Grace Howe Oral History
Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, November 3, 2003, with help from Jackie (Howe) Sautter
G – Grace Howe
C – Charlotte Wangrin
J – Jackie Sautter
C: What do you remember about World War I, Grace?
G: I remember when the boys come home.
J: Tell about the end.
G: We lived on a farm and there was no radios and no TVs. We had telephones. I remember the war was over for quite some time, and we never knew because people would just telephone from one to the other.
C: Oh, that’s how you found out? Calling?
J: Tell about when you were in school. It would have been November 11.
G: Our teacher was Audrey Sloan and I just read in the paper where Marvelle Walters died-her daughter.
C: So you were in school when they got this news?
G: If I remember right, the school was like here and down the road a ways was where our teacher’s family lived. And somebody come from down there and told her and then her dad come with this old hub mobile with little chairs in it, behind the driver, and took quite a few of us, I think I was a fourth grader.
C: You would have been 9 or 10 years old I think.
G: We went to Napoleon and sat on the steps of the courthouse that faces the west.
C: What event was that? What did they do? Did you watch something?
G: Just the cars going down the street was all and the trucks.
J: Somebody made an efigy of the Kaiser and had him pulled behind a pick up truck.
C: Did they burn it then?
G: No, I don’t remember any fire.
C: That’s looking way into the past isn’t it? Must have been 1918 or 1919?
G: I just don’t remember.
J: You said that the hub mobile, you could look down through the floor boards.
C: You could see the road moving along under the car?
J: It’s funny that her teacher could take all the kids over there.
G: Well, if Audrey’s Dad, Lew Sloan, hadn’t had that old hub mobile we wouldn’t have all gone. That was an old fashioned car. At that time it was a new car, but it was a great big old car and we just kept piling in and piling in.
C: Did you sit in one of those little seats behind the front seat?
G: Oh, yes.
C: I remember those, two or three middle seats. Those you could fold up when you didn’t have any passengers. Did you ever ride in a rumble seat?
G: Not that I remember, I probably did but I don’t remember.
C: Well, Jackie, you rode in a rumble seat?
J: Oh, yes I did. In college some guy over there had a rumble seat. It was like a real novelty. And think how dangerous now. We were piled in that rumble seat. Somebody in Bowling Green had one. When I was a teenager, my sister had a date with this fellow and he had a rumble. And I teased and teased and she finally that my girlfriend and I could ride in the rumble seat. We got in the back and we rode all the way from Erie to Buffalo and until we got home, I didn’t ever want to ride in a rumble seat again. They were not comfortable.
C: Grace, what do you remember about the depression?
G: Oh my gosh, I don’t know. I would just get a slab of beef out of the refrigerator and throw on the counter, or on the table and cut it up into pieces.
C: The slab of beef was heavy.
G: You bet it was, and I was just a teenager. Everybody owed us. Everybody had a grocery bill.
C: Did they pay them?
G: I think there was such a thing as “Relief”. We used to have to take our bills over to maybe Westhope, because it was Richfield Township. We’d get our pay that way.
J: And you’d drive the car and take groceries to those people.
G: Well, maybe I did out south some.
J: You said in the beginning about your Dad had the grocery store.
G: We never went hungry though, by having the grocery store.
C: My father and his brother-in-law had a meat market, and he just had to go out of business in the Depression, cause people just couldn’t pay their bills. They just didn’t buy meat because it was expensive.
G: I think we got a dime every Saturday night and we went to Napoleon and go to the show or just sit and watch people go up and down the street.
C: If you didn’t have a dime, that’s what you’d do. Did you have the silent movies?
G: They were all silent movies, yes.
C: Did someone play the piano or the organ?
G: I don’t remember that.
J: You said on your dates you used to go to Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids had a movie and Napoleon.
G: We’d stop at Biddies Barbeque there and get a sandwich and then we’d go on the Grand Rapids to the show.
J: Do you know what she means by Biddies? Right now it’s that bar in Napoleon that’s on the corner of, kiddie-corner from Pee Wees.
C: Yes, along the river.
