Oral History of Richard Johnson
Interviewed by Russell Patterson, September 14, 2007
(MP – Marlene Patterson, RP – Russell Patterson, RJ – Richard Johnson)
MP: You tell him about the tabernacle.
RP: What about the tabernacle Richard?
RJ: You want me to tell about the tabernacle? All the things I can remember about the tabernacle it was there when I was a little kid. We went to it a couple of times because it was so hard for us to go across the street. It was right across the street. We lived on Brownell and we would go there and Louie Curdes was a big shot in it.. Norma (Grader) said that she used to go to it and she can tell you when because she used to go over there to the school house and swing on the swings when she was a little kid.
RP: Whatchamacallit, The thing was built in 1916.
RJ: That was before my time.
RP: But you think they were still having meetings in the 1950’s?
RJ: I am quite sure that they had a meeting there in the ‘50’s. Norma was born in ‘44.
RP: Oh is that right.
RJ: Her and Carol are the same age. Well Carol is about six months older than Norma maybe. I think Carol’s birthday is in the spring. I know Norma would kill me if she knew I knew this, but hers is a day before Christmas. She was born December the 24th, 1944. She went there as a kid. So I am quite sure it was there in at least ‘55. When Earl Shasteen mowed grass after the apartment was built. The southside bank, Jon Bisher was in it then. They built that about 1956 or ‘58. You know the southside bank. And Jon Bisher told me that they wanted him to manage them and he said he would manage the apartments for one apartment rent. So it had to be after 1960 that it was built.
RP: Yes, you mean the apartments.
RJ: The apartments yes. Then I am pretty sure the bank was built around ‘57 or ‘58.
RP: Now the south school was right across from the tabernacle.
RJ: You know Lucille McComb, she was Miss Bolton then and Maude Dorothy Hahn was a teacher when I went there. Lucille McComb taught the first grade and half of the second grade. Maude Hahn taught the other half of the second and the third grade. The fourth grade I don’t know when they quit it. There used to be four grades there. We went over across the river then. That was the first time I had seen Bob Showman.
RP: You went to the southside school there then until the third grade.
RJ: I went there three or four years. Bob Burkholder , Bill Huddle, Jim Young, Jack Boyer, Hilda Fackler, but you would never know him because we were all in the first grade together.
RP: By the way at that time did they take any school pictures with the group?
RJ: I think they did, but I don’t remember.
RP: You don’t have any pictures.
RJ: No I don’t have one. I am quite sure they did. I think they did but you know we were so poor that a nickel was a nickel. The reason I can remember Travis I think he retired the first of the year when I was in the first grade. I remember after Christmas and New Years coming back to school, Eddie McComb was standing in the back window looking out of the boys basement. We went into the basement to get into school in the back see. Eddie McComb was standing there and as soon as I got up there he turned around and went into the boiler room. I was the first one there that day. Later on I got to know him real well, he said to me I was always scaired that maybe the kids wouldn’t like me. When I first come here, I was scaired that the kids wouldn’t like me. Later on he married Miss Bolton. Now Maude Hahn she owned that building they now call the Hahn building. She was fat and she went to a convent. Bob Gasser told me me that all the rent, when he was there at that store, went down to a convent where she was at. It was one of them deals where she took a vow of poverty and all her money went to that “convent”.
RP: Now I don’t think she went into that convent some time in the ‘40s because when we were in high school she was a librarian.
RJ: In the ‘40s she went there, because I knew she had a horse. She used to go down in the barn below me, where Bob Ludeman’s father-in-law lived. Actually mine is 221 and he was at the end of 300 block, right behind where Sweetpea Onyon lived. He had a barn there. It wasn’t him that lived there when they done it. Sweetpea moved there later. That is where she kept her horse. I can remember her riding by on her horse and her dad found her. Her and somebody else at one time at Luther Dietrich’s gas station, the one that Bob Showman used to run and each one bought a bottle of pop and only drank about 6 or 8 drinks out of it and set it back down. She said you want to drink this and I said no. I don’t drink after people. It was a bottle of Coke or something. We poured the pop out then.
RP: In the fourth grade you went to Central school then.
RJ: I went to Central school and Miss Swartzbaugh was my teacher. The first time I’d seen Bob Showman I set in the back end in the corner. Bill Huddle set beside me. Jack Boyer sat over on the other side. Bob Showman set up in the front by the door. We had ink pens that we used to dip them in the ink well and write. Bob Showman took his ink pen and dropped his and tried to stick it in the floor. Miss Swartzbaugh made him stand up in front of the class to see how many times he could drop that without it sticking. I thought it was just terrible. I thought if one us ornery kids on the southside had done something like that, why we was brought up proper. Bob Showman hobbled by me the other day in the hospital.
RP: Do you remember Hugh Burrows the custodian?
RJ: Hugh Burrows
RP: He was the custodian.
RJ: Yes, Hugh Burroughs he lived in there and his wife used to hang her washing out in the back on top of the hill there every Monday. Now Don Otto Davis, Crook Davis when he went there he said that Hugh Burrows used to make all the kids pick up an armload of wood and carry it in to help fire the boiler when he went to school there. Now Crook was born after the Civil War. He died in about 1965. I am going to say 1965 and he was about 75 years old at the time he died. He was maybe 76 or 77 and he went to school there.
RP: When did Oldfather teach you?
