Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, February 23, 2012
Transcribed by Marlene Patterson
CW: This is Charlotte Wangrin and I am interviewing Dick Bell and they have some interesting memories and facts for our historical records.
CW: Dick, shall we start with you or the bakery or the newspapers.
DB: Either one is okay.
CW: Let’s do the bakery, it sounds interesting.
DB: My dad worked at Chubb’s Bakery for 37 years.
CW: I remember those rolls at Chubb’s, they just melted in your mouth. They were so good!
DB: Cody Chubb was a brother-in-law to my dad. His wife Maude was my dad’s sister. That is how my parents became involved with the bakery.
CW: You know I remember interviewing Dorothy Vocke. She said that when she was a little girl she worked at that bakery. After everybody had gone home she said the football team boys would come in hoping to get a handout from what was left in the bakery.
DB: My mother worked there too as a clerk before she went to the courthouse. Then she worked at the courthouse in different departments there.
CW: That is how Florian Sauer met his wife. She worked there.
DB: I don’t remember that but Deak Herman, his wife Viola also worked at the bakery.
CW: He was a prosperous man in his business.
DB: I used to stop up there quite often after grade school many hours and watch my dad bake. I really enjoyed that.
CW: Did he let you do anything around the bakery?
DB: Oh no. I just watched.
CW: In those days people came into town just on weekends and the places would get very crowded.
DB: He worked nights so we had to be real quiet during the day. He would have to sleep during the day. I read that interview with Dorothy too and she talked about that horse drawn wagon. It used to stop on Yeager Street and I used to get to ride with him too.
CW: That would be a big thing when you are a kid.
DB: That horse knew exactly what to do. He knew when to go and when to stop.
CW: He didn’t have to tell it a thing or what to do.
DB: No he didn’t. That horse knew exactly what to do.
CW: I think Florian at that time delivered groceries out to people on farms.
LB: He stopped at our house.
CW: It was a very different time then.
DB: Getting back to schools, I went to Napoleon schools and in my Senior year I was called down to the Superintendent’s office.
CW: I bet that scared you.
DB: I thought oh no what did I do now! John Orwig was there and he interviewed me. Here they were looking for a young person to learn the linotype for their newspaper.
CW: Now would you please describe for me a linotype.
DB: It is what we call a line casting machine. It is a pretty good sized machine. The linotype operator enters characters from a keyboard, from which the machine assebles matrices (molds for letter forms) into a line. The machine then pours metal into the mold and casts a line of text as a single piece of metal, called a slug (hence the machine’s name as a linotype produces a “line “o type).
CW: That would have saved you some time.
DB: Oh yes very much so. I went to school to learn the linotype down in southern Indiana in a town called English. They had a linotype school there. It used to be up here in Maumee, Ohio. When I started to school they had moved the school down to southern Indiana. I went there for six weeks to learn the trade. We stayed in private homes
CW: That would have been alright.
DB: I came back in September of 1949 and worked for the Henry County Signal. That is how I started my job at the newspaper.
CW: How many years did you work for the Signal?
DB: I worked there for thirteen years, it became a combination of two newspapers. In 1968 I went over to Glanz Printing in Wauseon. The reason I left was the time period was coming when they would no longer be using the linotype machine.
CW: Oh so you could see that coming! Now how could you know that?
DB: That was just what all the newspapers were doing. They were all switching to computers. It was a different type of printing. It was being printed directly from a photograph. It was altogether different.
CW: I bet it was faster too.
CW: Going back to that first job you had when you were in high school did you have any inkling – no you must not have had.
DB: I had no idea what a linotype machine was at that time.
CW: Oh is that right!
DB: I was thinking about going to college at Bowling Green. After my conversation at the office I decided to take their option. I left the newspaper in 1951 and enlisted in the Navy.
CW: Oh that was World War II.
DB: No, the Korean War.
CW: Oh yes that is correct. World War II was over in 1945.
DB: I came back in 1956 and started working for the newspaper again.
CW: What did you do in the war?
