Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, March 10, 2009
CW: Would you give us your name?
JH: My name is Jim Hershberger
CW: This is Charlotte Wangrin. I am interviewing Jim for the Henry County Historical Society. Jim, you have a pretty good business worked up in repairing lawn mowers and other machines. How did you get started?
JH: I started in 1956 that was my first one. My father in law had a mower and a sickle bar, and a tiller that he had paid a lot of money for. It had been run out of oil and he stressed to me that he enjoyed that and would like to have it repaired. I offered to him that if he would buy the parts I would repair it for him. That was my first one.
CW: That was your start.
JH: I am doing 250 a year now.
CW: Is that right.
JH: I enjoy doing that. It occupies my time even though I am retired. It is work that I enjoy and it is not heavy work. I enjoy doing that.
CW: Now,think back to your childhood can you remember any incidents that sort of triggered your interest in machines?
JH: One thing that I think triggered my interest was the fact that I had worked as a mechanic for many years and we had several customers that came to Howard’s here where I was working and wanted their lawn mower fixed. They had taken it to a lawn mower shop and it would be 2 to 4 weeks before they could pick it up. They needed to mow their lawn right away. They asked me if I would fix it for them. I told them I am so busy but if you can leave it here I will take it home tonight and fix it for you.
CW: So that is how you got started.
JH: There are so many people that are so happy with the service that I give them. I pick them up. I repair them. I take them back. I have a reasonable rate that I charge. I don’t charge the high dollar because I don’t need that. I will tell you that Pastor Castello told me one day when I was talking to him and I was a bit discouraged that he said “Keep your chin up, what you are doing is a ministry in itself to the people”.
CW: That is right.
JH: I have a nice shop. I don’t have to get rid of it yet. When I do then I will probably have to hang it up and face the problem that I have now. I have always been able to overcome all my health problems and I can take it and do it again.
CW: Now did you grow up in Henry County?
JH: I was born in Malinta, two miles northwest of Malinta. My mother and my brothers and I moved to Napoleon in 1942. I didn’t really like it in town so I asked her if I could go live with my uncle. She told me I had to go ask them and they did. I lived with them a couple of years until he passed away. I came back and lived with my mother for a few months and I was lucky enough to find a job on the Crahan farm out west of town here. It was a dairy farm. I lived with those people for almost five years.
CW: Back in those days jobs were not as easy to get as fhey have been up until now. This summer may be different.
JH: I think our president has a good idea. You need to prepare yourself to advance. I guess I blindfolded myself late because I have had all kinds of job opportunities. I worked at Howard’s 32 years.
CW: Was it that long! I didn’t realize that.
JH: I was at Napoleon Auto Sales, managed the marine department for a couple of years. I went back to Howard’s. Then in 1976 I wanted to get to a 40 hour a week, I was tired, so I applied at Campbell’s, they called me the next day and wanted me to go to work the next day. I said I can’t do that because I have to give some notice. So I did. I went to work there and progressed there immediately and I had the best job in the plant as far as I was concerned. I had all the material handling equipment, all the lift trucks, the security cars, equipment.
CW: You mean you had to keep them all going?
JH: They would come to me when they were getting new trucks and say to me “what do you want to do”. I had documented which ones should be replaced, and whether we needed to trade all those in. We needed to shuffle vehicles around and replace the older units and I had to make sure I had the parts to fix them. Afterwards I got a good compliment from him. He said “I sure wish you were back there. You had your act together”. You know he took your information to a T.
CW: It has been a good and reliable company for this area.
JH: Yes it has. I started being involved with the CIC, I understand that and know the importance of it.
CW: CIC! What is that?
JH: That is the community investment corporation, of which Ralph Lange is the new director. He is a progressive type person. He is doing great things for Napoleon and Henry County. We need somebody like that. I have stayed involved, probably too much so, but I like what I am doing. As a matter of fact I just filed again for Council.
CW: You did! Good for you! Somebody needs to do it.
JH: I like it. It is getting to be a trying time now with the economy the way it is. All the requirements we have to face. I enjoy doing it. I have no obligation to it. Actually I was off a year and a half because I thought I had served my time. . Council had an interest in me coming back. They had a few things we needed to address. I was experienced in it. In fact they asked me won’t you run again. So I have just filed. I like it. My medical situation that I have now, I have had a lot of that. I always try to stay positive. I try to move in the right direction. I think that being positive is the main concern. .
CW: Do you find working with the city council difficult sometimes?
JH: Yes I do. We just had a major issue and I came home and I went to the site and studied it at home, and I thought that I needed to do something about this. I spent several evenings, not all night, but several evenings preparing it and I presented it to the rest of the council and told them how I wanted to go with my proposal and it happened. I was commended by many people for doing that. I had done my homework. I made a lot of notes and knew what I wanted to say when I got there and we got it accomplished. The sad part of it was this wasn’t done early enough. It was late on their schedule but we did it.
