Hershberger, Jim

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, March 10, 2009

CW: Would you give us your name?

JH: My name is Jim Hershberger

CW: This is Charlotte Wangrin. I am interviewing Jim for the Henry County Historical Society. Jim, you have a pretty good business worked up in repairing lawn mowers and other machines. How did you get started?

JH: I started in 1956 that was my first one. My father in law had a mower and a sickle bar, and a tiller that he had paid a lot of money for. It had been run out of oil and he stressed to me that he enjoyed that and would like to have it repaired. I offered to him that if he would buy the parts I would repair it for him. That was my first one.

CW: That was your start.

JH: I am doing 250 a year now.

CW: Is that right.

JH: I enjoy doing that. It occupies my time even though I am retired. It is work that I enjoy and it is not heavy work. I enjoy doing that.

CW: Now,think back to your childhood can you remember any incidents that sort of triggered your interest in machines?

JH: One thing that I think triggered my interest was the fact that I had worked as a mechanic for many years and we had several customers that came to Howard’s here where I was working and wanted their lawn mower fixed. They had taken it to a lawn mower shop and it would be 2 to 4 weeks before they could pick it up. They needed to mow their lawn right away. They asked me if I would fix it for them. I told them I am so busy but if you can leave it here I will take it home tonight and fix it for you.

CW: So that is how you got started.

JH: There are so many people that are so happy with the service that I give them. I pick them up. I repair them. I take them back. I have a reasonable rate that I charge. I don’t charge the high dollar because I don’t need that. I will tell you that Pastor Castello told me one day when I was talking to him and I was a bit discouraged that he said “Keep your chin up, what you are doing is a ministry in itself to the people”.

CW: That is right.

JH: I have a nice shop. I don’t have to get rid of it yet. When I do then I will probably have to hang it up and face the problem that I have now. I have always been able to overcome all my health problems and I can take it and do it again.

CW: Now did you grow up in Henry County?

JH: I was born in Malinta, two miles northwest of Malinta. My mother and my brothers and I moved to Napoleon in 1942. I didn’t really like it in town so I asked her if I could go live with my uncle. She told me I had to go ask them and they did. I lived with them a couple of years until he passed away. I came back and lived with my mother for a few months and I was lucky enough to find a job on the Crahan farm out west of town here. It was a dairy farm. I lived with those people for almost five years.

CW: Back in those days jobs were not as easy to get as fhey have been up until now. This summer may be different.

JH: I think our president has a good idea. You need to prepare yourself to advance. I guess I blindfolded myself late because I have had all kinds of job opportunities. I worked at Howard’s 32 years.

CW: Was it that long! I didn’t realize that.

JH: I was at Napoleon Auto Sales, managed the marine department for a couple of years. I went back to Howard’s. Then in 1976 I wanted to get to a 40 hour a week, I was tired, so I applied at Campbell’s, they called me the next day and wanted me to go to work the next day. I said I can’t do that because I have to give some notice. So I did. I went to work there and progressed there immediately and I had the best job in the plant as far as I was concerned. I had all the material handling equipment, all the lift trucks, the security cars, equipment.

CW: You mean you had to keep them all going?

JH: They would come to me when they were getting new trucks and say to me “what do you want to do”. I had documented which ones should be replaced, and whether we needed to trade all those in. We needed to shuffle vehicles around and replace the older units and I had to make sure I had the parts to fix them. Afterwards I got a good compliment from him. He said “I sure wish you were back there. You had your act together”. You know he took your information to a T.

CW: It has been a good and reliable company for this area.

JH: Yes it has. I started being involved with the CIC, I understand that and know the importance of it.

CW: CIC! What is that?

JH: That is the community investment corporation, of which Ralph Lange is the new director. He is a progressive type person. He is doing great things for Napoleon and Henry County. We need somebody like that. I have stayed involved, probably too much so, but I like what I am doing. As a matter of fact I just filed again for Council.

CW: You did! Good for you! Somebody needs to do it.

JH: I like it. It is getting to be a trying time now with the economy the way it is. All the requirements we have to face. I enjoy doing it. I have no obligation to it. Actually I was off a year and a half because I thought I had served my time. . Council had an interest in me coming back. They had a few things we needed to address. I was experienced in it. In fact they asked me won’t you run again. So I have just filed. I like it. My medical situation that I have now, I have had a lot of that. I always try to stay positive. I try to move in the right direction. I think that being positive is the main concern. .

CW: Do you find working with the city council difficult sometimes?

JH: Yes I do. We just had a major issue and I came home and I went to the site and studied it at home, and I thought that I needed to do something about this. I spent several evenings, not all night, but several evenings preparing it and I presented it to the rest of the council and told them how I wanted to go with my proposal and it happened. I was commended by many people for doing that. I had done my homework. I made a lot of notes and knew what I wanted to say when I got there and we got it accomplished. The sad part of it was this wasn’t done early enough. It was late on their schedule but we did it.

CW: As you probably know my husband was on the school board for a number of years. One thing that I noticed was that a lot of people will run for school board because they have a pet peeve. They will get on so they can do something about that. They are not interested in doing good beyond that. Once that is out of the way then they either stop working or go and sit there at the meetings.

JH: You have to weigh in the concerns that all of the people have. I always try to have a good basis for my decision and I think that it has usually been okay. I never never in all my years did I choose to have an axe to grind. I have served 30 years as a fireman. I served from the bottom to the top and after 30 years I decided I had to quit.

CW: Why?

JH: It is a strenuous job. You have a lot of crucial moments when you have to make quick decisions instantly. There is no delay. You need to do it right now. Normally I did okay and didn’t have a problem. There were times and we would go back and we would evaluate what our tactics were and whether we could have done something better. We tried to educate people on what we should be doing and what we should not have done. I think that is important. We always had in the fire service we called it an action evaluation, where we would go back. It was not at the time, but at our regular meeting we would have an action evaluation. We tried to have everybody understand what we were trying to accomplish. We had a great department. We have as good or better today than what we had then.

CW: Is that right.

JH: They are very well qualified.

CW: You know I always thought that being a fireman, oh that would be an easy job. All you have to do is sit around and wait for an alarm to ring.

JH: Well, if you have had your training and if you are prepared, that is true.Then you hope it doesn’t ring. Most of us were family people. And the calls never come at an opportune time. They would come when you were ready for a Christmas dinner. You would just be ready for a Easter dinner or a family get together or a family party or something.

CW: Now you were a volunteer fireman, so they would call at your home, right.

JH: We were considered here as paid volunteers. We did receive compensation for it. I kept telling some of the other chiefs in the area you need to go with that because some of these people in the area had leave their jobs and to go to a fire or they go to a fire and don’t get to go to work. You have to consider the employers as well. So if the city or the village would compensate those people not equal to what they draw at work, but it offsets what their expense are. It would not be a total loss because they would have lost the hours at work. We also communicated with the employers to know that they were agreeable with how we wanted to do it. They would explain how they expected in regards to that. .

CW: The employer was also quite cooperative then?

JH: Yes they were. Very much so. I never seen the time when there wasn’t cooperation with the fire department. One of the big issues that I had was we wanted to go to an upgraded rescue unit with a paramedic and I totally agreed with that. I said I only have one reservation about it and I said I want all calls that they respond on to be the same. In other words, there is a paramedic on every run if we are going to go with paramedics. They were agreeable with that. They thought it was going to cost us more money, but I think it is important. Here we are trying to provide for every call is that they be uniform and we can offer the same services. A paramedic is a step above an EMT. Consequently there are more things that they can do that are more vital to their health. It worked and we got it accomplished. It was costly. I cannot see for example when you have an EMT on the run and you have one or two EMT’s. A doctor who is much more elevated from a paramedic and I didn’t want different requirements for services. I wanted to be able to provide the same service on each run. It was a good thing. We are assisting neighboring comminuties however they do not have the paramedic they need they will call us.

CW: Now let’s go back to see if you can remember this. What was Napoleon like when you were a child?

JH: Well, it had a lot of older structures yet. I guess I can’t remember a lot about Napoleon until we moved to Napoleon. Napoleon has always been a good community. A lot of things have changed. Years ago the people from the rural areas all came to town on Saturday night. It was nice to shop and the stores were all open.

CW: Oh yes.

JH: That was a good thing. Yet when I really look at that I think we are better off. People have more time to do their shopping during the week and more time in the evening. The grocery stores stay open and it gives us more free time and more flexability. They can spend more time with their families.

CW: Back then most of the people were farmers and they would have to work during the week. They worked from sunup to sundown a lot of them, so they couldn’t go to town until Saturday. What was Malinta like? Was it different from the way it is now?

JH: I think so. On Saturday nights we would go to Malinta and we would go to the Red and White store or we went to Delph’s and did our shopping. Our dad always took us along and Mom would stay at home. We had the list and would buy the groceries. We always ended up with treats and we would get a Coke. Then by 9:00 we would be on our way back home. Some things were very skimpy at that time. We raised our own chickens. We buthered our own chickens. We did our own baking. We usually butchered a hog or two and we would buy beef from somebody. We always ate good. Mom was an excellent cook. It wasn’t as fast a living as it is today. We created more of our own entertainment. We didn’t have television.

CW: Whatr did you do for entertainment?

JH: We would play Carrom or play cards.

CW: We used to play that too. We had this board and you would flick this little thing and try to get it into the pocket.

JH: We have a nice pool table here today, we have that down in the basement. When our grandchildren stop over in the afternoon they can play. It is kinda of twofold, because it can break the monotony for us and it also gives them a good feeling.

CW: Yes and it teaches them the joy of giving to someone else.

JH: Yes that is very important. I like to have fun. Sometimes I think I don’t allow enough time for it. You know the Lord has been good to me. I don’t have any regrets as to where I have been and I don’t question it.

CW: That is a good way to look at it.

JH: We moved out here and we really enjoy it. I still retain my shop over there as long as I can. Like the Pastor told me this that there are so many people that depend on what you are doing. To me, maybe there is something I can do better. I enjoy what I am doing and I think I am helping people.

CW: I can tell you that it is a good feeling to get out there first thing in the Spring and charge up my battery. The thing kicks over and I can mow my lawn. I don’t have to drive and drive around and mess around. I am not much good at repairing anything. My mower gets up and goes after a few turns. So, where did you meet Arlene?

JH: At the corner of Perry and Clinton.

CW: Here in Napoleon right?

JH: We had planned, a group of us, a belling party for two couples that had recently been married. We were kind of ornery about it. I had an old car and a trailer and we were going to pick up both couples. We drove them around through the country and in town and we parked the car up on Perry and Clinton. We had a wheelbarrow and we made them change off and push their wife across the river in a wheelbarrow.

CW: Oh did you! That is the sort of thing that they used to do just for fun.

JH: At the end of it I went back to get my car, this was at Perry and Clinton and three girls were walking down the sidewalk. Florence Mitchell, Enie Meyer, and Arlene. As I ran across the street to get to my car I didn’t notice that they were behind me and Arlene hollered at me. We were headed to Elery for a party. Arlene asked if I was going to Elery and I said yes and she said can we ride with you. I said sure because I was alone. I took her along and the wheels were turning.

CW: Charlotte laughs.

JH: So when we came back I had to go to Gerald with two of them and my plan was to take Arlene home last. And I never quit. That was in 1952.

CW: I bet she was pretty!

JH: I think she still is! She is a great gal and we get along well. We don’t always agree but she is wonderful. I have had all kinds of surgeries and she has always been very helpful. That is so important.

CW: Sometimes girls need to be a little bit forward and catch their attention.

JH: We’ve lived in Napoleon ever since we got married. I lived here before that..

CW: Were you working at Howard’s at that time?

JH: Yes, I started at Howards when I was 14.

CW: Oh really. Did you finish high school?

JH: Oh yes I did.

CW: Then you probably just worked on Saturdays. Right?

JH: I worked more hours than you were supposed to. Sometimes I would work before I went to school and sometimes I would work after school. I worked on Saturdays and on Sundays. Well that was one of the reasons I wanted to get away from there. I was working too much.

CW: Howard was your brother wasn’t he?

JH: He was a half brother.

CW: Oh, half brother.

JH: I had a half brother and a half sister. I had two other brothers. One lives south east of town about 5 miles and the other one lives out on Buickeye Lane. I have heard it stated that you look for the boys to come with her. Your mother really did a good job. Your vehicles are always clean and anything you do, you do it right. Why that is the only way to do it. I think a fine example is how the fairgrounds always look real good. I was told by one of the fair board members is the only reason they had a hard time finding a replacement for Jerry was he had set the standards too high.

CW: Is that right. That is something to be proud of.

JH: I tried to help him. I was looking for something to do. It got to the point where I just couldn’t do some of the work he was doing. So when he would get ready to set up, he would give me a crew and tell me what he wanted and I knew what he was saying and I tried lifting and tugging and they wouldn’t do that. I told him now when you retire I want your job. He knew what Jerry wanted him to do. I did what I could do and think it is time to quit and now this has happened.

CW: What is Jerry doing now? Is he still out there?

JH: Nope. He quit in November. Then the board hired somebody to do his job.

CW: There is a lot of responsibility with that job.

JH: Yes there is. You know being out there and working I couldn’t adapt to what needed doing. It was more of things that I hadn’t had experience doing, but you can’t run it over me.

CW: I remember when Jan Schwab planted all those live forever plants out there. I had helped her water one summer.

JH: There was too much out there.

CW: I think the forevers are still there.

JH: Yes, but they are not as vibrant as they were at one time. They haven’t had much attention lately. The people that started it would like to give them a home.

CW: Is that right.

JH: There was always something they wanted to dig out, or go plant them somewhere else. But Jan did a nice job. There are a lot of people involved out there that you don’t realize. The only problem I ever had with it was

CW: Now you are talking about the Henry County Fairgrounds?

JH: Right. The only problem I ever had with them was they were mostly board members they would come in the spring and in the summer and they would wait till the week before fair and try to do everything at once. At least they were dedicated and they do their job.

CW: Weren’t they all volumteers?

JH: Yes. Yes that is strictly volunteer.

CW: One thing that we had that Fulton County hasn’t had at their fairgrounds is, they may have had it in the past I don’t know is ran out of space quite a while ago.

JH: I think they have expanded clear up to the elevator now. See we are locked in here and we don’t have any place to go. We have the lot across the road, but that is kinda a safety issue people have to cross that traffic.

CW: You can’t make parking on the main fairgrounds.

JH: And the ag society is strapped for funds and if something does come up they generally don’t have the money to do it. I thought the fellow that had the suggestion to move the fairgrounds out to 110 and 6 had a good idea. The finances just were not there to do it. Now I am jumping to something else, but there has been a lot of good progress made here in Napoleon and we have had a good bunch of people here in Napoleon like the downtown revitalization. It is great the way some people have stepped up to the plate and tried to make things happen. This has happened before and they are building a relationship where the merchants and business people work together. Those are good starting steps.

CW: Yes they are working together.

JH: Yes and it is going to be great. Going back to the city, I think we have done a lot to clean up the eyesores in Napoleon. We have tried to provide the necessary things that go with that. One of the greatest things that we have ever had is the yard waste site. We have been praised by all our surrounding neighbors that we have the nicest site around. That is kind of a win win thing because with that the people collect and can take their waste to the site and then it is processed and other people can come in and haul it away. The city doesn’t have that expense.

CW: We are recycling our waste.

JH: It keeps the neighborhood clean by doing that.

CW: Now tell me they take that away and where do they burn it? Do they burn it to get the heat from it?

JH: No they have a treatment they put on it that takes care of the bugs. They don’t burn anything.

CW: I thought they did. How does it come from branches and get turned into mulch.

JH: You take it to the collection site and then when we get an accumulation there, then we have someone from Werlor’s come in from the plant and they grind it all up and the mulch that people want they can haul it away. If they don’t want it Werlor’s can haul it back. They could make mulch with it up there. They can treat it if you want it treated. But to get it treated you would have to pay for that when you get it up there. .

CW: Do they take it to Defiance to process?

JH: Yes, but we don’t pay to haul it away from here. We don’t pay to haul it in because the residents of Napoleon haul it all in there. And it is the same with the leaves and the leaves mostly are ground into the mulch, which is good. Concrete is stored there, whole concrete that they remove and that is ground up and that is used for fill wherever people need it.

CW: Is that free when they haul it away.

JH: I don’t think we charge them, unless we have to load them. If we have to load them, then they will have to pay for the load.

CW: It would be heavy.

JH: Yes it is heavy and it just saves on time. People just want to get rid of their concrete.

CW: So now you have a new site for the yard waste. Have the people gotten used to that. There was a lot of opposition at first.

JH: One of the big issues we had with the yard waste site and I did a lot of the homework and I studied it and I came up with the fact we had vacated the Hogrefe property. We got money from the EPA to clean it up. We had to move it because of our expansion at the yard waste site from there and the property that we had bought at Hogrefe’s for one dollar. Okay we got 11 acres from the former Hogrefe property and we were permitted to put the yard waste site on that property. It was one of the few things that we were permitted to do. The ground we were going to be putting it on couldn’t be used for much of anything else and it had only cost us a dollar for the ground. I put a plan together that I thought would work and just like I had mentioned we got the ground we were going to be putting the site on for a dollar. If we didn’t move it out of the present site the EPA would not approve our expansion at the waste treatment plant. To do it, with the EPA support we were going to have to pay 8 million dollors, actually it was 7.2 million. If we continued the site there because of the interest rate. We got money from the EPA for 30 years, which was 8 million dollars. To put it there it was going to cost 6 million dollars more. And Napoleon didn’t elect me to foolishly spend their money like that. So I put a plan together stating these things, also I got a little outspoken. You know there are 10,000 people here in Napoleon and there were about 100 people opposing the site, and there were 9,900 people that had no objection to it. I feel that I cannot hear what the 100 people were saying when 9,900 were supportive of it. I closed that with making a motion that we reject the plan and the PlanningCommission’s recommendation and further that we move the yard waste site to Oakwood. I took an awful lot of cursing for that.

CW: From whom?

JH: From residents that were at the meeting. I still felt very up forward that was the way to go and I just thought that was what we had to do. I am looking for progress. At that time I had talked to the councilmen individually and had told them what I was going to do. They said “you have a plan” and they approved. We took action on it, it got late, the weather got bad and the yard waste site was not on schedule, but we’ll be okay. We have an alternate site now temporarily, that people can use and then when the new one is done we will transfer it over there. I think in order to understand things you have gotta be involved with it. I don’t think longevity is bad.

CW: Tell me about the Hogrefe junk yard. Is that to be removed eventually or what.

JH: They had on the property back there, we gave them an 8 year option on the ground along the road and another thing that enters in is that it is going to cost us a pile of money. We want to eliminate that. At that time they had like a year and a half to go and they would have to be out of there. So that will disappear. We didn’t cut them off. Through all of the negotiations ( end of side one)

I was just going to mention about my Grandpa. He was a barn builder. He lived at Malinta. When he was 80 years old he was still putting a roof on a house in Malinta. He fell and broke his hip. That was the end of his working days, but he did survive and he lived 16 years after that. Grandpa never ever did I hear him have a bad word come from his mouth.

CW: That is a nice memory.

JH: If he didn’t agree with it and if he thought it was negative his response would be “oh shaw”.

CW: There were a lot of expressions like that. There are substitutes when people start to say the wrong word.

JH: And he was almost deaf. He couldn’t hear well. I would go to visit him quite often. He lived with my Aunt. When I would talk to him we would go over to another room and we would sit there and talk. My voice was such that I could talk to him in a normal tone and he could hear. My mother talked to him. Her sister, my Aunt would talk to him and they would have to yell at him. I could talk to him in a normal tone and he would hear me and we had conversations. He didn’t like people yelling at him to make him hear, but I didn’t have to.

CW: You do have a voice that is unusually clear.

JH: Well, the only problem I have, even watching television, they talk so fast trying to get everything in. The words run together and I can’t understand them.

CW: Ray did not like English television. He would say all that mush in their mouth I can’t understand a word they are saying.

JH: They just talk too fast.

CW: So that is what you remember about your Grandpa. I think a lot of men did that and women too probably. Let’s see if we can think of some of those substitutes. One would be “Oh heck”.

JH: Yep.

CW: Nuts to you might be.

JH: Go fly a kite.

CW: Do you remember the expression “going like 60”? Anybody that was driving a car at 60 miles an hour was speeding.

JH: Yes. That would be like going 90 today or 100, unless you would be a race driver.

CW: Oh darn, that is what my father would say. He would never say damn.

JH: So I think back like my grandparents era even in our parents era they were more calm and collected than we are today. They didn’t get so hyper because you were restricted in what you could do. Like your entertainment. You didn’t need somebody to provide entertainment for you. You would make your own.

CW: Yes, You grew up making your own entertainment. That was only natural, whereas now they grow up and with all this entertainment and it would be really hard, and within all that entertainment is all the advertisements leading them to value the wrong thing.

JH: When we were young and lived on a farm we went to Malinta and our only toy, we couldn’t play ball, we didn’t have basketball, we didn’t have a softball, and we didn’t have bats, and our only toy was an old old wicker baby buggy. It was long enough to put two small children in it. That was our entertainment. My two brothers and I, we would have races, and our dad would be there coaching us, and then he had a nickname for each one of us. He would poke fun at us. We would always beat Jerry, and Jerry was the youngest.

CW: I don’t understand if you only had one buggy how could you have a race?

JH: We raced on foot. We would have running races.

CW: Oh, I see.

JH: But we would take turns pushing each other around in the big barnyard. It had big high wheels on it like those big metal wheels, and it didn’t push too hard.

CW: I think there is one in the Grelton Museum like that.

JH: That might be. I don’t know what ever happened to it. I don’t know where it came from. It was before my time,before I growed up.

CW: Did you ever play Andy Over? I don’t remember what the rules were with that. The children would throw something up over the roof of a house and the kids on the other side would have to catch it. They would yell when they threw it “Andy Over”. There was a little rhyme that they said. Somebody went over the

AH: We would play Rover Red Rover. Let so and so come over. We would insert their name. We did that in school. People would manufacture their own games.

CW: What kind of home manufactured games have you been told about.

AH: We would play ball and we would ride bicycles. We played a lot of card games and a lot of board games. We loved our cards. We still play lots of cards. When we got married we didn’t have any money but we would figure out games and play till four in the morning.

CW: I remember we used to play, oh what was this card game, it took about four decks of cards, and you would have them all stacked up and place them in piles.

JH: That was Canasta.

CW: It would take hours to play a game like that.

AH: People were better off when they visited and talked to each other. I can’t see one person alone playing with this gadget. They miss a lot.

CW: They miss a lot of inter-communication.

JH: There she is talking about that. That is a lot of politics.

CW: Oh yes.

JH: It makes you keep your fingers crossed.

CW: I remember the conversation, I came from Pennsylvania when I married Ed, the Winzeler family would sit together and talk on Sunday in the afternoon. Whenever somebodies name came up that stopped everything in the conversation. They would go back as to who that person was related to, they knew about that family, it was just a matter of course. Of course I was a young thing and tried to be patient. I kept thinking why are they doing all of this. They knew all those people and it was interesting.

JH: Here is something I want to share with you about Ed. One time when he was a physician he stopped in to see us at Howard’s, which he did every day or so, and he was telling my brother that they had a big emergency at the hospital that morning and you know he didn’t get excited he kept it, he didn’t show it. He was so calm about it. He was telling my brother and he said doing this surgery and the way he said it was the little boys heart stopped beating and boy we really had to hustle around.

CW: That’s the way he said things.

JH: We still talk about that and laugh about it when we are together.There were a lot of elderly people that came there and they would have certain things wrong with them. We still pick up on that and laugh about it.

AH: I can tell you what he said when Cheryl was born. He said to me well it was nice of you to have that baby on my lunch hour. He didn’t have to miss any appointments.

CW: Charlotte laughts. I bet you were thinking that you’d be happy just to have had it anytime. The sooner if possible.

JH: You know what Manahan said when I first went to him. He said your tummy is on the outside.

CW: You knew what he meant right away.

JH: Well, we have had a lot of good doctors here in Napoleon over the years. We have been fortunate. Ed passed away when he was young.

CW: He was only 57.

JH: Dr. Delventhal with three other businessmen had a terrible accident going to a football game in Michigan.

CW: Oh, is that how he died?

JH: He had a brand new ‘47 Oldsmobile and that left front corner where he would have been was pushed back 6 feet. I don’t know how he ever survived that. Oh, that was a mess.

CW: You know how he liked people. He would tease his nurses and call them the horses ass. One day his birthday was coming up and the nurses had a cake baked. It had a great big horse’s rear end on it.

AH: That would be great. I bet he liked that.

JH: I bet he did.

AH: He used to make house calls you know. When I was a kid I had something here and I was all puffed up. He came to the house and opened that up.

JH: I will tell you a good one. One night Arlene and I went out with some friends, and of course our kids were old enough to stay home alone. Cheryl was like 14 or 15 and we had driven the car and what i drove was a van and that was in the garage. Didn’t they have a fire and she said and she was driving this van. She wasn’t even old enough to drive. She went to the fire.

AH: She rushed home with the van because she thought you would show up.

JH: She had the van out and heard the fire call and she knew I would be coming home to get the van to take to the fire. She had to hurry up and get the van back in the garage.

AH: That was a long long time ago.

CW: Is she your baby?

AH: Yes.

CW: I remember one time before Ed and I had married I had gone home for the weekend or something and somehow he started taping me and I started running and I looked back to see where he was and I ran right into this fish pond. I was just dripping wet. He was so apologetic and his sisters were too. The whole thing was funny. It is so interesting the things that come out. I remember I was talking to this couple from Ridgeville and they told me that, you know how the middle of town there, with this big wide paved area. They told that there used to be a big horse trough that was full of water. It ended up right in the middle of Route 6. That was years ago.When the state put Route 6 through there they said you can’t have that there. It needed to be clear access for cars, so they took it out.

AH: I can remember when they showed movies on the side of Dr. Clymer’s wall. Tlhey had big white sheets up there on the side of that building. They had movie nights.

CW: Where was that, in Ridgeville?

AH: Yes.

CW: And those movies were free as I understand.

AH: Oh yes.

CW: They would put them on in hopes of bringing people to town to shop.

AH: That was on the corner, now it is owned by Alex Products.

JH: They did the same thing at Malinta.

CW: Did they! I know at Grelton they did. People would just sit on the ground there.

JH: I think they did have benches to sit on. It was on 109 next to the railroad on the north side and just west of 109. I think they had that on the side of the building too. Maybe it was Smith’s Restaurant there, I am not sure anymore. I watched them there too.

AH: I can’t remember what the shows were. They were just kind of life in general type movies.

CW: There weren’t many kinds of shows.

JH: We had two movie theatres in Napoleon. One was where the Maytag place was, and the other one was where the Henry County Bank was.

CW: I did know about that one, but I didn’t know there was a second one.

AH: That was the World Theatre down there on Perry Street. It was right next to the alley.

JH: World and State were the two.

AH: They showed more Western type at the World Theatre.

CW: How much did they charge to get in.

AH: I think it was 25 cents.

JH: The movies they showed on the side of the buildings, why that was free in Malinta and Ridgeville, and I don’t remember Grelton having movies. I should because we were only 3 miles from Grelton.

AH: The State Theatre had where you could sign up for a drawing every week. They would have jackpots and give away money. They would start with a low amount and if nobody won the amount would grow until somebody won it, and then they would start over with a smaller jackpot.

CW: It’s sort of like our lottery now.

AH: My grandmother would always sign up because she thought she was going to win. Of course if you didn’t sign up and weren’t there and your name was called, you didn’t get anything.

CW: Patterson won that one time. Bill remembers.

AH: They would give away dishes and other things. I had a whole set of dishes I got at the theatre.

CW: Did they used to have a Jewel Tea man come around?

AH: We used to have one come around when we lived on Leonard Street. I didn’t buy much from him. At that time we didn’t have much money.

CW: You would make do until then. We had a lot of homemade things at that time.

AH: Oh yes.

JH: Do you remember when the Neuhouser boys here in Napoleon had the hatchery? That would have been somewhere in the 60’s. In the early 50’s when Paul Slee sold out to Howard Overhulse and moved to Batavia, New York to manage a hatchery for Neuhouser’s.

CW: Did Paul have the bowling alley on Glenwood?.

JH: Jerry Hayes had that one.

AH: Paul Slee had his bowling alley where Van Ausdale is now.

JH: Well we have always had hatcheries around. What I was going to say about Paul Slee. They needed a manager in Batavia, New York and he hired Paul to go and manage that hatchery in Batavia. He lived there a few years and then he came back. What did he do when he came back?

AH: He worked at Howard’s Gas Station.

JH: Now he and Howard bought Howard’s together in ‘46. They started in ‘47 it was Howard & Paul’s. I remember in ‘47 Paul bought a new Chrysler from Jim Weaks and then he got sick. He had went to all kinds of doctors and specialists and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Howard’s first name was George and Paul always called him George.

CW: Was his name then George Howard?

JH: Yes, and Paul told Howard that he should sell out to him. Howard said to Paul maybe you will find what is the matter and you will be all right. It went on and after he sold out he went to Indiana and you know what he told him his problem was. It was his teeth. He had all his teeth pulled and he was fine.

CW: For heaven sakes.

JH: Then Paul went to the bowling alley next. He had that for a number of years. Neuhouser’s offered him a good job in Batavia, New York, so he went there.

CW: Did Rozella and the family go with him then?

JH: I don’t think Mike and Linda did. I think they were established here at that time. Maybe they went, I am not sure. Mike has a picture of me on my first motorbike taken in 1947 and he keeps telling me he is going to find it and let me see it. I don’t have it yet.

CW: So you had a motorbike? That would have been something in those days.

JH: Oh, maybe in ‘48 I bought it. You know where the car wash is on Scott Street Cloyce Cheney, do you remember Cloyce

CW: That name sounds familiar.

JH: He had Chrysler and Frazier cars and he sold Wizard motorbikes. I don’t think I have a picture of the motorbike. I wish I still had the motorbike.

CW: Yes.

JH: I paid $175.00 for that at that time. Today they are selling for anything up to $20,000.

CW: I know. It is just crazy what they are charging for those.

JH: I mean if you were to buy one without damage.

CW: Oh, that is what you are saying.

AH: When I was still working we knew somebody that had paid more for their motorcycle than we did for our house.

CW: I believe it.

JH: There are a lot of motorcycles that they paid more for than our house. We put a lot of money in it, but I suppose now we won’t be able to get our money out of it the way things are. I still like that location better than here.

CW: It is a nice location. It is close to town.

JH: The neighborhood is very progressive. Somebody does something every year.

AH: It is so quiet here.

CW: Too quiet.

JH: And your street has picked up a little bit, but I like traffic.

CW: I don’t. I have gotten used to the quiet. I like it that way. Trouble is there is an awful lot of peoplle that walk for exercise and there are no sidewalks out there. So they will have to walk on the street. If some of these teenagers come driving through too fast I am afraid they might hit somebody.