G: He had it out in front going round and round.
C: Oh, Barbeque. How much was the show, do you remember?
G: Oh, I don’t have any idea.
J: You had dances and the movies. That was about all there was.
G: I only remember dances in Grelton.
J: Tell her about going with your mom and dad out west.
G: Well my dad sold his grocery store in Grelton and was buying one in McClure. My mom wanted to see her step brother so we just went west to see the step brother. We had an old car.
J: There were no motels and hardly any roads.
G: On no, we had a tent.
C: Oh, you pitched a tent?
G: We stayed at school houses. Every so many miles there would be school houses, little red school houses. We put our tent up there.
J: You had to take your own food to cook along the way.
C: How long were you gone on this trip?
G: Don’t know.
J: Tell her about when you went to that dance out in the cornfield.
G: We got out to Nebraska and my one cousin liked to dance, and way back in the cornfield was a dance hall and it cost you a silver dollar to go there.
C: That was a lot of money in those days.
G: Oh, you bet. So he took me and I don’t know who else, cousins, I guess. We went out to the dance one night, and the next night they had another one. They had a 10-gallon milk can is what they put the silver dollars in. It just rattled when they threw them in.
C: Did they have a dance floor and stuff out in the corn field?
G: Yes. I don’t remember the orchestra or anything else.
C: There was some kind of music though. It wasn’t a machine?
G: Oh my no, we never had machines.
C: They were real people?
J: Going back before the depression. Tell about when your dad would play.
G: That was before we ever left the farm, my dad played for dances in Weston and we lived over on the next road, and Weston was, I don’t know, about 10 miles down or something like that, and he’d pick Grant Conn up over here who played the drum. My dad played the fiddle. He learned to play the fiddle by himself. He taught himself how to play. He got three dollars a night for playing down there. I remember when it come time for my dad to be home, My mother would go out on the porch and she’d listen for the horses to go clop, clop, clop coming because he would stop at Conn’s first and let Grant out and come on home.
J: And she still had his fiddle for a long time and he just picked it up, how to play. I don’t know where he bought the fiddle, but he was learning to play and his father had been in the civil war, and he would always play (as they told me the story), he would always play “Marching Through Georgia”. He kept playing “Marching Through Georgia” -you know the Civil War . Somebody thought they’d never get those soldiers through Georgia.
G: My Dad used to say it, no Uncle Elmos Pope used to say, “I wish Russell would get those men through Georgia pretty soon.”
J: Then when you lived on the farm, tell her about how you farmed, walking behind the plow.
G: We’d always take a drink of water to the men in field. We’d follow behind them then.
C: We used to go out when I was girl and take ginger tea to the men when they were haying.
G: I don’t remember of ever having ginger tea when I was young.
C: And then when they had the load all ready to come back to the barn, course this was just one time or two, I went out to my grandma’s to stay a couple weeks in the summer, they put us way up on top of this big load of hay and we’d ride into the barn, and I thought we were really up there.
J: That was really high though, and it was kind of wobbly.
G: Now what are you trying to get this information for?
C: Now I just started this tape up. You ‘bout lived on rabbits. How did you get them?
G: Shot em. My husband and Frank Allen used to go hunting all the time. We cooked rabbit.
J: There were lots and lots of pheasants here.
C: I remember when a lot of men used to come out from Toledo and shoot rabbits.
G: Yea, we used to have these big dinners at the church, because men would go hunting, and then they’d come and eat dinner at the church.
J: Big dinners. They had great big dinners. They’d serve hundreds of people there. They had a big wash tub outside where they’d wash. They’d come in and they had great big dinners. I well remember those. That wasn’t very long ago. They still had lots of pheasants here.
C: Would they have different kinds of animals?
J: No. They didn’t serve rabbit. It was just the hunters that came. I don’t know what kind of meat they had. They didn’t serve that meat because the hunters were hunting them that day-November 15, the first day of hunting.
G: I remember how Leona and I made bisq nits one time. I think we made hundreds the day before.
