The following history was prepared about eight or nine years ago by Bill Von Deylen, shortly after his marriage to Janet Inselman.
LIFE MEMORIES OF BILL VON DEYLEN
We are going to record Bill’s family history.
Jan has been after me to jot a few things of my life down for family. Otherwise how are they ever going to know some of the things that happened through your lifetime. So just a few words about me and my years on this great earth.
I, William Henry Von Deylen, was born 13th of September, 1928. I was born to Harry Von Deylen, actually it is William Harry Von Deylen and Laura Plassman Von Deylen in Gerald, Ohio. Dad was in the livestock hauling business and Mom ran a grocery store. We lived in the back of the store with a kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedroom on the ground floor. The upstairs was sizeable with three bedrooms and another room not used for much of anything. We had a wood shed, a barn-like garage and an outhouse. The wood shed as I remember was mainly a junk shed, but I think Mom did our laundry in there, at least through the non freezing months of the year. Dad used the barn for clover seed business, cleaning, buying and selling all kinds of small seeds, such as alfalfa, red and mommoth clover, timothy, sweet clover, and so forth. You know what the outhouse was used for. I just remembered that there was a chicken coop back behind the outhouse. It was used for laying hens, never into layers very much though. I was born in the house and grocery store in Gerald.
I had two sisters. Donna was born June 18, 1930 and Lois was born October 28, 1935. They were also born in Gerald. They gave me many moments of grief, as younger sisters always get their way. I don’t know how I put up with it. Donna was married to George Higbea. They have two daughters – Cathy and Shelly. Lois was married to Don Arps and they had three children – Lori, Chris, and Steve. Both of my brothers in law have since deceased.
I do have to say I was always blessed with good care and clothed nicely. I had a dog named Pilot, and although there wasn’t that much fast traffic in those day, especially through Gerald, Pilot succomed to one of the slower ones. Pilot wasn’t very smart I guess. Growing up in my school years and living in this home with the grocery store attached I had access to the candy case, but only when Dad and Mom weren’t watching. Looking back I know that they were much too busy and I hit the candy much too often. I had confiscated an empty cigar box in which I assembled a cache of tobacco products that I would use much later in life, probably when I turned thirteen or fourteen years old. I had a pack of Lucky Strick cigarettes, a pipe, a can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco, an R. G. Dun cigar, a package of Red Man chewing tobacco, and some matches. I don’t think I waited until I was thirteen or fourteen years of age.I think it was more like ten when temptation got the best of me, and I took the R. G. Dun cigar and a match and went out behind the grain elevator across the street. I had myself a smoke. It is a wonder the elevator was still standing the next day. My parents didn’t have to reprimand me because in about a half hour I was turning all sorts of colors. I didn’t go home for several hours, but instead went down the street to my grandmother’s house. I barely got there and Grandma asked if I had been smoking. Of course I denied all. She knew immedietly and started nursing me back to health.I was so sick, summer flu I think. You know Grandma was so good, I don’t think she ever told my parents, bless her heart.
I was always the shortest guy in my class. My parents got me a full sized bicycle and found I couldn’t reach the pedals. They took the seat completely off and wrapped a bag around where the seat was supposed to be, but I still couldn’t reach the pedals. So I would just sit on it, dangle my feet and make a loud buzzing sound. I also had a tricycle and back then everybody either walked or rode a bicycle to school. I knew every family that lived in Gerald and all went to our St. John Lutheran Church and School. The school was only one and a half miles west of Gerald. With so many riding their bicycles I rode my tricycle to school. Well everyone was on two wheels so not to be outdone I would lean to one side and I would pedal to school on two wheels. I believe the other kids thought there was something wrong with me. My sisters were always sure of that. I guess you could call me a smart ass.
