RAY PHILLIPS ORAL HISTORY
by Fran Marie
[Editor's note: This oral history appears to be just the first pass through on the tape. It does not seem to have gone through quality control, so the reader should be aware that some sections do not make sense.]
P. My name is Phillips.
F. Tell them your age, or--
P. Born and raised near Rising Sun, just west of Rising Sun. I married a girl from out this way. Went to a church near Sharon. It's Methodist.
F. Are you a minister?
P. I got a license but didn't keep it up.
F. But you did preach.
P. The District Superintendant couldn't place me in a church or in a home because I wasn't married.
F. What year was that? When you was younger? You said you moved here when you was about 28, to Harrison Township.
F. And you worked as a minister all those years?
P. I'd do talking for the Gideons, then I preached some. Took the place of several preachers.
F. How old are you, Ray?
P. Well, the twenty-third of this month, couple months, I'll be 91.
F. Oh, Happy Birthday, Ray! They already have a big sign for you from last year. "Happy Birthday Ray, 90th Birthday." They've still got the sign in your living room. That's nice!
R. There's a great big one in the bedroom. Had a party with a hat on.
F. Oh that's nice. So you were you like missionary, or--?
R. Well, you could call it that.
F. Well, you preached and helped out and you worked for Gideons Bible Co., now, distributing Bibles. or what? And you said you preached a little bit in Grelton?
R. Yeah. I preached there several times. The preacher wasn't there. And just like this week, now, the preacher's in Conference now. Next week a lot of 'em woh't be in their church. I filled in some that way.
F. And after you retired from that you-uh worked at Wesche's or did you work at the courthouse? Oh, you married in between there too. You married when you was age--
R. Can't remember.
F. You married when you was 61 years old, you said.
R. We got married in...
F. Well, how long was you married now, till she passed away?
R. She passed away in 1990, the spring of 1990, and...
F. O.K., so you had 17 years of life together, and she had a couple children?
F. Oh, that's your wife.
R. That's one of 'em, and she's the one that brought me down here.
F. You lived somewhere else?
R. I got married and my wife had a house and we lived in that awhile. Then we bought another house.
F. Was that in Napoleon or where?
R. In Napoleon, south side, and there my wife was sickly most of the time. I'd take her to the hospital. I got her into Northcrest in the home there. They called me after dinner and said I should take my wife to the hospital just for some checkups and they knew she was dyin' but didn't tell me. I brought her to hospital, took some checks and things and they put her in the hospital then. She didn't enter the hospital as a patient in a way, somehow or other. Anyway, I, her daughter and granddaughter was all there . So her daughter and granddaughter they went out. She said, "Bring me a peach pie." In the meantime Catharine in there sleepin'. I was sitting in a corner. Pretty soon she called, "Ray!" I went out and called the nurse. I said, "Catharine is dying." They came and tried to revive her. They couldn't revive her.
F. So after you buried her-uh--did you move out here on the farm or what? Did her son already live here, or grandson?
R. I still lived in the house that we lived in.
F. In Napoleon? And then you started work at the, or was you already workin' then? You said you worked at Wesches and you also worked at the courthouse, so did you work at Wesche's first?
R. No. I retired 11 and 1/2 years and I worked there but...
F. Was that the courthouse?
F. And you could tell because they gave you the, they presented you with the Bible.
R. And I finally quit.
F. And your coworkers presented you with this large Bible and signed their name, and that's the note. Would you want to read it or anything or can you see that? Right here. Now do you want to read it out loud on this? And tell who the people signed it?
R. Arlene . She would have been the one that wrote that. She kind of stuttered, but very good singer.
F. These ladies, were they office workers or--
R. They were where you took your papers to get the license for your car.
F. What was her name?
R. Imogene Kodak. I read in the paper here awhile back where she was in the hospital.
F. And who was the other people who signed it there?
R. There was a woman who was a secretary at the Senior Center at the front desk.
F. Her name was Arlene Hershberger and who's the Beverley German?
R. I don't know that.
F. And Julee, Donna Cry and Genevieve Hoy. Those are the people that wrote this note to you and do you want to read the note? Can you read the note?
R. My dear friend Ray, God is smiling from above,
F. That's very nice and they presented you with this large Bible. And it has your name engraved on the front. It says, "The New Parallel Bible" So that is a very nice gift.
R. These are all the same. The same faith, you know. King James, International Version and Living Bible.
F. Oh, and each page has four different interpretations. That's good. You're looking at Ruth 2,3 here. Then did you work at Wesches before you worked at the courthouse?
