Hesterman, Wilfred

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin
Transcribed by Marlene Patterson, July 15, 2010

CW: Could you give us your name and have you seen the Bloomfield House.

WH: My name is Willie Hesterman and I know they have done a wonderful job over there with the remodeling and everything. They have brought it up in a real real nice shape.

CW: Yes, they have worked very hard.

WH: I was there for a couple of meetings that we had. The Lions Club went through the building there and the services that they provide and left us visit. That was really nice. Of course when was it we had that meal that you had. That was really nice. Of course the building back behind there that has been restored real well.

CW: Yes I haven’t had a chance to look at the way they have it set up. I want to go when they have another open house.

WH: They did a nice job on that. The landscaping is really nice too.

CW: Yes that has taken a lot of work. Volunteers and everything. They did a good job.

WH: I know we have some Lions Club members that are helping over there too.

CW: Yes that is what it takes.

WH: That is exactly right. It makes a big difference. They do a real nice job there.

CW: Willie have you lived in Henry County all of your life?

WH: I have lived in Henry County all of my life. I was born and raised a mile north of Napoleon on State Route 108. I lived there until I got married when I was 26 years old. Then we lived in that apartment building on Scott Street. Armstrong owned it at that time. We lived there until we came over here to the Southside. We bought this lot where we are at now. That is 936 East Graceway.

CW: I remember Marilyn with her little giggle. She was always a lot of fun.

WH: You are absolutely right. She always had everything documented too.

CW: Yes she was a good gal. So was 108 different in those days than it is now?

WH: Oh yes, it was. There have been some changes made. No question about that.

CW: What do you remember it was like when you were a kid..

WH: When I was young why they opened the Metropole, which was only about a mile and a half from where I lived.

CW: Oh really! So you got in there as often as you could.

WH: I think so. They both laugh. Of course we came over here and bought this lot. I dug my own basement.

CW: You did! That would be a lot of shoveling.

WH:Of course I worked for Fred Gerken Construction Company at that time. He had a front end loader and that is what I used to dig my basement.

CW: Then you would have had to dig the corners out by yourself.

WH: Well Les Robbins he was two doors east of me. He moved in to that house in 1957. Then Boots Dunmire built this house on the corner here. Then he moved in there in July of 1958. Marilyn and I moved into this one here in December of 1958.

CW: Was that one of the first house here on this street?

WH: We were the third house in this subdivision here.

CW: So there were fields all around you then.

WH: Oh yes absolutely. I did a lot of mowing around here.

CW: Did you! Yes I suppose you would have to mow just to keep the weeds down.

WH: That is true. We have done a lot of work here until everybody built around us why then I didn’t have to do that.

CW: Yes. Did you like this area?

WH: Yes.

CW: I think the southside always seems friendly.

WH: It was and it still is. This is a nice area.

CW: Yes.

WH: I wouldn’t want to change it.

CW: You have a nice sized house here.

WH: I have a full basement here too.

CW: Do you have an upstairs too?

WH: No, just the downstairs. The basement is furnished. I have recreation down there, and my office down there. It is just a well built house. In other words a person could live down there too.

CW: It would be a good place to go if a tornado is coming.

WH: That is true.

CW: Do you ever go down there when you hear the sirens for the tornado warning?

WH: Well ususally if it is serious why I just go down in the basement.

CW: I don’t have a basement in my place. I just have to go in the bathtub. They both laugh. That is all right too. It is right in the center of the house. My son-in-law, he is a native Californian, he said what fool would be afraid of an earthquake and want to live in a place where there could be a tornado.

WH: Yes, right. That is definitely true. Yes I have seen a lot of changes take place in Napoleon.

CW: Such as – can you tell us.

WH: You know we have demolished a lot of buildings and built some new buildings. Of course, talking about churches my wife and I and my kids we were members out there at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Freedom Township.

CW: Oh yes.

WH: Then when the kids got old enough to start Sunday School we transferred over to St. Paul Lutheran Church on Glenwood Avenue. That was a real nice move we took. We had good teachers over there. We liked it.

CW: Yes that is a good school.

WH: Another thing that happened too I had an aneurism attack back in 1995.

CW: You did!

WH: Yes, in my brain. I had bowled at River City Bowling Alley, and it was on a Thursday night and at the last shift and the last game and I said I had a real bad headache. It so happened that a fellow bowler had just finished a CPR course. And another guy in the bowling alley had experience with CPR and they worked on me together there. So they took me to the Henry County Hospital. This would have been early Friday morning when they got me there. Dr. Krueger is my family doctor.

