Interviewed by C. Wangrin, November, 2005
This is an oral history of George Kryder and his brother Steve Kryder, November of 2005, interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin.
(laughter in conversation about antics of George Weasel Jr., a pilot of small planes)
GK: That was a twin-engine plane.
SK: In McClure where his house was he actually had the light company—he would land from the north on an airfield they built on his farm and in order to fly a plane through there he actually had to have the electric—Toledo Edison—raise their line and the telephone company lowered theirs and he was flying between them. (laughter) Y’know, that was standard procedure.
GK: He was building an air strip on his radish farm at Sturgis, Michigan to make trips to it easier. I was leveling this off and it was sandy ground, hard to pack it. It was four o’clock in the afternoon and they were ready to leave and I was still working down there on the runway. I looked behind me and here comes this plane! (laughs) But I drove the dozer off to the side and it went off, and the next day Web (Wilbur Helberg) told me the next day—that plane didn’t have enough air speed you know—that thing was shaking like the palsy. He said, “Jesus Christ, George!” and Mr Weasel put it into a dive, when he only had maybe 30 feet or so above the ground but they got enough air speed and away they went. (laughter)
CW: Just a minute. I want to make sure this thing is recording properly. (blank space in tape) Tell this one anyway George.
GK: George Weasel—we called him Dude–said in school he wasn’t much of a student so he spent his time looking out the window and dreaming. He would get the little kids—and we were little kids, six and seven years old. . . .he would have us kids working on the old bleachers. Before television every little town had a baseball team and they would play on Sundays. Well at the time when we were in school the bleachers had kind of fallen down, went bad you know. He showed us how to take the good planks and make a ramp. He had a kind of motorized bicycle and he would run it over that thing and jump it off the back. Then the next day we’d have to tear it down and raise it up higher! (laughs) So that was the first way I got to know him. He never did anything himself but somebody else always did it for him. He started even when he was in school.
CW: Is that Weasel you’re talking about?
GK: George Weasel, yes. Well, he called me up and said he wanted to go up to the farm in Michigan and dig a ditch, so we went up there and one of their trucks was leaving and that night it got over too far and went in the ditch so we had to unload the truck and pull it out and it was almost dark. So he said, “Well you guys, instead of drivin’ back I’ll fly you back.” So (laughs) we go up and there was something wrong with their plane engine. One piston wasn’t working right so we got flashlights and everything and he went to another airport a few miles down the road. He got some parts and he showed us—Dan and I repaired the plane. (laughs) though we’d never worked on a plane before—so now it was pitch dark and we took off. He said, “The way we gotta find our way home now is to go toward Monroe, Michigan. I know approximately where it is. It has a cement factory and it’ll have fire comin’ out of its chimney. If we find that we’ll turn southwest and it’ll take us right to McClure.” (laughter) That was it! Pretty soon we could see the Maumee River down there and we got across to McClure. He circled round the house two or three times. You couldn’t see anything you know and pretty soon a car comes out and shines lights down the runway. Eeeuu, the plane landed right on the runway!
CW: One night Jude Aderman and his wife flew my husband and me to an Ohio State football game. When we came back it was almost dark. He had no radio in there, no communication, and he kept looking out the window. I said, “What are you looking for?” He said, “Well I’m looking for the river. If I find the river we’ll be O.K.” (laughter)
SK: Yeah. Dude was quite a character, always was. That was back in 1957 when he started the company. That was an interesting time in McClure. I remember as a kid—his daughter, Pam Weasel Weiner, graduated with me in something like ’57. That was when he started the company. I remember when we were in the sixth or seventh grade we actually took a tour of this modern place just south of town.
GK: Well it was started before that because I remember in ’54 Bill Niebel and I were hauling radishes for Ohio Farmers and at that time he split off from Ohio Farmers and started for himself.
SK: There were four or five guys and he was one of them.
GK: He was one and there was Andy Couch, and a guy that lived right over here. I can’t think of his name right now but he was with Ohio Farmers. He worked as a crop duster. And so at that time we were hauling radishes for them and they packed them in small paper bags, culled them all by hand and then dumped the discards in that ditch that lay to the east. (laughter)
SK: That would be where the big creek was. That was Ohio Farmers.
GK: No, they were in Ney by that time, up there on 127.
CW: So he started in a barn, did he?
GK: Yeah, used their barn.
SK: The story was that Ernie Doll who was like a local tinkerer kind of guy in McClure… Dude came to him one day and said, “I need a machine that will bag up these radishes and put ‘em in a plastic bag.” Ernie said, “Well I can tinker that around. So he made this contraption where you get a funnel at the top where he’d dump the radishes in and they’d go in like a little drawer and they would measure them out and put them into a bag. He made one of those for Dude and Dude said, “That’ll work. Now why don’t you make me several more cause I’ve got a semi load of radishes out there.” (laughs) So Ernie, of course he was all frustrated by that and said he couldn’t do it. Otherwise he’d be the Tinkerer of the Day and made a fortune doin’ that but instead that’s when Dude got, I suppose, neighbors and boys and all those guys to build those machines. George, did they actually build those machines themselves?
GK: Well at first, but there was a guy in Deshler—can’t think of his name right now—but he was the one that designed that first radish harvester. There were times that I rode down to Florida. We had to stop there and get a machine, and they had Nick Crawford. They didn’t have a harvester at that time, and they had this thing that was like a Rototiller, anyway he took that and put a burlap bag on the side and it would fill that burlap bag; they’d tie it up and drop it on the ground. That’s the way they first started to harvest them. They did it by hand first but that was the first machine and then later on he patented. It was the Helberg boys and Dick Gray who were the ones that actually built those harvesters and then they had the first big harvesters.
SK: That was one of the really big things wasn’t it, that they could harvest a dozen or 50 at a time.