RJ: Oldfather, I had him in the seventh grade. We were young. I sat up in the first one. He had us alphabetically. I sat by the window in the front row. And the rule where you used to walk through between the halls when you come out of the auditorium and start in the old building. Wilbur Young sat with the last one in there. Oldfather was always late getting into class and we were always talking and what not. Wilbur Young went to shoot a paper wad just as Oldfather opened up the door. Carlton Lemon sat on the side of me, Alvin Kraegel sat behind me. Bob Oldfather grabbed him, hit him on the back of the head, kicked him in the seat of the pants pushed him over to the blackboard, took him over to the office and beat him with a rubber hose. The room was very very quiet from then on you could have heard a pin drop at the Courthouse.
MP: I am going to go outside now. You have 90 minutes on this tape.
RP: Richard is telling some good ones.
MP: Are they true Richard?
RJ: Oh yes.
RP: I like that hat you are wearing. What does it say?
RJ: Keller Plaster Limiited.
MP Are they from Liberty?
RP: When you were in the seventh or eighth grade did you start in Industrial Arts?
RJ: Oh yes Industrial Arts we started that in the seventh grade. At that time Louie B. Miller was not there. It was Dietch and Sayman came later. I can’t remember his name right now. In the seventh grade we started Industrial Arts.
RP: Was it Segrist?
RJ: Yes it was Segrist. And then Dietch one time
RP: Now did you go over to the basement of the High School into the shop part, is that where you had it?
RP: In the seventh grade?
RP: What did you do, primarily woodworking?
RJ: Woodworking and drawing and things like that. We never went into the machine shop until I was a Freshman. I was in the foundry and
RP: Did you have any welding?
RJ: I never did. They had welding They used acetylene and Don Barnes was in there, I am pretty sure it was Don Barnes, and he said what happened the aceylene tank blew up. They said that Oldfather was down there in three steps. He had heard the explosion from the office. Nobody was hurt. Nothing happened. But there was a big bang.
RP: It would be with acetylene.
RJ: They took this, what did they used to put in lanterns, kerosene? Oh it was carbine.
RP: No, it was carbide.
RJ: They took this carbide and water and made acetylene. They would pour so much cabide in and pour in so much water and make acetylene.
RP: I think years ago they used those carbide cannons. I think you would pour water in and it would explode. They would use those around the Fourth of July. Did you know Bill Huddle?
RJ: Now Bill Huddle worked in the shop with me and he went to school with me on the South Side also. His sister died when we was in the first grade. Bill Huddle had a sister that died from scarlet fever. I remember we looked at the funeral going by and it was Bill’s sister.
RP: Did Bill start working with radios right away?
RJ: Bill Huddle done a lot of radio. I went over to his dad’s house and he had W8JR station. Herb Huddle has it now sitting out in his shop. It’s out there in his shop museum.
RP: The one that Chick Huddle used?
RJ: Yes, the one that Chick Huddle used.
RP: I remember when I was a Freshman in Shop, Bill was always playing with the radio.
RJ: He and I were good friends and I went to his house and he used to come to mine and he used to live out here on Daggett Avenue. At first he lived out where Milton Sigg’s popcorn is.
RP: I remember at that time that Chick had that aerial up in the air there for his trasmissions. My dad used to tune him in on his shortwave radio and listen to him talk on the radio.
RJ: He was on the radio one time talking about getting Valentines when I was in about the second or third grade. He told that he didn’t get any Valentines but the kid did. That kid he was talking about was his son Bill. Chick Huddle was a World War I veteran and he was a bugler in the Army.
RP: He was in the National Guards too.
RJ: He was a half brother to Clarence Huddle and the rest of the Huddles.
RP: I remember they used to say that when Chick was in the Guards at camp they used to take his bugle and stuff toilet paper in his bugle so he couldn’t blow it for revelry.
RJ: Once when Ralph Zimmerman was in the Guards, Bud Saneholtz was in the Guards and Deak Herman was in the Guards. Bud Saneholtz was a Sergeant in charge of everybody. They were down South somewhere cleaning up something like a hurricane. They had had a tornado somewhere or a hurricane down there, or a big wind went through. Junior Zimmerman, Ralph’s boy said that Bud and Deak were drunk all the way down on the bus. Bud and Deak were cooks. After dinner they all sat around. There was a creek there, more like a ravine I guess. Bud said they were sitting there and Ralph pulled his hat down over his eyes and went to sleep. Bud and Deak sneaked up, took Ralph’s single barrel shotgun and threw it in the crick. (creek) Ralph
RP: Did she live on the south side?
RJ: Yes she lived on the south side.There was a Diemer girl. Howard Diemer was a year ahead of me. Bob Travis was a couple years ahead of me. Bob Travis’s dad and Augie Kaney’s wife were brother and sister. See Mrs. Kaney was a Travis, Janet’s mother. They all lived together in the house where It’s tore down now. It was where Bergstedt’s got those apartments. That is where they lived. No, Sam Travis lived there.
RP: Was that at the end of Brownell Street?
RJ: No that was at the end of Barnes. That is where the Pilgrim Holiness Church was. It was a brick church. When I went to school there was a girl by the name of Shelt and they lived in the house on Brownell on the corner and that was the church parsonage and his name was Shelt and he was the preacher at that church at that time. That would have been about 1936 or ‘37.
RP: Did they seem to have a pretty good-sized congregation.
RJ: At that time I went there and there were quite a few other people that went there also. But just like anything else like Norma said, the old people died off and the young people went some place else. They just didn’t come to church there anymore.
