August H. ("Bud") Honeck Oral History

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, June 29, 2004

C: Sir, will you give us your name?

B: August H. Honeck, better known as Bud.

C: And we are in Malinta, aren't we?

B: Well, we're in a room close to Malinta. I'm out here in Monroe Township. I've lived in this place since the early 50's, my wife and I, and have enjoyed it very much. I went to school in the old Malinta system and when I was in the seventh grade, the Malinta and Grelton school systems were combined. And then I was in the Malinta-Grelton system. In high school days it was known as the Malinta-Grelton system.

C: Was that different from the school today, when you were in school?

B: Well, not being acquainted and not having had any sons, the wife and I had two sons, and when the sons were in school, yes, I think there was some difference. Our training was especially in the old "Three R's" and in opposition to the way people can read today, I think I learned to read much better than most of our young people do today.

C: I think that's probably true. I know my first husband, Ed Winzeler, went to school in a one room schoolhouse. He said he really learned everything. He said he would be listening to see what the older kids were learning. And by the time he got there, he knew it already.

B: Yes, you hear a lot of people talk about the old one room schools. My one sister taught in the one room school at Elery for several years and yes, it's true, the younger kids learned much from the older ones. Although I never had that experience the year I was in the Malinta system.

C: I'll bet in your Malinta system you had still a lot of reading out loud, didn't you?

B: Yes.

C: And then training in writing, too, I get good penmanship.

B: Oh...we had the old writing sets, as they were called.

C: What were those like?

B: Well, the letters were on a strip at the top and the pupil would have to write and try to make the letters as nicely as they were formed and made on the example sheet and although in days that are gone since that time, my writing isn't as good as it was at one time, but I guess it's still legible. I can write to people and they know what I'm talking about.

C: Yes, my grandmother and mother both, and my father had beautiful handwriting, and but I went to school in the city and they didn't stress that at all. I went to college because we had to write so fast.

B: Yes, well, I suppose my college experience too cut down on the legibility of my writing.

C: Where did you go to college?

B: I went a year to Bowling Green and then transferred to Ohio State and worked out a degree in the College of Agriculture with a major in crops and soil. Dad had quite a bit of acreage and after college days, I came back to the farm. I've been on the farm ever since. I lived four years in the service in World War II.

C: That probably enabled you to learn some new ideas for farming to help your dad.

B: Well, Dad was in the drain tile business. He was not a farmer, and he admitted it. But he knew what he wanted as far as the farming was done, and that's the way it went.

C: So did you help with the drain tile business, or did you farm the land.

B: I worked in the drain tile business in the summertime because he had a hired man to do the farming and in order not to get in the hired man's way, I went up to the tile mill and did what I could up there.

C: It's interesting, those tiles were made out of clay and then they had to bake them.

B: Right.

C: Did you have one of those beehive buildings to bake them in?

B: Yes, the kiln, as they were called, and they were west of the tile machine and that's where the tile was formed. They were pressed out and then they went over a kettle cable and cut the tile into one foot lengths. Dad made tile from three and a half inch in diameter up to 10 inch.

C: What use would they have for those different sizes?

B: Well, the three and a half, but mostly four inch, were used in the regular farm drainage, and the larger tiles were used for outlet tiles.

C: Outlet tiles?

B: There would be a ten acre field, it would be ditched in those days about every fifty feet and those four inch tiles would drain into the eight inch tile or the ten inch and that would carry the water away.

C: When you have that junction of the two tiles, one perpendicular to the other, how did water drop from one into the other?

B: Well, Dad would paste them on with mud, a four inch connection onto the side of the eight inch tile and it just made a perfect fit and they worked very well. There are many thousands of feet of his drain tile here in Henry County, especially in Henry County.

C: When it would be coming up perpendicular, it would join at the end of the bigger tile and then he would use mud to paste it?

B: Yes, he used to use regular mud, and the connection tiles were burned in the kilns just like the rest of them.

C: So those were made ahead of time; all they had to do was lay them down in the field when they got ready for that joining.

B: Yes. It's interesting, and my grandfather went into the tile business back in the 1890's, I don't know the exact year and Dad was in the drain tile business until brother Jim took it over. I don't know when brother Jim took it over, but then brother Jim operated the tile business for quite a few years.

