Geri Haase Oral History
Mrs. Lawrence (Geraldine) Haase, Napoleon, Ohio 43545
Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, November 11, 2011
C: Would you state your name.
G: I’m Geraldine Haase.
C: And your husband was?
G: Lawrence Haase.
C: He was on city council for quite awhile wasn’t he?
G: Right, off and on for 30 years.
C: Geri, what would you like to talk about? Anything that would be interesting.
G: Well, I don’t know. I’ve lived in Napoleon, since 1937, was married that year, that’s when I moved to Napoleon. My husband worked for his uncle at that time.
C: Doing what?
G: Selling gasoline and fuel oil to farmers and gas stations. He worked for Rudy Baden that was his uncle. He took dad’s job. His dad died and so he took over after his dad died.
C: Where did you live then?
G: We lived on West Clinton Street in an apartment, John Hahn’s house on Clinton Street, across from Byrde Thielman, wasn’t Thielman at that time. Her husband’s parents lived there back then. The Thielmans lived there.
C: Did they move in with his parents right away?
G: No, the parents died and then they moved in. We lived there until 1939. We moved there in 1937. Then we lived on Yeager Street, in one of the cement block houses.
C: Oh did you?
G: Until 1954. Those houses were easy to heat and very cool in the summer. There was no air conditioning at that time. This was back in the 1950’s.
C: They look as though they’d be hot in there but they’re not, they’re cool.
G: Because of the cement block. It kept the heat out evidently.
C: And then Walt and Genevieve Hoy ived kind of catty cornered across from you didn’t they?
G: Coult be but I don’t remember that.
C: What street were you on?
G: Yeager St.
C: Yes, Yeager St. - that’s the one that has that big zig zag? Yeah, right by the zig zag is where they lived.
G: OK, and I lived just three doors off of Oakwood Ave, in the second cement block house.
C: When you got married - that’s when you moved to Napoleon?
C: Where did you live before that?
G: Holgate was my home. That’s where I was born and raised. And then we moved onto West Clinton St., lived in an apartment about halfway between Haley and - what’s the next street, about three houses down on a little short street that came out, but I can’t think of the name of it now.
C: You moved into town as a young bride.
G: As a young bride, right. We lived there until our second child was born. Then we moved to Yeager St. and lived in the block house. We lived there until 1954. Then we bought the house on Carey St.
C: Where is Carey St.?
G: Off of Scott St.
C: Oh yes.
G: Between Scott and Woodlawn. So that’s where we lived.
C: That”s where his business was, isn’t it? Didn’t he have big tanks of gasoline or something?
G: Right. We moved there and lived in that house quite a few years. We were close to the business which was nice. We had the office in the house, after we bought the business from his uncle.
C: So you did office work I bet.
G: I did.
C: How many years did you do that?
G: Well it didn’t become a business of our own until about 1954, I guess it was. Otherwise he just worked for his uncle. And then we purchased the business from him.
C: So he has a distributing business but then he also had that gas station, didn’t he, on the corner?
G: We rented that out, we had somebody, somebody always worked in that for us.
C: Oh I see. Did you keep track of that?
G: No, that was whoever ran the gas station - that was up to them.
C: That was a pretty good arrangement; you don’t have to do anything.
G: When we became a business it was more bookkeeping for me. I did that until 1997 like I said.
C: I remember Ray saying “boy you’ve got to keep that books and know exactly what you’re doing or you’re in trouble”.
G: That’s right. And if you didn’t pay your bills you were in real trouble.
C: Oh, I’ll bet. So when you started out it was in the tail end of the recession or the depression wasn’t it?
G: Probably. 1937 I didn’t think of it as depression years but I guess it was.
C: You weren’t depressed anyway?
G: No - that’s right I wasn’t depressed! (Both laugh). We had a good life.
G: We had a good business, everything went well for us. We were very blessed as far as that goes.
C: Did you like having that business?
G: Yes, I think so.
C: Yeah, that was good because you were raising children. How many children?
G: Four, a boy and three girls.
C: I have four boys and one girl. I’m so thankful for that one girl.
G: And my son lives in town and my three girls are on the west coast.
C: Is that right?
G: Two in California and one in the state of Washington.
C Do you ever get out there to see them?
G: I did but no more. I don’t travel anymore.
C: Oh you don’t ?
C: Well, it’s really not all that hard. I’m going to go in January to my daughter’s. She bought the ticket for me so she must trust me to travel.
G: I used to go out, usually once a year. Four years ago I said I’d like to come out for Thanksgiving and after that you can come home and visit me. I’m not making this trip anymore. I love to fly but getting to the plane, taking care of getting your stuff up in the overhead bins is just too much. I couldn’t do that. I guess I’m independent enough I didn’t like to always ask someone to help me. I needed help.
C: Yes, for that reason I don’t carry anything on the plane other than my purse, little things. But I think too it’s really a hard thing to do if you’ve got a heavy carry on. So I just check it. I don’t care how much they’re going to charge me for checking it . At least I don’t have to worry about it.
G: Like I said I love to fly and I miss going out there - they have beautiful weather out there.
