Callaway, M. E.
Mary Ellen Callaway Oral History
Interviewed April 21, 2011
Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin
CW: Would you please give us your name.
MEC: My name is Mary Ellen Fruth Callaway. I want the Fruth name included. This is a picture of my great grandmother Katharine Fruth, and she came over to America in 1854 on the ship Redwood. Her parents were John Jacob Fruth and Eva Marie Burch. This is a picture of my great grandmother right here. She lived to be 98.
CW: My goodness that was old in those days.
MEC: This man died of typhoid fever.
CW: They don’t have much of that disease anymore.
MEC: Her four children were Henry Fruth who was my grandfather and married Louise Franz. My great-grandmother was a Fruth and married a Fruth. Another daughter was Lo Dema Franz and also had a son Conrad. Fruth’s married Franz’s and Franz’s married Fruth’s. They didn’t live very far apart. They lived on Rd. 14 and K. It was just like around the corner from each other. Another daughter was Louise Yackee who had 10 children.
CW: They would have gotten to know each other real well.
MEC: Well you know they didn’t go anywhere. Well, I didn’t either when I was a kid. We lived out there on a farm and you just had to work seven days a week. Everybody had cows and chickens and you just had to do all that stuff. We went to church and I can remember when I was very young my Grandmother would have dinner one Sunday.The next Sunday my Uncle Walter and Aunt Gertie would have it. and then another Sunday my parents would have it. That is about all we did.
CW: Then you woud just sit around and talk. Lots of talking went on.
MEC: We would play cards.
CW: You would have done a lot of gossiping too because there wasn’t much else to do.
MEC: There wasn’t much else to do. When I was a kid you only went to town on Saturdays to buy your groceries. My brother and I would go to the movies while my mother did her shopping. It would be so crowded on Saturday nights downtown you couldn’t even walk on the sidewalks. People would just stand around and talk. They would meet their friends and would just stand around and talk.
CW: People still do that, but not to the extent that they used to. I can remember Isabel Aderman saying that it took her a long time just to walk one block.
MEC: People would bring their cars to downtown and just park them. They would sit in the car and just watch people.
CW: If someone came by that they knew they would just stand around and talk.
MEC: Mom would go to Spenglers where you would get waited on when you were buying your groceries. You would set the groceries over here and leave them. Then you would go over to Crahans. We had Meyerholtz’s store and there was another one.
CW: We had Wendt’s Shoes.
MEC: I can remember, you know Denise McColley, her grandmother was Irene Wendt,. She had a hat shop. In those days you had to have a new hat and shoes for Easter,
CW: And gloves.
MEC: Definitely. Here is a picture of Henry Franz. He is my Great-grandfather. This is where he was born.
CW: You have Franz relatives too.
MEC: I have double Franz relatives. My Grandfather Fruth married a Franz and my Great Aunt Lodema Fruth married a Franz. We are double related somehow. My Great Grandfather Henry Franz came to this country on a Russian sailing vessel - The Vista, which was hired by the Red Star Line on June 27, 1852. His daughter was my Grandmother Louise Anna Fruth. Then John Jacob Fruth was born in Beindersheim and his wife was Eva Marie Burch. Their children were Kathryn, who was my Great Grandmother, and Otto,and Louise.They came in 1854 on a steamer named Redwood.
CW: Where did you get all this information from?
MEC: I did a lot of research. They lived in Hancock County first..They moved to Seneca County for sixteen years and then they moved to Henry County.
CW: They were from France is that correct.
MEC: Yes, the Fruths were originally from France. They went to Bavaria , Germany which is right next to France. They had a religious thing in France.
CW: It was probably some type of religious persecution.
MEC: My Great Grandfather was Mathias Knepley. (my mother was a Knepley} He was born in Germany and he married Mary Christman and they had 8 children. My Grandfather David and William were twins. There is an Ada and Ida in the family and they were twins. We had a lot of twins in our family.
CW: That would have been unusual during that time.
MEC: With his brother, Mathias entered the New World at New York. The two brothers became separated and they never saw each other again.
CW: Isn’t that strange!
MEC: I think this is really interesting. Matthias married Mary Christman. He was born in Germany in 1826 and he settled in Monroe Township, Henry County. On December 16, 1848 he purchased 80.72 acres of undeveloped land from the State of Ohio for $ 81.13.
CW: The whole 80 acres, isn’t that something.
MEC: The county tax record of 1851 lists Matthias Knepley among only seven other land owners in the newly organized Monroe Township. That year he paid 97 cents in taxes.
CW: Oh my goodness!
MEC: They had eight children and one of them was my grandfather David.
CW: A lot of people had 6 or 7 children in those days.
MEC: My sister-in-law is Wilma Plassman. Her mother was a Gerken. She had 99 first cousins. The Gerkens had 10 or 12 kids. There were six of us on my dads side. I only have one cousin on my mothers side. When we went to New York I had this all written down and we went to Ellis Island. We thought we would be able to look this all up. We had it all written down and were going to look this up. We found out that there were many baskets and trunks in that building on Ellis Island. We tried to look up all those pictures. When we wanted to look it up we found out anybody who came in before 1892, did not come through Ellis Island. They came to the lower part of Manhattan Island. We took a subway to lower Manhattan and then took a ferry. This is a picture of my Mom and this is my Dad.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: My mom was a wonderful seamstress. I look like my dad. My sister Marjorie looked like my mother, This is a picture of my brother Bob.
CW: You were the baby at that time.
MEC: Yes I was the baby.
CW: I certainly admire the way you have kept all of this information.
MEC: Now my Aunt Gertie kept these obituaries. She died and they gave them to my brother, and my brother gave them to me. This is what I was really interested in - my Grandfather Franz who came over from Germany.