RP: They had a fairly nice little building in back there.
RJ: That was built by Sol Cedrick. He was a hillbilly that was a preacher and a carpenter together. He was there when Louie Curdes donated his house and four lots. Now Norma told me that now when they sell it that money has to go back to Louie’s heirs. Now one of the heirs you know would have been who we went to school with, the mailman’s boy. Hegley but I think he is dead.
RP: Yes he is dead. He was Maurice Hegley. I think you are right on that. He had a sister named Miriam Hegley. I think she had married some kind of a preacher. I think they live in Michigan someplace.
RJ: The last I heard was that Ed Hegley was out in Washington State somewhere.
RP: I think you are right there. It was either Washington or Oregon.
RJ: It was out west somewhere. I am pretty sure he is dead. It seems to me like I saw in the paper where he had died.
RP: Another one from our class that went out there was Betty Hatcher, the daughter. What was that Hatcher girls first name?
RP: She went out west too. I think she is dead.
RJ: Yes, she is dead.
RP: Let’s see when we were Freshmen, is that when L. B. Miller took over the Industrial Arts department?
RJ: He took over when we were about in the eigth grade. L. B. Miller was there with Segrist for a while and then Segrist left. . L. B. Miller was there until about 1947. He taught in ‘47. He hired a guy by the name of
RP: You knew him because didn’t you come and help him?
RJ: He was a good friend of Ed Bassett. His name was Clayton Starter. Starter come there in probably 1948. He stayed there for a couple or three years and then when he left I don’t know who
RP: Then you went and helped.
RJ: I come and worked for about six weeks. You see C. D. Brillhart had me come and showed him where the stuff was at. where the tools were at and this and that.
RP: Now you during your Freshman through Senior year you spent a lot of time in the shop.
RJ: Oh yes. Mostly down there was myself Floyd Keller, Bruce Honeck was just a seventh or eigth grader when I was a Freshman. I remember Bruce Heller coming down and he had a little toy truck on a string. He put a wheel on it and we all laughed at him. He started coming down to study. Roger Jaqua came down for a few years until he got interested in girls and then he quit coming. Dick Bell, Herb Huddle, and then Marilyn was his secretary. She came there in my Junior year. Then he hired her. Now wait a minute. In my Junior year she was there. In my Senior year that Margaret Cordes that married a doctor.
RP: I can tell you another one that was a secretary was that Nelda Stevens.
RJ: Nelda Stevens worked there before they hired Marilyn. Nelda married a Hefflinger. He sold real estate. Her husbands cousin was a secretary in agriculture. Her boy is the one. I don’t know but the name was Elizabeth Hefflinger. She was married and I don’t know what her married name was. Her boy was a policeman in Perrysburg.
RP: Was that right!
RJ: Somebody fell in the river and he jumped in to save him and he drowned. That was quite a while ago. I think that the last time I seen Liz was in your drug store one day. I am pretty sure it was her because she looked just like her Grandmother who was Lou Hefflinger. Lou Hefflinger was Lou Dills. I can’t remember what her maiden name was. That was Mike Anderson’s wifes mother too.
RP: Now right away did they have the high school shop open nights?
RJ: They used to ever since I can remember, but when Miller come there we was open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays I believe it was, and about nine o’clock all the little kids had to leave and then us older ones stayed there. We done a lot of things around that shop.We wired and we fixed doors. Bruce Honeck was out for electricity. I tore all the locks apart and fixed them for Augie Kanney. We had a shock in the wood shop that thing that would scrap wood where you go down in the basement . Augie opened up that door one day just to clean it out, we shoveled everything down in that room and we opened that door down there and dust flew all over. If he’d have had the door closed it wouldn’t have happened. He shoveled it out and threw it in the boiler. Earl Shasteen come there in my Senior year as a janitor. I can remember him. Earl Shasteen, Panning, Augie Kanney, and Harry Knipp. His daughter is Lois Knipp.
RP: When he sent the kids home at night, the younger ones, sometimes wasn’t that shop open until 11:00?
RJ: Eleven, twelve, one o’clock right along in there. Everybody would take turns to bring along something to eat. I brought some cider along one time. We had a broom closet and we hid the cider in the broom closet. It fermented and the cork blew off, we were all young kids and we didn’t know what was happening.
RP: I remember I even worked one evening when I was making prints for the annual in the darkroom I worked at that time and after we closed the store at 11 o’clock I went over to the shop and made some prints at midnight.
RJ: Yes we were there till all hours in the morning. One night the lumber yard was there and we all went home and Miller had a ‘37 Ford Coupe and there would be five or six of us and we would all crowd in that. Dick Bell and somebody else would get up on the back window and I would sit in there and Floyd Keller, I think Harley would sit on our lap and they took me and everybody else home and the cops stopped Miller and they wanted to know what he was doing coming out of the lumber yard that late at night.
RP: He had parked back in there didn’t he?
RJ: Yeah he parked back there where the smoke stack was at.
RP: When he came out on the road it was like he was coming out of the lumber company.
RJ: I remember walking back through there one time. Ray Shreves was the township trustee and he drove back down there and turned around and there was somebody that lived up there one Main Street but his garden was against that road you know and he was back there working and Ray Shreves drove back down there and turned around and then drove up and cussed him. It was somebody and he, they had been having a fight and that guy, he was cussing him right back. Ray Shreves was Carlton Lemons. Mrs. Lemon was a Shreve. I think they might have been cousins.