C: Do they come to see you?
G: Oh yes. Usually once in the spring and once in the fall. Maybe not all of them because the youngest daughter is a school teacher. She’s principal of her school - a Lutheran school in California. Her responsibilities are out there, she can’t get away. She always comes home in the summer and at Christmas, which is good. She’s not married so she’s on her own.
C: She’s a little more free.
G: The oldest daughter has three children and they are all in that area, two live in California and one in Nevada. So they are close to Mom and Dad. The middle daughter doesn’t have any children, so she’s free to come and go as she wishes.
C: This is a change of subject, but I remember when people didn’t have radio, television, any of that stuff and on Sunday afternoon they used to sit around and tell stories and in our family, or my husband’s family, we would tell the same stories over and over. Maybe we’d heard it three times before but we’d tell it anyway and we’d all laugh because it seemed just as funny the tenth time we’d heard it as the first. I don’t know why that is but it was great entertainment.
G: I don’t remember what we did on Sunday afternoon. We took a nap for one thing. And then usually you’d have company come or else you went and visited on Sunday afternoon. That was your time to visit. People don’t visit anymore because of TV and sports and all that stuff.
C: They’ve got other things to entertain them now. That was pretty nice, usually it was relatives that would come or you would go to their house. If I remember right they didn’t call ahead of time. They just went.
G: Yes, they just came. I remember living at home, my Mom brought somebody home from church every Sunday I think. for Sunday dinner.
C: Is that right?
G: You’d wonder if there was going to be enough food but there always was enough. That’s the way they did it.
C: Some people used to set an empty place at their dining room table for Jesus.
G: Oh really - I never did that.
C: You never heard that - I guess that wasn’t the custom here, I was from Pennsylvania. We didn’t do it at my house but I know there were people that did that. Oh yeah, “don’t sit there - that’s saved”. (Both laugh)
G: No, I never did that.
C: Can you remember any of the stories that they used to tell years ago?
G: No, I really can’t. My Dad died when I was six days less than seven years old. So it was a different household.
C: That was during the Depression?
C: How did your Mother manage?
G: With the help of children because I was the youngest one in the family and my older sister helped a lot. That I remember.
C: Did they furnish her with money or did they have gardens?
G: We always had a garden when we lived on the farm, but we also had a garden after we moved to town. So that took care of that. One of my olders sisters still lived with us so she helped with the expenses of the house. She worked at the grain elevator in Holgate, started when she was 18 years old and retired from there. But that was a good time because she was fun to be around and the other sister - the oldest one got married, the second oldest was also married but she lived in Toledo. But they would come home on Sunday and my Mother would cook a complete dinner, with soup first, and then the mashed potatoes and meat - just like they were really special people. I always thought that was nice, that she treated her children like that.
C: Made them feel more welcome.
G: Right, that’s for sure.
C: How did your husband manage to succeed in his business?
G: I don’t know, everything just went well. We had good customers and they paid their bills which kept us in business.
C: You know I heard that the people in this area were very good about paying their bills.
G: Yes, they were.
C: There was one grocer who complained because he had 95 percent of his customers paying their bills but there was that other 5 percent that weren’t paying and that seemed terrible to him but it wasn’t.
G: Right. I don’t remember anybody ever hanging us with a bill. And we had one gentleman - because we took over the Defiance territory there that used to send us 25 cents to pay his last couple of collars. Because he was not going to leave any of that bill unpaid. That’s honesty for you!
C: How could he pay 25 cents - just put it in an envelope?
G: Right. I always thought it was very strange - it cost him more to send the quarter.
C: But for years it only cost three cents to mail a letter.
G: But it was later than that. I don’t remember what the postage was anymore but it almost cost him as much to mail the quarter as it did for him to send it. But he was very honest and paid the very last penny. That’s one of those things that you remember.
C: I remember being so shocked when they suddenly upped the price of postage - no longer three cents for a stamp. I don’t remember what it jumped to. Do you remember being surprised?
G: Oh yes, and things kept coming and going up and going up.
C: Of course I think the war - World War II - had a lot to do with it. That was when things started to move especially when the soldiers came home. They were getting married and they wanted a place for their families and all needed washers and dryers. You couldn’t buy a washer or dryer after World War II for quite awhile, you had to wait your turn.
G: Oh really, I didn’t remember that.
C: Yeah, I remember because I had two children by then, and I needed, one was a baby; I needed to be able to wash diapers and stuff. I had to do it by hand on an old scrub board on the back porch. I was so happy when I could finally get a washing machine.
G: I can imagine, yes. I always had a washing machine; I never had to do it by hand.
C: Did you have a dryer?
C: I didn’t either.
G: Not for a long time.
C: What did you do with your wet clothes?
G: Well, hung them outside when the weather was nice otherwise hung them in the house. We usually had a basement so I could hang them in the basement to dry.
C: Oh yeah, that was handy.
C: I know the house we were in was two stories with a basement and then an attic above that. When it was bad weather I had to carry each load of clothes up to the second floor and then up to the attic and hang them in the attic and I remember getting so tired of carrying them all that way. But you know it makes you strong if you have to do some of these things.