CW: Is this when he died?
MEC: This is his obituary and it says here he enlisted in Co. A 68th OVI in 1862 until the close of the Civil War.
CW: My that was such a terribe war. He wasn’t injured or anything.
MEC: No. They said he walked all the way home from the state of Louisiana. There would have been no other way.
CW: William Wiles tells us all about it.
MEC: During the Civil War he fought with General Sherman on his famous march from Atlanta to the Sea. During his time in the South he was impressed by the spanish moss clinging to the pine trees. He said the moss was like silver in the moonlight. He was so interested in the state of Louisiana he named his daughter Louise Anna. That would have been my Grandmother. This is a picture of my dad’s first cousin. She wrote this. She had been a school teacher. I have all these pictures and they are all real old.
CW: Would you like to sit down a while?
CW: We can put this recorder right there. You have lots of information for us.
MEC: Oh yes. He is going to be giving a talk or something. He has lots of information on the Civil War.
CW: Oh you mean Ed Peper.
MEC: Yes. His brother Bob was my Mom’s lawyer and when he died we just stayed with his brother Ed. He is going to give us a presentation when he traveled through the South next week I think.
CW: I don’t know but I can find out.
MEC: The information is in there someplace. He was always interested in my brother. He wanted my brother to write his story. My brother Bob Fruth went into the Air Force and worked as a mechanic. He became a gunner on a B24 bomber during the war.
CW: Now this would be World War II.
MEC: On his 13th mission over Germany, when they returned from the mission they were shot down over occupied France. My brother Bob was about the last one to get out of the plane. A couple of them didn’t get out of the plane. Some of them did and they were captured by the Germans. He landed in a fence row and the Free French got hold of him and kept him for 3 months hidden.
CW: Isn’t that interesting!
MEC: Ed always wanted Bob to write this up. It was in the Reader’s Digest which was only published in the Canadian edition. He was called an Evadee. He evaded being captured by the Germans. They took him to the coast of France and then put him on a fishing boat. He returned to England after 3 months.
CW: He was lucky.
MEC: Yes. Some of them were captured and some of them never got out of the airplane. He was sent home after this ordeal. The last year of the war he was stationed at Murfreesboro, Tennessee at the base there. Anyway Ed is giving a talk about the Civil War.
CW: I was always interested in that too but I don’t like to go alone.
MEC: You are like me I don’t like to either.
CW: Maybe we can go together sometime.
MEC: Oh I was going to ask you something.
CW: No, it was in Flatrock Township.
MEC: You know Road 14 is the road that goes to Holgate. You go out Road 14 to L.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: It would be right where they built the new park on the Southside. (Oberhaus Park). That road will take you straight South - Road 14 and L There was a schoolhouse - The Farison schoolhouse - was right here.
CW: You didn’t have to walk very far to get to school.
MEC: My brother had to go 2 years there. When it got consolidated I got on a bus and went to the Florida School. Then my dad bought the schoolhouse and used it to store his machinery in. Anyway he went to the Farison Schoolhouse. These are all the grades. You can see all the Yackee’s. They were my dad’s first cousins.
CW: There were three Youngs.
MEC: They were of all the eight grades. There is Albert Yackee, Ethel Friend, Carl Farison, they were our next door neighbors This is my dad in the sixth grade.
CW: Isn’t that unusual to have a program printed up like that.
MEC: Here is the poem - The Village Blacksmith - printed on the program.
CW: Most teachers would not have had the money to have the program printed. You have pictures and everything. This is your grandmother.
MEC: I know. Do you belong to the Heritage Society or not?
CW: No but I belong to the Henry County Historical Society.
MEC: He even had his picture there.
CW: Don’t lose track of all this.
MEC: Oh no. Now here is the Farison Public School. It is signed by Mr. Crossman, a teacher. Mr. Smith was the Superintendent. Anyway these are all the kids that went to school there.
CW: They would love to have something like this at the Historical Society.
MEC: I said something to Jean Steele about this. Maybe I could put it in the Schoolhouse at the fairgrounds.
CW: Somebody would have to watch it because it is so little somebody could steal it - just pick it up and put it in their pocket.
MEC: Well they would have to put it in their glass case.
CW: Yes, they would put it in their glass case. That would be great.
MEC: I don’t know but I got it for something. I think it had a ribbon on it but it was worn out. My mom had it and I guess she got it from my Grandma Fruth.
CW: You know every year there are a lot of people that go through that schoolhouse. They are looking to see what they can find.
MEC: Why do they take them
CW: You mean how do they steal things
CW: and who knows why. Of course there would be someone watching.
MEC: I think I would like to give it to them because - then I won’t have to worry about somebody stealing it. I don’t know about you but did you really care about who your ancestors were when you were little.
CW: No I didn’t. I know there were members of the family that were looking up the history of the family. I thought at the time - ho hum that is so boring - they both laugh.
MEC: Now that I want to know they are all dead. I don’t have anybody to ask. I will be 87 in August. There isn’t anybody left.
CW: Now when you were going to school how do you think schools have changed.
MEC: Now this was a long time ago when my grandchildren - they are all now in their 20’s. I had my children late in life. But anyway I went to Grandparents Day and I could not believe I am telling you, in High School now this was Florida - we had one big Study Hall and it must have been Junior High too. There were about 70 or 80 in that one room. Nobody talked and nobody whispered and nobody got up. You sat there and when it was your class you would get up and leave. Now this was in High School. I mean when I went to school. Even in grade school you did not whisper or even talk. I could not believe when I went to Grandparents Day the kids got up, talked. They have their desks like here - here - here. I just couldn’t believe it.
CW: Now they have all these little things they can hold in their hands.
MEC: They don’t know their multiplication tables because they use these calculators.