The house I spent a lot of time at was my Grandma Von Deylen’s. She lived across the street and two houses west of the store. She lived there with the Durhams. Uncle Willis, who worked for Dad, Aunt Marie who was Dad’s sister and their three sons, Sonny, actually it was Bill, Larry, and Roger. They had a big back yard on which we played many a ball game. We were always trying for the long ball and sometimes knocked out a chicken coop window. These games are always so much fun until the boys got bigger and better than I was. That ended that. Other families in Gerald were the Delventhals. Herman and Emma were the parents, the children were Walter and Mary Ann. Herman was a blacksmith and ran a very interesting business. He had a big old forge, a large power hammer, and a large grinder. He would repair plow shares, getting them cherry red hot and pounding them out with this power hammer. Then running the grinder and throwing sparks for twenty-five feet. He would have plows and making them like new. He could do so many fix it jobs, and all were hot and heavy work. Farmers would bring in their horses to have them shod. I remember Adolph Langenhop brought his Western buggy horse in for new shoes. He left the horse there for most of the day, while somehow he went back home. When Herman had the new shoes put on Walter had to take it back home. I was standing around just waiting to be asked to help take the horse and buggy home. What a ride! We got the horse on the road and immediately headed home full speed. Of course the roads weren’t like they are today, and not near the traffic. It’s a good thing because the three mile ride broke a time record. Out across State Route 108, then straightening out the jog on the next corner, across another intersection, and then making a sharp right turn on two wheels into the driveway. There was no stopping. I am glad the barn door wasn’t open or we probably would have unhitched the horse from the buggy in a hurry. Upon arrival Walt and I were both hoarse from yelling whoa the whole way home. Both of us were scared to death.
Two families of Gerken’s lived across the street from one another. Old John was the elevator manager until retiring. and he tended honey bees. Young John or Jack as he was always called then became the elevator manager. I don’t remember the years, but I believe before I was in high school, the Behnfeldt family moved into Gerald and then Otto Behnfeldt became the manager. Several changes in managers have taken place over the years since. The Bindeman family had a bar, grocery store, and a hardware all in one building. The second floor of this building offered dances now and then. Behind their store was a baseball diamond which offered Sunday afternoon entertainment. A local team would play teams from all around, even out of Toledo. Across the street they had an implement store, offering International Harvester equipment, then later switch to Massey Harris equipment. I am thinking that ended in the middle of the 40’s, along with the groceries and the hardware store. The bar stayed for a few years longer. The Alvin Miller family was the first house east of the trocks from us. They ran the telephone switchboard office. They got all the news first and we were about next. One of their daughters Lorna worked for Mom and helped Mom in the store. She even lived with us. She later married Harold Bostelman. She would always pick on me or maybe it was reversed. Sometimes she would give chase and I would dash out the front door of the store, out across the street. It’s a good thing the traffic was much different then. A guy wasn’t even safe in his own home, always being chased out! Once Vernon Miller and I went to the Meyer farm on the west edge of town where my sister Lois lives now. We were helping their hired hand Art Noske pick up ear corn that had been husked by hand. Vern and I rode on the wagon with this load of corn and he fell off under one of the steel wheels. I yelled whoa and Art stopped the team right smack dab on Vern’s belly. Of course we couldn’t leave it parked there, so Art said Giddyap and over we went. What a scary moment! I thought sure Vern would be dead. I don’t think he even had a bruise mark. There was a small town two miles north of Gerald by the name of Naomi. It had a building very similar to our home and store sitting right along the railroad tracks just like ours. It housed a bar and a few girls. I didn’t know what girls did there then, but I think I know now. Anyway every now and then some men would drive up beside our house and stagger around to get in. That door was always locked. Mom and the hired girl would rush around and lock the other doors to keep the alcoholics out. I didn’t know what they were there for, but I don’t think they were thirsty. After scaring the women half to death the men would finally leave knowing they were in the wrong town. I mentioned earlier we played a lot of ball games in Gerald. At noon the railroad section hand would sit under the shade tree at our store. Us boys couldn’t wait for them to finish eating so we could start