G: That’s right.
C: Have you ever noticed how the brooms and mops used to be so much heavier than they are now?
C: Yeah, and we didn’t think they were heavy. I think we were just stronger, maybe.
G: That could very well be. You had to be strong.
G: Nobody else was going to do the work for you, you had to do it yourself.
C: Yeah, that’s right you didn’t even think about it, having somebody do your work for you, you just did it.
C: Now with your children - do you remember was it any different raising your children from the way it is now?
G: Yeah, my children are 15 years between the oldest and the youngest.
C: Oh yeah.
G: So I had two of them in 20 months, I was thankful for that. And then it was 8 years until we had Karen and another 5 until we had Peggy, so it was almost like 2 generations, you know, not really, but it was different. When my oldest children were living they could walk all over town, no problem, they would have to be careful you know, the girls had friends on Woodlawn Ave. and we lived on Carey St. She would walk from our house to Carey St. and the girls from Woodlawn - we never thought anything of it, even at 11 o’clock at night. And you can’t do that today.
C: You can’t! And teenagers used to hitchhike.
C: And not a fear, not a fear in the world.
G: Right, but don’t try it today - I wouldn’t want to.
C: No I wouldn’t either. But how did we happen to move from that freedom to what it is now? I don’t know, do you think maybe drugs?
G: I think drugs and people out of work, and needing - they didn’t have food and stuff, so there were more robberies.
C: Oh yeah.
G: I think, I don’t know, but it’s a different life, that’s for sure, from what it was a long time ago.
C: Yeah, that’s for sure.
G: But I guess I’ve always enjoyed life. And it was great even having them at different ages. Even though my youngest daughter hardly knew her brother and sister because they were out of the house, in college, when she was growing up, you know.
C: How did you happen to have them that far apart, were you trying and?
G: No, it just happened.
C: It just happened. You know, we used to have to work to keep from getting pregnant.
C: Now they seem to just be overjoyed when they do become pregnant. It’s as though they accomplished something. But I don’t know whether the pill, the big pill that kept women from become prenant might have affected that.
G: I never worried about that.
C: No, we had just the opposite trouble. (Both laugh).
G: But I’ve always been thankful that I had the last two. I’d have missed a lot.
C: Yeah - by that time you had plenty of practice at being a Mama.
C: You were probably a pretty good one by that time.
G: I don’t know but I’ve always enjoyed my kids. Peggy comes home in the summer time - she’s not married - so she can come home and visit which is great. And she always comes home at Christmas
C: Does she stay quite a while when she comes?
G: She usually stays for a week when she comes, because she has her reponsibilities back there. And I never expected to be on the computer like I am today!
C: You’re using your computer?
C: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of unusual for older people.
G: I had a grandson who said “Grandma how would you like - I don’t know how many years ago this was - “how would you like a computer - I can get you one for $50.” I said “I don’t want a computer”. But I got a computer and I’m very glad that I have it now.
C: What do you use yours for?
G: Games and to keep in touch with my kids - the ones that are farther away - and relatives that are farther away.
C: Do you use email - or what’s that other one - Facebook?
G: Email - I’m not on Facebook. I’ve not started that. I don’t know what it is.
C: My kids insisted that I start once but I never use it cause, well I’m too dumb to figure it out - right? (Both laugh.) It’s been really hard.
G: Is it - I have no idea - I just email. But you know writing is getting to be a lost art as far as writing thank you notes and that kind of stuff. It’s too easy to go to the computer which is too bad. Because a hand-written note is still a nice thing to get.
C: Yeah, and people keep those lots of times, you can re-read them or tuck them away in a little keepsake box.
G: But I never expected at my age to have a computer, but I have. I probably have it filled up - 8 or 9 years already.
C: You know one thing I think of is I don’t have time to use it now very much. But I think well if I should fall and break a hip or something, having that entertainment would be very valuable.
G: Right. I enjoy the games on it. I play the two solitaires but I don’t do any other games. I guess I could get quite a few games on it but I don’t. I like to play jacks - once in a while I’ll get the jacks game out.
C: Oh you mean like they used to throw these little metal things?
C: And you do that without ever touching the jacks when you’ve got a computer?
G: Right - it’s a little difficult you have to be pretty speedy.
C: I know that at the Lutheran Assisted Living out there they have one of these things where they bowl. But they don’t really bowl, they just swing their arm and suddenly on the television there’s the ball going down the alley.
G: It’s an altogether different life today from what it was when we were first married that’s for sure.
C: Yeah, Did you have electricity when you were a young gal?
G: No, I did not.
C: The farms didn’t have it?
G: No not at that time. And then I remember when my Mother got her first electric iron.
C: Oh that would be a big event.
G: We still lived on the farm at that time. Then we moved into town and then we had the electricity in town. We had it in the country at that time. But we were without electricity when I was a little girl growing up. It was kerosene lamps in the country.
C: And I remember my sisters-in-law putting their curling irons into the lamp chimneys to heat up and then they’d curl their hair.