CW: That is so true.
MEC: They don’t know them. The teachers don’t teach them anymore. They don’t teach writing anymore. They don’t teach math, which most people need. I took Algebra, Geometry. Ordinarily most people just need ordinary math. They don’t teach half of that anymore. They don’t learn their multiplication tables at all.
CW: My husband learned his multiplication tables through the 12’s. I thought I was doing good learning them through the 10’s.
MEC: Just like when we go to the store I will say that the item is 40% off. Then my daughter will say to me - how much is that. I don’t take 40 times - you know what I do is I take six times that and there is your answer, because if you take 40 you have to subtract which is another transaction. Instead of 40.I take 60 times the amount and that is how much it would cost you. She doesn’t understand that.
CW: The merchants are taking advantage of their customers’ lack of knowledge.
MEC: Some people don’t even know how to make change. If it doesn’t show up on their cash register they can’t make change.
CW: I wondered - they have these signs in the newspapers - half off. It would be easy to take advantage of their customers. A lot of people can’t even figure half off.
MEC: I know. Or even if it is 25% off all you do is take half off and then half off of that. I don’t want to just sit there and not do anything. I am illiterate on the computer. I don’t care because my mind works better that way. I have an encyclopedia. I use my encyclopedia all the time. I have had mine since 1965 and it is about worn out. It looks pretty bad. My children will say - Mom if you just had a computer you could look it up there. So I still look it up in my encyclopedia.
CW: Now tell me why do you think it is that a classroom used to be so quiet.
MEC: You behaved. You did not talk back to the teacher. They had a paddle but I never saw anybody get paddled. We just behaved. My Mom and Dad even made us behave. I think that is part of it. You didn’t even think of not behaving.
CW: I think that is a very important part of it.
MEC: The parents are part of the problem now. They think their child never did anything wrong. If the teacher tells their parents what their child did, they will counter and say - oh not my child. Do you know what I used to tell my children. I would tell them if you get into trouble at school you will get into more trouble at home from me.
CW: I think every family has experienced this I think it is because they respected the knowledge of the teacer.
MEC: That is right. You lived by rules.
CW: Now parents have so much power in the schools
MEC: The teachers can’t even touch a child but what they say - you’re touching my child. It is a bunch of baloney.
CW: I guess we don’t know anything.
MEC: I said you know the way the laws are nowadays. The way the morals are nowadays I feel like it’s the Fall of the Roman Empire. I mean, don’t you think so. You know what, another thing these young girls have two, three, four, and five kids with different fathers. How can they raise them? The children don’t have any family life. They don’t know what family life is like.
CW: It is really too bad.
MEC: The children are always the one who suffer because of this.
CW: You are so right.
MEC: The young people can’t see this. I just don’t believe in this. They have lost the family structure.
CW: It is so important.
MEC: I think it is. Anyway I have said my piece. Now this picture - he was born in 1892. If they wanted to go in to town they went by riding a horse or using a horse and buggy. Like I told you before people very seldom went to town. Most of the farmers raised everything they used. They didn’t need much. I know that like during World War II, when I was a young girl - during the recession as I was born in 1924. In the 1930’s people didn’t have jobs. My neighbor, Vernie Rettig he went to CC Camp. They would build these rest areas we have around here.
CW: Isn’t there a plaque at this one house right across from Ritter Park that says this was a Civil War camp.
MEC: I know, I have seen that.
CW: I think they recruited troops there. What about later on where did they build the camps.
MEC: I don’t know. I only know that my Great Grandfather was in the Civil War. I know they always said he had to walk all the way home from Louisiana. They didn’t have horses to ride. They didn’t have any type of transportation. That was back in 1865.
CW: Yes. Now during the Depression people are really afraid of a Depression - but when you were a child
MEC: I was a child and I didn’t realize it - but my husband lived in Toledo and he said they got prunes and beans handed out. His father worked for the WPA, but here on the farm, everybody had cows. Everybody had chickens. Everybody had a big garden. Everybody butchered. We would have hams hanging up in the storage room. My Grandmother had a smoke house - so we woud have hams all the time. I remember the lady had dishpans and a board there to scrape the intenstines out. We had a sausage maker in our store room and we ground up the meat and made our own sausage. In our kitchen we had a cookstove and we burned wood. We used corn cobs to start it. We would use wood and soft coal. We didn’t have a furnace on the farm. We had a hard coal burner with isinglass windows. That was what we had to heat our home. We didn’t have electricity. Do you see that little lamp over there with a handle. My sister said she would carry it upstairs when we went to bed. That was my moms too. When we got electricity, we lived just a mile from State Route 108. In order for us to have electricity Dad had to pay so much a month, so my dad said if I have to pay that much a month, so he bought an electric stove.. At one time he had a threshing rig with a farmer. And then for a long time he had a rural milk route. The milk would come in those big 10 gallons. He would start out at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning and he would pick up all the neighbors milk and he wouldn’t get home till noon. He would take them to Diehls, which was in Defiance. He had that route for years. So during the Depression he had money. Every two weeks he would get paid and he had money.
CW: That would be unusual.
MEC: He had extra money with the milk route. The banks were closed and he would come home every two weeks and bring a cardboard box and he had all these little envelopes and he had money in it for each customer. Then he had a stack of checks for each customer. I only remember the part during the summertime when I was home from school. He would come home at noon and wanted us to deliver the money to the customers. He didn’t want the money laying around and he would hide it either in the barn or in the garage. You know we never locked our doors. We would leave the keys in the car and nothing ever happened.
CW: Oh yes, that is true.
MEC: Anyway Mom would drive the car and we would take the money and the checks, ususally it was just the lady of the house because the man was never there. I had them sign the check and then I would give them a little envelope with their money in it. Then my dad would come back with the checks and take them back to the condensory. I don’t know how they got their money. There were no banks open.
