would serve a very definite purpose, to protect them from cold and the bugs etc. See, my son had a motorcycle and he said the rain felt like needles boring into your face.

HH: The jackets were lined with sheepskin, the wool which would keep them warm. So I have a life preserver that the pilots wore, different jackets with insignias on. Now in the back of the museum here I have mannequins with the uniforms on, and the uniforms are from local people. There's a story to tell behind those. I have the different branches of the service, the five branches of the service. I do not have Coast Guard but I'm still looking for a Coast Guard uniform and a Marine dress uniform.

CW: I see you have a World War I uniform?

HH: We have a World War uniform on a mannequin, we have a West Point uniform on a mannequin and we have a World War II nurse and also soldiers, Air Force, Army Air Force, Navy… (Phone rings.)

CW: Betty, what memories do you have of childhood?

BH: Well I was born in Washington Township and grew up and went to Liberty Center school. At the time I started school I always rode a school bus. My father would raise cabbage in the summertime and there were eight children but we were in groups of fours. I have an older sister that is 16 years older than I and my first brother was ten years older than I so there was 5 years' difference in the two groups of children. And the first group really had things bad because it was during the Depression and they would be wearing their cousins' clothes because since there were eight of us there just wasn't means to go out and buy new things and therefore the second group we had things better than the first group and by the time the second group grew up we were blocking cabbage, and we'd hoe cabbage. The difference between those two they would plant the cabbage seed; then you would have to block it to leave so many inches apart for the next one; then we would have to hoe the cabbage.

CW: What do you mean by 'block it'?

BH: Well the cabbage was planted by seed so we would have to thin out, block out so each one had room enough to grow. You'd have one plant here, then another here; then later you'd have to come through and hoe cabbage to get the weeds out.

CW: Well didn't you have to hoe in the first place?

BH: You used a hoe but it was called 'blocking' because if you left it all in it would be a continuous cabbage plant, and they all couldn't grow there together. They wouldn't make a solid head of cabbage, so that's why you had to block 'em out, and maybe about every 12 inches you would have a plant, and so that after that you would have to hoe it, then after that we would cut it so that we could throw it in the wagon.

CW: And that was all done by hand?

BH: All done by hand. At that time we were probably around 7 or 8 years old and we had to bag it. The person that would come and pick up the cabbage would take it to Detroit and sell it. And that was my childhood. Liberty Center had a kraut factory. That's why the people in Washington Township grew a lot of cabbage, and if you had a lot of children it just kept them busy for the summer. I never learned to drive a car until I was married because there just wasn't anything to drive. Parents only had one car. When you've got that second group of four children there wasn't anything to drive.

One of my most—where I made history in Henry County was when I ran for Clerk of Courts, and this was after I was married and I ran for Clerk of Courts. But if you remember the night of counting the votes I was defeated. My opponents' last names both started with the same initial each and therefore all night long I got those votes and all night long he was credited with my votes. So when the Board of Elections came to work the next morning and she sat down at the typewriter she knew right away what had happened, so she had to call in the Board of Elections and they had to make a decision what they were going to do to correct their error. So when they sent feelers out to find us because we was out taking our yard signs down because we were going to leave the next day for R & R. And so they found me about 11:30 in the morning, and even the radio station knew there was something going on because the Board of Elections couldn't say what it was but everyone kind of knew there was some big mistake. So when I walked into the Board of Elections I saw all of these people and my opponent, and I couldn't figure out what was going on.

CW: At this time did you think that you had lost?

BH: Yes. I knew that I had lost. And the Director came up to me and told me that there was an error, that I was the Clerk of Courts, and told me what had happened. What a relief because I had worked in the office for 20 years and had decided to run since Mr. Hoy had retired. The only time that that happened I believe is when President Truman ran and Thomas Dewey was pronounced the winner by the newspapers, but they called it wrong. Truman was President and Thomas Dewey wasn't. So I made history for Henry County.

CW: Well, how could that happen? I still don't understand it.

BH: Well my opponent was HES and mine was HUD for initials, and they didn't alphabetize them that way so they had HUD and then HES...

CW: Oh, I see. They got them in the wrong order. Oh my!

BH: And so that's how I got his and he got my votes, and so he thought all night long that he was the winner until they caught up with him. So it was very depressing news for him.

CW: Yeah, it would be depressing for you the night before.

BH: Yes it was, because my children were here and they were all ecstatic thinking that we were gonna win and they had a cake. They didn't dare to show me that cake. They took it back home, but they all came back the next night to celebrate.

CW: Yes, I should say. You never know about these machines, do you?

BH: Yeah, and that was when you counted them by hand.

CW: Oh, and the poor people that worked in the polls. They had to go to work at 6 in the morning and they had to work till midnight, some of them.

BH: That's very true (HH enters). So we were telling her our experience in our first election. So that was Henry County's history.

HH: That was a real letdown, because our family was here and we were ready to celebrate and she lost and…

CW: Had they left when you found out the truth?

BH: Oh yeah. You see I didn't find out until the next day, like 11:30, and they left that night. And here Herb was at home and he and a friend went around picking up all the rest of the yard signs, and he put 'em all in a pile because since I lost he knew I wasn't gonna run again. So he came in the house to get matches to burn the pile, the phone rang and it was my sister congratulating him on Betty's win. He didn't know anything about it.

CW: Oh my goodness, it's a good thing he didn't burn 'em! (laughter) Because you were the County Clerk of Courts for a long time, weren't you?

BH: Twelve years.

HH: So we used those signs over again the next four years, then eight years. Yeah, that was sure a coincidence that the phone rang at the same time that I came in the house to get those matches. Otherwise they would have been long gone.

CW: So you grew up in the Liberty Center area?

BH: Yes, it was really Colton. It was a mile west of Colton.

