Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, transcribed by Marlene Patterson, with comments by Jan Stover
CW: Will you give me your name.
LG: My name is Lucille Grieser.
CW: What connection did you have with the Napoleon Creamery?
LG: My husband Fred became the manager at Uncle Earl’s upon his death.
CW: And you are?
CW: I am Jan Grieser Stover. I am the third oldest of Fred and Lucy’s children. I grew up with the Creamery as a little kid through the present day until we sold it. We sold it December 31, 2010.
CW: Now that was how many years you were in operation.
JS: It was 85 years.
CW: That would have been a long time. Now Lucy you spoke of your Uncle Earl.
LG: Of course that was Fred’s Uncle.
CW: What do you remember about him?
LG: He was always sweeping. He always had a broom handy. He would be sweeping way out on the sidewalk or on the truck dock. He would always be sweeping and cleaning.
CW: He wanted to keep that place spotless.
LG: He was always there to greet the people.
CW: Let’s go back to when you first met Fred. And what was his connection with the Creamery.
LG: That was back in Defiance. I worked at the radio station in Defiance. He was back from the Army.
CW: This would have been after World War II.
LG: Yes, he was in college at Ohio State. They had the GI Bill for Veterans and he was going to college. He was studying dairy technology. That is what Uncle Earl wanted him to study so he could come back into the Creamery and do the testing. That was all tied in together. He was at Columbus and he had four years of college. He was a good student and a very intelligent man.
CW: How did you happen to meet him?
LG: Well, it was in Defiance after a CYO meeting at a bowling alley. We just got to talking at this bowling alley. He was with Tom Melton. He took me back to my apartment and we made a date to see each other. It just seemed like we clicked. He the only child of Fred and Mary Grieser. His mother had three children from a previous husband and his mother had died in 1962.
CW: Now was he nice? Was he good to you?
LG: Oh yes. He was a very thoughtful man. I never felt alone. Like I said he was thoughtful. He would call me and say “Mom we are going to go away for a short trip”. We would go away for maybe two to three days. My older sister Irene would come in and stay with the family while we were gone.
CW: And you would just agree. Women did that in those days. Men were the head of the house.
LG: He was. He was very considerate of me and I never felt put upon. We had nine children. We lived in a smaller home on Maple Street. Then we outgrew that and bought a house on Leonard Street.
CW: Nine children was just not too big of a family in those days. You were good Catholics and were expected to have children whenever you could.
LG: I have sisters that have fourteen children.
CW: Is that right!
LG: They didn’t seem to think I had a big family. I didn’t either and I think Fred handled it very well. He was a good father wasn’t he Jan.
CW: Having been raised alone I would think he would have been happy to have that many children.
LG: He enjoyed his kids.
JS: It wasn’t just us kids, but the neighbor kids as well.
LG: They would have all their friends over too. There was Bob and Jane Yarnell behind us. They had Kevin, Tom, and John. We had quite the neighborhood. I know they would go down in our basement. We had a round kitchen table and they would play cards down there. They got kind of rowdy sometimes. They were good kids.
JS: Dad coached Little League too all those years. He was with Lloyd Fruth. He enjoyed all kinds of sports.
CW: The Downey family was a big one and they were close to you too. Now what they did was they had to clean up their downtown bar. They would do that every Sunday morning after church. That was their job. He just had them help.
LG: Did you play with one of he Downey kids?
JS: Yes. K C Downey and I graduated together. Ann said after Gene wrote the article in the newspaper that us kids worked harder at the Creamery than she did at the bar.
CW: What was your job at the Creamery then?
JS: I did mainly office work. We did lots of things and of course the boys worked harder than us girls did. They had the cream cans that they had to dump. They were heavy. The cans weighed over fifty pounds.
CW: Were those the cans the farmers kept their mik in?
JS: Yes. The boys would have to empty those cream cans. One of the boys said that our cousin Ron Gerdeman could carry two of those cream cans and our boys could just carry one at a time. It was a hard job just carrying one can. The cream had to be dumped and pasteurized. I don’t know how many of them learned how to do the testing in the lab. Dan and Tony might have.
LG: Of course Chris was thirteen.
JS: I don’t know how many of them learned to do the testing which was more complicated. The cream would go down to the churn floor and would go around and around in the big churn. They would have to pull it out once it turned into butter. It was a big job to pull the butter out.
CW: How would they do that?
JS: They would pull it out by hand. They would put on a big white plastic apron on. It was plastic so the butter wouldn’t stick to anything and would keep your clothes clean. They would then pull it out. They would put it on a big stainless steel table. Then you would cut it and put it in the big cooler to chill it before you could use it in the butter machines. .
LG: I think Dan was the only one who did that.
JS: I think Dan and Paul Gasche were the two that did the pulling of the butter.
LG: Dan was the shortest one of the boys and he could get into the vats. He would get in there and all they could see were his feet sticking up. He would have to go into the churn to get the butter out. Especially the butter at the bottom of the churn.
CW: They would have needed strong arms to do that.
LG: Oh yes.
JS: Dan was an athlete too. He played football.
LG: They did all of that work and played their sports too. They had time for work and play. They all played baseball.
JS: Yes, they all played baseball.
CW: They probably started out by playing in a sand lot or an empty lot. Did you girls get in on playing baseball too?