GK: What they would do is about 20 acres every day in a 30-day cycle, between 28 and 30 days, depending on the weather, for one crop of radishes to grow and he said “That’s the reason I’m making money because I can have 10 or 11 harvests a year where a guy raising corn, he’d have only one.” He’d use the ground over and over.
CW: You wouldn’t think they could grow. They must put a lot of fertilizer in the ground.
GK: Well I don’t remember just how they did fertilize them that much but it was all muck ground. In Florida they did it in the Everglades and up in Michigan they did it in muck ground, and the ground had about a foot of muck and then there was about the same amount of sand, at least in Michigan and you could dig a hole two feet across and drop a match or something in there and you could see it flow across. There’s so many lakes up there in Michigan where one time and sometimes (Phone rings)… The water was always moving under the ground, see.
SK: I think Jay Huddle told me one time that he was up at a sale and he bought a couple of those old single-row harvesters that he had tucked away someplace.
CW: Judy Heitman said that her father, a Hahn– I don’t know his first name– invented the corn picker.
GK: I remember Dad bought a corn binder when I was 16 years old. I remember that. Dad bought that thing and before that they would cut the corn that would fall on the ground; then you’d have to pick it up and put it on the wagon and run it through a silo filler which had a big reeling wheel with small blades on it which would cut it up in small chunks and blow it up into the silo. Well then they came out with this thing that had a bit elevator on it and you went along the tractor with the binder and the bagger—had to have a wagon right along side of it. And somebody had to catch those things and Whack — terrible work. I was 15 years old just goin’ on 16 and before we used to use horses but then when Dad bought a smaller tractor we went alongside of the tractor. But it was very hard to keep the two tractors in the right spot. The one that was cutting corn had to be just a little bit ahead of the one that was following. You had to be on the ground to catch the bundle but then you had to get it up there to stack it. It was terrible work but my Dad did that all day long, see. Well one time I got too far ahead or something, anyway the bundles were coming down and he couldn’t cope with it. He picked up an ear of corn and hit me side of the head, like that. I jumped off there and I told him I quit. I went in the house, told Mom I was going out west to Chicago, but if you were going west from McClure you went towards Napoleon. There was a guy down there—his name was Carl Mowery and he always came to town for a glass of beer in the afternoon. I got up there and I was getting a bottle of orange pop or something and Carl came in there and he said, “What are you doin’ here George? Your Dad’s filling silo.”
I said, “Oh I just left. I ran away from home.” “Nah if you’re gonna do that you have to come home with me.” So I went and lived with him for three months. He called my Dad up. He’d once been a hired man for my Dad so he called him up and told him, so that was better. (laughs)
CW: Something you’ll not forget.
SK: That way to be a cowboy! (laughter)
CW: Did you know about that?
SK: No, that’s a story I never heard before.
GK: You never heard that?
SK: No. I do remember the corn binder and trying to make sure that both vehicles were run. That was just a horrible job at the same speed.
CW: I suppose at the time they had horses it wasn’t so hard because you could say to one horse “Whoa” or “Giddyup” to the other.
SK: Well yeah, and compared to picking the bundles up and throwing ‘em on the wagon it was an easier job. That was, but it just was a horrible job.
GK: My Dad, he would try to do more. Let’s see, how do I say it? Even though he was tired he never slowed his pace down where some guys will, if you get tired, you slow your pace down so when we changed around and helped each other fill silo and he would go as far as Crahan farm which was up by Napoleon, you know and with his binder and cut, but he was always on the wagon. (laughs) So there were a lot of guys that were stronger than he but he was the one that would really actually work hard. He was a very hard worker, and I have seen him –well I guess that’s another story but in 1919 or 1920 I’m not sure which he bought a farm, 60 acres where the home where Mom lived—you know where she lived—anyway and at that time it was before the depression it was a pretty good time. They were making money but anyway after that period when the Depression came I know he had $700 to pay the bank in interest each year and even if he didn’t pay anything on the principal he still owed that. Well oats were sellin’ for $.07 a bushel, corn $.13—you know it was a very hard time and they worried about that and I can remember him falling down between the house and the barn, being so tired at the end of the day that he couldn’t even walk anymore. So that was how people worked in those days. They now don’t know what work is. (laughs)
CW: Did you ever block sugar beets?
GK: No, we never raised sugar beets.
CW: I remember Ed Winzeler saying that’s the hardest job he ever did.
SK: But guys milked cows. I remember Dad saying in the 20s before he was married he milked cows three times a day.
CW: Oh they did! How come three?
GK: Most people milk twice a day but if you milk three times a day you get another 10% or something and that’s the way they –I’ve got this gold medal given by the American Jersey Cattle Club for the most butterfat produced by one cow that year. It was kind of a contest-like thing of who had the best cattle.
SK: To think about milking 25 or 30 cows by hand was a huge, huge job.
CW: How long would that take?
SK: I don’t know.
GK: Oh you could milk a cow in five minutes. And we did. The way it happened, Grandpa was in the Senate and of course he was a politician and he would want to show off to his constituents and he’d bring the guys up from Columbus. He wanted to have this really nice farm and people would brag about it and all that, so they had spent quite a bit of money on barns and they had a system where they could clean out the gutters and they would take it out and dump it and they even had a thing where you would start the pump up and it would pump cold water through a series of tubes and then you would put the milk up on top and it would run down over that and cool it. Most people sold their milk as Grade B milk which you could make butter out of, or cheese but you couldn’t sell it as Grade A which would be something to drink. The ones that had Grade A actually got more money and there was this butterfat. Nowadays we drink skim milk but in those days the butterfat was worth more per hundred weight. 3.5 was the basis of pure milk but if you had something like 7% they could skim that and make butter out of it, extra see, so that was worth more so that’s what they tried to get.