JH: We keep asking them about patroling that. Especially since we made an artery through there.

AH: That probably would have helped to increase the traffic.

JH: Chief Weitzel has a hard time keeping up with everything because he is running with a limited number of people. You have people that are on sick leave, on vacation, and you don’t have anybody to do the patroling.

CW: Were you on the council when they wanted to put in apartments near by Twin Oaks?

Just north of Twin Oaks. All those people from Twin Oaks, not all the people I suppose, but that place was so crowded at the council meeting that all the people could not get in. I went for one reason. That was about the safety of those people walking on Bordeaux, right where the traffic would be coming through. Finally they opened it up for questions. I asked my question and I turned around and got out of there. People were so angry.

JH: Oh yes.

CW: Everybody was in there crowded and ready to go and I thought I have to get out of here.

AH: It’s just like it when they had the council meeting to decide on the location of the jail. We didn’t go until the last minute. It looked scary to me because you never know what they might do to people. The call came over the telephone. Jim had told everybody how he was going to vote except me. They were not going to like it.

CW: How did it turn out then?

AH: They voted against it.

JH: There were six council members at that time and not seven. Riley Stevens voted against it.

CW: Against what?

JH: Against the regional jail. He voted against it. He was first. Somebody else voted against it. I was the last council member to vote and I voted against it. Bob Heft had the tie. Everybody else was upset with him because of the way he did it. There were people that were really pushing for it. I still have my file on that and I will have to look for it, but I still have them all. I decided, and my opinion was and I tried to weigh everything. My opinion was if we upset the people 80% of the people were against it.

I decided and then I looked at the economics of it, what it was going to mean to us. They were not going to do their business in Napoleon.The internal works would be done here, local suppliers we found out would not be used. I just decided we could get something better. Nobody knew, but the judge came up to me afterwards and said “I am going to tell you that I don’t agree with your vote, but I understand why you did it and I admire you for it”. You just don’t go out and tell people what you are going to do and no one knew how the vote would go. They didn’t find out because if they talked to me negatively about it I would talk positive to them. If they would voice positive, then I would talk negative to them. Because that is what I was getting. I think that the one thing that weighed heavy with me about that was with it being out in Stryker like it is, being it is 16 miles over there, our deputies would only have had to go to the other side of town. And that is a lot of extra expense for us.

AH: People would call up here at the house.

JH: They would tell you why you should and why you shouldn’t. I still have my file but I will have to look for it, but I’ll find it. It’s a box this long.

CW: My nephew lives just a couple miles from there and when I went to our family reunion I thought I am going to find out what it is like to have it that close by. I asked him if he has noticed anything and he said not a thing. We don’t even know it is there.

JH: No, they don’t have much trouble out there. They have good security.

CW: But I think it would be harder if you had it inside a town I would think.

JH: Well we would have devloped some ground that probably never would have developed. We would have had utilities for it. That would have been vital to us.

AH: That jail would have been better than those apartment houses we have out there.

CW: Where is that?

AH: Back behind Wendy’s.

CW: Oh yes. I heard that there was a lot of trouble back in there.

JH: And there is a lot of elderly people out there.

AH: They are not going to move in there. There is just too much bad stuff going on. Then they have those really nice condos right next door.

CW: They probably have to pay quite a bit for those condos.

Scanner can be heard in the background.

CW: Was that an accident someone is reporting?

AH: It must be. That was a 21, so that would be past Four County.

JH: It’s past that time.

AH: 22 is close to Road 424 is where they have all the accidents.

JH: 21 is right in the heart of Ridgeville and 20A is just west. It will probably be 22 and 66. 23 and 24 is where they have all the accidents. 25 is the one that goes to the jail. That is where Tom Eggers had a bad accident, no fatal. What else can we talk about?

CW: Will you tell us that again Jim?

JH: It has been probably 30, 35, maybe 40 years ago that I was discussing with my mother about a church that was near County Rd. N and 10 just across the creek. That was later and was not in service anymore, they weren’t using it anymore. A farmer bought that and I think it was F. Eisaman’s family that bought it. They moved it from that point down to the first road south of that location. On the back of the farm where they had another set of buildings that for several years my family lived there in that house. I knew that this was a former church and my mother explained to me where that was and what it was. We sat down several evenings and the information she could give me and what I had found I wrote an article and I think it is in the Henry County History Book In the second edition. I need to get that out again. We have it, but it is downstairs and it is something I just don’t think about. It was very interesting then later on in more recent years

CW: Is that when they used it as a barn?

JH: It had been a church. It was no longer used as a church when this family bought it and moved it back on the farm. It was a huge barn, probably as big as a 240 by 80 barn put together. It was since consumed by fire and the Huddle’s own it.

CW: I interruped your thought by asking questions?

JH: It was used for a barn and then in the more recent years probably in the 1980’s, and maybe in the ‘90’s somehow the barn caught on fire and was destroyed. There is not much there for a landmark or to see what it was unless somebody might have pictures of it. What was interesting what Mom had told me about the barn so I said I want to write an article for the history book about that.

CW: Did you have a picture with the article?

JH: I don’t think I did. I am not sure. I will have to go look it up again because it has been quite a while ago when she told me that

CW: It would be interesting to have a picture of that church.

JH: I think I have seen pictures of it already. I don’t know that I have one. It would be good to have a picture with it. It was in the middle of the section N, 109 and County Rd 10. Originally it was down near the corner of 10

CW: That museum in Grelton used to be a church too. One time we were having a meeting and we heard all these noises and here a raccoon had gotten up in the attic. If they would get down in the main part they could really cause a mess. So Benny Dawson, he got in there and took care of it. He has done a lot of work for that society.

JH: We’re infested with them here in Napoleon and I have taken care of a lot of them.

CW: Yes, you have to.

JH: I never shoot them, but sometimes they come between me and my bullet.

CW: Charlotte laughts. Well, look at the Canada geese. If they had gotten a lot of people at the time when they could shoot those things, we would be overrun with those things.

AH: There is a million of them around.

CW: Is there still?

JH: We are infested with them now and years ago you never saw them. It’s the same way in Perrysburg where they wanted to shoot the deer and they are just causing a lot of accidents and a lot of people get injured. We need to reduce the population.

AH: We were on a bus trip and we were beyond McClure and all of a sudden this bus stopped and traffic from the other side stopped and there were seven deer heading across the road. One of them could have easily been hit by someone.

JH: If it was at night you wouldn’t see it, but this was in the daytime.

AH: One ran into the side of Cheryl’s car on Route 6 and 16. It messed up her car bad.

She didn’t see it until it hit her.

CW: Sometimes I think the do gooders are going to take over the world. They have so much power and are always causing a stirr about something or other. It’s just not important, but they think they are.

JH: Well look at the plane crash.

CW: That is a good example. That was the one where they went into the river. Well, I guess that would still be a crash.

JH: They didn’t make a normal landing.

AH: And they all survived.


Huddle, Herb and Betty

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin,  November 30, 2006

CW: Mr. Huddle, would you tell us where and when you were born?

HH: I was delivered at home in Harrison Township at the corner of roads N and 10 by Dr. Fiser of Malinta in Oct., 1930. I have two brothers and one sister. My wife Betty was born 1 1/2 years later near Colton, Ohio.

We both lived through the great Depression and World War II. Times were tough but our parents had their own gardens, apple orchards and meat. We had our chores to do after school.

For Christmas I remember we got one toy or item. One year I got a pair of high-top shoes with a pocket knife, another year a lead soldier-making set, another year a Lionel train set.

We learned to drive a B John Deere tractor at age nine. We got our driver’s license at age 14 during the war and hauled grain to town in a Model A Ford truck.

I remember during the 1940’s we got running water and a bathroom with a stool, a coal furnace, a telephone, a TV, two new Farman tractors and a new car including a new 1946 Willys Jeep which I drove to high school.

I graduated in 1948 from Napoleon High School and went to work at the L. S. Dunbar Co. in Napoleon, an International Harvester dealer, as a mechanic. Later I was hired by the I.H. Co, Toledo district as Assistant Service Supervisor. Following that I became an IH dealer in Michigan, but sold out and went to work for the new Campbell Soup plant in Napoleon in 1956. I stayed there for 38 years, 4 months, retiring in 1995. Betty and I were married May 6, 1951 and we raised four children, two boys and two girls.

CW: Mr. Huddle, would you briefly describe your museum that you have here behind your house?

HH: Betty and I have our museum located here where we live, which is about 2 1/2 miles southeast of Napoleon. We started the museum probably 15, 16 years ago and in the museum we have WWII vehicles and memorabilia and also we have International Harvester display of a refrigerator, air conditioner and other things that International Harvester made back then in the early ’50’s. Those units still work. We also have a collection of lawn tractors made by International Harvester from 1961 up to 1980 and we also have a lot of toy tractors and everything is International Harvester. We have pictures, memorabilia and the counter is set up like the IH dealership would look like back in the early ’50’s. In the other part of the museum we have Willys Jeeps which were manufactured in 1944 on up until the ’60’s. We have a total of ten Jeeps in the museum here that have been completely restored.

CW: And they’re interesting.

HH: To restore a Jeep it takes about a year to take them completely down to the bare frame, have them sandblasted, go through and overhaul the transmission, the engines, and then put them together and have them ready to run. We put the Jeeps in a lot of parades around Napoleon especially on Memorial Day and also at the Fair. Also these Jeeps get a lot of miles on them just traveling in closed vans. Daimler Chrysler usually takes two to three of them to what is called Camp Jeep each year. At Camp Jeep they are put on display for other people to look at. Sometimes they take them as far away as California, Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and next year I don’t know where they’re to go.

CW: But they’ll notify you when they’re ready I’d imagine. HH: Yes, right.

CW: You have to have your Jeeps ready I suppose.

HH: Yes. They contact us, come and pick them up in a closed van and bring them back about a week later.

CW: Do they have a certain model that they want?

HH: They usually take one civilian and several military because they like to display the military Jeeps which were made back in the ’40’s and early ’50’s. The military Jeep was designed back in 1940. The Bantam Motor Car Co. along with Karl Probst, an engineer designed the Jeep but then the Bantam Motor Car Co. was in receivership and only got an order to build 1700. It ended up that the Willys Overland Co. in Toledo, Ohio started making the military Jeep and then they couldn’t make enough of them so the Ford Motor Co. in Detroit made 278,000. The Willys Co. made 365,000. The earliest Willys Jeep that we have from WW II was made in 1944. That’s our favorite Jeep. We usually have it in the Memorial Day parade.

CW: That must be a job to keep them all running smoothly.

HH: Today’s gasoline goes stale in about 6 months and so the biggest job is to keep the gasoline fresh and also to keep the batteries up. So it’s quite a job to maintain them and keep ’em all in running order, which we do and we keep them all in running order all the time and we start them up and run them several times during the year to keep ’em in good shape.

CW: Well good. Now, to get to some local history, what’s your earliest memory as a child?

HH: Well the earliest recollection was probably when my brother and sister went to school. The old Spangler School house was just across the road from where we lived, down by the Turkeyfoot Creek and they were so close that they would come home for lunch and also even to go to the restroom rather than use the ones which were behind the schoolhouse down by the woods, Glicks’ Woods.

CW: (laughs) That was probably like the old ‘back house’ on the farm.

HH: Oh yes. (trouble with the recorder)

CW: I remember Orley Sturdevant.

HH: Yes. Later he became the Truant Officer and bus driver for the Napoleon School system until 1936. Until then there was a school every two miles so if you lived within that radius you had to walk to school so you probably had to walk at least a mile regardless of the weather, and being a one-room school all the grades were in that one room and were taught by one teacher. Later that school, which is still there, became the building where we went to vote and now it’s the township house where the township has its snow plow and other equipment stored there. Also it could be rented for private parties and so forth. We started school in 1936 and rode the school bus to Napoleon, and they closed the Spangler School.

CW: Do they have township meetings there still?

HH: Once in a while they have a meeting there but it’s very unusual. I don’t remember the last time it was used.

CW: In the winter it would probably cost so much to heat it up just for one meeting it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

HH: Yeah, and also for water and restroom facilities you’d have to bring in portable equipment. Some of my other early experiences I can remember is one time our neighbors, the Delventhals who lived down the road—we were always very friendly with the neighbors–and they came down one time and a bunch of us boys and girls went snipe hunting. 1 was the one that had to hold the bag out in the road to catch the snipes. If anybody’s ever been snipe hunting.. I didn’t realize it at the time but when you held the bag out there in the dark on a lonely road at night you were the only one out there and the rest of them left. So that was the trick. (laughter)

CW: I wonder if that’s where the expression `left holding the bag’ came from?

HH: It could very well be and there is such a thing as a snipe bird but I’ve never seen a real one. But I can remember when on Halloween we used to play tricks. At that time everybody had a privy or backhouse that was out somewhere behind the house or by the corn crib and the thing was to push them over, and I can remember ours being pushed over. One time down the road they took a manure spreader all apart and put it up on the roof of a barn. I’ll never forget seeing that up there! There were all kinds of things like that were done near Halloween but it was never too destructive. I can remember one time on a dark night that they were going to upset our privy and my Dad came out the door and they started running. The fellow hit the clothesline with his neck and it flipped him down to the ground. I’ll never forget that. (laughs)

CW: There’s a story about pranksters depositing an outhouse on the main street of Archbold. Did you ever hear anything about that?

HH: Well they probably did, probably did, yeah. (laughs) Outhouses were a favorite subject around Halloween. Used to be a lot of kids in the neighborhood; of course they lived a quarter, a half mile or even a mile apart but we always went ice-skating on the creek in the winter time. We’d play hockey and we’d see how far down the creek we could skate. We could go one or two miles on a Sunday afternoon, and there was just enough hills in our area that we would ski and go sledding, which was always a lot of fun! In the summertime we would swim in the creek.

CW: What’s the name of that creek?

HH: It’s Turkeyfoot.

CW: I wonder where it got that name, any idea?

HH: Well there’s one leg of the creek that goes into the Maumee River on the south side and there’s one that comes in on the north side, and they both come in at about the same area so if you look it from up above in the air it looks like a turkey’s foot, so that’s how it got its name, I believe.

CW: Yeah. That’s strange, that it would be one creek but it would be approaching the river from both sides.

HH: Well my other memories of being a child. . . there used to be just hundreds and hundreds of ring-neck pheasants here and in the fall we’d go hunting with my uncle and people would even come from Toledo. It was nothing at all to walk down through a field and scare up 25 or 30 pheasants and you could get your limit in no time. But those days are all gone. That was back in the late ’30’s and ’40’s. Nowadays it’s very rare you ever see a pheasant. We seem to have more white-tailed deer now than we ever had before. When I was a kid growing up we never saw a deer in this area, and the other day when we were shelling corn I chased five of them out of the corn field: a big one with a rack, two does and fawns. Almost every field that you went into you could chase out deer, so deer are getting to be a very bad problem around here because at night they’re traveling and people run into them with their cars so there’s a deer accident probably every night or so within the county.

CW: Is that right!

HH: They do a lot of damage. Our granddaughter hit one a couple months ago. CW: Did it wreck her car?

HH: (laughs) About $1500, $2000 damage. Yeah, it just came out of nowhere along the road just about dust and that’s the way it happened. There’s nothing you can do ’cause once they start out they just seem to head for you. It’s quite a problem around here.

CW: There’s a story about pranksters depositing an outhouse on the main street of Archbold. Did you ever hear anything about that?

HH: Well they probably did, probably did, yeah. (laughs) Outhouses were a favorite subject around Halloween. Used to be a lot of kids in the neighborhood; of course they lived a quarter, a half mile or even a mile apart but we always went ice-skating on the creek in the winter time. We’d play hockey and we’d see how far down the creek we could skate. We could go one or two miles on a Sunday afternoon, and there was just enough hills in our area that we would ski and go sledding, which was always a lot of fun! In the summertime we would swim in the creek.

CW: What’s the name of that creek?

HH: It’s Turkeyfoot.

CW: I wonder where it got that name, any idea?

HH: Well there’s one leg of the creek that goes into the Maumee River on the south side and there’s one that comes in on the north side, and they both come in at about the same area so if you look it from up above in the air it looks like a turkey’s foot, so that’s how it got its name, I believe.

CW:. Yeah. That’s strange, that it would be one creek but it would be approaching the river from both sides.

HH: Well my other memories of being a child. . . there used to be just hundreds and hundreds of ring-neck pheasants here and in the fall we’d go hunting with my uncle and people would even come from Toledo. It was nothing at all to walk down through a field and scare up 25 or 30 pheasants and you could get your limit in no time. But those days are all gone. That was back in the late ’30’s and ’40’s. Nowadays it’s very rare you ever see a pheasant. We seem to have more white-tailed deer now than we ever had before. When I was a kid growing up we never saw a deer in this area, and the other day when we were shelling corn I chased five of them out of the corn field: a big one with a rack, two does and fawns. Almost every field that you went into you could chase out deer, so deer are getting to be a very bad problem around here because at night they’re traveling and people run into them with their cars so there’s a deer accident probably every night or so within the county.

CW: Is that right!

HH: They do a lot of damage. Our granddaughter hit one a couple months ago.

CW: Did it wreck her car?

HH: (laughs) About $1500, $2000 damage. Yeah, it just came out of nowhere along the road just about dust and that’s the way it happened. There’s nothing you can do ’cause once they start out they just seem to head for you. It’s quite a problem around here.
clutch in. I had to stand up to push the clutch in ’cause it was so stiff. But those were the days that I can remember we learned how to drive the tractors at about nine years old.

CW: They needed boys on the farm in those days.

HH: Yeah, you had to have a lot of help to farm back then because everything was manual labor. I can remember the time that he promised that he would take us to the zoo. It was on a Saturday morning and he said, “Now if you kids hoe all the Canada thistles out of the pasture field I’ll take you to the zoo.” So that’s how we were able to go places. We had to work for it.

CW: Well that’s a good idea. Keeps the boys occupied, teaches them how to work.

HH: Then of course we always had chores to do to feed the cattle; then in the fall we would put silage up in the silo. I remember we would play hooky from school and we would sit up in the top and dispense the silage around in the silo. I remember moving the spout around so it would stack evenly inside the silo. So I would get out of school to do that, but that was a scary job too, especially when the silo wasn’t very full and it was empty and you sat up there about 40 feet above the ground and you sat up there on a plank across the silo.

CW: And if you’d fall, you’d…

HH: Oh yeah, if you fell you’d be a goner. Yeah, that was all work too, and I remember bringing in the corn in from the field, stalk and all and running it through the chopper. Then later on that all changed too. It got mechanized so it was all chopped up in the field and then blown into the silo all chopped up.

CW: Do you have any other memories of . . .

HH: Let’s see here. I have a couple notes here. I’ll cross them off as they appear. Oh I remember one time we used to do a lot of trapping. We would trap muskrats and coon and possum and mink. At that time, during the early part of the war muskrats would bring in $3.00, up to $5.00 for a skin. So it was very profitable for farm kids to go trapping. We would set out a lot of traps along the creek and also in the field. A lot of the coons would go into the field tiles and that’s where we would catch them.

CW: Wasn’t it dangerous to reach in there to get them?

HH: Oh well yeah it was but then you had a trap that had links of chain on it so you would try not to get too close to it. Back then you’d either shoot the animal or hit it with a club, which doesn’t seem very nice but back in those days that’s the way it was done.

CW: You’d have to do that or it would attack you, I would think.

HH: Yeah, so that was the way you got spending money and enough to buy a small ’22 rifle. I can remember sending out from the Sears Roebuck catalogue and I bought a new rifle that was about seven or eight dollars for the ’22 rifle that we used. Then in the fall we always had so many things to do. We always had so much fun that I can remember shucking walnuts—now if you shuck walnuts—anybody that’s ever shucked walnuts—y’know you get a walnut stain on your hands and you can’t get it off. Well we rigged up an ingenious way that… Dad had a Model A truck there and we would take an eaves trough and we would jack up one wheel of the truck and we would stick the eaves trough underneath the wheel and then we would roll walnuts down the eaves trough and let the tire do the shucking of the walnuts. It seemed to work pretty good, but you had to still take off some of the shuck that was left and that’s where you ran into gettin’ the walnut stain all over your hands and when you’d go to school why everyone’d look at your hands and say, “What happened to you?” (laughs) But there’s no way of getting the walnut stain off.

Then another thing: when we were mowing the hay we always mowed the hay with a horse-drawn motor that was hooked on to the tractor and then later we had a John Deere tractor that was attached right on to the mower. It was nothing at all to run into a bumblebees’ nest right there in the field and every three or four rounds you would run into a bumblebees’ nest. Well the problem was that when you ran into a nest you stirred them up and then the next time around they were there waitin’ for you, so you had to swat the bumblebees with your hat and try to get by ’em because the next time around you were gonna run over the top of them so that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

CW: Those were black walnuts, weren’t they?

HH: Yeah

CW: Didn’t some people just drive back and forth over them? HH: Yeah, I suppose they did. That would work too. CW: You’d have to have a lot of them, I suppose, to do that.

HH: One of the earliest memories that we had was that one of the neighbor boys and I decided that we’d build a tree house. We picked out a big old oak tree back of the woods and we built a tree house up in there about 20, 25 feet off the ground. We used to play in that tree house and had a lot of fun and that tree house was there for about 30 years or more, 40 years, and then the tree finally died and the tree was cut down so there wasn’t much left of the tree house up there, but we had it all enclosed; we had a lot of fun.

CW: It must have been pretty sturdy to last that long.

HH: (laughs) We had a lot of nails in it, I guess, but we had a roof on it so if it rained or snowed it didn’t come inside. But that was one of my early childhood things.

CW: My kids did a tree house. I thought, “Well, they can’t get into any trouble.” First thing I knew I looked out and they had a second story on it. (laughs) I thought, “Oh wait a minute. This is kind of dangerous.”

HH: One of the things we used to do in wintertime that I had mentioned before was we used to skate on the creek. Then if the creek came up and came out of its banks… Back then it seemed to freeze more and we would have quite a lot of water and ice in the pasture field, which was quite a big area. We would skate on that and then I had mentioned that we did some skiing and slide down the hill with a sled, but we also used to put a rope behind the car and we would ski behind the car being pulled by the rope down the road and go in and out of the light poles, which was kind of dangerous but it was fun and back in those days I guess we didn’t have much sense. We weren’t afraid like you are when you get older.

CW: Well you surely didn’t go the speed they do now. You probably put it in crawl or something.

MI No, nobody drove very fast back then. Cars didn’t go very fast. If you went 30, 40 miles an hour on a stone road you was going’ pretty fast. When we were probably ten or twelve Dad got a motor scooter for us boys and they were made over in Malinta by the Orthwein brothers and it was quite a thing. They made a pretty nice motor scooter and we would ride that around.

CW: Did they have a little factory they started there in Malinta?

HH: Yes. Before that they had made lawn mowers. They devised and patented a lawn motor which Sears bought their patent and sold through their catalogue.

CW: Is that right? Is that Myla Orthwein’s father?

HH: I don’t know, but it was Orthwein Brothers right there at the north edge of Malinta.

So during the war then we always liked the Jeep, the World War II Jeep. We followed that through the pictures that we saw on the news reels and everything and we fell in love with the Jeep, so after the War my Dad and brother and I bought a brand new civilian Jeep in 1946.

The Willey Overland Co. in Toledo converted over from military to civilian Jeeps that could be used on the farm. The made quite a few modifications to them. They changed the gear ratio and made the windshield higher and put better seats in ’em but basically they still looked like the military jeep. But when we bought that we were able to drive that Jeep to high school for a couple years off and on and we were the talk of the school because we were the only ones that drove a Jeep to school.

CW: Did they use them as trucks too?

HH: They used them as cars, trucks, tractors. We used to rotary hoe with ours, used to rake hay, we used to pull a bailer with it. Things that were unique about the … right after the War and during the War a farm boy could get a drivers’ license at the age of 14 which was a restricted license that you had to do the driving for farm use but at 14 I got a license and we would haul grain into Vocke’s Mill which was located there in Napoleon on the north side of the Maumee River bridge. We would drive a Model A Ford truck and haul wheat up there, which was quite a thing for a young fellow. I got to drive that thing up town and go into Vocke’s Mill with it because I can remember in those days the brakes on a Model A weren’t very good and you had to just stand up on the brakes to stop ’em. When you had to turn them into Vocke’s Mill you had to be in the line of traffic and make a right turn into the Mill. Sometimes you had to block traffic to get in there because sometimes the vehicles were lined way up on to the river bridge bringing loads of wheat into the mill, Vocke’s Mill.

CW: That was just on the north side of the river, wasn’t it?

HH: Yeah, the north side of the bridge. The mill is no longer there. Snyders have their new and used car lot there now. Of course we have the new bridge now and the traffic pattern is a little bit different. But that was an interesting experience too, growing up at that time.

CW: Did you have any mishaps with those brakes?

HH: No, I never did. I was always pretty careful. Of course you took a lot of responsibility at that time and being that young we took care of ourselves, watched out for things. (pause) Well, I’m getting near the end of my list here, so do you have any questions?        Oh, I can tell you how this museum came about, that Betty and I now have. Since I was interested in Jeeps during the war and had a civilian Jeep after the war Betty and I have been on trips to Europe twice now where my uncle had been in the service during World War II with the 101g Airborne Division.. We retraced all his steps. Well, while we were on this bus tour—there were five buses of 101g Airborne veterans.. We were not a Veteran but we were asked by my uncle to go with him. Every place that we went in Europe to visit there was always a bunch of military Jeeps that were owned by fellows that were collectors of military jeeps and they would follow the buses and they would go ahead of us and they would park and line up wherever we stopped. So wherever we went you always had this line of jeeps—military jeeps—and guys dressed in uniforms that would be there to help us off the bus. But anyway, I told my uncle that when I get back I’m going to buy a military jeep and that was in 1984 and that’s when I got my first military jeep and that was expanded until where it is now, so now I have almost every style or modification of the Jeep that was made from 1944 on up through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and up. . . I do not have a Hummer, a military Hummer. They’re too big and this building is small so we do not have room in this museum for anything like that.

CW: Well you certainly have an absorbing hobby, I’m sure.

HH: Thank you. We have had an Amateur Radio license since 1957. We also have model airplanes which we have hanging up there on the ceiling. We have P38, P51, Corsair, P40. We have those hanging from the ceiling. We have guns. We have guns from almost every country that was in World War II, Japanese, French, American, German. We also have a German machine gun at the doorway as you come in. It has a sign on it, “Did you wipe your shoes off?” We’ve got lots of stuff in here. Pictures and so forth.

CW: What are those hands there? Is that a sign or something?

HH: Well the story behind that is that if you look at it close it says “Nuts.” General McAuliffe, when he was surrounded in Bastogne, Belgium, the Germans asked him to surrender and they came into where he was, his quarters, and asked him to surrender. He did not know what to reply and just off the top he said “Nuts!” and Colonel Kinnard who was his G-3 said, “Why don’t we write that reply?” The Germans went back with that note that said “Nuts!” on it and they could not decipher what that meant. What that really meant was, “Go to Hell!”

CW: (laughs) I remember hearing about that.

HH: So that’s what those hands up there really mean, the hands on the wall are on a spring that swings back and forth that says NUTS.

CW: And didn’t that give them just enough time, it delayed the Germans just enough that the reinforcements could come in?

HH: Yeah, Patton came in then with the tanks. They were liberated then. But in the meantime on Christmas Eve the Germans bombed—they completely obliterated the town of Bastogne. Betty and I have been in Bastogne, Belgium, twice and we have memorabilia that my uncle brought back from Belgium. He has a tablecloth that was taken out of the hotel there because it was his job—it had snowed and it was his job to go around and collect white sheets and tablecloths so that our soldiers wouldn’t stand out with their khaki uniforms, so it was his job to go around and collect them. When we were in Bastogne in 1984 I asked him if he wanted to go into the hotel. The hotel had been rebuilt and see whether or not they had missed the sheets. He said, “No, I’m not going to do that.” We were there in ’84 and then we were there in ’94. We were on the Square in the center of town. They called it the McAuliffe Square now with a bust statue of him and a USA tank there.

CW: Is that where Byron Armbruster was?

HH: Yes that’s correct. Also in here we have a German Luftwaffe pilot’s jacket; we have American pilots’ jackets, because, you know, the airplanes did not have heat in them and at that altitude it was very cold, so we have those types of uniforms and jackets, boots, etc.

CW: They’re like the present motorcycle jackets, they would serve a very definite purpose, to protect them from cold and the bugs etc. See, my son had a motorcycle and he said the rain felt like needles boring into your face.

HH: The jackets were lined with sheepskin, the wool which would keep them warm. So I have a life preserver that the pilots wore, different jackets with insignias on. Now in the back of the museum here I have mannequins with the uniforms on, and the uniforms are from local people. There’s a story to tell behind those. I have the different branches of the service, the five branches of the service. I do not have Coast Guard but I’m still looking for a Coast Guard uniform and a Marine dress uniform.

CW: I see you have a World War I uniform?

HH: We have a World War uniform on a mannequin, we have a West Point uniform on a mannequin and we have a World War II nurse and also soldiers, Air Force, Army Air Force, Navy… (Phone rings.)

CW: Betty, what memories do you have of childhood?

BH: Well I was born in Washington Township and grew up and went to Liberty Center school. At the time I started school I always rode a school bus. My father would raise cabbage in the summertime and there were eight children but we were in groups of fours. I have an older sister that is 16 years older than I and my first brother was ten years older than I so there was 5 years’ difference in the two groups of children. And the first group really had things bad because it was during the Depression and they would be wearing their cousins’ clothes because since there were eight of us there just wasn’t means to go out and buy new things and therefore the second group we had things better than the first group and by the time the second group grew up we were blocking cabbage, and we’d hoe cabbage. The difference between those two they would plant the cabbage seed; then you would have to block it to leave so many inches apart for the next one; then we would have to hoe the cabbage.

CW: What do you mean by ‘block it’?

BH: Well the cabbage was planted by seed so we would have to thin out, block out so each one had room enough to grow. You’d have one plant here, then another here; then later you’d have to come through and hoe cabbage to get the weeds out.

CW: Well didn’t you have to hoe in the first place?

BH: You used a hoe but it was called ‘blocking’ because if you left it all in it would be a continuous cabbage plant, and they all couldn’t grow there together. They wouldn’t make a solid head of cabbage, so that’s why you had to block ’em out, and maybe about every 12 inches you would have a plant, and so that after that you would have to hoe it, then after that we would cut it so that we could throw it in the wagon.

CW: And that was all done by hand?

BH: All done by hand. At that time we were probably around 7 or 8 years old and we had to bag it. The person that would come and pick up the cabbage would take it to Detroit and sell it. And that was my childhood. Liberty Center had a kraut factory. That’s why the people in Washington Township grew a lot of cabbage, and if you had a lot of children it just kept them busy for the summer. I never learned to drive a car until I was married because there just wasn’t anything to drive. Parents only had one car. When you’ve got that second group of four children there wasn’t anything to drive.