JS: Yes when the boys would let us. We worked more in the butter room where we cut the butter. We would put the labels on and stuff. We would do that at night or after school if they had a big order. Over Easter when the grocery stores would have butter sales, we would do Babcock butter, Sani-pure butter, Kroger butter, or Sterling butter. We did all the different kinds of labels. We used them all. We did all the little dairies around the area. We had over twenty different labels we used. We were all over the area. We were in Ft. Wayne. Earl Grieser was on the National Butter Board for quite a long time.
CW: So what did he do for that then?
LG: I really don’t know. It was very official. He had to go to Washington D. C. a couple of times. This was like during World War II.
JS: I can remember him doing that so that would be in 1960 maybe.
LG: I am sure it was before that. Here, it was 1956 and 1957.
CW: Now which one in this picture is your father?
LG: This is a picture of Earl. Dad (Fred) never took any photos.
CW: A lot of people didn’t like to have their picture taken.
JS: We really have no pictures of him. Oh here is a wedding picture.
LG: You know when they start talking about it, you know he didn’t have to dress up to go to work. He wore his work clothes.
CW: Probably when they came to take pictures he would say I can’t because I am in my work clothes.
JS: I do know the milk drivers wore uniforms. I don’t remember Dad ever wearing a uniform.
LG: Did he test the milk then?
JS: Oh yes, and Paul Gasche did some of the testing too.
CW: Was this something that was required by the Federal government?
LG: Oh yes. That was the big thing as to how we paid the farmers for the cream was the amount of butterfat in the milk. We paid by the percentage of butterfat in the milk. I don’t remember all the formulas but the boys might. Tony might remember that. Then you would charge by the market price too because the market price would go up and down.
CW: By the amount of fat. The more fat the better.
JS: It would have to have a set amount of fat I am sure that would make it better.
LG: That is just how we worked and what we did.
JS: We worked on the butter machine so we did patties. We did the butter quarters. I can remember that. I used to go on the milk routes with Dad in the summertime. I went a lot of times on those routes. If the other drivers went on vacation I would help out then.
CW: I bet that was fun for you.
JS: I enjoyed doing that.
CW: What did you do? Did you get to visit with farm kids?
JS: Yes, probably not the kids. I just enjoyed taking the milk up to the house. You know I got to go into different restaurants into the kitchen areas. I just got to see so many different things. I got to see the countryside. I got to see different towns otherwise you didn’t get to get out that much. It wasn’t like it is nowadays.
CW: How did you do that and jell it with your school hours?
JS: Usually that was in the summer. I went on the summer milk routes. So when the other drivers would take their vacations and Dad would do their milk routes and take one of us kids with him.
CW: Oh yes.
LG: We would have to load up the truck with milk. We would just go from house to house.
CW: Did you sell butter that way too?
JS: We sold butter. We sold all the milk items. We sold buttermilk, or half and half. We sold half gallons and gallons of milk. We sold chocolate milk, orange juice and cheese and cottage cheese,
CW: My husband grew up on a farm near Archbold and lots of times relatives would stop in on a Sunday afternoon and Kate, his mother would say “it’s a poor cook who couldn’t find a dinner when the cupboard is empty. She would stir up a good meal. As she would go out to the barn she would skim a little cream off the top of the milk can and she would say that she wasn’t supposed to be doing this. That would have been for a special occasion. That stuff was so good.
LG: We have very fond memories of Doc Winzeler.
CW: Oh you do! What do you remember about him?
LG: This was when Dan was little – a baby. Dan got very ill and he ran a high fever. Dr. Harrison was our family doctor. We were up in the hospital. Dr. Ed was there too.. I think he called in Dr. Harrison and Dr. Manahan. I could see there was something very serious.
CW: How could you tell?
LG: I was scared to death. Here he had meningitis. He told me that they couldn’t treat him here and he would have to go to Toledo. Dad got on the phone to call Earl and tell him.. He drove us to Toledo to the hospital. I don’t remember just how many days that Dan was there, but it was maybe five or six days that he was up in Toledo. Aunt Verna had a sister that lived not too far from the hospital. She told me that I would have to come over to the house and sleep for a while. Dan was very ill and they were afraid they might lose him. He had a fever like 107°.
CW: Did he end up crippled from it?
LG: No he didn’t.
CW: Oh that was wonderful.
LG: He had no memory of it afterwards. It all happened so quick. He was walking at that age.
CW: How old was he?
LG: I think probably just over a year. Earl and Verna Grieser were just so supportive. She was a nurse and she was so capable with everything.
CW: He is the one that started the Creamery isn’t that right.
LG: Yes, that is correct. That was a very trying period for us. I know the kids were all left at home.
JS: Oh you left us all at home!
CW: Do you remember anything of that Jan?
LG: I stayed at the hospital with him.
JS: I wonder who stayed with us at home.
LG: I really don’t know. I could check with her, but she is gone now too. My whole family is gone.
CW: Oh my!
LG: I was the 2nd youngest of eight children and I am the only one left. My second oldest sister just died in October. She was 91 years old when she died. She had been in a nursing home and she was ready to go you know. I guess we got off the Creamery story.
CW: No we don’t have to follow that. These memories are precious. They are important, you see I can envision scholars coming from Bowling Green in the future looking for history of the area and finding these tapes. I think this is a gold mine. We have over 100 of these of these recordings and they are all on the internet.