CW: As you probably know my husband was on the school board for a number of years. One thing that I noticed was that a lot of people will run for school board because they have a pet peeve. They will get on so they can do something about that. They are not interested in doing good beyond that. Once that is out of the way then they either stop working or go and sit there at the meetings.
JH: You have to weigh in the concerns that all of the people have. I always try to have a good basis for my decision and I think that it has usually been okay. I never never in all my years did I choose to have an axe to grind. I have served 30 years as a fireman. I served from the bottom to the top and after 30 years I decided I had to quit.
JH: It is a strenuous job. You have a lot of crucial moments when you have to make quick decisions instantly. There is no delay. You need to do it right now. Normally I did okay and didn’t have a problem. There were times and we would go back and we would evaluate what our tactics were and whether we could have done something better. We tried to educate people on what we should be doing and what we should not have done. I think that is important. We always had in the fire service we called it an action evaluation, where we would go back. It was not at the time, but at our regular meeting we would have an action evaluation. We tried to have everybody understand what we were trying to accomplish. We had a great department. We have as good or better today than what we had then.
CW: Is that right.
JH: They are very well qualified.
CW: You know I always thought that being a fireman, oh that would be an easy job. All you have to do is sit around and wait for an alarm to ring.
JH: Well, if you have had your training and if you are prepared, that is true.Then you hope it doesn’t ring. Most of us were family people. And the calls never come at an opportune time. They would come when you were ready for a Christmas dinner. You would just be ready for a Easter dinner or a family get together or a family party or something.
CW: Now you were a volunteer fireman, so they would call at your home, right.
JH: We were considered here as paid volunteers. We did receive compensation for it. I kept telling some of the other chiefs in the area you need to go with that because some of these people in the area had leave their jobs and to go to a fire or they go to a fire and don’t get to go to work. You have to consider the employers as well. So if the city or the village would compensate those people not equal to what they draw at work, but it offsets what their expense are. It would not be a total loss because they would have lost the hours at work. We also communicated with the employers to know that they were agreeable with how we wanted to do it. They would explain how they expected in regards to that. .
CW: The employer was also quite cooperative then?
JH: Yes they were. Very much so. I never seen the time when there wasn’t cooperation with the fire department. One of the big issues that I had was we wanted to go to an upgraded rescue unit with a paramedic and I totally agreed with that. I said I only have one reservation about it and I said I want all calls that they respond on to be the same. In other words, there is a paramedic on every run if we are going to go with paramedics. They were agreeable with that. They thought it was going to cost us more money, but I think it is important. Here we are trying to provide for every call is that they be uniform and we can offer the same services. A paramedic is a step above an EMT. Consequently there are more things that they can do that are more vital to their health. It worked and we got it accomplished. It was costly. I cannot see for example when you have an EMT on the run and you have one or two EMT’s. A doctor who is much more elevated from a paramedic and I didn’t want different requirements for services. I wanted to be able to provide the same service on each run. It was a good thing. We are assisting neighboring comminuties however they do not have the paramedic they need they will call us.
CW: Now let’s go back to see if you can remember this. What was Napoleon like when you were a child?
JH: Well, it had a lot of older structures yet. I guess I can’t remember a lot about Napoleon until we moved to Napoleon. Napoleon has always been a good community. A lot of things have changed. Years ago the people from the rural areas all came to town on Saturday night. It was nice to shop and the stores were all open.
CW: Oh yes.
JH: That was a good thing. Yet when I really look at that I think we are better off. People have more time to do their shopping during the week and more time in the evening. The grocery stores stay open and it gives us more free time and more flexability. They can spend more time with their families.
CW: Back then most of the people were farmers and they would have to work during the week. They worked from sunup to sundown a lot of them, so they couldn’t go to town until Saturday. What was Malinta like? Was it different from the way it is now?
JH: I think so. On Saturday nights we would go to Malinta and we would go to the Red and White store or we went to Delph’s and did our shopping. Our dad always took us along and Mom would stay at home. We had the list and would buy the groceries. We always ended up with treats and we would get a Coke. Then by 9:00 we would be on our way back home. Some things were very skimpy at that time. We raised our own chickens. We buthered our own chickens. We did our own baking. We usually butchered a hog or two and we would buy beef from somebody. We always ate good. Mom was an excellent cook. It wasn’t as fast a living as it is today. We created more of our own entertainment. We didn’t have television.
CW: Whatr did you do for entertainment?
JH: We would play Carrom or play cards.
CW: We used to play that too. We had this board and you would flick this little thing and try to get it into the pocket.
JH: We have a nice pool table here today, we have that down in the basement. When our grandchildren stop over in the afternoon they can play. It is kinda of twofold, because it can break the monotony for us and it also gives them a good feeling.
CW: Yes and it teaches them the joy of giving to someone else.