G: I don’t remember ever doing that. But I don’t know how they heated the curling irons anymore. I used to get a Marcel.
C: Oh yeah.
G: There were two crimpers on some and only one crimper on others. But that was a long time ago.
C: Yeah - the first permanent I got I looked like Poppysie. ( Both laugh )
C: I wish this thing had an alarm of some sort that would let me know when it’s getting close to the end because otherwise we’re talking away and it may not be recording. Cause when it gets half way through you have to stop and turn it over. But they’re simple little machines but they work. That’s all that matters.
G: I was very surprised when you called me.
C: You were?
G: Yes, what can I tell her?
C: Yeah, well look you’re just telling me lots of things. And it’s fun too. What else do you remember about the days when you didnn’t have electricity?
G: I don’t remember all that much about it - I was just too young.
C: Oh, I see.
G: Because my Dad died, like I said, before I was seven. We lived in the country before that. So it was kerosene lamps.
C: So then after he died you must have moved into town?
G: Right - we had one rooster that we brought into town. He was mean. I used to have to go and feed that, but other than that I never helped with any chores. I was too young.
C: Were you the baby of the familyt?
G: I was the baby, right.
C: So you got carried around.
C: They took care of you - everybody was taking care of you. Was it a big family?
G: I had four sisters and one brother. And the oldest sister had ten children.
C: Oh my goodness.
G: And then three sisters didn’t have any, my brother had one and I had the four. And the three sisters that didn’t have any children - and they were very sorry about that - but they spoiled my kids.
C: Oh yeah. So three of them didn’t have any, there weren’t a whole lot of grandchildren running around then.
G: No. And then my mother remarried.
C: Oh did she?
G: And married a man who had ten children. When we all got together that was quite a houseful.
G: But she married after I was married so I never lived with them.
C: So you don’t remember much about that.
G: No. I was just very happy for her that she didn’t have to be alone anymore.
C: Yeah that’s right.
G: She had a good life with her second husband.
C: You do things like that because you’re just very lonely.
G: Right. She was widowed quite a few years before she got married. I think it’s wonderful if somebody feels like that but it doesn’t always happen in everybody’s life.
C: Yeah that’s true.
G: As you well know.
C: I well know, I do well know. I didn’t wait very long but Ray and I were both just so lonesome. We’d sit and talk about Ed and Elthyl by the hour.
G: I bet you did.
C: It was good therapy for both of us. We just missed them so much we wanted to be able to talk about them.
G: Keep your memories alive.
G: Definitely. Now you had what - how many children did you say?
C: I had five - four boys and one girl. They help me when they come.
G: I have a granddaughter that comes and helps me which is very nice. Ken is in town and he helps.
C: Yeah, you’re lucky to have one in town.
G: Yes I am. I’m so lucky to have him here. He always comes on Saturday so we chat. If I have things for him to do then he does them for me. Which is good.
C: My kids come home and say “where’s your to list Mom?”
G: Right, that’s what we need don’t we? Because there’s too many things we can’t do anymore.
C: Yeah, that’s true. My fingers are not as strong as they used to be - things like opening jars.
G: Even pills bottles - I have trouble opening a pill bottle. But I have an opener for cans that I can put on the counter and turn those upside down and open that way. Otherwise I never would get them open. I have to wait until Ken comes and have him do it.
C: They have things that are like a V and you can put them underneath the cupboard.
G: That’s what I have.
C: Oh is it - then you slide that in there and turn it?
G: But I don’t have mine fastened. I never had anybody fasten it up. I just have it in the cupboard and I get it out and lay it on the counter top and use it that way.
C: You wouldn’t think it would hold still for you turning.
G: Oh yeah, I grab the handle on it.
C: Oh is there a handle?
G: Right. It works pretty well. You learn to do what you have to do.
C: Oh yeah, there’s no point in complaining.
C: It doesn’t help one bit.
G: No, and I am so blessed with my life, that I can still do what I can do - I’m very thankful for that.
C: Yeah, now I think your husband that reminds me of your husband, he was a very friendly fellow wasn’t he?
G: Yes, he was.
C: And I bet that was one reason he was in City Council so long. What did he tell you about the City Council?
G: Never very much.
C: They had to keep quiet?
G: I don’t know if they did but he just didn’t talk about it. That was City Council busines and I didn’t have to know about that.
C: Oh yeah, well probably that was something they thought they had to do, they wouldn’t want rumors going around.
G: No, he would say something about how the meetings went and this sort of stuff but whatever was discussed he didn’t come home and discuss that, he shouldn’t have and he didn’t.
C: See my first husband was on school board for many years and he didn’t discuss it, and that’s probably because he knew I couldn’t keep my mouth shut! ( Geri laughs) One time I asked him - “why is it that the teachers really need decent salaries but whenever the school board gets the money they buy buildings or put up buildings, instead of paying the teachers”. And he said “well there’s a good reason for that because when we agree to pay teachers more, that’s a commitment for far into the future and maybe we’ll have the money in the future and maybe we won’t, but we have to be very careful about spending money that way, we put it into a building and then people can see that the school board is working and doing something nice for the school”, but to me, that just doesn’t seem right. I think you need to hire the best teachers you can get.