CW: So you wouldn’t have been able to go to a bank with them.
MEC: No. I remember my mom had some money in the bank then and lost some of it.
CW: She probably never did get it back.
MEC: No. So my dad had this extra money, besides. We also had a gas tank - it was a huge tank and he used this to run his truck. We had our own gasoline. He would let us drive. None of the other kids in the neighborhood got to drive. Most of the places we went to were things that were going on in school like basketball games. We would drive around and pick up all the kids because he always left us have the car. He’d give us a little bit of money and he would say - now you don’t have to spend it.
CW: Charlotte laughs.
MEC: I would never spend mine so we always had just a little bit of money in our pockets.
CW: I know of one woman
MEC: And my mom was a seamstress. She made me clothes out of old things.
CW: That’s what my mother did too.
MEC: Then we had the flour sacks that we made dresses out of.
CW: My mother made me a coat.
MEC: My mother made me a suit and she lined it when I was a teenager. She was a wonderful seamstress.
CW: I remember this one woman, now they had to take turns getting new shoes. One girl would get them one year. It would have been hard with their feet growing.
MEC: You know you got a new pair of shoes when school started. When you came home from school you changed your clothes and your shoes. That was the first thing that you did.
CW: You would get out of your good clothes.
MEC: We were just kids. I was like maybe only ten years old. We would make hay and I had to drive the horses. I was always working. Then when my dad started planting tomatoes we had three acres of tomatoes. I planted them. I hoed the weeds out of them while the tomato plants were growing. We picked them all. My dad would come home at noon and he would take them - well it wasn’t Campbells at that time. I think it was called Lippincott at that time. We made a lot of money on that. When I got older, like a teenager, then the Mexicans came and did the picking. When you picked tomatoes you would get green all over you. I remember my dad saying it was enough to pay the mortgage off. I was really proud of myself. I was only maybe twelve or thirteen years old at the time. I enjoyed helping.
CW: They needed you children helping with things like that.
MEC: Oh I drove the tractor. I did everything on the farm. My one neighbor she never had to do anything. We had to work. My mom gathered and cleaned between 90 and 100 dozen eggs a week.
CW: Oh my goodness.
MEC: We had over 300 hens. That was her money. If she needed a new chair - she never got very much - that was her money and that is what she used it for. We had to shell the corn, sack up the oats, and she wasn’t as tall as I was. She drove the car, put a trailer on the car and went to the mill and got mash - which is what you called it so she could feed the chickens.
CW: You mean she would take the eggs into town to sell.
MEC: For a while we had a man that came from Wauseon and picked them up. Then we would go like to what we called an egg auction on Riverview Ave. I don’t know what they called that building. That is where we used to take our eggs. You would go out to the hen house and pick them up in the morning, then in the afternoon and then in the evening. You picked the eggs up maybe three times a day.
MEC: Well to keep them fresh expecially in the summertime it gets hot. Then we had an outside brick cellar.
CW: What is that?
MEC: It is a brick building and we called it a cellar. It was built into the ground. You would go down a couple of steps. There were two rooms down there and it was always cool. My dad made a tray with wood and wire. We counted by threes - like 3- 6- 9- 12 because you can get 3 eggs at a time in your hand. You would bring the eggs in and she always wanted to know how many eggs we got. We’d lay them there to cool them off.
CW: Oh yes. Did you have cartons to put them in?
MEC: No, we used egg crates - double ones.
CW: So you must have had a lot of eggs.
MEC: Oh yes. Then of course you always have a lot of cracked eggs. The cracked eggs you used when you made noodles. My mom made noodles all the time. I think we had eggs every night for supper. We always had dinner at noon and supper at night.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: I know we ate eggs almost every night for supper. We had them scrambled or this or that. We had all these eggs we had to use.
CW: How did you clean these eggs?
MEC: We used Bon Ami. You would use just a slightly damp cloth - it would have to be absolutely not wet. If there was chicken dirt on it we had to scrape that off first.
CW: They still sell Bon Ami.
MEC: Yes that is what she used. We would put that on the cloth and used that to clean the eggs. The chicken eggs do not come out clean - most of them don’t. You would always put the eggs with the small side down.
MEC: I don’t know. That is what you are supposed to do. You don’t want any roosters in your chicken coop especially if you are going the sell the eggs. When you buy chickens you used to get so many that were roosters. We would raise these little chickens until towards the fall like maybe in August. When they would get big she would sell all the roosters off. If you are going to sell the eggs to eat you can’t have roosters in with the hens. You don’t want to get your eggs fertilized. If you have roosters the eggs become fertilized and you have to send them to the hatchery. Just to eat the eggs you don’t want any males in with the hens. Then later on it got to where when you bought baby chicks they were all pullets. They were all hens. I don’t know how they do that. Then you didn’t have to worry about roosters being in with your egg laying hens.
CW: Would she once a year grow her own?
MEC: Oh yes, every year you would start with a new batch of chicks. We sold our eggs for food. We didn’t take them to the hatchery. She started with new hens every year. We didn’t keep them.
CW: Well then when she would get new hens were they baby chicks?
MEC: Oh in the spring you would buy baby chicks. These little baby chicks that had just hatched you would buy. We had a brooder house and we had a stove in it and she would go outside and sit in there with the baby chicks and also so they wouldn’t smother each other - you see it had to be warm enough in the buiding to keep the chicks warm.
CW: You would have had good customers if your mother was that careful with them.
MEC: Oh yes you had to be careful. Now Farisons, our next door neighbor, raised Jersey cows and they sold cream to the Creamery. We raised holsteins and we sold our milk to the Pet Milk Co.
