Interviewed by Marcia Grobogge
Conversation with Bob Brinkman, 89 years old, resident of New Bavaria/Holgate area of Henry County, Ohio
*The first part of the tape is a letter that Bob wanted to write to his great-granddaughter, Sarah. They enjoyed sending letters to each other.
Bob: Sheep when us kids were little. We had about 130 of them in one pen. A lot of times at nights, stray dogs would start chasing them and the whole neighborhood would get together and either shoot the dogs, run ’em down and kill ‘ern or anything to get rid of them. Boy, they would take a hold of a side and tear them right open.
Marcia: Did you have any other animals than sheep?
Bob: One Guernsey cow and that’d give about 16 gallon pail of milk a day and that kept the whole family in milk.
Marcia: For how long?
Bob: Year after year.
Marcia: I bet you made all kinds of stuff with that milk…
Bob: They always said they’d cook “pap”. Cook a little milk and put a little flour and I don’t know what else in it. Put it on bread or just eat it.
Marcia: It’s called pap?
Bob: That’s what they called it… cooked milk.
Carolyn (Bob’s daughter) reminisced about a cow they had growing up.
Carolyn: That one cow she just gave milk `til we couldn’t used it fast enough. I would make cottage cheese and butter. We couldn’t even give it to the neighbors. They didn’t want it because it wasn’t pasteurized. So we would churn that butter and make homemade bread yet.
Marcia: You cut down a lot of trees, didn’t you?
Bob: Worked in a sawmill for 14 years.
Carolyn: He’d walk down to the sawmill and then walk back on the railroad tracks.
Bob: A little over ten miles. Every Sunday morning Bob went to church and Sunday school. We’d do chores, change clothes and start up the tracks. I always told the rest of ‘ern I’d run on the rails until I’d get tired. Then I’d walk a little bit. Then I’d run some more. (Chuckle)
Marcia: Northcreek? Where is that? Bob: Ten and a half miles from Holgate.
Marcia: Was that a city at one time?
Bob: I think three… two grocery stores and a _____.
Marcia: That sounds pretty big…
Bob: barber shop, a grocery store and _____ radio and Brown had the grocery store.
Carolyn: There was another business store up in there.
Marcia: So what is it now, just a bunch of houses?
Bob: mostly falling down
Carolyn: An elevator
Marcia: What is the elevator called?
Carolyn: Northcreek elevator. I used to go out there to get feed.
Bob: And then do you know what would happen? I only got 15 dollars a month for my wages when I worked on the mill. When I would see my dad, he’d say. “Are you going to give me your check this week?” So I had to give it to him to help buy feed for the rest of the kids.
Marcia: How many kids were there?
Bob: Only eleven.
Marcia: Only eleven, and where were you at in the order?
Bob: The second.
Marcia: So you were one of the older ones and had to take care of the younger ones… Bob: Dolores was the oldest.
Marcia: So what did your dad do?
Bob: Sat on his duff or whatever you want to call it. (Chuckle) He and work didn’t agree very good. Marcia: So he was lucky to have you guys around there to pick up the slack, sounds like…
Marcia: What happened to your mom?
Bob: She died when she was only 38 years old. Annabelle (Buenger) was born in January, no, but any how, she was only a month and a half old when mom died.
Marcia: So who took care of her then?
Bob: Well, this Martha, our lady preacher we had, she wanted to know what dad did with all them kids… I said he just took them out and dumped them where somebody would take care of them.
Marcia: Did all of them get taken care of?
Bob: Oh yeah. Some of ‘ern was old enough to help work. Some of ‘ern wasn’t. Some of the little ones, they was too little. But all the bigger ones they had went where there was chickens, cows, or any chores that people had and they’d help do chores.
Carolyn: Grandma Bauer raised him. She was my mom’s mother. She also took Annabelle.
Marcia: Oh yeah, so you kind of had a little connection there to Alta (Bob’s wife of 68 years)…
Bob: Something, I don’t know what it was.
Marcia: So your wife’s parents took care of your youngest sister?
Bob: She helped, yeah.
Marcia: Well, Alta probably did, too, then. You guys were teenagers…
Marcia: Well that’s kind of special. That don’t happen every day…
Bob: Well, they all made it. (Chuckle) I said they didn’t all have that kind of life. Marcia: Some of them were harder than others…
Marcia: But did they all end up marrying and having kids?
Bob: Well, I don’t think Vic, that’s one brother, and Don. I don’t think they had any children. Carolyn: It was kind of late when Don had children.
Bob: Yeah. He married an older lady.
Marcia: So who are they all. There’s Dolores. Robert.
Bob: Art, Norbert, He passed away several years ago.
Carolyn: Who’s after Norbert..
Bob: Alvin or Lester
Carolyn: I think Les is older than Alvin.
Marcia: Lester, Alvin,
Bob: Then Vic.
Bob: Then Layola was right in there somewhere, down a little lower. got ’em all wrote down on a book otherwise _____. I can’t remember them either.
Marcia: There was 3 girls and 9 boys…
Bob: 8 boys
Marcia: Yeah, 8.
Marcia: So we got Robert, Vic, Art, Lester, Norbert, Don, Alvin and Lee. There we got them all.
Bob: And they all got along.
Oral History done by Marcia Gobrogge, wife of Bob Gobrogge, grandson of Bob Brinkman, son of Ron & Carolyn (Brinkman) Gobrogge. March 2004.