Interview with Janet Hoover
Napoleon, OH 43545
Interviewed by Marlene Patterson, transcribed by Marlene Patterson
MP: Today is June 23, 2014 and I am interviewing Janet Kanney Hoover. She lives here on the Southside on Raymond Street. Janet, this is a very nice home you have here on Raymond Street. It is very comfy and cozy. Didn’t J.R.Winters build this house?
JH: No, he lived in the house next door to us. This house was already built. We bought this house from Herb, Bob’s brother. These three houses were built all at the same time. Lois Stites lives next door just west of us. All three of these houses were built at the same time. Don Fetter’s dad built the house on the corner. J. R. lived next door when he got mad at the cuckoo clock or something.
MP: That might have been somebody I knew.
RP: A local insurance agent went to sell him some insurance. As they were talking the cuckoo clock popped out to announce the time and J. R. pulled a handgun out of his desk drawer and took aim and fired the gun at the cuckoo. The insurance agent told him he would come back some other time to see him and promptly got up and left.
JH: He had a wife. She moved in here first and then he did. I don’t remember her last name. Then they got into a big fight.
RP: I remember that, but I can’t think of her last name.
MP: Was it Elaine Buckner?
JH: Yes, it was Elaine Buckner. When they had the big fight Elaine moved out and took all of the furniture and moved to Michigan where he owned a big factory which she was helping him run. Then they made up again. He bought her all new furniture again and she moved back into this house. They didn’t mow their lawn and the grass got to where it was twelve to fourteen inches high. Elaine would lay outside with her sunsuit on. So the neighbors would all kid each other as to who was watching Elaine.
MP: That would not have been a very pretty sight to see her.
RP: No it wouldn’t have been.
JH: Her son lived with her for a little while.
MP: Russell do you remember her son?
RP: Yes I do.
JH: After they got their divorce I happened to run into Elaine and she asked me to be a witness at her trial. The only thing that bothered us was that J. R. had that dog and he made the dog stay in his car all the time. When J. R. would come home at night he would stop at the corner here and leave the dog out of the car. The dog would do his business down the street and then scoot home. He ruined several of our shrubs.
MP: I wouldn’t like that.
RP: J. R. came into the drugstore and told us that he was a pauper and couldn’t pay his bill.
MP: He had a running account and had always paid his bills in full and on time.
RP: At one time he was trying to get back into business in Detroit and he was trying to impress some people. He went out to Lane’s Drug Store and bought several “after Christmas” sale items of fruitcakes. He brought these into our drug store and had our son gift wrap and ship them to his list of people he was trying to impress. One of the recipients was Lee Iacocca. J. R. claimed he was a personal friend of his. Maybe he was. He did however pay our son to do the wrapping and shipping. When he passed away he had a big bill and our lawyer told us not to worry that he would see to it that the bill got paid.
MP: I think we came here to interview Janet and I think we got sidetracked. Janet, who were your parents?
JH: August and Lulu Kanney. She was a Travis.
MP: Which Travis would that be? Were you related to Bill Travis?
JH: No, my grandfather’s name was Samuel Travis.
MP: And you said your father was August Kanney. That name rings a bell for me. Russell showed a video of the South Side school where August Kanney, the janitor had rigged up a lawn mower so he could cut a wider swath of grass. He had welded several mowers together and had added a motor which helped him to mow faster.
JH: I saw that video. You showed it to me. That was my dad.
MP: Now where did you go to school? Here on the South side?
JH: No I didn’t go to the South Side School. We lived over on Monroe Street. Mom and Dad and I. That is where I was born. I have one of the bricks from the bridge too here in my family room. My neighbor was here and we talked a while and he said Janie why do you have a brick laying on top of your television. I told him that was from the river bridge. We lived on Monroe Street and we used to walk the bridge. You know that big monstrosity built there on the corner of Meekison
MP: Do you mean that big apartment building?
JH: Yes, that was my Grampa and Grandma’s house. Grampa died and then we had to move to this side of the river because Grandma couldn’t stay home alone. Before he died my mom took care of him. Grandma died in May and then Mom and Dad were real close and they took care of him. After George had his stroke Mom helped Carrie Vajen in the house. Mom did all the washing and everything like that.
MP: She probably helped with the cooking too.
JH: No, they had another lady do the cooking. Now Carrie Vajen had left in her will, that Mom and Dad were allowed to buy that house for five thousand dollars.
MP: Which house was that Janet?
JH: It was the first house around the corner there on Barnes Street.
MP: Would that have been where Roger Weis lived?