C: That is what’s happening in the schools, that’s how the kids learn. If they don’t have a decent teacher they’re not going to learn.
G: That’s for sure, that’s for sure. I’ve always been very pleased with what my children have done as far as the teachers they’ve had and all their years at the Lutheran school and high school. I don’t know. I know they got a good education. I have no way to compare it to what they got.
C: You didn’t have any of them go to the public school?
G: No, they all went to the Lutheran school.
C: Was that kind of expensive for the parents?
G: Not really, it wasn’t way back then. What is now I have no ides, what the cost is. I’ve never asked what the cost is today, but it didn’t cost us that much, in fact, when my oldest ones went there wasn’t even any tuition it was just - it was paid by the church.
C: Oh the church paid for the expenses?
C: So they probably paid through the years - it was the same or maybe adding a little to it.
C: The parents had to pick up the rest as time went on? I never knew. And I imagine the Catholic school would be the same way.
G: I would assume so, yes. I have no way of knowing. I haven’t talked to anybody about it, the financing bit. But the school teachers are paid by the church.
C: You’d know they would be good Christians or they wouldn’t want to work there.
G: Right.. I always figured our children got a good education. And that’s what I’d heard from teachers in high school, that when the children came over from the Lutheran school they always had a good education to start with so that’s good.
C: I wonder if maybe the discipline was better.
G: I have no idea.
C: Well it was something you couldn’t measure very well anyway.
G: No and I’m glad we still have the school.
C: Oh yeah, I think that makes the public school more responsible.
G: They’d have to have bigger public schools if they didn’t have the Catholic and Lutheran schools in town.
C: Yeah and if the parochial schools are setting a standard then the public schools have to set a standard also, to keep up with them. Did they have sports in the Lutheran school?
G: Oh yes they did, not like they have today. I don’t remember that my son ever played football. I think they just played football on a playground, because they didn’t have football teams and that sort of thing like they do today or basketball teams. Maybe they did by the time Peggy was in school, the youngest one, but not when Ken was there.
C: Now what did you do in recess when you were a girl?
G: Played outside if the weather was nice.
C: I imagine your Mother said the same as my Mother used to say - oh we’d start to fight and she’d say “oh go outside and play”. And we’d go outside and say “play, what are we going to play outside?” But within five minutes we’d gotten ourselves into something. But is that what happened to you when you were a girl?
G: Yes I went out at recess and found something to do. We played hop scotch, or whatever there was to do. Maybe somebody had a ball and we could play ball. But that didn’t always happen.
C: Did you have a jump rope?
G: Not usually. I don’t know if we weren’t allowed to have a jump rope in school or what.
C: You must have had a piece of chalk that you could mark the sidewalk for hop scotch.
G: Right. That was a nice game.
C: Did you have jacks that you could play with?
G: Oh yes. That was one of my main things. I loved to play jacks. I play it on the computer every now and then.
C: I didn’t like that because you had to be real fast.
G: Oh yeah.
C: And I wasn’t fast.
G: It’s hard to play on the cement.
C: Oh yeah.
G: Kind of hard on the hands but we used to try it anyway.
C: Yeah, did you play tag?
G: Oh yeah, lots of times.
C: And hide and seek?
G: Hide and seek.
C: Did you Annie Over?
G: Oh yeah, with the kids at home. I don’t remember ever playing that at school.
C: Now how did they play Annie Over? I was trying to think the other day. I couldn’t think of what were the rules?
G: I don’t know of any rules. I never heard of any rules - just you had to get the ball and you were throwing over the roof to the other side.
C: And they had to catch it?
G: They had to catch it, right, before it hit the ground.
C: Before it hit the ground?
G: And they’d have to throw it back to you.
C: And what would they say - come over, come over, Annie over?
C: I don’t know - what was it? Is that what they used to say - there was kind of a little ditty.
G: It had something to do with Andy I Over - but I don’t remember what the ditty was.
C: We’re just too old - we don’t remember
G: And I don’t know - it must have been Auntie I Over, not Andy.
C: Oh Auntie but it sounded like Andy.
G: And then you’d throw it to the other side.
C: You’d say that when you threw it - before you threw it?
G: So that they knew it was coming.
C: Did you have any hills to slide down?
G: No, cause I lived in Holgate and there were no hills there it was flat.
C: And how did you get to school?
G: I walked because I lived in town so I had maybe 3-4 blocks to walk.
C: So you didn’t have far to go?
G: No I didn’t have far to go?
C: I know a lot of kids in the country had to walk all the way.
C: (transcriber’s note: can’t understand rest of tape, following is side B)
C: Did you ever have any jobs which you did to earn money?
G: No, well not until I got into high school. Then I used to work for a lady who owned a hat shop in Holgate. I would run errands for her. And we did have a five and ten store in Holgate so I worked there as a clerk.
C: Is that right? Oh those five and ten cent stores were fun, they were very nice, they had all kinds of things and they weren’t very expensive.