DB: I was on a ship on the east coast in Rhode Island. We took care of the controls that fired the guns. It was a repair ship that I worked on. We would repair equipment on the destroyers.
CW: Lenhart Lange was on a ship and his job was to work way up high on a deck. Is that what you call it.
DB: You mean the crows nest.
CW: He would have to watch to see if any Japanese ships were coming. He would have to wait until he could almost see their faces. He said it was so hard to do because he said it would have been so hard to kill. Wars are so awful. So you were on a repair ship during the war.
CW: Did you stay in dock most of the time?
DB: Mostly. We went to the Caribbean in the wintertime. That was enjoyable.
CW: Oh yes.
DB: We went over to the Mediterranean and I saw all the countries along the Mediterranean Sea.
CW: You got to travel quite a bit then.
DB: I got to see a lot of things when I was over there.
CW: Now Lucille, where do you come into the picture?
LB: We met when he was home on leave.
CW: Oh he found this good looking gal here.
LB: He was in uniform at the time. We met at the Metropole.
CW: Now that would have been the old Metropole out on Scott St. Did you live here in Napoleon?
LB: Yes, I lived out in the country. It was just five miles north of Napoleon. I went to Liberty Center High School.
CW: Was it in the summer.
LB: It was in 1954. Of course Dick had to go back on duty so we did a lot of corresponding for a couple of years till he got out of the Navy. He got home in April of 1956 and we were married in September of 1956.
CW: That would have been a trying time.
LB: Yes it was.
DB: I retired from Tomahawk Printing in Wauseon in 1993. In April of 1994 I went to work at Sauder Village in Archbold. I am still working there. This will be my 19th year at Sauder Village.
CW: My sister-in-law works over there in the doctor’s office.
DB: I know her. I work in the print shop and I do some of the printing for the Village in there. I keep the machinery maintained. I run the linotype there.
CW: I would imagine there are a lot of people that are very interested in how you set type.
DB: There seems to be. Most people that come through there have no idea how printing was done before the computers.
CW: People would not have the slightest idea.
DB: People are really impressed by that linotype machine.
CW: Weren’t those machines big and weren’t they noisy?
DB: Yes they were. Now the New York papers might have had a hundred of those machines in operation at once. Like Toledo had 37 of those machines. The reason I know that is I had a friend who worked at the Blade for quite a few years. He also worked at Sauder Village and he finally had to quit because he was 92 years old.
CW: Oh my goodness.
DB: He was still pretty active up until that time. We will go back to work again at the Sauder Village on May 1st.
CW: I wondered when the Village would start up again. I have a friend who works at the Village just two or three days a week. That Erie Sauder that started the Village was a very upstanding person.
DB: I was there a couple of years while he was still living. He would walk around and come in and talk to you every day.
CW: He started making church pews too. I think they probably don’t make too many of them anymore because they used great big trees. So now when you married Lucille where did you live at first?
LB: We lived in an apartment on West Main Street for the first year and then we bought a house on Brownell Street. We lived there for about thirteen years. Then we rented a house for a year while we were having this house built. That was forty years ago.
CW: It certainly seems like a nice comfortable house.
LB: We have three children, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
CW: Families grow very fast.
LB: We lived on a farm and Saturday evenings we would go to town. I had three sisters. We would go with my mother. We would go to The Cash Quality Store to Meyerholtz’s Store and to Shoemaker’s. I didn’t always go with my mother because I would sometimes meet my friends. Our whole group would just walk around and walk around. We would stop at the popcorn machine on the corner by the 5 and 10 cent store. Of course there were the drug stores with the ice cream and other things.
CW: Did you get sodas at the drugstore?
LB: Yes we did. We didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend so we were sort of limited. We would eat ice cream cones too. Dad would go down and get his hair cut at the barbershop. Mom would buy some groceries at Spengler’s.
CW: I think at Spengler’s they had tables at the back where men could go and have a beer and up towards the front were the groceries where the women could buy their groceries. I think that the women probably never went to the back part.
LB: Not much but some of them did go in the back with their husbands. We would go back there and have a hot dog and an orange soda. That was my favorite.