J: Coleslaw, everything the day before. Then I don’t know if they charged a free will offering when the guys would come in from hunting. I don’t remember how they paid, but it was always a big, big day. And most of the time, the boys would try to get out of school that day. Nobody went to school.
G: My father left them go out of school too, them hunting days.
J: Malinta and McClure would let the boys off of school to go hunting that day. I don’t remember girls going, but the boys did. That’s just what you did. On the 15th of November everybody went hunting.
C: That was right here in Grelton?
J: Oh, yes, right here. They had big big dinners. And like you say, people came from Toledo, Detroit. This was a big hunting area. Back then, we always had big dances up here.
C: Oh, where did you have the dances?
J: Well, it was the old lodge hall, then it was sold, upstairs we had big dances up there. And then it was sold. It was sort of like a flea market and now somebody’s got an apartment upstairs and they kind of redone it over and they have made, they sell, this guy fixes old slot machines and stuff in there.
C: Now, is that directly across from the elevator here?
J: Across, kind of kiddy corner.
C: Next to the church then?
J: Well, it would be behind the church.
J: See, Grelton is four townships, you know. One township is Damascus where the elevator is, and across the other way right directly to the west is Harrison Township. Where the church is is Monroe Township. And right here, across the road is Richfield Township. So there are four townships right here. Oh, I know something else, Mom. Tell her about the gypsies. The gypsies would come. People don’t know what gypsies are any more and how they’d come around.
G: We always tried to hide our kids. We always thought they was going to swipe our kids.
C: What did they look like? How ‘d you know they were gypsies?
G: They would put a tent up here or something, down here by the railroad. And they’d be a whole bunch of them stay. They’d come up, and if they could swipe a chicken or if they could get some eggs, or if they could swipe some milk, anything.
J: They’d want to tell your fortune, didn’t they?
G: Oh, yes. Always wanted to tell you your fortune. So many times after they’d talk to somebody, a man would say, “Hey my pocket’s been picked!”
C: They’d just slip it out?
J: Tell her about when they went to the blacksmith.
G: The blacksmith would stand at the door and pretend he was deaf. He’d say, “Eh?, Eh?” And they’d get mad then so they’d finally leave. He had a garage up here. It was Mort Tobias.
J: I didn’t understand why they always thought they’d steal children.
C: Oh, that’s part of an old wive’s tale.
G: They always wanted to take the children. They had them go do their dirty work-get any money or any food or anything. But we were never bothered very much with tramps.
J: Well, the railroad track ran through here. Holgate, straight through here into McClure, and then it went into Toledo, so it was a straight run, and lots of times there were lots of tramps. They’d come and they’d want food.
G: Down in McClure my mother used to think the tramps marked the house.
J: They did. They marked the house. She’d always give them bread and milk and coffee. She’d always make them coffee. I can remember that. She wouldn’t let them in the house. She’d say, “Now you sit on that step.” And there’d always be tramps come every year. My grandmother always fed them, and they’d mark the house with a little “X” on one corner. So she’d always feed the tramps. I can always remember them coming, and we were never afraid of them, not a bit afraid. People would come in strange, and you’d feed them!
C: Well, it was mostly men that were down on their luck.
J: I can remember Grandma feeding the tramps, and then here I just remember gypsies coming, cause there’d be like a bunch of them.
C: Were they dressed differently?
J: I can’t remember that. Tell her about the old medicine shows we had.
C: What were they like?
G: We’d sit on the ground and listen to some kind of music. I don’t know what it was. And they’d sell these bottles of medicine.
G: Yea -good for everything.
C: Where would they do this?
G: Well, I don’t know but I suppose the church ground was maybe what it was, I don’t know.
J: And they’d have a little entertainment. They’d sing or dance or something, and they’d always sell this elixir. If you can remember back in the story of the Wizard of Oz, remember Professor Marvel that had the big carriage and he came in and he was in the beginning of the story and would be like one of those medicine men and he claimed that he’d been performing before the kings of Europe and all this kind of stuff and selling his Elixir for so much a bottle and it just cured rheumatism and everything. No matter what you had wrong with you, it would cure it.
C: I didn’t know they had those in Ohio.