G: No and I just remember one customer that always came in and bought candy “CONES” at Halloween time, the poor kid couldn’t help it that was the way he talked, but that’s just one of those things that sticks in your mind.
C: Candy corn has been around forever.
G: A long time.
C: I wonder if that’s one of the candies they made in Bryan.
G: I have no idea where it came from, no idea. It was fun to work there. I could help myself to the candy, not too much, but I was allowed to eat some of the candy.
C: That’s good cause they probably didn’t pay you much salary.
G: I think twenty-five cents an hour is what I got.
C: Is that right?
G: When I first started to work. And that was pretty good. I was glad to get 25 cents.
C: Yeah, you had a little money in your hand then.
G: Yeah, you could go to the movies. And we did have a movie house in Holgate.
C: Yeah, now Ed Peper told me that the movie house was right by the railroad track and when the train came they had to stop the movie cause the train made so much noise.
G: Right, you couldn’t hear what was going on. I just remember the high school principal, or superintendent that we had at that time was a real gem. He was the nicest old man and he was there for a good many years. I remember one time I walked into school one morning and he called me Geri, and then he said, “oh, I’m sorry Geraldine”. Cause everybody else called me Geri but he always called me Geraldine.
C: So he probably felt he had to call each student by their correct name.
G: Yes. He was superintendent and then he became superintendent of the Henry County school - Mr. Brandon. That’s been a long time of ago.
C: Yeah - and that position - superintendent of the Henry County schools - has sure changed over the years it seems to me it wasn’t so important.
G: No, it doesn’t seem to have been lately.
C: You don’t hear anything about it.
G: I don’t know if they even have a superintendent of the Henry County schools anymore.
C: Maybe not.
G: Times do change.
C: Did you have a basketball team in Holgate?
C: So you must have had a gym with a basketball court.
G: Right, we did in the latter years when I was in high school. And we also had girls basketball at that time.
G: But played half court.
C: What is that?
G: You only played half court - you didn’t cross the centerline of the court - you couldn’t go from end to end. You could throw the ball over the center, but you couldn’t put your foot across the center line.
C: Then you’d be penalized if you did.
C: I wonder why they did that - so they didn’t have to run so much?
G: I think so. I don’t have any idea, but that’s the way - and I don’t know if it was that way - I think it was that way for men too - for boys. I don’t remember that but it was for girls - only half court.
C: So they were only using half of the gym?
G: No you used the whole court but so many stayed on one side of the court and so many on the other side.
C: Oh I see.
G: You didn’t cross that centerline - you tossed it over to the people on the other court - the other half of the court.
C: So you had half of one team on this side of the gym and the other half on the other side.
C: Same way with the opposing team huh?
G: It was different.
C: Yeah - did you have a coach?
G: Yes we did.
C: Was it a woman or a man?
G: I don’t even remember. It probably was a man, but I don’t remember that for sure. But it was different playing basketball in those day.
G: I don’t remember playing very long. Whether it just didn’t work out to have the girls play basketball I don’t know.
C: They had different rules too didn’t they?
G: A lot different rules.
C: I remember the first time I hit a ball I was so happy and I ran to first base and they said “you’re out”. And I said “why I didn’t see anyone catch the ball”. Well they said “you threw the bat, you’re not supposed to throw that bat”.
G: My goodness.
C: I was just intent on getting to first base.
G: I didn’t know that.
C: Course that’s not basketball that’s baseball. Did the have girls’ baseball?
C: Oh softball I bet. Did the girls play softball?
G: No, not when I was in school, they didn’t have any girls, no I don’ think they even had boys softball at that time.
C: But they did have it seems to me, didn’t they have ball games going on, kind of they’ just make up the team, and play ball with this other team, pretty casual.
C: Not organized at all.
G: I believe you used to play like Hamer and Malinta - they had high schools at that time themselves.
C: Oh yeah.
G: Played those teams.
C: So then you had - did you girls go and sit on the bleachers to watch them?
G: Yes and there was girls basketball also, we went from school to school but that was a long time ago, back in the what - middle 30’s?
C: Oh yeah.
G: 1935, 36 and 37 - that’s a long time ago.
C: Yeah what subjects did they have when you were going to school?
G: Everything, except I think the sciences. We had a general science and I took Latin in school and I think everything they have today - algebra, geometry, all those. I was not going to take geometry then my friend said “you got to take geometry” so I took it, I don’t know what I needed it for but I took it. I have always liked numbers so it was no big deal. It was fun. But we had an algebra and geometry teacher who could not explain how you did a problem so if you had the problem you had to explain it to other people how you got it done.
G: He knew the rules and everything but for him to explain it, it was just difficult for some reason or other, unless he didn’t want to do it and just wanted his students to do it.
C: I bet he wanted his students to do it so he would know they understood it.
G: Yes. Strange what you remember about things like that.
C: One thing I remember - I remember taking French in high school. I took it for two years because we had a language requirement. Well when I got to college then, I thought, well I’ve had two years of French, I’m just going to go on with my French. So we’re in this class and I didn’t understand a word they they were saying. It was all in French and I thought well why didn’t I pay more attention in high school? Well it was becase I sat behind my best friend and we had a kind of a lenient teacher and we could talk. We didn’t pay much attention to that French. We were always talking to each other, so I didn’t learn.