They made shocks—do you remember seeing shocks out in the field? Okay, in November we had finished filling the barn up with corn fodder and about 5:30 in the evening somebody said there was a fire and I was—let’s see, in 1935 I was only three years old and Tom was just a tiny baby. Mom took us over there where the buildings were on fire. Tom cried all the time and Aunt Esther kept feeding him candy to get him to quiet down. I can remember looking through this huge window and seeing the fire at the other farm and here they’d blown that dry fodder into this big barn. It was actually like a hay mow only it was a long thing and there were two or three light bulbs in there that had been left on and that started the fire. You remember Grandpa was still having to be the best. They had spent $5000 on a bull. They had it brought over from the island of Jersey. $5000 was a lot of money, so they got the bull out and they got most of the milk cows out and there was a lane that ran to the west—I can see it yet—and there was a wooden gate and the neighbors were all there trying to help put out the fire. They had put cows in there and the bull. There were young heifers that they had in a box stall inside the barn. They couldn’t get them out and they were all bawling and everything and that bull broke that gate to be inside with those heifers. They couldn’t get him out so Everett Nelson who was a friend took a rifle out and shot them all so they wouldn’t suffer. They lost the bull and anyway Dad had to sell off a lot of the cows and he started over, milking in the chicken coop. He had, I think 16 cows left. We milked them by hand, but before that we had a milking machine but they lost that and the barns in the fire.
CW: Did the milking machine burn?
GK: Yes, we lost all that and by that time (1935) of course it was Depression times. But in 1944 World War II caused prices to go up. He sold a carload of steers and he bought a new milking machine and bought Mom a fur coat. (laughs)
SK: But the fire got so hot that there was a—now you’ll have to help me with this, but as I understand it there was a wood house and their apple butter kettle was on the second floor and it got so hot on that floor that it melted the copper kettle and dripped down through the floor boards, and so that’s why Dad then traded a calf to some guy in North Baltimore for this kettle that we still have today. That’s the one that the family had but that was the story Mom always told me about which I think is pretty amazing.
GK: See, that had a shingle roof at that time. It caught on fire and it burned.
SK: But the rest of it didn’t.
GK: It was called the ‘wood house’ and that’s what it was. It was a two-story probably like this with another floor above it. They stored honey and apple butter and different things. This was what they called the wood house and they just stored wood in there for burning.
CW: I thought maybe it was one they lived in at first.
GK: No, it was quite a few years later. I was 7, 8—something like that. Grandpa came home from one of his. . . it was two terms in the Senate, right? And then he had different jobs in political things, like they had what you call the cornborer division where—almost all the corn was susceptible to corn borer where today they have genetically improved it so it seldom bothers. Once in a while you have a little, but before this that corn would go down and they couldn’t harvest it very easily because of the corn borer. So they came up with this idea sort of like they’re doin’ with…
SK: Emerald ash borer
GK: Corn borer. They would just eradicate all the stalks. They’d take a team of horses with a railroad tie. They’d knock the cornstalks all down and then raked it up in windrows and they burned it. The farmers hated that because of the cornstalks. I don’t know how many years that went on but finally a man who planted alfalfa genetically changed corn so borers didn’t bother it any more.
SK: Finally, Garst invented hybrid seed corn that was not susceptible to that and that really was the end of . . .
GK: So he was out of a job
SK: But they did all kinds of other things. They brought in red-wing blackbirds, because this borer is like a little larva to a butterfly and so the red-wing blackbirds would thrive on those . . . .
CW: That’s why there’s so many of them around now! I was wondering about the fire department.
SK: Starlings too were kind of the same way.
GK: I can’t remember how old I was but when Grandpa came back and moved into the brick house again he wanted to rebuild that wood house again, so I was his helper and I had to carry for him and things like that.
CW: What about the fire department? Did you have fire departments that helped?
GK: I would imagine they did but I don’t remember. You know I was 3 years old or something. I would assume they had fire departments but they probably didn’t have enough power. It was kind of an antique type of thing. It wouldn’t have enough water to put that thing out. I remember that was terrible.
CW: Were you older than Steve?
SK: George is the oldest.
GK: I was born in ’32.
SK: I was born in ’44 so there’s quite a difference, 12 years. I don’t remember lots of that stuff.
GK: There were all kinds of things that . . . Mom, she was very thrifty. She made a lot of our clothes.
CW: My mother did too—made everything.
SK: There’s this story of this woman in Defiance, The Prizewinner of Defiance. We remember in the ‘50’s that Mom was always doing some kind of a contest. She’d try to win something or other. We were talkin’ the other day and Phil said, “And I was the only one who won.” She entered things all the time and Phil wrote some kind of paragraph about something or other and that wins a prize. (laughs) That was the only thing she ever won. But they always, the thing I always remember was like most farm families would have egg money and for Mom they always had strawberries in the summer and I remember selling strawberries along Route 6. People were probably going to work. We’d sell them ‘3 quarts for a dollar.” And I remember picking strawberries all morning and then put them out to sell. Then of course apple butter in the fall was something that Grandma Kryder had made and it had come from back at the turn of the century. So we had this tradition, then Mom made it forever and ever and during the year she would save canning jars, you know, from salad dressing, coffee jars, and you’d have millions of glass cans settin’ around. I remember she’d go around to restaurants and get pickle jars, you know after they’d sold the pickles out she’d get the—what was that place next to Howard’s, there was always a –I know she went there and she went to the-a-Palmer House and what was that other restaurant? It was Groll’s toward the end but it had some other name, but she’d go there and get a gallon so we’d have apple butter in gallon jars and pint jars and quart jars and somethin’ that was like a quart and a half, Mayonnaise can or something. It was always hard because there was no uniformity to any of that kind of stuff. I remember one year she sold apple butter and the next spring she bought two fancy lawn chairs. (laughs) But that was always somethin’, you know. Grandma was always storing it away so that she’d have a little pocket money for herseslf.