J: Didn’t you know we had Medicine Shows? Oh, I remember the Medicine Shows. But I remember somebody dressed like an Indian. This guy had a big Indian bonnet. That’s what I remember and the Free Shows, the Free Shows. Do you know what Free Shows were?
C: No. What are they, Grace?
J: Every little town had free shows.
G: What did you say?
J: The Free, the Free Shows, we called them.
G: Oh, yes. Well, the businessmen paid so much every week for them.
C: What were they like?
G: I don’t remember. Little singing, I guess, a little playing.
J: A space that would be empty in the town. Some of these people would come around and show a movie, and everybody would sit on your own blankets or chairs, usually serials. They’d have a serial going, and there’d be the rest of it next week. You know, Perils of Pauline and all these cowboy shows, and they would show part of it, and you’d sit there and watch a free show, and we use to have one up town here in Grelton. They had them in McClure. They had them in Malinta. They had them in Westhope. Every little town had free shows. Monday night, Tuesday night. You could go every night to a free movie. The business people would pay these other people to come in and I can remember these, you know some kind of a thing going on, continuing, a continuing show. They would come in there and show them. And you just sat outside and they’d put up a screen or something? And people did not have to pay but maybe if there’d be some grocery stores and gas stations, they would pay the people to come around, and they’d go all around to the little towns and they’d have Free Shows.
C: When was that? Do you know?
J: Summertime. Well, I can remember it. That would have been forties. I can remember them very well. You’d take your own lawn chair or most people would take blankets and sit on the ground. You had to take your own. Nobody provided anything.
G: Don’t think people had lawn chairs at that time.
J: Well, whatever.
C: I’ll bet they didn’t.
J: Probably took a kitchen chair. I don’t know what we sat on. I can’t remember that. But they were fun, cause you could go all around to all these little towns and every night you could see a movie. Free. You didn’t have to pay. They were just called “Free Shows”. Free. Free Shows. But then of course nothing is free. Somebody had to pay the people.
G: I think all the businessmen all paid like a dollar a night.
C: Did they do any advertising in those shows?
G: I don’t remember.
J: Not on the screen. I don’t remember anything on the screen, like the old movies in Napoleon. I don’t remember that they advertised that way. I can’t remember all that either. So, what else do you remember about the depression? Can you think of anything else.
C: Did the W.P.A. do anything out here?
G: Oh, they fixed our roads. I remember the WPA was always working on a road and I remembered we lived on a farm and that was a mud road over here and cause I remember Ralph Eaton was the inspector and he’d been in World War I. He had a big hole in his side, and he would come up. ….. would bake him pies, and she was always giving Ralph Eaton a piece of pie.
J: The CCC. I remember guys working for the CCC. These people that didn’t quite have a job. I don’t quite remember how they got into this, but it was something they could do like WPA.
G: … Ralph Eaton come home with some of the Allen boys.
J: They made a lot of bridges. I remember them making bridges and doing road work. Those people that didn’t have jobs. I can remember they were working on that kind of stuff.
C: I guess it was the CCC that made the shelter house there at Ritter Park and I think they dug the swimming pool. Not the new one, of course but the old one.
J: Sometimes they had CCC written in them. Some places. I don’t know why I remember that, but I think they had CCC written different places. (Civilian Conservation Corps.)
C: That was prior to World War II, somewhere that they did those things.
J: In World War II, now I remember. Now, Mom you remember too, the rationing. How they had those little books and we had to tear out stamps.
C: What was rationed?
G: Everything. Coffee and sugar. Special things like that.
J: Tires and gas. Shoes. You got so much, you know, you’d tear out a little stamp. I suppose you got so much for so many people in your family. Maybe how far you had to go to work. I don’t quite remember how they did that. But about everything was rationed.
G: I don’t think I did ever know how you were rationed. You just got a ration book. I had one of them for a long time.
J: I’ve got a couple at home. They were Bob’s mother’s. She evidently never used them because there’s a couple books that were his mother’s. One year I took them to the Fair for a display. You know, people didn’t know what rationing was. They didn’t know how they rationed. No one knows what you’re talking about.