JH: Yes that is very important. I like to have fun. Sometimes I think I don’t allow enough time for it. You know the Lord has been good to me. I don’t have any regrets as to where I have been and I don’t question it.
CW: That is a good way to look at it.
JH: We moved out here and we really enjoy it. I still retain my shop over there as long as I can. Like the Pastor told me this that there are so many people that depend on what you are doing. To me, maybe there is something I can do better. I enjoy what I am doing and I think I am helping people.
CW: I can tell you that it is a good feeling to get out there first thing in the Spring and charge up my battery. The thing kicks over and I can mow my lawn. I don’t have to drive and drive around and mess around. I am not much good at repairing anything. My mower gets up and goes after a few turns. So, where did you meet Arlene?
JH: At the corner of Perry and Clinton.
CW: Here in Napoleon right?
JH: We had planned, a group of us, a belling party for two couples that had recently been married. We were kind of ornery about it. I had an old car and a trailer and we were going to pick up both couples. We drove them around through the country and in town and we parked the car up on Perry and Clinton. We had a wheelbarrow and we made them change off and push their wife across the river in a wheelbarrow.
CW: Oh did you! That is the sort of thing that they used to do just for fun.
JH: At the end of it I went back to get my car, this was at Perry and Clinton and three girls were walking down the sidewalk. Florence Mitchell, Enie Meyer, and Arlene. As I ran across the street to get to my car I didn’t notice that they were behind me and Arlene hollered at me. We were headed to Elery for a party. Arlene asked if I was going to Elery and I said yes and she said can we ride with you. I said sure because I was alone. I took her along and the wheels were turning.
CW: Charlotte laughs.
JH: So when we came back I had to go to Gerald with two of them and my plan was to take Arlene home last. And I never quit. That was in 1952.
CW: I bet she was pretty!
JH: I think she still is! She is a great gal and we get along well. We don’t always agree but she is wonderful. I have had all kinds of surgeries and she has always been very helpful. That is so important.
CW: Sometimes girls need to be a little bit forward and catch their attention.
JH: We’ve lived in Napoleon ever since we got married. I lived here before that..
CW: Were you working at Howard’s at that time?
JH: Yes, I started at Howards when I was 14.
CW: Oh really. Did you finish high school?
JH: Oh yes I did.
CW: Then you probably just worked on Saturdays. Right?
JH: I worked more hours than you were supposed to. Sometimes I would work before I went to school and sometimes I would work after school. I worked on Saturdays and on Sundays. Well that was one of the reasons I wanted to get away from there. I was working too much.
CW: Howard was your brother wasn’t he?
JH: He was a half brother.
CW: Oh, half brother.
JH: I had a half brother and a half sister. I had two other brothers. One lives south east of town about 5 miles and the other one lives out on Buickeye Lane. I have heard it stated that you look for the boys to come with her. Your mother really did a good job. Your vehicles are always clean and anything you do, you do it right. Why that is the only way to do it. I think a fine example is how the fairgrounds always look real good. I was told by one of the fair board members is the only reason they had a hard time finding a replacement for Jerry was he had set the standards too high.
CW: Is that right. That is something to be proud of.
JH: I tried to help him. I was looking for something to do. It got to the point where I just couldn’t do some of the work he was doing. So when he would get ready to set up, he would give me a crew and tell me what he wanted and I knew what he was saying and I tried lifting and tugging and they wouldn’t do that. I told him now when you retire I want your job. He knew what Jerry wanted him to do. I did what I could do and think it is time to quit and now this has happened.
CW: What is Jerry doing now? Is he still out there?
JH: Nope. He quit in November. Then the board hired somebody to do his job.
CW: There is a lot of responsibility with that job.
JH: Yes there is. You know being out there and working I couldn’t adapt to what needed doing. It was more of things that I hadn’t had experience doing, but you can’t run it over me.
CW: I remember when Jan Schwab planted all those live forever plants out there. I had helped her water one summer.
JH: There was too much out there.
CW: I think the forevers are still there.
JH: Yes, but they are not as vibrant as they were at one time. They haven’t had much attention lately. The people that started it would like to give them a home.
CW: Is that right.
JH: There was always something they wanted to dig out, or go plant them somewhere else. But Jan did a nice job. There are a lot of people involved out there that you don’t realize. The only problem I ever had with it was
CW: Now you are talking about the Henry County Fairgrounds?
JH: Right. The only problem I ever had with them was they were mostly board members they would come in the spring and in the summer and they would wait till the week before fair and try to do everything at once. At least they were dedicated and they do their job.
CW: Weren’t they all volumteers?
JH: Yes. Yes that is strictly volunteer.
CW: One thing that we had that Fulton County hasn’t had at their fairgrounds is, they may have had it in the past I don’t know is ran out of space quite a while ago.
JH: I think they have expanded clear up to the elevator now. See we are locked in here and we don’t have any place to go. We have the lot across the road, but that is kinda a safety issue people have to cross that traffic.
