Additional comments by Mrs. Paula Jean Saneholtz
Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, March 11, 2010; transcribed by Marlene Patterson
TS: That was the German way of spelling Saneholtz. In Freedom township it was known as Soehnholtz. It is Saneholtz.
CW: That was during World War I.
TS: No, that was way before that. It was when they first came over here. It was before World War I. My family from both sides came over here from Germany. I am the second generation born here in the United States here in America. My mom and dad were both born in the United States. Their parents came from Germany. It was two different parts of Germany they came from. One came from Bremen and the other from Hanover. They met somewhere here in Henry County.
CW: I don’t know if you did, but I bet your dad or mom spoke German before you spoke English.
TS: My dad and mom might have. My dad could talk four different kinds of German. He could talk High German, but we couldn’t understand him. My mom taught school here in Napoleon.
CW: Is that right!
TS: Oh yes. She graduated from Defiance College. She had four sisters and five brothers. They lived in that great big gray house right around the corner. At one time that is where they lived. My grandmother and all of the ten kids. See all the Saneholtz’s are on my mom’s side.
CW: Back in those days it was an advantage to have a big family. They would get a lot of help on the farm. Most of the families lived on farms.
TS: Well, in 1973, well of course I was in the gas business and had a lot of customers. You know those big truck stops they built out here Road 12, a bunch of us started meeting out there buying coffee and we would play honest farmer to buy coffee.
CW: How did you do that?
TS: We would take a dollar bill and whoever guessed the last two numbers on a dollar bill would have to buy the coffee. Well everybody is gone now, we have two of them that don’t come in anymore. The rest of them are all dead. There was Windy Glanz, Ernie Glanz, Clem Hoffman, Charlie Bauman, you remember Charlie. He was right there all the time.
CW: Oh, Charlie Bauman, he was a wheeler and dealer.
TS: He was always trying to show us the last two numbers and whoever guessed that number had to buy us all the coffee. He’d see a number and I would say higher or lower until they would come together. If the numbers were 08, whoever would say 08 why they would have to buy the coffee. We had ten to fifteen people. We had a lot of fun.
CW: Were you down at Spengler’s?
TS: No, we were in Anthony Wayne. Then they sold out for a while. I don’t know why they sold out. Howard Gable owned it. Then we switched to Spengler’s. We were there I suppose for five or six years. We went there ever since Sherrie Weideman bought it. We moved over there. It was a lot of fun.
CW: That is a nice thing to do. There is a bunch that gets together too over at the Senior Center. Florian Saur always looked forward to that.
TS: At the Senior Center they have rolls for a quarter and coffee is fifty cents. We always paid regular price. My mom had four sisters. My mom was the youngest one. Laura married Clyde Brillhart. There was Lydia that married Elmer Neible. Paul Neible and him were my first cousins. Merle Neible from over by Florida, they are my first cousins. Then there was Anna that married Nelson, Martin Nelson. He was my cousin and there were a lot of them you know. Her brothers were Jim Saneholtz who married Florence Griteman. Then they had Ruth and William, they only had two kids. I never saw them again. He died I guess before I was around. He would have been an Uncle.
CW: Did you have family reunions?
TS: Yes we did on my mom’s side. You should see that reunion deal we got now. There are about 1100 of us now. Of course Bud and Art Saneholtz that had the monument business their dad John started the monument shop right there on the corner of Main and Scott. They had their monument shop there years and years ago. Then they moved down on East Maumee. He went to a basketball game here in Napoleon with Bryan and he had just sat down and he died right there. All of my aunts and uncles except one died at around the age of 70. Even some of my first cousins. Like Fred Yarnell he was about 60 when he died.
CW: Did they die suddenly?
TS: Yes, they had a heart attack. I don’t know why. It must run in the family or something. I don’t know about my dad’s side. My dad was killed in a car wreck. His mom was killed in an automobile wreck around Ridgeville Corners. His aunt died in Indianapolis. Now how old they might have lived I don’t know. My dad he never went to a hospital that I know of.