C: Grace, how many children did you have?
G: That was enough. Ha.
J: We were enough trouble for her.
C: Did you have a brother, Jackie?
J: Yes, I have a brother. He’s younger than I am.
C: With no TV and no radio, what did you do for entertainment in the evening?
G: Played games. We made our own entertainment.
C: How ‘d you do that?
G: Cards, played cards. No, we never had any TV or any radio.
J: I read all the time. We would read. I read every evening. You guys played a lot of cards. I never played cards, but they did.
G: We’d get together with another couple and we always played a lot of cards.
C: What games. What card games?
G: I suppose eucher or bid eucher. I don’t know. We really called ourselves “Card Club”. There would be four or six people.
C: Then you’d go to different people’s houses, probably.
G: Yes. We’d always have refreshments, probably popcorn, but I don’t remember that.
C: So you didn’t bake a pie or anything for it?
G: Oh my, no.
J: I remember my in-laws always played a lot of cards, and they didn’t have electricity for a long time, so they’d have a big coal oil lamp on each corner, no two of them, on the corners of a card table, and they played cards by a coal lamp. Can you believe? You know, that would be so dangerous! Shuffling your cards.
C: Yes, but you know that those coal oil lamps were so much brighter than the old, I call them candles, inside a hurricane lamp.
J: We always had electricity. I don’t remember ever being without electricity, but we didn’t have a bathroom for a long time, and I never thought anything of it. It’s just the way you were.
G: I still got a coal oil light out here.
J: I have a couple of them too.
C: When they turned those things on, that would brighten up the whole room.
J: You know, they’re hot too.
J: I don’t much remember curling irons, I just remember people telling about them. I have a couple old curling irons. One is real wavy so you’d crimp your hair and wave it.
C: Well I remember seeing my sisters-in-law curling their hair with a curling iron. And they were just little tiny things. They didn’t make very big curls. They just made little. That was stylish then, I guess. She used to have her hair waved, marcelled we called it.
G: I think I still got a marcelle iron.
J: I’ve got it.
G: Oh, you’ve got it.
J: Her hair was just short and waved. Oh, you ought to see her wedding dress. She’s still got it. That is so funny, mom. Tell her about when you got married. How you got married so early in the morning and then when you came home you know what they did. They had a shivaree. You know what a shivaree is?
C: I think so.
J: Tell her about the shivaree. Cause that’s so unusual how anybody would get married…
G: Say that again, Jackie.
J: How you got married at 6 o’clock in the morning.
G: We went down to the minister’s house and he married us at 6 o’clock on a Sunday morning and then they put us in what they called a jail, a little building behind where the tramps used to stay behind the railroad tracks, put us in that, and then they got an old buggy and an old car, put the buggy with the tongue in it then we’d have to move every once in a while or it ran a hole right in our legs. They took us to Westhope, I remember from McClure to Westhope and back. The preacher that married us had his car in the parade.
J: That’s a shivaree, a belling. And also you said that when they had you in this old building that was kinda like a jail, you were scared because there were mice in it! … and they were trying to escape the jail, but you said it was so dirty and so scary.
G: There were some friends of ours, they found a hammer and a board I remember, stuck it in the window. My husband, Virgil fixed it so, he nailed the door shut so they couldn’t even get the door open for us.
C: How’d they get you out?
G: Well, afterwords we got out, I don’t know.
J: They took them in this calf rack from McClure to Westhope which is like 6 miles.
C: What’s a calf rack?
J: It’s a little wagon, little cart that they carried the calves in, I think, to take them to the butcher or whatever.
G: Also, when we got back, we had to give each one of a piece of candy.
J: Yeh, you had to treat them then.
C: After all that?
J: That’s why they got married at 6 o’clock in the morning. Can you believe?
C: Why did they get married so early?
J: Because they didn’t want the belling. They didn’t want people to know it. But when they came back from their honeymoon, the bank president and the preacher and everybody belled them then. They had this shivaree.
G: We had the preacher on our side. He come to the grocery store, Rev. _____, and he said “I’ll fix it so they won’t get you”.