CW: He has an office right there at the hospital.

WH: Yes. Of course my son Mike who lives in Ft. Wayne, he married Bill Palmer’s daughter, and she is a nurse. My wife Marilyn’s brother, he married Shirley Bockelman. She is a nurse and she has twin daughters that are nurses.

CW: So you would have had lots of good attention.

WH: I spent 30 days in the hospital there but I don’t remember anything there. They sent me to the Medical College and I did my rehab there. That is when my memory came back.

CW: Wow! That would have been wonderful. I bet that was a happy time for you.

WH: It was wonderful experience. Of course another thing I did was I was quite involved at St. Paul church too. I got involved with Thrivent National. We had a contribution where we could make $600.00 and then Thrivent would give us $300.00. So I worked on that for about six years. Now they have discontinued that program.

CW:I hadn’t heard anything about that.

WH: Thrivent gave us $15,000.00 last year. In about four weeks time we had $30,000.00 that members had given us.

CW: Is that right!

WH: Members really paid attention to it after it got going. That was a real nice program. But now it is history.

CW: Well we are all getting older too and we are not quite as ambitious.

WH: You are definitely right.

CW: You went to school at St. John’s.

WH: I went to St. John’s Parochial School for eight grades. Then I went to Ridgeville High School.

CW: Oh yes

WH: I graduated there in 1945.

CW: Ridgeville was a nice place.

WH: Yes it was very enjoyable.

CW: I remember when Ed was trying to decide where to establish a practice. ( Ed was a medical doctor). I told him why don’t you go to Ridgeville. We had heard that 90% of the people paid their bills on time. It was unusually high, but he said no I can’t do it because the community wasn’t large enough to support a doctor.

WH: Last week on Friday we had our 65th class reunion at Peppermills. We had 17 people there.

CW: That was pretty good.

WH: On Saturday night we had the Alumni Banquet. We had three from our class that were there. It was nice that we had the get-together on Friday. We read a couple of letters from classmates. One lives in the state of Washington – Juanita Maassel and Marian Cordes, she lives in Pennsylvania. They each sent us a letter and that was nice.

CW: It was nice to have heard from them. How they were doing and everything.

WH: Oh yes.

CW: So this was all fields in back of your house around here?

WH: Yes that was all empty.

CW: The fair would have been here though.

WH: Yes the fair was here. I have attended a lot of fairs too.

CW: That was a big thing in those days. We didn’t have all kinds of entertainment like they do now. Now you can just get in your car and zip to Defiance or anywhere. So when fair time came around that was an important time.

WH: I was involved with the Tomato Parade too.

CW: Oh you were!

WH: Yes with the queens and everything.

CW: Did you help to choose a queen?

WH: No I didn’t pick them, but I had to do a write-up for the parade.

CW: Oh yes. So who would do the choosing? I suppose the fair board.

WH: No they had some people who picked the winners. They had judges lined up before the fair. They were the ones that selected who the winners, first, second, and third were.

CW: Was the parade the same as it is now?

WH: Yes. You see I quit that job and Neil Giffey took over as parade director. They moved it from the location where we had it at the school, they moved it over to Oakwood Avenue and North Perry.

CW: I bet those girls were excited when they were waiting to see who got to be crowned the queen.

WH: You are so right.

CW: That would be a big thing. Were they given a financial award or anything for being queen?

WH: Oh yes.

CW: What did they get?

WH: First place got $1,000.00.

CW: That would be pretty nice.

WH: The second and third place winners got some money too.

CW: Was it the same amount as they give now?

WH: Yes it was the same amount as they give now. Then they have the Best Escort category too.

CW: Oh he gets something too. Do the judges choose him or does the Queen choose him?

WH: I think the committee picks out the winner. It is quite a job.

CW: Did you enter animals in the fair when you were a kid?

WH: No, but I spent some time at the fair. I still do as far as that goes.

CW: People used to spend a lot more time standing and talking to each other when they were at the fair.

WH: That is very true.

CW: It was just kind of the way it used to be on Saturdays around here too. People would go downtown or come in from the country and just stand and talk.

WH: Yes that is very true.

CW: Tell me some of your memories or stories.

WH: Well I am not a good storyteller.

CW: Well you are a good talker.

WH: I just listen to them.