CW: You know when I was a kid I went along with my family, of course, to their family reunion and I would sit next to my dad, and listen to what they were saying. They would talk and it was interesting to me. The women now, they would just talk about their children, their cooking, and their housework.. That didn’t interest me as a little kid. I would go see what the men were saying.
TS: When I was a young boy I would go out and block the sugar beets and pick tomatoes when I got to be ten to twelve years old. That’s what we did. Of course we got rid of the horses and used tractors. I could put the harnesses on the horses. The first combine around was Fred Imbrock’s. My dad said put the straw back on the fields. it won’t work, it won’t work. First thing you know why my brother bought a combine, a self propelled. That was the most wonderful thing. You didn’t have to go around and around in the fields. You could go right into the field anywhere you wanted to. Dad thought that was really something. My Grampa, he didn’t like that. We threshed, I don’t remember what grade I was in. It was Adolph Langenhop who had the machine. It was a group of farmers that threshed in the summer time.
CW: They would go from one farm to another whenever the weather was right.
TS: They called that a threshing ring. Yes, that was alright. The first rubber tired tractor we had I could hardly believe it.
CW: One thing I always wondered about was how could the farmers cope with the weather? Say maybe it was rainy and then just a few days of sunshine. All the fields needed combining but they couldn’t get to all the fields in those few days. What would they do?
TS: Now threshing is different see. You cut your grain and put it in shocks. Then you would haul the shock up to the thresher. Now combining is different. Everybody had a combine after a while. Fred Imbrock down here was the first one that had a combine. Wasn’t very long that Glen Frysinger got his combine. We got a five foot Allis Chalmer. Everybody got a combine and you could do your own whenever it got ripe.
CW: Oh yes, everybody got their own combine.
TS: Then when you threshed everybody would cut their grain when it was ready, put it in a shock, then we would thresh whenever we got time.
CW: Would you just leave the shocks in the field then?
TS: No, we would put them on a wagon, and haul them up to the threshing machine. We’d use the threshing machine.
CW: So the threshing machine would stay in one place.
TS: Oh yes, it would push the straw out and put it on a pile. I would get fifty cents a day on some days for helping the neighbors. My hands would get tired.
CW: It would be hot and dirty work too.
TS: You would have to be sitting in the dust too.
CW: My husband grew up on a farm. He said blocking sugar beets was one of the hardest jobs he had.
TS: That’s what I did when I was 11 years old.
CW: Was it hard work?
TS: Well, yes. I’d say it was. They were grown in twenty-two inch rows, and we would have to stay between the rows. You would have to leave a beet about every fifteen inches so they could drill them.. Then you would have to go along and hoe them out. That was blocking the beets. Dick Cody said we were the best bunch of boys he ever had.
CW: Is that right!
TS: We would go and block beets for all the neighbors. Henry Brell, Adolph Langenhop, Glen Frysinger had a few, Ray Schweinhagen, and Ed Fulde. That is how I made my money.
CW: How many brothers did you have in your family?
TS: I had three brothers.
CW: There were four of you then.
TS: There were four boys and four girls. The girls all stayed in the house. They had to help Mom cook and stuff. When she got old enough Lavonne was the first one to move out. She worked down at the ASC office. That was the farm program office. One married a daughter of Bob Masters. Mary lives down here on Road 9, right by Route 6 on Road P. Lois lives a half mile south. Do you know Lois Baughman?
CW: Yes I do. Is she your sister?
TS: Yes. Mary Palmer is my sister too. Jerry Palmer is who she married.
CW: Oh yes.
TS: They are both my sisters. We used to have a heck of a good time.
CW: Did you have a farm of your own?
TS: No, my dad owned his own farm. My dad owned a farm. I don’t know how that worked. Whether my grandparents got that farm from the government, I don’t know. You know years and years ago the government gave ground to immigrants. I don’t know how we ever got that farm in the Saneholtz name.