J: But they did. That was the custom. This was 1929 maybe. When did you get married ’27 or ’29?
J: But that was the custom.
C: I remember going to my girlfriend’s wedding, and all I remember about it is they put the couple up on seats way up high in this wagon. Well what did you wear to your wedding?
G: I still got my wedding dress.
C: What did it look like?
J: Tell her what it looked like.
G: Oh, it was bronze color, shiny. I remember my mother and I got on the train out of McClure, went to Toledo and bought it. I remember we got off, and I suppose we went to Tiedtke’s and when we got ready to come home, we was standing out in front of Tiedtke’s and we was waiting and waiting for the streetcar to take us back to Union Station and pretty soon my mom says, “Well, we’re on the wrong side of the road, street. That’s going out, and we want to go the other way, so we crossed the street and we got on the right street car then.
C: And that brought you to where?
G: To the Union Station in Toledo.
C: How did you get from there to your home?
G: Well there was a train.
J: Passenger trains used to go through. It’d take you right to Toledo.
G: I think there was two trains a day went to Toledo. One in the morning. One at night.
J: Used to go down to Toledo and go shopping on the train. Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t have to take a car. She went down there on the train and got her dress. Her dress is beautiful. Bronze satin. It really is pretty.
C: Did you wear a hat?
G: I don’t remember.
J: No, I don’t think I ever saw one.
G: I wore a hat when I got married. Found a hat to match this dress and, oh, I thought I was king of the road.
J: Oh, her dress is pretty, cinammon like, a hard color to describe.
C: Tell me how you met your husband.
G: Oh, when he was little and I was little we used to have anniversary dances, and we always kinda liked each other when we was little.
C: Did you dance together when you were little?
G: It was sort of a dance, wouldn’t be much of a dance.
C: Well, yeh, I think little kids do that, like at Deshler and Hamler. So then, as you grew up, did you still like him?
G: Oh yea, I liked him all through school.
C: Did he like you?
G: I think he did.
C: Then when did you start dating?
G: Oh, I remember, I don’t know. It seemed we always got together when we went to basketball games. He played basketball and I did too. And a car would take a load of us. But I was always carted off with him.
J: Do you know when she played basketball, the girls played half court. They didn’t play the whole…tell her how you played half court.
G: Three courts. We had forwards was one end and guards at the other end and runners and jumping and running center was three places.
C: Places in the floor? Three places in the floor?
G: No, we didn’t run the floor.
J: They had to stay in their section. They could not go from one end of the basket to the other.
G: It was a foul if we stepped across the line.
J: When they played girls basketball, they had to stay in either the east or the west section. They couldn’t run back and forth like they do now. That was their section. They had to stay there.
C: Well back in those days, they thought women shouldn’t run or do much exercising. They thought that was not good for them. Didn’t they, Grace?
J: Do you remember the position you played?
G: I think I was a guard. Guards played one end. Forwards the other end. And running and jumping center in the center. The ball was thrown up in the center before the jumping centers.
J: Did you still have five on the team though? Did you have 5 girls on each team? Maybe two guards, two forwards, and one center?
G: Two centers. They had a running center too. The smallest one in the class always was the running center.
J: They’d run around and try to get the ball, or what?
G: Just in the center.
C: And the tallest one was probably the jumping center.
J: Did you have regular uniforms?
G: Oh, I think our mothers made them. They were just bloomers, you might say. We called them bloomers. They were just down to the knee. And a white shirt was all, I think. I don’t remember.
J: I’ve never seen a picture.
C: What did you do for shoes?
G: Oh we had tennis shoes, I guess maybe. I don’t know. That’s something I don’t remember at all.
C: Now, back to your husband. When did he ask you for your first dale? What was that like when he asked you for a date?
G: I don’t know.
J: She kinda always knew him.
G: We always went with a group. We didn’t go alone. We always went with a group.
C: That’s the way they used to do. They probably still do.
G: Virgil nearly always had a car, because his dad had a job, what they called a beet salesman. He contracted land for sugar beets, and he always had a car, so we always had a collection that went with us cause Virgil’s dad would let him have the car.