One of my most—where I made history in Henry County was when I ran for Clerk of Courts, and this was after I was married and I ran for Clerk of Courts. But if you remember the night of counting the votes I was defeated. My opponents’ last names both started with the same initial each and therefore all night long I got those votes and all night long he was credited with my votes. So when the Board of Elections came to work the next morning and she sat down at the typewriter she knew right away what had happened, so she had to call in the Board of Elections and they had to make a decision what they were going to do to correct their error. So when they sent feelers out to find us because we was out taking our yard signs down because we were going to leave the next day for R & R. And so they found me about 11:30 in the morning, and even the radio station knew there was something going on because the Board of Elections couldn’t say what it was but everyone kind of knew there was some big mistake. So when I walked into the Board of Elections I saw all of these people and my opponent, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

CW: At this time did you think that you had lost?

BH: Yes. I knew that I had lost. And the Director came up to me and told me that there was an error, that I was the Clerk of Courts, and told me what had happened. What a relief because I had worked in the office for 20 years and had decided to run since Mr. Hoy had retired. The only time that that happened I believe is when President Truman ran and Thomas Dewey was pronounced the winner by the newspapers, but they called it wrong. Truman was President and Thomas Dewey wasn’t. So I made history for Henry County.

CW: Well, how could that happen? I still don’t understand it.

BH: Well my opponent was HES and mine was HUD for initials, and they didn’t alphabetize them that way so they had HUD and then HES…

CW: Oh, I see. They got them in the wrong order. Oh my!

BH: And so that’s how I got his and he got my votes, and so he thought all night long that he was the winner until they caught up with him. So it was very depressing news for him.

CW: Yeah, it would be depressing for you the night before.

BH: Yes it was, because my children were here and they were all ecstatic thinking that we were gonna win and they had a cake. They didn’t dare to show me that cake. They took it back home, but they all came back the next night to celebrate.

CW: Yes, I should say. You never know about these machines, do you?

BH: Yeah, and that was when you counted them by hand.

CW: Oh, and the poor people that worked in the polls. They had to go to work at 6 in the morning and they had to work till midnight, some of them.

BH: That’s very true (HH enters). So we were telling her our experience in our first election. So that was Henry County’s history.

HH: That was a real letdown, because our family was here and we were ready to celebrate and she lost and…

CW: Had they left when you found out the truth?

BH: Oh yeah. You see I didn’t find out until the next day, like 11:30, and they left that night. And here Herb was at home and he and a friend went around picking up all the rest of the yard signs, and he put ’em all in a pile because since I lost he knew I wasn’t gonna run again. So he came in the house to get matches to burn the pile, the phone rang and it was my sister congratulating him on Betty’s win. He didn’t know anything about it.

CW: Oh my goodness, it’s a good thing he didn’t burn ’em! (laughter) Because you were the County Clerk of Courts for a long time, weren’t you?

BH: Twelve years.

HH: So we used those signs over again the next four years, then eight years. Yeah, that was sure a coincidence that the phone rang at the same time that I came in the house to get those matches. Otherwise they would have been long gone.

CW: So you grew up in the Liberty Center area?

BH: Yes, it was really Colton. It was a mile west of Colton.

CW: Oh yes, there was a church there.

BH: There was two different churches there. There was a Church of God, and that burned down, probably in the late ’30s or early ’40s. And when that burned down then we went to the Methodist Church in Colton.

CW: They had Open House there at one time. That was part of our tour, the County Historical Society’s tour.

HH: They make chocolate there.

CW: Yeah, they make chocolate Easter eggs.

BH: Well they didn’t do that though until about 20 years ago.

CW: They really sell a lot of them now I guess. They’re chocolate on the outside and then all this other stuff on the inside.

BH: Yeah, that’s right, like peanut butter or cherry nut or whatever.

CW: A lot of work!

BH: Yeah, a lot of work.

CW: So, do you remember ice skating on the canal?

BH: We ice skated on the creek. The name of it was Bad Creek.

CW: Bad?

BH: Bad. Bad Creek.

CW: How did it get that name?

BH: I have no idea. (laughs) The creek would come up though when it would overflow, so I don’t know where it got its name, and so we had a great time. In the summertime we would play softball out in barnyard. It was always well lit. And the neighbors would always come down ’cause our neighbor west of us, they had about 5 or 6 children, so we always had a ball team. But like I said, I never had a driver’s license when I was at home so you just had to go with your parents if you went anywhere.

HH: The Bad Creek went into the Maumee River at Texas, Ohio. It went west of Colton, and then Texas and into the Maumee River.

BH: And it also went to Fulton County, didn’t it?

HH: It came from Fulton, yeah.

CW: Did you know the Wolfs? Hazel Wolf and her husband? They used to live a little bit east of there, I think. But the last I knew they had a log cabin—the original log cabin that the family had lived in. It was still there on their farm. Hazel and her husband are both dead now, but their son is a History Professor in eastern Ohio, Akron area. So I imagine… he showed us the records of the school teachers, her salary and the conditions under which she had to teach—oh my! They were not good. They didn’t dare—that’s where they got that reputation of being an ‘old maid school teacher.’ They didn’t dare many or they’d lose their job.

HH: Speaking of marriage, when Betty and I got married, which was in May of 1951, we moved to a house for which we paid $10 a month rent, which was near the house where I was born and raised. We had no running water. We had an oil stove for heat. We had no bathroom. We had an outhouse and you know we were happy even though we didn’t have anything.

BH: We had electricity.

HH: Yeah, we did have electricity.

CW: But you couldn’t heat with it at all, probably didn’t have any heaters.

HH: No, we had an oil stove at that time. It was very popular. Most of the homes in the country had oil stoves. A lot of the houses had furnaces but most of the old houses had oil stoves and wood-burning cook stove or heating stove.

CW: Then what would you do, have to buy the oil?

HH: Yeah. We had a regular tank that we kept filled up.

CW: Now that’s not the same thing they burned in lamps was it?

HH: No, that was coal oil that they burned in lamps and that was a cheaper grade, a less expensive kind of oil. This was regular furnace, fuel oil that they bum nowadays, same as what they burned in the oil stoves at that time. We were… During those days you would get what they called ‘belled’ and your friends and neighbors would come and make a lot of noise, shoot guns in the air and pound on the pieces of iron and make a lot of noise and then they would get you out of the house. Once they got you out of the house they would get a little mischievous and they would put different things in the bed and mess up the house.

CW: I didn’t know that!

HH: Yeah, that was what they called ‘belling’. They even took Betty and me, put us in a stock trailer which was pulled behind the car and they took us to town and they had a wheelbarrow in there which they was gonna make me push Betty through downtown in a wheelbarrow. Well, I happened to get hold of the wheelbarrow and was able to throw it out, and I threw that wheelbarrow out. It bounced up to the telephone wires but it didn’t break it. It might have bent something but, so they stopped. There was a whole bunch of cars following us and they got the wheelbarrow but they didn’t put it back in the trailer ’cause they knew I’d throw it back out, so when they got to town at the river bridge they got us out and made Betty get in the wheelbarrow and then I pushed her up through town to the courthouse. That was quite an experience. That was what they called ‘belling’ in those days.

CW: Now was that right after the wedding?

HH: Pretty much after the wedding, yeah. (laughter)

BH: And then you also had to treat the group.

HH: Oh yeah, treat them and… We did go to the Idle Hour to treat them.

BH: It was that or, I think it was The Red Rooster.

HH: The Idle Hour was an ice-cream shop across from the courthouse. That was a hangout for young couples and teenagers. They had a jukebox and everything in there, and pinball machines and you would go in there for ice cream and sodas. So we had to treat everybody then, so that’s what a belling was all about. We don’t have them anymore, but that was the custom back in those days.

CW: I remember going to a wedding where this fellow that got married was the same age one of my sons and his sister had to dance in the hog trough. She was the oldest one and she hadn’t married first, and I always thought that was such a cruel thing to do to her.

HH: You could break an ankle (laughs).

CW: Well not only that but it would be embarrassing for her, I would think. I bet a lot of those things were like that. They never worried about whether you were embarrassed or not. (laughs)

BH: Is that a German custom for the hog trough?

HH: I don’t know.

CW: Was Belling a German custom?

HH: I don’t know that either. It was just a custom that was followed at that time. (laughs) And would you believe they did it to us again then when we were at our 30th anniversary, or was it the 35th I guess. Our friends and neighbors got together and belled us again on our 35th but that was a little bit different. They came in the house but they didn’t mess it up and they brought cards and so forth that they gave us.

CW: Had a party, I suppose.

HH: Yeah, had a party. So it’s a little different.

CW: Now your brother and sister were probably quite a bit older than you were, weren’t they?

HH: Well my brother was four years and my sister was two years and my younger brother is six years younger.

CW: Where is he? I didn’t know there was a younger brother.

HH: He lives about two miles from here, and he’s also a farmer.

(End of Tape)

Hastedt, Elmer

Holgate, Ohio, June 23, 2011
Comments by Dorothy (Mrs. Elmer) Hastedt

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, transcribed by Marlene Patterson

CW: Will you please give us your name.

EH: My name is Elmer Hastedt I was born January the 6th in 1923 and Mom always said it was a terrible terrible snowy day. We lived on the third road on County Road11but it was frozen. I know she said that it upset the horses because Dr. Davis was our doctor from Hamler. She just thought he could never get through the snow with the car, but he did get through and delivered me then.

CW: Yours was one of those kitchen deliveries I bet.

EH: Oh yes.

CW: That was common in those days.

EH: We didn’t go to the hospital for that. They’re coming back to that now.

CW: Yes they are just going around to those peoples now. Now we have the EMS people who can get them to the hospital in no time if you need to.

EH: Our granddaughter is a RN and she is the health nurse for Henry County. Her name is Annie Roseanne Hastedt. You see a health nurse at the Henry County Hospital.

CW: They say that is a really nice organization. They do a lot for people.

EH: They say it is. She never tells us what is going on. She is not supposed to. Oh later on she might stay that was my patient. A friend of ours Bob Helberg, that I was confirmed with, he complained to her last week. We were confirmed together. We were born into the Lutheran faith, Missouri Lutheran and we had to get married. She is shaking her head. It’s not quite what you think it is when I say we had to get married. It so happened that we had several dates and I had asked if we could be engaged before I went overseas. She was kind of on the ornery side. We had only about five dates and it was kind of unexpected. I really liked her.

DH: We didn’t know each other that well.

EH: Her mom and my mom were conniving.

CW: They wanted to get you two together.

EH: It was always this thing that whenever I’d come home, or having a date – she would say is she Lutheran? Is she German? If she was anything but that, it was always a NO. I introduced Dorothy to my folks one time and she thought that was the girl I should have. So I am in California and I get a letter from Mom and she says “Dorothy and I are coming to see you”. Oh my, California was at that time in early 1944 was just loaded with service people. Wherever you looked the place was loaded with service people. I had been at Camp Pendleton training with the Marines. I had volunteered for the Navy. I went to the Navy Boot Camp. Then they sent me to New York. I thought they would surely send me to Germany because I am trilingual I can speak High German, Low German, and English. Some English. One day they said, now this was in the winter of ‘43 and ‘44, there was an awful lot of snow. It was as high as a car.

CW: That could not have been in California.

EH: No, it was around here. They had steam engines. The railroads didn’t have diesels yet. They would have to stop, oh, every 50 to 60 miles to load coal on, and so it took two weeks, but in that two weeks we were stranded. We were a week in Colorado in the mountains. That train could not move because there was just too much snow. We finally got to California and then I went to Camp Pendleton, a Marine camp for training. I thought this is odd because I thought I am a sailor. I am not a Marine. That was the first thing we met when the train stopped there was a Marine Sergeant and the line that he used was very colorful. He said why am I scraping the bottom of the barrel. You know how that makes you feel.

CW: Oh yes.

EH: I got my Marine training there and slowly moved, and we moved North near San Francisco. We were sent to a race track. It was called Pan Foran. How that is spelled I don’t know but it is a very high class race track. It hadn’t been used yet for the Navy or any troops. The horse stables were clear along one side. The race track they say was cork covered.

CW: Wow

EH: It was high priced. We were the first servicemen who were moved in there and I can remember the morning, it was cold. They dumped us off at 2 o’clock in the morning. There was no place to go. They brought us in there by Greyhound bus. We had no place to lay down or anything, so we crawled into a shed and covered ourselves up with old newspapers. The next morning we thought why there had never been any servicemen on that base. We had to clean the horse stables.

CW: That was your job!

EH: Yes, that was our job. With me being a farmer that was real common for me.

CW: Just do it and get it done.

EH: There were four men in each horse stable. We cleaned one up and they furnished us material so we could build our own bunks. We had two bunks on each side. We had one on top of each other. We put a table in the middle and that was the best place I ever was. We just closed the double barn doors. They were hinged you know with a small door on the top. We could open the top part of the door and look out. And if we didn’t want to look out we could close the doors and we had privacy. That was our first experience there because they didn’t know where to put us.

CW: You were kind of glad you were at the bottom of the barrel.

EH: We did more training there and we were scheduled to go overseas. It was a little bit later, I don’t know what year, and I don’t know what month it was, but I got a letter from Mom and she wrote in that letter that she was coming to California and she was bringing Dorothy with her. You see that is where the part comes in that we had to get married.

CW: Laughs

EH: I had two mothers that were conniving. Her mother was just like my mother. You gotta be German and you gotta be Lutheran.

CW: Your mother was the same way then.

DH: Well she was always worried about who I was going out with.

CW: Oh yes.

EH: So what am I going to do with two women. There were a million servicemen in this area. . No matter where you looked there would be a serviceman. Well I had gone to Redwood City every Sunday morning to church. There was a Missouri Lutheran Church there. A girl there had asked me to go to lunch with her. Her dad was in the Marines and he was overseas. She said it is just my Mom, my brother and I. You could come and eat with us. It started to be a habit. Every Sunday I had some place to eat. It was pretty good.

CW: You got a good meal there.

EH: Yes. I told her this story as to what the heck am I going to do. She said that would not be an issue. We have an extra bed and they can stay here with Mom and me. So then those two came and her and I talked it over and you asked me if we could be engaged and I said yes, but I don’t want to marry you, because where I am going it is going to be bad. I knew I was headed for the Pacific to get the Japs. So we became engaged. That was the beginning of our new life really. I was overseas for two and a half years after that.

CW: Back to the visit, what did you do to entertain them?

EH: The minister, Mom had taken some, beings he was a farmer, he could get more gas coupons. I didn’t know that because I wasn’t born when that happened. Maybe you can remember when Dad had coupons to buy gas. She had taken some extra coupons along. These people didin’t have a car where they stayed, but the minister there he liked me and he got a car and Mom furnished the coupons for gas. He was our entertainment. He took us around and showed us different things. We rode on the cable car in California.

DH: We weren’t there that long.

EH: No we weren’t. It was maybe four or five days.

DH: It wasn’ t that long.

EH: He was ready to go.

CW: When he went overseas you had no idea whether you’d come back or not.

EH: Well that way we had made one scheme her and I, In the service at that time if you wrote a letter you would just put on it FREE. You didn’t need to put a stamp on it. I had bought three or four six cent stamps – airmail stamps. You know we didn’t have any money. I only got 21.00 each month, but the insurance came off of that and we just didn’t have any money.

CW: When my husband and I were married he was a private first class. :We got just thirty seven dollars each month or something like that, but we made do.

EH: He hadn’t had college then yet.

CW: Yes he was through college.

EH: He would have graduated as an officer.

CW: Yes, He had to apply and then you wait. He had become a corporal.

EH: Did he go to the Pacific too?

CW: Yes, he went to China.

EH: Was that during the Korean War?

CW: No this was during WWII. They had a radio station there and they would guide the pilots because a lot of them had come over the hump. That was such a special flight.

EH: Oh yes. That is what I was in too – communications.

CW: Oh were you!

EH: 7th Fleet Communications. That is why I never got a ship. There was only 20 men in our outfit, one officer, one bold woman. He was only 57 years old. They guided our outfit. He was our officer. He was a very nice man. Like I said we only had 20 men and we landed in New Guinea first.. In the beginning we left San Francisco and I remember that morning. Another thing happened that night. Everything at night was secret. When we went under the Golden Gate Bridge there was only one car crossing it. I thought am I ever going to see this again! They gave us each an apple to eat. I don’t think we were out of the harbor when the apple left us. Everybody was standing on the left side heaving and feeding the fish. There was only that once and after that I felt good. That was my beginning of WWII. First the beginning and then the invasion of the Philippine Islands – Latte Island. Pelosa was where we landed. We landed on Maybee. I have seen pictures of soldiers wading in the water when they landed.

CW: MacArthur put it in the papers “I shall return”. It was a long time but he finally did.

EH: And we landed on Pelosa which was Tackloven was about 10 miles east of us. The first night when we landed, of course it was at night, it was raining and it was humid. We had been in New Guinea for some time. You couldn’t get any place on time. We were used to the heat and the rain. Hurricanes too. In the Philippines it was cool and windy but still it was raining. We didn’t have anywhere to go and it was dark and we lost track of our group.

CW: That would be scary..

EH: I know we had one guy with us. He was our cook. His name was Fred Steiner. That is another whole story. He was kind of a ladies man, anyway, in the States he hadn’t trained with a rifle because he had signed up to work in a plum factory in Colorado. He didn’t work in a factory, that was just an excuse. He had a girlfriend there. So he didn’t take any training to speak of and they chose him and they put him on the back of 6 file – that is an Army truck. It was all full of and they were hauling a tank. They put him into the truck and threw in a Tommy gun. He looked at it and he said I don’t know how to shoot this thing. I can still hear the Marine Sergeant said you – you’ll learn. When nobody was looking he appeared without the gun. That was Freddie, he could get into all kinds of situations.

CW: Now just what did you do with the radio connections? What was your job?

EH: I was mostly a guard. We learned in New Guinea, we learned how to find poles and lay wire and it was our job to lay telephone wire. It was a communications wire. Of course communications wasn’t like it is today. Primarily my job was to guard. We went in with the seabees they went ahead of us and they built steel stations, radio stations. We had very large diesel engines with generators on the back. We rigged up the electricity for the communications. It was my duty primarily to watch those engines at night and the daytime too. It depended on what shift I had. I remember one night I had a shift, a lot of times at night. Night time was the worst shift you could get. You couldn’t hear anything because there would be two or three diesels running. They had very big engines.

CW: And noisy.

EH: You couldn’t hear anything, you had to rely on your smell. I had found an old piece of block of wood and I set my rifle down beside it. I could watch my engines too. I was sitting there watching the gauges when suddenly during the night someone kicked my rifle. Of course what that person didn’t know is that I had my bayonet right by that block between my legs. and I just missed his toe. It was one of our own guys. We had some Philippino boys, they were supposed to be helping us guard. They had dogs. They were kind of flexible. It depended on where their gravy came from. They would have fought on the Japanese side just as readily as for our side. They had to watch their own pants too. He had been with them and he had some 2 by 2’s. They were from the palm trees. They would climb this palm tree, and when it flowers they had a reed that they would stick into the flower. They always had these molasses buckets and they strain that juice and ferment it and it tasted horrible. I tried it one time and I said I am not going to drink that. Anyway he had drank some of that and what happened to him. I didn’t tell the officer what had happened. I never saw him again. I told some of my buddies I dare not tell . He just dissappeared. I don’t know what they did with him.

CW: You know speaking of these messenger boys. Dr. Flora in Napoleon.

EH: Yes I know him.

CW: He was a messenger boy.

EH: Is that right!

CW: He was just a little kid.

CW: He said he could go through the lines. He could go just anywhere. He liked the servicemen.

EH: I never knew that. We treated them very well. In fact we doctored with him.

DH: He delivered our grandson.

EH: Debbie and our son Bob have that greenhouse over there. You know up on the corner there.

CW: Oh yes.

DH: She had him for a doctor. I know that for sure. Because they had two boys, but I never knew that.

EH: Of course when I came back I didn’t talk about the war.

CW: No, they wanted to forget the war as soon as possible.

EH: That first night on Latte I can’t forget it but it was raining and it was two o’clock in the morning and it was a warm rain but still you get wet and we had ponchos and we pitched those together because we had lost track of our commander. So we rigged up these ponchos together wo we could stay out of the rain. There was a Jeep nearby and the Jeeps always had a gas can on the back. I found a molasses bucket, you know a Karo bucket and I scooped a little bit of sand in it and put a little bit of gas in it and poured sand. Now these boys weren’t farmers. They had never been around a farm or anything. One was from New Yawk (York) and two were from Pittsburgh. And they asked me what I was going to do now. I told them I was going to get rid of the mosquitoes. They said that’l blow up, and I lit a match and threw it in there and we hid under the ponchos. The first night on Latte Island, why any kind of light was forbidden, because at night – Washing Machine Charlie, he had different names from different groups I found out later – that was a Jap bomber that would come flying over real low, and any sign of a light or anything they would fire a machine gun.

CW: Oh my!

EH: So we had to watch out for Washing Machine Charlie. We soon learned that.

CW: So that is what they called a Washing Machine.

EH: At Camp Logan which was 10 miles east of us they could not lower their beam on their light. When we seen those lights come on we knew there was a plane coming, or else they wouldn’t be using those big lights. They would shine in the sky but they couldn’t get low enough, so it didn’t bother them.

CW: The poncho over the fire, it must have been a pretty thick poncho or it would have left the light in..

EH: I don’t know anymore if they were

CW: I bet they were.

EH: We used them a lot.. Latte too was a lot different weather than New Guinea. I had quite an experience coming from New Guinea going to Latte. They picked us up – we had been on Latte about 4 months because of the jungles. We didn’t have much trouble with the Japanese, as our southern division had pretty much subdued them. It was extra duty for us waiting to invade the Latte Island. Of course we didn’t know that. At 2 o’clock they loaded us onto a ship out in the harbor. They wouldn’t allow any lights whatsoever. It was pitch black there. Of course in a small boat they took us out in the harbor and climbed on this ship. It was about 50 feet high. They called it a ropes net. They threw it over the side and the ropes were about a foot apart. We had to put our foot in there and climb up there. We would have to climb up there. Of course you were climbing like ropes. They warned us that if you fall we can’t pick you up, it will be the last time you fall. They weren’t allowed to use any lights to find you. When you get up there a sailor will help you. I got up there and some sailors pulled us up. There were 20 men in our outfit so we were in the fantail.

CW: What is a fantail?

EH: That is the back, aft is the back. Anyway that is where they put us. All 120 of us. Our clothes were pretty tattered and torn. We had been campaigning in New Guinea but it was nice and warm on the deck. When it got daylight that morning here came paratroopers fresh from the States. I can’t remember what unit they were in. I think they were part of the 11th Airborne, I can’t remember any more. They had to stand inspection and they all lined up and the old I think they took us down for breakfast. Anyway we kind of stayed to ourselves those guys were real nosey and they thought we were Japanese because we were as yellow as yellow can be.

CW: From the quinine pills.

EH: That’s right. He explained what it was and how it had affected our skin. It took us a long time to get information from them.

CW: They wanted to know what you had been through.

EH: And they wanted to know what had happened. The comical part of it was one of my buddies bought himself a little button key accordion. He couldn’t play a thing and neither could I. I said I could play a piano key accordion. I had learned it from Dad. I can play the piano key, but the button key is different. It is like a harmonica. You get different sounds by pushing. So I am playing what I learned from Dad. I can do shoditches and waltzes and so forth and it wasn’t too long and with the first couple songs I played, he came up to me and said “where the h___ are you from?” I told him Toledo, Ohio. I danced to that music in West Hope. There was a famous place where us kids all went on a Sunday night. There was a dance hall there, a bar, and that is where we met the girls. We danced at that time. That was a long time ago.

CW: So this man knew about West Hope.

EH: I said where are you from and he said Deshler. I danced at West Hope with that stuff you are playing. I asked him what his name was and he said Paul Peterson. I said where hast du her pluggin stoggin? I said that to him in German. He said yeah and we started talking Low German together. He looked at me and I didn’t know we were bilingual. One of my guys whispered in my ear. You guys are pulling on us. You guys can’t understand each other. Tell him to whisper something to me and he whispered tell him to take his hat off and threw it at him. I said . He said they do understand each other.

CW: You have a remarkable memory.

EH: Oh yes that was something to remember. It took us, I think, about five days to get out of Latte. Of course none of us knew where we were going to go.

CW: They didn’t tell you things like that.

DH: Of course you couldn’t write back and tell them anything either.

EH: She can tell you about that part.

CW: Yes, let’s give you a chance to talk and let me know about that part.

DH: I would get letters from him. They would be censored. A lot of the lines would just be cut out. I never knew where he was at and by the time I had gotten the letter he would be someplace else. Well you know all about that part.

CW: He never could tell where he was.

DH: The only was is if he would write it under a stamp and we would peel that stamp off.

EH: You see I had bought 3 or 4 six cent postage stamps with the idea that I had heard other servicemen say that they were censoring, so I would write under the stamp and tell where I was at. She would peel the stamp off and she could see what I had wrote.

DH: We had no way of knowing his whereabouts.

EH: By that time we would be someplace else already.

CW: Oh yes. You know my husband had to censor the mail and he said one of those guys would write a letter to his wife and tell her how much he missed her and he couldn’t wait to get back and in the very same mail he would send a letter to his girlfriend and tell her how much he missed her.

EH: Elmer laughs and laughs and he said he could believe that. The sad part of this is the story of me and Paul Peterson. It was exactly twenty years later his son was in a helicopter, we didn’t have helicopters in WWII, they said Hitler had one and it was very large and they used it only to move his car around. He had a helicopter, but we did not use helicopters. Twenty years later, I think it was the Vietnam War his son was killed when his helicopter crashed on Salewasa Beach in Latte the same place we had invaded.

CW: Was this in a different war?

EH: Yes this was in the Vietnam War. I don’t know if it was exactly twenty years but something like that. They sent his body back to Deshler. I remember we went to the funeral home and he told me that this was his only son and they named the Amvets Post for him.

CW: And he lost his only son.

EH: If you go to Napoleon and see the post it was named Arthur Dan Peterson. That was Paul’s son. So we have been talking about the War long enough.

CW: Alright, Now I have a question for you. Now you spoke German at home probably, and you Dorothy, you probably did too. What happened when you started to school?

EH: We couldn’t speak a word of English.

CW: And you too Dorothy.That would be really hard.

EH: She lived at Ridgeville. She comes from Ridgeville. If we have time I’ll take you to the other farm after a while, it is just down the road from here, that is where we moved to, and I can remember the day we moved my Uncle Fred, my dad’s only brother. He was a very good friend of ours. He was not quite four years old and we had lived on Road 11 and then Grampa and Grandma Hastedt wanted to retire and Dad had to move to the family farm. That is on Road H. Anyhow that is where I grew up then. I had a mile to walk to school. There was a little school house on the corner and we had good teachers. Our first grade teacher could not speak a word of German and the neighbor boys, most of us kids couldn’t speak any English.

CW: What on earth did you do?

EH: Elmer laughs – Well out on the playground we would speak German, and when we got back in the schoolhouse we spoke only English. I can remember one distinct thing, the teacher said, you see we had all the eight grades in this one room, She taught all eight grades. There were about 50 kids in school, I think that in our grade there was 5 boys and 1 girl. She said, and if you had a class, you would get up in front and sit on one bench, and use the blackboard and she would teach us. She said turn in your papers and I said to Louie Bremer, he was my buddy and I said, what does she want, I don’t understand very good. He said we have to hand in our papers. Of course he told me this in German.

CW: Oh yes.

EH: I don’t know it took maybe about a month to learn. I could speak some English.

CW: Dorothy, now you tell me what your experience was.

DH: We had a twin brother and we were lucky. We had a teacher that could talk the Low German. That really helped us a lot. She taught us the English language and I don’t remember too much of it. Elmer can remember better than I can. I remember she was like a mother to us. She was a wonderful teacher. That is how I learned. I could do both languages, German and English. Now he couldn’t talk any Engish at all. I had a sister and a brother that were older and they tried to teach us at home. When they would come home from school my sister would say you are going to have to learn this too. I thought well I’m not going to learn that stuff. Like my little grandson would say “I know everything why do I have to go to school”? I remember that it didn’t take us very long to learn.

CW: I remember asking my husband how did you manage in a one room school. You couldn’t have learned much. He told me he learned a lot because when he got his studies done he would listen to what the older kids were doing.

DH: I can remember my brother, he was a couple of hours older, learning came easy for him. I was just slower. In the third grade, the teacher wanted to hold me back and when I came home I was just crying and I told Mom that I didn’t want to stay back. So we went over to the teacher and we talked to her and she said we’ll give her a chance. Of course then my mom took over. Of course my mom had only about three years of school. She and my older sister they took over and I made it. I was able to keep up. School was always real hard for me. In Catechism I couldn’t memorize very well. It was just hard.

CW: You might have felt kind of in the shadow of your twin brother. You might have thought well he can do it and I will just hang back.

DH: That could have been, I don’t know. He was the one that would always go ahead and I would follow. That is how we always got into trouble.

CW: You would have walked right into trouble. Tell me about it.

DH: One time, you know those binders, you have to turn them in the back and that would clip it off you know.

CW: Do you mean those wires.

DH: Yes, and he told me to turn that wheel and he said I am going to put some straw in there and I will have it clip it off. We were maybe 4 or 5 years old, I am not sure. I said okay so I was turning there and pretty soon I got tired of that and told him I want to do that too. I wanted to do that. He said okay. He was back there and I started turning and he put straw in there and it would get clipped off. All at once I got my finger in there and I said OW and I started hollering. He said what am I going to do. Then he came and turned it back so I could get my finger out and I was bawling and walking towards the house and Mom asked me what had happened. Of course he got the spanking for it. He said I should have known better. It was my fault because I had stuck my finger in there.

CW: So he led you right into trouble.

DH: He always went before I did. I guess I was a little younger.

CW: What was it like when you first got married? When did you get married?

EH: Right after I came home in 1946, July 14. Coming up it will be 65 years.

CW: That is a good long time.

EH: If we both live that long, you never know nowadays.

DH: We didn’t have a place to live.

EH: Oh that’s right.

DH: We had to move in with his folks.

CW: That would be hard.

DH: Well I was from the farm and I knew what we had to do. I milked cows, fed chickens, I cut corn and I helped out in the field. I knew how to pick tomatoes. I knew everything that had to be done. It wasn’t like someone that came out of the city and didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t new to me. It was all stuff that I did at home. Then I got pregnant and we had a little girl. She loved it there. She had all those older people taking care of her and she just took advantage of it all.

EH: I have one sister. I was the only son, but I had one sister and she took care of her most of the time. Dorothy had to work out in the field, but coming back to school neither one of us graduated. I went to high school in the fall, I can’t remember what year it was, probably or so.

DH: Well you got confirmed in 1937 and I was in 1938. That was when you started high school.

EH: Dad would say well you can go but first you got to help me get the wheat in the ground. It might have been closer to 1940 because Dad and my brother and Grandpa they farmed about 200 acres with mostly horses.