PS: When you were younger did you ever live among the farmers?
CW: Well almost everybody was a farmer years ago.
TS: It seemed like it.
CW: My father wasn’t a farmer, but my grandfathers on both sides were.
PS: Machines kind of did away with that.
TS: An 80 acre farm used to be a nice farm. Now you can’t even live off of an 80 acre farm. Isn’t that something.
CW: Yes, but an 80 acre farm required a lot of work too.
TS: Oh yes, lots of manual work. You see now it is all high tech. These tractors now have power steering, air conditioning and radio and everything. Oh yes!
CW: I can’t remember his name, but he has a lot of farms. He lives over here near the fairgrounds. He says that the tractors that farmers have now are so advanced that they have every square inch of the land figured out. The tractors know how and they tell the farmers how much fertilizer to put on.
TS: Yes and they have a GPS system.
CW: Yes GPS.
TS: These combines today now they can be running and the monitor will tell them the bushels, the moisture, and everything while it is going across the field. If it comes across a place where the wheat is a little thin you know it will register maybe only 40 bushels to the acre. I’ll tell you what, those things are smart. People are smart. It’s wonderful. Computers are wonderful. Did you ever see that Skype we got here in our computer?
CW: No, what is that?
TS: You can send pictures through the air. My grandson in Florida can send pictures.
CW: Does it cost?
TS: No it is free.
CW: I bet the phone companies won’t last too much longer.
TS: Land lines are pretty much done. Pretty much everybody has a cell phone.
PS: Do you have a cell phone?
CW: I have a Trac Phone. My daughter got me one. It has 2000 minutes on it so when I want to call long distance I use that.
TS: With our computer that is what I am talking about, everything is free. You pay for your computer, telephone, and television all on one bill. It is unliminited. I have a cousin in Switzerland and it doesn’t cost me a thing. I have two grandkids in Florida and we talk back and forth. We can call back and forth and it is all on one bill. We like ours. That Skype is all free too.
CW: When you send e-mails. It’s just like that you’ve got it. Whether it is going to California or anywhere.
TS: You just have to feed in the address. And that is free. I can’t understand it.
PS: You pay for the electricity.
TS: That’s just normal. My boy said he was coming over this afternoon. I was going to tell him about you guys.
CW: Tell me a story about those guys.
TS: Well let’s see I don’t know who to start with. Jim Homan, you just got done reading about him falling into that grain bin. He’s a good friend of ours. He’s going with me tomorrow to Detroit. His cell phone saved him. He climbed in this bin. He should have known better. The corn kind of got stuck and he had a long pole and the first thing you know the corn let loose and he just couldn’t get out.
CW: He was pulled right down into it, wasn’t he?
TS: If he hadn’t had a cell phone he’d be dead. He happened to think of his cell phone and he called his hired man. His hired hand’s phone was on vibration, but he knew it rang. He shut the machine off and it took them four hours to get him out.
CW: If he had moved at any time he would have been sucked down in that corn.
TS: He was already sucked down up to his waist. They went in and tried to get to him. They pushed the corn down and it was clear up to his shoulders. They tried to put a cone or some sort of a basket around him. The fire department was there. Life Flight came with a man from Anderson’s in Maumee. He was a grain man and knew about this. He had a power saw and they cut a hole on the side of the grain bin. That way the grain would fall out on the ground around the side and that would clear him. Otherwise he would have been dead. Thanks to his cell phone. I tell you that is something. It was a miracle that he got out.
CW: It just makes good sense to carry one of those things around with you. It’s good for farmers when they are out in the fields.
TS: Ed Hoeffel you know they have the Bed & Breakfast over there by Walkers Mortuary. He just got back from a big trip. He went all over the country.
CW: How is he doing?