LG: You realize the Grieser family came from Defiance. They were originally Defiance people.
CW: How did you end up in Napoleon?
LG: I think they emigrated to Napoleon. Their mother was supposed to have come from Ireland. They had Mable, Earl, Fred Sr., Orville. They had three boys and one girl. They all ended up here in Napoleon. Except for Fred Sr. and he stayed in Defiance for quite a while. You remember that don’t you Jan?
JS: Oh yes.
LG: When Earl started the Creamery he had an egg route out of Holgate, Ohio. When he went together with the Spengler – Ernest Spengler, who was the other guy that started the Creamery. They decided they would congregate in Napoleon. They bought the property here in Napoleon at 221 East Washington Street. It was Leo English. Those were the three people that started the Creamery. They built the building. Of course it was added on to numerous times through the years.
CW: That was such an unusual building. Was that building the one you were still using?
LG: Oh yes.
CW: How did they happen to build it in that unusual shape?
LG: I don’t know.
JS: There used to be a little house next to it. They had their ice machine in that little house. It was where the warehouse area is and they added on to that. The warehouse was added in 1970. It was the early ‘70’s.
LG: I can remember that. I didn’t know when the original building was built.
JS: That was built in 1925 – the original building. They added a coal room onto the back.
CW: That is why it had an unusual shape.
JS: It started out pretty small and got added on throughout the years.
CW: What hours did you as kids work? Did you have set hours to be at work?
JS: It was after school normally.
CW: Of course your school was very close to the Creamery.
JS: Yes it was close. We were at St. Augustine’s Parochial School. When we went to High School we would just walk to work or maybe get a ride. Usually the older ones could drive. It depended on the season or what. I can remember going in and just checking in the milk drivers. You would check the money coming in and I did all the books by hand. If you sold someone a half gallon of milk you would have to write it all down and add it all up at the end of the day.
CW: It would all have to balance.
JS: The driver might be twenty-five cents over or short.
LG: They used to buy eggs and things from farmers that brought them into the Creamery.
JS: We graded eggs too. That whole area where the office was at the end there, that used to be the egg room.
CW: How did you grade eggs back in those days?
JS: You used a light. My sister Deb spent one summer at Napoleon and in Toledo. We had branches in Toledo. She would grade eggs in the summer.
LG: I didn’t know that.
JS: She did that one summer.
CW: Then on Sundays you would probably have to wind up doing the work that hadn’t gotten finished.
JS: Sundays was pretty much a rest time. If restaurants or somebody ran out of something they would call Dad and he would go get it for them.
LG: He was very strict about not working on Sundays. That was his day of rest and recreation.
CW: That is good that he would have the one day of rest and recreation. They wouldn’t feel like they were just grinding away by working all the time.
JS: I know the guys and the boys would have to clean down the butter room at the end of the day.
CW: How could they do that. It would be so greasy.
LG: It was always so slippery.
JS: They would use water hoses and they would have water fights between themselves.
CW: They would have had a lot of fun in there too I bet.
LG: Yes we squeezed a little bit of everything into our days. The boys worked hard though. Dan made cheese spread after school – him and Pam. They had a machine. It was actually a butter churn and they would make their cheese spread in that.
JS: We did a lot of different things. We dried buttermilk. It would have such an odor. I think you can still smell that inside the building.
CW: What did you do have an oven or something?
LG: It was like a big dryer that was ten to twelve feet long. I know they used to put it in fifty pound bags. They would take it to Defiance to Diehl’s. Maybe they used it in their dog food or stuff. They sold it up there.
JS: At different times we made cottage cheese.
CW: How did you do that?
JS: I have no idea. That was in the early days.
LG: They would drain the cheese. They took all the whey off. So we had just the cheese curds left then. They would package that up.
CW: I know there is salt in cottage cheese.
LG: I think the salt was added earlier.
CW: Now this little town where we went to visit some relatives in Pennsylvania, now across the street they sold cheese baskets. They had great big vats where they would pour the milk in. They would have to stir it every once in a while. It was interesting the way they start out it was so simple and it evolves and gets more and more complicated.
LG: I know the whey separates from the curds. You would strain the whey off and you would just have the curds and you would just have cottage cheese left.
CW: Now what about what about the whey? Did they use that somehow?
LG: They might have used that to feed some animals.
JS: I remember pig farmers coming in and they would buy whatever waste you had left over.
LG: Otherwise it just went down the sewer. Whatever was left in it wasn’t important enough for them to use.
CW: I remember housewives saying that they would have to slop the pigs. I think the reason they used that term was because what leftovers they had was called slop.
LG: That’s reasonable. I grew up on a farm and that is just what the farmers did. What we didn’t use in the kitchen that would go – what we didn’t use in the kitchen – into a big bucket. We kept that for the pigs. The pigs would stay in their pig shed and the boys would take the slop out there to them and feed them. The boys would take it out to them and we had like a trough where they would place the slop. It was always a big deal when any of the pigs got out. We’d have to go outside and run.
CW: To catch them?
LG: Not me. The boys would have to do it. I tried to milk the cows and my mother told me just to go back to the house.
CW: Isn’t that what you were waiting for?