R. I retired then. I didn't get very big retirement pay and they didn't come so I went to Wesche's. Went over there and got a job. There was a man that was a Lutheran that had just started to work for Walker Mortuary. Here I was a Methodist and I went to work for a Lutheran.
F. Ray, I understand that you write poems and I know that you tell a lot of jokes, and so if you can think of a few of them, tell us about how you make that Holy Water. (laughs)
R. Take water, boil the devil out of it and make Holy Water. That lady that runs that back room said she had that Holy Water at home and when it hailed she'd take a cup of that out to the porch to the hail and it'd quit hailing.
F. Is that a joke or is that true? Oh it's true! You told other jokes too. Can you remember any of them? He's quite humorous. He's told me a few and I'm looking for my notes here where he wrote some of them down. I think he's getting something. Mr. Fuhrop brought over about three thick books of poetry that he/'s written. Do you have any short ones that you could read to us here? You have a lot here. Did you write all these? Well would you like to pick out a couple or three?
R. This is kind of good.
F. O.K. What's the title of it?
R. Congratulations for a High-school Graduate, all this part of life, 12 years spent that I did, striving to hang on to my kite.
F. That's very good. Here's a whole lot of newspaper clippings and stuff. Is this about you? A lot of it? Is a lot of this about you? Did you save the clippings and things? What is it? Is it where you've written things?
R. That's where we lived.
F. What's this up here? What is this?
R. I cut some of them on the bed.
F. Well these are long pages, quite a bit for you. What's some of those little short ones that you tell? We heard about the Holy Water. (laughs) Oh, you've got so much work here.
R. There's a play I wrote.
F. Well, that's something. Is this the first page of it? Is this the first page about the courthouse?
F. Did you ever do any farming or anything?
R. I did when we moved out here.
F. How large is this farm? 100 acres?
R. 80 acres. Another man and I. It belonged to his mother and grandmother. This is stuck down in there, I guess.
F. What are we trying to do, get the first page out? Oh, there it is. Here it is. What is that? A poem you wrote about the courthouse? Did you ever live through a fire or blizzard or car wreck or anything like that? He's studying his forms.
R. If you want to listen to...
F. You wrote him a poem or a letter? You want to read it or is it too lengthy?
R. This is on that first Christmas Eve. Angels sang a harem till we at the courthouse sang ourselves to a fellow employed on...
R. All from Deshler and Florida clear through Gerald The End and carol and furthermore recognize the time
It's no wonder it's at its
So many compliments come forth I'll try
And on him her love pours. Very many more years together. He died quite a few years ago.
F. Oh he did.
R. They lived across from the County Home.
F. Yes, I know where that's at. They turned that into a museum or something, didn't they? The County Home? I think they did. Or historical building or something.
R. that. I've been thinkin'
F. Did you ever, did you live through the tornado or anything like that in your life here in Henry County, or anything you would like us younger people to know about? Was you here in the '78 blizzard? Was this house trailer here? Was your wife here? Or was that when she had already passed away? You lived here alone? In the blizzard?
R. I don't remember. I live here now, in this home. This was a manufactured home, a real home.
F. Yes, it's a double house trailer, a really nice one.
R. My bedroom uh--bed is right next against the wall and there is a window there. During a cold spell
F. You can feel that wind or see it or hear it or something. It looks very comfortable in here though. You have this big your dining room. Do you do your own cooking or anything? You got your own freezer you're showin' me.
R. girl that does my
F. Is that your granddaughter's work?
R. No. Her dad does the farming.
R. Oh, back to farming. And is the 100 acres here or the farm is 100 years old?
R. This farm here
F. Did you
R. They used to have a saw mill here.
F. What was their name, do you remember, the people that had the saw mill?
R. Couldn't tell you that.
F. And this is Deshler? Your address is Deshler? Oh, McClure. And they used to have a saw mill on this farm? Well, that's somethin', isn't it. Did they do away with that when
R. car door there. can tell you a lot But it don't seem to make too much sense to me. Seems like all it done is tear up the old folks. That, and his brother, nature killed him.
F. Did he live in the house next door here? Oh he does? Oh he's not your grandson or nothin'. Oh a friend. Is this your land or his land?
R. His land.
F. And you rent a place here? You rent the land here to put your trailer on?
R. No. This land to the north, this Carter, it was her mother that I married. Most of this furniture was hers. We bought some. I know we bought this table and chairs .
F. You don't know how long they had a sawmill her or anything did you? Years? Did they have the saw mill here for years? I know it used to be a lot of timber through here. When we give the land grants and everything. Y'know I've talked to other people and so this probably was all full of woods probably at one time here too when they had this saw mill.