GK: Well when I was in first grade she had taken her egg money or whatever and bought me a little leather jacket from Sears and Roebuck and I still got it but I never wore it because other kids couldn’t afford to have a leather jacket. They all had cloth jackets. I never wore it. I felt uncomfortable.
SK: I remember one time we had that old ’36 Buick and she had gotten me this—it was right after the war, probably ’50 or so, I was probably 4 or 5 years old—but I got this what was like a kahki uniform. It had kahki pants and a coat that looked like an army uniform, that type of thing, and I was all spiffed up and thought “this is really cool”. I had to go into McClure to get groceries and she bought a jug of bleach and going around the corner from where Shepherds had their grocery store going toward the ball diamond you know, it rolled over and broke and this thing became white –had all these blotches on it. (laughs)
CW: That bleach is powerful.
SK: Yeah, pretty stout stuff.
GK: The first thing I remember about my Grandpa and Grandma, and I was—I don’t know how old I was but they were out on the other side of the garden and they had butchered a sheep and I was so intrigued by the way Grandpa would make one little cut to skin the sheep and then he would hand the knife to Grandma and she would wash it off, and he’d take one more little cut and I never knew why. It probably took ‘em half a day to skin that sheep. He said later on—I asked him—I said, “What was the deal with that sheep?” He said that the wool flavors the mutton. If you get any slice of wool in with the mutton it will ruin the flavor of it, and so he was so careful. He would take a little incision. I don’t know how he did with the skin but then he would hand Grandma the knife and I can remember that yet. She would wash it and hand it back to him and he would cut another little bit off. (laughs) Well Louis Bromfield—I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard of him—he’s the guy that started alfalfa on all that coal mining area in southern Ohio. Well, Grandpa was stuck on Louis so he thought, “Wed better raise some alfalfa..” Right across the road was where his show field was. I suppose it was about 7 acres or so, and they never had what they call permanent pasture. Well he planted it to alfalfa and he had these young heifer calves and one day he turned ‘em in there and left them all night. The next morning—now we always had a little lane, just a path where we’d run across there to get to the other barn. We went there and there were five or six of those calves lying there bloated. I went into the house and woke him up. You know he was sleeping late. We always had to get up real early to milk and then we had to clean the barn and get on the school bus yet, so—but anyway I woke him up and told him these calves were lying there. He went out there—I don’t know, most of them were dead but a couple were not. He had this long cutting knife. He counted three ribs over and Whack! stuck the knife in there and let the gas out.
CW: Did they live then?
GK: Those did but there were ones that were already dead. So a year later where our Uncle Ted lived down the road a half a mile his wife Margaret called up and said some calves were bloated and Dad said, “George you go over there and help your aunt.” (laughs)
CW: With a hunting knife I suppose?
GK: Well actually Aunt Margaret did it with a butcher knife but I had to count over the ribs because I didn’t like where it was placed. (laughs)
SK: You had seen Grandpa . . . (laughter) Yes.
GK: He learned in a hurry not to pasture the calves in alfalfa, that’s for sure! And then another thing I remember, he bought this silo material. It was cyprus wooden silo so the pieces were not of equal length so you didn’t have joints that would be continuous around. You know you’d have a six-footer and then you’d have nine-footer and then you’d have a 12-footer and then a four-footer and then you know like that. But then you had to put that all together and put it up so it’d be a silo. Well Grandpa started out and I was his helper and I never forget: he said, “Boy you are a lazy kid.” I said, “Why, Grandpa?” You know it really hurt me, and he said, “Well if you wasn’t lazy you’d make two trips instead of trying to carry two pieces at once.” (laughter)
SK: Well now, in like ’35 or so he must have been—was he around when the fire took place? Do you remember?
GK: He was, yeah.
SK: So then after Bricker got elected Governor—1940?–then he got appointed to the Food and Drug Inspection.
GK: Yeah, that was in the ‘40’s though. He might have been there ten years or so and then he moved back to Columbus.
SK: And then you guys moved into the brick house.
GK: We moved back and forth I think it was either two or three times depending on who controlled the state offices. Once it was ’45, I think, we stayed in the White House.
CW: Was that after Rita and you were married?
SK: No, this was when we were kids. When Grandpa was in Columbus Dad would move from his farm across the road where Mom and Dad lived to Grandpa’s house where we kept the dairy herd.
GK: Here’s that brick house. (Shows picture)
SK: So that was built in the 1880’s or something like that. Our great grandfather was a Civil War Veteran and he got a pension from being wounded in the Civil War and he built this nice little brick house and so then Grandpa Kryder—George E.—who was our Grandfather inherited that place and lived there and that’s where my Dad grew up and this would be the old George Kryder who fought in the Civil War and his wife and then these would be his siblings. Then when Dad’s family –when Grandpa would move back to Columbus to take some state position which he did in the ‘40’s he was like the head of the Food and Dairy Division of the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture and so he lived in Columbus and he was in charge of inspecting all the dairy and food processors—that kind of thing—and so Dad moved from north of the road, Route 6, to the brick house just so somebody was in that house.
(End of Side 1)
GK: O.K. One thing I was going to tell was I only saw my Dad cry once and that was . . . Steve was the only one who was born in a hospital. All the other boys were born at home. We were in church and he was crying.
SK: It was because during WWII there weren’t any doctors around.
GK: So we were in—you know parents with children always sat in the back of the church and Dad was not a Christian when he married my mother. What’d he call himself? It wasn’t an agnostic. I can’t think of it but he believed there was a higher being but he didn’t believe in like…
SK: In organized religion.