RP: I think that Roy Shreves was a councilman too.
RJ: He was a township trustee. His secretary, he’s dead now was Ritzmond Campbell’s mother. Ritzmond Campbell’s mother was divorced at the time and she was Roy Shreves’s secretary. Later on she was secretary for, during the war you could not leave the county to get a job and you had to have a permit to go to work. I went up to the courthouse and my dad was working at the Autolite in Toledo and they had said I could get a job at Autolite if they would let me go. I dare sent let you go out of the county I need too much help around here. The plating works needs a lot of help and I can’t get it for them. I went back two or three times to see if I could get a permit to leave the county. She said the plating works needs help. And I said I don’t know anything about the plating works, but I can go down to Toledo and get a job. With my dad working down there I can ride with him. I won’t need a car and I’ll ride along with him. After a while she said well I shouldn’t do it but you will be the first one that I have let go out of this county. I went down to work at the Autolite. I went to work in the plating department. (Richard laughs) They told me there was something that they called deeds. You done so much work and you would get paid so much. I was getting 90 cents and hour and a 10 cent bonus. That would be $1.00 an hour. I was working eight hours a day and six days a week and making $52.00 a week. In the plating department they paid by production. Some of those guys was making at that time when we were making $12.00 some of those guys were making $20.00 to $25.00 per day. Production counted on that see. This guy told me he said when you do all this junky work and do a lot of extra work you put that on your time table. I was only sixteen years old and I didn’t know what I was doing. I said all right, I don’t care. I didn’t pay no attention. I got my check and I learned one thing, don’t tell people how much you are making. Them guys were all right with me. Mike McGary, the guy that used to be the butcher,
RP: You mean Benein?
RJ: Yes, Mike Anderson and Henry Benien, They’d all get their checks out and play poker with them you know. They said let’s see your check. My take home pay was $65.00 and they was all making $52.00 a week. They threw a fit. I learned right there don’t let anybody learn how much money you are making. They’d say that kid is making $65.00. Well I was working and some of them would be standing around.
RP: Let’s see you have told them about the shop and about the school, why don’t you tell us about the sand yard with Eberwine.
RJ: They had the sand yard down on the end of Front Street. Leo Eberwine got the sand yard. Joe Kistner started up by May 3rd of 1952. I can remember that because I went back to the Army, and came home on furlough from Korea. Joe was about 75 years old when he died too. His father was an officer in the German army and he didn’t want his boys to be in the German army so he came to this country. Joe was born in Germany. He had a sister Bertha that was born in Germany. He had a brother Clementz that was born in Germany. Clementz died awful young. He died, I don’t know exactly when he died. He is buried over there in the Catholic cemetery. Frank Kistner was his brother and Frank always said he came over here in a submarine. His mother was pregnant with him when she left Germany. Frank and Joe was born here, but he was conceived over in Germany. He had a brother Rosie that was born here. Carly was born here and his wife was Fraley. His wife and Stell Young’s mother were sisters and my grandmother was married to Farley’s wife’s sister. Then Joe started the sand yard by taking a scoop and like a hoe that was bent crooked and he would go out and stick it down and shake it, throw sand up and dump it. Then he got a steam engine and made a pump and put on it. And Pup Shroeder told me that that steam engine and stuff was somewhere, I think it sat behind or maybe across from the water works and it sank. Somewhere along in there is a steam engine buried under water. Then Joe went ahead and built a better boat and put a gasoline engine on it and pumped sand. He said he bought a 1929 Buick from Dawson. There was two guys from Marblehead come down and wanted to buy the sand yard. So Joe said he sold the sand yard to them two guys. He said after he got it sold they asked him which way the river run. Joe said that the guy that bought the sand yard didn’t know which way the river run. Leo Eberwine was from Marblehead and his dad had some money and he invested money in them guys to buy the sand yard from Joe Kistner. Joe said when Dawson brought the car down to him he stopped and brought cash with him. His eyes popped right out on seeing somebody pay cash for a brand new car. He thought he was making money which he was. After a short while they went broke and couldn’t make a go of it. Leo Eberwine’s dad sent him down to take the business over. He wanted him to run the sand yard because he had his money into it. Then Leo went ahead and married that girl who was a sister to Cleat Sheibley’s wife. I think she was a niece to Miss Lebay.
RP: Wasn’t there some connection too to Mrs. Hildred from the lumber company?
RJ: That Mrs. Hildred was his wife’s grandmother I think.
RP: Dorothy Sheibley and Mrs. Eberwine always kind of took care of Mrs. Hildred.
RJ: Yes, Mrs. Eberwine built that house up there I believe on Sheffield and Main.
RP: Yes it was up along in there.
RJ: I will have to drive by and look at it. I am sure it was Sheffield and Main. They said it was such a good house because the Hildred Lumber Company had furnished the very best wood for them to build it. After Leo took it over and run it Joe worked for him. Ted Corder worked for him. Pup Schroeder whose right name was Alfred he worked for him pumping sand. They were pumping sand. Harve Hill worked on the sand boat Clarence Gee worked on the sand boat. Leo Eberwine finally sold the sand yard to Harper. Not to Harper, I mean Gerken. Harper started his own sand boat down by Turkeyfoot Creek. He sold to Gerken and Leo Eberwine moved the sand yard from Front Street down to the Damascus bridge. There was no sand up in here. They would have to run that boat back and forth so much. It got to the point where it was no problem for a truck to go four or five miles. Back when it first started out people would come with teams of horses to get sand. They used to put gravel and sand into cement when they made that. Later on they just used concrete sand which is course and then they used mason sand which they used to lay brick.