G: I took Latin and now they don’t even teach Latin - do they in the high school?
C: I don’t believe so. I haven’t heard of it for a long time.
G: And I wonder whey they taught Latin way back then, just because so many of our English words are derived from that?
C: Probably, yeah it was the base of a lot of languages. But I wonder about the - oh a blank spot there, let me think - I wonder about the languages that they - oh I know - not the language - Home Ec. Did they have Home Ec in those days?
G: Yes, they did but I didn’t take it.
C: So it was an elective?
G: It was an elective.
C: We had it in junior high, we had language, or Home Ec - cooking and sewing. Well I wanted to learn cooking but oh no, you can’t do that until you do sewing first. So we learned sewing but they always did - all year it seemed - maybe it was one semester I don’t know. We had to make a headband to hold our hair so none of the hairs got into the cooking.
C: And that year then - I can still see it - it had to be just perfect. (Both laugh.) I just hated that! I wanted to cook but I couldn’t learn that until I’d gotten through this sewing thing. I guess I finally got it done but it was really a chore.
G: Well I took 4-H.
C: 4-H - I’ve always wished that we’d had that when I was a girl.
G: I think maybe one or two years, I don’t remember how long I was in it.
C: But I think that has done so much good over the years.
G: I think so, I think so. And I got my girls into it cause back when they were growing up it wasn’t easy for a girl to get into 4-H, it was more or less for boys it seemed like.
C: Oh is that right?
G: Yeah, and then they finally decided, I guess, there should be something for the girls too. And when that started, I have no idea.
C: What did you do in 4-H?
G: I think I made an apron was the first thing I ever made - just was taught how to sew, of course. The embroidery I learned at home from my mom. Other than that I didn’t learn any other sewing.
C: Did you have any animals that you raised for 4-H?
G: No because I was off of the farm by the time I was in 4-H.
C: From seven or eight on, you wouldn’t have even been in 4-H until you were in town a few years.
G: Right, nope. It was different learning all that stuff. Now I’m glad I know how to embroider because I never learned to knit, and I do enjoy it, that is a good past time.
G: Along with reading books.
C: Yeah, I think we’re so fortunate to have our library.
G: That’s for sure.
C: And they’ve got branches now in Florida and Holgate - don’t they - still and probably Deshler, I know they have one in Deshler - it’s not a branch, they have their own.
G: I think Holgate has their own.
C: Do they?
G: I’m not sure of that.
C: I believe they do because Holgate used to have records they taped, like this and they kept them for years but tapes like that deteriorate over the years and I don’t know whether they still have those or not but if they don’t it’s too bad because they had valuable history on those tapes.
C: Maybe they have recorded them in some other way now and I don’t know. I can remember someone saying they wish they’d been recorded.
G: Do you think the tapes today are like that?
C: Oh yeah. That’s why we have to get these typed.
G: I see.
C: We can’t hold them for ten years and then type them. We wouldn’t be able to hear them probably. Whoever is typing is doing a valuable service.
G: That’s for sure.
C: We had high school girls who had said they would do it but we can’t rely on them, although we did have one or two - the good ones - they were great, they said they were going to get that done on such and such a date and they’d do it - hand it in. Most of them - well that’s not important. ( Laughs). Since it is all volunteers, you can’t issue any orders.
G: Right, that’s for sure. This is the town I was never going to live in.
C: Is that right, tell me about it.
G: Because we always did all of our business in Defiance.
C: Oh yeah, Holgate was closer to Defiance.
G: No we lived south of Holgate when I was on the farm and we had relatives in Defiance. Maybe that’s why we went that way or what I don’t know. Of course there were a few more stores there than they had in Napoleon. They had Spenglers but they didn’t always have clothing stores at that time. We just went to Defiance a lot more than we ever came to Napoleon. But I was never going to live in Napoleonv- and I’ve lived here since 1937! (Both laugh) You should never say never should you.
C: Yeah. How did you happen to meet your husband?
G: Through one of his cousins. Another friend and I were walking around the streets of Holgate one Sunday night and this car pulled up beside us and this guy said “my cousin doesn’t have a date, he’s a nice guy, would you like to go with him?” I said “no I can’t leave my friend standing here on the street by herself”. My friend said “GO”. So I went. And then I didn’t see him for a long time and then another relative of his told me that he wanted to get in touch with me, so we did.
C: I bet he was kind of shy.
G: He was.
C: If other people - other people were interceding for him.
G: And he lost both of his parents about that time.
C: Oh how did that happen?
G: The mother died in childbirth and then his dad died like nine months later, from the effects of the first World War, because he was gassed in the war.
C: That was terrible that gas.
G: He didn’t have any home life but he was 18 at that time so he was on his own.
C: Oh my, so he was just sort of left alone.
G: Right, He took over the business from his dad, with Rudy Baden. He’d been with his dad before and helped him so he knew what the work was.