TS: He seems to be doing real good. His kids are spread all over. He always cleans our driveway out for us when it snows. He has a nice truck with a snow plow on front. Then we have Jon Miller, you remember him. He was Otto Miller’s son. He married ______. Did you know Jon Miller? Well anyhow Doyle Ward, Betty’s husband. He comes over there every morning.
CW: What do you do, have breakfast together?
TS: No no, we just talk. If you want anything to eat you got to pay for your own. Now like Saturday it was my birthday, so if anybody has a birthday they have to treat the crowd. So Saturday morning I will go in and I will say now whoever want a pancake with an egg on top can have it if they want it. It only cost me two dollars a head. it is easy money. You call in about two hours ahead. That will be my treat. Everybody gets a treat. It’s just a little something that keeps us going.. Windy is there every morning. I don’t know why I even get up. He rides his bike in the summertime.
CW: Now who is this?
TS: Doyle Ward. He is 85 years old and he lives just two blocks down.
CW: Now how old are you?
TS: I will be 82. How old are you then, you must be pretty close to 80?
CW: Thanks! I am 90.
PS: Really! I would never have guessed it.
CW: They had a party for me.
TS: Yes I saw that in the paper not just too long ago. Guess how old her mom is?
CW: I don’t know. How old is she?
PS: She is 102. She is out at Northcrest. She does real good. She doesn’t walk by herself.
TS: Her mind is good. She can remember people from years ago. Anything we want to know from long ago, we ask her she can remember.
CW: Could she tell old memories of long ago?
TS: I told her about you and she wanted to know what she should tell. I have been through about the biggest change in life there was. Of course she went through the horse and buggy. When I got involved why I had an old car, it was an old Dodge. I never rode in a horse and buggy, I always rode in a car, but Mom rode in a horse and buggy. I’ve seen the horses, then the tractors, self-profelled combine and the electric car.
CW: You know Gertrude Mengerink’s father was a mail man and he remembered delivering mail on a horse. It was kind of like a truck only it was real little. He had a hard time getting through the drifts of snow.
TS: They didn’t have roads like we got today. I can remember when these roads were stone around our neighborhood..
CW: Is that right!
TS: We got our road paved. It was one of the first ones. There was a two mile stretch in there. We got it paved. I don’t know how they did it. How they decided and who paid what. Glenn Frysinger’s road was all stone. I drove on a lot of stone roads.
CW: When they had those stone roads, if they drove too fast, the stones would fly.
TS: In the springtime when it thawed sometimes you would have a sinkhole. You’d have to put her in low gear. Oh yes, lots of fun. I’ve seen lots of things happened.
PS: You came at the same time The Young and the Restless is on TV. Do you watch The Young and the Restless?
PS: He does now.
TS: When I was hauling gas, even Howard Overhulse, I could never get him to come out of the house until 1:30.
CW: The farmers weren’t like that.
TS: Oh yes. A lot of the farmers were during the slow season. A farmer only farms about three to four weeks in the Spring and a couple of weeks in the Fall. Unless you got vegetables. Now Dwight Huddle and some of them guys they got year round work because they raise vegetables for Campbell Soup. They raise parsley, carrots, and everything. A normal farmer out here doesn’t even have livestock anymore. That was always the first thing we had to do was get up and milk them cows you know. This we had to do before we went to school. We had an old coal stove to keep warm. My dad would get up early in the morning and put hard coal in the stove and we could hear him shake it. Snow would come in and be on the windowsill and on my blanket in the morning.
CW: Is that right!
TS: Oh yes. You’d reach out under the covers in the morning and get my socks and they’d be froze. I’d put them under the covers to get them warmed up before I would put them on. We made it though didn’t we.
CW: That would toughen you up a bit too.
TS: Oh yes. Then I got to working for Mobil. It’s been a miracle.
CW: This recorder doesn’t have an alarm when it get close to the end. It will just stop.