CW: You can’t make parking on the main fairgrounds.
JH: And the ag society is strapped for funds and if something does come up they generally don’t have the money to do it. I thought the fellow that had the suggestion to move the fairgrounds out to 110 and 6 had a good idea. The finances just were not there to do it. Now I am jumping to something else, but there has been a lot of good progress made here in Napoleon and we have had a good bunch of people here in Napoleon like the downtown revitalization. It is great the way some people have stepped up to the plate and tried to make things happen. This has happened before and they are building a relationship where the merchants and business people work together. Those are good starting steps.
CW: Yes they are working together.
JH: Yes and it is going to be great. Going back to the city, I think we have done a lot to clean up the eyesores in Napoleon. We have tried to provide the necessary things that go with that. One of the greatest things that we have ever had is the yard waste site. We have been praised by all our surrounding neighbors that we have the nicest site around. That is kind of a win win thing because with that the people collect and can take their waste to the site and then it is processed and other people can come in and haul it away. The city doesn’t have that expense.
CW: We are recycling our waste.
JH: It keeps the neighborhood clean by doing that.
CW: Now tell me they take that away and where do they burn it? Do they burn it to get the heat from it?
JH: No they have a treatment they put on it that takes care of the bugs. They don’t burn anything.
CW: I thought they did. How does it come from branches and get turned into mulch.
JH: You take it to the collection site and then when we get an accumulation there, then we have someone from Werlor’s come in from the plant and they grind it all up and the mulch that people want they can haul it away. If they don’t want it Werlor’s can haul it back. They could make mulch with it up there. They can treat it if you want it treated. But to get it treated you would have to pay for that when you get it up there. .
CW: Do they take it to Defiance to process?
JH: Yes, but we don’t pay to haul it away from here. We don’t pay to haul it in because the residents of Napoleon haul it all in there. And it is the same with the leaves and the leaves mostly are ground into the mulch, which is good. Concrete is stored there, whole concrete that they remove and that is ground up and that is used for fill wherever people need it.
CW: Is that free when they haul it away.
JH: I don’t think we charge them, unless we have to load them. If we have to load them, then they will have to pay for the load.
CW: It would be heavy.
JH: Yes it is heavy and it just saves on time. People just want to get rid of their concrete.
CW: So now you have a new site for the yard waste. Have the people gotten used to that. There was a lot of opposition at first.
JH: One of the big issues we had with the yard waste site and I did a lot of the homework and I studied it and I came up with the fact we had vacated the Hogrefe property. We got money from the EPA to clean it up. We had to move it because of our expansion at the yard waste site from there and the property that we had bought at Hogrefe’s for one dollar. Okay we got 11 acres from the former Hogrefe property and we were permitted to put the yard waste site on that property. It was one of the few things that we were permitted to do. The ground we were going to be putting it on couldn’t be used for much of anything else and it had only cost us a dollar for the ground. I put a plan together that I thought would work and just like I had mentioned we got the ground we were going to be putting the site on for a dollar. If we didn’t move it out of the present site the EPA would not approve our expansion at the waste treatment plant. To do it, with the EPA support we were going to have to pay 8 million dollors, actually it was 7.2 million. If we continued the site there because of the interest rate. We got money from the EPA for 30 years, which was 8 million dollars. To put it there it was going to cost 6 million dollars more. And Napoleon didn’t elect me to foolishly spend their money like that. So I put a plan together stating these things, also I got a little outspoken. You know there are 10,000 people here in Napoleon and there were about 100 people opposing the site, and there were 9,900 people that had no objection to it. I feel that I cannot hear what the 100 people were saying when 9,900 were supportive of it. I closed that with making a motion that we reject the plan and the PlanningCommission’s recommendation and further that we move the yard waste site to Oakwood. I took an awful lot of cursing for that.
CW: From whom?
JH: From residents that were at the meeting. I still felt very up forward that was the way to go and I just thought that was what we had to do. I am looking for progress. At that time I had talked to the councilmen individually and had told them what I was going to do. They said “you have a plan” and they approved. We took action on it, it got late, the weather got bad and the yard waste site was not on schedule, but we’ll be okay. We have an alternate site now temporarily, that people can use and then when the new one is done we will transfer it over there. I think in order to understand things you have gotta be involved with it. I don’t think longevity is bad.
CW: Tell me about the Hogrefe junk yard. Is that to be removed eventually or what.
JH: They had on the property back there, we gave them an 8 year option on the ground along the road and another thing that enters in is that it is going to cost us a pile of money. We want to eliminate that. At that time they had like a year and a half to go and they would have to be out of there. So that will disappear. We didn’t cut them off. Through all of the negotiations ( end of side one)
I was just going to mention about my Grandpa. He was a barn builder. He lived at Malinta. When he was 80 years old he was still putting a roof on a house in Malinta. He fell and broke his hip. That was the end of his working days, but he did survive and he lived 16 years after that. Grandpa never ever did I hear him have a bad word come from his mouth.