C: Is that James Honeck?

B: That's right.

C: I didn't know that.

B: I had the two brothers, Herb and Jim and sisters Virginia and Christine.

C: And they all lived in the Malinta area?

B: Oh yes. The girls went to Bowling Green. Virginia worked out a degree in Elementary Education and as far as I know, she only taught the first grade for many years, both in Grelton and the Malinta-Grelton system. Sister Christine taught school a few years, she was a musician and decided she wanted to further her education in music. She did that and I don't know where she taught music, at the college level, and finished up in Ottawa, Illinois in their public school system.

C: Did she ever come back to Malinta?

B: After she retired.

C: Did your father ditch by hand when he first started working with the tile?

B: Dad never did any of the installation of the drain tile and yes, in those days, there were many feet of tile that were dug in by hand.

C: Quite a difference from the way now; it's pretty simple.

B: Yes, it is. It's a simple process today with the tile machines they have. It used to be several days for a man to dig in 80 rods, but in this day and age I suppose they can put in four to six .of these rods in a day. It's come along in the farming business just like our tractors replaced the old horse power, the mechanical ditching machine replaced the old spade.

C: It certainly made life easier for the farmers.

B: Yes.

C: All farming was hard work. After you had your education, did you marry before you went into World War II?

B: No, I graduated from Ohio State. In the spring of 1940, the order came out that all male students would register for the draft. Of course, it included me, so I registered for the draft. I farmed one year and in April 1942 went into the service.

C: I thought farmers were exempt from the service, we probably needed them badly enough.

B: Well, my brother Herb was about five years younger than I, and he didn't go on to college, and he took over my place on the farm. It worked out fine.

C: Where did you go when you were drafted?

B: I was drafted and was an enlisted man for about nine months. I got in and went to armament school in Denver, Colorado, and there I learned the maintenance of fifty and thirty caliber machine guns. I volunteered. We had the choice to volunteer what branch of service. I chose the Air Corps and joined the Air Corps. After I got out of armament school went to Topeka, Kansas. There was a B 17 and a B24 training base there and there I finished up the nine months of enlisted, and for what reason I don't know to this day, fell out of the good graces of the master sergeant so I volunteered for flying and the flights were aviation cadets. I passed the physical and mental requirements and went to the Army Air Corp's flying school. The three different bases where I learned to fly were at Uvalde, Texas, in southern Texas. The second phase of training they called basic training, was at San Antonio, Texas and the third phase of training I went into multi-engine airplanes, two engines or more at Lubbock, Texas.

C: That was a big base at Lubbock, wasn't it?

B: No, at that time there were four training squadrons on that field, there were a lot of cadets. At that time the Army needed pilots and while I was in preparation at St. Antonio, Texas, there were 10,000 cadets on the base. Between the 10,000 cadets there would be so many pilots, so many navigators, and so many bombardiers. I applied for pilot training and went through pilot's training. Upon graduation from flying school I went to Sellman Field in Alabama for two weeks of navigation training and from Sellman Field I went to Pensacola, Florida to get training in Catalina seaplanes. It was on a Navy base and we went through the third phase of naval aviation.

C: Were those the planes that would land on the deck of a ship?

B: No, we could land on water or on the runway. I'll get you a picture.

C: Those are pretty big airplanes.

B: Yes, they are. Of course they were amphibious, could land on water or on the runway. It had a 104 foot wing span. They were 63 feet long and the tail stood up 20 feet above the runway when they were on land.

C: 63 feet long...that's two thirds of a football field, isn't it?

B: It was a big airplane.

C: So then did you start flying those?

B: Oh, yes, we trained in them and then I was assigned to a brand new outfit that the Air Corps, well, they they didn't think they did, but they needed it because at that time we were real active in the war in the Pacific and the Pacific ocean is a lot of water. After my training in the "Catalina" in this country I was assigned to the Third Emergency Rescue Squadron and sent to the Pacific. There we would follow the bomber and fighter strikes, as they were called, along the coast, well, I've flown the China coast all the way from what is now South Vietnam up to the Japanese islands.

C: Where was your base, then?

B: The base was on the island of Mindoro in the Phillipines and at Mindoro, Luzon. We were based about 50 miles north of Manila.