CW: Oh

EH: We had one Fordson tractor but at the time we couldn’t get it started because they started so hard. You’d have to crank them, anyway I learned to farm with horses.

DH: You liked the tractors.

EH: Anyway Dad said once we got the wheat in the ground then you can go to school. Okay by that time you know I was behind already and finally when I was 16, at that time you could quit school.

CW: It was quite common for them to stop after eight grades at that time.

EH: That is what I did too. I didn’t go to high school. You did maybe a half a year. I started farming for good. We always raised quite a few tomatoes and so forth. She could pick a hundred hampers of tomatoes throughout the day, Dorothy could.

CW: That would be a lot of lifting too. Hampers were heavy.

EH: They were. In those days you had to move about from here to the front door with your hamper (Elmer gestures with his hands the distance) full because you could pick a hamper full in one sitting. You would sit the hamper down and pick. We didn’t know how to raise tomatoes in those days.

DH: They would ripen at different times.

CW: Yes they don’t all ripen at the same time.

DH: We would pick the ripe ones and let the green ones on.

EH: A couple of days later you had to go through the same scenario. Every week we had to go through the fields and pick the tomatoes.

DH: That’s what we had to do too, a field of tomatoes here and they all needed picking. Of course we went to Ridgeville High School, my brother and I for two years. The third year we got word that we had to go, since we were on the county line we had to go to Tinora. They would bus us there. Then we didn’t want to go to Tinora, we wanted to stay in Ridgeville. I can remember that real well. It was quite the thing.

CW: You would have to be separated from your friends.

DH: I knew all those people in my class and when September came around again Dad said you have to make up your mind if you want to to go because I will see once if you can still go to Ridgeville. So he went and he got told he would have to pay to go to Tinora. He said for two of them I just can’t do it. I said I am not going because it was hard for me anyhow. I just told my dad that I was not going. I said I would rather pick tomatoes.

CW: You know during the war my father-in-law, now the boys were all gone to war, and he had these tomatoes that were all ripening and he needed help, so all we daughters-in-law came and while Grandma took care of the little ones, we harvested tomatoes. He said that was the best year he ever had. Of course he had free labor.

DH: Sure

CW: We had a ball, we had a good time. We had somebody taking care of our children.

DH: I could imagine. When we were married we had a little girl and then a few years later I was pregnant again, and I said this isn’t going to work, I need a place of my own. I said I can’t do that to his folks with having two babies there.

EH: Although we never had a squabble. We always had a babysitter you know.

DH: I told my father-in-law I just have to have a place of my own. He said we are going to get you one. He did and we have lived here ever since.

EH: We had to pay $400.00 an acre for it. There was this house and a barn, but not that big machine shed over there.

CW: Did you have to pay extra for the house and barn?

EH: No, that all went with it. We even had a bathroom here. At home we had no bathroom because we didn’t have any electricity. Or else it was just new. I can’t remember.

DH: I think they had just put it in, maybe during the war.

EH: I think they did because at home we always had to go outside. Where she came from they had a bathroom in the house already, so that wasnn’t very nice either for her. But she never complained about that. We were in love.

DH: I was going to have that baby in June and come December I just said we have to move pretty soon so I could get into my house and get things ready.

EH: That is when we moved over here.

CW: Was that a boy or girl you had.

DH: It was a boy and then we had another girl after that. She lives in Louisiana.

EH: She is a phlebotomist. I think she is in the lab, she works in a blood lab. They have lived there 20 some years ago.

CW: Back in those days you didn’t have any idea whether you were going to get pregnant or not you just did your best.

EH: There was no such thing as planning, you had no idea.

DH: I was sick all nine months. I thought I wasn’t going to get that way again because I couldn’t take it. I guess I lived through it.

CW: Were you as sick with the other children.

DH: Yes, all three of them.

EH: They are all three years apart.

CW: Oh they are!

EH: Judy is 63 and Bob is going to be

DH: 61

EH: Mary is three years younger. So they are all three years apart. We didn’t have a telephone. We had electric lights which was new at home yet. We had a new furnace.

DH: I was used to a furnace because we had one when I was still home but he wasn’t. So that was pretty neat.

CW: So then did you farm this land and your parents too?

EH: Uncle Fred, it so happened that he died real early. He had a blood clot and in those days they took him to Defiance Hospital and if I can remember, Dad stayed there with him by laying on the floor. He slept on the floor by the bed and he said the nurse came in and checked him and around 4 o’clock and she said why this man is dead. That was his only brother. At that time Grandpa Hastedt had cancer, and he was dying from cancer, so suddenly Dad was all alone. That was just before the war. In July of 1943 I wanted to be a sailor. I knew I had to go to war there wasn’t any question about it.

DH: That was right after Pearl Harbor.

EH: I wanted to join the Navy and become a sailor, more of a Marine than a sailor because I wanted to be in the Marines. Going back to the War that is another whole story.

CW: Tell me about it.

EH: Well I will tell you some things. We were on Latte and we had moved in about , oh I suppose, we didn’t know how far we were. We could have been in a mile maybe. We came to a river and we set up our diesel engine for our communications and we had mechanics, we had guards, and that was it. Just twenty men is all we had. One morning, I always had a lot of guard duty although I was listed as a mechanic. That is what I had studied in New Guinea and I could work on engines too. We all took our turn as guards. We were not supposed to cross this river because that was forbidden territory. The other side of the river you didn’t know where to go and the Japs would be there and so I was on guard duty looking across the river and it was raining and I always hated my helmet, it always dripped down and I very seldom wore it. It was raining and so I was wearing a helmet and It just barely got daylight and I could see something crawling, oh maybe fifty feet wide. There were dead Japs floating in it and it was real dirty water. Anyway I saw something that crossed in the grass moving. They called it goon grass. It was a very tall grass. I knew it was a Jap crawling along the river bank on the other side. And it was just getting daylight and everybody in our group was in their hole sleeping. Finally I decided to fire on him. I thought if I do then the twenty Japs behind him.

CW: They’d be after you.

EH: Yes because it was just a scout crawling around. When I shot he rolled down to the edge of the water and here it was an alligator. They called it something else. It was, I can’t think of the name right now. A couple of years ago they wrote in the Crescent News that they had seen one two feet long in the Philippines It was the largest one they had ever seen. They are just like an alligator. Anyway it was this thing and it rolled down to the water and of course I shot and everybody was out of their hole and asked where did that shot come from. I didn’t want to look too stupid so I said “I don’t know, I heard it too”. It wasn’t very long then the Philippinos came along and butchered it. They thought it was delicious I guess.

CW: They were probably hungry because they wouldn’t have had very much to eat.

EH: No they never had much to eat. That was one of my dumb experiences. I had a lot of guys and when I think back, I could sit here for two days and tell you things, but I am not going to because I don’t want to remember it.

CW: Yes I understand. Do you know Lenhart Lange? He ran the Holgate Lumber Company.

EH: Oh yes.

CW: He was on a ship and his job was to get way up in the top and when he would spot the Japs coming in or maybe an airplane coming in his job was to shoot at the pilot. The pilots could dive bomb and go right into the ships.

EH: They were kamikaze,

CW: To this day it is very hard for him to tell about it.

DH: My dad was in the service too and he never wanted to talk about it.

EH: Of course he was in World War I.

CW: World War I was tough too.

EH: I am reading about it now. They have made 20 books all about the Wars. They are so interesting. They tell how Hitler got started and how he persecuted the Jews. We have been to Germany twice. We went once in ‘71 when the Wall was still up and, you see I have cousins there, and they can’t speak any English, so I always have to write them in German, anyway I said to my Grandmother Hasted’s niece and I said to her husband, you know I would like to see these internment camps where so many Jews were killed. She says you know what that is all gossip, that never happened. Those people didn’t know what was going on. Then we went back again in ‘91

DH: That was their son-in-law.

EH: Yes it was our son-in-law who lived near Denendausen. The older folks had died and his son-in-law I had asked him about it and he said and he hesitated and he said I’d really like to go there and show it to you. I told him what his father-in-law had told me that it had never happened. Well he said my Grandpaw, and I was in service and Grandpaw and I would take our bicycles as it was about five miles from his house and we would drive by there on our bicycles and we could hear children crying. I would say to Grandpaw what is this here? He said “I don’t know”. He said he never did find out. None of the German people knew it, we went in there then at Vernegaden and it was quite something. Have you ever seen that.

CW: No, but I have been to Germany.

EH: So many Jews are buried there and the Germans took pictures of everything. You could be in that museum all day and not see it all. There were dead Jews and they would load them on trucks and bury them. It was just horrible.

CW: That is just the way it was.

EH: Yes, that is the way it was.

CW: Talking about World War I, a friend of my fathers, I don’t know if he went and tried to enlist or they were deciding to draft him, one or the other so they were all lined up, and they gave each one in turn a baseball and they told them to see if they could hit the flag up there. So my father’s friend could hit the flag and they said to him “you can hit the flag, you’re in”. It was just like that. The Army, Navy, or whatever. Just so he could hit the flag is how they determined that. Times have changed.

DH: I don’t know if it was but my father came over and said goodbye to us. We knew he was going overseas. My dad just shook his head and he said that poor guy doesn’t know what he is getting into. He just hated to see him go.

CW: I’ll bet because he had heard just enough.

DH: My dad had been in World War I. He said he doesn’t know what he is getting into.

EH: Well, it is probably a good thing they don’t know.

CW: I am glad they are getting some of these boys out of Afghanistan.

EH: It’s awful. They don’t know their enemy because they all look alike. With the Japanese there was no question. We knew who they were. One thing happened that I would like to mention that bothers me today very much, I don’t know if it was on Latte or Leeson, I can’t remember for sure, but one night when I was on guard duty and laying in the grass and I could still hear the Philipinos, camped near us they had dogs and the dogs started barking and that was a warning that the Japs were coming n. In the murky darkness we heard a group of them coming, lined up, I don’t remember if I shot, right away some of our boys shot, and when they shot, pretty soon the Japanese exploded. They were loaded with dynamite and hand grenades and they were going to blow us up. They were to come in like

CW: Kamikaze.

EH: and so , I think there were 9 or 10 of them and we killed them. The next day, of course it was real hot, and you could still see them there, all swelled up you know, and it started to stink. We thought somebody should bury them. They said you shot them you bury them. Here there was a big bulldozer the seabeas had left sit there and one of our boys said he knew how to run a bulldozer. So they dug a hole, oh it was about 20 feet deep, a real big hole and we just pushed them in there and covered them up. As I look back today I don’t know where the grave is. I don’t know. I lost two buddies and we marked their graves. They are buried now in Hawaii I think. I think back now the Japanese boys had maybe wives and kids, and they had parents, and they don’t know where they are at. I can’t go back and find it either. Now we have a minister who is still in the service in the Air Force, and he is a Colonel. He is our minister and he goes to training every once in a while and he says, I told him that story, I don’t go to church because I can’t walk very well, and I can’t stand being around people too much. The last couple of years I haven’t been to church. He comes and gives me communion. I told him this the last time and he says I think I could arrange to find that grave. I told him I didn’t know if it was on Latte or Lausaine. I wouldn’t know where to start to look for that grave. What sits in my craw is that they had children, they had parents that never knew where it was. I never found out where they stayed.

DH: I think in World War II there were a lot of them, even our boys. how could they know.

CW: They are still trying to locate some of these graves, but they would send their boys out purposely to kill themselves. It seems to me that was just as cruel as not being able to bury them.

EH: They were having a media base and they were good soldiers. They were good soldiers but they had no pity for anybody. They had no compassion. They were a tough enemy.

DH: It’s just like we have now. You know they are tough. They kill themselves because they think that is the way to get to heaven.

CW: When I was in China, this has nothing to do with that, but they showed us this cliff and said that this is where couples would commit suicide from. If they couldn’t get married or for some other reason they could not be with each other. They would just jump off this cliff.

EH: It was on Guam they told us, I stopped at Guam, but I never left the ship. there was a lot of rock there, but they said to them the Americans will torture you and the men and womem all jumped off the cliff and killed themselves. They couldn’t get them to stop.

CW: Are there some more memories you would like to add to this.

EH: We worked hard as most people did, the Depression hadn’t started. In 1928 Dad bought a brand new Model A Ford. That was really something but the Depression wasn’t going yet. The Depression started in the ‘30’s and we lived through that Depression and we always had something to eat. We had our own hogs and we had milk. We had chickens. We never went to town, oh come to think of it, I hadn’t been away from home except for one time when I was probably six or seven years old Dad and Mom took myself and a neighbor boy to Toledo to the Zoo. That was as far as I had ever been away from home. You know it was something to get out in the world and see how other people lived. I still think that a farm boy could manage much better than the boys from New Yawk (New York). Pennsylvania Pittsburg. They didn’t know anything. They couldn’t help themselves even if their life depended on it. Now I had a buddy who is a Mormon and a lot of times when we were still in the states we would be put on shore patrol and him and I would patrol together and we would talk about religion. He is a very devout Mormon. He was killed on Latte. We lost two men on Latte and he was one of them. He was my best friend. I never had a friend after that because you know I could get along with anybody, but I didn’t bind to anybody else’ like I did to him. I told Pastor about that. I said I will see him in heaven and Pastor is a confirmed Misssouri Synod Lutheran.

end of tape

Hastedt, Elmer and Dorothy (written)

December 2011

Original oral history on file at Bloomfield House Office
Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin on June 23, 2011, transcribed by Marlene Patterson
No corrections were made on written history as follows:

EH: I was born on Jan. 6th 1923 in Henry County. My mom (Alma Mahlman Hastedt) always said it was terribly cold snowy day. We lived in the third house on the right on County Rd. 11. It was a dirt road so it was muddy a lot of the times. Her Dr. was Doc Davis from Hamler. Mom was worried he wouldn’t be able to get his big Oldsmobile through the snow. So my dad ( Eddie Hastedt ) got the horses out and met him at the corner of St. Rt. 18 to pull him the half mile to the house.

EH: I was delivered on the kitchen table, that’s how they did it then. No hospitals, the Dr. made house calls.

DH: I was born on March 14th 1924. I was a twin and we were born at home too. My brother ( Delbert Miller ) was born first. After he was born, the Doc said there was another baby in there and mom labored for another 6 hours before I was born. What a shock that must have been to my mother as she never knew there were two babies. I didn’t even weigh 5 lbs, and of course there were no incubators in those days, so they made one. They warmed up some bricks on the wood cook stove and put them in a dresser drawer, wrapped them in blankets and that was my very own incubator. I was born close to Ridgeville Corners, Ohio. My twin Delbert drowned in a fishing accident when he was only 45. Now that was a hard time for me, as we were very close.

EH: I only had one sibling, a younger sister, Norma Hastedt Bostleman. But Dorothy had a big family.

DH: Yes, I had a sister and brother older than Delbert and I and then a sister and 2 brothers younger than I was, so there were 7 of us. I have one sister and one brother besides myself still living.

EH: In the spring of 1927, we moved from the house on Rd. 11 to the house on Rd. H, where my grandson, Chris and his family live now. It was only about 3/4 of a mile from the old house. I remember it well. We had to use the horses with a mud boat to move everything. A mud boat was a sled with wide runners. As I said before the road was all mud, so we traveled a lot with that old mud boat. You know that Rd. 11 stayed a mud road until 1933. And our roads weren’t numbered or lettered until 1978 when Victor Sonnenberg was Commisioner.

EH: I went to Arps School on the corner of Rd. 10 and H. It was torn down not too long ago. And yes, they always tease about walking to school in the snow and rain, but that is exatly what I did. Luckily it was only 1 mile from our house. It was a one room school house and went from grades 1 – 8. They didn’t have kindergarten then and certainy not preschools. I attended 2 years of high school at Hamler, but then had to quit to help my dad farm. My dad’s only brother, Fred Hastedt had died and dad couldn’t handle the farming by himself.

DH: My school was called Davis School and it was on Roads T and 18 in Freedom Township. My school was remodeled into a house and Kevin Gerken and his family live there. It’s pretty nice too. I walked to school too along with all my brothers and sisters. Plus a lot of our neighbors had large families too, so there was always a bunch of us walking together.

EH: Course there was no running water inside our school so we had out houses for bathrooms. We were used to that though because most of us didn’t have inside batrooms at home either. There was a pump outside for drinking water. We would fill a bucket and hang it outside the door and we had a tin cup we all used. I suppose when one of us got sick we all did, but now that would be a huge no-no. My teachers was Kathryn Busch at first. Course she was English and spoke no German, A lot of us spoke nothing but German, so we had to learn English quickly to catch on. Now that is low German or Platt duetch. Later on my teacher was Martha Schweibert and she spoke German. I Ioved reading and soon had read every book in our “library”. Our “library” consisted of a small cabinet with maybe 20 books.

DH: I was always a little slower in the school learning than my brother. In one of the lower grades my teacher decided I needed to stay behind a year. Now a days they just push them through whether they can read or not. Anyway the teacher talked to my folks about it. When I found out I might be held back a year I was very upset. So I cried and cried until they decided not to do it. I was Delbert’s shadow and went where he went and did what he did. I would have been so scared without him. I got caught up in no time though.

EH: We had church school too. We went there from six years old till we were fourteen. That’s when we were confirmed. We would start after regular school was over and would go all summer from 9AM to 3PM. We learned our catechism in High German. So I was baptized and confirmed in High German. Pastor would come to the house to baptize us shortly after we were born. They didn’t do baptizms in church like they do now.

DH: All our kids were even baptized at home yet. Don’t know when they started doing it in church.

EH: You know the old school that sits at the Henry County Fairgrounds. I went to that school for church school. It sat behind my church, Immanuel Lutheran, on the corner of Rd. H and 109. We still go to church there now.

DH: I went to St. Paul’s Lutheran church on Rd. Q and 17. I learned my High German there. We were married there too. But since we lived so close to Elmer’s church, that has been my church since we were married. Two of our kids still go there too, Judy and Bob, but our youngest daughter Mary and her family iive in Baton Rouge, LA.

Harmon, Junior

Interviewed by Russell and Marlene Patterson, July 22, 2014. Transcribed by Marlene Patterson

JH – Junior Harmon
MP – Marlene Patterson
EH – Elaine (Mrs. Junior) Harmon
RP – Russell Patterson

MP: Today is Tuesday, July 22, 2014 and I am interviewing Junior Harmon, the building mover.

MP: Junior can you tell us your name.

JH: My name is Junior Harmon.

MP: Now where does the Junior come from –  your dad?

JH: Yes, they had an awful time when I was in the service. They all wanted to call me Oscar which is my dad’s name.

MP: So your dad was Oscar.

JH: And my name is Junior.

MP: So your actual name is Junior and is that the name you go by on legal forms.

JH: Right.

EH: That is the only name he has is Junior.

RP: I remember your dad – Oscar.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”14″ gal_title=”Harmon1″]

(The photo on the left shows the Harmon Movers using 8 teams of horses to move a large building, circa early 1900s; picture in the middle shows Junior sitting on a large stone in front of the Liberty Center Sauerkraut Factory; and the picture on the right shows Junior moving a building up and over a bridge.)

MP: How did you get into this building moving business?

JH: I guess you could say I was born into it.

MP: Well do you suppose somebody years ago said they needed a building moved and your dad just said I know how to do it.

JH: My dad and his dad were in the building business.

MP: Do you mean your grandfather was in the business too.

JH: Yes my father Oscar and my grandfather Henry.

MP: Henry was your grandfather.

JH: I have that information in those papers.

MP: Do you remember what his first job was? How did they move these big buildings years ago.

JH: We didn’t have modern equipment that’s for sure. Of course we used horse power. We didn’t have the modern moving dollies. We used wooden rollers to roll it onto. It was very primitive.

MP: Like my father always told me that the house that he lived in came across the field a mile south.

RP: No that was Naomi.

MP: No I am thinking of the Riefers farmhouse. Would they have put it on wood boards like a sled and waited until the ground was frozen and used horses to drag it across the ground.

JH: Yes, years ago they had what they called a capstan

MP: What is that?

JH: Nowadays they call it a winch, the only thing nowadays it is in a horizontal position. Back in those days it was in a vertical position and you had to have a timber that stuck through this winch on top and there was a horse that walked around it and that would wind up the cable.

MP: Okay, then how would they get underneath these buildings.

JH: They had what they called jackscrews. It was a matter of digging a hole and sitting that jack in there underneath the house. There would be a bar that went through the head of that jack and when you pulled on that – that is what raised the house up.

MP: That is a good explanation. I can visualize this. Is this basically what you do nowadays.

JH: Oh no, this is all hydraulic now. It is a gasoline powered hydraulic pump that creates pressure that raises the jack up.

MP: It would be considerably easier now.

JH: Oh yes.

MP: That is interesting. I have often thought and wondered how did they moved buildings years ago.

JH: It is a lot different than it used to be.

MP: I am sure of that. I do know that at one time you lifted up an old Victorian home on West Washington Street. The owners put a new basement in. You totally lifted up the house. Was it up high enough so you could get under it to get your equipment in.

JH: We used a skid loader to get underneath the house. We dug out the dirt and the old foundation. We held the house up on blocks.

MP: I don’t believe there was even a window broken in the house.

EH: He always tells the ladies to sit a glass of water on the table and he won’t spill it.

MP: I can believe that.

JH: I probably shouldn’t say this but we got some work over in Bryan, Ohio from an auctioneer. It wasn’t him, but one of his friends. He went into the kitchen and set a glass of water on the table. He filled that glass so full that another drop would have spilled it. Well, my brother saw that and he went over and dumped the water out. When the day was over he went and refilled the glass with water. We never disturb the dishes in the cupboard.

MP: I would say you are a master at moving buildings.

JH: I don’t know about that.

RP: You are a master at driving that truck. When you moved the gazebo at the fairgrounds you lined your truck up and drove straight back. It was perfect.

MP: If you had missed your target you would have knocked over one of the posts.

EH: He had been over there at the fairgrounds on Sunday working. He measured. He does his homework.

MP: Before he even begins to move buildings.

JH: Did you see those paint marks on the grass by the gazebo?

RP: No.

JH: I went over to the fairgrounds and painted thin strips of paint on the grass so I would know where to go.

MP: That is great.

RP: You did a perfect job backing that truck up and stopping on the right spot.

MP: The volunteers have it almost finished. Not everything will be done for the start-up of the fair, but almost everything. That big finial on the top of the gazebo was rotted through.
A volunteer will be making a reproduction, which I believe is almost finished now. It is just a matter of getting it painted and set in place so it lasts another hundred years.

JH: It is just a matter of fastening the posts down and we will be taking that truck out of there Wednesday morning.

MP: It’s becoming a fixture over there.

JH: Right, it is.That house you were talking about is on the corner of Washington and Haley Avenue.

EH: There was a big fireplace in the basement.

JH: We have pictures you know.

EH: They are in some of those books you have down in your basement.

JH: I have a lot of books down there.

MP: I can just imagine you took photos of all of your jobs.

JH: Not all of them, but pretty much all of them.

MP: About what year did you start moving buildings? Probably when you were about 15 or 16?

JH: I graduated from high school in 1943.

MP: That would have been Napoleon right?

JH: Yes, then I was drafted into the Army.

MP: That would have been World War II.

JH: Right.

EH: He was drafted on March 24 in 1944. He has that all written down on paper.

MP: That will help tremendously. Where did you go to grade school?

JH: I started out in the old country school, just west of Napoleon.

MP: Do you remember the name of the school?

JH: It was the Davis school.

EH: The Davis country school walking to and from was approximately two miles each way in all kinds of weather.

JH: We were lucky if we got a ride to school.

MP: I sometimes had to walk home.

RP: Another thing when I went you never had “no school” if it had snowed real hard.

MP: Do you want this material you just showed me returned to you?

EH: No, you can use what you need. I will just put them with your file. I had just written it up for his 85th birthday party. I gave each of his kids a copy.

JH: She did a good job.

EH: There is stuff in it they didn’t know.

MP: You know when you are gone they won’t know about it either unless you write it down. That is why you have to put this information down on paper.

MP: Can you name a person who significantly influenced your life and how? Maybe in your case your Grandfather, whose name was passed down to you.

JH: I really can’t say. Like I said, I just really grew into the building business. I moved one building.

MP: Did you have a dairy farm with cows?

JH: Back then we had like everybody else had, cows, chickens, and pigs,

MP: Any sheep?

JH: Yes we did. I helped on the farm just like everybody else did.

MP: Can you describe one of your favorite childhood toys, or games you played when you went to school.

JH: We used to play baseball or softball.

MP: That would have been the bigger softball right?

JH: Yes.

MP: It was nothing formal like the kids have today.

JH: Oh no.

EH: He said he was always working and couldn’t have made it to practice  after school anyways.

MP: All that work didn’t hurt you did it.

JH: I thought about it a lot of times. I thought it did at the time. (Junior laughs.)

MP: You probably thought you were being deprived of fun.

JH: No, I think that is one of the big problems today.

RP: I started working when I was in the eighth grade and started out helping my dad mop out the drug store.When I was a freshman I worked till eleven at night. We were open until

MP: There actually isn’t a whole lot for kids to do nowadays.

JH:  Not really. You know legally you can’t hire these kids to work for you.

MP: That is another problem, you know it and I know it. Years ago some people may have abused their children by making them work too much.

RP: Work didn’t hurt them.

MP: Can you tell me about a family tradition your family may have had, and I am guessing you are going to say – moving buildings -.

JH: That is about it. I was born and raised on a farm, milked the cows, fed the chickens, doing whatever was necessary.

MP: Your Grandfather Harmon actually started the Harmon Building Movers Company business. Do you suppose someone asked him to move a building years ago and he liked doing that and that is how his business grew.

JH: Back then things were different.  You see I didn’t really know my grandfather too well. He passed away when I was real young. When he retired he moved to town and lived on Oakwood Street. I can’t tell you the number of the house but I can tell you where it was located at. My dad used to take me down there. I can remember him being in bed.

MP: He was probably sick.

JH: Yes he was.

EH: It was 1121 Oakwood Ave.

MP: That tells us where the house was. And now we know. Junior can you describe a typical meal you had when you were a child. And I can tell you that first on the list would have been mashed potatoes and gravy, and probably a beef roast. Probably a typical German meal. Did you eat a lot of chicken.

JH: You were right. We ate a lot of chicken too. Breakfast was ususally eggs and toast, and actually sometimes we had fried potatoes.

RP: People used to eat fried potatoes for breakfast.

MP: That was when people would go out in the fields and really worked hard.

JH: I can remember when I was in the service overseas we had fried potatoes. That was an experience all by itself.

MP: What do you remember as being the happiest moment in your childhood.

EH: You said that when you went to the Chicago Livestock Show was the highlight for you.

JH: That was when I was in high school. I had an agricultural teacher by the name of D. D. Shaw

MP: How do you spell his name – like shaw –

JH: Yes, it was SHAW. He took several of us boys to the Livestock Show.

MP: About how old were you, were you in high school at that time.

JH: Oh yes. I was probably a Sophomore when I went.

EH: It was an overnight trip to Chicago.

JH: We got to go through the stockyards. We got to go through the slaughterhouse where they kill the animals. I can remember that they told us that they didn’t waste anything and we even take care of the squeal.

MP: I can just imagine because I know now what they do with the animals.

JH: One thing that surprised me was how they start this process. They make the cattle walk up to the upper floor. And that is where they killed the cattle. They do these steers and as they do the processing they keep coming down and down. They waste no energy by making the animals do the work of getting to the upper floor.

MP: I wonder if they still do it that way.

JH: Probably not.

MP: They probably have something more modern and more cost-efficient.

JH: When they start the process they would run them through a chute and there was a colored boy that stood above viewing and he had a hammer in his hand and would hit the animal on its head.

MP: They would never get away with killing them that way nowadays.

JH: It was like a chute they went down through and would fall out on the floor and that is when they would begin the processing.

MP: It would be like butchering. Would your family do any butchering?

JH: Oh yes. We butchered hogs.  We always made the sausage.

MP We have some members of our family that still do that.

JH: That was always a long day for the farmers. I like the old fashioned bacon.

RP: We aren’t supposed to eat bacon, it’s not healthy.

JH: There are lots of things I shouldn’t eat, but I do anyway.

MP: Anything that tastes good we aren’t supposed to eat.

JH: I’ve lived this long why change now?

MP: Why change – right? My next question is name one event that shook up your life. Maybe being in the Army.

JH: That was a big change for me.

MP: It would undoubtedly have changed your life.

EH: The death of his first wife changed his life. They were up on a fishing trip and she died. They were hunting moose too when she died. She had an aneurysm and died right there suddenly. That was in 1979.

MP: You know that doesn’t sound like it was so very long ago, and yet it was.

JH: How long have we been married?

EH: Thirty-two years.We were married in 1982.

MP: Do you want to know how long we have been married, just take a guess.

EH: Well, he is Dorothy’s age. I will say sixty years.

MP: That is exact. This November it will be sixty years. Nowadays nobody stays married very long.

JH: When they get married there is no lifelong committment.

MP: Most of them don’t even bother to get married.

JH: That is a big mistake. You know these kids go to school, but do they actually learn anything.

MP: I don’t think they do anymore. Do you know that they don’t learn how to write anymore. The cursive writing is no longer being taught. They’ve taken that out of schools.
How will they sign legal papers?

EH: We get letters from these grandkids of ours and it is all printed. They know we don’t have a computer. That’s what I did at work. I ran a computer. When I retired I didn’t care if I ever had one. Junior isn’t a computer person. He figures everything out the old way. He is accurate too.

MP  Well I don’t think you should change Junior. He’s good just the way he is. I say he is a keeper.

RP: What tickles me when you go out here to WalMart or someplace else, these young kids can’t count the change back to you. If you spend say like 10.17 and you give them a 20.00 bill and 17 cents, they don’t know how much change to give you back.

JH: It just confuses them. When the electricity goes off they lose their prices. They can’t give you change.

RP: These kids never count the change back to you, they wad the money up and say “here”. That is the first thing Frank Shaff taught me in the drug store was how to count change.

MP: Well, we are not going to be able to change anything here. Well I think I am going to wrap this interview up.

Additional family information from Junior.

My brother Harry Harmon donated the Log Cabin at the fairgrounds to the Henry County Historical Society in 1974. It was moved to the fairground site by Junior Harmon.  The old gazebo was moved from the north end of the fairgrounds and placed between the school building and this Log Cabin on the south east end of the fairgrounds in the summer of 2014. This is the gazebo that is spoken about in the above oral history. My grandfather Henry Harmon farmed an eighty acre farm located on the old Bryan Pike, now US Route 6. ( now Woodlawn Avenue in 2014 ). He started farming at this location after his marriage. It was at this location the Harmon Building Moving Business originated. Henry farmed and moved buildings when someone needed something moved. The moving business grew and when Oscar became old enough to work, he helped.

After Oscar married, there was another house moved to the farm for him and his wife. Oscar carried on the farming and Henry continued to move buildings. Periodically Oscar would help with the moving. During the winter months he kept busy logging.