LG: The cows didn’t like me and I didn’t like them.
CW: I can remember trying to milk a cow. It looked so easy. The farmer got this three legged stool and said here is what you do. I reached out and I gave one pull and the cow shifted her feet. I jumped back, knocked over the stool and I was scaired to death.
LG: I would be too. I have always said that the cows don’t like me and I don’t like them. I will just stay in the kitchen.
CW: Speaking of the kitchen, I will bet it was a job to keep food on the table for nine kids.
LG: Yes it was.
CW: I suppose the older girls would help you once in a while. What did you do?
LG: I had a big freezer, a nine foot freezer in my basement. We usually bought a side of beef. We would get some of that into patties. There used to be a place over here where they would take care of the meat for you. They would slice it for you, grind it up and put it up into packages. Whichever sized packages you would like. It would go into my freezer. I would put some of it into a roast. That was just the way I cooked.
CW: What would you add to the hamburger or the roast?
LG: I would add onions and potatoes to the roast. With the hamburger you can do just so many different things. You can make a meatloaf just by adding tomato sauce to it. You can make sloppy joes. We used a lot of hamburger. There were always a lot of things that would be on special at a store. We would put it in the freezer. I can’t remember that I ever shopped more than once a week.
CW: Did you have a garden?
LG: No, but we had fruit trees. We had cherry trees. We had grapes.
JS: We made grape jelly. We did a lot of canning.
LG: We froze cherries.
CW: They used to bring cherries down from Michigan.
LG: I don’t know, but we had this huge cherry tree. It was almost as tall as our house. My mother would come in and help. She would go out and pick cherries. I remember this one time we had a big ladder and it started sliding and I heard someone screaming.
JS: That was me.
LG: She screamed all the way down.
JS: I didn’t break a thing.
LG: Mom always enjoyed coming in to see our family. That was my Mom.
CW: Where did she live? Did she live here in town?
LG: No, she lived out on the Ridge Road out by New Bavaria. That is where I grew up. She died when she was 79 years old.
CW: Your grandfather must have died earlier then. You seem to remember more of your grandmother.
LG: He was older than Mom. He died when he was 84. He was a quiet man. He always wanted to play cards. No matter who came in. You could hardly get in the door and he would say come on let’s play cards. And that is just what he did.
CW: You must have played lots of cards. They didn’t have the distractions of TV shows or ball games.
LG: In later years they had television.
CW: Do you remember when the first radios came in?
LG: We just always had radios.
CW: Maybe that was before your time. Originally the neighbors would gather together when there was going to be a speech by the President or something. They would all listen to the radio. My Great Aunt, oh she would scold away at her husband. So he went and got a radio that had head phones. There would sit Uncle Fred, just as happy as a clam listening to the radio.
LG: He wouldn’t have to listen to her then.
JS: Earl Grieser ran the Creamery until his death in 1968.
CW: Now Earl was the nephew.
JS: Earl was my Great Uncle.
LG: He was a brother to Fred’s Dad. The original Grieser family was Earl, Orville (Stormy), Fred, and Mabel. She was a teacher.
CW: Was Earl’s last name Gerdeman?
JS: No, Earl Grieser was one of the original owners. He died in 1968. When he died my Dad Fred took over as manager. The Creamery really grew then. We did just lots of pounds of butter every year and shipped it out everywhere. We had trucks going everywhere. Dan said he drove to New Jersey to pick up parmesan cheese. We were in Wisconsin, in Michigan, Indiana and in Illinois. We trucked cream to Columbus to Beatrice Foods. We did all kinds of things and it grew a lot when Dad was the manager. We had 30 employees. Kenny came in after he graduated from college. He started running the operation in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. They distributed products in that area. We had a big warehouse there. Mom and Dad later bought the retail center called the Mouse House. They would do a lot of that work on the weekends. They would be in Ft. Wayne like on Friday and Saturday. They would come back tired. They did a lot of that. It was a lot of driving for them.
LG: The Mouse House was a busy place.
JS: They had a lot of fun. They knew all the customers personally just like we know everybody that would come in here in Napoleon that would come to the Creamery. My sister Ellen lived in Ft. Wayne and Rick would come down and help slice cheese. Rick just loved running the cheese slicer. Ken and his wife Gail were there helping too. They did a lot of wholesale deliveries from there.
LG: It was right in Ft. Wayne, just south of Washington. It was a family business.
JS: During those years Fritz was running the branch here in Napoleon. He did that in the 1980’s. In 1985 when Dad died Tony came in and managed the Creamery for three years.
CW: Now who was Tony?
JS: He is my brother. He is the fifth oldest. When he left in 1988 he went to the Henry County Bank and then Ron Gerdeman, my cousin came in as manager. Kenny was the manager in the Ft. Wayne area. They still worked together. We had trucks running back and forth all the time. Ron worked at the Creamery, he had been there in the 1970’s already. He had been working for the Northwest Signal in the circulation department for a long time and then he came to the Creamery full time. He did a lot at the Creamery. He worked in Sales and Management.
LG: Did he do anything in producing.