C: Every young fellow I knew in World War II wanted to be what they called a "flyboy", a pilot. My husband wanted to be a pilot, but he couldn't because he couldn't pass the

test. He passed every one except the last one. His reaction time was too slow. Those were the glamour boys.

B: That's what we were kind of considered, we didn't have to go out and fight in the countries, but we flew in dangerous territory, nevertheless, and as I say, it was across water flying. The flying "Catalina" was brought into the Army Air Corps to attempt to retrieve any pilots that had trouble, flying over 400 miles of water to get to their targets. If they were hit by enemy fire and had to go down, we were supposed to go down and pick them up from the water.

C: Were you able to do that?

B: Yes.

C: Did they have a flotation device so they would be floating after their plane went down?

B: Yes, they had a life vest, inflated. When they hit the water, they would inflate that, and it would keep them above the water.

C: Would they radio your base or your plane or what?

B: Usually the fighters and the light bombers probably are not acquainted with the description of the fighters and bombers. If you ran into any difficulty and had to go down, it was our job to attempt to rescue them out of the water and that we did.

C: Did you follow the fighters when they were going in on these raids?

B: We would go to a certain rendezvous point. They knew where we were and we knew where they were going to do their bombing or strafing, whatever their mission was. If they had trouble, and all planes were radio-equipped, they could call us and tell us they were in trouble and that they were at such and such a place and they would try to head for our rendezvous point. We would head for where they said they had trouble.

C: But I'll bet it was hard to find. The Pacific is a big ocean.

B: It's a big ocean and one man in a life vest is pretty difficult to see.

C: I'll bet.

B: We flew low so we could see them and they too were equipped, the pilots of the combat planes were equipped with a purple color, it doesn't sound like it would show up well on the surface of the water, but it did, and they would let that purple color go out and try to mark where they were.

C: It would probably surround them with this color on the surface of the water.

B: Yes, so it did.

C: Would it stay there, then or?

B: It would stay. If they could see us or hear us, they could see us because it's a pretty good sized plane and they would let that dye go out on the water when they supposed we were close enough to see them. Some of them had flare pistols. They could actually shoot a flare up into the air and we could spot them that way.

C: It would be hard to keep those things dry enough to make them work, I would think.

B: Yes, but they would work.

C: Was this after they were through fighting in Europe?

B: No, of course Europe was not a popular place, but that is where most of the troops were sent and that's where most of the airplanes were sent, to Europe. You've probably heard of the thousand plane raids over Germany, etc. We didn't have that number of planes out in the Pacific, they seemed to go to Europe to defeat the Germans over there.

C: Did you have any kamikaze pilots coming after you?

B: The air bases, yes, we did have, the so-called kamikaze pilots would come in and sneak in at a low altitude, and some of them would actually crash their plane onto the airfields that were occupied by the United States Forces and others would drop bombs. Yes.

C: Lenhart Lange; I don't know if you know him or not, but he was on a ship. He was way up high, and his job was to spot the kamikaze pilots coming in and then tell them to fire. He had to wait until they were practically there; sometimes he said he could just see the pilot. That was really hard, and then he'd have to say "fire" and they would destroy the plane. But he said it was "kill or be killed." One did hit a ship. It was not easy.

B: No, it wasn't. Of course toward the end of the war, toward the end of hostilities in Europe, we started getting many more airplanes into the Pacific. Didn't need them in Europe any more.

C: Did you get to go home on leave at all?

B: No, when I was overseas, I was over a full year.

C: Were you still in when Japan gave up at the end of the war?

B: Yes, I saw the Japanese airplane that was sent from Tokyo to Manila, to Clark Field, to sign the temporary end of hostilities. That was in July sometime. Then in the first part of September one of our Navy ships went into Tokyo and it was officially signed then, the end of hostilities.

C: I know the war wasn't over until about August or September.

B: I flew my last, I call them "combat missions" because we were following the combat airplanes, the ones that were carrying the bombs, I flew my last mission in the first part of July in 1945.

C: Such thorough training for the pilots, I think, that it took a long time to get a pilot ready.

B: You mean the U. S. pilots, yes, we had three sessions of nine weeks each, so that was really twenty-seven weeks that we trained as pilots.

C: Then you had basic training before you started on that.