CW: We called it pop.
LB: Of course we didn’t do that all the time.
CW: Dick do you remember going to town?
DB: My mother would be working at the bakery. I think the bakery closed at 9 o’clock. I was at the bakery most of the time. Of course that was when I was in grade school.
CW: They probably wanted you to stay in the bakery so they could watch you.
LB: That is one of the places my mother would always stop at – the bakery to buy yeast.
DB: I can remember during World War II the farmers would come in and buy yeast because you couldn’t buy yeast just anywhere else. There was a shortage.
CW: Is that right!
DB: Of course the bakery had a pretty much unlimited supply there because they used it in their business. They weren’t rationed on the yeast but they were rationed on buying sugar. Sugar was scarce and they had to cut back on the amount of sugar they used. I can remember that part.
CW: Do you remember the green coupons they used to hand out? That was for sugar and gasoline, am I right?
DB: Yes. I think they limited buying tires too at that time.
CW: If you had a flat tire you would pretty much have to repair it yourself.
DB: I think so. Of course that is when most people did their own repairs. I read Moe Brubaker’s interview and he shined shoes for Bill Hatch, and I did too. Well I am older than Moe.
CW: Now I can remember them selling newspapers in the hotel.
DB: I don’t remember that.
CW: Anyway it would give you a different perspective if you were a kid to go where adults were talking. I think you would grow up with more of an adult attitude.
DB: I think you learn more about the town and everything else too. You would definitely have more of a developed conversation. Today now all they hear is on TV I suppose.
CW: Now the announcers use canned material if there is nothing to read.
DB: I lived on Yeager Street which was just a block from the railroad station.
CW: I always wondered where the railroad station was.
DB: I can remember going up there when the trains would come in. They would unload baby chicks and everything. The Cortrights were in the moving business. I don’t know if you remember Jack Cortright. They used to pick up these baby chicks and deliver them to various farmers. They would deliver any heavy stuff that came through on the trains. We used to spend time up at the station. I believe we would have to go see what came in. That was just for something to do.
CW: Did you ever talk to any of the people that came in on the train?
DB: No, we would just watch the trains coming in.
CW: That was probably very exciting for young boys. You didn’t have TV to watch. You just wanted something to do, I bet. Getting back to the Korean War, were you drafted?
DB: No, I enlisted. I knew I would have to go anyway and I wanted to go into the Navy so I joined the Navy for four years.
CW: Were you in then for the four years.
DB: I extended it another year.
CW: Oh you extended it.
CW: It must have been a pleasant experience for you.
DB: I went to school, so that is why I extended it for another year.
CW: What did you study at school?
DB: Electronics – things that controlled the guns on the ships and radar.
CW: Did that help you with any of the jobs that you had?
DB: Probably not. It didn’t have anything to do with my job. What was bothersome is when I went aboard this ship they had a lineotype machine on there. I knew how to run one and they wouldn’t let me get into that division.
CW: Why not?
DB: That’s just the way the service works. I think they still do.
CW: You are probably right.
DB: Something I knew how to do they wouldn’t let me do it.
CW: Somebody probably had a sheet of paper that had your name and some other stuff on it. And they had to follow their piece of paper.
DB: A guy that I went to boot camp with and he got into the print shop. He lives in Fremont, Ohio. He has a print shop and now his sons have taken over the shop. We get together once in a while and talk.
CW: North Korea gets pretty cold, doesn’t it?
DB: I never got over that way. I stayed on the east coast.
CW: Because you were in the repairing of those ships.
DB: I repaired ships from the west coast too but I stayed on the east coast all the time. The destroyers coming back from North Korea would come up right along side us. We worked on ships that had served over in Korea.
CW: Have those ships changed over the years?
DB: Very much so.
DB: They use missiles more now. Actually I don’t know a whole lot about what they are doing now but it is an altogether different way that they fire the guns.
CW: They probably make them out of different materials too.
LB: You went to school in Washington DC.
DB: Yes I did.
CW: What school was that Dick?