a game with them. As hot and tired as they had to be. Many times they would give us a couple of innings. They never seemed to get to bat. I think they just enjoyed seeing us hit the ball like crazy. I know one of them was too fat to run. It was a lot of fun for us. This ball field was right across the road from the store between the elevator and the railroad. In the fall this was a busy place. It was a rail pick up station for sugar beets. Farmers of the area would bring wagon loads of sugar beets which had to be forked off the wagons and into the railroad cars. Sometimes it would be so rainy and muddy they would have to hook two teams to one wagon to get it up to the rail car. The farmers really earned the money they got for those sugar beets. i always had a lot of fun going to school. I had many friends, now that I think about it. I think they were friends more because I always had candy in my school lunch box. It was usually in the box because I took it from the candy case in the store. Had it not been for me sneaking candy Dad could have probably had another forty acres. Anyway many times I wouldn’t even be hungry for candy, and I would look for somebody to make a deal. I probably traded for more homeade summer sausage sandwiches than anything else. I was too young to trade for a kiss, but there were some girls I wouldn’t have minded to get a kiss from. As my sisters came to school my dealing stopped, because they just loved to get me in trouble with my parents. Just why they always wanted to see me in trouble I never could figure out, because I was always so good to them. I had this very authentic looking artificial turd. It looked so real when you saw it, it almost smelled. Well it was winter time and in the old red block building we had only a small heating stove. Of course it got real warm near the stove, and not so warm twenty feet away. I slipped that turd down on the floor close to the stove and it got real warm there. Then my Uncle Willis came by and he did a double take when he saw the thing lying there. You should have heard him. I am cleaning up the dialogue a little bit. He said “Who the h— pooped on the floor?” After ranting and raving about it he started to clean it up down on his haunches with a piece of paper, keeping his head turned away because of the power of imagination he could hardly stand the stench. Just when he had it picked up I walked over and picked it off the paper. His eyes got about as big as golf balls, right about the same time as his anger flared up. I had to start running immediately or I wouldn’t have been around today to tell about it. Grampa Von Deylen started the business in 1915, running the blacksmith shop that Herman Delventhal later had. This was a little south of the present elevator office. His implement business started with the selling of a few New Idea spreaders and a few John Deere sugar beet cultivators and lifters. I don’t know just when he first had a contract with John Deere, but business I am sure was done much more loosely then. He moved the implement business into a wood frame building across the street from the blacksmith shop. There he dealt equipment until he died in 1933. This was a time when farmers were beginning to mechanize and trade horses for tractors. This meant changing plows, cultivators, fitting tools, and so many other things. I remember Dad telling about trading in a horse on a tractor one evening and of course it took a few more days to make delivery and complete the deal. Well, the very next morning after dealing, the farmer called and said “Hey your horse died last night”. I don’t know how that ever worked out. Dad progressed into the implement business in 1934. Granddad Von Deylen died in 1933 and for about a year nothing much was sold except for parts and service. I don’t remember a lot of the early John Deere business, but the 30’s were a tough time for everyone. The business was done in an old wood frame building which was replaced in 1938 by the red block building, which the Gerald Grain now owns. In 1946 Dad built again on the east end of Gerald a cream colored building with a cement floor, furnace, service and set up area and a storage room in the back. Dad was still in the seed business and it seemed in a big way. He had the cleaning mill in the far corner with a lot of seed to run through it. He would buy from farmers and haul what he didn’t need for resale to Toledo. This was always high dollar business. Now like many other things is about a thing of the past. I don’t know exactly when we finally quit the seed business, but I am thinking it was in the late 80’s. In 1976 we moved to our present location in Napoleon. The summer months were always fun for me too. I would spend a week with Grandma and Grandpa Plassman out on the farm. Usually the week of their threshing wheat. This was done in what they called a threshing ring. A neighborhood would get together and move from farmer to farmer and thresh their wheat. One of the neighbors owned the rig and he was more or less the overseer. Of course most everything was done with horses