GK: In coming back, that Christ would come back . . . I’m not sure exactly. But anyway he didn’t go to church for a long time. In fact, I was six years old I think and Jack—I had a dog—and he would always follow us back and forth across the field and Grandpa had an Essex car and he came around and Jack went across to the house you know and Grandpa hit him and so we had him back of the cook stove for a couple months until he kind of healed up—it was in the fall and I was up on the wagon and I was drivin’ the horses up ahead while they threw the bundles up on the wagon and Jack got tired. He lay down under one of those wagon wheels. Dad started the horses up and ran right over him. It broke his back; he was dragging himself and I was crying and everything and so next morning Dad told Mom to take the boys to church and when I came back Jack wasn’t there any more but he had dug five different holes so that I wouldn’t know where Jack was buried.
Well I was going to tell her the only time I ever saw him cry was the day that Steve was born and we were all standing there and Rev. Moser mentioned something about it and it was kind of like a little prayer and Dad started to cry. See, I thought he was sad but he wasn’t.
SK: But Phil is younger than me by four years and I can remember when Phil was born—middle of the summer you know Mom, she was pregnant so I would have been four years old. And she told me that—she said, “Now here, feel my stomach. By morning you’ll have a baby brother.” Well that was pretty cool, so the next morning I came downstairs from up there and there in this basket was Phil lying upon the dining-room table and during the evening Dr. Manhart from Bowling Green delivered her there at the house and there was brother Phil.
CW: What did they use—did they use the kitchen table or the bed for the delivery, do you know?
SK: I was asleep so I don’t know what they used, but you know I guess all you guys probably were born there.
GK: Yeah. There was a lot of stuff like that and it would take forever to tell them all but like Aunt Emma; she came from Cincinnati and she was always trying to do something to show Mom up, I think.
CW: Was she your mother’s sister?
GK: No, she was one of Dad’s sisters and so she took us to see “Blackbeard the Pirate” to a movie. Well we had never seen a movie before. It was really something to go to a movie and so they hung this guy by the yardarm in the movie you know so the next day I wanted to hang one of the boys but they were all skeptical. They didn’t think it was a good idea. (laughs) So I volunteered to be the one to be hung only I put the noose under my arm, not around the neck and I thought it wouldn’t choke me so they threw the rope over the apple tree. I said, “Now if I start to yell or anything you’d better let me down.” But they pulled her tight, wrapped it around the tree a couple times and it didn’t take anything to hold it like that. Anyway the other one kicked the can out from under me. I went “Aaaach!” and Mom came out with the paring knife. She was going to cut some dandelions. I don’t know if you ever ate dandelions but anyway she was going to get some dandelion greens for lunch and she saw me hanging. She ran over and rescued me. (laughs)
SK: They always told the story too about when they were redoing the barn the Reimond brothers there at home and you know there’s a spot where you run the rope out to put hay up in the barn and Tom—you hooked him up by his suspenders and I pulled him up to the roof of the barn. (laughter)
CW: He’d be up pretty high.
GK: So anyway she always had like 15 pair of work Levis. She got them from Montgomery & Ward. I don’t know what they were called but they were a looser-fitting kind of jeans and she found out that the knees were the first thing to go, see. So what she did was after a year or two she figured this out. She would take this seam out, cut the back piece off and when we’d get a new pair of jeans she sewed that back piece on the front so they’d last longer. When that wore out “Whsst!” You had new fronts. (laughter)
CW: She was a smart woman!
GK: Kids today would never—the money they spend for clothes!
SK: Well we would buy a pair of jeans that were already fraggy ‘cause that was the style.
GK: And then I remember I had this little blue and white sailor suit and it had a white collar and it was blue and had white buttons on here and it had short pants, and I wore that to church when I was little, you know, so she—you probably don’t remember it but several of the boys wore it; handed down from one to the next. It wasn’t too long ago there was somebody moved in that green house down the road so she took some of those clothes there. A couple days later she went there to collect for a charity or something and she found them out on the porch. They’d been using them to wipe their feet on. They weren’t going to wear those kind of clothes.
CW: That’d be kind of sad and that little sailor suit was right there with them probably.
GK: I was glad to get out of that though. I had to go to knickers then and I wore knickers to church for…
SK: I always had long pants if I remember right but I do remember gettin’ a suit from Dave—always had to be passed down but in the days when we all wore suits to church I guess, so. . .Let’s see, you went off to college in ’50?
CW: Ohio State?
GK: No, Capitol. Mom wanted to get a preacher.
SW The thing I remember about that one time was we went down to Columbus to either visit Capitol or take me there in like, ’62 when I went and I always told the story to my kids at school too. I thought this was really interesting. You drove down Main Street to get to High Street—you know that was Route 33—and we stopped for dinner at the Southern Hotel which is still there, still an old place, had dinner and I can remember to this day that they had ‘White Only’ and ‘Black Only’ restrooms. In ’60 Columbus was basically a southern town and you still had that segregation. It might have been when you were in school and we went down to visit you sometime.
GK: It probably was. I’ve looked at some of my papers. I’d written Mom a letter and I’d gone to Miami with a friend who lived down there over Christmas vacation and we were in a department store and we had looked around and were going to leave and he went over to the water fountain and started drinkin’ and there was another water fountain so I turned it on. He grabbed me and yanked me. “You don’t drink out of that. That’s for Blacks!” That was about 1950.
CW: Not too long ago really. That was Miami, Florida.
SK: Was it one of those guys from college that you went with? You know, it always astounded me. Living here it’s like . . . I remember one time it was so weird. Dad would always feed anybody that drove in to the house and one time we had a carload of Black guys drive in there about four o’clock in the afternoon on a fall day and—they’re all probably college age and so forth—so they’d go to work and rake leaves and then Mom fed them, and afterwards they played a little football in the yard. “This is pretty neat. These guys can catch it really good!” But-a—that was probably the first experience I’d ever had with anybody that was Black.