DB: It was what is called a Fire Control Technician School. It is the control of the guns.
CW: So you were actually responsible for the guns going off.
DB: Yes, it was the directions of the firing of the guns. It would control the directions of the firing.
CW: Yes that would be very important.
DB: We had what we called a general quarter station when you prepare for battle. On the highest part of the ship the control director works up there. It is not a very safe place up there either if we get attacked.
CW: All these jobs are important aboard ship. Did you ever get to Korea, I don’t suppose you did.
DB: No I never did. I worked over on the east coast and in the Mediterranean.
CW: Did they have submarines on the east coast when you were there?
DB: Oh yes.
CW: I know they did in World War II.
DB: Oh yes, we had one riding right along side us at one time.
CW: I read a book about submarines and about one that was on the east coast of the United States. It must be real hard to be in one of those little tiny things.
DB: Our ship was a good size. We had about eight hundred crew members there.
CW: That is a lot of people. Did they all have set jobs or did they alternate jobs?
DB: They all had their own positions.
CW: Now I know what I wanted to ask you. You would go up there to the bakery after school and what would you do?
DB: Most of the time I just enjoyed watching my dad work.
CW: It is amazing you would be that quiet and just watch.
DB: They were busy and they didn’t have much time to spend with me. They had to get stuff ready to sell for the next day. Shortly after 5 or 6 o’clock they would close down. Then my dad would go home and sleep. He had to get up at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.
CW: Would he get time off after he got stuff baked?
DB: No, he had long hours and he would come home and eat supper and then he would go to bed. He would sleep till early in the morning and then go back to the bakery.
CW: Your mother would have to have a big meal at night and another big meal the next morning.
DB: I really don’t remember. She would be working at the bakery too. She was a clerk too and I guess the gang woud fix their own breakfast.
CW: People used to do a lot more visiting out on the sidewalk downtown. Do you remember those things?
DB: I don’t remember for sure but I think they used to have benches outside of their stores.
CW: You mean on the sidewalks.
LB: I don’t remember that but it’s very possible that they did.
CW: I grew up in the city and it took me a while to get used to people that they hadn’t seen in a while talk for over a half hour or more. They kind of expect that. I would run out of things to say after a few minutes. I think it is just a real nice custom. People in a small town not only know each other, but they work together.
LB: It was always fun on a Saturday night to meet people and talk together.
DB: We had two theaters – the World Theater and the State Theater. The State Theater was over there where the Henry County Bank built their new bank. The World Theater was right beside the alley. The Bassett Store was on the corner and then the dry cleaner.
LB: Bassett’s was on the other side of the alley.
DB: The theater was on the other side. Most of us never went to the World Theater. They would have cowboy movies every Saturday. That is where you had to go if you wanted to see a cowboy movie.
CW: Russ Patterson said he remembers a lottery in the theater.
DB: My mother went on what they called Bank Night or something like that.
CW: I think that it was called Bank Night.
DB: She won a stove one night.
CW: Do you mean a cookstove or what.
DB: Oh yes. You didn’t know that Lucille, did you. We never won any money.
CW: Who did win the money – was it just certain people?
DB: You would have to register ahead of time. They would have a drawing at night.
CW: Did you have to register ahead of time, or when you walked in.
DB: You would register ahead of time or that night too.
CW: Did you have to buy a ticket?
DB: It was an admission ticket is what it was.
CW: If there wasn’t any formal entertainment going on that would have been interesting. Your childhood would have been different from most children because you were right there in the bakery. I wonder what most of the other children did for entertainment. Children would walk around outside.
LB: We made our rounds just walking around and talking. We were mostly on Perry Street. It probably depended a lot on what age we were as to what we did. We would walk across the street and go down one side and do it over again.
CW: Were you hoping to see anyone in particular or just see a whole bunch of people.
LB: Actually I don’t remember. We were just two or three girls looking around and walking.
CW: What did you wear in those days? No slacks!
LB: Oh no. I don’t think I owned a pair of slacks when I was younger.
CW: They would have been dresses. My mother even made me a coat.