. I felt like a big shot when I could be out in the field going from shock to shock picking up the bundles of wheat, and making out like I was driving the team, Nell and Daze which was Grandpa’s team. They knew where to go much better than I did. Then at noon everybody came in to wash for lunch. This was kind of a problem for me because everybody washed in the same tub of water. If you were one of the last ones, the water formed almost a crust on it, and pretty much spoiled my appetite for lunch. The neighbor ladies would come in with their husbands and prepare the feast. It was always a great meal with almost anything you wanted to eat. The next day it would be on to the next neighbor and so forth until all were finished and then they started back doing their oat crop. Needless to say it was a relief when all was done and everybody had a new straw stack out behind the barn. Another week would be spent at Ted and Dorie Cordes. Their son Vern and I always played well together. We were born three days apart. Their neighbor had a pond and we would be over there skinny dipping. I remember when I was confirmed my parents got me a real nice wristwatch. Well I was smart enough to take it off before going in to swim, but not smart enough to pick it up when we were through. I never did see that watch again. Their neighbor kids were very small and I think that maybe they threw it into the pond. I will never know. Vern and I would play cowboys in the haymow of their barn. We would crawl around and hide in the loose hay, no bales, and then we would pop up and shoot at each other with one finger being our gun. Both of us fell back many times after being shot with a finger. In the winter we would go to Grampa and Grandma Plassman for a butchering day. This would always be a big long day, from about 5 am to 7 or 8 pm.I always took a day off from school because they really needed my help and I had to let the others catch up. I was there from the time they shot the animal to dividing up the meat and trying some of it at night. They would use everything of the pig except the squeal. There was summer sausage, hams, brain sausage. blood pudding, sausage, head cheese, prettles, and I am sure a few other things. Don Cordes’s dad Henry was the main butcher, and his wife Leola was next in line. I wondered sometimes who answered to who, that they knew just how much and what kind of seasoning went into each batch. Of course, Don always missed school too. One year Grampa had just gotten a new puppy. Don and I took the new puppy upstairs in Grandma’s house which was a no-no. Don’t you know the little devil did a pooh-pooh upstairs. We knew we were in deep trouble, because he wasn’t supposed to be up there in the first place. Well we got it all figured out. You see there was a square hole in the ceiling that opened up, I guess to let heat through. Right below it was the big old wood burning cook stove. We decided I would go down and when nobody was in the kitchen I would open one of the round plates with a special tool and Don would make the drop. We would burn the problem and no one would know the better of it. Everything went just as planned, except Don missed the hole in the stove top and we were frying puppy pooh on the very hot cook stove. I quickly tried to push the misdirected missle into the hole with a special plate tool. By this time it was too late to do much about it with our mess because it was burning fast on the stove and the smell of it gave us away. It wasn’t but a minute or two when Grandma walked in and took over the problem. Needless to say she wasn’t real happy about the whole ordeal. in 1941 we left the big city of Gerald and moved out to the farm. Dad bought the Gebers farm on State Route 108, which is where my son Tom built his home and lives there now. The home had no running water and no kitchen cabinets. We soon had baby chicks, a remodeled chick coop for laying hens, a few hogs and then a few cows. This was an eighty acre farm, with about seventy acres tillable. Dad bought this farm and sold the grocery store. I think mainly to get Mom out of the stress of running the store, and although it was never told, it was also to get me out of the candy case. We started farming with an old 1936 John Deere B on steel. All of our equipment was old trade-in castoffs that Dad accumulated. Dad had a strong hatred toward wild carrots. Before we had the tractor we were commissioned to get all the carrots on the farm and bordering road ditches. We pulled and dug those carrots, put them in the trunk of the car, hauled them up to the house and burned them. I got so I didn’t care if it was a carrot or not. I could care less. We had a few milk cows that we milked by hand. Dad sold milking machines at the implement store, but it was several years before we got one. On Saturday night baths were taken in a small wooden tub by the kitchen cook stove in the winter months. When it got a little warmer, only a little warmer the tub was moved into a cellar way connecting an up ground cellar and the kitchen. Very private as you might imagine. After