In approximately 1909 Henry and his wife moved to 1121 Oakwood Avenue in Napoleon where he continued to carry on the business. He continued until his health began to fail and Oscar then started to help in the moving full time.

After Henry’s death in 1935, Oscar moved into town and took over the business. In 1936 he purchased land at the west edge of Napoleon and erected buildings for the moving equipment and a year later built a house. This is the present location of the business.

The moving technique has progressed from horses to farm tractors to trucks. When Henry started moving buildings, they were loaded on wooden beam and gum wood wheels pullled by teams of horses. Buildings were moved through fields and across ditches by a capstan, a wooden spool tyoe wench powered by a team of horses. Then Henry purchased a three wheeled tractor, Romly, for power. The equipment was moved from job to job first by horse and wagon, and then a straight truck.

After Oscar took over the business, a steady change of equipment took place. Steel I-beams replaced wooden timber. Wooden wheels were replaced by hard rubber tires, then to eight pneumatic set of tires called dollies. These were designed by Oscar himself. These dollies were designed so the build was more manipulatable. At first, screw jacks were used to raise the building for loading, but now hydraulic jacks are used. A semi-tractor truck was purchased to pull the buildings. It was low geared, giving more power and ability to pull the building slow or fast. This truck also gave more complete control of the building because of the use of the truck’s brakes. To wench the buildings, a steel wench was purchased and mounted on the back of a truck chassis.

Oscar’s sons worked with him periodically. Lawrence and Donald worked full time until their marriage, then went into farming. Floyd, Robert, and Junior continued the longest.

In 1957 Junior bought the business after Oscar’s health prevented him from carrying on the business. Robert continued for several years, but Floyd continued working until his retirement. At the present time Gary, Junior’s son is associated with the business. Another son Greg works during summers and vacations. He is studying to prepare for a teaching career.

The equipment has been improved and updated, adding some new trucks. Basically the process has been the same, only using different equipment to make the work easier and faster.

So there have been four generations of Harmond Building Movers.


written in recognition of Junior’s 85th birthday by Elaine Harmon

85 years ago today a special and unique birth took place. Junior was born on October 29, 1925 at their home on Rt. 6, Napoleon–East of Norden’s Dairy Farm. He says there used to be a Rickenberg Saw Mill across the road.

Anyway, Jr. is the youngest of 12 children born to Oscar & Lizzie Harmon. Six brothers — Harry, Leo, Floyd, Lawrence, Donald, and Robert. Five sisters — Mabel, Doris, Evelyn, Helen, and Hazel. Evelyn is now 98 and Hazel is 89  –only two living. Can’t you just imagine the attention he received as a small boy.

He attended the Davis Country School, walking to and from school each day approximately 2 miles each way — in all kinds of weather. When he was in the 6th grade —  12 years old he started at Npoleon, in the old Central School. His parents bought land in 1936 and built a home on Woodlawn Ave. in 1937. The family then moved into town. At that time Glenwood Ave. was a mud road, but Woodlawn was a stoned road.

Juniors highlight of his school was an overnight trip to Chicago for a livestock exhibition. He took a Vo-Ag course in high school and had feeder steers, pigs, and a riding horse, which he frequently rode withhis friend Jr. Jennings and his horse. The saddle for his horse is still in the attic, among other things.

Jr. was 17 when he graduated in 1943, and worked with his father in the moving business. He was drafted into the Army on March 24, 1944. He served in WWII in the Infantry 99th Division, 395 regiment, Co. C., in the European Theatre of Operations at Delrath, Germany and the Battle of the Bulge. He was overseas starting in Sept. 1944. He was wounded on March 5, 1945 in the right shoulder and ribs. He was operated on in a field hospital then transferred to a hospital in Paris, France. He later returned to action in Germany earning the Purple Heart and a Sgt. rating. He frequently mentions when its cold and snowy, spending over 30 days in field action without seeing the inside of a building. He says however, he never had a cold or sniffles during that time. He was in action when the regiment crossed the Rhine River. He still has some schrapnel in his arm. He served in Scotland, England, France, Belgium, and Germany.

After the war was over he drove a transport truck for the Quarter Master Corp, hauling perishable food in refrigerated trailers, pipe for a gas line for Patton’s Army ( which he says was never used ) as the war was over. He also transported troops out of army depots to ports to travel home. It was on one of these trips in Brussels, Belgium where he followed the lead truck up over sidewalks, as there were streetcars traveling on the streets. Their impatience got them in trouble with the MP’s and all the caravan drivers who drove up on the sidewalks were demoted to PFCS. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and came back to Napoleon and joined his father in the moving business. He was discharged as a Corporal — earned a European American Theatre ribbon, a Purple Heart Medal, Good Conduct Medal ( I wonder how  ), WW II Victory Medal, Rifleman Badge, and a Combat Infantry Badge.

When I asked when he started working for his Father he replied, I think the day I was born.

Junior says he never dated much in high school. Says he went to school –came home and worked each and every day. He was not active in sports or activities and not much has changed along those lines.

About a year and a half after discharge he met Joan Sworden from Liberty Center — dated about one and a half years and got married to Joan on August 20, 1949. Junior’s parents moved next door into a house they had moved in and Junior and Joan started their married life where we now live. Three children were born to them — Gary in 1950, Gregg in 1953, and Darlene in 1958. In 1957 as Junior’s father was in ill health, Junior bought the moving busiess and home.

On November 10, 1979, Joan died unexpectantly of an aneurysm while they were on a moose hunting trip in Geraldton, Ontario Canada. They had gone North with friends Leonard & Mary Etta Durham. Junior continued living on Woodlawn with daughter Darlene, as both boys had married.

Junior was baptized and confirmed in the Methodist Church and has been a life member. He and Joan were both very active in the church. He still supports the church.

On May 2, 1981 Junior and I met, although we had known each other before then. We were married on May 28, 1982 and after Junior being single for awhile and me being a single Mother for over seventeen years there were a lot of adjustments to be made by all. I learned a new way to fold towels — how to mark and sort work socks, Yes girls, you number them when you buy them and the mating of them becomes easier. I learned the correct way to mow a lawn, although I had mowed for years. I learned to drive on stone driveways without moving the stones. Anyway the adjustments got made by both and we have been married for 28 years now. The marriage brought the union of two families together and Junior became stepfather to four more children — Julie, Cindy, Lori, and Lee, and I became a stepmother to three more.

Junior was made Honorary Grand Marshal for the Henry County Fair in 1997. He has moved many historic buildings at no charge, incuding the jail, log cabin in 1974, a railroad depot, and the old school house at the Henry County Fairgrounds. Junior is a life member of the DAV, VFW, and The American Legion here in Napoleon.

No matter where you would travel in the surrounding counties, Southern Michigan, and parts of Indiana, Junior and his employees have razed or moved houses, barns, and churches. They helped to load and unload condos in Toledo to float down the river and Lake Erie to Port Clinton. Junior and his workers have moved many buildings, including church school buildings, Edon Depot Building. They moved buildings into the Wolcott House Complex for the Maumee Valley Historical Society. The Box School house and buildings into the Sauder Museum Complex. Junior and workers also helped load and float down Lake Erie the condos from Toledo which were relocated to Catawba Island.

No matter where you travel in the surrounding counties and South Michigan and parts of Indiana Junior and his employees have razed or moved houses, barns, and churces.
Since our marriage Junior has had shoulder surgery, both knees replaced and back surgery. He continues to have the serious effects of arthritis.

Junior is still working in the moving business when there is work to do. He always says it’s not work when you enjoy what you do, and he says he has no immediate plans to retire.  So we wish Junior a Happy Birthday, this your 85th, and don’t regret growing older because it is a privilege denied to many.


March 24, 1944 Junior served in WWII in the 99th Infantry Division, 395 Regiment, Co. C. He served in the European Theatre of Operations at Delrath, Germany and the Battle of the Bulge. He was overseas starting in September of 1944. He was wounded on March 5, 1945 in the right shoulder and ribs. He was operated on in a field hospital, then transferred to a hospital in Paris, France. He later returned to action in Germany earning the Purple Heart and a Sergeant rating. He frequently mentions when it’s cold and snowy, spending over 30 days in field action, without seeing the inside of a building. He said however, he never had a cold or sniffles during the time he was in action. He was in action when his regiment crossed the Rhine River. He served in Scotland, England, France, Belgium, and Germany.

After the war was over he drove transport trucks for the Quarter Master Corporal, hauling perishable food in refrigerated trailers, pipe for a gas line for Pattons Army (which he says was never used), because the war was over. He also transported troops out of Army depots to ports to travel home. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and came back to Napoleon and  joined his father in the moving business. In service he had earned a European American Theatre Ribbon with 3 bronze stars, a Purple Heart Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory, Medal, Rifleman badge, and a Combat Infantry Badge.

Junior is a Life member of the Napoleon DAV, the Napoleon VFW, and the Napoleon American Legion.

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Haase, Geraldine "Geri"

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, November 11, 2011

C: Would you state your name?

G: I’m Geraldine Haase.

C: And your husband was?

G: Lawrence Haase.

C: He was on city council for quite awhile, wasn’t he?

G: Right, off and on for 30 years.

C: Geri, what would you like to talk about? Anything that would be interesting.

G: Well, I don’t know. I’ve lived in Napoleon, since 1937, was married that year, that’s when I moved to Napoleon. My husband worked for his uncle at that time.

C: Doing what?

G: Selling gasoline and fuel oil to farmers and gas stations. He worked for Rudy Baden that was his uncle. He took dad’s job. His dad died and so he took over after his dad died.

C: Where did you live then?

G: We lived on West Clinton Street in an apartment, John Hahn’s house on Clinton Street, across from Byrde Thielman, wasn’t Thielman at that time. Her husband’s parents lived there back then. The Thielmans lived there.

C: Did they move in with his parents right away?

G: No, the parents died and then they moved in. We lived there until 1939. We moved there in 1937. Then we lived on Yeager Street, in one of the cement block houses.

C: Oh did you?

G: Until 1954. Those houses were easy to heat and very cool in the summer. There was no air conditioning at that time. This was back in the 1950’s.

C: They look as though they’d be hot in there but they’re not, they’re cool.

G: Because of the cement block. It kept the heat out evidently.

C: And then Walt and Genevieve Hoy ived kind of catty cornered across from you didn’t they?

G: Coult be but I don’t remember that.

C: What street were you on?

G: Yeager St.

C: Yes, Yeager St. – that’s the one that has that big zig zag? Yeah, right by the zig zag is where they lived.

G: OK, and I lived just three doors off of Oakwood Ave, in the second cement block house.

C: When you got married – that’s when you moved to Napoleon?

G: Right.

C: Where did you live before that?

G: Holgate was my home. That’s where I was born and raised. And then we moved onto West Clinton St., lived in an apartment about halfway between Haley and – what’s the next street, about three houses down on a little short street that came out, but I can’t think of the name of it now.

C: You moved into town as a young bride.

G: As a young bride, right. We lived there until our second child was born. Then we moved to Yeager St. and lived in the block house. We lived there until 1954. Then we bought the house on Carey St.

C: Where is Carey St.?

G: Off of Scott St.

C: Oh yes.

G: Between Scott and Woodlawn. So that’s where we lived.

C: That”s where his business was, isn’t it? Didn’t he have big tanks of gasoline or something?

G: Right. We moved there and lived in that house quite a few years. We were close to the business which was nice. We had the office in the house, after we bought the business from his uncle.

C: So you did office work I bet.

G: I did.

C: How many years did you do that?

G: Well it didn’t become a business of our own until about 1954, I guess it was. Otherwise he just worked for his uncle. And then we purchased the business from him.

C: So he has a distributing business but then he also had that gas station, didn’t he, on the corner?

G: We rented that out, we had somebody, somebody always worked in that for us.

C: Oh I see. Did you keep track of that?

G: No, that was whoever ran the gas station – that was up to them.

C: That was a pretty good arrangement; you don’t have to do anything.

G: When we became a business it was more bookkeeping for me. I did that until 1997 like I said.

C: I remember Ray saying “boy you’ve got to keep that books and know exactly what you’re doing or you’re in trouble”.

G: That’s right. And if you didn’t pay your bills you were in real trouble.

C: Oh, I’ll bet. So when you started out it was in the tail end of the recession or the depression wasn’t it?

G: Probably. 1937 I didn’t think of it as depression years but I guess it was.

C: You weren’t depressed anyway?

G: No – that’s right I wasn’t depressed! (Both laugh). We had a good life.

C: Yes,

G: We had a good business, everything went well for us. We were very blessed as far as that goes.

C: Did you like having that business?

G: Yes, I think so.
I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. And it was convenient for me that we lived that close. If I had to go to the office I could and I didn’t have to stay there all the time.

C: Yeah, that was good because you were raising children. How many children?

G: Four, a boy and three girls.

C: I have four boys and one girl. I’m so thankful for that one girl.

G: And my son lives in town and my three girls are on the west coast.

C: Is that right?

G: Two in California and one in the state of Washington.

C Do you ever get out there to see them?

G: I did but no more. I don’t travel anymore.

C: Oh you don’t ?

G: No.

C: Well, it’s really not all that hard. I’m going to go in January to my daughter’s. She bought the ticket for me so she must trust me to travel.

G: I used to go out, usually once a year. Four years ago I said I’d like to come out for Thanksgiving and after that you can come home and visit me. I’m not making this trip anymore. I love to fly but getting to the plane, taking care of getting your stuff up in the overhead bins is just too much. I couldn’t do that. I guess I’m independent enough I didn’t like to always ask someone to help me. I needed help.

C: Yes, for that reason I don’t carry anything on the plane other than my purse, little things. But I think too it’s really a hard thing to do if you’ve got a heavy carry on. So I just check it. I don’t care how much they’re going to charge me for checking it . At least I don’t have to worry about it.

G: Like I said I love to fly and I miss going out there – they have beautiful weather out there.

C: Do they come to see you?

G: Oh yes. Usually once in the spring and once in the fall. Maybe not all of them because the youngest daughter is a school teacher. She’s principal of her school – a Lutheran school in California. Her responsibilities are out there, she can’t get away. She always comes home in the summer and at Christmas, which is good. She’s not married so she’s on her own.

C: She’s a little more free.

G: The oldest daughter has three children and they are all in that area, two live in California and one in Nevada. So they are close to Mom and Dad. The middle daughter doesn’t have any children, so she’s free to come and go as she wishes.

C: This is a change of subject, but I remember when people didn’t have radio, television, any of that stuff and on Sunday afternoon they used to sit around and tell stories and in our family, or my husband’s family, we would tell the same stories over and over. Maybe we’d heard it three times before but we’d tell it anyway and we’d all laugh because it seemed just as funny the tenth time we’d heard it as the first. I don’t know why that is but it was great entertainment.

G: I don’t remember what we did on Sunday afternoon. We took a nap for one thing. And then usually you’d have company come or else you went and visited on Sunday afternoon. That was your time to visit. People don’t visit anymore because of TV and sports and all that stuff.

C: They’ve got other things to entertain them now. That was pretty nice, usually it was relatives that would come or you would go to their house. If I remember right they didn’t call ahead of time. They just went.

G: Yes, they just came. I remember living at home, my Mom brought somebody home from church every Sunday I think. for Sunday dinner.

C: Is that right?

G: You’d wonder if there was going to be enough food but there always was enough. That’s the way they did it.

C: Some people used to set an empty place at their dining room table for Jesus.

G: Oh really – I never did that.

C: You never heard that – I guess that wasn’t the custom here, I was from Pennsylvania. We didn’t do it at my house but I know there were people that did that. Oh yeah, “don’t sit there – that’s saved”. (Both laugh)

G: No, I never did that.

C: Can you remember any of the stories that they used to tell years ago?

G: No, I really can’t. My Dad died when I was six days less than seven years old. So it was a different household.

C: That was during the Depression?

G: Yes.

C: How did your Mother manage?

G: With the help of children because I was the youngest one in the family and my older sister helped a lot. That I remember.

C: Did they furnish her with money or did they have gardens?

G: We always had a garden when we lived on the farm, but we also had a garden after we moved to town. So that took care of that. One of my olders sisters still lived with us so she helped with the expenses of the house. She worked at the grain elevator in Holgate, started when she was 18 years old and retired from there. But that was a good time because she was fun to be around and the other sister – the oldest one got married, the second oldest was also married but she lived in Toledo. But they would come home on Sunday and my Mother would cook a complete dinner, with soup first, and then the mashed potatoes and meat – just like they were really special people. I always thought that was nice, that she treated her children like that.

C: Made them feel more welcome.

G: Right, that’s for sure.

C: How did your husband manage to succeed in his business?

G: I don’t know, everything just went well. We had good customers and they paid their bills which kept us in business.

C: You know I heard that the people in this area were very good about paying their bills.

G: Yes, they were.

C: There was one grocer who complained because he had 95 percent of his customers paying their bills but there was that other 5 percent that weren’t paying and that seemed terrible to him but it wasn’t.

G: Right. I don’t remember anybody ever hanging us with a bill. And we had one gentleman – because we took over the Defiance territory there that used to send us 25 cents to pay his last couple of collars. Because he was not going to leave any of that bill unpaid. That’s honesty for you!

C: How could he pay 25 cents – just put it in an envelope?

G: Right. I always thought it was very strange – it cost him more to send the quarter.

C: But for years it only cost three cents to mail a letter.

G: But it was later than that. I don’t remember what the postage was anymore but it almost cost him as much to mail the quarter as it did for him to send it. But he was very honest and paid the very last penny. That’s one of those things that you remember.

C: I remember being so shocked when they suddenly upped the price of postage – no longer three cents for a stamp. I don’t remember what it jumped to. Do you remember being surprised?

G: Oh yes, and things kept coming and going up and going up.

C: Of course I think the war – World War II – had a lot to do with it. That was when things started to move especially when the soldiers came home. They were getting married and they wanted a place for their families and all needed washers and dryers. You couldn’t buy a washer or dryer after World War II for quite awhile, you had to wait your turn.

G: Oh really, I didn’t remember that.

C: Yeah, I remember because I had two children by then, and I needed, one was a baby; I needed to be able to wash diapers and stuff. I had to do it by hand on an old scrub board on the back porch. I was so happy when I could finally get a washing machine.

G: I can imagine, yes. I always had a washing machine; I never had to do it by hand.

C: Did you have a dryer?

G: No.

C: I didn’t either.

G: Not for a long time.

C: What did you do with your wet clothes?

G: Well, hung them outside when the weather was nice otherwise hung them in the house. We usually had a basement so I could hang them in the basement to dry.

C: Oh yeah, that was handy.

G: Right.

C: I know the house we were in was two stories with a basement and then an attic above that. When it was bad weather I had to carry each load of clothes up to the second floor and then up to the attic and hang them in the attic and I remember getting so tired of carrying them all that way. But you know it makes you strong if you have to do some of these things.

G: That’s right.

C: Have you ever noticed how the brooms and mops used to be so much heavier than they are now?

G: Yes.

C: Yeah, and we didn’t think they were heavy. I think we were just stronger, maybe.

G: That could very well be. You had to be strong.

C: Yeah.

G: Nobody else was going to do the work for you, you had to do it yourself.

C: Yeah, that’s right you didn’t even think about it, having somebody do your work for you, you just did it.

G: Right.

C: Now with your children – do you remember was it any different raising your children from the way it is now?

G: Yeah, my children are 15 years between the oldest and the youngest.

C: Oh yeah.

G: So I had two of them in 20 months, I was thankful for that. And then it was 8 years until we had Karen and another 5 until we had Peggy, so it was almost like 2 generations, you know, not really, but it was different. When my oldest children were living they could walk all over town, no problem, they would have to be careful you know, the girls had friends on Woodlawn Ave. and we lived on Carey St. She would walk from our house to Carey St. and the girls from Woodlawn – we never thought anything of it, even at 11 o’clock at night. And you can’t do that today.

C: You can’t! And teenagers used to hitchhike.

G: Right.

C: And not a fear, not a fear in the world.

G: Right, but don’t try it today – I wouldn’t want to.

C: No I wouldn’t either. But how did we happen to move from that freedom to what it is now? I don’t know, do you think maybe drugs?

G: I think drugs and people out of work, and needing – they didn’t have food and stuff, so there were more robberies.

C: Oh yeah.

G: I think, I don’t know, but it’s a different life, that’s for sure, from what it was a long time ago.

C: Yeah, that’s for sure.

G: But I guess I’ve always enjoyed life. And it was great even having them at different ages. Even though my youngest daughter hardly knew her brother and sister because they were out of the house, in college, when she was growing up, you know.

C: How did you happen to have them that far apart, were you trying and?

G: No, it just happened.

C: It just happened. You know, we used to have to work to keep from getting pregnant.

G: Right.

C: Now they seem to just be overjoyed when they do become pregnant. It’s as though they accomplished something. But I don’t know whether the pill, the big pill that kept women from become prenant might have affected that.

G: I never worried about that.

C: No, we had just the opposite trouble. (Both laugh).

G: But I’ve always been thankful that I had the last two. I’d have missed a lot.

C: Yeah – by that time you had plenty of practice at being a Mama.

G: Right.

C: You were probably a pretty good one by that time.

G: I don’t know but I’ve always enjoyed my kids. Peggy comes home in the summer time – she’s not married – so she can come home and visit which is great. And she always comes home at Christmas

C: Does she stay quite a while when she comes?

G: She usually stays for a week when she comes, because she has her reponsibilities back there. And I never expected to be on the computer like I am today!

C: You’re using your computer?

G: Yes.

C: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of unusual for older people.

G: I had a grandson who said “Grandma how would you like – I don’t know how many years ago this was – “how would you like a computer – I can get you one for $50.” I said “I don’t want a computer”. But I got a computer and I’m very glad that I have it now.

C: What do you use yours for?

G: Games and to keep in touch with my kids – the ones that are farther away – and relatives that are farther away.

C: Do you use email – or what’s that other one – Facebook?

G: Email – I’m not on Facebook. I’ve not started that. I don’t know what it is.

C: My kids insisted that I start once but I never use it cause, well I’m too dumb to figure it out – right? (Both laugh.) It’s been really hard.

G: Is it – I have no idea – I just email. But you know writing is getting to be a lost art as far as writing thank you notes and that kind of stuff. It’s too easy to go to the computer which is too bad. Because a hand-written note is still a nice thing to get.

C: Yeah, and people keep those lots of times, you can re-read them or tuck them away in a little keepsake box.

G: But I never expected at my age to have a computer, but I have. I probably have it filled up – 8 or 9 years already.

C: You know one thing I think of is I don’t have time to use it now very much. But I think well if I should fall and break a hip or something, having that entertainment would be very valuable.

G: Right. I enjoy the games on it. I play the two solitaires but I don’t do any other games. I guess I could get quite a few games on it but I don’t. I like to play jacks – once in a while I’ll get the jacks game out.

C: Oh you mean like they used to throw these little metal things?

G: Yes.

C: And you do that without ever touching the jacks when you’ve got a computer?

G: Right – it’s a little difficult you have to be pretty speedy.

C: I know that at the Lutheran Assisted Living out there they have one of these things where they bowl. But they don’t really bowl, they just swing their arm and suddenly on the television there’s the ball going down the alley.

G: It’s an altogether different life today from what it was when we were first married that’s for sure.

C: Yeah, Did you have electricity when you were a young gal?

G: No, I did not.

C: The farms didn’t have it?

G: No not at that time. And then I remember when my Mother got her first electric iron.

C: Oh that would be a big event.

G: We still lived on the farm at that time. Then we moved into town and then we had the electricity in town. We had it in the country at that time. But we were without electricity when I was a little girl growing up. It was kerosene lamps in the country.

C: And I remember my sisters-in-law putting their curling irons into the lamp chimneys to heat up and then they’d curl their hair.

G: I don’t remember ever doing that. But I don’t know how they heated the curling irons anymore. I used to get a Marcel.

C: Oh yeah.

G: There were two crimpers on some and only one crimper on others. But that was a long time ago.

C: Yeah – the first permanent I got I looked like Poppysie. ( Both laugh )

C: I wish this thing had an alarm of some sort that would let me know when it’s getting close to the end because otherwise we’re talking away and it may not be recording. Cause when it gets half way through you have to stop and turn it over. But they’re simple little machines but they work. That’s all that matters.

G: I was very surprised when you called me.

C: You were?

G: Yes, what can I tell her?

C: Yeah, well look you’re just telling me lots of things. And it’s fun too. What else do you remember about the days when you didnn’t have electricity?

G: I don’t remember all that much about it – I was just too young.

C: Oh, I see.

G: Because my Dad died, like I said, before I was seven. We lived in the country before that. So it was kerosene lamps.

C: So then after he died you must have moved into town?

G: Right – we had one rooster that we brought into town. He was mean. I used to have to go and feed that, but other than that I never helped with any chores. I was too young.

C: Were you the baby of the familyt?

G: I was the baby, right.

C: So you got carried around.

G: Right.

C: They took care of you – everybody was taking care of you. Was it a big family?

G: I had four sisters and one brother. And the oldest sister had ten children.

C: Oh my goodness.

G: And then three sisters didn’t have any, my brother had one and I had the four. And the three sisters that didn’t have any children – and they were very sorry about that – but they spoiled my kids.

C: Oh yeah. So three of them didn’t have any, there weren’t a whole lot of grandchildren running around then.

G: No. And then my mother remarried.

C: Oh did she?

G: And married a man who had ten children. When we all got together that was quite a houseful.

C: Yeah.

G: But she married after I was married so I never lived with them.

C: So you don’t remember much about that.

G: No. I was just very happy for her that she didn’t have to be alone anymore.

C: Yeah that’s right.

G: She had a good life with her second husband.

C: You do things like that because you’re just very lonely.

G: Right. She was widowed quite a few years before she got married. I think it’s wonderful if somebody feels like that but it doesn’t always happen in everybody’s life.

C: Yeah that’s true.

G: As you well know.

C: I well know, I do well know. I didn’t wait very long but Ray and I were both just so lonesome. We’d sit and talk about Ed and Elthyl by the hour.

G: I bet you did.

C: It was good therapy for both of us. We just missed them so much we wanted to be able to talk about them.

G: Keep your memories alive.

C: Yes.

G: Definitely. Now you had what – how many children did you say?

C: I had five – four boys and one girl. They help me when they come.

G: I have a granddaughter that comes and helps me which is very nice. Ken is in town and he helps.

C: Yeah, you’re lucky to have one in town.

G: Yes I am. I’m so lucky to have him here. He always comes on Saturday so we chat. If I have things for him to do then he does them for me. Which is good.

C: My kids come home and say “where’s your to list Mom?”

G: Right, that’s what we need don’t we? Because there’s too many things we can’t do anymore.

C: Yeah, that’s true. My fingers are not as strong as they used to be – things like opening jars.

G: Even pills bottles – I have trouble opening a pill bottle. But I have an opener for cans that I can put on the counter and turn those upside down and open that way. Otherwise I never would get them open. I have to wait until Ken comes and have him do it.

C: They have things that are like a V and you can put them underneath the cupboard.

G: That’s what I have.

C: Oh is it – then you slide that in there and turn it?

G: But I don’t have mine fastened. I never had anybody fasten it up. I just have it in the cupboard and I get it out and lay it on the counter top and use it that way.

C: You wouldn’t think it would hold still for you turning.

G: Oh yeah, I grab the handle on it.

C: Oh is there a handle?

G: Right. It works pretty well. You learn to do what you have to do.

C: Oh yeah, there’s no point in complaining.

G: No.

C: It doesn’t help one bit.

G: No, and I am so blessed with my life, that I can still do what I can do – I’m very thankful for that.

C: Yeah, now I think your husband that reminds me of your husband, he was a very friendly fellow wasn’t he?

G: Yes, he was.

C: And I bet that was one reason he was in City Council so long. What did he tell you about the City Council?

G: Never very much.

C: They had to keep quiet?

G: I don’t know if they did but he just didn’t talk about it. That was City Council busines and I didn’t have to know about that.

C: Oh yeah, well probably that was something they thought they had to do, they wouldn’t want rumors going around.

G: No, he would say something about how the meetings went and this sort of stuff but whatever was discussed he didn’t come home and discuss that, he shouldn’t have and he didn’t.

C: See my first husband was on school board for many years and he didn’t discuss it, and that’s probably because he knew I couldn’t keep my mouth shut! ( Geri laughs) One time I asked him – “why is it that the teachers really need decent salaries but whenever the school board gets the money they buy buildings or put up buildings, instead of paying the teachers”. And he said “well there’s a good reason for that because when we agree to pay teachers more, that’s a commitment for far into the future and maybe we’ll have the money in the future and maybe we won’t, but we have to be very careful about spending money that way, we put it into a building and then people can see that the school board is working and doing something nice for the school”, but to me, that just doesn’t seem right. I think you need to hire the best teachers you can get.

G: Right.

C: That is what’s happening in the schools, that’s how the kids learn. If they don’t have a decent teacher they’re not going to learn.

G: That’s for sure, that’s for sure. I’ve always been very pleased with what my children have done as far as the teachers they’ve had and all their years at the Lutheran school and high school. I don’t know. I know they got a good education. I have no way to compare it to what they got.

C: You didn’t have any of them go to the public school?

G: No, they all went to the Lutheran school.

C: Was that kind of expensive for the parents?

G: Not really, it wasn’t way back then. What is now I have no ides, what the cost is. I’ve never asked what the cost is today, but it didn’t cost us that much, in fact, when my oldest ones went there wasn’t even any tuition it was just – it was paid by the church.

C: Oh the church paid for the expenses?

G: Right.

C: So they probably paid through the years – it was the same or maybe adding a little to it.

G: Right.

C: The parents had to pick up the rest as time went on? I never knew. And I imagine the Catholic school would be the same way.

G: I would assume so, yes. I have no way of knowing. I haven’t talked to anybody about it, the financing bit. But the school teachers are paid by the church.

C: You’d know they would be good Christians or they wouldn’t want to work there.

G: Right.. I always figured our children got a good education. And that’s what I’d heard from teachers in high school, that when the children came over from the Lutheran school they always had a good education to start with so that’s good.

C: I wonder if maybe the discipline was better.

G: I have no idea.

C: Well it was something you couldn’t measure very well anyway.

G: No and I’m glad we still have the school.

C: Oh yeah, I think that makes the public school more responsible.

G: They’d have to have bigger public schools if they didn’t have the Catholic and Lutheran schools in town.

C: Yeah and if the parochial schools are setting a standard then the public schools have to set a standard also, to keep up with them. Did they have sports in the Lutheran school?

G: Oh yes they did, not like they have today. I don’t remember that my son ever played football. I think they just played football on a playground, because they didn’t have football teams and that sort of thing like they do today or basketball teams. Maybe they did by the time Peggy was in school, the youngest one, but not when Ken was there.

C: Now what did you do in recess when you were a girl?

G: Played outside if the weather was nice.