JH: He bought Mom and Dad’s house.
RP: I was told at one time years and years ago that
JH: Gaston Boyer built that house. Fern and Al Hoeffel lived there too.
RP: Somehow or other we went there, you see we were related to Aunt Ottie Bono. Anyway we went there for a dinner.
JH: At one time Uncle Charlie Boyer owned that whole block there. Gaston Boyer built the house where Roger Weis lived . He built that and then when his wife died he moved back with Uncle Charlie.
JH: Leo and Ruth Eberwine lived there at one time.
RP: They probably had quite a few different renters. Kolbe’s lived in the corner house there. There are three houses that had to use the same driveway. George had pulled up to the driveway and he couldn’t get in so he went to the front door and knocked and he asked him to move his car because he couldn’t get in. They told George that he didn’t have to . So he got back into his car and went down to Cocky Young and bought that house that very night. He came back and went back up to the front door and asked him to move his car. He showed him the keys to the house and told him that he was now the owner of the house. So he went out and moved his car from the driveway.
MP: There are probably hundreds of stories that can be told of Cocky Young. Was he the one that ran the marriage mill racket too.
MP: Talking about school, did you have a favorite school teacher.
JH: I suppose Pharon Heckler would have been my favorite.
MP: Do you remember any of your first or second grade school teachers?
JH: I had Miss Burkhart and Miss Travis. She was Bill Travis’s sister. She was my second grade school teacher and then Miss Clymer, one of the Clymer twins was my third grade teacher. Then I had Betty Eddy in geography. Then when I got into the fifth grade I had Onez Yarnell. I had Otto Lankenau for music and Virginia Meekison for history. I had Miss Ferris for English and writing.
RP: Wasn’t she a librarian later?
JH: Yes she was in that field.
RP: There was a Miss Ferris over at the public library.
JH: She was my English and my writing teacher. I got into so much trouble trying to write. Now these kids aren’t even taught how to write.
MP: How are these kids going to learn how to even be able to sign legal documents? How can they write out a check and sign it. You go to WalMart you just hand then a blank check and their register fills it all out for you.
JH: One thing that bothers me more than anything else is these kids today don’t know how to count the money back to you.
MP: That went on years ago we would have these kids come in and they couldn’t count change back to you. These kids at McDonalds they don’t know how. They just look at the register, grab the money and say “here”.
JH: Like you say they grab it out of the drawer and just hand it to you.
MP: That is not good.
JH: This government and this world are losing it.
MP: Now jogging your memories at home, what did your family do at Christmas time? Did you do anything with your sisters and brothers?
JH: I only had one brother and he was fourteen years older than I was.
MP: So it was like there were two familes.
JH: We never made a big issue of Christmas.
MP: Did you have a big Christmas dinner?
JH: My mom would have a big Christmas dinner and all the Uncles and Aunts would come with their families. We didn’t have a big get-together. I remember my mom had other places to get to. I remember my mother asked Uncle Jess, my mother’s brother what he wanted to eat and he told her he wanted “buckwheat pancakes”.
MP: She must have been good at making buckwheat pancakes. Well if that is what you want to eat, that is what you get. We usually had turkey and you would eat it for the next two weeks trying to get it all eaten.
JH: My mom never fixed a turkey. We would have chicken and rabbit. I never ate any wild meat at all.
MP: Russell used to go hunting and he would bring home pheasants, rabbits, and squirrels. He likes that wild taste. Did your Mother do any canning of garden vegetables?
JH: We had a big garden and she canned mostly vegetables. She used to put some kind of water in a can and put eggs in there to preserve them. They would last all winter long. They were not cooked, just fresh eggs that she put in these jars. She had like a big pickle jar and she woud put the eggs in there.
MP: What do the Chinese do to preserve their eggs?
RP: There is a product that is called water glass that you can use to preserve eggs.
MP: Why would she have had to preserve eggs?
JH: I don’t know whether she had to preserve them or it may have been handy for her to have eggs on hand during the winter time. This was before refrigerators.
MP: Okay. My goodness we don’t realize how handy we have it now.
JH: My dad always planted the garden and we raised all of our potatoes. I can remember him putting the carrrots down in the sand.
MP: We stored our carrots in an old bushel basket and had them down in the basement. I don’t know who would have carried them downstairs. They were heavy as they were filled with dirt. They were just like eating them fresh. The potatoes went into our potato bin.
JH: When you had your icebox you would need either a 25# block of ice or a 50# block of ice. When it was time for the ice man you had a card that you placed in your window to let him know how many pounds of ice you needed.