CW: Do you ever go over to Mr. G’s restaurant where people just sit and talk a long time in the mornings?

WH: Oh yes. I go there about 6:30 in the morning at least five or six days a week for breakfast.

CW: Well that is good for you. You know scientists have found out now that ten minutes of a conversation is just as good for your brain as doing puzzles.

WH: I suppose. It is interesting though. A lot of good stuff comes out of those studies. We have about seven or eight of us that go up there. We sit at the big round table in the back of the room there. Sometimes we have a few more than that. Some of them are there for only a half hour and then they leave. We have quite a few of them stay for at least an hour. We get a lot of conversation there.

CW:Oh yes, and you get a lot of problems solved. What do you talk about?

WH: Oh boy, well you see I had my aneurysm attack and it was September 28, which would be four years ago when Marilyn passed away.

CW: Oh has it been that long.

WH: It just so happened that my kids, why I have one living in Ft. Wayne. He has been there for 26 years. Jim he lives in Terrell, Texas and he has been down there for 30 years. When I lost my wife why they got me a housekeeper. She comes in every two weeks to clean the house.

CW: It looks nice and clean to me.

WH: Yes it is. She does a nice job. Of course she has gotten remarried now.

CW: I am looking at that old treadle sewing machine. Did Marilyn use that and make clothes for your kids?

WH: Yes she used it. That is a real old one.

CW: That would be valuable as an antique I would think.

WH: Well another thing I have some furniture that my grandfather built. He came over here from Germany. He brought with him just a trunk. That is all that he had. So where I lived on Route 108, what he did, he got 40 acres.

CW: That was quite a bit in those days.

WH: Then later on he got another 40 acres south of that, and then he got 40 acres across the road. So he had 120 acres.

CW: That would have been a pretty good size farm.

WH: Oh yes. Of course my folks got married in 1925 and I was born in 1927. My grandfather and my grandmother, they had one daughter who was two years older than my dad. She moved in also with her folks. She lived on Stevenson Street.

CW: Now when your grandfather came with his trunk, did he ever say why he came to the United States?

WH: I probably heard him tell about it but I don’t remember exactly why. He had two brothers too that came over here from Germany.

CW: So there were three from the family that came over here.

WH: Yes.

CW: Did they come at the same time?

WH: Not at the same time I don’t think. All three are buried at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Freedom Township.

CW: Oh yes.

WH: His two brothers are buried on the North side of where the church was. Of course the church burned down.

CW: Oh it did! When was that?

WH: That was in 1961.

CW: Well the old school building right across the road from the church looks pretty modern. Did they build that after the church burned?

WH: No that has been there for a long time. In fact that is where I went to school in that building. We had Miss Louise Schick for our first and second grade teacher. Then we had Elmer Bunsold for the third, fourth, and fifth grade teacher.

CW: He taught three grades!

WH: And then we had John Gefeke taught the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Of course I was born and raised talking Low German. Of course in church we had a Low German service. Then the English language came in. So I can actually talk three languages.

CW: When you went to school they made you talk English I suppose.

WH: Yes, in fact our class was the last one to graduate in the German language, the High German language. After that they all graduated from the eighth grade in the English language.

CW: I know Amelia Kryder told me that when she went to school she didn’t know a word of English. The teacher didn’t know any German so she had a hard time.

WH: I can believe that.

CW: Did anything like that happen to you and your brother?

WH: I guess I picked up everything pretty easily.

CW: So it couldn’t have been just too hard for you.

WH: No I don’t think so. Of course while going to school the families would get together and would drive us to school.

CW: Did you have cars?

WH: Yes they would take us to school in a car. We would switch around and one family would take the children for a week and so forth.

CW: What was that like riding in a car? Were there ruts in the roads?

WH: We had a 1932 Dodge, and Dad also had a Chevrolet to start with. He had that Dodge and then he got a 1941 Plymouth. He bought that at Willys Motors up in Toledo.

CW: Did he go to Toledo to get it?

WH: Yes.

CW: Was that made in Toledo?

WH: No it was made in one of their factories.

CW: Now those early cars did they have windows that you could roll up and down?

WH: Yes

CW: You would have had pretty modern cars. Did your car have a heater?

WH: Yes, but they weren’t as fancy as cars are now.

CW: I would say if you had a heater and roll up windows that would have been pretty nice.