a few years Dad did some remodeling in the house. We got metal kitchen cabinets, a refrigerator, indoor plumbing with a complete bathroom. We really had it then. Through these years Dad must have been doing well because in 1950 Dad built. We moved into this brick house on the corner of the Gerald road and State Route 108. I didn’t live there very long. It was from February 1950 to June 1950 when I was married to Phyllis Demaline and left the roost. The brick house is owned by Brad Bockelman now. Before we moved to the farm I got my first job, other than home work. I must have been twelve or thirteen years old when i got my social security card and my first job. It was at a pea vinery at Herman R. Gerken’s. This was Melba Elling’s father. Farmers would bring in wagon loads of peas on the vine. Our job was to unload the wagons, tend the boxes catching the peas, and stacking the pea vines into a neat stack. Each load we alternated to a new job. It was fun and to be making a little money was great, but we really were bushed by quitting time. They were some long days. Growing up around the implement business I always seemed to have something to do. Be it loading or unloading equipment, setting it up, cleaning and loading seed on to the truck for delivery to Toledo, or even doing a simple repair job such as riveting a knife section onto a hay mower knife. Always something. I always enjoyed setting up some of the machines. Hay rakes and manure spreaders were my favorites. Setting up a spring tooth was probabaly simple enough, but all that was so close to the floor, hard on the back. We had no steam cleaning equipment, but the grain elevator was powered by a steam boiler. If we had something that really needed cleaning we could take it there and steam it clean. It was really powerful and almost scary to use. If you layed the hose on the ground it would start to whip around so that you could hardly walk up to it, not saying anything about the hot steam coming out of it. This same steaming area would become a large mountain of corn cobs in the fall harvest. Back then everybody brought in ear corn. The elevator would shell it and the cobs would come out of the long chute to form a mountain. We played a lot of “king on the mountain” on those cobs. I don’t suppose the elevator people appreciated us too much for that but we had a lot of fun. Through the following months farmers would come and take them home for bedding. Just to touch back on the clover seed business farmers would bring in their seed in burlap bags and after cleaning the waste would all be put back in their bags for their disposal. Many times they had much more waste to take back than they had good clean seed. The clean seed was put in our two and a half bushel bags which weighed one hundred and fifty pounds each. This was all kept in neat rows with the part bags on the last full bag. This is how we kept the ownership straight, with the part of the last bag tagged with the owners name. It was so very often I got bawled out for crawling around
on those neat bags of seed. For one thing, we could get the bags dirty, and Dad was upset about that. The other was that we would knock the part bag off and it was a puzzle to know where it belonged. The farmer would then come in and sell the clean seed, which after accumulating a load was hauled to Toledo. This was always quite a project, loading and handling those one hundred and fifty pound bags. It gave you a little exercise if nothing else. During my high school years I am sure many things happened most of which has slipped my mind. Oh sure there were girls I wanted to date and a few I did, but mostly it seemed I turned bashful after grade school. We came out of a small St. John’s school environment and into a much larger school like from fifteen in a class to about double that. We played basketball and baseball and it was probably the reason I went back every day. Baseball was my favorite though. I was in the Senior class play, but don’t remember the part at all. As I think back those high school years just flew by. It was in my Senior year that Ernie Panning and I went on a double date with girls from Wauseon. As it turned out, it was a love at first sight. I guess I met Phyllis Demaline on our first date and we went to the Henry County fair. Her father in those days showed holstein cows and she had to help lead some of them during the judging. From there on we went together pretty steadily for four years. I think I only had one other date in those four years. Phyl and I were married on 25 June, 1950, and we had 42 plus years married to each other. We had so many wonderful memories and times together. It is hard to remember that there were that many years involved, although there were nearly 50 years that we did everything together. When we were first married we set up housekeeping at 219 Garden Street in Napoleon. The Korean War broke out the day we were married and I was prime bait for the draft. One and a half years later 25 January ‘52 I was drafted into the Army. Phyllis stayed in Rally, Missouri with Lorna