MEC: So that was the Depression and my sister was like almost 9 years older than I was. She was only 5 when she went to school. Then they skipped a grade for her too. Anyway she graduated when she was 16 years old. She went to Toledo to The Davis Business School. My dad could pay for that but he couldn’t pay for her room and board so she stayed with my mom’s cousin for room and board.
CW: She probably helped her with her work she had to do.
MEC: She knew how to cook and bake. She learned that when she was just a young girl. So that is what she did and then when I graduated several years later I went to Toledo too and went to Davis Business School.
CW: At the time when you were in high school were there a lot of the girls who lived out in the country and didn’t have transportation?
MEC: A lot of the girls out in the country couldn’t even drive. Most of my neighbor girls didn’t drive, but I did. I had the car most of the time.
CW: You were lucky.
MEC: Oh I know it. Like I said I always had a little bit of money in my pocket. I drove and we would take the other kids because I could drive and they didn’t get their car to drive.
CW: I think some of the girls would take jobs in town and go to high school at the same time.
MEC: I think so too. Like I said we always had things to do at home like raising tomatoes. We made money that way where other people didn’t do things like that. Like I said my mom raised chickens and had all these eggs. Not every farmer did that. They would just have a few chickens for their own use. My mom did it and that was her money, but it was for us to live on too.
CW: They call that their egg money.
MEC: Yes. Lot of our neighbors didn’t do that. So they wouldn’t have had any extra money. They would have their money from their crops when they sold it.
CW: How did they live?
MEC: I don’t know. Like I said their kids didn’t drive, they didn’t get to use the car. My dad always had something on the side. My neighbor girl, she would be doing her finger nails and I would be working. You know though that after a while and then I went to the city. I learned how to get along in the city. I could get on the street car, the bus and these other things But you know you know those city girls didn’t know anything about where a chicken was or - they just didn’t know anything about a farm or where their food came from. You know I am glad I lived in the country. It is easy to learn how to live in the city.
CW: Yes, you are right
MEC: I knew all the steps about farm work. We really worked and knew where the food comes from.
CW: So you were raised on the farm.
MEC: You know then you had to really work just to earn a dollar. Nowadays these kids want this, this, and this. They don’t even do anything.
CW: I know.
MEC: The boys might have a paper route or something. Nobody comes around to shovel your walks. I was out shoveling snow.
CW: That is good for you.
MEC: Kids just don’t do anything. Now the farmers they don’t live like they used to. Now they just farm. They don’t have any cattle, most of them don’t. They have nothing. They just farm they don’t do anythiing else. I wouldn’t mind being a farmer now. I didn’t want to be a farmers wife because you worked seven days a week. You could never do anything. Sunday was just like any other day. That was another thing - the war.
CW: What was that like?
MEC: Well I had worked at National Supply Co. in Toledo.
CW: What did they supply?
MEC: It was a whole square block just off of Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue. They made oil well equipment. During the war they made reduction gears for Navy ships - but what reduction gears are I don’t know. During the war everything was rationed. Gas was rationed. Sugar was rationed. Liquor was rationed. Anyway we had no nylon hose to wear and what little hose we had, we would have to sew our runners up. You couldn’t buy them new. We couldn’t buy anything.
CW: I can remember sewing runners.
MEC: I remember, oh they would get bananas in at this grocery store and we would all run down and buy them. We didn’t have a car to drive, but everything cost like a dime. Movies were a dime. So you just had to ride a street car or a bus.
CW: What did it cost you to ride a street car?
MEC: In my job. I started May the fifteenth in May of 1943. My pay was $85.00 a month
CW: Was that your pay?
MEC: I still have the letter.
CW: You were probably happy just to get that.
MEC: I was even able to save money.
CW: For heavens sake!
MEC: I worked in the billing department and I also did stenography work for the man that was in charge of the billing department. It was a big office. There were a lot of people that worked there. Then they wanted me to - they were going to move my department to Pittsburgh - they wanted me to move to Pittsburgh. I even went one week and looked it all over and Pittsburgh
CW: It would have been up and down.
MEC: I came back and I said no. Then I went another place and worked there for three years and then I went to Springfield.
CW: Was that Springfield, Ohio?
MEC: We lived in Springfield for about four years and then we moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.
CW: What did your husband do?
MEC: He was a salesman. He sold cartons like for the Puff tissues. He sold things like that.
CW: Where did you meet your husband?
MEC: In Toledo. I met him in 1947. You know the Valentine Theatre is still there.
CW: Yes I remember seeing it.
MEC: Downstairs was a bar - The Rainbow Room. My friend at work - Mary McCarthy and I we went there one night. I don’t remember if we went there after bowling. We had a bowling league. We were there having a drink.This guy came over and asked me if I wanted to dance and I said yes. So that is how I met him. He lived over on the East Side.
CW: Was this in Toledo?
MEC: Yes, but he had been in the war too.
CW: Those boys were really looking for girls at that time.
MEC: Oh yes. That is how I met him. About a year later I got married.
CW: That was the time of the big jazz bands.
MEC: I just love that music.
CW: Was that the kind of music you danced to?
MEC: Oh yes. He was a wonderful dancer. Every once in a while I think of my mother. She was 97 years old. She had been born in 1892. Thinking that she lived almost 100 years. What a difference! When she was young their hair was
CW: all in a knot.
MEC: They wore long dresses when she was young. Now they cut their hair and no more long dresses. They have cars. It was a horse and buggy when she was young. My dad always said when they rode the horse and buggy that you could even sleep on the way home because the horse knew how to get home. You would wake up and the horse was pulling right into the barn. Now they have cars
CW: and then along came the radio and television.
MEC: Now we have telephones and electricity, and then airplanes.
CW: What do you remember about the old telephones?