RP: Now did they have to get a permit from the state?
RJ: Yes they had a permit from the state to pump.
RP: Did they have to pay any tax?
RJ: No, I don’t think they paid no tax. Leo told me one time and I understand it now but he told me they had what they called a mineral depreciation. Leo got to take so much of his profit away because the sand was disappearing. Because the sand was not always going to be there. Ten thousand dollars this year and you would take off maybe a thousand dollars of that in depreciation. Because maybe next year there would be no sand. That’s what they say. When it comes down to it the sand kept coming down and they didn’t run out of it. I walked down to Leo’s one day when he was still down on Front Street and I was sitting down with him and I said aren’t you pumping today. He said no that the power shaft broke and fell into the river and we can’t find it. This was about in 1947. He said it will take about six weeks before I can get a propellor. I said well Dwight Huddle had bought an Army Duck. I told him that thing had a big propellor on it. I said maybe it would work for you. He sent Pup Schroeder out to see. I told him where it was. I think Leo said at that time it was going to cost him $500.00 just for the propellor. The propellor off the duck was just about perfect. Dwight Huddle sold it to him for $10.00. The only thing they done was take it down to Toledo and repitched it. They turned it to give it a little bit more power. So he got a propellor for about $50 to $60 dollars. Every time I wanted sand I got my sand at Napoleon Sand and Gravel awful cheap because I told him about the propellor. He’d say go help yourself. He saved a bunch of money plus he got his guys back to work in less than six weeks.
RP: About what year did you say he sold first to Gerken?
RJ: Let’s see it was in the late ‘50’s, because there was one flood down there in ‘58.
RP: That was the Gerken Paving right?
RJ: Right. Yes the Gerken Paving bought it. He had a cottage, a little building up on top of the hill for his office. There was water almost up to it at Damascus Bridge. Almost up to his shed. That was in ‘58. So it was sometime after ‘58.
RP: You mean that Eberwine sold.
RJ: Yes, that he sold. Then they later on moved down to where they are at now. Right down there on this side of the railroad, on the west side of the railroad down there. The main line. They have a blacktop down there you know.
RP: Aren’t they on the North side of the river?
RJ: Yes now Harper started up a sand yard and he was at Turkeyfoot Creek.
RP: That was on the south side.
RJ: Yes that was the south side of Turkeyfoot.
RP: Didn’t Maher’s have a sand yard too?
RJ: Maher’s cupped sand and they put theirs on a trolley and pulled it up. That would be about right now where the car wash is, the one where you wash yourself. Where the main car wash is where you drive through that is where Maher’s made the ice and stuff.
RJ: You can remember that.
RP: Oh yes. They were kind of late with the sand stuff, was it just Maher’s that started that?
RJ: I think it was just Maher’s Coal and Ice Co. On behind Maher’s there was a house there and that is where Paul Bargman lived and he was the engineer at Vocke’s Mill.
RJ: Then there was another house in there I am quite sure, and then there was Matt Becker’s blacksmith shop. Then on down was where Grant had his furniture shop and on down
RP: He made swings. He was a specialty company.
RJ: Yes, and on down. At one time that had been the Woolen Mill. Then beyond that was where Thiesen’s had their lumber yard.
RP: Did you remember that channel that went from the canal to the river?
RJ: I can remember it. Yes, it was back behind about where the smokestack used to sit. It was caved in and us kids used to look into it.
RP: Was it from where the school yard.
RJ: Yes the school yard.
END OF SIDE A
RJ: Where the tennis court used to be, I guess it is still there, behind that, before they got the road through there that was all open and we used to play ball in there. We’d play baseball there.
RP: Oh yes.
RJ: Back there where the Elite Plating Works is, that used to be just a little building, well during the war they put up that big block building along there see. That’s where that channel went under where the road is now.
RP: Do you remember did it look like brick in there.
RJ: Well, it’s been so long ago. I can’t remember that. We used to look into it. I imagine it was brick because I don’t think they would have had Ready Mix cement or anything like that at that time.
RP: It was brick because the one that Frucon uncovered at Snyders that ran down to the Vocke Mill was double bricked.
RJ: Yes, I can remember seeing that one from the river bridgel. I think that must have went about where Snyders is at.
RP: You are right. It went right down the street. They also had a channel for the Woolen Mill. There was also a channel for the saw mill. That would have been where Thiesen & Hildred’s Lumber Company was. Those early industries used the water from the canal.
RJ: That one would have been filled in when they put the football field in. Because the football field at that time, there was just a dirt road down through there and further on down there used to be a bunch of houses there. They were more just like little shanties there. They took and moved them out to Majestic Heights.
RP: I think that the, I heard from old timers, that area down in there, in back of Funkhouser’s, that was called Smokey Hollow.
RJ: Yes, Norman Cupp lived down in there, There were about three houses in there. Norman Cupp lifed in there and, oh she married that Red Yocum,
RP: I can see her, but I can’t think of her name.
RJ: Ah, who was the convict? Oh yes, Jesse James. It was Jesse James’s daughter. They lived down there too.