Gerken Miller, while I was stationed near there at Fort Leonard Wood. Lorna’s husband Leonard was also stationed there. Phyl and Lorna went to the Lutheran pastor there and he helped them find a place to live. Pastor Norman and Mrs. Neola Ellerman became very good friends of ours. They helped Phyllis find a job with a local seamstress. Phyllis became a very accomplished seamstress, but then she was very good at anything she would do. She could paint pictures, build things out of wood, such as pictures, furniture, photography, calligraphy, cook, bake, make garden, and so forth. Her talents were endless, and most of them self taught. Before we were married, and after marriage, but before Army duty I am sure she put up with so many things she didn’t really want to do. You see I played softball all of those years and she put up with that even after the two years in service I went back to playing ball. After leaving Missouri in September of 1952, I was transferred to Camp Atterbury, Indiana. Housing was a premium in that area, so Phyllis moved home with her parents Everett and Myrtle Demaline who lived just one mile west of Kahrs Implement Store. I was at Atterbury for four months, then transferred to Fort Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis to study shorthand mainly. We had brick barracks. It was kind of like going to college. We studied English grammar, typing and shorthand. Believe it or not I learned to take court trials by shorthand. After this four months of schooling I was sent back to Atterbury and I spent my last nine months of Army life there. The last seventeen months in the Army I was home every weekend. Never missed one. I was 230 miles away from Camp Atterbury and about 200 miles one way to Harrison, but it was worth it coming home. Only once did I have a problem. I real ended a Cadillac in Marion, Indiana on the way back to camp one weekend. My time in service amounted to two years and one day, long enough. I never had a furlough the whole time in service, but I did come home every weekend. Three weeks before I was discharged we had our first born, Thomas Henry, born on 5 January, 1954. Phyllis and Tom lived with Everett and Myrtle until I got out of the Army. Then I moved in with them also. We were there a few months until Mart and Norma Damman’s house was completed. Then we moved into our old house on the farm. Tlhis is where Mart and Norma were living when I got out of the service. This is where Tom has built his house since. Twenty three months and twenty days after Tom another bundle of joy came to us, in the form of a girl named Anne Elise, born the 24th of December, 1955. As it turned out this was our complete brood, until the kids got married and gave us some grandchildren. We lived in this house, but we didn’t farm the ground. We did have chickens and angus beef cows. Otto Dehnbostel, across the highway, also had beef cows, and the two of us shared a bull. Whenever one or the other needed the bull we would open the doors to the barn and chase him to the other, all without a leash or anything on him. I guess he knew what was up. One time while living there it got real stormy. We both, Phyl and I, thought we heard noises, like the house was on fire. Well I went out without Phyllis knowing I was out there. Pretty soon she came out and saw this guy backing away from the house. She didn’t know that it was me. She screamed and ran back into the house with me about three steps behind her. We both were scared to death because she thought I was some sort of monster coming after her and I thought she saw somebody behind me. We both lay on the couch for a little bit until we could come to our senses. We heard no further funny noises after that. In 1962 we built the house we live in presently. This is the same year that St. John’s church was built. Elmer and Fred Kruse were our builders. They were always very flexible with us. We didn’t have a lot of money so they would let us do as much of the building as we could. I must say Phyllis did much more of it than I did. Of course I was working every day at the implement business. I have to say she probably knew much more about what needed to be done than I did. We did the insulating, put the plaster board on, put in extra nails in the subfloor and so forth. We did the painting, staining, and varnishing. Night after night we worked on the home. During the hours of light and on weekends I hauled fill dirt from the ditch that goes through our farm. I loaded the truck with a tractor and loader from the shop. One hundred and one loads later I felt I had enough of it and called it complete. I used the same tractor and loader to level and make the grades. We sowed our own grass, covered it with straw and planted our own shrubs. You can say the whole project was kind of home grown. Phyllis and I had our spats over the years. Sometimes it would be the silent treatment for a day or two, but always there was a makeup time. We both had our sick times, but always seemed to come out strong. I spent a couple of days in the hospital with a prostrate problem in