F. I'd like to have a little bit of that spray to get rid of some mulberry trees. You can't get rid of them. Dig 'em up and they'll come up somewhere else, y'know, little sprouts. And you sure don't want mulberry trees around. The birds carry 'em, you know. Are you able to go outside and see trees and things? Take in the air or anything?
R. Saturday it was real nice and I sat in there.
F. It's supposed to be nice today too.
R. I sat on the porch and they come after me
F. Oh you went to that 50th anniversary?
R. I thought they'd come in a bus with a load of women but
F. You can tell them that you go to the Senior Citizens twice a week.
R. I go to the Senior Citizens by bus. Their bus is the Senior Citizens bus. Picks me up about nine. I'm the only man on it.
F. You're very popular. We all yell, "Hi Ray, how you doin'?' when you get on the bus. Everbody likes you up there. They think you're a wonderful person. Heard a lot of good things about you.
R. Yeah. There's good things and bad things.
F. You used to give the blessing, you said, at the Senior Center for a long time.
R. What do you call that when two men live together?
F. I don't know. Is this a joke?
R. This man, my brother, married a lady out here. So one day I was My brother was there. He was workin' on a farm for a dollar a day. He was gettin four dollars a day, so he come out and lived with me.
F. You two old bachelors.
R. And then he was four years older than I. He lived here most of the time.
F. You didn't drive then, he drove you to town for groceries and so forth?
R. I drove most of the time.
F. Oh so you had a car.
R. We had horses when we moved out here. Turn the horses out here, wagon and some stuff on it. Then farm it till we could buy a tractor.
F. You went modern all of a sudden. That was easier than following that horse, wasn't it.
R. We bought the first combine. This man that has them at Liberty Center helped combine then. He was workin' for a man then and he sold us that. First combine.
F. Was that expensive?
R. It was $700.
F. They're more than that now.
R. They're $7000.
F. Wow! What did you raise here on the farm? Grain or what did you raise?
R. Corn and oats
F. And what elevator did you take them to?
R. Mostly to the that was two or three miles from us, and then to Grelton and then this man, he wouldn't honor my preacher's note.
F. You said you had to be married to get your license, didn't you say?
R. cause I wasn't married. I suppose the preacher we had at the time told the Superintendant that I was livin' with another man.
F. Now this was before you was married, wasn't it, or was it afterwards?
R. It was before. I took a course through the mail, had all A's in that. Then we got a new Superintendant. He wouldn't honor it.
F. Now was this the minister?
F. Home schooling, you passed it. You passed your test to be a minister? 80's and 90's, well that's pretty good grades.
R. Been tryin' to find it. I haven't found it yet.
F. Oh you had the certificate. Well,
R. There's a man in Deshler, he was an engineer. He turned into a preacher. Each time he had to go away for school. I preached at Florida one year. and this time I preached as well.
F. Did you marry people too?
R. No. I didn't have the license. See, this guy in Deshler he wanted to know the name of that speech, I said "Yes. Jonah swallowed the whale." Well he said it was the whale that swallowed Jonah but I never found it in my Bible. God prepared a big fish we lie when we called it a whale. He said you had a whale of a job then, and he wouldn't do it. He said he got into this whale, the whale's belly. When he got there he decided he would establish a way of getting out of there, so he and he vomited it and he preach if the Lord wanted us to. I said that
other things and one Gideon, the one preacher about had a sermon. He'd had that one time and he about had a heart attack to listen to him.
F. Because he didn't believe what he was tellin' . Was it all true things out of the Bible?
R. I was givin' the Gideon message so I don't know what he--
F. What he did that the preacher didn't approve of, huh?
R. Well, there was one fellow I knew that little boy was in the rear of the church when they were takin' the offering and I'm sure it was a quarter that he put in, but they had taken two offerings in Sunday School and two in church and the Gideons had all they had left.
F. Well that was pretty good, your whole life has been like studying the Bible and the teaching, hasn't it.
R. I've been a Sunday School teacher all my life. When I moved out and lived in Napoleon, went to that church that was along about Thanksgiving time the first year I started teaching a class.
F. What church was that?
F. Sharon Church? Oh yeah! That's on 109 isn't it? Yeah. Right out of rural Napoleon.
R. I wonder if the preacher that moved my water I belonged to the Church of God. He said, "I wouldn't do anything yet."
F. Our tape's about to run out. I'll see you Thursday morning on the bus.
R. My daughter takes me to church.
// End of Tape //
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