RP: Oh did they? Was he really Jesse James, or did they just call him that. Oh yes his real name was Jesse James.
RJ: Oh you rmember the girls that were in that show.
RP: Do you mean the Kinsey Komedy?
RJ: The Kinsey Komedy had their tent set up right where now Route 424 is now. That would have been when it was just a canal. They had their show down in there.
RP: About what year was that?
RJ: My Freshman year.
RP: So that would have been 1942.
RJ: ‘42 or somewhere in there. Barney Perry and I went over there and looked around. said would you go boys like to earn some free tickets. We said yes. He said they had house trailers there where the people lived in and back in them times they were pretty primitive. So what they’d done, they had a tank there that you would pour water in and they went to a couple of houses to find out where they could get water. And we went to this Jesse James’s house and we had to go into the house to get it and Jesse wouldn’t give us water. I don’t know if it was Norm Cupp’s house that we went to but they had a spigot on the outside. So Barney Perry and I we had to go over there after school to carry water in buckets.and pour it into a thing in the house trailer on the outside so people would have water to drink or to take a bath or to cook and stuff. Well I went every night and carried water. Barney Perry did not go every time. We went to go into the show and he left me go and he grabbed Barney and said you can’t go. He said he’s the only one that has been carrying water, meaning me. He had said you can’t go so I got in the show for free. I had a pass you know. I asked my grandmother, and she went one night.. One night they had a show on and this woman that run it her daughter was really good looking. She got up and they started talking and a bunch of guys down there they started whistling and she stopped right then. She was in front of the show and said this is a show, not a burlesque show. If there are any more cat calls, I can’t remember just how she said it, but you better be leaving. It was quiet then.
RP: I remember them in the ‘30’s when they had them out by the Napoleon Products.
RJ: Yes they had them out there and also where all them houses are now out there across from Charlie Bauman’s. I was out there. Another thing I can remember down in that canal and that was when I was about a Freshman or Sophomore there was some kind of carnival that had come to town. We went down there to build a fire and they had a baloon and this guy sat on a trapeze with a parachute hooked on to the balloon. He was going to go up in the air and then drop down. Well we built a fire and all these kids were standing around and pretty soon the balloon got away from him. It didn’t get as high or as full as it was supposed to. It started drifting and all of us kids ran like Indians after it. It drifted across Vocke’s Mill. It didn’t hit that and drifted across the river and started coming down. This guy he got on the parachute on his trapeze and lifted himself down and hung by his hands and he went down in the river. I don’t know who it was but I think it was Pup Schroeder, but I am not sure who it was, it might have been Fred Sickmiller because I didn’t know him at that time. It happened right where the Hartman’s lived at the end of
RP: You mean Monroe
RP: Yes it was at the end of Monroe St. A boat came over and got him. He was up in the balloon and they had to keep turning him every every which way because he had just about drowned. They got him up in the boat and one of the guys that went and got him, I can remember this, He said you are about two thirds drunk. The guy said don’t you think you’d have to be drunk to do something like this. At that time that is where the airplane used to land. Jim Young wiped out the windshield.
RP: Tell about that. That was in 1940. It would have been Fair time because Eddie Bassett told about the sea plane taking off and landing in the river. It was docked there at the end of Monroe Street. Tell about Jim Young.
RJ: Jim Young was - It was where a pilot would sit out in the open. There was just a windshield and the passengers sat inside.
RP: You see Ed Bassett when he took that picture I have with the name Napoleon spelled out in the brick. He sat with the pilot and took pictures.
RJ: Ted Corder said he was drunk. He opened the door to the airplane and sat with his feet hanging out the door.
RP: I remember the plane held quite a few people inside. At that time they charged $2.00 to go for a ride.
RJ: I was down there but I didn’t know how much they charged.
RP: I watched them take off and land. I went up to the drug store and asked my dad for $2.00. He thought it was a fortune and he didn’t give me the money.
RJ: It was! That is what I made in a weeks time. A whole weeks worth. I don’t know how long they took off. I think it was a guy who I think was a relation to, and you might know who it was, the guy who had the Hatchery. Pharon Heckler’s father in law.
RP: That would be DeTray. Do you think the pilot would have been relation to the DeTrays?
RJ: There was a guy that landed behind Mike Andersons . It wasn’t the same one.
RP: Oh so this was different.
RJ: When he landed there and I was sitting down there and fishing and I think he had said he was relation to DeTray. I talked to him and there was somebody he was relation to that he knew. I am not 100%. What he was going to do was take off and give rides too. Now this was after the war. This might have been in ‘49 or ‘50. This was before I went in the Army. He said was there any wires across the river that I will hit and I said no it was the raildroad bridge and the river bridge are the only obstacles now. There are more obstacles now. Later on when they built Clevite Harris there was a wire going across from there.
RP: What about those people that had outlines? Some of those were wire.
RJ: Yeah it was illegal, but they were wires.
RP: They wouldn’t have been too far under would they?
RJ: No they wouldn’t bother nothing unless they had been floating.
RP: I remember my grandfather he had one down by the island. That was across from the hospital right along in there. He had an outline. In fact he had two of them. One of them was farther on down.
RJ: That’s what I was going to say. There were probably about 15 of them between the river bridge and the railroad bridge. Wilbur Kistner had some in. Joe Kistner had some in. Mike Anderson had some in. Don Cramer had one in. Ted Bordner and Clyde Lloyd had some in. Don Slagle had one in. He worked at the elevator at that time. The fish just between those two bridges just would not get any farther. With all those outlines anyways.