WH: Well of course the house that we lived in was a two story house. We had a heater stove in the living room. Right above it was a bedroom, plus two other bedrooms. We had a ventilator up in the ceiling just above the stove. That is how we heated the upstairs.

CW: On cold nights

WH: We had a lot of blankets to keep warm. That was always interesting though. Of course we didn’t have a toilet in the house.

CW: In those days people didn’t.

WH: We had to go outside for that.

CW: Did you have pots or slop jars in the bedroom?

WH: We had a pot that we used. We would take that outside to the outhouse.

CW: You would have to take it outside and dump it.

WH: We finally got a bathroom in the house. That was a blessing.

CW: I would say so. It would have been pretty nice. My mother-in-law always said she would not have any of that stuff in the house. So her boys softened her up by getting a bathtub. They ordered it and then went and got it and put it in the house for her in a special room. She thought that was pretty nice. She liked that. That is how they got her willing to have a bathroom inside the house.

WH: Well I had Art, my brother, he was five years younger than I was. Then my brother Ron he was eight years younger than I was. He was the youngest. There were three boys in our family.

CW: You were the oldest?

WH: Yes

CW: Did you give the orders?

WH: Willie laughs. My brother Art he passed away in 1983. He had a tumor. That is what my wife had too.

CW: Is that what she had?

WH: Yes, it’s hard to believe she is gone.

CW: Did you realize when you first heard that is what it was as to how fast it would spread?

WH: No, we didn’t know. She had treatments and Dr. Krueger had sent her to Wauseon to get a biopsy. My sister-in-law went with her. The next time he sent her to Defiance Clinic for radiology. Shirley went with her there too. Then we had a nurse from hospice. We had a cancer nurse at the hospital and Shirley was there for that one. Marilyn got six treatments. She had one a week.

CW: Did they make her sick?

WH: After that Dr. Krueger sent her to St. Vincent’s Hospital. She was there for thirteen days. Then Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg and chatted before she left there about two hours. My sister-in-law Shirley told Marilyn that she wanted to bring her over to her house in Perrysburg. She said she could take better care of her than I could. She was there for a few days and she passed away there.

CW: How did you hear that she had passed away?

WH: Oh we were there. She passed away about 8:30 that evening.

CW: It is hard.

WH: It is just one of those things that happen.

CW: That is life!

WH: Of course my brother Art he passed away in 1983. He died in August. That word cancer is something. They haven’t figured out yet how to get rid of that and get a cure.

CW: Just think how many years they have been working on that.

WH: Quite a few.

CW: Yes. They still don’t know what causes it.

WH: There are so many different forms of cancer too.

CW: Yes that is true. It could be caused by different things.

WH: That is so true. My wife had excellent nursing care. There is no question about that.

CW: So how did you find out that you had this aneurysm in your brain?

WH: Well they checked me over at the hospital.

CW: Oh they found this out during examinations. What symptoms did you have?

WH: When I went to the hospital I didn’t even know it. It happened at the bowling alley.

CW: My brother-in-law drove truck and he always stopped and had lunch in this restaurant. He had pulled the truck into the parking lot, went in and had lunch and came back out and started the truck and went just about three feet, stopped the truck and died. It was an aneurysm.

WH: Well see my father he died in 1971. He died of a massive heart attack. My wife and I were up in Detroit at a bowling convention. My neighbor Russell Rausch called us about 11 o’clock in the morning and told me that my dad had passed away. Here he had his tractor and a disk over by the gas tank. He had filled the tractor up with gas but it wasn’t running. My brother had his kids over there he was going to pick them up and my brother Ron he found him dead laying on the ground. He had a natural heart attack.

CW: Tell me about that bowling convention you went to. You must have been a pretty good bowler.

WH: Oh yes. I had been a secretary of the bowling leagues for 42 years.

CW: Oh you were! You should know what all the records are.

WH: Of course I have seen a lot of big changes in bowling. When I started bowling Jerry Hayes had just five lanes there on East Clinton Street. That is where I started my bowling career. They elected me the secretary so then after that Holgate came in and Hamler and Deshler.

CW: Would you compete against those teams?

WH: Oh yes.

CW: That would be fun.

WH: Then of course Paul Slee built that one out there on Route 108 – Scott Street. He had an eight lane house there.

CW: What is in that building now?

WH: They have got the Van Ausdale Photography there.

CW: So you were married when you were 26 and what did you do then for a living.