GK: We had one Black person at Capitol the first year that I was there.
SK: There weren’t many when I went to school either.
CW: Well I had heard that way back the police would take a Black person out to the edge of town. They’d feed ‘em and give them a place to sleep for one night, then they’d take ‘em to the edge of town and, “Don’t come back.”
SK: Oh I’m sure that’s true.
GK: In Mississippi there used to be a sign on each side of the town that would say, “Darkie, don’t let the sun set on your shoulder.” Something like that. That meant you didn’t dare . . . and I remember, I drove truck in ’53, ’54, somewhere in there, and you’d go through those towns down there and there was a Black person on the road . . I mean, sometimes it was only a hundred yards apart, sometimes it’d be close to half a mile but you could never not see one walking. But even during the Depression here there were a lot of Tramps, we called them. One of them told Mom that there was a sign or someway they had a way of knowing that she would always feed them ‘cause somebody stopped there every day.
SK: Yeah. She’d never turn them away.
CW: They said they marked the gate posts or some way but you never saw any sign.
GK: No but they knew and they would just come in there and –just like they knew that she’d—and she’d always put ‘em to work with some little thing but …
SK: I always remember one day a fellow had a bagful of newspapers and he said he laid those out to sleep on. He had a dry spot to lie down on.
GK: Grandpa had this orchard, you know, and one day I went over there and I could see this brown thing. I went there and I got a little closer to stare at it. I ran over to tell Grandpa. I said, “I think there’s a monkey under one of your apple trees.” (laughs) He got his shotgun and went down the road to the apple orchard and it was some guy had an Army uniform on and he was sleeping under that apple tree. I was just little. I called him a monkey. Years later when I came home from college I worked for Langedurfer, a paving contractor from Toledo for two to three days and he said, “Well since you’ve got this bunch of guys from McClure why don’t you go with the wash-up crew (That’d be Slim Meyers’ bunch).
SK: Who else was working?
GK: Oh, Brown—not Bob but he . . . .there was Herb Joy, Herby Titus. Herby and I drove and the guy that lived on the right across from Storchs—what was his name? an old bachelor guy. He lived there and then he moved down here and lived in the old school house. Anyway we all worked together on the roads.
SK: You would have been the young fellow.
GK: My job was to stand up on a platform on the paver and clean asphalt from the truck bed.
GK: Yeah and asphalt was so sticky it would stick about two inches thick on the truck bed. Even when Dan and I started it we used 9% asphalt. Now we use less than 5% and that’s the reason our roads don’t hold up. The cost had gone from 17 cents a gallon to $1.25 a gallon.
SK: You put that stuff in and it doesn’t stick together.
GK: In fact, Gerken said, “You gotta put cement in to make concrete.” (laughs)
SK: So you were still up on the platform
GK: I was still up on the platform and it was mud, and I had to clean the trucks out. Then that one would drive away and another one back in. Of course they were only hauling six tons
CW: Did they scoop out the rest of it?
GK: Yeah, you’d add this… that was about this wide. It had a big long handle on it and you’d start to shovel that up in there and the stuff would come down in there. Well I’d worked on that job about three months and Slim said—well I’d moved around and I wanted to be an operator instead of a laborer but anyway he said, “That pavement down in the road there about a half a mile, you can bring it up here.” So I walked down there, got the timber and started coming up the road, well one of the trucks had turned around and was headin’ that way to go back to the plant, so dumb me, instead of letting him get off the road I moved off and got stuck and it was three years before I ever got a chance to (laughter)…
SK: That’ll teach ya! (laughs)
CW: I think we’re getting a great recording. (clock ticking) Well Steve, what do you remember? Do you remember your Mom or Dad telling stories about the old times or anything?
SK: I always remember Mom talking about her Dad and Mom that—I’m not sure where she was born.
GK: She was born in Richfield Township.
SK: And they lived down there in that Seedorf neighborhood, west of the cow or sheep shed, right? And I always remember her talking about the move down there and their whole goal in life was to end up moving back across the river to the promised land.
CW: Across the river?
SK: Yeah, ‘cause if you were, in the German tradition and moved down here it was like being in exile in the land of Egypt, and your whole goal was to move north of the river into what was called the Promised Land. This wasn’t as good a soil, it wasn’t as good a farm ground. Y’know, Liberty Center, that area where they ended up was . . . so I remember them talking about that, and it would get so muddy that when they would go anywhere in the springtime you had to clean the mud out from between the spokes on your wagon because it was so sticky and gooey.
GK: She used to tell about her Grandad—when you’d plow in that clay ground you’d get crops, and he would break them up with a maul. He’d just go out there and actually work at breaking up clods. Isn’t that something? Nobody would ever do something like that today.
SK: She also talked about, like in the ‘20’s early. Y’see, if you understand like during the First World War it was a really prosperous time for American agriculture. Corn was $3.00 a bushel and so she said her dad had a crib full of corn, started hauling it to town after the war, and after the war there was this huge depression in American Ag prices because they didn’t , they had sold it all to the Europeans and then the market fell out and so he started out one week selling corn at $3.00 a bushel and by the end of the week it was less than a dollar because the price just fell during that whole period of time. It was just a difficult time for them. And at the same time Dad in ’20 when he bought –or ’18 –bought that farm from Garsters for $300 less an acre than he had offered ‘em five years before that because, again, the price of commodities had gone down. The thing I always remember as a kid listening, Dad would once in a while reminisce about stories about old Grandpa Kryder and he’d tell stories about the Civil War things. I used to just love to listen to that stuff. They’d be on patrol and they couldn’t stop to eat so they would put a pot of food between two horses riding and then everybody would come up and scoop a cupful of bean soup, I suppose, or whatever—hard tack—and eat on the run as they were on patrol.