CW: That is a nice memory.
JH: If he didn’t agree with it and if he thought it was negative his response would be “oh shaw”.
CW: There were a lot of expressions like that. There are substitutes when people start to say the wrong word.
JH: And he was almost deaf. He couldn’t hear well. I would go to visit him quite often. He lived with my Aunt. When I would talk to him we would go over to another room and we would sit there and talk. My voice was such that I could talk to him in a normal tone and he could hear. My mother talked to him. Her sister, my Aunt would talk to him and they would have to yell at him. I could talk to him in a normal tone and he would hear me and we had conversations. He didn’t like people yelling at him to make him hear, but I didn’t have to.
CW: You do have a voice that is unusually clear.
JH: Well, the only problem I have, even watching television, they talk so fast trying to get everything in. The words run together and I can’t understand them.
CW: Ray did not like English television. He would say all that mush in their mouth I can’t understand a word they are saying.
JH: They just talk too fast.
CW: So that is what you remember about your Grandpa. I think a lot of men did that and women too probably. Let’s see if we can think of some of those substitutes. One would be “Oh heck”.
CW: Nuts to you might be.
JH: Go fly a kite.
CW: Do you remember the expression “going like 60”? Anybody that was driving a car at 60 miles an hour was speeding.
JH: Yes. That would be like going 90 today or 100, unless you would be a race driver.
CW: Oh darn, that is what my father would say. He would never say damn.
JH: So I think back like my grandparents era even in our parents era they were more calm and collected than we are today. They didn’t get so hyper because you were restricted in what you could do. Like your entertainment. You didn’t need somebody to provide entertainment for you. You would make your own.
CW: Yes, You grew up making your own entertainment. That was only natural, whereas now they grow up and with all this entertainment and it would be really hard, and within all that entertainment is all the advertisements leading them to value the wrong thing.
JH: When we were young and lived on a farm we went to Malinta and our only toy, we couldn’t play ball, we didn’t have basketball, we didn’t have a softball, and we didn’t have bats, and our only toy was an old old wicker baby buggy. It was long enough to put two small children in it. That was our entertainment. My two brothers and I, we would have races, and our dad would be there coaching us, and then he had a nickname for each one of us. He would poke fun at us. We would always beat Jerry, and Jerry was the youngest.
CW: I don’t understand if you only had one buggy how could you have a race?
JH: We raced on foot. We would have running races.
CW: Oh, I see.
JH: But we would take turns pushing each other around in the big barnyard. It had big high wheels on it like those big metal wheels, and it didn’t push too hard.
CW: I think there is one in the Grelton Museum like that.
JH: That might be. I don’t know what ever happened to it. I don’t know where it came from. It was before my time,before I growed up.
CW: Did you ever play Andy Over? I don’t remember what the rules were with that. The children would throw something up over the roof of a house and the kids on the other side would have to catch it. They would yell when they threw it “Andy Over”. There was a little rhyme that they said. Somebody went over the
AH: We would play Rover Red Rover. Let so and so come over. We would insert their name. We did that in school. People would manufacture their own games.
CW: What kind of home manufactured games have you been told about.
AH: We would play ball and we would ride bicycles. We played a lot of card games and a lot of board games. We loved our cards. We still play lots of cards. When we got married we didn’t have any money but we would figure out games and play till four in the morning.
CW: I remember we used to play, oh what was this card game, it took about four decks of cards, and you would have them all stacked up and place them in piles.
JH: That was Canasta.
CW: It would take hours to play a game like that.
AH: People were better off when they visited and talked to each other. I can’t see one person alone playing with this gadget. They miss a lot.
CW: They miss a lot of inter-communication.
JH: There she is talking about that. That is a lot of politics.
CW: Oh yes.
JH: It makes you keep your fingers crossed.
CW: I remember the conversation, I came from Pennsylvania when I married Ed, the Winzeler family would sit together and talk on Sunday in the afternoon. Whenever somebodies name came up that stopped everything in the conversation. They would go back as to who that person was related to, they knew about that family, it was just a matter of course. Of course I was a young thing and tried to be patient. I kept thinking why are they doing all of this. They knew all those people and it was interesting.
JH: Here is something I want to share with you about Ed. One time when he was a physician he stopped in to see us at Howard’s, which he did every day or so, and he was telling my brother that they had a big emergency at the hospital that morning and you know he didn’t get excited he kept it, he didn’t show it. He was so calm about it. He was telling my brother and he said doing this surgery and the way he said it was the little boys heart stopped beating and boy we really had to hustle around.
CW: That’s the way he said things.
JH: We still talk about that and laugh about it when we are together.There were a lot of elderly people that came there and they would have certain things wrong with them. We still pick up on that and laugh about it.