B: Well, I was a little older at the time, I had gone through my college training, and most of the pilots coming in were just kids out of high school. There I was, an old man of about twenty-four... an old man, they called me "Old Gus".


C: You know Norm DeTray went in and was accepted as a pilot. He was sent to one field and another and he never did get to fly combat because the war was over.

B: That probably happened to a lot of people, and I was in when they needed pilots, and as soon as we were trained, we were sent overseas.

C: How did you feel about that, were you excited or kind of scared or what?

B: It's hard to describe. I don't know, sometimes some of the missions, yes, we were kind of skeptical of what we were going to run into and on other missions it was just like getting up and flying to a certain point and waiting for the bombers and fighters to make their strikes, and we came back. No enemy activity or anything.

C: You never knew which it was going to be when you started out. How about the Japanese fighter planes? Did those planes strafe you or anything?

B: To the best of my knowledge, I was never fired upon by a Japanese plane. We might have been exposed to some ground fire, at least, we were never hit.

C: If they had hit one of those big fellows, they would probably have gone down.

B: Yes, it's probably where they would be hit, if a bullet would hit a control of some sort, and you had no control of the plane, that was bad. If it hit the engine and the engine quit on you, you were in trouble.

C: What did you wear, a parachute, when you went out on these missions?

B: We flew so low, being the possibility of landing on the water, we flew so low we never had parachutes.

C: Did you have life jackets?

B: Oh, yes, we had lifesaving equipment, we had life vests and we had life rafts, and life rafts would keep about eight men afloat. For instance, if it was a B 17 or a B24, which were heavy bombers, they carried a crew of nine and ten people. If they were in trouble and the water was too rough and we could not land, we would drop them a couple of eight-man life rafts.

C: And they would self-inflate, I suppose?

B: No, they had to be inflated by the person who was in the water, but they were very easily inflated. All they had to do was pull a cord and open the valve, and a compressed air container would inflate the life raft.

C: Did you ever have pilots that were injured that you had to rescue?

B: Yes.

C: How could you do that, you must have had to get out of the plane and go.

B: We had little life rafts along with the plane, we could get out if the pilot was in the water, we could retrieve them and bring them in. Also, on these combat missions, besides out regular crew, we carried a surgical technician as he was called. He had been trained in first aid.

C: He could do that on board your plane once you got him in there.

B: Yes.

C: Wasn't it hard to get them from the water up into your plane?

B: No, actually, right here is what we called the blister. That was a Plexiglas door that would open and from this opening in the airplane there was a ladder that went down to the water.

C: I can see that, there is a ladder here.

B: Yes, there is. My sight isn't as good as it was at one time. There was a ladder there, and they could crawl in and that's the way we had to get into the plane. We had to go in through the blister and walk up to the front. The pilots were up here in the front of the plane.

C: If you had somebody that was too injured to climb that ladder, somebody would have to...

B: Oh, yes, we had a crew of six and if a surgical technician was along, there would be seven. Regardless of what shape they were in, if they were in bad shape, we would throw a rope around under their arms and drag them up into the plane. We were there to save people and well, if the person was injured badly, he just had to suffer the hurt until we got him in there.

C: Not easy.

B: No.

C: So you had probably somebody there in the back and it was their responsibility to help the pilot get up in the plane proper. If you were a pilot, you were up in the front, and then there were people in the back, that was their job, I suppose.

B: Yes, the radioman and the navigator, there was also a radar man, and the engineer. Those people, there were five that could be available to help get a person in.

C: A couple of them if somebody was in bad shape.

B: Of course when the plane was on the water, this blister was not so far off the surface of the water as it looks here on the ground. It wouldn't be so difficult to get an injured person in.

C: Then you got out of the service just before the end of the war?

B: No, I was in the Phillipines when the war was over.

C: I'll bet that was a happy time, wasn't it?

B: Yes, it was. Yeah, there were celebrations, and of course everybody was happy, but the next day they went down to the administration office and asked when they were going to get to go home!


C: So how long after the war did you have to stay there then?

B: Well, I had my flying time in. We were supposed to fly 500 hours, and I flew a few more than that, but it was about a month and a half after the war was over that I started to get lined up to come home.

C: Now when did you meet your wife to be?