WH: At that time I was working at Funkhouser Motor Sales here in Napoleon. We lived at my folks for a little while. So when the apartment was empty we moved in there. We lived there until 1958. That is when we bought the ground back in here on East Graceway.

CW: So it was just as a young boy that you lived in the country.

WH: Yes.

CW: So when you married you lived here in town.

WH: That is exactly right. How I met Marilyn was

CW: Yes tell me how you met her.

WH: I was involved with the church youth group’s Walther League. We had a convention and we had it at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Toledo with our St. John’s Church in Freedom Township. We held a joint convention together up in Toledo. That is where I met Marilyn.

CW: Did she live in Toledo?

WH: Yes she lived in Toledo.

CW: So you spotted her.

WH: That is exactly right. We got acquainted and we got married then.

CW: Was that before or after World War II?

WH: No that was after the war. I was drafted in 1945.

CW: Oh the war would have been almost over by then.

WH: Yes, but I was sent to Camp Atterbury, Indiana the 7th of September. I was stationed down at Camp Atterbury and put into the Transportation Dept. There was a Second Lieutenant that I worked with and he was in charge of Transportation there. In December I was made a T4. That is two grades. I was there until July of 1946.

CW: So what did you do then when you were a T4?

WH: We transported fellows to the separation center. The people that were being discharged we moved them around. That was a good thing that happened. I got to know a lot of people. Then I got sent to Ft. McAllan, Alabama for my basic training and we had a lot of Sergeants that were involved in this basic training too. From there I got sent to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

CW: What did you do there?

WH: I worked in the office there. I was discharged in December of ‘46.

CW: So you didn’t have to go overseas. That was good.

WH: In fact I was looking forward to going over to Germany, but it just never happened.

CW: I remember, of course I am a little bit older than you but the boys really wanted to go and have a chance to travel. They wanted to see what it was like over there. Then when they came home they didn’t want to go back again.

WH: That is right. Some of them had to face a real battle and some of them got killed. My brother Art he joined the Air Force during the Korean War and he got sent over to Germany. That is where he met Millie. She was a German gal.

CW: Oh really!

WH: When he got separated from the service they came over here.

CW: If he was in the Korean War why did he go to Germany?

WH: Well he got sent over there.

CW: I think they might have had a big base in Germany.

WH: Yes they did.

CW: He was younger than you so he wouldn’t have been involved in WWII.

WH: He is five years younger than I am. When he came back to the United States he got a job on the DT&I railroad as a clerk. Of course they joined the German Club.

CW: Oh sure.

WH: Because his wife was German.

CW: Did she speak Low German or High German?

WH: High German. He was in Stuttgart in the lower part of Germany and that is the High German speaking part. The Northern area of Germany is the Low German part. To top it off why they joined the German Club and they got to be real close friends of a couple that lived 2 miles south of Hicksville. He is a farmer down there. His wife was from Germany. They got to be real close friends with them.

CW: It would have made it a lot easier for her.

WH: Of course it so happened when Art passed away she wanted Millie’s picture because she wanted a friend of hers that was from the same town that she was from over in Germany that lived down in Cincinnati. So Millie gave her a picture and soon she got a phone call from him. His name was Ernest Schwab. They became acquainted and later on they got married.

CW: And I bet they were happy together.

WH: He had a personality just like my brother Art. Of course he was a little bit older too.

CW: Was Art fun loving?

WH: Oh yes. He was involved with the German Club down in Cincinnati. Millie had done a lot of work with dressings and when Art passed away her friend from down in Hicksville told Millie that she needed a picture of her because I have a friend of mine that lives down in Cincinnati. He would be interested in meeting you. Then one day she got a phone call from him. He came up here and they got married. To top it off she had been working at the Elder Beerman store here in Defiance. She told Ernest that he should see if there is an Elder Beerman store down in Cincinnati. Sure enough on Highway 275 that runs East and West in Cincinnati there are three interchanges west of 75 there is a big shopping center there with an Elder Beerman store in it. She went in there and here the guy that hired her in Defiance was working down there. So he put her to work right away.

CW: I imagine she would have been a good worker.

WH: Oh yes. She is an excellent worker with clothing. There is no question about it. She is very good. That is how Millie got a job down in Cincinnati.

CW: So that was a happy ending for her.

WH: You are right. Yes that was pretty nice. Of course Ron, he is eight years younger than I am and of course he never went into the service. He stayed on the farm and his son Todd works along with him in farming.