C: Now what did his dad do with the sugar beets?
G: He was a contractor. He would go out to farmers and contract so many acres of beets.
C: Did he gather up the beets then in the truck or something, would he?
G: Oh, no. That’s all his job was, just contracting.
J: He sold them, a lot in Wood County, North Baltimore area. They sold sugar beets. A lot of Belgiums came here. A lot of people around here are Belgium. They came here to work in the sugar beets, didn’t they?
C: Weren’t the sugar beets sold for sugar, a lot of them?
J: I don’t know what they did with them after they left, I don’t know. Probably.
C: Did they make sugar? They still have a sugar plant there in Findlay.
G: There was a big sugar plant in Ottawa. Beets were hauled to Ottawa. I remember that.
C: That’s probably what they did. What about when Virgil proposed to you? What was that like, when Virgil proposed to you?
G: I don’t know.
C: You don’t remember him proposing?
C: Do you remember getting a ring?
G: It seemed I was always his and he was always mine.
C: Do you remember getting a ring?
C: What was that like?
G: I remember he went down to Grand Rapids and he got me the ring and the jeweler down there dropped one ring, and he said something to him about dropping it, and he says “I’ll find that later”. I never wore it for quite some time cause I didn’t want my folks to know I had it.
C: My experience was just the opposite. When Ed and I got engaged, I said, “Shouldn’t I have a ring or something?” Well he was in the army and he was making about $9.00 a month or something and didn’t have money. I said, “Well maybe just a jive and dime, just a little cheap ring or something. He said, “What do you need a ring for? We know we’re engaged” So I didn’t get a ring. Ha. Well, it was hard to tell my friends that I was going to get married because I couldn’t display a ring or anything, but years later he bought me a beautiful diamond ring. He wasn’t going to buy anything cheap.
J: I remember him. He delivered my children. I remember him well.
C: How did you decide when you were going to get married then?
J: Oh, I know. You wanted to get married on the same day that your folks did.
G: Yes, that’s right.
J: August the 18th. But they didn’t.
G: That’s when it fell on a Monday or something, I believe, or Tuesday.
J: You got married …
G: On the 18th.
J: Well they were going to get married on the same day as her folks, but it didn’t work out, so they didn’t get married the same day, but a day earlier or a day later or something like that.
C: Were you a nurse or anything before you were married? After you finished high school, did you have a career of any sort?
G: I worked for my Dad in the grocery store for years upon years.
C: Oh, you did. You say you were a clerk.
J: She had two sisters that were graduate nurses of St. Vincents.
G: And I saved enough money working for him at a dollar a day that I bought a davenport when I got married.
C:Then where did you live when you were first married?
G: Right here. House belonged to Virgil’s dad, and I believe we paid $5.00 a month rent.
J: They tore it down-the old house was torn down.
G: Yes, this house was built in ’50. I can remember when I’d wake up in the middle of the night and Jackie’d be crying because she’d be wet, and I’d throw the diapers on the floor and in the morning they were all froze stiff.
J: There was no heat. Everything would freeze.
G: I really don’t know what would have happened if it hadn’t been for my dad having the grocery store and Virgil’s dad having the house and having a job. I don’t know what would have happened to us. We’d probably just died away.
C: Because when you got married, it was right in the depression times, wasn’t it?
G: Yes. But I was able to work for my dad at the grocery. Virgil’s sister lived over here and she was so nice to me. She liked to sew, and she just made everything. Anything that had to be made over, she taught me how to sew.
C: She made clothes for Jackie, too, I suppose, when she was little.
G: I made clothes for her, but my mother made more clothes. I worked at the grocery store. My mother liked to sew. She was a seamstress. She made a lot of Jackie’s clothes. Then I had two sisters. They was both nurses. They worked for the City of Toledo. They was always bringing her something. Clothes. Then the girls took her to some cathedrals with them.
J: Oh, I know. That was that big cathedral in Toledo. That great big cathedral. Evidently it just opened, or whatever. They weren’t even Catholic, and they took me to that. Ha.