RP: Did you when Mike Anderson had that outline stuff, did you ever get turtles on it?
RJ: Once in a while we did.
RP: Were they a pretty good size? How big in diameter were they. Do you remember.
RJ: I would say roughly oh maybe 12 to14 inches across.
RP: I remember my grandfather caught one once on the outlines and then he cleaned it out and my grandmother cooked it. It was an awful job to clean them out.
RJ: We were seining at Biddies and we caught some one time in a pond and Mike Anderson had two in each hand and I had one in each hand and they were still seining for another one. They were trying to see how many turtles they could get. The last turtle I caught was when I was going down the Neowash Road and just about before you get to Colton Road there was one turtle going across the road. I stopped and I had my old ‘55 Chrysler. I jumped out and grabbed that old turtle by the tail and threw him in my trailer. I gave him to Keller and he cleaned it and cut his hand.
RP: Did he try to cook it and eat it?
RJ: Oh yeah. You see he was cleaning it and he cut his hand with a butcher knife. He went to the hospital and they wrapped him up. She (Wilma) was driving and they went up there to Ayersville, I mean Antwerp, up in that area, and this was in about 1972. There was a ‘70 Buick setting up there in a showroom and he bought it. He went up and asked the guy about two or three times and the guy finally sold it to him.
RP: Yes those were quite the days then.
RJ: Another thing I can tell you about old times is Joe Kistner used to tell me about the old ice house. They used to cut ice by hand and they had a couple of teams of mules and they had horse shoes on and Matt Becker put their shoes on. I seen old Matt Becker do that for Ott Hess. They had cleats (toe caulks) that the blacksmith put on their horse shoes so the horses wouldn’t slip on the ice. Your grandfather Bill Bernicke probably put a lot of them on when he was a blacksmith.
RP: They were toe caulks. Marlene has a wood box that had toe caulks in. A box of toe caulks had been shipped to her grandfather when he did blacksmith work.
RJ: Some way or another they were wedge shaped. There was a hole in the iron shoe and the blacksmith would put them in the shoe and hit them so they would stay in. When they were done with the toe caulks they would put the shoe on the side, hit it with a hammer and the caulks would just pop out. I seen Matt put them in and I seen Matt take them out. Anyway Joe said what they would do is go out there and cut them big blocks of ice. Then they would pull them over to along the bank. They had a skid tied up to that chain and stuff. Then they would put sawdust between them and they stored them up in that ice house.
RP: They used to have a regular ice house down there.
RJ: It was right by the sand yard. Ralph Zimmerman tore it down. They tore it down right after the war.
RP: Do you remember was that Alsbaugh’s Beach going when you were young?
RJ: Oh yeah I have been to that house.
RP: Did people swim there then?
RJ: Oh yes.
RP: About up to what time?
RJ: We moved from Brownell Street to there and that was in 1937. He had died just before that. He died in about ‘35 or ‘36. You have that postcard I gave you.
RP: Yes and it shows the people.
RJ: He used to have a cage there and it had monkeys in it and my grandmother used to take me there. I was just a little kid. He had a place there and he sold pop and ice cream and stuff you see. Then he had that building on the other side where they had dances in. That was a dance hall. And then Ralph Zimmerman bought that and he used it for a storage shed. He had his stuff in there. Then they had two little cottages back in there and people would go in there to change clothes. Ted Corder bought them both and then Ralph when he tore the ice house down he took the lumber and Ted gave him one of the cottages and Ralph built an addition on to the other one and Ted had a three bedroom house there. Not a three bedroom but a three room house there a living room, a kitchen, plus a bathroom. Ralph Zimmerman built that with the lumber there. Right now that is the last house on Front Street along the river.
RP: Is that right.
RJ: That last house was a bath house.
RP: Now did you when you were a kid swim in the river?
RJ: Maybe one or two times.
RP: Not very much right. I know my dad claimed that kids here over on the South side the kids would swim over to Alsbaugh’s. (Alsbaugh’s charged 10 cents to swim and use their beach)
RJ: As long as you stayed in the river he couldn’t say anything. Joe Kistner said that every year. you’d see him and Charlie Alsbaugh were good friends. Joe said that every year in June or somewheres when it got nice weather you know he would get a boat load of sand and take it up there and shovel it off.
RP: You mean to make a beach.
RJ: To make a beach yes. So people when they’d walk out they’d be walking on sand and not rocks until they got out to where they could swim. He had some kind of a strap up there so you could jump off of it and into the river.
RP: You mean kind of like a diving board.
RP: That shows in the picture. That was quite the place then. I remember in one of his ads he mentioned “Healthful Swimming in the Maumee River”. You could swim there for your health.
RJ: He was at one time married to Grace Bowarrd.
RP: Is that right.
RJ: She was Bill Renolet’s aunt. He said that Grace had a daughter and they went down to the house and somebody come to Charlie’s house and asked “Is your Dad home?” Yes, but he is busy right now. He is marking the cards. (Richard and Russell both laugh out loud) He used to gamble and they’d play cards and bootlegged there. He was going to give her a licking and Aunt Grace wouldn’t let him do it. She had told the truth. She’s said he was marking the cards and he was busy.
RP: She went by the name Bullard in her last years though. I can remember her. She got religion just before she passed away and came to our church. The Dishops would bring her. That was Hugo and Gladys Dishop. In her younger days she was quite the gal.