MEC: Yes, you weren’t supposed to listen. Everybody was on the same line. So many rings and it would be yours. If you were talking to somebody and you heard a click, you would know somebody was listening and you would say to the other party - someone is listening - and then you would talk about something else.
CW: I guess if you needed to find the doctor or if it was somebody you needed to find Central would call you and tell you where he was.
MEC: Doctors would make houae calls in those days. They would go out in the country too for you I remember. Oh I was saying we didn’t have electricity. My dad said because in the summertime a lot of people had summer kitchens with a kitchen stove out there so you didn’t have to heat the big cookstove in your main kitchen because it made the kitchen so hot.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: My dad said he would pay so much for electricity and then buy an electric stove So we had it over in the kitchen and the other stove up here. We would use that in the summertime. We were lucky.
CW: Did they used to have a lot of fires in those summer kitchens?
MEC: No not really. I remember my Grandma had like a covered porch and she had her kerosene stove out there that she would use in the summertime. She even had one of those oven things that you would set on top of a burner and it was an oven.
CW: I remember those.
MEC: My mother didn’t have that. I can just remember having a cook stove. I was probably too young at that time. I think we might have had a kerosene stove.
CW: You didn’t have a gas stove did you?
MEC: Oh no, not out in the country. In the walkway we did have electricity though.
CW: What kind of games did you kids play when you were little, do you remember?
MEC: I remember at school we would play Rover, Red Rover, send somebody over. I can remember that game. That we played at school.
CW: Yes I think you threw a ball or something on top of the schoolhouse I think.
MEC: No we didn’t do that. I didn’t go to that Farison School. My brother went two years and then he got to go to the big school. We played tag I guess.
CW: You probably played Hide and Seek.
MEC: Oh yes. I played baseball at school
CW: So did the girls play baseball right along with the boys?
MEC: Oh yes, but it was nothing like they do now.
CW: How was it different?
MEC: They didn’t have girls playing softball. It was just like regular baseball I guess. We didn’t have softball teams like they have now for girls. My granddaughter is really a good ball player.
CW: Now, when they would have a ball team at school would there be girls on that ball team?
MEC: When I was young we had girls basketball, but we only played at one end. You didn’t go all that way down. You had at the middle line, if you were down you didn’t go down that way.
CW: You mean beyond that line.
MEC: Right. The girls play like boys now. It wasn’t like that at all. It was a lot different. We had different rules and everything. Those girls really run and shoot now.
CW: They are really good now.
MEC: It wasn’t like that at all.
CW: One time when I finally got to play some baseball I finally got a hit and I was so excited. I threw that bat down and ran and by the time I got to first base I was out. You weren’t supposed to throw the bat back. You just weren’t allowed to do that, so that made me out.
MEC: I had never heard of that.
CW: I can remember that because I was so disappointed.
MEC: Girls have gotten more now. It used to be for all the boys. Girls should be allowed to play too.
CW: Yes it is much more healthy.
MEC: Yes it is. Girls just didn’t do that much. I had a bicycle and rode that all over.
CW: Did you ever teach anyone else how to ride a bicycle?
MEC: How I learned is we would get up to a fence. If I ride a bike yet today, which I used to do before we moved into town, I still get on like a boy. I put my foot on and throw my leg over. My brother had a boys bicycle and my dad was supposed to get a bicycle for me. Then I think it was the neighbor boy - which was my first cousin - this Knepley lived about a mile down the road from us - it was across State Route 108. He was like 13 years old or something. He was coming down to our house I guess. He rode across 108 and he got killed on his bicycle. Then my dad wouldn’t buy me a bicycle. I had to ride my brothers bicycle. So I learned how to do that.
CW: How did you ride a bicycle with a dress on? Wouldn’t that have been hard?
MEC: I don’t know but I did it. I rode my bike all over.
CW: Did you consider yourself a tomboy?
MEC: I guess I was. I love to play and I love sports. I guess I get that from my dad. Now my brother, my dad had one son - now car races he will go to - but he wouldn’t go to a World Series game if he had a free ticket and lived right across the street from it. He is just not interested in sports. I always wondered what my dad thought about that. My dad loved baseball. I wondered if he thought his only son - why he didn’t like sports.
CW: Maybe his father pushed him a little too much.
MEC: No my dad said when he was 16 years old he had a team and wagon and in those days they would haul stone from the creek for stone roads and things.
CW: They did!
MEC: Yes, and he said he was only 16, so my father had to really work.
CW: Where did he live when he was growing up?
MEC: He lived right there where I lived too. It was his parents - on L and Rd. 14. That farm was my Grandmother and Grampa’s farm. Then they decided to move to Holgate. They bought a house in Holgate. Grampa was going to work for Chinie Franz. He was into oil. He worked at a gas station in Holgate. Well that didn’t work out. They moved back to my Great Grandma’s farm which was a mile South and a half on Rd.K . There was a big creek right there. Those big creeks they used to haul the stone out for those stone roads.
CW: I think at first a farmer was responsible for his property in front of his farm.
MEC: I don’t know but ours was a stone road.
CW: That is probably why you had to go to the creek to get the stone.
MEC: Then we were only a mile or a mile and a half - do you know where Girty’s Island is?
MEC: We were only a mile or a mile and a half from Girty’s Island. When I was little in the summertime - it was like a stone beach there - but when I was little everybody - like when it was hot - they would go swimming there. Everybody would come there just to go swimming. Then our neighbor boy one day stepped in a hole you know and drowned. We never went swimming again. In the old days before that in the early 1900’s, on Girty’s Island was a dance hall. People would come from Holgate with a horse and wagon and have picnics there. They had a ferry also.
CW: That would have carried you across the river.