JS: He worked where they needed him. He drove truck. He did everything. It was hard for me when Dad died. You would have to keep runnng the place. You would have to tell all your customers that Dad died. Then Tony comes up the stairs and he has the same voice as Dad and the same mannerisms. Then Tony left. Then Ron is there and I am working with him every day. He was very good to work with. He was a lot of fun. He died of colon cancer. Then I have to go and tell everybody and explain it all. Then when Kenny died suddenly it was just too hard. It seemed like everybody was leaving me.
CW: You would feel like that.
JS: It was time to say this is enough.
CW: What happened that Kenny died suddenly.
LG: He was hit on Route 24. He was a passenger in a car that went left of center and they were hit by a semi truck and he was killed instantly.
CW: Oh dear.
JS: He didn’t suffer. It was on a Saturday night.
LG: He left a wife and four children.
JS: His wife didn’t have any interest in the business at all. She has her own career in teaching and It was time. Things change. The volume of sales wasn’t like it used to be. We were very much more localized in Defiance, Toledo, and this area and in Lima. We still had the Eversweet label that we distribute to all the stores in this area.
CW: Does it still say Napoleon Creamery on it?
JS: Yes, it says Napoleon Eversweet Butter. We have had it produced by the Minerva Dairy for the past twelve years anyway. So that hasn’t changed at all. It is still produced at the same place. It’s the same butter now being distributed by Smith Family Foods. Same butter! So Mom (Lucy) came to the office and worked with me probably in the late 1980’s.
CW: That would have been hard to do it all alone.
JS: My sister-in-law Jeannie Meter also worked there for the past twenty years.
LG: She was working when Pam (8th oldest) got married about twenty years ago. She started working part time then. So with Jeannie working and Mom working in the office then. You get to know the customers when they come in and we tried doing different things. We carried Amish products like the Amish noodles and the Amish applebutter. We had pickles from Sechler’s and sold those.
CW: One thing that is nice about small towns is that people always have time to chat. I never did that because I was raised in a city. You just didn’t do it because you just didn’t know those people. You would have nothing to say to them and they didn’t have anything to say to you. It is such a pleasant custom.
LG: Where did you grow up?
CW: In Erie, Pennsylvania.
LG: I always thought you were from right around here. Where did you meet your husband?
CW: I met Ed at college in Bowling Green.
JS: So now after the Creamery has been closed for four months whenever I see people around town they greet me and ask me how I am doing. They say we miss you and the Creamery. I even received cards from people saying they were going to miss us. It was really sweet that people even thought that much to extend those messages.
LG: People will come up to me and ask me how I am doing. I tell them I just ramble around
the house. Which is true actually. It is hard to accept a closing like that. I told Jan I never thought I would out live the Creamery. I always thought it would be there forever. I drive past and I get depressed.
CW: What is going on in there now?
LG: Nothing. There is nothing going on in there now. To me that is sad.
CW: They still have that picture on the outside of the building of that woman churning butter. How did that happen to get there?
JS: Tony had Becky Shepard paint that in 1988. She came in and talked to him and he thought that would be nice to paint that on the building. She does a very nice job. It is still there.
CW: It is good to have it.
LG: Oh yes.
CW: It is a good point of interest for one thing. It is also a bit of history that in the future could be forgotten.
JS: Bob Small did the wooden cutouts of the Creamery building.
CW: Now who does this?
JS: Bob Small. He has done different buildings around town. .
LG: He worked for us for quite a long time too. We bought Small’s Cheese Company in 1990.
CW: What was that a retail place?
JS: That was downtown on Washington Street. Here is a picture of it. Yes it was 1990. Bob came and worked for us in sales. Of course they had their customers that they had delivered to. We took that on.
CW: Is he active in anything now?
LG: You mean Bob?
JS: I think he sells furniture out at Herron’s Oak Furniture Store in Okolona. He does all these wood cutouts of different buildings.
CW: Art Rohrs used to do that sort of thing. In December he made one for the church for the oldsters that were a certain age. I still have it.
LG: It’s not so bad getting old is it.
CW: No. Now this is a picture of Jan. I looked at you and thought this might be you. Now is this a picture of one of your siblings?
JS: Yes Pam is the eighth child. We numbered us so we would know.
LG: Chris is number nine, the last one. He lives in Columbus. He works for the Target Organization. I hope they are back in Columbus. They were in South Carolina and they were having storms there yesterday.
CW: Now Jan has some more information here I can tell.
JS: You know when we were closing I started sending out emails to my brothers and sisters and asked for their memories. You know everybody remembers something different. My sister Deb she remembers doing cottage cheese with Dad. They would have to go down at night and stir the cottage cheese. She would go down with Dad and turn on the outdoor lights. Dad would always go down at night to check the lights and make sure everything was running. The coolers were always a concern.
CW: Now would that have been down in the basement?
JS: Dad always did it in the back room.
LG: I think it was always right there just off of the office.
JS: That is where the cheese spread was too.
LG: Was that where they made the cottage cheese too?
JS: We didn’t make cottage cheese in the later years. I don’t remember making cottage cheese in later years. Down in that back entrance we did half pints of milk. I remember seeing a glass bottling machine that went around in a circle. I know it was the school milk. I remember that.
LG: Pam remembers lots of things because she used to help Dan with the cheese spread. She helped after school.
CW: What was that like?
LG: She probably just sat there and talked to Dan.
They both laugh!
LG: Pam is one that, I don’t know, she was there but she was not there. Pam is in Reno, Nevada. She has two children and a very nice husband. He has a good job. She is still flighty.