C: I imagine your Mother said the same as my Mother used to say – oh we’d start to fight and she’d say “oh go outside and play”. And we’d go outside and say “play, what are we going to play outside?” But within five minutes we’d gotten ourselves into something. But is that what happened to you when you were a girl?

G: Yes I went out at recess and found something to do. We played hop scotch, or whatever there was to do. Maybe somebody had a ball and we could play ball. But that didn’t always happen.

C: Did you have a jump rope?

G: Not usually. I don’t know if we weren’t allowed to have a jump rope in school or what.

C: You must have had a piece of chalk that you could mark the sidewalk for hop scotch.

G: Right. That was a nice game.

C: Did you have jacks that you could play with?

G: Oh yes. That was one of my main things. I loved to play jacks. I play it on the computer every now and then.

C: I didn’t like that because you had to be real fast.

G: Oh yeah.

C: And I wasn’t fast.

G: It’s hard to play on the cement.

C: Oh yeah.

G: Kind of hard on the hands but we used to try it anyway.

C: Yeah, did you play tag?

G: Oh yeah, lots of times.

C: And hide and seek?

G: Hide and seek.

C: Did you Annie Over?

G: Oh yeah, with the kids at home. I don’t remember ever playing that at school.

C: Now how did they play Annie Over? I was trying to think the other day. I couldn’t think of what were the rules?

G: I don’t know of any rules. I never heard of any rules – just you had to get the ball and you were throwing over the roof to the other side.

C: And they had to catch it?

G: They had to catch it, right, before it hit the ground.

C: Before it hit the ground?

G: And they’d have to throw it back to you.

C: And what would they say – come over, come over, Annie over?

G: Yeah.

C: I don’t know – what was it? Is that what they used to say – there was kind of a little ditty.

G: It had something to do with Andy I Over – but I don’t remember what the ditty was.

C: We’re just too old – we don’t remember

G: And I don’t know – it must have been Auntie I Over, not Andy.

C: Oh Auntie but it sounded like Andy.

G: And then you’d throw it to the other side.

C: You’d say that when you threw it – before you threw it?

G: So that they knew it was coming.

C: Did you have any hills to slide down?

G: No, cause I lived in Holgate and there were no hills there it was flat.

C: And how did you get to school?

G: I walked because I lived in town so I had maybe 3-4 blocks to walk.

C: So you didn’t have far to go?

G: No I didn’t have far to go?

C: I know a lot of kids in the country had to walk all the way.

G: Right.

C: (transcriber’s note: can’t understand rest of tape, following is side B)

C: Did you ever have any jobs which you did to earn money?

G: No, well not until I got into high school. Then I used to work for a lady who owned a hat shop in Holgate. I would run errands for her. And we did have a five and ten store in Holgate so I worked there as a clerk.

C: Is that right? Oh those five and ten cent stores were fun, they were very nice, they had all kinds of things and they weren’t very expensive.

G: No and I just remember one customer that always came in and bought candy “CONES” at Halloween time, the poor kid couldn’t help it that was the way he talked, but that’s just one of those things that sticks in your mind.

C: Candy corn has been around forever.

G: A long time.

C: I wonder if that’s one of the candies they made in Bryan.

G: I have no idea where it came from, no idea. It was fun to work there. I could help myself to the candy, not too much, but I was allowed to eat some of the candy.

C: That’s good cause they probably didn’t pay you much salary.

G: I think twenty-five cents an hour is what I got.

C: Is that right?

G: When I first started to work. And that was pretty good. I was glad to get 25 cents.

C: Yeah, you had a little money in your hand then.

G: Yeah, you could go to the movies. And we did have a movie house in Holgate.

C: Yeah, now Ed Peper told me that the movie house was right by the railroad track and when the train came they had to stop the movie cause the train made so much noise.

G: Right, you couldn’t hear what was going on. I just remember the high school principal, or superintendent that we had at that time was a real gem. He was the nicest old man and he was there for a good many years. I remember one time I walked into school one morning and he called me Geri, and then he said, “oh, I’m sorry Geraldine”. Cause everybody else called me Geri but he always called me Geraldine.

C: So he probably felt he had to call each student by their correct name.

G: Yes. He was superintendent and then he became superintendent of the Henry County school – Mr. Brandon. That’s been a long time of ago.

C: Yeah – and that position – superintendent of the Henry County schools – has sure changed over the years it seems to me it wasn’t so important.

G: No, it doesn’t seem to have been lately.

C: You don’t hear anything about it.

G: I don’t know if they even have a superintendent of the Henry County schools anymore.

C: Maybe not.

G: Times do change.

C: Did you have a basketball team in Holgate?

G: Yes.

C: So you must have had a gym with a basketball court.

G: Right, we did in the latter years when I was in high school. And we also had girls basketball at that time.

C: Oh.

G: But played half court.

C: What is that?

G: You only played half court – you didn’t cross the centerline of the court – you couldn’t go from end to end. You could throw the ball over the center, but you couldn’t put your foot across the center line.

C: Then you’d be penalized if you did.

G: Right.

C: I wonder why they did that – so they didn’t have to run so much?

G: I think so. I don’t have any idea, but that’s the way – and I don’t know if it was that way – I think it was that way for men too – for boys. I don’t remember that but it was for girls – only half court.

C: So they were only using half of the gym?

G: No you used the whole court but so many stayed on one side of the court and so many on the other side.

C: Oh I see.

G: You didn’t cross that centerline – you tossed it over to the people on the other court – the other half of the court.

C: So you had half of one team on this side of the gym and the other half on the other side.

G: Right.

C: Same way with the opposing team huh?

G: It was different.

C: Yeah – did you have a coach?

G: Yes we did.

C: Was it a woman or a man?

G: I don’t even remember. It probably was a man, but I don’t remember that for sure. But it was different playing basketball in those day.

C: Yeah.

G: I don’t remember playing very long. Whether it just didn’t work out to have the girls play basketball I don’t know.

C: They had different rules too didn’t they?

G: A lot different rules.

C: I remember the first time I hit a ball I was so happy and I ran to first base and they said “you’re out”. And I said “why I didn’t see anyone catch the ball”. Well they said “you threw the bat, you’re not supposed to throw that bat”.

G: My goodness.

C: I was just intent on getting to first base.

G: I didn’t know that.

C: Course that’s not basketball that’s baseball. Did the have girls’ baseball?

G: No

C: Oh softball I bet. Did the girls play softball?

G: No, not when I was in school, they didn’t have any girls, no I don’ think they even had boys softball at that time.

C: But they did have it seems to me, didn’t they have ball games going on, kind of they’ just make up the team, and play ball with this other team, pretty casual.

G: Right.

C: Not organized at all.

G: I believe you used to play like Hamer and Malinta – they had high schools at that time themselves.

C: Oh yeah.

G: Played those teams.

C: So then you had – did you girls go and sit on the bleachers to watch them?

G: Yes and there was girls basketball also, we went from school to school but that was a long time ago, back in the what – middle 30’s?

C: Oh yeah.

G: 1935, 36 and 37 – that’s a long time ago.

C: Yeah what subjects did they have when you were going to school?

G: Everything, except I think the sciences. We had a general science and I took Latin in school and I think everything they have today – algebra, geometry, all those. I was not going to take geometry then my friend said “you got to take geometry” so I took it, I don’t know what I needed it for but I took it. I have always liked numbers so it was no big deal. It was fun. But we had an algebra and geometry teacher who could not explain how you did a problem so if you had the problem you had to explain it to other people how you got it done.

C: Oh.

G: He knew the rules and everything but for him to explain it, it was just difficult for some reason or other, unless he didn’t want to do it and just wanted his students to do it.

C: I bet he wanted his students to do it so he would know they understood it.

G: Yes. Strange what you remember about things like that.

C: One thing I remember – I remember taking French in high school. I took it for two years because we had a language requirement. Well when I got to college then, I thought, well I’ve had two years of French, I’m just going to go on with my French. So we’re in this class and I didn’t understand a word they they were saying. It was all in French and I thought well why didn’t I pay more attention in high school? Well it was becase I sat behind my best friend and we had a kind of a lenient teacher and we could talk. We didn’t pay much attention to that French. We were always talking to each other, so I didn’t learn.

G: I took Latin and now they don’t even teach Latin – do they in the high school?

C: I don’t believe so. I haven’t heard of it for a long time.

G: And I wonder whey they taught Latin way back then, just because so many of our English words are derived from that?

C: Probably, yeah it was the base of a lot of languages. But I wonder about the – oh a blank spot there, let me think – I wonder about the languages that they – oh I know – not the language – Home Ec. Did they have Home Ec in those days?

G: Yes, they did but I didn’t take it.

C: So it was an elective?

G: It was an elective.

C: We had it in junior high, we had language, or Home Ec – cooking and sewing. Well I wanted to learn cooking but oh no, you can’t do that until you do sewing first. So we learned sewing but they always did – all year it seemed – maybe it was one semester I don’t know. We had to make a headband to hold our hair so none of the hairs got into the cooking.

G: (Laughs)

C: And that year then – I can still see it – it had to be just perfect. (Both laugh.) I just hated that! I wanted to cook but I couldn’t learn that until I’d gotten through this sewing thing. I guess I finally got it done but it was really a chore.

G: Well I took 4-H.

C: 4-H – I’ve always wished that we’d had that when I was a girl.

G: I think maybe one or two years, I don’t remember how long I was in it.

C: But I think that has done so much good over the years.

G: I think so, I think so. And I got my girls into it cause back when they were growing up it wasn’t easy for a girl to get into 4-H, it was more or less for boys it seemed like.

C: Oh is that right?

G: Yeah, and then they finally decided, I guess, there should be something for the girls too. And when that started, I have no idea.

C: What did you do in 4-H?

G: I think I made an apron was the first thing I ever made – just was taught how to sew, of course. The embroidery I learned at home from my mom. Other than that I didn’t learn any other sewing.

C: Did you have any animals that you raised for 4-H?

G: No because I was off of the farm by the time I was in 4-H.

C: From seven or eight on, you wouldn’t have even been in 4-H until you were in town a few years.

G: Right, nope. It was different learning all that stuff. Now I’m glad I know how to embroider because I never learned to knit, and I do enjoy it, that is a good past time.

C: Yeah.

G: Along with reading books.

C: Yeah, I think we’re so fortunate to have our library.

G: That’s for sure.

C: And they’ve got branches now in Florida and Holgate – don’t they – still and probably Deshler, I know they have one in Deshler – it’s not a branch, they have their own.

G: I think Holgate has their own.

C: Do they?

G: I’m not sure of that.

C: I believe they do because Holgate used to have records they taped, like this and they kept them for years but tapes like that deteriorate over the years and I don’t know whether they still have those or not but if they don’t it’s too bad because they had valuable history on those tapes.

G: Right.

C: Maybe they have recorded them in some other way now and I don’t know. I can remember someone saying they wish they’d been recorded.

G: Do you think the tapes today are like that?

C: Oh yeah. That’s why we have to get these typed.

G: I see.

C: We can’t hold them for ten years and then type them. We wouldn’t be able to hear them probably. Whoever is typing is doing a valuable service.

G: That’s for sure.

C: We had high school girls who had said they would do it but we can’t rely on them, although we did have one or two – the good ones – they were great, they said they were going to get that done on such and such a date and they’d do it – hand it in. Most of them – well that’s not important. ( Laughs). Since it is all volunteers, you can’t issue any orders.

G: Right, that’s for sure. This is the town I was never going to live in.

C: Is that right, tell me about it.

G: Because we always did all of our business in Defiance.

C: Oh yeah, Holgate was closer to Defiance.

G: No we lived south of Holgate when I was on the farm and we had relatives in Defiance. Maybe that’s why we went that way or what I don’t know. Of course there were a few more stores there than they had in Napoleon. They had Spenglers but they didn’t always have clothing stores at that time. We just went to Defiance a lot more than we ever came to Napoleon. But I was never going to live in Napoleonv- and I’ve lived here since 1937! (Both laugh) You should never say never should you.

C: Yeah. How did you happen to meet your husband?

G: Through one of his cousins. Another friend and I were walking around the streets of Holgate one Sunday night and this car pulled up beside us and this guy said “my cousin doesn’t have a date, he’s a nice guy, would you like to go with him?” I said “no I can’t leave my friend standing here on the street by herself”. My friend said “GO”. So I went. And then I didn’t see him for a long time and then another relative of his told me that he wanted to get in touch with me, so we did.

C: I bet he was kind of shy.

G: He was.

C: If other people – other people were interceding for him.

G: And he lost both of his parents about that time.

C: Oh how did that happen?

G: The mother died in childbirth and then his dad died like nine months later, from the effects of the first World War, because he was gassed in the war.

C: That was terrible that gas.

G: He didn’t have any home life but he was 18 at that time so he was on his own.

C: Oh my, so he was just sort of left alone.

G: Right, He took over the business from his dad, with Rudy Baden. He’d been with his dad before and helped him so he knew what the work was.

C: Now is that the business that your husband had.

G: Right, that’s the business that we bought. And we owned the business from 1954 to 1987, then we sold it.

C: Did that keep him tied down a lot?

G: Yes, because he wouldn’t take off any time. He couldn’t leave the business, it couldn’t run without him. (Laughs). So he thought.

C: And you knew better.

G: Right, but I couldn’t convince him of that.

C: No, they have their own ideas.

G: Yes, but we had a good life, had four great kids and that means a lot.

C: Are they pretty cheerful, happy the way you are – you’re kind of a happy person.

G: I think so, I think so yup.

C: Sometimes they pick up habits from one parent and not the other – and they turn out kind of surprising.

G: I think all of my kids are pretty much outgoing. Ken might be the least outgoing, but I think he’s come out of that a lot in later years. I think he used to be more – just not as outgoing as he is today.

C: Probably just gained a little self confidence through the years.

G: I think so, I think so. The girls all seemed to be able to handle themselves very well. Pat was a schoolteacher, married a minister and Karen was in the service for 23 years, in the Army, and ended up a Lt. Colonel.

C: Is that right?

G: So she was in the service for 23 years. Ken served 3 years in the Navy and the oldest daughter and youngest daughter were both schoolteachers in the parochial Lutheran schools.

C: Oh in the Lutheran schools.

G: And the youngest daughter is principal of her school out in California and is quite the missionary. She’s been to Kied twice?

C: Where’s that?

G: Kied? K I E D, I can’t tell you what country it’s in.

C: What continent?

G: Asia.

C: Oh.

G: And now she’s going to Africa (to Ghana) this January on a mission trip.

C: So she has interesting stories to tell about those countries.

G: Yes she does, yes she does.
She’s always worked for the Lord and she still is.

C: Doesn’t that make you feel proud that you can see all the things your chidren and grandchildren are accomplishing?

G: Right.

C: How are we coming her? Geri, can you tell me something about your church activities?

G: When they decided to move out where they are now.

C: On Glenwood Ave.?

G: On Glenwood Ave. , of course there was a lot of discussion because the people who lived close to church didn’t want to move the church away from there but we’d outgrown the church. We needed a bigger church and so my husband was very active and I got involved somewhat and Herm Wesche was getting things organized and I set up a lot of cottage meetings where people would have 12 to15 people in their home to discuss all this and make people aware of what was going on, because there was a lot of dissension about moving that church off that site. All these people who lived close by wouldn’t be able to walk to church anymore.

C: Oh yeah.

G: But since we’d outgrown the church we had to do something so it was very interesting and it was a lot of hard work. But it was well worth the effort.

C: Yes, it’s a beautiful church.

G: It’s a beautiful church out there now.

C: I remember Jude Heitman saying “I can build a shed for my farm machinery for X number of dollars. Now why do they need so much money for a church?”

G: (Laughs)

C: And he really was irate about it, but there’s no comparison between the two buildings.

G: No, a lot goes into a church that doesn’t go into a house.

C: Did you have trouble getting decisions as to how the church should be built, what design and so forth?

G: Larry was on the building committee. They went around and looked at a lot of different churches, around different parts of the country, until they finally came up with a plan of how they wanted it build. The church means a lot to me because of this, of the commitment that we had made in the very beginning – to help with getting word out to the congregation and so, I’m sure there is always dissension, when you want to move some place. And we’d even talked about building a mission church on the south side of Napoeon, but that idea didn’t go over, they decided to build a new church. It’s one of those things – that we really didn’t need another Lutheran church on the south side. But that was just put by the wayside and decided to go with the church out there.

C: Yeah, you know – the same thing with grocery stores on the south side. At one time they thought they can’t possible have the south side without a grocery store, but it happened, and now they have one little one. They manage, it seems to work out anyway.

G: Fruchey’s had a grocery store for a long time on the south side.

C: Where at – oh that was on old Route 6 wasn’t it?

G: Where the bank was.

C: Oh that’s where it was?

G: Right.

C: On 108.

G: That’s been a long time ago.

C: Yeah, before my memory.

G: So the church got built and now we have about 2800 members in the church out there.

C: That’s a big membership.

G: It is. We’ve lost a few and they’ve taken some off the rolls that have not been there for how many years. You have to do that every once in a while.

C: That happens in every church I think. I’ve often wondered about that house on the corner of Glenwood and Woodlawn, it belongs to the church?

G: It does now. We purchased it from the lady that owned it when she died. She was a member of the church. And so they bought it. Right now it’s being used as a youth building.

C: Yeah, and I was wondering do they – what do they do – have parties or something?

G: Right, they have their youth meetings in there and hopefully some day we’ll have a new building for them. But the money has to be there first before we can.

C: Right.

G: Before we can dismantle it and build a new building.

C: Oh yeah. Are there very many kids in your youth group?

G: I have no idea, you know, how many there are as far as in the confirmation classes, I”m sure there are a lot of them in high school but I have no idea what number that would be. I have no real way of knowing because I have no grandchildren or great grandchildren in that age group any more.

C: Yeah, well that’s interesting but church activities made you bond with the church.

G: That’s for sure.

C: Well I think this is about as far as I’m going to go. I do appreciate your sharing this. Thank you.

Lanzer, Harold and Marilyn

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, 2007

CW: I am Charlotte Wangrin and I am recording the oral histories for Mr. and Mrs. Harold Lanzer. Would you tell them your name please.

ML: I am Marilyn Lanzer.

HL: I am Harold Lanzer.

CW: And you live where.

HL: I live a mile east of Holgate on Route 18.

CW: Do you have any stories or things that have come down through your family that you could tell about from this area?

HL: My Dad had said a few years ago before I wrote my story and autobiography .

CW: Where is that being stored?

HL: I have a copy of the book. The book never really got around the country very much. The story is nice and I have been thinking about getting it reprinted. My building is done now and people can read the book there.

CW: That would be interesting. I would like to be able to read that sometime.

HL: My dad told about different things. He never talked too much.In fact he never took us boys along with him much . We more or less just sort of growed up by ourselves. We madeour own toys and everything for Christmas. He said one time he told me that him and his brother Walter, when his dad went to town they had to stay home and do all the work. It ended up they did each get a farm of their own, so it ended all right. He told how they used to go down to the stave mill real close to them. It was about a mile down the road, a stave mill. We would always go down and watch.

CW: For the old barrels?

HL: Yes, they made barrels. He said it was kind of interesting and they would get pretty close and always got chased away. It had dangerous equipment in it I guess with the saws and stuff. He said what him and Walter used to do was when the Lanzers moved from Illinois in 1907 they had to clear the land. They had 20 acres out of 160 acres that were clear. He had a house built on it. I don’t know if they had a barn or not. He said what they used to do for fun, this is kind of comical , why they had an old mud boat and would load up the snags and pile it so high so the mules couldn’t pull it.

CW: Oh for heavens sake!

HL: They would pile it so high it would fall over and then they would have to load it up again.

CW: So that was pretty good.

HL: So I wrote that up in my own book.

CW: Now what sort of toys did you make?

HL: We made everything. According to the season. Fall time and summer time and hunting time it would be bows and arrows. In the spring time we would make boats. We had a big pond in the woods. Well a big tree had blown over and left a big hole. It filled up with water. We would sail our boats in there in the spring time. My brother even got to the point , I never liked water that deep, but he would put on his old overalls and imagine he was in a big pond or something. We made sail boats. We made a sail boat at one time about a foot long out of cardboard and put a propeller in it and it had a windshield on it just like a motor boat had. It had a rubber band on it to make the propeller spin around.

CW: And you would twist that rubber band around to make it spin.

HL: We would sail that boat. It was a spot about as big as this room.

CW: Is that right? That would be fun!

HL: In the springtime also we used to. We never had a horse and buggy but my dad saved his buggy and when Dad got married he had a machinery shed and what we did for fun we harnessed the wind and we made a sail. My brother and I we used to see my brother was two and a half or three years older than I was, so he was more or less the leader of us two. He had an idea and I’d go along with it. We’d take this old buggy and push it. We lived in the center of an old mud road. A mile and a half east of Malinta. We’d push this old buggy down to the west end of the mile when we had a west wind and put up the sail and let it sail. We had no horses so we had a rope tied to the axles and sit in the buggy and we’d drive all the way down the end of the mile. We rode the whole mile and then we would have to push it back and take the sail down. It was pretty rough pushing it back.

CW: You mean because of the wind. There wouldn’t have been much of a hill.

HL: On this road, this is the levelest part of the country right there. In World War II they had a marker there and it was level land. If they every needed an airport that would have been the territory. There is a marker there yet about 40 rods across the ditch from the Lanzer farm.

CW: Now in pushing that buggy back would the trouble be pushing it against the wind?

HL: Oh yes.

CW: Couldn’t you take the sail down?

HL: Oh yes, we took the sail down for sure. We’d take control of it and push it back into the barn and that would be enough fun for awhile.We made kites in the springtime, all kinds of kites. We tried to make a kite big enough to carry ourself up. But that didn’t work. That was during the Depression.

CW: Just think how that encouraged your ingenuity.

ML: Didn’t you try to make an airplane too?

HL: Oh yes,

CW: What kind of airplane?

HL: We started out making one out of wood. It was World War II. We’d make them out of balsam wood and stuff like that. Herb and I we used to, everything was competition, whoever could make it the prettiest or the best. All the time we would try to outdo each other. He will be 83 in July and he kind of dropped out of the race and I am just racing by myself now. He is just not working much now. He drove truck and everything. I was always kind of a loner because I worked by myself. I learned the trade and then I got under the GI bill from World War II. That is where I learned the trade.

CW: What trade was that?

HL: The carpenter trade. I started working in 1947 on June the 30th. I still have my first time book.

CW: You will have to find a place to store it.

ML: He has his shop back there. That is where it is all at.

HL: A lot of people think we are still living there yet. We have a vehicle sitting out there. It’s where I can go to share a joke or something. It’s a great life if you don’t weaken. And this fella would say who in the heck wants to be strong. He wanted to get the last laugh.

CW: Oh sure. You said you were kind of a loner until you met Marilyn.

HL: I used to drive motorcycles, see when I got out of World War II there were no cars around to be bought, very few. It was nothing like it is now. They would say oh there are a couple of cars for sale over there and we’d go over there. Well they wanted more money than we had. That way all the neighbor boys started getting around was with a wizard motor bike.

CW: You mean whizard?

HL: I and the neighbor bought a bicycle and put a whizard motor on it. I would drive that four thousand miles. I bought a bicycle from a neighbor Delbert Clark.

CW: Oh really!

HL: Then when I got a litte more money and started working well we had our eye on two wheels to get around a little bit faster like a motorcycle. I ended up having three motorcycles in my life. I guess that was a good thing I got rid of them because my wife said later if I had kept on driving them she never would have went with me.

CW: They were pretty dangerous. So where did you meet your wife?

HL: She lived right next door to my brother. I worked on his house before they moved in. They had the old jail standing right there on his property. I kinda of liked history and I still do you know. I would drive by there and she noticed me and I guess I noticed her. One evening a fella and I was driving around Hamler in the evening. She was walking along the street with another lady and I thought I could take her home. In them days you could pick people up like that. Usually nothing happened too bad. Nowadays you couldn’t do that.

CW: Back in those days it wasn’t dangerous. My husband went to Bowling Green to school. He lived in the Archbold area and he hitchhiked every weekend to go home. He didn’t have money enough to pay for food over the weekend. After we married we would load up with food and take it back to school and that would help pay the bills.

HL: On the way to work, I worked in Napoleon mostly the first years that I worked. I would pick up Bob Lazenby and Miriam Junge said, oh brother, that was Melvin Junge’s wife, they lived on 108 going towards Napoleon, He would start walking and he always knew somebody would come along and pick him up when he’d go to town. Another fella, Frank Hohenbrink, I don’t think he owned a car. He always found somebody to take him along.

ML: Wasn’t he the manager of the Charles Store at that time?

HL: He worked there, I don’t know if he was the manager. He had a job there. He would start out walking and every day he would get a ride. But I ended up buying my first car, It was a 1937 Chevrolet. It had 93,000 miles on it. It was about done for, Anyway I paid $400.00 for it. I bought it from a miinister, well if you buy from a minister you think it would be a pretty safe buy. First thing I had to do was overhaul the motor. He knew when to get rid of it. I’ve been a mechanic too all my life, I have had at least six cars. I’ve had a ’41 Chevrolet and traded that off on a ’51. That was the only new car I ever bought .

CW: How much is it you lose in depreciation the first year.

HL: Oh yeah. When I made the Bicentennial clocks I worked for Henry Hogrefe. He was the junkyard man, maybe you knew him. He helped me out. He had a couple of vans there and there was a ’66 Dodge A-100 that caught my eye. A couple of years before I had seen a fella haul that there and I kept my eye on it. I asked Heiny if he had anything I could haul clocks with and he said “I’ll see what I can do”. In the meantime he had a ’66 Dodge that had the front banged in. They went and restored that. They did a lot of welding. So a van from another van they put another motor in. I took it down to Paul Funkhouser there and Doug Plumber he knew what to do. There was a carburetor jet he put that in and the motor started right up and it ran real smooth. It had been running real rough. I got the best end of the deal. I never paid no cash for it. He said you give me $1000.00 worth of labor and it will be yours. So I did all kinds of work around there. I would get cars arunning and stuff like that. I never had no money. I drove that for twenty six and a half years.

CW: And you would fix it yourself whenever it went bad.

HL: I went all over the country. I went to Florida and to Washington DC and everything. I went into Illinois and stuff like that. It was quite a story. Someday I will look for that book and get it reprinted.

ML: Your book is in the Holgate Library.

CW: You don’t have a copy yourself.

HL: Yes, I do. Do you want to see it?

CW: I would like to see it when the interview is over. I wo

uld like to borrow it and read it and return it. I think that would be very interesting to read.

HL: It’s the story of my life. There are all kinds of people writing books nowadays you know. Some there is no reason for it. I had a reason. It sort of evolves why I made these clocks. I happened to be the only man that was allowed to put the Bicentennial logo on these clocks. I also had a clock on the Freedom Train.

CW: You did, one that you made?

HL: Yes. I have had a lot of ups and downs in my life but I kinda stuck to it. You have to be tough I guess. Do you remember Myra Orthwein from Malinta? She should be about 94 by now.

CW: Yes, she is getting right up there. She was Isabel Aderman’s sister. Isabel was my husbands nurse. In fact I remember Isabel saying it takes me so long to get anywhere in town. This was Napoleon. She said I just know so many people that I have to stop and talk to each one you meet. And you would. For her to walk one block might take her a half hour. People seemed to have more time or took more time to stop and visit. Now at least in Napoleon you don’t know the other person. There is no point to stop and talk.

HL: There are a lot more cars too.

ML: I can go to Defiance or Napoleon and there is few that I know. You can even go to Wal-Mart and you don’t know anybody. You can go up here and few know you.

CW: Oh yes in Holgate they would know you. You could do a lot more visiting and talking for sure.

HL: Yes, Myra was a dedicated teacher. When I wrote my book I gave her a copy and she said it was good. She was a good teacher. There were some ornery kids and they would be in the back throwing paper wads or whatever. Some kids were very ornery and she would cry . She would actually cry and the tears would run down her face, but she would just keep right on teaching. I wrote in my book about that, and now I think if I knowed now, I would have knocked them boys down flat.

CW: They probably would have deserved it too.

HL: That’s the story that I told. I might have gotten knocked down too. Them years after when Walter was still living , why I had an old car . I worked for an old lady in Defiance and she had a car in her garage, and then I got that. It had 13,000 miles on it. Walter and Myra they lived over there in Malinta, he had his shop there. I showed Walter and Myra this car. This was when i was building this building, and Myra said, “It’s all right to have a dream”. She thought it wasn’t all that foolish for me to be building this. She told me you have stick to it tivness. I believe I do.

CW: You must have.

HL: I told Myra a couple of years ago. I told Myra that you showed me how to work. She about cried herself. I suppose things come back to her too.

CW: You were learning from her example even though at the time she wasn’t aware of it.

HL: She is an example of a good teacher.

CW: Now back to this Freedom Train people in the future might not know what it was. Could one or both of you tell what it was.

HL: There was a man that liked locomotives. They restored this steam engine. They didn’t know the exact date of the engine. It was in 1975 they started out from the East coast and they toured the country. They stopped here in Archbold, Ohio on June 13, 1975. It was a couple of months before the Fair and I asked the Bicentennial Commission if I could put a clock on the train. They said yes, you can do that. There was a man standing there and I asked him if he would help me load it and take it out of the van. He said yes, I’ll help you. He had a watch repair shop in Archbold. He helped me out and he said “Do you know who I am?” Aand he told me who he was.

CW: Now, what track was this train on? It wasn’t on the B & O was it?

HL: I really don’t know. I think it was on a side track. It went through a lot of little towns. Ft. Wayne was the next stop. I put the clock on the train. My clock was on the second car from the back. The public couldn’t see it so I put it on a little stand to make it up higher. We went down to the next stop and I said I wanted to check it out. It was in good shape. I overheard some guys talking and they was wondering who was going to get that clock when this train ride was over with. It was on the Bicentennial Train and here were these guys talking about who would get that clock. I thought it was kind of fishy the way he was acting. I went over and talked to the guy and he said well I’ll put your name on it. I have this whole story in my book and you can read about it there.

CW: I think that Freedom Train was established to showcase our history. I wondered if they dismantled it or what did they do with it?

HL: They had a lot of history displays on this train. We got a notice when they dismantled it was going to do something with it and I don’t think it never could have materialized. I put the clock in a depot in Baltimore, Maryland afterwards. I thought well I am going to have a little fun with that clock. In 1981 I decided I would put these clocks around the country. There is so much for me to tell you here it would take forever. I could have sold that clock that I had on that train for a million dollars. I would have got half with the agreement I would put a clock in all the states.

CW: You mean you really got an offer for a million dollars?

HL: Yes, we were coming up along the coast I called a man from Columbia, South Carolina and he said he was kind of interested in buying that clock. It was getting late and I was getting tired and I just couldn’t do it. He sent us to Washington and the original 13 state organization wanted that clock and they said we know a man that will give you a million for that clock. I made clocks for all the states. I wanted to put them in each state historical center. When it came to tax time, why with 70% on your money that is too much. With the expense of delivering them, I would end up with no clocks and no money.