the middle 60’s. Then I had back surgery on a ruptured disk about 1965, and again the same disk about 1970. I have an X scar to prove it. Phyllis had more serious problems over the years and came out fine until the end. She had a mastectomy along with removal of some lymph nodes. She went through chemo and radiation and was declared clean after about two years. I am not sure what year this was, but I am thinking early ‘70’s. A year or two after that she was taken to the hospital with a very rapid heart beat, hardly able to count the beats. In the hospital about a week with this she came out pretty good. I don’t know, but I think this was caused by the radiation she had received. In August of 1990 we started doctoring her with what proved to be the worst. She ate some sweet corn and became all gassed up. Well she thought I can get along without sweet corn, then we found out it wasn’t the sweet corn at all. Further tests showed that a lump was in her abdomen. She had surgery sometime near the holiday
s, and the worst came out. She was full of cancer. They took everything they dared. We weren’t given much hope. Again she went through chemo and radiation. She was so very sick with the first chemo treatments. She lost all her hair and the whole bit. The following year she seemed to come out of it pretty good. The following holiday season she was in again for surgery. More chemo and different medications were only a small help. At Thanksgiving time in 1992 she ate a good meal, but I think it was her last good meal. The next day cancer had grown everything shut and she was not able to pass anything again. She spent her last four weeks in respite care at Henry County Hospital and died on 3 January, 1993. This has been a very hard thing for me to talk about. Phyllis was very talented and died much too young. This began a very hard time for me. I had my children who by this time had married. Tom married Sandra Gerken on June 26, 1976. They have three children, Cori, born 21 August, 1977, and Haley, born 10 February, 1980, and Kylee born 24 April 1963. Anne married Tuffy Rausch, Wayne Tuffy Rausch on 9 August, 1980. They have two children. Nick was born 27 November, 1985, and Teal was born on 4 April 1988. My oldest grandchild is married to Adam Niese, on August 5th, 2000. These two have a couple of years in already as teachers. Cori is in Napoleon and Adam is in Archbold. This period following Phyllis’s death was so very quiet and lonely. We did everything together. People would say they knew how I felt, but unless losing your spouse happens to you, you just don’t know and realize. At least this is the way I saw it. I went in to work every day and saw Tom and all the help there. Talking every day with customers was a great help. Anne and her family were very supportive and would pick me up to go out to eat, and possibly go shopping. This all helped. The worst time would be coming home from church and you knew you were going to be alone for the rest of the day. There were times when I would just sit there and bawl like a baby and think about how much better I could have been with Phyllis. Feeling guilty all day long. Approximately a year after Phyllis’s death I met Janet Inselmann, who had lost her husband by heart attack some three or four months before Phyllis died. First I met her at a Grandparent’s Day at St. John’s. Her daughter Anita, Neil Badenhop’s wife had children in our school. I talked only briefly. Then we met again at a basketball game. We talked a little there and she brazenly asked me out to coffee sometime. I said yes, maybe we could do that sometime. For years before this, Phyllis and I always ate lunch at PeeWee’s. Well, I formed sort of a support group I called it and I felt obligated to take them out for dinner for their support the past year. They were all happy and excited to go because I told them I was bringing someone. Of course no one knew who it was and I wouldn’t tell them. They guessed so many people thinking it would be one of the nurses from the Lutheran Home. My mother was a resident there at that time. I drove that night and picked up Elnora and Eldon Koppenhoffer. When they crawled in the car Elnora couldn’t believe it. She knew Janet well from her home church on 65 near Deshler, in fact Elnora’s daughter baby sat for Janet’s kids at times. We went to Sauder’s Barn to eat that night and when we walked in we saw Gertrude Kurtz and Herb Honeck at the door. I was lagging back and they had no idea I brought Janet. They spoke to Janet and of course Herb knew her well because Herb’s daughter was married to Janet’s son Gregg. All at once they realized it was Janet that I had brought to the dinner. Those that did not know Janet got acquainted real quick as she is an excellent mixer and one that has never met a stranger. After dinner all were invited to my house for a drink and maybe some dessert, I don’t remember. Janet pitched right in and helped me serve the group. Quite a lot to ask of someone on their first date, but Janet obliged. We found we had a lot of things in common. I loved sports, and she