B: Many years before that. I actually met my wife...I played in the Napoleon High School band when Mr. Lombardi, Mike, was the band man over there. He went to several schools in the county and gave lessons.

C: And if you didn't practice, he would say "You no practice!" (Laughter)

B: After I was qualified to play in the band, that is where I met my wife.

C: Was she from Napoleon?

B: Yes, her name was Elizabeth Ritz. Her father was the part owner of the Heller-Aller at that time.

C: That was a busy factory in those days, making those windmills.

B: Yes, they're from the old windmill days, yes. Of course, after graduation, she went to Northwestern University near Chicago, and I went to Bowling Green and Ohio State. So there were four years that we knew each other and saw each other at vacation time and I was out of school a year. She taught school several years. I was out of school a year and did the farming before I went in the service. Then four more years in the service. Finally I was officially out of the service in November of '45, and we were married in April of '46.

C: Did you propose as soon as you got home?

B: Well, yes.

C: You were ready.

B: Well, we had seen each other and gone with each other. She liked to dance and I liked to dance, and we took in dances all over this part of the country.

C: That was the time of the Big Bands.

B: Yes.

C: They really could play.

B: They had good dances.

C: Did you dance at that place right along the river in Napoleon?

B: Wayne Park?

C: Yes

B: h, yes, that was a good dance. We went to the Trianon in Toledo many times.

C: How about the outdoor dance places, Centennial Gardens?

B: We hit all the dance spots in this part of the country.

C: When you came back from the war, where did you settle?

B: Came back to the Malinta area, I started farming right away as soon as I returned, which was in November, '45. I started the '46 farming season and we were married that spring. We lived a couple of years in Malinta then in the early 50's we moved out here, been here ever since.

C: Was this the old homestead?

B: No, this is a farm that we bought.

C: Where was your parent's farm?

B: My home place is a half mile south of Malinta. Just out of the corporation.

C: Did you continue to farm those acres and these?

B: Yes.

C: So you had to do a little traveling between farms.

B: My brother got married and he lived on a farm Dad owned a mile and a half west of Malinta. Also, Dad owned a farm on L the other way, a mile south of Grelton. So that's where we did the farming.

C: Do you have any memories of Depression days?

B: Yes.

C: It's hard for me to get people to talk about the Depression.

B: There wasn't much to talk about. I was in high school at that time and if I had a dime in my pocket, I thought I was rich.

C: Well, a dime would buy quite a bit in the Depression.

B: Yes, we could see a movie, if we could get to Napoleon to see a movie. (Laughter)

C: Did you hitchhike back and forth?

B: No, when we had the opportunity or wanted to see a movie, Dad would either take us in. I had no driver's license at that time, but I would drive to Napoleon and take a couple of friends along.

C: So you could probably start driving at 11 or 12 years old.

B: I was 12 years old when I started driving.

C: What was your car like? A model T?

B: No, it was a Cleveland.

C: Never heard of it.

B: It was built in Cleveland, Ohio, and when the old Cleveland wore out, Dad bought a brand new Ford. A four door Ford. When my sisters got out of school, they both needed automobiles. Between the girls and my Dad, they each got a Ford coupe. I don't know what year it was. Then the one sister was married and when she was married, she married a man from Montpelier, and moved to Montpelier. She taught school and could walk to school, she didn't need a car, so I inherited the Ford coupe.

C: When I was a girl, my mother and dad had a Chrysler, it was open and when it would start to rain and we'd be out with it, we had to stop the car and my dad put isinglass side curtains on. They had to be snapped on.

B: Well, before we had the Cleveland, which was a closed-in car, we had a Studebaker and that was all open. Gosh, yes, I can remember real nice days, we put the top down and there we all were in the open air.

C: Nice, on the nice days. Did that have isinglass windows you could put up when it rained?

B: Oh, yes.

C: Did you have to crank it to start?

B: No, that had a battery starter on it.

C: That was pretty new, then, to have a battery starter.

B: I suppose it was, because the Model T's had to be cranked.

C: I remember my father had to crank our car, and one time it kicked back and broke his wrist.

B: Those were the days. As I say, during the Depression I was in high school. We did play basketball and I made the squad. It was every Friday night we went to one of the other towns here in the county and played a game of basketball. That was the big entertainment.

C: Yes, it would be. That's an old, old radio there, isn't it?