CW: Oh yes, there was a church there.

BH: There was two different churches there. There was a Church of God, and that burned down, probably in the late '30s or early '40s. And when that burned down then we went to the Methodist Church in Colton.

CW: They had Open House there at one time. That was part of our tour, the County Historical Society's tour.

HH: They make chocolate there.

CW: Yeah, they make chocolate Easter eggs.

BH: Well they didn't do that though until about 20 years ago.

CW: They really sell a lot of them now I guess. They're chocolate on the outside and then all this other stuff on the inside.

BH: Yeah, that's right, like peanut butter or cherry nut or whatever.

CW: A lot of work!

BH: Yeah, a lot of work.

CW: So, do you remember ice skating on the canal?

BH: We ice skated on the creek. The name of it was Bad Creek.

CW: Bad?

BH: Bad. Bad Creek.

CW: How did it get that name?

BH: I have no idea. (laughs) The creek would come up though when it would overflow, so I don't know where it got its name, and so we had a great time. In the summertime we would play softball out in barnyard. It was always well lit. And the neighbors would always come down 'cause our neighbor west of us, they had about 5 or 6 children, so we always had a ball team. But like I said, I never had a driver's license when I was at home so you just had to go with your parents if you went anywhere.

HH: The Bad Creek went into the Maumee River at Texas, Ohio. It went west of Colton, and then Texas and into the Maumee River.

BH: And it also went to Fulton County, didn't it?

HH: It came from Fulton, yeah.

CW: Did you know the Wolfs? Hazel Wolf and her husband? They used to live a little bit east of there, I think. But the last I knew they had a log cabin—the original log cabin that the family had lived in. It was still there on their farm. Hazel and her husband are both dead now, but their son is a History Professor in eastern Ohio, Akron area. So I imagine… he showed us the records of the school teachers, her salary and the conditions under which she had to teach—oh my! They were not good. They didn't dare—that's where they got that reputation of being an 'old maid school teacher.' They didn't dare many or they'd lose their job.

HH: Speaking of marriage, when Betty and I got married, which was in May of 1951, we moved to a house for which we paid $10 a month rent, which was near the house where I was born and raised. We had no running water. We had an oil stove for heat. We had no bathroom. We had an outhouse and you know we were happy even though we didn't have anything.

BH: We had electricity.

HH: Yeah, we did have electricity.

CW: But you couldn't heat with it at all, probably didn't have any heaters.

HH: No, we had an oil stove at that time. It was very popular. Most of the homes in the country had oil stoves. A lot of the houses had furnaces but most of the old houses had oil stoves and wood-burning cook stove or heating stove.

CW: Then what would you do, have to buy the oil?

HH: Yeah. We had a regular tank that we kept filled up.

CW: Now that's not the same thing they burned in lamps was it?

HH: No, that was coal oil that they burned in lamps and that was a cheaper grade, a less expensive kind of oil. This was regular furnace, fuel oil that they bum nowadays, same as what they burned in the oil stoves at that time. We were… During those days you would get what they called 'belled' and your friends and neighbors would come and make a lot of noise, shoot guns in the air and pound on the pieces of iron and make a lot of noise and then they would get you out of the house. Once they got you out of the house they would get a little mischievous and they would put different things in the bed and mess up the house.

CW: I didn't know that!

HH: Yeah, that was what they called 'belling'. They even took Betty and me, put us in a stock trailer which was pulled behind the car and they took us to town and they had a wheelbarrow in there which they was gonna make me push Betty through downtown in a wheelbarrow. Well, I happened to get hold of the wheelbarrow and was able to throw it out, and I threw that wheelbarrow out. It bounced up to the telephone wires but it didn't break it. It might have bent something but, so they stopped. There was a whole bunch of cars following us and they got the wheelbarrow but they didn't put it back in the trailer 'cause they knew I'd throw it back out, so when they got to town at the river bridge they got us out and made Betty get in the wheelbarrow and then I pushed her up through town to the courthouse. That was quite an experience. That was what they called 'belling' in those days.

CW: Now was that right after the wedding?

HH: Pretty much after the wedding, yeah. (laughter)

BH: And then you also had to treat the group.

HH: Oh yeah, treat them and… We did go to the Idle Hour to treat them.

BH: It was that or, I think it was The Red Rooster.

HH: The Idle Hour was an ice-cream shop across from the courthouse. That was a hangout for young couples and teenagers. They had a jukebox and everything in there, and pinball machines and you would go in there for ice cream and sodas. So we had to treat everybody then, so that's what a belling was all about. We don't have them anymore, but that was the custom back in those days.

CW: I remember going to a wedding where this fellow that got married was the same age one of my sons and his sister had to dance in the hog trough. She was the oldest one and she hadn't married first, and I always thought that was such a cruel thing to do to her.

HH: You could break an ankle (laughs).

CW: Well not only that but it would be embarrassing for her, I would think. I bet a lot of those things were like that. They never worried about whether you were embarrassed or not. (laughs)

BH: Is that a German custom for the hog trough?

HH: I don't know.

CW: Was Belling a German custom?

HH: I don't know that either. It was just a custom that was followed at that time. (laughs) And would you believe they did it to us again then when we were at our 30th anniversary, or was it the 35th I guess. Our friends and neighbors got together and belled us again on our 35th but that was a little bit different. They came in the house but they didn't mess it up and they brought cards and so forth that they gave us.

CW: Had a party, I suppose.

HH: Yeah, had a party. So it's a little different.

CW: Now your brother and sister were probably quite a bit older than you were, weren't they?

HH: Well my brother was four years and my sister was two years and my younger brother is six years younger.

CW: Where is he? I didn't know there was a younger brother.

HH: He lives about two miles from here, and he's also a farmer.

(End of Tape)