CW: That was a hard war, wasn’t it.
GK: It was.
SK: Tough business. His brother-in-law was this guy by the name of Henry Sweetland that was kind of an outlaw. Dad always told the story about how they were riding a line of rail fences and they got ambushed by Confederate Infantrymen who unhorsed their Lieutenant and had him up against a tree. Henry Sweetland rode up and shot six of them and carried the guy away, and that was when Grandpa then riding away from that got shot and he felt the bullet hit him in the back and he leaned over his horse and he couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t bleeding. Well it turned out it hit a buckle and landed in his boot. So it was kind of dumb luck in that sense.
GK: This Sweetland was a person that, sort of like the Rangers after WWII they became so skilled at killing people that it didn’t mean anything to them. So he didn’t kill him to society and a lot of them didn’t either and he would go down to McClure and something and somebody’d get upset and—actually I don’t know how the story went but he got into a fight with somebody, came back, got a shotgun and shot the man. I don’t know whether it killed him or not. I never really did know that story but they were hunting him and Grandpa gave him some money, I don’t know how much, and put him on a train and he went west and nobody ever heard from him again. Like a lot of other people . . .
CW: That was after what war?
GK: The Civil War. That was our great-grandpa.
SK: It would have been in the 1880’s I suppose.
GK: Yeah. And this guy said that they came up to this barn where there were a lot of Rebel soldiers—I don’t know how many—in there and it was on a Sunday and they asked them to surrender or something. They didn’t. They started coming out and . . . oh, they set fire to the building, that’s what it was, I guess. And this Sweetland had one of those repeating rifles and he shot them as they came out, as you would shoot an animal or something. So he was not a . . .
SK: Not a very pleasant fellow. But the interesting thing was, y’know we had this book of the Civil War. Every county had one published, and in that Sweetland writes these little notes on the sides where the history wasn’t correct or just comments like, “This General was a chicken, showed cowardice under fire”, or another spot where it talks about him actually it says Sweetland was captured and sent to Andersonville but he puts in a note, “But I escaped.” (can’t hear words)
GK: And another thing that’s, this great grandfather, George, his father was a Copperhead. That meant he was a sympathizer for the south and so he was run out of Henry County and he left here and lived in Indiana for awhile and then came back after the war. But he’s buried out there at what they call Bostelman’s Corners west of Napoleon and Michael Kryder and…
SK: Two wives: Sarah Lee
GK: Sarah Lee
CW: Is it that little graveyard that’s right by Route 6?
SK: Yeah. And actually he ran right there by where Fred Freppel’s barn is. There used to be an inn there. It was called the Halfway House and he ran that for a period of time. Then the place across the way must have been some sort of a house or building by the way but that was used by someone like a blacksmith. Eventually I think on that property there on Harry Fast’s farm there were 40 acres or something they had a little place on.
CW: Well this Andersonville was that in Indiana?
SK: No. It was in Carolina.
GK: It was one of the worst places. The Confederates ran it, didn’t have enough food or supplies to keep the prisoners, so the prisoners ate rats and died of all kinds of diseases. It was one of the worst things that ever happened. Very few of them survived it. They would be able to live maybe three or four months, then they just gave up.
SK: It was really a terrible place, terrible place. But that, the notes in those letters of old George where he talks about where he actually was in the group of people who captured Jefferson Davis at the end of the war. They chased him down in Alabama or someplace. For a long time after the war he had a farm in Alabama that he would go
down to stay the winter or something like that.
CW: Jefferson Davis?
SK: No, this George Kryder.
GK: The other thing was that he had brothers who fought on both sides.
GK: Yeah, that would be something if your brother was . . .
CW: Yeah, I had heard of that: one brother fighting the other. Wouldn’t that be terrible?
GK: I don’t know whether—seven or eight children, wasn’t it? Something like that.
SK: In that group, yeah. A couple of ‘em were in units from Indiana. There’s an Edward in Indiana and this guy was actually mustered in in Monroeville, OH, but I always was intrigued by that kind of stuff. You really need Tom to tell you the stories.
GK: Tom’s a better story teller than we are ‘cause I think he actually had a—
SK: Good memory
GK: a better memory. Oh, one thing I can remember my Grandfather telling me was—do you remember how they made corn cribs out of rail fences? Well, even when I was a boy they had them but they took real fences and like that. When they’d lay it up it left air through so that the corn would dry out, see. The only problem is that any kind of a rat or mice or squirrel—squirrels were very prevalent—the thing that did the most damage to the corn. Our grandfather was telling me this. When he was a little boy he would get two cents or something for every squirrel he’d kill and then he had to buy his own ammunition. (laughs) I don’t know what that costs but anyway he said he got so “I could line two of ‘em up”
CW: That’s hard to believe—two squirrels with one bullet. (laughs)
GK: He said by the time—you know after several weeks he would have a lot more bullets than . . . (laughter) I don’t remember the exact words how it worked but …
CW: Made a good story anyway. (laughs)
GK: And I could see—you know, squirrels are so curious and my Grandfather, when—he loved to hunt squirrels when I would be too impatient. You have to go in there and just set still and don’t make any noise but those squirrels will come in sooner or later to check you out, so you know there’s squirrels up there in the tree but if you go looking around and moving then the squirrel. . . so we’d sit down in the woods and we wouldn’t make a move and it’d just go on for 20, 30 minutes. The whole thing was to be quiet and not make any noise and Grandpa would make a noise like that. The squirrel would come around the other side of the tree and then I’d get to shoot it. (laughs)
SK: I always remember him—this would have been like in the late ‘40’s—as I would have been just a little kid, but he had this ’42 Buick that he—that coupe, twin carburetors on it on a straight 6-cylinders on it. (laughs) Anyway he had this big old Catalpa tree out in the front of the house there and he’d park and sit there with the door open. He chewed tobacco and he’d sit there with his gun and he’d shoot starlings. They’d come squirreling around in the tree and he’d sit there with the door open and ‘pow’ and it’d fall from the tree.