AH: I can tell you what he said when Cheryl was born. He said to me well it was nice of you to have that baby on my lunch hour. He didn’t have to miss any appointments.
CW: Charlotte laughts. I bet you were thinking that you’d be happy just to have had it anytime. The sooner if possible.
JH: You know what Manahan said when I first went to him. He said your tummy is on the outside.
CW: You knew what he meant right away.
JH: Well, we have had a lot of good doctors here in Napoleon over the years. We have been fortunate. Ed passed away when he was young.
CW: He was only 57.
JH: Dr. Delventhal with three other businessmen had a terrible accident going to a football game in Michigan.
CW: Oh, is that how he died?
JH: He had a brand new ‘47 Oldsmobile and that left front corner where he would have been was pushed back 6 feet. I don’t know how he ever survived that. Oh, that was a mess.
CW: You know how he liked people. He would tease his nurses and call them the horses ass. One day his birthday was coming up and the nurses had a cake baked. It had a great big horse’s rear end on it.
AH: That would be great. I bet he liked that.
JH: I bet he did.
AH: He used to make house calls you know. When I was a kid I had something here and I was all puffed up. He came to the house and opened that up.
JH: I will tell you a good one. One night Arlene and I went out with some friends, and of course our kids were old enough to stay home alone. Cheryl was like 14 or 15 and we had driven the car and what i drove was a van and that was in the garage. Didn’t they have a fire and she said and she was driving this van. She wasn’t even old enough to drive. She went to the fire.
AH: She rushed home with the van because she thought you would show up.
JH: She had the van out and heard the fire call and she knew I would be coming home to get the van to take to the fire. She had to hurry up and get the van back in the garage.
AH: That was a long long time ago.
CW: Is she your baby?
CW: I remember one time before Ed and I had married I had gone home for the weekend or something and somehow he started taping me and I started running and I looked back to see where he was and I ran right into this fish pond. I was just dripping wet. He was so apologetic and his sisters were too. The whole thing was funny. It is so interesting the things that come out. I remember I was talking to this couple from Ridgeville and they told me that, you know how the middle of town there, with this big wide paved area. They told that there used to be a big horse trough that was full of water. It ended up right in the middle of Route 6. That was years ago.When the state put Route 6 through there they said you can’t have that there. It needed to be clear access for cars, so they took it out.
AH: I can remember when they showed movies on the side of Dr. Clymer’s wall. Tlhey had big white sheets up there on the side of that building. They had movie nights.
CW: Where was that, in Ridgeville?
CW: And those movies were free as I understand.
AH: Oh yes.
CW: They would put them on in hopes of bringing people to town to shop.
AH: That was on the corner, now it is owned by Alex Products.
JH: They did the same thing at Malinta.
CW: Did they! I know at Grelton they did. People would just sit on the ground there.
JH: I think they did have benches to sit on. It was on 109 next to the railroad on the north side and just west of 109. I think they had that on the side of the building too. Maybe it was Smith’s Restaurant there, I am not sure anymore. I watched them there too.
AH: I can’t remember what the shows were. They were just kind of life in general type movies.
CW: There weren’t many kinds of shows.
JH: We had two movie theatres in Napoleon. One was where the Maytag place was, and the other one was where the Henry County Bank was.
CW: I did know about that one, but I didn’t know there was a second one.
AH: That was the World Theatre down there on Perry Street. It was right next to the alley.
JH: World and State were the two.
AH: They showed more Western type at the World Theatre.
CW: How much did they charge to get in.
AH: I think it was 25 cents.
JH: The movies they showed on the side of the buildings, why that was free in Malinta and Ridgeville, and I don’t remember Grelton having movies. I should because we were only 3 miles from Grelton.
AH: The State Theatre had where you could sign up for a drawing every week. They would have jackpots and give away money. They would start with a low amount and if nobody won the amount would grow until somebody won it, and then they would start over with a smaller jackpot.
CW: It’s sort of like our lottery now.
AH: My grandmother would always sign up because she thought she was going to win. Of course if you didn’t sign up and weren’t there and your name was called, you didn’t get anything.
CW: Patterson won that one time. Bill remembers.
AH: They would give away dishes and other things. I had a whole set of dishes I got at the theatre.
CW: Did they used to have a Jewel Tea man come around?
AH: We used to have one come around when we lived on Leonard Street. I didn’t buy much from him. At that time we didn’t have much money.
CW: You would make do until then. We had a lot of homemade things at that time.
AH: Oh yes.
JH: Do you remember when the Neuhouser boys here in Napoleon had the hatchery? That would have been somewhere in the 60’s. In the early 50’s when Paul Slee sold out to Howard Overhulse and moved to Batavia, New York to manage a hatchery for Neuhouser’s.
CW: Did Paul have the bowling alley on Glenwood?.
JH: Jerry Hayes had that one.