JS: Chris is the one that talked about Ron carrying the milk cans with just his pinky. Chris was just trying to pick up one can.
CW: Was he really carrying them with just his little finger?
JS: He probably could.
LG: He was very strong.
CW: Those were big cans too. How high do you think those cans were?
JS: They were up to your waist almost. They were heavy and you would have to lift them up to dump them.
CW: They were heavy when they were empty!
LG: Oh yes.
JS: What Fritz wrote about was watching Paul Gasche pulling butter out of the churn. Paul would lift him up because he was so little he couldn’t see in. Chuck Hartley worked there. Chuck Hartley, he was such a nice guy. He would give you a hug and talk to you for a while. All the workers down there were so nice to us kids.
LG: You know they were like family. They watched you kids grow up.
JS: Leonard Pfau was a milk man. Riley Stevens and Paul Hammond. They were the milk drivers that I remember.
LG: Is Paul still living?
LG: They are all gone.
JS: I remember one of Paul’s kids came in and it was Sue his daughter, when we were closing and she talked about going on the milk route too with her dad. They would get to go with their dad too. She said yes, that was fun. Jim Stevens, he went along with his dad Riley Stevens.
LG: Did the Stevens have two daughters?
JS: Do you mean Jim or Don? They had Jim and two daughters. My brother Dan has lots of stories and memories. He talks about getting in trucks and driving to Lima and Wapakoneta and getting in snowstorms and having flat tires. He has always had stories. He can remember everything. He would tell how much trouble it would be to do some of those things. He had several of his friends helping out at the business too. A lot of kids that were my brothers’ age worked at the Creamery.
LG: I think it was Jane Yarnell telling about the kids doing different things. I think some of Bob Small’s kids helped out too.
JS: Bob was telling about his brother Jim helping out at the Creamery when he was going to Notre Dame too. Like Jeff Bolton and a lot of the kids that were my brothers’ age.
LG: He just died a few weeks ago didn’t he. Jim Small had moved out West many years ago. At least ten or twelve years ago I suppose. Does Bob have any of his family left around here?
JS: His sister Jane lives here,
LG: Well I know that.
CW: I didn’t recognize you on that picture back here Lucy.
LG: One of my customers came in and did that. It doesn’t look like you.
JS: Who did that. It wasn’t Crumrine was it?
JS: He was from Defiance. He was a tall guy with black hair and a mustache.
CW: I bet you miss people to chat with. How many years did you work there?
JS: Well I went full time in 1983. No, it was ‘84.
LG: You put in four years before that didn’t you?
JS: During high school I worked there part time. Like I said I used to go in and check the milk drivers in. I would count their money and stuff like that. I don’t know how old I was then. That is how I learned to count money and everything. I knew how to add and run the calculator.
CW: Let’s see 84 from 2011 would be 27 years.
JS: After everybody left I just thought why am I still here.
LG: You were very vital. That is why you were still there.
JS: Things change.
LG: We used to have so many people coming in. I think you enjoyed it most of the times.
JS: I did.
LG: It wasn’t hard physical work.
JS: There were some years when it was hard. I did unloading of the trucks.
LG: I didn’t know that. Didn’t the drivers do the unloading on those trucks.
JS: It depended upon what you were doing. During the Blizzard
LG: What year was that?
JS: It was in 1978. We had all that snow and all the grocery stores were out of milk. They had to have milk. So they were coming in with four-wheelers, Jeeps, or whatever just to get milk. We had the milk, but we could hardly get into the back parking lot because that was all full of snow. It was just too deep so we carried the milk from downstairs. The stairs out in back are real steep. We carried the milk up those stairs. We loaded up their Jeeps and everything. Dad had to get down to the Creamery because there was cream there. You just can’t let it set. You have to process it. He called up my husband John and told him he had to get up to the Creamery. John had a snowmobile so John went and picked up my Dad on the snowmobile and Dad comes out in this little light jacket.
CW: Oh dear!
JS: John took him to the Creamery and Paul Gasche was already there. He lived on the South side on Daggett. He walked to the Creamery on his snowshoes over the river bridge. That is how Paul got to the Creamery.
CW: Oh my goodness!
JS: That’s how he made it to the Creamery. The two of them were able to pasteurize the cream and got the butter churned. They took milk to replenish the grocery stores.
LG: Remember on their snowmobile.
JS: I don’t think they went to other towns, but they did load up the Jeeps. They took milk to different places. There wasn’t that much room on the snowmobiles to carry too much milk.
LG: They couldn’t get the trucks out..
JS: But they loaded up the Jeeps. We could load them from up front. The EMS people had their four wheel drive vehicles out together with their Jeeps. They were all helping. We went out to Bernicke’s and Chief’s. I can remember them taking milk out to the Filling Home.
LG: I remember they had to go out of town for something. I was really scared.
JS: You couldn’t tell where the roads were. Ron about went crazy because he lived out in New Bavaria. It was like three or four days before he could even get into town. He was never anyone to just sit around and not do anything. He was almost jealous of us that we could get to work.
LG: It’s a wonder he didn’t just walk in.
JS: It was really bad out there because you couldn’t see the roads.
LG: It was so awfully bad.