MEC: Yes. Then when my sister who was 10 years older than I am. She was 10 years ahead of me in school. When she was in High School she had a roller skating party there in the old dance hall. Our neighbor Mrs. Rettig lived near and we went over there with her to pick berries one time.
CW: Now this would have been Girty’s Island where you picked berries?
MEC: Yes this was Girty’s Island.
CW: That was a roller skating rink?
MEC: Yes it was a dance hall too. People would come from all over even Holgate and dance. That old dance hall my sister had a roller skating party there. Of course in those days there was nothing to do. It wasn’t like it is now at all.
CW: Was the ferry going then too?
MEC: Oh yes. The ferry came right there. There was Girty’s Island and then right up here is the Cole Cemetery. Right there.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: My Grandpa who was in the Civil War, that is where he is buried.
CW: Is that the cemetery that is up on the hill by Florida?
MEC: No, this is by Girty’s Island.
CW: Oh yes farther East.
MEC: It is only like - State Route108 goes into Holgate. it is only like 2 miles off of there.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: When I think of my mother living nearly 100 years there was such a difference in the world. Just think we have computers now, TV, just think of all the changes from the period that she lived. The periods before they didn’t have changes like we do today.
CW: Just think when she was young or for how long afterwards almost everybody in the area was a farmer.
MEC: Everybody was. She had to go out and work when she was 14 years old.
CW: She did!
MEC: Nobody went to high school unless you lived in town I guess. In those days you know. Or you could stay with somebody that lived in town. You didn’t have a car. They used horse and buggies. So they only went to the 8th grade. Some of them took the 8th grace twice. Then she went out to work.
CW: Was your mother
MEC: My mother lived in Toledo before she married and worked for a banker in the old West End. She was a nanny and she took care of their twin girls. She even had to do their own laundry. In those days they had to go on the train from here to get to Toledo.
CW: Was that like a trolley or what?
MEC: No it was a regular passenger train. It went into Toledo. Do you know where the station was here over on Oakwood Avenue..
CW: Oh yes. Well that was where she got on.
MEC: Yes and she would go to work. Then when the lady died and the man wanted her to stay and she didn’t want to. So she came back and stayed with her cousin. In those days a man especially a friend like that - if he wasn’t married yet and he lived at home and his mother and dad had died and he couldn’t take care of himself. He needed a housekeeper. So then when the lady died she didn’t stay. So she came home and did housekeeping for her cousin Arthur Knepley. So that is what she did and she got married a few years later.
CW: Then what did she do?
MEC: Well she got married. She was 23 and my dad was 23. I will show you this card. Do you want to come in here and look. My daughter had it framed and enlarged. This is the Lutheran Church in Florida.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: The date on the postcard is Dec 6, 1912 and he wrote to Miss Ida Knepley, 2057 Glenwood Avenue,, Toledo, Ohio and it says. “I am enjoying myself in Florida. this evening received your letter”. Signed Alfred.
CW: Oh that would be when he was courting her probably. Isn’t that something. Oh that is a postcard.
MEC: In a lot of those pictures I found a lot of them were postcards. Did you know that?
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: All of these postcards they have pictures on the front.
CW: Who made this quilt. Isn’t that nice.
MEC: I bought that. Look at these pillows. I made these.
CW: That is pretty good.
MEC: I got this from a picture. I designed them all and I made them.
CW: What about this one.
MEC: I bought that. I tried to find the material that was about the same. I made the two pillows too. This, my son was in Russia last summer and it is one of those dolls.
CW: There is one inside and another one inside that.
MEC: He was at the Hermitage, that museum. These are his pictures.
CW: Oh yes.
MEC: It was the winter palace at the Hermitage in Russia.
CW: Now they have renamed it Leningrad. Have they changed that name again.
MEC: I don’t know. This looks like St. Petersburg. Don’t you think it is.
CW: I bet it is.
MEC: It says interior of St. Peter Cathedral. incredibly the top attraction. It says Peter and Paul Cathedral. Contains remains of numerous czars including Peter the Second.
CW: Do you remember going out on the ice in the river?
MEC: Yes, a little bit. My Dad had a car and he also had a little run around. It was like a Model A Ford. My brother, there was a way - where the Florida Bridge was - He would take that car on the ice on the river. That is what he did.
CW: Oh my.
MEC: Then I can remember trying to skate too in those days, like you said girls didn’t wear pants. They didn’t wear trousers you know. I remember I took a pair of my brothers pants and wore them. I tried to skate. I was never a very good skater but we would have roller skating parties during school.
CW: Oh you did.
MEC: We would go to Power Dam and roller skate.
CW: Where is Power Dam?
MEC: It is south of Defiance. Also in Napoleon, at Wayne Park you know there was a skating rink. We would get a roller skating party. We roller skated there all the time. Of course that is all gone now.
CW: Now did they have roller skates there that you could rent?
MEC: I think they must have had. I don’t remember having any. We must have rented them.
CW: I think that the ice skates that they used to have they would put on with a key.
MEC: Oh yes they would clamp on your shoes. I had a heck of a time. I was probably 17 or 18 years old when I tried. I had to borrow a pair of my brothers pants because girls didn’t wear pants in those days. In working too we wore dresses and heels.
CW: Oh you did.
MEC: Oh yes. My sling pumps, that was my favorite shoe. I can remember in the wintertime my feet would get so cold. I had to walk blocks to get to work because there wasn’t a bus that went that way. I remember that. We wore dresses. We wore no pants.
CW: Do you remember curling your hair with a curling iron? The one you pinched to open it up.
MEC: We had as a kid. We stuck it in the chimney of a kerosene lamp to get it hot. They both laugh. It was fun. I don’t know about fun, but it was different. Kids nowadays don’t know what we had to go through. I think we had a good time. I used to think boy we really have to work. After I got older I was glad that I knew how to work. I had to work to make a dollar. Once I got out of school and got a job I never took a penny from my parents ever.