LB: My mother did that too. I remember one coat was a hand me down from my cousin and she took it all apart. She made me a nice coat out of that. I remember it had a fur collar on it. I was really thrilled when I could finally get a store bought coat.
CW: The boys probably had store bought clothes.
DB: I did probably yes. We wore overalls – what they call jeans now a days.
CW: Didn’t most of the boys all wear bib overalls?
DB: The city guys never did. The country boys did. Not that we had anything against them. I guess the country boys were more comfortable wearing the bib overalls.
LB: They would work out on the farm you know.
CW: Did you have odd jobs that you would have to do when you got home from school?
DB: I mowed the lawn with a push mower. We had a reel mower, not the electric kind.
CW: That would develop your muscles.
DB: I hate to say this but I helped with the dishes once in a while too.
CW: Didn’t you have a newspaper job when you were a kid?
DB: Yes I delivered the Daily Newspaper.
CW: Did you use your bicycle?
DB: Yes. I was also a substitute Toledo Blade carrier. Somebody else had a regular route. When he went on vacation I would do the route for him.
CW: How did you know which houses to deliver the Blade to.
DB: He had a list for me. I would just follow that. You went on the route and you learned just by site I guess. You wouldn’t miss very many houses and if you did you heard about it.
CW: Well the bakery did they use a lot of milk?
DB: I don’t know if they used milk. They probably used cream.
CW: Yes, for the filled doughnuts they would use cream.
DB: I don’t recall them having a lot of milk. I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to this.
CW: That reminds me of how milk used to come in those glass bottles. They would use a carrier and would set the carrier down.
DB: We would set the empty bottles out on the porch. I remember reading in one of the interviews how the milk would freeze and lift the lid right up. I can remember that.
CW: Cream would separate and rise to the top of the container and when the milk froze it would raise the milk right up out of the bottle.
DB: Ice would be delivered to the house also. We didn’t have a refrigerator for a long time. We had an ice box on our back porch.
CW: I don’t think they would have a switch in the ice box either. Could you give us a description of an ice box? Most of these young kids have never seen one.
DB: It was just a wooden cabinet with a separation on top where you would put your block of ice. The lower part you would keep your food in to keep it separated. There would be shelves in it. The whole cabinet would be kept cool with that block of ice. Where the ice was kept there was a metal lining. It was lined with tin.
CW: Wasn’t there a hose in the bottom that drained the water from the melting ice?
DB: There would have been a pan on the bottom to catch the melted water. Of course you would have to empty this pan.
CW: Just think how important that was back when they didn’t have air conditioning in their house in the summertime. I always marveled how they could cut that ice and keep it from melting just by using saw dust in the summer.
DB: There was an article about that in last months Reminiscence magazine. They used to cut ice right out of the river. They’d pack it with saw dust. You can kind of remember it yourself back then. I don’t remember them cutting the ice out of the river here but I am sure they did,
CW: I am sure they did too. Now the time that the river flooded do you remember that in your time?
DB: I can remember when the water came up and flooded Front Street. It got up in Goose Town.
CW: How did Goose Town get its name?
DB: That I don’t know.
CW: Maybe somebody raised geese down there at one time.
LB: I think that was in Moe’s interview where they were talking about Goose Town.
CW: People used to raise a lot of chickens in that area too.
DB: There were a lot of families that had chicken coops in their back yard. I know we used to raise a couple of chickens every year.
CW: Now early in the morning would the roosters crow?
DB: Oh yes. You would get used to it and didn’t pay much attention to it.
CW: I think chicken was a staple of life at that time. It was very important. I know my mother-in-law always cooked chicken on Sundays. They ate chicken at least once a week. She used a chopping block to cut the head off. She would put the head in there and just chop it off with a hatchet.
LB: I grew up with that but my dad did the chopping part of it.
CW: That was such good tasting chicken.
LB: Your mother always made chicken for Sunday dinner too.
CW: How did she cook it?
DB: She used a big black iron skillet and fried the chicken.. I still have the iron skillet.
END OF TAPE