CW: Did they buy more acreage then?

WH: Yes they did. In fact they have some acreage that Marv Fahringer had. They bought that and of course they rent some more ground too. So the two of them farm quite a bit of acreage.

CW: Now is Marv Fahringer still living?

WH: No he has passed away.

CW: His wife did too, didn’t she?

WH: No, his first wife did but his second wife is still living. They were involved with the Legion. So she still works in the kitchen helping the gals in the kitchen.

CW: That can be kind of hard work sometimes.

WH: Oh yes. They have their chicken barbecue and they were always out there doing that. They have a lineup every time they have that. Each one has their job to do. That has always been a good project for them.

CW: They need the money too don’t they.

WH: Well they have the younger people involved now.

CW: They would be good workers too.

WH: Another thing that has helped the Legion is the game of Pinochle. They have people come in for six weeks and that gives them some more income.

CW: What do you mean, do they play cards?

WH: Yes

CW: Do they have a Pinochle tournament?

WH: I never went in to see what they did.

CW: I bet they do. I know those Friday night dinners are good. There is good food and also the people are friendly. You can just walk up to any table and just start a conversation. That is one of the beauties of a small town.

WH: I know it.

CW: I go to an exercise class in Freedom Township and I was wondering where Freedom Township got its name.

WH: I do not remember. The church used to be called St. John’s and now it is St. John Church. I don’t know how it got the name.

CW: Now some of the other townships seem to be named for people. I don’t think there was ever anyone named Freedom.

WH: No. The church that I go to now is St. Paul.

CW: Yes that name goes back to Biblical times. I don’t think Freedom does.

WH: St. John goes back to Biblical times.

CW: Yes, sure.

WH: I know St. Paul you have to know if it Napoleon or Okolona.

CW: Yes one of them has a S on the end. St. Paul’s is the one in the country. St. Paul is the one on Glenwood.

WH: Yes I have seen some changes on that too. I was on the building committee when the church burned.

CW: Oh you were! That would have been a big job. What did they do for Sunday services? Did it burn down to the ground?

WH: Yes.

CW: What started the fire?

WH: Lightning.

CW: Oh yes. What did they do for church services.

WH: They used the Ridgeville School gym.

CW: How far away is Ridgeville from St. John’s church?

WH: It’s probably about six miles.

CW: Oh that isn’t very far. Do you remember the church burning?

WH: Yes. It was a bad fire. No doubt about that.

CW: How far away from the church was it that you lived?

WH: It was about five miles.

CW: Could you see the fire burning? You probably just went there when you saw the fire trucks.

WH: I was really shocked to hear that it was burning. It happened so we made the best of the situation. They were in need of a bigger facility.

CW: They have a beautiful church out there now.

WH: They have made several additions since I was on that building committee.

CW: Were you on the building committee for that new church?

WH: Yes.

CW: That would have been a big job. They would have had enough money pledged to even get started.

WH: Mr. Maynard took us different places where they had built similar churches. That was quite an experience for me.

CW: It would have had to take a lot of planning to figure out just what you wanted. Did you have people object to the way you were doing it?

WH: No

CW: Well that would be good.

WH: We bought the ground from Gerken next door which made it handy for us.

CW: So that would have been just across the street from the old school. Now where was the church located, the one that burned?

WH: The church was about a half mile south of there.

CW: Oh so it wasn’t right there on the corner.

WH: No. Going south a half mile it was on the east side of the road.

CW: Did you have chores to do as a young boy?

WH: Oh yes. Before we even went to school we had to go out and help.

CW: What did you have to do?

WH: We had to feed the horses, pigs, and chickens. We had to milk the cattle. Of course we had to help our mother in the house do the dishes.

CW: You didn’t have any sisters to help do that.

WH: I had just the two brothers. In fact my brother Art was stationed inTexas and my mother and dad and Ron drove out there just to see where he was at. Of course I had to stay home and do the chores.

CW: I bet you hated that. You would have like to go along.

WH: No it didn’t bother me. They had a nice trip down there. Those were all good experiences. Mother had really never been out of the state of Ohio. Now she was going all the way down to Texas.

CW: I will tell you a little story about my mother-in-law. Ed Winzeler and I were married in Wyoming. He was in the service and my sister drove my mother and Kate Winzeler who is Ed’s mother out to Wyoming to visit us. They were there about three or four days and Kate had a wonderful time but she had a little problem with constipation. On the way back in Indiana somewhere all of a sudden Kate said “Stop the car”. She stopped the car and Kate ran to this outhouse and then she came out of there and she said “Oh my I feel great now”.