CW: How many of the clocks that you made actually went to each state that you made them for?

HL: Clock # 2 , I put that in the state historical center in Columbus. I did that and then I got the idea of making a clock for all of the states. I ended up with taxes taking all your money and by the time you spend your money delivering them and everything I would be ending up with nothing so I decided to keep the clock. I called up to Washington D C and I told them I think I will just keep the clock. Well they said we aren’t no tax lawyer. They could figure out some way I could keep that money. I just kept the clock and now I am having fun with it. If you want to read all about the clocks you will have to read the book.

ML: You went ahead and sold some of those clocks to other people. You needed so much insurance on them to set them into a historical society or museum. You needed how much insurance on that clock

HL: I needed a million dollars worth of insurance. I was co-insured with the government for a million dollars. Accidents can happen and I would just end up getting sued. It was quite an ordeal.

CW: Did you keep track of the finances then while you were doing all this?

ML: We did some.

HL: I think she started getting a little jealous. She said I don’t know why you pay more attention to them clocks than you do me.

CW: Sometimes you feel like that don’t you.

ML: You’re not supposed to say that.

HL: I’m not supposed to say that!

CW: You will have a chance to erase anything you don’t want people to see. Then we will bring you a copy of the transcription and then you correct it. We have to type it exactly as we hear it. Then when we bring it to you why you are the boss. If you decide you don’t want this part in or you want some words changed you can make any changes you want.

HL: We will leave it mostly like it was. We don’t want to change the truth you know.

CW: Sometimes maybe you don’t want the truth out. Then when you get that finished you can give me a call and we will make those changes that you want. We make two copies, one copy will go to you people and the other copy goes to the historical society for our oral history collection.

HL: There is a lot more that I can say about this. I wrote this book and it got printed in 1983 and there is just a lot more of history after that happened. We went to a town called Bitche. It is spelled B-i-t-c-h-e. The Hundredth Division Society they had a lot of memories in it. They called it the Sons of Bitche. We had a lot of fun with that. The Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was at our meeting one time. We made him an honorary member. All the Sons of Bitche shook hands with him. I have a tape of that. I could show you that. He made a good speech. He was a great guy. He told about when he rerun for congressman in Wyoming he said he stood up there by a tree. He walked up to a man wearing a cowboy hat, pulled down over his eyes, and he said I’d like to have your vote. He was running for congress. He said the fool we got now is no damn good so you got my vote. Here he was it. That got his attention.

CW: What did you do in WW II?

HL: Well, that’s a story all alone. I took training on a 105 Howitzer. I left home without driving a car only in second gear. It was my brothers car. Then I learned to drive a vehicle a ton and a half truck. That’s how I learned to drive.Them days I guess it depended on where you lived growing up. We had other things to do. We had bicycles and stuff like that to get around. I gave 50 cents for my bicycle.

ML: You probably had to pick tomatoes to get that.

HL: It’s hard to tell where they got that money.

ML: That was during the war. It was during the depression and things were hard to get. Kids would have to work for their money.

CW: Yes.

ML: I was kind of small and I had to go out and pick tomatoes for the farmer next door. I had to earn enough money to buy a $10.00 bicycle.The Eisaman’s down on the corner of Route 6 they sold bicycles. That is where I got my bicycle. Now they have bicycles with skinny wheels. My bicycle had skinny wheels and oh I hated that bike. I wanted a bicycle with the big fat tires.

CW: Oh yes that was the style.

HL: When the air went out of my first bicycle, my 50 cent bicycle, why I put wheat in the tires. When I put the air in it I put pieces of wheat down in the tire. It took more power to drive it though.

ML: Kids nowadays don’t realize what we went through. You probably remember that.

CW: There is a lot of fear of depression now that didn’t used to be. They have never experienced any of it, sure it was hard. It was better in a lot of ways too. You enjoyed companionship with other people. It was the simple things.

ML: You tell our kids now they don’t understand. I remember the grocery stores you didn’t go in there and push a cart around. The man in back of the counter would get all your groceries. You would tell the man and he would get it off the shelf. He would wait on you that way.

CW: You would hand the grocer the list of items you wanted. He would hand you what you wanted. Now in the old hardware store they had ladders that would roll along and they would go up the ladders to get what you wanted. Were grocery stores the same way?

ML: Yes.

CW: How would they move the ladders from place to place?

ML: There was a track up there and it had rollers at the bottom and the ladder would just roll along.

CW: How would he get the ladder started?

ML: He would put his hand on the shelf to get it started and just roll along.

HL: I have an old ladder that come out of the old Malinta Hardware store in my old building out back, my shop.

CW: For people who don’t possibly know what this building looks like, now the building that is a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia is thee eighths size. It is located on Route 18 a mile east of Holgate, Ohio. It is on the north side of the road. How did you happen to get started on this?

HL: I could make a long story short. I couldn’t put the clock in Reagan’s Whitehouse. I couldn’t put it in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. They didn’t care to change the decor. They liked the older things. They had the 200th anniversary and wouldn’t mind having that in there. So here at the Henry County Bank they have these calendars every year . They had a picture of the Independence Hall and I thought maybe. I should tell you to begin with I traded two of my bicentennial Verdin clocks for two liberty bells. The Brothers that made the bells for all the counties in Ohio.

CW: This was in celebration of the anniversary.

HL: The 200th Anniversary of our country. Up here at the bank they have these calendars with the Independence Hall on them. I got the idea I could build an Independence Hall out here and then I would have a place to put that clock in and build my own museum. That is just what I set out to do. I started with that in 1993 when I was 68 years old. This lady did a writeup of me and she gave me a compliment when she said I started at the young age of 68 when I started to build.

CW: It has been a nice hobby for you.

HL: I really enjoyed it. If people tell me it’s taken me a long time to build it, why I tell them it took Thomas Jefferson 25 years to build his Monticello. Of course he probably had some help, I don’t know.

CW: He probably had slaves to do the work.

HL: He probably did.

CW: Have you ever been to Monticello?

ML: He’s been very lucky. He has been to Washington quite a few times. Our daughter worked there. She got a job in Washington DC and she worked for the FBI. She worked 7 years for the FBI, and then she got a job on Capitol Hill.

HL: I put a clock in Bitche, France in memory of the time the 100th Invantry Division took the city in World War II. It cost me six thousand dollars to put that clock in the City Hall.

CW: It’s a good thing you had United Air Lines deliver it, no charge.

ML: We drove the autobahn.

CW: That could be pretty dangerous.

ML: There weren’t just too many cars on it. He drove the car. He’s a very good driver. He did go 103 miles an hour. This lady and I were sitting in the back seat holding hands and just praying. She said to her husband that’s enough of that, just slow down. You have to watch because if a car was coming they would be coming faster than that. You always had to watch your mirrors and get out of his lane. You would have to be out of their lane.

CW: What was the country like? You were both raised in the country. What was the country like in this area when you were children? Had they drained the black swamp by then?

HL: Oh yes.

CW: So it was just good farmland then. Were the crops pretty good?

HL: Oh yes

ML: I was born in Putnam county. I moved to Henry county when I was about 7 years old to Hamler on a farm.

CW: So most of your life you have been in Henry county.

ML: Yes, we farmed right across from the Patrick Henry school. I think it was the Meyerholtzes that owned the farm when we got it.

CW: Is that close to where they raised turkeys a while ago?

ML: That was a Guelde that raised turkeys. They lived about a mile north yet.

CW: Didn’t they have pheasants too?

ML: Yes, they had turkeys and pheasants.

CW: I think it was interesting that men used to come from Toledo to shoot pheasants.

ML: They would always congregate at our farm. My dad got to know those fellows very well. They were hunters. They would be dressed up in their hunting outfits. Dad would go with them and they would go out and hunt ..

CW: Did they get quite a few pheasants?

ML: Yes they did. They would get their limit. There were a lot of fences at that time. The pheasants would build their nests along there and raise their brood. There was a lot of brush for them to hide in.

CW: Now they don’t have the fences or the brush. Just a few years ago they were still raising pheasants on this one farmers land. Once a year just before hunting season they would release some, but you never hear of them around or anything. They must have all been shot.

HL: I saw a pheasant once. I went that way to the little town of Stanley where they were raising them. They were more or less tame. They were right on the main street, right by the railroad. They are such a pretty bird.

CW: Oh they were. They are such good eating too, the meat.

ML: Oh yes they are.

HL: Then the foxes started coming around here and that got rid of them too.

CW: Is that right, I didn’t know we had fox es around here.

HL: A fellow close to home here shot a fox and I took it to Napoleon. You had to take your foxes to the county jail to get a $5.00 reward for killing a fox. Since he lived in Ottawa I said I would take it to Napoleon and take the fox along. The first thing they did was cut his feet off and they wouldn’t pay me no money. There was a $5.00 reward for the bounty. I said to the man where is my money and he said you didn’t shoot it so I can’t give you the reward. The poor guy, and I had to tell him that. I never forgot that. You would think there would have been a little trust.

CW: It was only $5.00, not $500.00.

HL: Then I took it to, do you know Larry Adam’s dad? His name was Soapy Adams, so I took it down there to him. He kind of liked to mount things. He said well I can’t mount that, it has it’s feet cut off. That is a sad story, one that I will never forget.

CW: Do you have any questions?

ML: Yes, where was that farm located.

HL: You go from Malinta a mile south and at the end of the concrete there. From there you go a mile and a half east. It would be that first road out of Malinta

ML: What is that number on that road? It is just a half mile road isn’t it? It is Route 109.

HL: You just go a half mile out of town. There used to be a house. Burl Shoemaker’s folks lived there. From there you go a mile and a half east. There is the Lanzer farm and the barn is still standing. If you want to see it I can show you a picture of it.

ML: Is it still in your family?

HL: No, Dad sold it when they moved to Five Corners there. He sold the farm to Harold Huber. They were old fashioned people too. All these years till just a few years ago just before he died, they never had no plumbing in the house. They never had a bathroom in the house. They always used an outside toilet. He’d have to sit out there in the cold .

CW: I’ve done it.

HL: You know what it’s all about then.

ML: I did too.

HL: My brother and I about once a year had to clean the outhouse out. We’d clean it out. We would dig a hole in the orchard, and then set it back up and it would be good for another year.

ML: I’d like to see kids do that nowadays.

HL: My dad helped build that on that farm there. He helped engineer and build that backhouse. We never had electricity until 1946. When I started learning the carpenter trade I helped put the bathroom in and did their partitions in and put a kitchen in. My dad and mom lived there. Of course I lived there later on too until I was 29 years old.That’s what you did in them days. I had to find the right one and line up with the right one.

CW: You didn’t want to line up with the wrong one.

HL: I found her. The neighbor just teased me because I built the bird house uptown before I caught the bird.

CW: I remember my mother in law saying I don’t want any of that dirty old stuff in my house. You go use the backhouse. One of my brother in laws just went and got a bathtub, put it on the back of the truck, and brought it home and set it up for her. She liked the bathtub, and later they did get her permission to set up the rest of the bathroom.

HL: Once a week on Saturdays. We had two tubs, one was a wooden tub and one was a galvanized tub We would take them in the kitchen, set them by the old wood stove. fire it up and take a bath even if we didn’t need it.

ML: Now kids will take a bath twice a day.

HL: During the war I went two months without even taking my clothes off. We were on the go.

CW: Did you get gangrene in your feet?

HL: No, I never did. I was lucky. I was a combat MP, but I never slept in a bed for nine months.

ML: Years ago when I was a girl my mom sewed my dresses. You were lucky if you had two dresses.

CW: Did she use feed sacks?

ML: Yes, I was going to tell you that. I had a dress out of real pretty flowers. I remember one time she bought me real pretty material. I can still see that dress she made. It had a skirt and a jacket. It was pink and it had little flowers in it. I was just a little kid and my friend asked me to go along to a reunion with her. We kids were out there just playing and a big old dog jumped up on me and tore my dress. There I was and I cried. We were talking about that the other night and I can’t remember of ever going to a store and buying shoes. Somewhere we would have bought shoes. I was an only child.

HL: Maybe they brought them home for you.

ML: They might have. I was just talking to a lady the other day. She was telling stories about her family too. She said her dad when he was going to town had us get a piece of cardboard. We would stand on that cardboard and he would draw around our foot. He would bring us home a pair of shoes. They had four or five girls and a boy in their family. He would come home with the shoes and say put these on. We would all say oh they are fine. We were happy to get new shoes. Then we would say oh my these shoes hurt our feet, but we didn’t dare say so. We told him once that they were okay and we didn’t dare change our mind and tell him they hurt our feet. That’s what they did years ago.

CW: Children would have to walk miles just to get to school.

ML: They probably did.

HL: Boys generally ran barefooted.

ML: Did the bus pick you up when you went to school? I rode the bus to school. I never had to walk to school.

HL: I had to walk a half mile to get to the bus. It didn’t come down the mud road where I lived.

ML: Anyhow that’s the way it was. You just didn’t have clothes at that time either. I wore hand me downs. Your mother made the clothes for you and that was it.

HL: My mother sewed me jackets for years that I had to wear to school. I always felt funny about that. I didn’t like the color of the jacket and it made you feel inferior.

CW: Probably other kids would tease you about that.

ML: No they didn’t, because everybody was in the same situation.

HL: Some of the kids would bring a banana to school and we thought they must be rich bringing bananas. At Christmas time, we would look forward to Christmas. We would get one big sack and each one of us would get our own little sack

End of tape

Grieser, Lucy (supplement)

Napoleon Creamery I

The operation of a local Creamery in the city of Napoleon was begun in the late 1800s by Mr. Ernest Spengler, a local Grocery operator. It was the outgrowth of his observation that he could perform a service for the local Farmers of the surrounding Community by buying their cream and churning here in Napoleon. The Farmers soon realized that this method of selling was more profitable then making the butter on the farm and then trying to market their product as many individuals.

Mr. Spengler found enough customers to try his venture and he started hauling the cream from the nearby farms to the local cream station with horse drawn wagons. His small Creamery remained a one man business for many years, but as his business increased, it necessitated an expansion program.

Earl Grieser, ca. 1955

In the spring of 1924, the Napoleon Creamery Co. was formed. This was the combination of the business experience of Mr. Spengler; A Mr. Leo English who at the time was operating his own sales and distribution of butter and eggs in the City of Toledo; and a Mr. Earl Grieser, owner of the Holgate Produce Co.

Mr. Earl Grieser came to Napoleon as the manager of the home plant, while Mr. English managed the sales branch in Toledo, Ohio. Out of this nucleus the new Napoleon Creamery Co. was begun. A building was started at 221 East Washington, with the first production in January of 1925.

In 1925 there were 10 Employees at the Napoleon plant and four with the sales branch at Toledo. The yearly production the first year was approximately 300,00O pounds of butter. From 1925 to 1938, the main products handled by the company were butter and Eggs. In September of 1938, The Napoleon Creamery bottled its first pasteurized milk for home consumption. Total sales of butter in the year 1963 reached 1,450,000 pounds. This butter is sold throughout northwestern Ohio and southern Michigan.

In the year 1963 the Napoleon Creamery Co. had 32 Employees with a total payroll of $171,530. The Raw Material cost for the year was $1,049,778. This included 3,999,294 pounds of Grade “A” bulk milk for use in the Dairy department. This amounted to $195,139. The balance of Raw Material cost was for cream purchased for butter manufacturing. Most of the Cream purchased came from Ohio and Michigan areas. The milk purchased for the Dairy Dept. is from Henry County farms.

Purchases from the local water and light plant amounted to $4275.00 for electric power and another $2506.00 for water. The purchase of gas and coal for the boiler rooms amounted to $6218.00. The personal property taxes paid to the County amounted to $5034.00, while another $1400 was paid to the State of Ohio for vehicle license tags.

These figures, we believe, indicate the value of a small business to the community of Napoleon, and were proud to be a part of its industrial program.

Napoleon Creamery II

The Napoleon Creamery Company

The operation of a local creamery in the city of Napoleon was begun in 1897 by Ernest Spengler, a local grocery operator. It was the outgrowth of his observation that he could perform a service for the local farmers of the surrounding community by buying their cream and churning butter here in Napoleon. The farmers soon realized that this method of selling was more profitable than making the butter on the farm and then trying to market their product as individuals.

Mr. Spengler found enough customers to try his venture and he started hauling the cream from the nearby farms to the local cream station with horse drawn wagons. His small creamery remained a one-man business for many years, but as his business increased, it necessitated an expansion program.

In the spring of 1924, The Napoleon Creamery Company was formed. This was the combination of the business experience of Mr. Spengler; Mr. Leo W. English who at the time was operating his own sales and distribution of butter and eggs in the City of Toledo; Mr. Earl A. Grieser, owner of the Holgate Produce Company; and Mr. Otto H. Spengler, an Attorney of Toledo, Ohio.
Mr. Grieser came to Napoleon as the Manager of the home plant, while Mr. English managed the sales branch in Toledo, Ohio. The Napoleon Creamery Company began its butter production in January of 1925 at 221 E. Washington St. and is still at that location.

In 1925 there were 10 employees at the Napoleon plant and 4 at the sales branch in Toledo. The yearly production the first year was approximately 300,000 pounds of butter. From 1925 to 1938 the main products handled by the company were “EverSweet” butter and “Napoleon” eggs. In September of 1938, The Napoleon Creamery Co. bottled its first pasteurized milk for home consumption. Total sales of butter in the year 1963 reached 1,450,000 pounds. This butter is still sold throughout northwestern Ohio, southern Michigan, and northeastern Indiana.

In the year 1963, The Napoleon Creamery Co. had 32 regular employees plus part time employees with a total payroll of $171,530. The raw material cost for the year was $1,049,778. This included 3,999,294 pounds of Grade “A” bulk milk for use in the Dairy Department. This amounted to $195,139. The balance of raw material cost was for cream purchased for butter manufacturing. Most of the cream purchased came from Ohio and Michigan areas. The milk purchased for the Dairy Department came from Henry County farms.

Earl Grieser managed the Creamery until his death in 1968. His nephew, Fred Grieser, who had worked with the business since 1950, took over as manager and President of the Creamery. Fred oversaw many changes take place during his tenure. In the late 1960s the Creamery stopped the production of milk. Milk was purchased from other dairies in the area, including Arps, Babcock and Allen Dairy, and distributed on the daily milk routes. Retail home delivery was continued until 1979.

Because of changing times and stiff competition, the Creamery halted butter production in 1978. The “Ever-Sweet” Butter was then bought from manufacturing plants in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. It is still distributed to grocery stores, restaurants and carryouts in the Tri-State area.

In the 1970s the Napoleon Creamery Co. increased their cheese sales and distribution area. A warehouse facility was set up in Fort Wayne, Indiana to help with distribution in that area. Cheese sales in 1981 totaled 1.5 million pounds, or $2.7 million. Butter sales were 1.3 million pounds, or $2.1 million. Total company sales were $6,233,337.

Fred Grieser managed the Creamery until his premature death in 1985. During his tenure, he saw many changes in the industry. The large competitive dairies took a toll on this small operation. Many smaller dairies and creameries in the country were closing. But the Napoleon Creamery continued distribution in the tri-state area, increasing its sales of miscellaneous items, including an Amish line of products such as noodles, cookies, and apple butter; and paper supplies, institutional food and pizza supplies. In the late 1970’s Fred and his wife Lucy bought a retail cheese outlet in Fort Wayne called the Mouse House. It was closed around 1990 due to declining sales.

After Fred’s death his son, Tony then managed the Napoleon business and Ken managed the Fort Wayne branch. Ken had worked with the company since the late 1970s, mainly in the Fort Wayne area. Tony brought a business and banking background to the company. When Tony left the company in 1988, Fred’s nephew, Ron Gerdeman took over as manager of the Napoleon Creamery Company. Ron had worked with the company for over 20 years in various positions. He ran milk routes and production when it was necessary. He also worked in sales and distribution and purchasing and inventory control. In 1991, the total butter sales were 326,000 pounds worth $416,527. Cheese sales totaled almost $1.5 million (847,261 pounds). Total company sales in 1991 were almost $2.5 million.

Many of Fred’s nine children worked at the creamery at some point while growing up. For instance, Deb, his eldest daughter, worked at the egg operation in Toledo one summer during high school. Most of them worked on the butter machines, and packed the butter into boxes. Dan churned butter and drove tankers and milk routes. Tony, Fritz and Ken worked in production and deliveries. In the summer, when Fred  would run the milk routes (for vacationing drivers) Deb, Ken, Jan, Fritz or Tony would ride along and help out. Jan worked in the office during high school and came back in 1976 to work full time until 1979. She was called back in 1983 to work full time in the office. When Ron Gerdeman died in 2003, Jan took over as the manager of the Napoleon branch.

Grieser, Lucy

Lucy and Fred Grieser on their wedding day.

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, transcribed by Marlene Patterson, with comments by Jan Stover

CW: Will you give me your name.

LG: My name is Lucille Grieser.

CW: What connection did you have with the Napoleon Creamery?

LG: My husband Fred became the manager at Uncle Earl’s upon his death.

CW: And you are?

CW: I am Jan Grieser Stover. I am the third oldest of Fred and Lucy’s children. I grew up with the Creamery as a little kid through the present day until we sold it. We sold it December 31, 2010.

CW: Now that was how many years you were in operation.

JS: It was 85 years.

CW: That would have been a long time. Now Lucy you spoke of your Uncle Earl.

LG: Of course that was Fred’s Uncle.

CW: What do you remember about him?

LG: He was always sweeping. He always had a broom handy. He would be sweeping way out on the sidewalk or on the truck dock. He would always be sweeping and cleaning.

CW: He wanted to keep that place spotless.

LG: He was always there to greet the people.

CW: Let’s go back to when you first met Fred. And what was his connection with the Creamery.

LG: That was back in Defiance. I worked at the radio station in Defiance. He was back from the Army.

CW: This would have been after World War II.

LG: Yes, he was in college at Ohio State. They had the GI Bill for Veterans and he was going to college. He was studying dairy technology. That is what Uncle Earl wanted him to study so he could come back into the Creamery and do the testing. That was all tied in together. He was at Columbus and he had four years of college. He was a good student and a very intelligent man.

CW: How did you happen to meet him?

LG: Well, it was in Defiance after a CYO meeting at a bowling alley. We just got to talking at this bowling alley. He was with Tom Melton. He took me back to my apartment and we made a date to see each other. It just seemed like we clicked. He the only child of Fred and Mary Grieser. His mother had three children from a previous husband and his mother had died in 1962.

CW: Now was he nice? Was he good to you?

LG: Oh yes. He was a very thoughtful man. I never felt alone. Like I said he was thoughtful. He would call me and say “Mom we are going to go away for a short trip”. We would go away for maybe two to three days. My older sister Irene would come in and stay with the family while we were gone.

CW: And you would just agree. Women did that in those days. Men were the head of the house.

LG: He was. He was very considerate of me and I never felt put upon. We had nine children. We lived in a smaller home on Maple Street. Then we outgrew that and bought a house on Leonard Street.

CW: Nine children was just not too big of a family in those days. You were good Catholics and were expected to have children whenever you could.

LG: I have sisters that have fourteen children.

CW: Is that right!

LG: They didn’t seem to think I had a big family. I didn’t either and I think Fred handled it very well. He was a good father wasn’t he Jan.

JS: Yes.

CW: Having been raised alone I would think he would have been happy to have that many children.

LG: He enjoyed his kids.

JS: It wasn’t just us kids, but the neighbor kids as well.

LG: They would have all their friends over too. There was Bob and Jane Yarnell behind us. They had Kevin, Tom, and John. We had quite the neighborhood. I know they would go down in our basement. We had a round kitchen table and they would play cards down there. They got kind of rowdy sometimes. They were good kids.

JS: Dad coached Little League too all those years. He was with Lloyd Fruth. He enjoyed all kinds of sports.

CW: The Downey family was a big one and they were close to you too. Now what they did was they had to clean up their downtown bar. They would do that every Sunday morning after church. That was their job. He just had them help.

LG: Did you play with one of he Downey kids?

JS: Yes. K C Downey and I graduated together. Ann said after Gene wrote the article in the newspaper that us kids worked harder at the Creamery than she did at the bar.

CW: What was your job at the Creamery then?

JS: I did mainly office work. We did lots of things and of course the boys worked harder than us girls did. They had the cream cans that they had to dump. They were heavy. The cans weighed over fifty pounds.

CW: Were those the cans the farmers kept their mik in?

JS: Yes. The boys would have to empty those cream cans. One of the boys said that our cousin Ron Gerdeman could carry two of those cream cans and our boys could just carry one at a time. It was a hard job just carrying one can. The cream had to be dumped and pasteurized. I don’t know how many of them learned how to do the testing in the lab. Dan and Tony might have.

LG: Of course Chris was thirteen.

JS: I don’t know how many of them learned to do the testing which was more complicated. The cream would go down to the churn floor and would go around and around in the big churn. They would have to pull it out once it turned into butter. It was a big job to pull the butter out.

CW: How would they do that?

JS: They would pull it out by hand. They would put on a big white plastic apron on. It was plastic so the butter wouldn’t stick to anything and would keep your clothes clean. They would then pull it out. They would put it on a big stainless steel table. Then you would cut it and put it in the big cooler to chill it before you could use it in the butter machines. .

LG: I think Dan was the only one who did that.

JS: I think Dan and Paul Gasche were the two that did the pulling of the butter.

LG: Dan was the shortest one of the boys and he could get into the vats. He would get in there and all they could see were his feet sticking up. He would have to go into the churn to get the butter out. Especially the butter at the bottom of the churn.

CW: They would have needed strong arms to do that.

LG: Oh yes.

JS: Dan was an athlete too. He played football.

LG: They did all of that work and played their sports too. They had time for work and play. They all played baseball.

JS: Yes, they all played baseball.

CW: They probably started out by playing in a sand lot or an empty lot. Did you girls get in on playing baseball too?

JS: Yes when the boys would let us. We worked more in the butter room where we cut the butter. We would put the labels on and stuff. We would do that at night or after school if they had a big order. Over Easter when the grocery stores would have butter sales, we would do Babcock butter, Sani-pure butter, Kroger butter, or Sterling butter. We did all the different kinds of labels. We used them all. We did all the little dairies around the area. We had over twenty different labels we used. We were all over the area. We were in Ft. Wayne. Earl Grieser was on the National Butter Board for quite a long time.

CW: So what did he do for that then?

LG: I really don’t know. It was very official. He had to go to Washington D. C. a couple of times. This was like during World War II.

JS: I can remember him doing that so that would be in 1960 maybe.

LG: I am sure it was before that. Here, it was 1956 and 1957.

CW: Now which one in this picture is your father?

LG: This is a picture of Earl. Dad (Fred) never took any photos.

CW: A lot of people didn’t like to have their picture taken.

JS: We really have no pictures of him. Oh here is a wedding picture.

LG: You know when they start talking about it, you know he didn’t have to dress up to go to work. He wore his work clothes.

CW: Probably when they came to take pictures he would say I can’t because I am in my work clothes.

JS: I do know the milk drivers wore uniforms. I don’t remember Dad ever wearing a uniform.

LG: Did he test the milk then?

JS: Oh yes, and Paul Gasche did some of the testing too.

CW: Was this something that was required by the Federal government?

LG: Oh yes. That was the big thing as to how we paid the farmers for the cream was the amount of butterfat in the milk. We paid by the percentage of butterfat in the milk. I don’t remember all the formulas but the boys might. Tony might remember that. Then you would charge by the market price too because the market price would go up and down.

CW: By the amount of fat. The more fat the better.

JS: It would have to have a set amount of fat I am sure that would make it better.

LG: That is just how we worked and what we did.

JS: We worked on the butter machine so we did patties. We did the butter quarters. I can remember that. I used to go on the milk routes with Dad in the summertime. I went a lot of times on those routes. If the other drivers went on vacation I would help out then.

CW: I bet that was fun for you.

JS: I enjoyed doing that.

CW: What did you do? Did you get to visit with farm kids?

JS: Yes, probably not the kids. I just enjoyed taking the milk up to the house. You know I got to go into different restaurants into the kitchen areas. I just got to see so many different things. I got to see the countryside. I got to see different towns otherwise you didn’t get to get out that much. It wasn’t like it is nowadays.

CW: How did you do that and jell it with your school hours?

JS: Usually that was in the summer. I went on the summer milk routes. So when the other drivers would take their vacations and Dad would do their milk routes and take one of us kids with him.

CW: Oh yes.

LG: We would have to load up the truck with milk. We would just go from house to house.

CW: Did you sell butter that way too?

JS: We sold butter. We sold all the milk items. We sold buttermilk, or half and half. We sold half gallons and gallons of milk. We sold chocolate milk, orange juice and cheese and cottage cheese,

CW: My husband grew up on a farm near Archbold and lots of times relatives would stop in on a Sunday afternoon and Kate, his mother would say “it’s a poor cook who couldn’t find a dinner when the cupboard is empty. She would stir up a good meal. As she would go out to the barn she would skim a little cream off the top of the milk can and she would say that she wasn’t supposed to be doing this. That would have been for a special occasion. That stuff was so good.

LG: We have very fond memories of Doc Winzeler.

CW: Oh you do! What do you remember about him?

LG: This was when Dan was little – a baby. Dan got very ill and he ran a high fever. Dr. Harrison was our family doctor. We were up in the hospital. Dr. Ed was there too.. I think he called in Dr. Harrison and Dr. Manahan. I could see there was something very serious.

CW: How could you tell?

LG: I was scared to death. Here he had meningitis. He told me that they couldn’t treat him here and he would have to go to Toledo. Dad got on the phone to call Earl and tell him.. He drove us to Toledo to the hospital. I don’t remember just how many days that Dan was there, but it was maybe five or six days that he was up in Toledo. Aunt Verna had a sister that lived not too far from the hospital. She told me that I would have to come over to the house and sleep for a while. Dan was very ill and they were afraid they might lose him. He had a fever like 107°.

CW: Did he end up crippled from it?

LG: No he didn’t.

CW: Oh that was wonderful.

LG: He had no memory of it afterwards. It all happened so quick. He was walking at that age.

CW: How old was he?

LG: I think probably just over a year. Earl and Verna Grieser were just so supportive. She was a nurse and she was so capable with everything.

CW: He is the one that started the Creamery isn’t that right.

LG: Yes, that is correct. That was a very trying period for us. I know the kids were all left at home.

JS: Oh you left us all at home!

CW: Do you remember anything of that Jan?

JS: No.

LG: I stayed at the hospital with him.

JS: I wonder who stayed with us at home.

LG: I really don’t know. I could check with her, but she is gone now too. My whole family is gone.

CW: Oh my!

LG: I was the 2nd youngest of eight children and I am the only one left. My second oldest sister just died in October. She was 91 years old when she died. She had been in a nursing home and she was ready to go you know. I guess we got off the Creamery story.