MP: Where did he get the ice from, the ice house?
JH: Yes, it was down by the river, right where the car wash is located today.
MP: I think Doris Boyd’s father ran the ice house.
JH: No he didn’t, but he worked there. She was Doris Shelt Boyd. It wasn’t his father, but another brother who owned it.
RP: I have pictures of the Shelt Ice House. They would saw ice right out of the river.
MP: Did they ever get ice out of the canal
RP: No, the pictures always show the river. The canal would have been too shallow. The ice on the river would have been thicker.
JH: I can remember when they tore that down and put the road in down there.
MP: Do you remember the canal too?
JH: Oh yes, we lived right down on Monroe Street.
MP: Did they fill it in with a lot of dirt?
JH: They had piles of dirt and they had to dig rocks out of that. We used to go over and play on the piles of dirt.. There were a lot of stones in it too. As a kid we played on it.
MP: Getting back to butchering day. Did your parents butcher?
JH: When my mother lived on the farm they did, but they never did when they lived here in town.
MP: Did you get a new pair of shoes every year like a lot of the kids did when you started off for school in the fall?
JH: No, my parents kept my shoes in pretty good shape. They had them half-soled or whatever they needed.
MP: People did that years ago.
JH: Mom made a lot of the dresses I wore.
MP: Mine did too. We even used the flowery patterned feed sacks.
JH: Mom never used feed sacks.
MP: It was kind of a coarse material but it held up well. Mom would make these awful broomstick skirts that made you look like you weighed a ton. Do you remember your first indoor plumbing?
JH: I can tell you they had that when I came along. I was born in 1926 and we lived here in town down on Monroe Street.
MP: I think by then most people here in town had indoor plumbing, as opposed to the people in the country.
JH: We had a basement and Mom was canning beans and she had a copper boiler, so they tell me, and lightning struck the Catholic cross on their steeple and came down and came in the window and hit that copper boiler and just by chance she only had one hand on it. She was pregnant with me at the time. My brother and my dad heard her moaning in the basement.
MP: It’s a wonder she didn’t get hurt or her unborn baby. Do you remember your first car?
JH: It was a Chrysler and it was a second hand car. We didn’t have any money and Dad worked on the railroad. My mother was fixing oatmeal and I was real little and I reached up and put my hand in the oatmeal and I started to scream. At that time we didn’t have a car and so they got Fred Bost our neighbor and he had a car. They took me to Minnie Rexstroth. I don’t know if you remember her but she worked at the telephone company, and she could say words, and that is what she did. She said words over my hands and she told my dad to take me out for a ride out in the country and then come back and she said the words again and she cured me.
RP: I liked Minnie and for some reason she liked my dad. When I was a kid she would send my name in to the post office to get first day covers of stamps. I have them to this day. My dad lived on the southside too. She was the telephone operator.
JH: She was a Kanney before she married.
RP: She was a wonderful lady.
MP: Were there any other people that did “readings”?
JH: I don’t really know of any. One person I know was Clyde Fraas. He would make the croup straps. They were made out of cowhide and his hands could not touch it. They were words that his mother passed on to him. It was passed on from mother to son. He would make these croup straps and he would cut them and put a newspaper over them so his hands would not touch them.
MP: Was this for croup - like coughing?
JH: I still have one downstairs. I wore it all the time because I always had croup.
MP: How long would you have had to wear this?
JH: You just kept it on.
MP: Did you use any medicine with this strap?
JH: No you just kept it on. It was just a plain leather strap. It was tied on just like a necklace.
MP: That is very interesting.
JH: My sister-in-law was a nurse and she thought that was a terrible thing to do. John, their second son got the croup and they were up all night with him. He called Mom and said “send the croup strap” Mom said to him I won’t send it unless Isabel tells me to.
MP: Don’t throw the croup strap away. You should put it in an envelop and identify as to what it is and what it was used for.
JH: It is downstairs and it is a brand new one.
MP: Does it have the wordings that are used with it.
JH: You would have no idea what the words are that he would be using for the cure.
MP: Isn’t that sort of a form of witchcraft?
JH: Well, you could probably say it is but.
MP: What we use to cure burns is the stem of an aloe house plant. If you burn yourself you just break off an aloe stem, rub the juice on the burn and in less than ten minutes you would never know you had a burn. It works that good and that fast. They try to push all these new medicines on a person and they don’t work near as well.
RP: My dad used acetophenetidin bags and I think they worked because they were so stinky. You would tie one of these bags around your neck and people would stay away because they smelled so. You make a little bag and you wear it around your neck and it is supposed to ward off diseases.