CW: You know I always wondered about that odd shaped porch on the side of your building. I bet that was purposely high for the trucks to unload.
JS: That was for the trucks to pull up and just unload. Those loading docks came in handy. When we did UPS in later years it was really nice for the UPS drivers to load and unload.
LG: Is John still with the UPS?
JS: Oh yes.
LG: He’s been driving for them for a long long time. He came up from Texas.
CW: Is his Mother and family still in Texas? Now John is
JS: the UPS driver.
CW: That is a different John.
JS: She got off on a tangent.
LG: I do that a lot.
CW: Don’t we all do that once in a while.
JS: I remember Aunt Verna. She was Earl’s wife. She’d take us to a restaurant when I was a little kid. Aunt Verna would always ask if they would bring me a roll and some butter. If they would bring margerine she would have a fit. She wanted Butter. They would have to take it back and bring her butter.
CW: Probably you remembered that because you got embarassed.
LG: She always got her butter.
CW: What do you think of – it doesn’t pertain to this – this new stuff they came up with that is half butter.
LG: I saw an article that Moe Brubaker had in the paper once and said margarine is one molecule off from being plastic and how hard it is on your arteries. It is so much imitation and it is not good for you.
JS: Yes I am a big believer in butter and olive oil.
CW: It is interesting how they always come back to that. They tell how the other stuff is so healthy and then they will come back and say it isn’t.
JS: Butter is more natural.
LG: I cam remember Mom making butter.
CW: You mean for the family.
CW: Do you remember when you got your first washing machine? That would have been after World War II.
LG: We lived out on Maple Street then. I had this little old washer. Mom was there and I was probably seven or eight months pregnant. For some reason you couldn’t open up that thing to let the water out. I would always just tip the whole washer over. She must have been watching out the window and she yelled at me and said “Don’t you do that”. I said to Mom I have to get the water out of the washer. You know you can’t do that anymore. I guess it is dangerous for you and for the baby.
JS: How else was it going to get done.
LG: I had seven more children.
CW: There used to be a lot of old wives tales and people really believed in them. Can you recall some of the others that people thought about.
LG: I don’t know. I remember that one about the washer.
JS: I know that going through all the old pictures we don’t have any of Mom when she was pregnant. Mom had nine children and she always had this skinny little waist in all of her pictures. We couldn’t find any pictures of her being pregnant.
LG: Maybe when I was pregnant I stayed inside the house. I know I was always active. I belonged to a bridge club. I went to the grocery store. I went to ball games, the library. We went on trips. I can’t believe that there aren’t any.
JS: We will have to dig deeper.
LG: There has to be something around.
JS: I think none of us wanted to have our picture taken when we were pregnant.
LG: I never felt that way. I couldn’t have. I never would have had nine children.
CW: I remember there were a lot of things people would tell me when I was expecting. They really believed them.
LG: Tell us some.
CW: I can’t remember. That is why I was asking you.
LG: I just remember Mom yelling at me that was too heavy for me to be lifting. That was the washer with the water in it. That would have been the only way to get the water out.
CW: I think maybe the reason was they were afraid of a dropped uterus.
LG: She would not have used that term at all. It was a very definite “Don’t do that anymore”. It wasn’t too long after that we moved from that house to Leonard Street. I had my laundry in the basement. I had a washer and a dryer and a freezer.
CW: Did you have the ringers that you had to crank on your washing machine? Did you ever have to wash clothes by hand?
LG: Just fragile things. Not the whole wash load. I would still be sitting in here washing clothes. We used to make noodles. We would cut them.
CW: Tell about how you made noodles. I think that would be interesting to someone who hasn’t seen it being done.
LG: Well it was a very simple thing to do. You just took a half a dozen of eggs. Beat them up. You start with flour and work it in until it would clear the side of the bowl because you were always working in this bowl.
CW: So it is just eggs and flour!
LG: And salt. You didn’t have to put salt in, but I did. Then you would get out your
JS: rolling board.
LG: I was thinking it was a board. I had a board that I always used when I made pie crust. You would take out just enough like for one pie crust. You would roll that out. I would usually stick them in the refrigerator, because it takes a while to roll out pie crusts. I would usually have enough crusts and flour
JS: Are you doing crusts or noodles?
LG: I am doing crusts right now.
JS: You went from noodles to crusts.
LG: I don’t remember making noodles.
JS: I don’t either. But your mother did.
LG: Well Mom did. Of course she had more chickens. If she had cracked eggs or anything she would just save them and make noodles. It was the same process actually. You would just roll it out.
JS: You would use flour when you were rolling or you would use more lard or Crisco for the pie crusts. I think that was the only difference between the two.
LG: After you rolled it out with your rolling pin and you would keep rolling until it was all rolled out. Then you would roll it up and slice it off.
CW: Didn’t they have to dry the noodles?
JS: Yes, they would lay them across chairs and whatever else you could drape them over.
CW: Every chair would have a noodle on it.
JS: I can remember that part of it.
CW: Then they would wait until it became a certain consistency and then cut it. What would they do after they cut the noodles. Would they let them dry some more?
LG: I think Mom usually put them in a bowl after they were dry enough. Then she would go get a bag and store them in there.
JS: We had this one where you put. It was not a drawer, but more like a
LG: flour bin? It used to be a flour bin and she used to keep a couple bags of noodles in there. For some reason. Everybody had a kitchen cabinet.