GK: We didn’t know it till years later but the neighbors said, “Those bullets landed in our yard.” He was shooting up in the air and they would go. . . (laughs) it’d be a spent bullet but I never knew a bullet could travel that far.
SK: Remember when Carl Billow used to have that feed store and you’d go in there and buy shells. They’d go in, “More bullets, boys?”
GK: What I was wondering was practice at fast draw. (laughs) We shot into the silo and almost cut a hole in it.
SK: And then Dan, when he lost his eye, I remember as a kid when every night he had to throw a can up in the air and shoot at ‘cause he had to train himself to shoot left-handed because he was blind in one eye. I remember throwing and “pow!” He got so he was pretty good at it.
CW: How’d he happen to lose the sight of one eye?
GK: He got a piece of steel in the eye. There was a crank for a tractor. I don’t know whether you remember what the cranks looked like but they had a little pin that went through the crank . . . do you remember that? Well a crank was shaped like a crank, you know, and it’s got a little hole in there. A 3/8 pin went through there and then that fit inside
SK: Little cogs on the ends.
GK: And those little cogs fit on the ends of flywheels. They had tried to crank the tractor and it broke the end of the crank off so Dad had bought a welder from Sears and Roebuck and the first thing he did he took it out there and tried to weld an aluminum shelf. It might have been a steel shelf but anyway it was too thin. If you know anything about welding the thinner the metal the harder it is to control the heat. Otherwise you just burn it away, see. Anyway he gave it up and so Dan kind of learned to be the welder and he was pretty good at it so he said he would fix it, so he got a piece of rod, laid it in there where that broken area was and he was going to weld over the top of it– anyhow did he?—some way a piece broke off and hit him in the eye. Well nobody was living in that brick house at the time, was there? I think he went up there and kind looked inside and didn’t see anything and Mom would tell us to wait till lunch time if we got anything in our eye and she’d get it out. If we got a piece of metal or chaff or dust or anything she’d wrap our eyelid up on a pencil, then she’d go in there with another pencil, and most things will stick, kind of like a magnet. So she’d take it out. She told Dan she couldn’t see anything. He complained it sure hurt, you know, so Dad said, “Don’t worry about it.” So he worked the rest of the day and then that night he went over to Doc George over here. Doc George said, “I can see a little spot there. Maybe you oughta have that checked, so they went to Dr. Louis Raven—the guy that did it.” And they found out that—I don’t know how they found it but they found that there was a piece of steel on the inside. Well, he took the steel out but that formed a scar tissue and so he lost the sight in that one eye.
CW: Oh dear!
SK: So he had to learn to shoot left-handed. That was the most important thing.
GK: So Dad said, “You all throw cannon blue rocks for Dan so he had to learn to shoot left-handed.
CW: There were four brothers, weren’t there?
SK: Six brothers. George, Tom, Dan, Dave—they’re all two years apart and then there was six years apart between Dave and I and four years between Phil and I. And then there was another brother who died in infancy. He was Nathan. He was like three years younger than Phil.
GK: I was in college then.
CW: I didn’t realize there were that many. There were four boys in our family and your Mom and Dad invited us out one time. They were so gracious. And I thought that there were the same number of boys in your family as in ours, but there were more.
SK: It might have been that a couple of them were gone. It depends on when it would have been. George would have been gone, Tom was in the Army in the mid-‘50’s and so it might have just been …
CW: This was after the war so . . .
SK: That would have been very possible.
CW: Well then, didn’t they raise uh . . .
CW: Judd, yeah. Was he a . . .
SK: Cousin. He was Mom’s sister’s boy. She had three sons that were like my age and a couple years older, then there was a space and she had three younger sons, and Judd was the youngest of those. He was born in ’57 I think and so he had two older brothers, so there’s six in her family too. The three youngest ones are our cousins. Our Uncle Martin—remember him, the barber Freytag? He raised two of them and then Mom raised Judd. He always had trouble in school and she pretty much willed him through school—taught him how to read and how to do pretty much everything in school.
CW: His mother died?
SK: Yeah, she had cancer. (clock strikes) So he was killed in an accident ten years ago or so.
CW: Well with that many boys in the family I’ll bet there was something going on all the time! (laughter)
SK: Yeah, I always think it’s pretty marvelous that they all survived.
GK: I wrote a . . . we had to write some kind of paper in an English class in college and I wrote. . . The name of the paper was, “Why My Mother Worries.” (laughs)
SK: Whew! I always remember too that when I was a kid the older boys were always goin’ out on dates or wherever so the evening ritual was the milkin’ was done, the guys all got cleaned up and it would be like 7 o’clock or 7:30 and they’d be goin’ off to go to the Metropol or someplace and Mom always had to have Bible devotions before they left. So we all had to stand around and she would read the lesson in the Bible and read the little Bible study before they went off to wherever they were goin’ to do , cause I’m sure she worried about them but it was always the kind of an evening ritual.
CW: Yeah, she was quite religious. When she was an old old lady she would still drive her car every Sunday to church. Went to early church.
SK: Right. Went to early church.
GK: Here’s a history of the Third Ohio Calvary. That’s the one that he and his brother-in-law joined up and that is pretty much what they did. ( Shows a book)
CW: Now is this your Great-grandfather?
GK: That’s my Dad, I think probably did that. It looks like his writing to me.
SK: He would have been our Great-grandfather. He would be the fellow there.
(end of tape)