CW: No we don’t have to follow that. These memories are precious. They are important, you see I can envision scholars coming from Bowling Green in the future looking for history of the area and finding these tapes. I think this is a gold mine. We have over 100 of these of these recordings and they are all on the internet.

LG: You realize the Grieser family came from Defiance. They were originally Defiance people.

CW: How did you end up in Napoleon?

LG: I think they emigrated to Napoleon. Their mother was supposed to have come from Ireland. They had Mable, Earl, Fred Sr., Orville. They had three boys and one girl. They all ended up here in Napoleon. Except for Fred Sr. and he stayed in Defiance for quite a while. You remember that don’t you Jan?

JS: Oh yes.

LG: When Earl started the Creamery he had an egg route out of Holgate, Ohio. When he went together with the Spengler – Ernest Spengler, who was the other guy that started the Creamery. They decided they would congregate in Napoleon. They bought the property here in Napoleon at 221 East Washington Street. It was Leo English. Those were the three people that started the Creamery. They built the building. Of course it was added on to numerous times through the years.

CW: That was such an unusual building. Was that building the one you were still using?

LG: Oh yes.

CW: How did they happen to build it in that unusual shape?

LG: I don’t know.

JS: There used to be a little house next to it. They had their ice machine in that little house. It was where the warehouse area is and they added on to that. The warehouse was added in 1970. It was the early ‘70’s.

LG: I can remember that. I didn’t know when the original building was built.

JS: That was built in 1925 – the original building. They added a coal room onto the back.

CW: That is why it had an unusual shape.

JS: It started out pretty small and got added on throughout the years.

CW: What hours did you as kids work? Did you have set hours to be at work?

JS: It was after school normally.

CW: Of course your school was very close to the Creamery.

JS: Yes it was close. We were at St. Augustine’s Parochial School. When we went to High School we would just walk to work or maybe get a ride. Usually the older ones could drive. It depended on the season or what. I can remember going in and just checking in the milk drivers. You would check the money coming in and I did all the books by hand. If you sold someone a half gallon of milk you would have to write it all down and add it all up at the end of the day.

CW: It would all have to balance.

JS: The driver might be twenty-five cents over or short.

LG: They used to buy eggs and things from farmers that brought them into the Creamery.

JS: We graded eggs too. That whole area where the office was at the end there, that used to be the egg room.

CW: How did you grade eggs back in those days?

JS: You used a light. My sister Deb spent one summer at Napoleon and in Toledo. We had branches in Toledo. She would grade eggs in the summer.

LG: I didn’t know that.

JS: She did that one summer.

CW: Then on Sundays you would probably have to wind up doing the work that hadn’t gotten finished.

JS: Sundays was pretty much a rest time. If restaurants or somebody ran out of something they would call Dad and he would go get it for them.

LG: He was very strict about not working on Sundays. That was his day of rest and recreation.

CW: That is good that he would have the one day of rest and recreation. They wouldn’t feel like they were just grinding away by working all the time.

JS: I know the guys and the boys would have to clean down the butter room at the end of the day.

CW: How could they do that. It would be so greasy.

LG: It was always so slippery.

JS: They would use water hoses and they would have water fights between themselves.

CW: They would have had a lot of fun in there too I bet.

LG: Yes we squeezed a little bit of everything into our days. The boys worked hard though. Dan made cheese spread after school – him and Pam. They had a machine. It was actually a butter churn and they would make their cheese spread in that.

JS: We did a lot of different things. We dried buttermilk. It would have such an odor. I think you can still smell that inside the building.

CW: What did you do have an oven or something?

LG: It was like a big dryer that was ten to twelve feet long. I know they used to put it in fifty pound bags. They would take it to Defiance to Diehl’s. Maybe they used it in their dog food or stuff. They sold it up there.

JS: At different times we made cottage cheese.

CW: How did you do that?

JS: I have no idea. That was in the early days.

LG: They would drain the cheese. They took all the whey off. So we had just the cheese curds left then. They would package that up.

CW: I know there is salt in cottage cheese.

LG: I think the salt was added earlier.

CW: Now this little town where we went to visit some relatives in Pennsylvania, now across the street they sold cheese baskets. They had great big vats where they would pour the milk in. They would have to stir it every once in a while. It was interesting the way they start out it was so simple and it evolves and gets more and more complicated.

LG: I know the whey separates from the curds. You would strain the whey off and you would just have the curds and you would just have cottage cheese left.

CW: Now what about what about the whey? Did they use that somehow?

LG: They might have used that to feed some animals.

JS: I remember pig farmers coming in and they would buy whatever waste you had left over.

LG: Otherwise it just went down the sewer. Whatever was left in it wasn’t important enough for them to use.

CW: I remember housewives saying that they would have to slop the pigs. I think the reason they used that term was because what leftovers they had was called slop.

LG: That’s reasonable. I grew up on a farm and that is just what the farmers did. What we didn’t use in the kitchen that would go – what we didn’t use in the kitchen – into a big bucket. We kept that for the pigs. The pigs would stay in their pig shed and the boys would take the slop out there to them and feed them. The boys would take it out to them and we had like a trough where they would place the slop. It was always a big deal when any of the pigs got out. We’d have to go outside and run.

CW: To catch them?

LG: Not me. The boys would have to do it. I tried to milk the cows and my mother told me just to go back to the house.

CW: Isn’t that what you were waiting for?

LG: The cows didn’t like me and I didn’t like them.

CW: I can remember trying to milk a cow. It looked so easy. The farmer got this three legged stool and said here is what you do. I reached out and I gave one pull and the cow shifted her feet. I jumped back, knocked over the stool and I was scaired to death.

LG: I would be too. I have always said that the cows don’t like me and I don’t like them. I will just stay in the kitchen.

CW: Speaking of the kitchen, I will bet it was a job to keep food on the table for nine kids.

LG: Yes it was.

CW: I suppose the older girls would help you once in a while. What did you do?

LG: I had a big freezer, a nine foot freezer in my basement. We usually bought a side of beef. We would get some of that into patties. There used to be a place over here where they would take care of the meat for you. They would slice it for you, grind it up and put it up into packages. Whichever sized packages you would like. It would go into my freezer. I would put some of it into a roast. That was just the way I cooked.

CW: What would you add to the hamburger or the roast?

LG: I would add onions and potatoes to the roast. With the hamburger you can do just so many different things. You can make a meatloaf just by adding tomato sauce to it. You can make sloppy joes. We used a lot of hamburger. There were always a lot of things that would be on special at a store. We would put it in the freezer. I can’t remember that I ever shopped more than once a week.

CW: Did you have a garden?

LG: No, but we had fruit trees. We had cherry trees. We had grapes.

JS: We made grape jelly. We did a lot of canning.

LG: We froze cherries.

CW: They used to bring cherries down from Michigan.

LG: I don’t know, but we had this huge cherry tree. It was almost as tall as our house. My mother would come in and help. She would go out and pick cherries. I remember this one time we had a big ladder and it started sliding and I heard someone screaming.

JS: That was me.

LG: She screamed all the way down.

JS: I didn’t break a thing.

LG: Mom always enjoyed coming in to see our family. That was my Mom.

CW: Where did she live? Did she live here in town?

LG: No, she lived out on the Ridge Road out by New Bavaria. That is where I grew up. She died when she was 79 years old.

CW: Your grandfather must have died earlier then. You seem to remember more of your grandmother.

LG: He was older than Mom. He died when he was 84. He was a quiet man. He always wanted to play cards. No matter who came in. You could hardly get in the door and he would say come on let’s play cards. And that is just what he did.

CW: You must have played lots of cards. They didn’t have the distractions of TV shows or ball games.

LG: In later years they had television.

CW: Do you remember when the first radios came in?

LG: We just always had radios.

CW: Maybe that was before your time. Originally the neighbors would gather together when there was going to be a speech by the President or something. They would all listen to the radio. My Great Aunt, oh she would scold away at her husband. So he went and got a radio that had head phones. There would sit Uncle Fred, just as happy as a clam listening to the radio.

LG: He wouldn’t have to listen to her then.

JS: Earl Grieser ran the Creamery until his death in 1968.

CW: Now Earl was the nephew.

JS: Earl was my Great Uncle.

CW: Okay

LG: He was a brother to Fred’s Dad. The original Grieser family was Earl, Orville (Stormy), Fred, and Mabel. She was a teacher.

CW: Was Earl’s last name Gerdeman?

JS: No, Earl Grieser was one of the original owners. He died in 1968. When he died my Dad Fred took over as manager. The Creamery really grew then. We did just lots of pounds of butter every year and shipped it out everywhere. We had trucks going everywhere. Dan said he drove to New Jersey to pick up parmesan cheese. We were in Wisconsin, in Michigan, Indiana and in Illinois. We trucked cream to Columbus to Beatrice Foods. We did all kinds of things and it grew a lot when Dad was the manager. We had 30 employees. Kenny came in after he graduated from college. He started running the operation in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. They distributed products in that area. We had a big warehouse there. Mom and Dad later bought the retail center called the Mouse House. They would do a lot of that work on the weekends. They would be in Ft. Wayne like on Friday and Saturday. They would come back tired. They did a lot of that. It was a lot of driving for them.

LG: The Mouse House was a busy place.

JS: They had a lot of fun. They knew all the customers personally just like we know everybody that would come in here in Napoleon that would come to the Creamery. My sister Ellen lived in Ft. Wayne and Rick would come down and help slice cheese. Rick just loved running the cheese slicer. Ken and his wife Gail were there helping too. They did a lot of wholesale deliveries from there.

LG: It was right in Ft. Wayne, just south of Washington. It was a family business.

JS: During those years Fritz was running the branch here in Napoleon. He did that in the 1980’s. In 1985 when Dad died Tony came in and managed the Creamery for three years.

CW: Now who was Tony?

JS: He is my brother. He is the fifth oldest. When he left in 1988 he went to the Henry County Bank and then Ron Gerdeman, my cousin came in as manager. Kenny was the manager in the Ft. Wayne area. They still worked together. We had trucks running back and forth all the time. Ron worked at the Creamery, he had been there in the 1970’s already. He had been working for the Northwest Signal in the circulation department for a long time and then he came to the Creamery full time. He did a lot at the Creamery. He worked in Sales and Management.

LG: Did he do anything in producing.

JS: He worked where they needed him. He drove truck. He did everything. It was hard for me when Dad died. You would have to keep runnng the place. You would have to tell all your customers that Dad died. Then Tony comes up the stairs and he has the same voice as Dad and the same mannerisms. Then Tony left. Then Ron is there and I am working with him every day. He was very good to work with. He was a lot of fun. He died of colon cancer. Then I have to go and tell everybody and explain it all. Then when Kenny died suddenly it was just too hard. It seemed like everybody was leaving me.

CW: You would feel like that.

JS: It was time to say this is enough.

CW: What happened that Kenny died suddenly.

LG: He was hit on Route 24. He was a passenger in a car that went left of center and they were hit by a semi truck and he was killed instantly.

CW: Oh dear.

JS: He didn’t suffer. It was on a Saturday night.

LG: He left a wife and four children.

JS: His wife didn’t have any interest in the business at all. She has her own career in teaching and It was time. Things change. The volume of sales wasn’t like it used to be. We were very much more localized in Defiance, Toledo, and this area and in Lima. We still had the Eversweet label that we distribute to all the stores in this area.

CW: Does it still say Napoleon Creamery on it?

JS: Yes, it says Napoleon Eversweet Butter. We have had it produced by the Minerva Dairy for the past twelve years anyway. So that hasn’t changed at all. It is still produced at the same place. It’s the same butter now being distributed by Smith Family Foods. Same butter! So Mom (Lucy) came to the office and worked with me probably in the late 1980’s.

CW: That would have been hard to do it all alone.

JS: My sister-in-law Jeannie Meter also worked there for the past twenty years.

LG: She was working when Pam (8th oldest) got married about twenty years ago. She started working part time then. So with Jeannie working and Mom working in the office then. You get to know the customers when they come in and we tried doing different things. We carried Amish products like the Amish noodles and the Amish applebutter. We had pickles from Sechler’s and sold those.

CW: One thing that is nice about small towns is that people always have time to chat. I never did that because I was raised in a city. You just didn’t do it because you just didn’t know those people. You would have nothing to say to them and they didn’t have anything to say to you. It is such a pleasant custom.

LG: Where did you grow up?

CW: In Erie, Pennsylvania.

LG: I always thought you were from right around here. Where did you meet your husband?

CW: I met Ed at college in Bowling Green.

JS: So now after the Creamery has been closed for four months whenever I see people around town they greet me and ask me how I am doing. They say we miss you and the Creamery. I even received cards from people saying they were going to miss us. It was really sweet that people even thought that much to extend those messages.

LG: People will come up to me and ask me how I am doing. I tell them I just ramble around
the house. Which is true actually. It is hard to accept a closing like that. I told Jan I never thought I would out live the Creamery. I always thought it would be there forever. I drive past and I get depressed.

CW: What is going on in there now?

LG: Nothing. There is nothing going on in there now. To me that is sad.

CW: They still have that picture on the outside of the building of that woman churning butter. How did that happen to get there?

JS: Tony had Becky Shepard paint that in 1988. She came in and talked to him and he thought that would be nice to paint that on the building. She does a very nice job. It is still there.

CW: It is good to have it.

LG: Oh yes.

CW: It is a good point of interest for one thing. It is also a bit of history that in the future could be forgotten.

JS: Bob Small did the wooden cutouts of the Creamery building.

CW: Now who does this?

JS: Bob Small. He has done different buildings around town. .

LG: He worked for us for quite a long time too. We bought Small’s Cheese Company in 1990.

CW: What was that a retail place?

JS: That was downtown on Washington Street. Here is a picture of it. Yes it was 1990. Bob came and worked for us in sales. Of course they had their customers that they had delivered to. We took that on.

CW: Is he active in anything now?

LG: You mean Bob?

JS: I think he sells furniture out at Herron’s Oak Furniture Store in Okolona. He does all these wood cutouts of different buildings.

CW: Art Rohrs used to do that sort of thing. In December he made one for the church for the oldsters that were a certain age. I still have it.

LG: It’s not so bad getting old is it.

CW: No. Now this is a picture of Jan. I looked at you and thought this might be you. Now is this a picture of one of your siblings?

JS: Yes Pam is the eighth child. We numbered us so we would know.

LG: Chris is number nine, the last one. He lives in Columbus. He works for the Target Organization. I hope they are back in Columbus. They were in South Carolina and they were having storms there yesterday.

CW: Now Jan has some more information here I can tell.

JS: You know when we were closing I started sending out emails to my brothers and sisters and asked for their memories. You know everybody remembers something different. My sister Deb she remembers doing cottage cheese with Dad. They would have to go down at night and stir the cottage cheese. She would go down with Dad and turn on the outdoor lights. Dad would always go down at night to check the lights and make sure everything was running. The coolers were always a concern.

CW: Now would that have been down in the basement?

JS: Dad always did it in the back room.

LG: I think it was always right there just off of the office.

JS: That is where the cheese spread was too.

LG: Was that where they made the cottage cheese too?

JS: We didn’t make cottage cheese in the later years. I don’t remember making cottage cheese in later years. Down in that back entrance we did half pints of milk. I remember seeing a glass bottling machine that went around in a circle. I know it was the school milk. I remember that.

LG: Pam remembers lots of things because she used to help Dan with the cheese spread. She helped after school.

CW: What was that like?

LG: She probably just sat there and talked to Dan.

They both laugh!

LG: Pam is one that, I don’t know, she was there but she was not there. Pam is in Reno, Nevada. She has two children and a very nice husband. He has a good job. She is still flighty.

JS: Chris is the one that talked about Ron carrying the milk cans with just his pinky. Chris was just trying to pick up one can.

CW: Was he really carrying them with just his little finger?

JS: He probably could.

LG: He was very strong.

CW: Those were big cans too. How high do you think those cans were?

JS: They were up to your waist almost. They were heavy and you would have to lift them up to dump them.

CW: They were heavy when they were empty!

LG: Oh yes.

JS: What Fritz wrote about was watching Paul Gasche pulling butter out of the churn. Paul would lift him up because he was so little he couldn’t see in. Chuck Hartley worked there. Chuck Hartley, he was such a nice guy. He would give you a hug and talk to you for a while. All the workers down there were so nice to us kids.

LG: You know they were like family. They watched you kids grow up.

JS: Leonard Pfau was a milk man. Riley Stevens and Paul Hammond. They were the milk drivers that I remember.

LG: Is Paul still living?

JS: No.

LG: They are all gone.

JS: I remember one of Paul’s kids came in and it was Sue his daughter, when we were closing and she talked about going on the milk route too with her dad. They would get to go with their dad too. She said yes, that was fun. Jim Stevens, he went along with his dad Riley Stevens.

LG: Did the Stevens have two daughters?

JS: Do you mean Jim or Don? They had Jim and two daughters. My brother Dan has lots of stories and memories. He talks about getting in trucks and driving to Lima and Wapakoneta and getting in snowstorms and having flat tires. He has always had stories. He can remember everything. He would tell how much trouble it would be to do some of those things. He had several of his friends helping out at the business too. A lot of kids that were my brothers’ age worked at the Creamery.

LG: I think it was Jane Yarnell telling about the kids doing different things. I think some of Bob Small’s kids helped out too.

JS: Bob was telling about his brother Jim helping out at the Creamery when he was going to Notre Dame too. Like Jeff Bolton and a lot of the kids that were my brothers’ age.

LG: He just died a few weeks ago didn’t he. Jim Small had moved out West many years ago. At least ten or twelve years ago I suppose. Does Bob have any of his family left around here?

JS: His sister Jane lives here,

LG: Well I know that.

CW: I didn’t recognize you on that picture back here Lucy.

LG: One of my customers came in and did that. It doesn’t look like you.

JS: Who did that. It wasn’t Crumrine was it?

LG: No.

JS: He was from Defiance. He was a tall guy with black hair and a mustache.

CW: I bet you miss people to chat with. How many years did you work there?

JS: Well I went full time in 1983. No, it was ‘84.

LG: You put in four years before that didn’t you?

JS: During high school I worked there part time. Like I said I used to go in and check the milk drivers in. I would count their money and stuff like that. I don’t know how old I was then. That is how I learned to count money and everything. I knew how to add and run the calculator.

CW: Let’s see 84 from 2011 would be 27 years.

JS: After everybody left I just thought why am I still here.

LG: You were very vital. That is why you were still there.

JS: Things change.

LG: We used to have so many people coming in. I think you enjoyed it most of the times.

JS: I did.

LG: It wasn’t hard physical work.

JS: There were some years when it was hard. I did unloading of the trucks.

LG: I didn’t know that. Didn’t the drivers do the unloading on those trucks.

JS: It depended upon what you were doing. During the Blizzard

LG: What year was that?

JS: It was in 1978. We had all that snow and all the grocery stores were out of milk. They had to have milk. So they were coming in with four-wheelers, Jeeps, or whatever just to get milk. We had the milk, but we could hardly get into the back parking lot because that was all full of snow. It was just too deep so we carried the milk from downstairs. The stairs out in back are real steep. We carried the milk up those stairs. We loaded up their Jeeps and everything. Dad had to get down to the Creamery because there was cream there. You just can’t let it set. You have to process it. He called up my husband John and told him he had to get up to the Creamery. John had a snowmobile so John went and picked up my Dad on the snowmobile and Dad comes out in this little light jacket.

CW: Oh dear!

JS: John took him to the Creamery and Paul Gasche was already there. He lived on the South side on Daggett. He walked to the Creamery on his snowshoes over the river bridge. That is how Paul got to the Creamery.

CW: Oh my goodness!

JS: That’s how he made it to the Creamery. The two of them were able to pasteurize the cream and got the butter churned. They took milk to replenish the grocery stores.

LG: Remember on their snowmobile.

JS: I don’t think they went to other towns, but they did load up the Jeeps. They took milk to different places. There wasn’t that much room on the snowmobiles to carry too much milk.

LG: They couldn’t get the trucks out..

JS: But they loaded up the Jeeps. We could load them from up front. The EMS people had their four wheel drive vehicles out together with their Jeeps. They were all helping. We went out to Bernicke’s and Chief’s. I can remember them taking milk out to the Filling Home.

LG: I remember they had to go out of town for something. I was really scared.

JS: You couldn’t tell where the roads were. Ron about went crazy because he lived out in New Bavaria. It was like three or four days before he could even get into town. He was never anyone to just sit around and not do anything. He was almost jealous of us that we could get to work.

LG: It’s a wonder he didn’t just walk in.

JS: It was really bad out there because you couldn’t see the roads.

LG: It was so awfully bad.

CW: You know I always wondered about that odd shaped porch on the side of your building. I bet that was purposely high for the trucks to unload.

JS: That was for the trucks to pull up and just unload. Those loading docks came in handy. When we did UPS in later years it was really nice for the UPS drivers to load and unload.

LG: Is John still with the UPS?

JS: Oh yes.

LG: He’s been driving for them for a long long time. He came up from Texas.

CW: Is his Mother and family still in Texas? Now John is

JS: the UPS driver.

CW: That is a different John.

JS: She got off on a tangent.

LG: I do that a lot.

CW: Don’t we all do that once in a while.

JS: I remember Aunt Verna. She was Earl’s wife. She’d take us to a restaurant when I was a little kid. Aunt Verna would always ask if they would bring me a roll and some butter. If they would bring margerine she would have a fit. She wanted Butter. They would have to take it back and bring her butter.

CW: Probably you remembered that because you got embarassed.

LG: She always got her butter.

CW: What do you think of – it doesn’t pertain to this – this new stuff they came up with that is half butter.

LG: I saw an article that Moe Brubaker had in the paper once and said margarine is one molecule off from being plastic and how hard it is on your arteries. It is so much imitation and it is not good for you.

JS: Yes I am a big believer in butter and olive oil.

CW: It is interesting how they always come back to that. They tell how the other stuff is so healthy and then they will come back and say it isn’t.

JS: Butter is more natural.

LG: I cam remember Mom making butter.

CW: You mean for the family.

LG: Yes.

CW: Do you remember when you got your first washing machine? That would have been after World War II.

LG: We lived out on Maple Street then. I had this little old washer. Mom was there and I was probably seven or eight months pregnant. For some reason you couldn’t open up that thing to let the water out. I would always just tip the whole washer over. She must have been watching out the window and she yelled at me and said “Don’t you do that”. I said to Mom I have to get the water out of the washer. You know you can’t do that anymore. I guess it is dangerous for you and for the baby.

JS: How else was it going to get done.

LG: I had seven more children.

CW: There used to be a lot of old wives tales and people really believed in them. Can you recall some of the others that people thought about.

LG: I don’t know. I remember that one about the washer.

JS: I know that going through all the old pictures we don’t have any of Mom when she was pregnant. Mom had nine children and she always had this skinny little waist in all of her pictures. We couldn’t find any pictures of her being pregnant.

LG: Maybe when I was pregnant I stayed inside the house. I know I was always active. I belonged to a bridge club. I went to the grocery store. I went to ball games, the library. We went on trips. I can’t believe that there aren’t any.

JS: We will have to dig deeper.

LG: There has to be something around.

JS: I think none of us wanted to have our picture taken when we were pregnant.

LG: I never felt that way. I couldn’t have. I never would have had nine children.

CW: I remember there were a lot of things people would tell me when I was expecting. They really believed them.

LG: Tell us some.

CW: I can’t remember. That is why I was asking you.

LG: I just remember Mom yelling at me that was too heavy for me to be lifting. That was the washer with the water in it. That would have been the only way to get the water out.

CW: I think maybe the reason was they were afraid of a dropped uterus.

LG: She would not have used that term at all. It was a very definite “Don’t do that anymore”. It wasn’t too long after that we moved from that house to Leonard Street. I had my laundry in the basement. I had a washer and a dryer and a freezer.

CW: Did you have the ringers that you had to crank on your washing machine? Did you ever have to wash clothes by hand?

LG: Just fragile things. Not the whole wash load. I would still be sitting in here washing clothes. We used to make noodles. We would cut them.

CW: Tell about how you made noodles. I think that would be interesting to someone who hasn’t seen it being done.

LG: Well it was a very simple thing to do. You just took a half a dozen of eggs. Beat them up. You start with flour and work it in until it would clear the side of the bowl because you were always working in this bowl.

CW: So it is just eggs and flour!

LG: And salt. You didn’t have to put salt in, but I did. Then you would get out your

JS: rolling board.

LG: I was thinking it was a board. I had a board that I always used when I made pie crust. You would take out just enough like for one pie crust. You would roll that out. I would usually stick them in the refrigerator, because it takes a while to roll out pie crusts. I would usually have enough crusts and flour

JS: Are you doing crusts or noodles?

LG: I am doing crusts right now.

JS: You went from noodles to crusts.

LG: I don’t remember making noodles.

JS: I don’t either. But your mother did.

LG: Well Mom did. Of course she had more chickens. If she had cracked eggs or anything she would just save them and make noodles. It was the same process actually. You would just roll it out.

JS: You would use flour when you were rolling or you would use more lard or Crisco for the pie crusts. I think that was the only difference between the two.

LG: After you rolled it out with your rolling pin and you would keep rolling until it was all rolled out. Then you would roll it up and slice it off.

CW: Didn’t they have to dry the noodles?

JS: Yes, they would lay them across chairs and whatever else you could drape them over.

CW: Every chair would have a noodle on it.

JS: I can remember that part of it.

CW: Then they would wait until it became a certain consistency and then cut it. What would they do after they cut the noodles. Would they let them dry some more?

LG: I think Mom usually put them in a bowl after they were dry enough. Then she would go get a bag and store them in there.

JS: We had this one where you put. It was not a drawer, but more like a

LG: flour bin? It used to be a flour bin and she used to keep a couple bags of noodles in there. For some reason. Everybody had a kitchen cabinet.

CW: There used to be a flour sifter in it. You would turn the crank and the flour would come out.

LG: You would have to put the flour in at the top. Later on she didn’t do that anymore. She would keep the noodles in her flour bin.

CW: It would have been a good place to let them get dry.

LG: My mother was so afraid of mice. She would just stand there and scream. We would all run out and here it would be just a mouse. We always thought that was so weird- growing up on a farm and you have mice and rats, chickens and hogs and all that and she stands there and screams when she sees a mouse.

CW: Mice are such sneaky things.

LG: I don’t like them either. If there is one around I don’t want to be anywhere near it. I don’t think we ever had a mouse on Leonard Street. We have been very very lucky.

JS: He said there were probably too many kids around that scared them away.

CW: Was Deb your oldest?

LG: Yes.

JS: I am the third. So Kenny was in the middle. Deb, Ken, and I, then Fritz and Tony and Dan. Then Ellen and Pam. That’s the order of our family. Chris is the youngest.

LG: I had five boys and four girls. It just seemed so weird. Like somebody else they would have a girl and then a boy. It never happened to us. It worked out fine.

CW: You had a good mix. We had one boy and then one girl. Ed said you name the boys and I will name the girls. Then I never had another girl. What we could do is take that and we will get this returned to you.

LG: When I worked at the radio station I would have to type up the log each day.

CW: What was going to happen each minute I suppose.

LG: Yes and usually you would have to put out when an announcer was doing this. I worked five days a week. Monday through Friday. I worked in Napoleon after we were married. I was working there before I was married.

CW: Now how did you say you met Fred?

LG: I met him after a CYO meeting. We went to a bowling alley and we were there together.

CW: Were you bowling too?

LG: No, it was just like a place where you could stop. I think Irene Hays and I were together that day. That is just how I got to meet Fred.

CW: Now that was in Defiance.

LG: Yes that was in Defiance. I lived in an apartment with Irene Hays. I lived in Defiance.

CW: Was it pretty forward looking in those days?

LG: Yes it was very unusual. Do you know where Masters Machine Shop was? It was close to a place where they had cars and things like that. I think they called it a motor sales. There were just two apartments in this building. Irene and I had one.

CW: Did you have a hard time convincing your parents to let you live in an apartment?

LG: No, not really.

CW: They must have been pretty broad minded.

LG: I was relieved that I had a job. Before at the radio station I had worked at the Schlosser Music Store. He fixed radios, sold records, and things like that. I worked at Bud’s Hamburger Shop first come to think of it. Then I worked at Schlosser’s where he did radio repair. Then I got into the radio station. That is where I stayed until I quit working and came home and started raising my family. Which kind of kept me busy.

CW: I would think so.

LG: I sold Avon Products for a while too.

CW: That would have helped you get acquainted with people here in Napoleon.

LG: Yes they are different people. We had like a territory where we were allowed to sell in.

CW: Did you go door to door. How did you make contacts?

LG: Well I would first go around and pass out little books. They had little books you could look at. I never really went door to door. It was usually who was there first. I was not real adventuresome you know. It was fun. I remember one time when I had Chris with me. I ran up to the door, or left an order or something and I could see where my car was starting to creep backwards.

JS: You didn’t have the brakes on or something.

LG: It didn’t go very far. It wasn’t just too long after that when I quit. I thought this isn’t worthwhile actually.

CW: They didn’t pay very much did they.

LG: No.

JS: Then you worked at the school cafeteria at St. Augustine’s for a while.

LG: Yes I did that for quite a few years.

JS: Then you worked at the Mouse House, the retail cheese outlet in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

LG: Yes I think so.

JS: Then that got to be too much.

LG: You know I still got the letters Barb Kolbe sent me after Fred died. She sent me a letter out each day for at least fifteen days. I don’t ever remember anyone doing something like that.. It was so thoughtful. She was the sweetest lady. I still have them. I have this one special drawer that I keep all these things in. After so many years there are a lot of memories there.

CW: I think too that it is a good idea to tell somebody in your family pulling out something that you might think is valuable. I have this tiny little diamond and a tiny little chain that Ray gave me. He wanted to give me a ring and I told him that I already had one diamond and he said how about a diamond on a chain. He did give it to me once and then I lost it. So he got me a second one. He gave it to me in this little white box and on the front of it said “Hi Tooth Fairy”.

LG: How precious.

CW: So I would like to tell my daughter not to put that in a garage sale.

LG: It is valuable.

CW: I wanted to make sure they would be valued the way they should be. Not that I have a bunch of them.

LG: That is why they are valuable because there are only a couple of them.

CW: It’s the memories that come with it. Memories are valuable to us.

LG: You know where my rings are. I had to have them cut off when I broke my wrist. They cut them off for me at the hospital..

JS: Was that because your hand swelled up?

LG: Yes and they had to cut them off.

CW: Because of the circulation too.

LG: Yes. All I know is they said I had to get them off. Your John was there with me.

CW: They managed to put them back together.

LG: I guess I haven’t minded not wearing them. I would still like to get my old watch fixed. It was one that Fred had got me.

CW: Those are your memories.

LG: In Defiance at the jewelry store, I can’t remember the name of the jewelry store – darn it. I know just right where it was.


Howe, Grace

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?

G: Yes.

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?

G: Yes.

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?

G: Yes.

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.

C: Yes.

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.

J: Elixir.

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?

J: Two.

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.

Side 2

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?

G: 1929.

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?

G: Yes.

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 //