They both laugh out loud.

WH: That would have been a big blessing.

CW: So we always tease her about that. She was a good sport.

WH: Talking about going places you know when we got married we were good friends of the Warehimes. He was a salesman for a hardware down in Louisville, Kentucky. So Marilyn went down with them to buy some furniture. The furniture I got here she bought down there.

CW: You got it at a good price I bet.

WH: Oh yes it was definitely a good price. We got to know the Walker family too because Marilyn was in the bowling league and she bowled for Walkers Mortuary who sponsored our team. So I got to meet the Walker family through bowling. I have known them for a long long time. So that is how I got a job with the Walker Mortuary. Rex called me one day and said hey we need a worker here and asked if I would be interested. I said well I will think about it. I thought about it for a while and decided I might just as well.

CW: That would have been a little bit of extra income.

WH: Yes. We had a call that Dwight Huddle’s wife had passed away, so Rex, Mr. Walker and I went out and picked her up. On the way in he said would you be willing to go into the prep room with me and watch what I do. I said okay I can do that.

CW: That would have been pretty brave.

WH: So I probably spent around four hours in there with him, which was a good blessing because I got to know what they did with the body. They are very professional.

CW: Did you do it then?

WH: No I just watched them. He told me what this does and the material that they have to change the color of the body. We have pictures of the individual which helps too.

CW: So you could answer peoples questions I suppose because you knew about it.

WH: You know once you see what they do and when you go places and see the body it is amazing what they can do to change your look. So that is how I got started with the mortuary business.

CW: Did you ever dig graves?

WH: No. I leave that up to the contractor to do that.

CW: My brother-in-law used to do that regularly. He lived in Archbold.

WH: You know you can talk about these funerals and what morticians go through. It can be quite a problem sometimes with the families split sometimes.

CW: Yes I suppose it can be.

WH: It makes a lot of difference.

CW: You have to learn how to deal with it.

WH: Yes.

CW: Sometimes people can be angry about it.

WH: Then you have a lot of others who are really nice. You see what I did, I would go in to visitation with the people. I go in the afternoon and Bob Ankney he will work the evening shift. He is the one that asks about the list for the car lineups that they want to use for going to the cemetery and the church.

CW: Now when you go in the afternoon do you stay in the office.

WH: No I stand up at the front and greet the people when they come in.

CW: Well people may have questions.

WH: They do. Of course you have florists dropping off flowers and you have to bring them up and place them so they can be viewed.

CW: Did you ever have trouble from people stealing the money that people donate?

WH: No.

CW: You know I think the business of people stealing flowers from the cemetery is about the lowest thing a person can do, but they do.

WH: It is just like my brother Art there at Memorial Gardens in Defiance he had a steel piece where they put the American flag in. That was gone and they were asking people that had went in there.

CW: Isn’t that terrible.

WH: Yes. So some strange things do happen.

CW: Yes they do. You wonder sometimes how people think.

WH: I know it. That is absolutely true. My son Jim down in Texas his oldest son graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas and he met a gal from Huntsville, Alabama and she was in nurses training in college. They got married on December 29th this past year. Her dad is a doctor down in Huntsville, Alabama so after she graduated she wanted to go in to medical school and become a doctor too. The school is located in New Orleans. So they have moved to New Orleans. Jim was telling me just the other day they moved to another place so he gave me his new address.

CW: Is he in medical school now?

WH: No, she is learning the business to be a medical doctor.

CW: Oh she is. She is going to be the medical doctor.

WH: Joshua is doing auditing. They fly him to New England states. That is what he does. Then Josh has his brother with him and he is in Pasadena, California. He went to Occidental University there for three years. Then two years ago he decided he would do some work down here. So those are the two sons that Jim and Deb have got.

CW:Those are your grandsons?

WH: Yes they are my grandsons. Two of the three kids one will be a senior at Northside High School in Ft. Wayne, and the boy will be a Freshman. They were in the wedding too when Josh got married. They were in the front of the church handing out the bulletins. My brother had to take us up there at five o’clock and took pictures first.

CW: Oh yes.

WH: Then the wedding was at 6:30.

CW: That would have been at 6:30 at night is that correct.

WH: Yes, but we got there in time for that.

CW: Good.


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