B: Well, the radio there is not that old. My younger son bought that one year for us for a Christmas present, where he found it, I don't know, but it's a replica of the old ones.

C: Would you have one of those phonograph players that were square and they had a picture of a dog on them and you put the record down and put this needle on it?

B: No, we never had a record player at home and I don't know, we had one of the first televisions, I do know that.

C: I'll bet the neighbors came in to watch the important news.

B: Thursday night was wrestling night in Toledo and Dad liked to watch it, and of course he would tell his friends, and about 15 or 20 people would come in. We had popcorn and watched the wrestling matches. I don't know, Ferd Detmer, I don't know whether you knew Ferd, he had the beer garden in Elery. I don't know where he found it, but one night he found a television someplace. Dad came home one night from work and says, "I'm going to have a television set." It wasn't long after that we had a television set.

C: I'll bet you were all excited.

B: We were excited. As far as having a radio, boy, I don't know how long it was, we didn't have a radio in the house. (Laughs)

C: People who are used to listening to radio or watching television now think, "What did they do in those days"? I think they did a lot more talking, don't you?

B: Oh, yes.

C: And they used to sing.

B: Well, both sisters played the piano. They'd go to Toledo and buy the latest popular music hit and come home and almost wear it out.

C: Would you gather round the piano to sing sometimes?

B: Oh, yes. It was a different mode of living then than today.

C: Someways better and someways worse. What did you enjoy particularly in those days?

B: In those days? Well, when we sang, I'd sing, other than that, I'd go over to the neighbors and have a couple of guys in and we'd have a ball game, baseball.

C: They played a lot of baseball and softball.

B: In high school that's all we had, was baseball and basketball at that time. There wasn't any football, because there wasn't any football field. We didn't have enough fellas in school to make up a football team! (Laughs)

C: What was your basket ball court like?

B: You see that barn out there? At one time it was a Baptist church. It sat right on the corner of the school ground in Malinta and whatever happened to the church, they quit using it, and it was turned into our basketball gym.

C: That would be a pretty good size.

B: And we played basketball in the church and when the new school was built in '28 and '29, they didn't know what to do with the church, so the people who lived in that place needed a barn, so now it's a barn! (Laughter)

C: Isn't that something? The Napoleon basketball team had to use the Armory at one time.

B: In junior high, Berle Bauman lived in Napoleon and taught school out here, and we used to have games between the junior high of Napoleon and the junior high of Malinta. Yes, I played basketball in the Armory in Napoleon.

C: Now Berle Bauman, was that Merle's father?

B: No, I don't believe so.

C: Well, how about the water in Malinta? Did Malinta have the sulfur in their water? B: Oh, yes, real good sulfur.

C: So it would make the whole kitchen smell of sulfur sometimes, wouldn't it?

B: Sometimes.

C: But you got used to it, I suppose?

B: Didn't bother me, this area's mostly all sulfur around here. Now and then you'll find a well that isn't sulfur. Of course now the water is piped in from Napoleon to Malinta, so we are on city water.

C: You're not having trouble with that now anymore?

B: No, my water supply is a cistern out here.

C: Oh, really?

B: When we moved out here, Malinta didn't have water, and so we have a thousand gallon cistern out here.

C: And where would that water come from, the roof of the house?

B: Yes.

C: That would make nice soft water for washing.

B: Yes, everything but drinking.

C: What would you do then, carry in water?

B: My wife's folks lived in Napoleon, and we drank Napoleon water.

C: That would work out real well. You didn't have to fight the sulfur then.

B: No, when we first moved out here, I milked five cows and the well out at the barn, good old black sulfur. I often said if you poured it in a pan, I think you could have written with it! (Laughter)

C: It was really dark, then?

B: Real black.

C: Did it stain your clothes?

B: Well, no, because my wife would wash with the cistern water.

C: Oh, yes, but people who did wash with that, would it make the clothes yellow?

B: Gosh, I don't remember, I don't know.

C: Not being a woman, you wouldn't be too interested in that.

B: No, I was not interested in washing clothes.

C: So you farmed how long?

B: I farmed thirty-five years, and after I retired in 1981, my boys took over.

C: How big was your farm when you started?

B: At one time we were farming about 600 acres. (End of tape)