has two sons coaching and was hooked on sports. I found this out very soon because she never missed any of her son’s games. Janet has six children, four girls and two boys. The oldest is Karen and is married to Dave Bishop, they have four boys, Chad, Marc, Paul, and Drew. Second is Kathy who is married to Bill Beck. They have four children, Owen, Katie, Janie, and Jackson. Next is Gregg and he is married to Jayne Honeck. They have two boys, Jeff and Mike. Next is Anita who is married to Neil Badenhop, and they have three children, Joe, Megan, and Clay. Then comes Joleen who is married to Scott Leonard. They have three boys named Gregg, Brad, and Mitch. Last is Bill who married Robin Behrman. They have two girls, Jenna and Karissa. Karen’s number two son Marc was married in November of 2002. Wowee what a family! I had a little problem getting all the names straight at first, but I think I got them down pretty well now. We courted for only about four months and decided to marry. We were married on 24 April, 1994 in a small ceremony with immediate family and a few close friends as guests. The word got around fast and a surprise belling was planned. It was a large crowd all set up to go to VFW with much food and music for dancing. When we got home that night at 2 o’clock we soaked our feet for about two hours. We have now been married for over eight years and there has never been a dull moment. We have always had many relatives to visit and discuss life with. Janet had four brothers, Clifford, deceased, his wife Arlene also deceased, Howard, with wife Doris in Deshler and Florida, Pete and wife in Illinois both deceased. Harley and wife Pat, of rural Deshler. Then there were three sisters, Lois with husband Earl Geer living in Florida, Arlene with husband Bill Goodwin. living in Roanoke, Virginia, and Judy with husband Otie living in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. We have traveled here and there and enjoyed each trip from our honeymoon in Frankenmuth, Michigan to Hawaii a year ago, and Europe a few years back. All were a lot of fun. Our winters, at least February and March have been spent in Florida. Janet and I still have our differences. She is still a very strong Patrick Henry fan and I lean a little to Napoleon, although I have attended so many PH events my side of the family is getting a little worried about me. Janet does sway a little sometimes because Anita’s kids go to Napoleon. Another difference we have is Janet is a Cleveland Indians fan, along with most of her family. I am a diehard Detroit Tigers fan. When they play each other we have our little laughs. She sees the Tigers much more than I see the Indians because I force her to go see the Tigers in spring training in Lakeland, Florida for almost all their home games. Someday maybe she will come around and see the light. I try to appease her by going with her to concerts and plays. She I believe would go to every one in a radius of fifty miles, and maybe I am stretching it a little, but she really does love them. I usually am opposed to going until we’ve been there and have heard them. I find they weren’t too bad after all. Sometimes they play the music too loud so I can’t sleep. There are so many incidents and episodes I could tell about that I would make this a novel, but don’t think they are always pertinent. Some I wouldn’t mind telling about, others I shouldn’t tell about, which could incriminate me. I hope the statute of limitations has passed when I say this and I am not real proud of this one, but once riding with Ernie Panning in his ‘36 Ford four door sedan we pushed over most of the mail boxes from Ridgeville Corners to Napoleon. Now wasn’t that fun! When I was a kid in grade school I had a pair of boxing gloves. I would put them on when somebody and punch a bit, and once I picked on a guy too big. He got a lucky shot in on me. It was a stinger that surprised me which ended that and I never put them on again. What a cry baby! I have been very lucky to have had two lovely and pretty wives. The likeness
of Phyl and now Janet is almost scary. You see in their childhood they were both E.U.B. church members. They both loved music and the old revival hymns, which is what I kind of like too. Both were very active, always willing to help their kids with whatever they needed. Janet is especially energetic. There is no quit to her, always ready to go forward. I do think there are times when she is relieved to be home and ready to relax. Now I am happy to have Janet near me. She is a very loving and Christian lady who tries to and does everything for you. She is always ready to give me the best and the most of everything we have or do. We have now been married over eight years and they have very happy and eventful years. I pray daily that the Lord will continue to let us have this wonderful companionship for many years to come. I have and so has Janet experienced the loneliness there is when you have no spouse. Now we ask that by the grace of God we can continue to enjoy the love of life and be the good children of God until the end.