C: Now is that the business that your husband had.
G: Right, that’s the business that we bought. And we owned the business from 1954 to 1987, then we sold it.
C: Did that keep him tied down a lot?
G: Yes, because he wouldn’t take off any time. He couldn’t leave the business, it couldn’t run without him. (Laughs). So he thought.
C: And you knew better.
G: Right, but I couldn’t convince him of that.
C: No, they have their own ideas.
G: Yes, but we had a good life, had four great kids and that means a lot.
C: Are they pretty cheerful, happy the way you are - you’re kind of a happy person.
G: I think so, I think so yup.
C: Sometimes they pick up habits from one parent and not the other - and they turn out kind of surprising.
G: I think all of my kids are pretty much outgoing. Ken might be the least outgoing, but I think he’s come out of that a lot in later years. I think he used to be more - just not as outgoing as he is today.
C: Probably just gained a little self confidence through the years.
G: I think so, I think so. The girls all seemed to be able to handle themselves very well. Pat was a schoolteacher, married a minister and Karen was in the service for 23 years, in the Army, and ended up a Lt. Colonel.
C: Is that right?
G: So she was in the service for 23 years. Ken served 3 years in the Navy and the oldest daughter and youngest daughter were both schoolteachers in the parochial Lutheran schools.
C: Oh in the Lutheran schools.
G: And the youngest daughter is principal of her school out in California and is quite the missionary. She’s been to Kied twice?
C: Where’s that?
G: Kied? K I E D, I can’t tell you what country it’s in.
C: What continent?
G: And now she’s going to Africa (to Ghana) this January on a mission trip.
C: So she has interesting stories to tell about those countries.
G: Yes she does, yes she does.
C: Doesn’t that make you feel proud that you can see all the things your chidren and grandchildren are accomplishing?
C: How are we coming her? Geri, can you tell me something about your church activities?
G: When they decided to move out where they are now.
C: On Glenwood Ave.?
G: On Glenwood Ave. , of course there was a lot of discussion because the people who lived close to church didn’t want to move the church away from there but we’d outgrown the church. We needed a bigger church and so my husband was very active and I got involved somewhat and Herm Wesche was getting things organized and I set up a lot of cottage meetings where people would have 12 to15 people in their home to discuss all this and make people aware of what was going on, because there was a lot of dissension about moving that church off that site. All these people who lived close by wouldn’t be able to walk to church anymore.
C: Oh yeah.
G: But since we’d outgrown the church we had to do something so it was very interesting and it was a lot of hard work. But it was well worth the effort.
C: Yes, it’s a beautiful church.
G: It’s a beautiful church out there now.
C: I remember Jude Heitman saying “I can build a shed for my farm machinery for X number of dollars. Now why do they need so much money for a church?”
C: And he really was irate about it, but there’s no comparison between the two buildings.
G: No, a lot goes into a church that doesn’t go into a house.
C: Did you have trouble getting decisions as to how the church should be built, what design and so forth?
G: Larry was on the building committee. They went around and looked at a lot of different churches, around different parts of the country, until they finally came up with a plan of how they wanted it build. The church means a lot to me because of this, of the commitment that we had made in the very beginning - to help with getting word out to the congregation and so, I’m sure there is always dissension, when you want to move some place. And we’d even talked about building a mission church on the south side of Napoeon, but that idea didn’t go over, they decided to build a new church. It’s one of those things - that we really didn’t need another Lutheran church on the south side. But that was just put by the wayside and decided to go with the church out there.
C: Yeah, you know - the same thing with grocery stores on the south side. At one time they thought they can’t possible have the south side without a grocery store, but it happened, and now they have one little one. They manage, it seems to work out anyway.
G: Fruchey’s had a grocery store for a long time on the south side.
C: Where at - oh that was on old Route 6 wasn’t it?
G: Where the bank was.
C: Oh that’s where it was?
C: On 108.
G: That’s been a long time ago.
C: Yeah, before my memory.
G: So the church got built and now we have about 2800 members in the church out there.
C: That’s a big membership.
G: It is. We’ve lost a few and they’ve taken some off the rolls that have not been there for how many years. You have to do that every once in a while.
C: That happens in every church I think. I’ve often wondered about that house on the corner of Glenwood and Woodlawn, it belongs to the church?
G: It does now. We purchased it from the lady that owned it when she died. She was a member of the church. And so they bought it. Right now it’s being used as a youth building.
C: Yeah, and I was wondering do they - what do they do - have parties or something?
G: Right, they have their youth meetings in there and hopefully some day we’ll have a new building for them. But the money has to be there first before we can.
G: Before we can dismantle it and build a new building.
C: Oh yeah. Are there very many kids in your youth group?
G: I have no idea, you know, how many there are as far as in the confirmation classes, I”m sure there are a lot of them in high school but I have no idea what number that would be. I have no real way of knowing because I have no grandchildren or great grandchildren in that age group any more.
C: Yeah, well that’s interesting but church activities made you bond with the church.
G: That’s for sure.
C: Well I think this is about as far as I’m going to go. I do appreciate your sharing this. Thank you.
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