JH: I have heard of that.
MP: I like these hocus pocus stories.
RP: I can remember that everybody was getting the croup and he had my mother make him one to tie around his neck. I wore it for a while too.
MP: This is way off the subject, but when did you have your first airpane ride?
JH: Probably not until I was 25 years old.
MP: You know getting back to this croup strap, about what year were you dealing with these croup straps.
JH: Do you mean when did I get it? I was probably only two to three years old at the time. I suppose maybe when I was five also. When I was little. I wore mine for quite a while and John wore his for quite a while. It was when you started getting into the winter months, you are always coming down with something. A lot of times it was the croup and of course you would take it off in the summer time. When you would start to get a cold you would put it on. The thing about croup is I would put him to bed and he would be perfectly alright and maybe at 2 o’clodk in the morning you would hear him trying to get his breath.
MP: Do you have any memories of home life that you would like to share. Did you mother bake bread or cookies?
JH: Mom could do just about anything in the kitchen.
MP: You didn’t have the grocery stores they have today.
JH: They did when I lived in this house.
MP: Where did you buy groceries at?
JH: Bert Fruchey was right on the corner right where the Henry County Bank is today. On down farther was Morrison’s Grocery Store.
RP: Byron Rasey had a store down in there later on.
JH: Then there was a shoe store down in there.
RP: That guy made shoes.
JH: Johnny Hanna started his store down in there.
MP: What did he sell?
JH: He sold paint.
MP: Did he move to Clinton Street later on?
JH: No, by that time John was having trouble walking.
MP: That would have been Roberta Hanna?
JH: I had worked for Gretchen at the New Yorker Dress Store. It was across the street from Eddie Austermiller’s Gas Station. Then there was a pool room. Next to it was the ice cream place, and then there was the restaurant, and then next to that was Gretchen Hannah’s dress shop owned by Mrs. Charles. Next to that was Young’s Barber shop, next to that was Thompson’s
MP: Jewelry Store
JH: No, he had a photography store, Sheibley’s was on the corner.
MP: Where was Spots at then?
RP: Up the steet and across the alley, right where Rick’s Restaurant is today right by the alley.
JH: Along in there was the Hoy’s Clothing Store and Seurs’s.
RP: And then Burkholder’s.
MP: Were they on N. Perry?
RP: There was like a display window and you had to go inside. Burkholder had his appliances and stuff in there and that would be the entrance to the clothing store.
JH: Then you went around the corner and there was Crahan’s, and then Gottschalk’s Shoe Store, and then Shoemaker’s, and then Hagen’s Furniture.
MP: They also recorded births in there. I wonder why that wasn’t in the courthouse.
RP: It was separate years ago.
MP: When did TommyThompson start his jewelry store? Was it after his photography store?
JH: Did he go to Defiance or something after that?
RP: He went to Bowling Green. He bought that corner store on Main and Wooster.
MP: What did he sell, children’s clothes?
RP: We were in Bowling Green and he saw us and came out and told us how his business was so good. The next thing we knew and a couple of months later he closed that place up. He was quite a character.
JH: The night I went into Eastern Stars and my Senior picture was taken. It was horrible. My dad said we are going to get a better picture, so the night I was taken into the Eastern Star my dad took me to Thompson’s and I had my picture taken.
MP: That would have been very nice of your father to do that.
RP: Thompson was quite a character. He took that Butterfield girl and he took pictures of her and Butterfield sold them through the mail. He got sent up for it and Thompson had no charges because he just printed them. He was located later above the Shaff Bros. Drug Store and you went up the stairway to get to his studio and I think it was in 1936 and FDR was running for president. He made a photograph showing FDR behind bars and put it on display in the window. Ollie Daman was a Democrat and he made Thompson take it down.
MP: Well we will wrap up this interview. Do you have any memories of Pearl Harbor?
JH: I remember I went to church and Sunday School.
MP: How about the Kennedy Assassination?
JH: I watched it on television. The next day I watched it too when he was shot by Jack Ruby. I was shocked. You know these people that have been in the war they don’t talk about it very much. Unless they are with someone else that has been in the war, then they will talk about it. My nephew, he was over in Vietnam and you never heard him talk about it.
MP: You know you just stop and think about it, wars are horrible. You have to kill people and that would just prey on your mind.
JH: Sometimes you can get them to talk to you about the war and that was the first time I had heard him tell anything. He helped build the Alaskan Highway is what his job was at first. Then they sent him up to Washington.
END OF TAPE
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