RJ: Joe Kistner he had her over here at the fairgrounds and they were in the horse barns and Joe said I got down on my hands and knees and felt all around to make sure there were no horse terds in there before we made out. That may have been Ollie Meyers. Charley Shaff was the blacksmith and Charley told a story about Ollie Meyers which was up around where the water works is now he said in one of them cottages up there after church why they was up there hooting and hollering for her to get out of town, get out of town you old bag. Ollie came out and said I have had all of your husbands at one time or another. Charley said they all got up turned around and went away. She died in the house. They said the dog had started eating on her and he said the flies were so thick in there you could almost walk on them.
RP: Did Charley, he was a blacksmith is that right.
RJ: Yes, when I was working there at school why I took a bunch of kids up there a couple of times and showed them how to bend iron and how to heat it and what a blacksmith does. That was when he was over in that where George’s Furniture used to be. That was right across from Ed Peper’s office there.
RP: George’s Furniture.
RJ: Yes that is where George started up at. Years and years ago I think I sold fish there. At one time Fruth sold apples in there during the war. I used to go over there and get apples and cider.
RP: Is that right.
RJ: It was just a cement foundation there and then they built a wooden frame on it. They tore that down and Charley Shaff put up a cement block building up. That is where he went in when he used to be up there on the corner. Now did they own that?
RP: Yes. That is where Charley’s dad made wagons.
RJ: Oh was that his dad the one that done that.
RP: Yes that was Charley’s dad. You see Charley’s brother Frank owned the drug store and on Saturdays Charley would come up and help out. A lot of times all he did was stand back of the counter and customers would ask for cigars and stuff like that. I used to stand up there and talk to him. He would tell me different stories which were interesting.
RJ: I know Clayton Starter told me he used to sell papers on Sundays.
RP: He was quite the fellow. I think he ran around with those fellows, those singers because I would get postcards with Charley Shaff and those singers. Whether they were a group of guys.
RJ: Oh you mean they a bunch of guys that sang together.
RP: No they ran around together.
RJ: Oh you mean Pat Singer.
RP: Yes. I think Charley was friends with those guys.
RJ: See Crook Davis used to work with Pat Singer and I told you that story about how they got a cow.
RP: Tell that one again.
RJ: Crook Davis and Pat Singer went out on the South side out on 108 somewhere and bought a cow. There was a stockyard where Precht had his - down around where Ronnie Meyer used to live on County Road S and 108. Beyond where the viaduct is now where Pharon Heckler used to live. That’s where Beck owned that ground. He’d take all that stuff and just turn it loose in there.and then they butchered in there. Crook said what they’d done was buy that cow out in the country and he had a team of mules and a spring wagon. Crook said they were leading the cow in to town and Crook said as long as they were on this dirt road it was alright He’d walk in the dirt and walk on the grass. So he said they got in to town and that cow rather than stumble on them stones the cow dropped down on his knees. They started pulling the cow. Nat Belknaps father in law (J. P. Ragan) was a Humane Society officer. He came over and hollered at them what are you guys doing with that poor old cow. Crook said the old cow was all sweaty and nervous and had diarrhea. He said poor old boss poor old boss what are they doing to you. He said the cows tail had a bunch of feces on it and he swatted him on the side and said get that son of a bitch out of here. He said Pat cracked the whip and they took off and drove him down through town and when they got out in the country and the cow walked. Then Crook told Bonnie he used to trim the meat.. They would call him up and Crook knew every street in town. Now this was one hundred or so years ago.
RP: Oh yes.
RJ: Well there wasn’t as many streets. He said Lawrence Vocke and who was that guy that lived behind him
RP: Okay I can tell you who it was. It was Ray Bargman.
RJ: Old Lawrence Vocke and Ray Bargman was throwing stones at him. Crook said I jumped out of that buggy, and I had a black snake (whip) I was right behind them and I was cracking it.. so I hit them right against their ass. Old Lawrence Vocke and Ray Bargman run like hell right up to their house. So old lady Vocke called up down to Beck’s (Beck’s Meat Market) and said Crook did this and that. Well Crook had already went in and told him what he’d done. He said Beck said well if you hadn’t bothered Crook he wouldn’t have done it. You tell him that Crook was delivering meat. Crook said, him and Freddy Hacket worked for Charlie Gunther doing the same thing. Charley said him and Freddy Hacked used to race buggies when they were delivering meat and Crook said he’d go down there about where Standard Metal is now not Standard Metal, I mean Automatic Feed and at that time the canal was there and a bunch of houses were there on the other side. He said what he’d do is he’d holler at the people and they would come out of their house and he’d pitch the meat across the canal to them. Pause I should be going. l What time is it getting to be?
RP: It’s a quarter till 3. Don’t forget to take along your picture. Here I can turn this recorder off.
RJ: That’s about all I can say. Isn’t that what that guy said in that movie.
RP: That’s all folks.
RJ: Now what was his name.
RP: Now tell me what is your name.
RJ: My name is Richard E. Johnson and I was born in 1928 the 24th of April. I am a young man compared to Russell Patterson.
RP: And what town were you born in?
RJ: I was born in Napoleon, Ohio at 221 East Main Street 321 Brownell Street. Napoleon, Ohio. My mother was Vivian Cramer and my dad was Donald B. Johnson. My Great Grandfather owned Girty’s Island.
END OF TAPE
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