AH: Paul Slee had his bowling alley where Van Ausdale is now.
JH: Well we have always had hatcheries around. What I was going to say about Paul Slee. They needed a manager in Batavia, New York and he hired Paul to go and manage that hatchery in Batavia. He lived there a few years and then he came back. What did he do when he came back?
AH: He worked at Howard’s Gas Station.
JH: Now he and Howard bought Howard’s together in ‘46. They started in ‘47 it was Howard & Paul’s. I remember in ‘47 Paul bought a new Chrysler from Jim Weaks and then he got sick. He had went to all kinds of doctors and specialists and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Howard’s first name was George and Paul always called him George.
CW: Was his name then George Howard?
JH: Yes, and Paul told Howard that he should sell out to him. Howard said to Paul maybe you will find what is the matter and you will be all right. It went on and after he sold out he went to Indiana and you know what he told him his problem was. It was his teeth. He had all his teeth pulled and he was fine.
CW: For heaven sakes.
JH: Then Paul went to the bowling alley next. He had that for a number of years. Neuhouser’s offered him a good job in Batavia, New York, so he went there.
CW: Did Rozella and the family go with him then?
JH: I don’t think Mike and Linda did. I think they were established here at that time. Maybe they went, I am not sure. Mike has a picture of me on my first motorbike taken in 1947 and he keeps telling me he is going to find it and let me see it. I don’t have it yet.
CW: So you had a motorbike? That would have been something in those days.
JH: Oh, maybe in ‘48 I bought it. You know where the car wash is on Scott Street Cloyce Cheney, do you remember Cloyce
CW: That name sounds familiar.
JH: He had Chrysler and Frazier cars and he sold Wizard motorbikes. I don’t think I have a picture of the motorbike. I wish I still had the motorbike.
JH: I paid $175.00 for that at that time. Today they are selling for anything up to $20,000.
CW: I know. It is just crazy what they are charging for those.
JH: I mean if you were to buy one without damage.
CW: Oh, that is what you are saying.
AH: When I was still working we knew somebody that had paid more for their motorcycle than we did for our house.
CW: I believe it.
JH: There are a lot of motorcycles that they paid more for than our house. We put a lot of money in it, but I suppose now we won’t be able to get our money out of it the way things are. I still like that location better than here.
CW: It is a nice location. It is close to town.
JH: The neighborhood is very progressive. Somebody does something every year.
AH: It is so quiet here.
CW: Too quiet.
JH: And your street has picked up a little bit, but I like traffic.
CW: I don’t. I have gotten used to the quiet. I like it that way. Trouble is there is an awful lot of peoplle that walk for exercise and there are no sidewalks out there. So they will have to walk on the street. If some of these teenagers come driving through too fast I am afraid they might hit somebody.
JH: We keep asking them about patroling that. Especially since we made an artery through there.
AH: That probably would have helped to increase the traffic.
JH: Chief Weitzel has a hard time keeping up with everything because he is running with a limited number of people. You have people that are on sick leave, on vacation, and you don’t have anybody to do the patroling.
CW: Were you on the council when they wanted to put in apartments near by Twin Oaks?
Just north of Twin Oaks. All those people from Twin Oaks, not all the people I suppose, but that place was so crowded at the council meeting that all the people could not get in. I went for one reason. That was about the safety of those people walking on Bordeaux, right where the traffic would be coming through. Finally they opened it up for questions. I asked my question and I turned around and got out of there. People were so angry.
JH: Oh yes.
CW: Everybody was in there crowded and ready to go and I thought I have to get out of here.
AH: It’s just like it when they had the council meeting to decide on the location of the jail. We didn’t go until the last minute. It looked scary to me because you never know what they might do to people. The call came over the telephone. Jim had told everybody how he was going to vote except me. They were not going to like it.
CW: How did it turn out then?
AH: They voted against it.
JH: There were six council members at that time and not seven. Riley Stevens voted against it.
CW: Against what?
JH: Against the regional jail. He voted against it. He was first. Somebody else voted against it. I was the last council member to vote and I voted against it. Bob Heft had the tie. Everybody else was upset with him because of the way he did it. There were people that were really pushing for it. I still have my file on that and I will have to look for it, but I still have them all. I decided, and my opinion was and I tried to weigh everything. My opinion was if we upset the people 80% of the people were against it.
I decided and then I looked at the economics of it, what it was going to mean to us. They were not going to do their business in Napoleon.The internal works would be done here, local suppliers we found out would not be used. I just decided we could get something better. Nobody knew, but the judge came up to me afterwards and said “I am going to tell you that I don’t agree with your vote, but I understand why you did it and I admire you for it”. You just don’t go out and tell people what you are going to do and no one knew how the vote would go. They didn’t find out because if they talked to me negatively about it I would talk positive to them. If they would voice positive, then I would talk negative to them. Because that is what I was getting. I think that the one thing that weighed heavy with me about that was with it being out in Stryker like it is, being it is 16 miles over there, our deputies would only have had to go to the other side of town. And that is a lot of extra expense for us.