CW: It gave you a feeling of accomplishment. Although I do think that the girls that wear their hair straight now are prettier that when we used to curl everything up.
MEC: What I don’t like to see is an older person like in their 60’s and 70’s wear their hair straight. It makes them look older. If they cut their hair short it will make you look ten years younger. when they leave their hair hang straight I don’t think it does a thing for them.
CW: I think you are right. What kinds of cosmetics did you have when you were young? They had Coty I know.
MEC: The Coty product is about the only thing I can remember. I can’t remember anything else. I never really did wear all this makeup. I wore a little bit of rouge, maybe a touch of powder. I never wore makeup.
CW: I don’t think girls did but the powder was pretty important. People are always talking about powdering their nose. Movie stars would stand and powder their face.
MEC: A lot of people wore pancake makeup. I never wore much makeup. Did you?
CW: I never did either.
MEC: I think my sister-in-law did but I never did.
MEC: I just put on a little rouge some lipstick, put a little powder on my nose and I was ready to go. I worked here at the bank for 12 years up in the bookkeeping department. It was at PNC. Then they sold the bank.
CW: Did you have a lot of trouble with people because they couldn’t get their account to balance.
MEC: Not too many. It was Community Bank, then it was Bank Ohio, then they consolidated Napoleon all the bookkeeping work and we had to go to Swanton if we wanted to work. It was Napoleon, Delta, Perrysburg. We all had to come over there and work in Swanton. We had to do this for 3 years. We drove to Swanton to work. Then this Bank Ohio they made a bad investment - their office was in Columbus - They made a bad investment - I think in Cincinnati it was. It was a piano or organ company - so they had to sell half of Bank Ohio up here..They closed the office there. So we didn’t have a job. If you wanted to work you had to go downtown I think it was National City, but anyway if you wanted a job you had to go to downtown Toledo and apply for a job. They were not just going to give you a job you had to apply for a job. I was 61 years old and Hildegarde Reiser - do you know her - there are two Hildegarde Reiser’s. This was Rich Imbrock’s mom. Anway she was two years younger. I was 61 and she had been there longer than I had. They left us retire. So I got retirement. Then my husband and I ran the golf course here in town for two years after that. He was a good golfer too. I don’t play golf. We ran that for two years and he didn’t want to do that anymore.
CW: Has it changed from when you were there?
MEC: I think she is still running it. I can’t remember her name.
CW: Her husband was a good golfer too. He golfed with my son.
MEC: He is not teaching anymore is he?
CW: No he has retired.
MEC: Bill ran it before us. He was the Suiperintendent. of schools. Bill Mossing he ran it for a long time and then he didn’t want to. We ran it for two years and then he went back for a little while. It was a lot of work - seven days a week. We didn’t make much pay. It was 8’oclock in the morning until 9 o’clock at night.
CW: You would just have to be there.
MEC: At night you had this form you had to fill out. We had to count all the money and fill out the form and take it down to deposit it late at night. That is a lot of hours. By the time you closed at 9 and you would still have your bookwork it would be like 11 o’clock. He would go in a 8 in the morning and I would come in at noon and work until 6 or so. Then he would finish it up. You didn’t have much time together. It just wasn’t much of a life. We would hire high school kids sometimes - they were so nice. To me they were making more money per hour than we were. The City told you what you had to pay them. There were a lot of hours and it was a job.
CW: It kept you busy.
MEC: He didn’t want to anymore so we stopped. I worked 25 years of my life. I didn’t work when we had children and I don’t regret it. We lived in Cincinnati for a while. My boys were all on baseball teams. The last year that we left down there the boys were on a football team. They were only in the 6th or 7th grade. They were really good at football. I took them to practice every night of the week. One boy and one girl. I didn’t work and I took them to practice every game. I don’t regret not working. We lived next to a family and the father was wrapped up in Boy Scouts. He never came to any of his boys games. I had to pick him up and I took him to practice and to the games. He never showed up until the last game of the season. I thought you are real great in Boy Scouts but you don’t pay any attention to your own. The mother had another little kid at home. I don’t know. We lived on the edge sort of out in the country near Cincinnati. If I didn’t take them they couldn’t get there.
CW: It is a good thing that you weren’t working.
MEC: I think all children should be involved in something. They loved it. They played baseball and they were very good at it. I was just very involved with them. I never regretted that I didn’t work at that time.
CW: Was your daughter involved too?
MEC: Oh yes. She was a good softball player. Yes they all three were. My granddaughter Erin she was in gymnastics. I went to all those games. She was in softball and I went to all those games. I went clear dowm to Cambridge one time. That is really hilly country down there. Have you ever been to Cambridge, Ohio? It is way down close to West Virginia.
CW: I don’t think so. you mean kinda south eastern Ohio.
MEC: I was really involved with my grandchildren too. Do you see that picture right over there. That is Cara Walker She was one of two Cara’s. One was the Cara McColley who was killed in that accident. You remember that. She was Denise McColley’s daughter.
CW: And she was with her. Was she killed too?
MEC: yes they both were. Cara McColley had just gotten her drivers license and she wasn’t supposed to be out. It was like two days or a day before Thanksgiving. She was only 15. Cara McColley was 16. They weren’t supposed to be out but they went anyway. There was light snow on the road and by Hamler, they were there but I don’t know what for. They were on a curve and they slid and a pickup was coming and hit them.
CW: That was sad.
MEC: Yes it was. She was at my house half of the time. My daughter had another daughter but Denise had just the one daughter.
CW: She is a lawyer isn’t she?
MEC: Yes she is a Judge.
END OF TAPE
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