G: They dressed you when you was little. They dressed you. They bought you everything. Dolls. You got that doll that time, remember? Gary cried cause he wanted a doll, so the next time they brought him a colored baby. Ha.
C: We used to have a doll, my sister and it had a skirt on. You turned one end up and the face was white and you turned the other end up and the face was black. Ha.
J: That’s what my brother had, a little black doll. But I don’t think he ever played with it.
G: When Jackie was little, she went and stayed with my sister in Cincinnati, remember that?
J: Oh yea, going down there to Cincinnati.
C: That was a long trip down there in those days.
J: Yes. It was. Well I can remember too riding the train down there. Because if somebody would take me in the summer, then I would stay the whole summer and then come home at the end of summer. Tell her about those Tongs. Those people that lived here — in the old house. The Tongs.
G: Well, they always thought they were bootleggers, because they always had a table out in the yard with chairs around it. And one time when we got up, they had just pulled out. They just left. They left clothes and everything.
J: They left in the middle of the night. That was really something. They always thought they were connected with prohibition. They were bootleggers in some way, because something about the table in the yard. It was some kind of a signal. And there were big black limousines that would drive around, and there was something very mysterious, because around here you didn’t see big black limousines.
C: And they would stop here?
J: Something was strange with that family. They were named Tong or Tonk.
G: I don’t know.
J: And the children, and they left in the middle of the night and left food on the table and everything that belonged to those children and nobody ever heard one word from them. They absolutely disappeared from the face of the earth.
C: Had they paid their rent?
J: Well after a while, the furniture and everything, my grandpa finally just sold it, because they never, not a word. They absolutely disappeared from the face of the earth. People named Tong, was it? T – O – N -G?
C: You know I think there were probably a lot of farmers that were making hootch in their homes or in their basements or something. Jay Dietrich said his dad used to make it. Course in those days you had to keep quiet. You didn’t dare tell anybody else, but now everybody’s gone, you can tell it. But they used to make that.
J: What was Jay Dietrich’s dad’s name, Mom? Do you remember? Lived up at Malinta.
G: Jay Dietrich’s dad? I don’t know.
J: There’s this guy down at McClure that drove the car for the bootleggers, and he was only 14. He says he drove it up to Detroit to take their whiskey you know, because nobody suspected him because he looked like a little kid driving. And he said they would take up the fence posts and there would be a hole, and they would put the whiskey down there and put the fence post back up on top, and they never found it. They never found it, because a place like that-you’d never think it would be in the bottom of a fence post.
C: There’d probably be money stuck down in there for them too to pay for it.
J: Is Jay Dietrich living?
C: No. Died a long time ago. Shirley’s still living.
G: I saw Shirley when I was in the nursing home and then she come here several times to bring me food.
J: She does Meals on Wheels. Jay Dietrich’s sister’s living. She married Bob Hoff. They live over by Elery, Holgate way. I know that they made a lot of hootch up there by New Bavaria.
C: Oh yeh. I bet they would.
J: That was supposed to have been the big bootlegging place. Well I don’t think you guys were ever into the whiskey making or anything like that, were you? You were never into the bootlegging part or know much about it.
G: You had to know quite a bit to be a bootlegger.
J: Well sure. You had to keep a step ahead of the law.
G: Maybe I didn’t tell you. But yesterday I had several telephone calls and they kept saying, “This is Fritz, Fritz”. And I didn’t know any Fritz or anything. Now I’ve just made it out, it was Marvelle (Jones) Walters. They probably was wanting to know something about the cemetery on account of maybe burying Marvelle. So I would know. But when I got the county paper and I read it, I thought that’s where the Fritz come from. I asked _____, I said, “Have you had any calls?” She says “No, it don’t ring a bell with me.” Well of course it wouldn’t.
C: Jackie, what was it you said about her being…
J: Oh, my mom was born the third of July, 1909 and she always said she wasn’t a firecracker for the fourth of July, she was just a fizzle. Ha. Ha. She was born the third of July. Ha. Ha.
// End //