AH: People would call up here at the house.
JH: They would tell you why you should and why you shouldn’t. I still have my file but I will have to look for it, but I’ll find it. It’s a box this long.
CW: My nephew lives just a couple miles from there and when I went to our family reunion I thought I am going to find out what it is like to have it that close by. I asked him if he has noticed anything and he said not a thing. We don’t even know it is there.
JH: No, they don’t have much trouble out there. They have good security.
CW: But I think it would be harder if you had it inside a town I would think.
JH: Well we would have devloped some ground that probably never would have developed. We would have had utilities for it. That would have been vital to us.
AH: That jail would have been better than those apartment houses we have out there.
CW: Where is that?
AH: Back behind Wendy’s.
CW: Oh yes. I heard that there was a lot of trouble back in there.
JH: And there is a lot of elderly people out there.
AH: They are not going to move in there. There is just too much bad stuff going on. Then they have those really nice condos right next door.
CW: They probably have to pay quite a bit for those condos.
Scanner can be heard in the background.
CW: Was that an accident someone is reporting?
AH: It must be. That was a 21, so that would be past Four County.
JH: It’s past that time.
AH: 22 is close to Road 424 is where they have all the accidents.
JH: 21 is right in the heart of Ridgeville and 20A is just west. It will probably be 22 and 66. 23 and 24 is where they have all the accidents. 25 is the one that goes to the jail. That is where Tom Eggers had a bad accident, no fatal. What else can we talk about?
CW: Will you tell us that again Jim?
JH: It has been probably 30, 35, maybe 40 years ago that I was discussing with my mother about a church that was near County Rd. N and 10 just across the creek. That was later and was not in service anymore, they weren’t using it anymore. A farmer bought that and I think it was F. Eisaman’s family that bought it. They moved it from that point down to the first road south of that location. On the back of the farm where they had another set of buildings that for several years my family lived there in that house. I knew that this was a former church and my mother explained to me where that was and what it was. We sat down several evenings and the information she could give me and what I had found I wrote an article and I think it is in the Henry County History Book In the second edition. I need to get that out again. We have it, but it is downstairs and it is something I just don’t think about. It was very interesting then later on in more recent years
CW: Is that when they used it as a barn?
JH: It had been a church. It was no longer used as a church when this family bought it and moved it back on the farm. It was a huge barn, probably as big as a 240 by 80 barn put together. It was since consumed by fire and the Huddle’s own it.
CW: I interruped your thought by asking questions?
JH: It was used for a barn and then in the more recent years probably in the 1980’s, and maybe in the ‘90’s somehow the barn caught on fire and was destroyed. There is not much there for a landmark or to see what it was unless somebody might have pictures of it. What was interesting what Mom had told me about the barn so I said I want to write an article for the history book about that.
CW: Did you have a picture with the article?
JH: I don’t think I did. I am not sure. I will have to go look it up again because it has been quite a while ago when she told me that
CW: It would be interesting to have a picture of that church.
JH: I think I have seen pictures of it already. I don’t know that I have one. It would be good to have a picture with it. It was in the middle of the section N, 109 and County Rd 10. Originally it was down near the corner of 10
CW: That museum in Grelton used to be a church too. One time we were having a meeting and we heard all these noises and here a raccoon had gotten up in the attic. If they would get down in the main part they could really cause a mess. So Benny Dawson, he got in there and took care of it. He has done a lot of work for that society.
JH: We’re infested with them here in Napoleon and I have taken care of a lot of them.
CW: Yes, you have to.
JH: I never shoot them, but sometimes they come between me and my bullet.
CW: Charlotte laughts. Well, look at the Canada geese. If they had gotten a lot of people at the time when they could shoot those things, we would be overrun with those things.
AH: There is a million of them around.
CW: Is there still?
JH: We are infested with them now and years ago you never saw them. It’s the same way in Perrysburg where they wanted to shoot the deer and they are just causing a lot of accidents and a lot of people get injured. We need to reduce the population.
AH: We were on a bus trip and we were beyond McClure and all of a sudden this bus stopped and traffic from the other side stopped and there were seven deer heading across the road. One of them could have easily been hit by someone.
JH: If it was at night you wouldn’t see it, but this was in the daytime.
AH: One ran into the side of Cheryl’s car on Route 6 and 16. It messed up her car bad.
She didn’t see it until it hit her.
CW: Sometimes I think the do gooders are going to take over the world. They have so much power and are always causing a stirr about something or other. It’s just not important, but they think they are.
JH: Well look at the plane crash.
CW: That is a good example. That was the one where they went into the river. Well, I guess that would still be a crash.
JH: They didn’t make a normal landing.
AH: And they all survived.
END OF TAPE