CW: There used to be a flour sifter in it. You would turn the crank and the flour would come out.
LG: You would have to put the flour in at the top. Later on she didn’t do that anymore. She would keep the noodles in her flour bin.
CW: It would have been a good place to let them get dry.
LG: My mother was so afraid of mice. She would just stand there and scream. We would all run out and here it would be just a mouse. We always thought that was so weird- growing up on a farm and you have mice and rats, chickens and hogs and all that and she stands there and screams when she sees a mouse.
CW: Mice are such sneaky things.
LG: I don’t like them either. If there is one around I don’t want to be anywhere near it. I don’t think we ever had a mouse on Leonard Street. We have been very very lucky.
JS: He said there were probably too many kids around that scared them away.
CW: Was Deb your oldest?
JS: I am the third. So Kenny was in the middle. Deb, Ken, and I, then Fritz and Tony and Dan. Then Ellen and Pam. That’s the order of our family. Chris is the youngest.
LG: I had five boys and four girls. It just seemed so weird. Like somebody else they would have a girl and then a boy. It never happened to us. It worked out fine.
CW: You had a good mix. We had one boy and then one girl. Ed said you name the boys and I will name the girls. Then I never had another girl. What we could do is take that and we will get this returned to you.
LG: When I worked at the radio station I would have to type up the log each day.
CW: What was going to happen each minute I suppose.
LG: Yes and usually you would have to put out when an announcer was doing this. I worked five days a week. Monday through Friday. I worked in Napoleon after we were married. I was working there before I was married.
CW: Now how did you say you met Fred?
LG: I met him after a CYO meeting. We went to a bowling alley and we were there together.
CW: Were you bowling too?
LG: No, it was just like a place where you could stop. I think Irene Hays and I were together that day. That is just how I got to meet Fred.
CW: Now that was in Defiance.
LG: Yes that was in Defiance. I lived in an apartment with Irene Hays. I lived in Defiance.
CW: Was it pretty forward looking in those days?
LG: Yes it was very unusual. Do you know where Masters Machine Shop was? It was close to a place where they had cars and things like that. I think they called it a motor sales. There were just two apartments in this building. Irene and I had one.
CW: Did you have a hard time convincing your parents to let you live in an apartment?
LG: No, not really.
CW: They must have been pretty broad minded.
LG: I was relieved that I had a job. Before at the radio station I had worked at the Schlosser Music Store. He fixed radios, sold records, and things like that. I worked at Bud’s Hamburger Shop first come to think of it. Then I worked at Schlosser’s where he did radio repair. Then I got into the radio station. That is where I stayed until I quit working and came home and started raising my family. Which kind of kept me busy.
CW: I would think so.
LG: I sold Avon Products for a while too.
CW: That would have helped you get acquainted with people here in Napoleon.
LG: Yes they are different people. We had like a territory where we were allowed to sell in.
CW: Did you go door to door. How did you make contacts?
LG: Well I would first go around and pass out little books. They had little books you could look at. I never really went door to door. It was usually who was there first. I was not real adventuresome you know. It was fun. I remember one time when I had Chris with me. I ran up to the door, or left an order or something and I could see where my car was starting to creep backwards.
JS: You didn’t have the brakes on or something.
LG: It didn’t go very far. It wasn’t just too long after that when I quit. I thought this isn’t worthwhile actually.
CW: They didn’t pay very much did they.
JS: Then you worked at the school cafeteria at St. Augustine’s for a while.
LG: Yes I did that for quite a few years.
JS: Then you worked at the Mouse House, the retail cheese outlet in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
LG: Yes I think so.
JS: Then that got to be too much.
LG: You know I still got the letters Barb Kolbe sent me after Fred died. She sent me a letter out each day for at least fifteen days. I don’t ever remember anyone doing something like that.. It was so thoughtful. She was the sweetest lady. I still have them. I have this one special drawer that I keep all these things in. After so many years there are a lot of memories there.
CW: I think too that it is a good idea to tell somebody in your family pulling out something that you might think is valuable. I have this tiny little diamond and a tiny little chain that Ray gave me. He wanted to give me a ring and I told him that I already had one diamond and he said how about a diamond on a chain. He did give it to me once and then I lost it. So he got me a second one. He gave it to me in this little white box and on the front of it said “Hi Tooth Fairy”.
LG: How precious.
CW: So I would like to tell my daughter not to put that in a garage sale.
LG: It is valuable.
CW: I wanted to make sure they would be valued the way they should be. Not that I have a bunch of them.
LG: That is why they are valuable because there are only a couple of them.
CW: It’s the memories that come with it. Memories are valuable to us.
LG: You know where my rings are. I had to have them cut off when I broke my wrist. They cut them off for me at the hospital..
JS: Was that because your hand swelled up?
LG: Yes and they had to cut them off.
CW: Because of the circulation too.
LG: Yes. All I know is they said I had to get them off. Your John was there with me.
CW: They managed to put them back together.
LG: I guess I haven’t minded not wearing them. I would still like to get my old watch fixed. It was one that Fred had got me.
CW: Those are your memories.
LG: In Defiance at the jewelry store, I can’t remember the name of the jewelry store – darn it. I know just right where it was.
END OF TAPE