TS: I can tell you about people, you go out to the Nursing Home now and Northcrest and there is _____ Ernsberger sitting in there. I sold fuel, gasoline and stuff to his dad. There is Coral Kessler, she was a Babcock. She’s in Northcrest and I talked to her. Then here is Doc Vajen’s wife, Margaret Vajen. Peggy Krueger, I don’t know what is wrong with her. Arnold Bischoff out by Gerald. He just fell and broke his hip about a month ago. He’s in there now getting recuperated. There is Dave Meekison.
CW: Is he doing well?
TS: Oh yes. I saw him just the other day. He said sit down, I want to talk to you. He talked about pumping the gas out of his boat sitting behind his house. He lived there on West Washington Street, that nice big brick house. You should see that picture that he has there. He has a light shinging on it. That is really beautiful. Art Shumaker painted that for him. Art painted that picture. Yes, I’ve known Dave for a long long time. Of course Fred Freppel always did my income tax. Of course I’ve known the Dunbars for a long time.
CW: Tell me with your gas business, did you have to take gas out to the farms?
TS: Oh yes. I took out gas and fuel oil both and put it in their homes.
CW: What would you do, would you have a big tank?
TS: I had a big truck. I hauled fuel on my truck. You ought to see my trucks.
END OF SIDE 1
CW: Paula can you tell us a little about yourself
PS: I was born on a farm in between Grelton, Ohio, most people know that is near Malinta, Ohio. After three years living there we moved to Fulton County on a farm near Wauseon. That is where my dad farmed. He had a nice big farm. He had a lot of work. We had cattle, I should say dairy cows to take care of. Everything they ate like cattle or beef, they would have to kill it and process it. They had to do a lot of work. Like I say in the summer I looked forward to seeing my cousins and visit during the summer. They would come and sometimes their parents would come too. They would stay maybe for five to six days.
CW: They would stay five to six days.
PS: Yes, because my Uncle didn’t have a job. They would come over to Mom and Dad’s and come to visit. My Uncle and Aunt didn’t live in the city, they lived in Whitehouse.
CW: Oh yes.
PS: My Mom and Dad would divide them up and maybe they would stay for two to three days. Then they would go someplace else. That is the way they got along and got their food.
CW: Did they have children that were with them?
PS: Yes, they had three.
CW: I bet you enjoyed playing with those children.
PS: Yes, I looked forward to them coming.
CW: Now you said your mother helped a little bit with the farming. What would she do when she was helping in the fields?
PS: She would husk corn and my dad would pull the wagon.
CW: What would happen to you when she was out in the field?
PS: I rode with them in the wagon. They would bundle me all up. I was never left home alone all by myself. There was one time I can remember when Mom and Dad went to the fields and they thought I would be alright for a little time while they were gone. Pretty soon I came out to the barn and I was crying and they said “What’s the matter with you” ? Here I had gotten my big toe caught in the register of the big furnace upstairs. And it hurt! I learned my lesson. I would go outside and play with my cats. We always had a lot of cats. I always loved going to school. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters at home.
CW: Did you become a teacher?
PS: No I didn’t. I became a housewife.
CW: He grabbed you too early.
TS: She worked in the Idle Hour for a while. She worked for Mike DeRosa. Do you remember him? Maybe that was before your time. They had ice creaam there.
CW: I remember the Idle Hour.
TS: You see Vajen’s took it over after that – Bob Vajen and his wife Maggie.
CW: My daughter and her friends used to go there and that is where she learned how to smoke cigarettes. She is still living despite the cigarettes which I am thankful for.
TS: We had five sons. They all graduated from college. Isn’t that something to have five graduate from college. It’s kind of a rarity.
CW: Did you have any daughters then?
TS: Nope. Having girls is like feeding oats to a dead horse.
CW: (Charlotte laughs)
TS: Isn’t that awful!. That’s why they didn’t let me have any girls. My boys all got the girls. We had eight grandsons. Scott has two girls. Dave, our first one. We lived here for 35 years before we ever got one granddaughter. It’s the first time Paula ever bought a doll. We waited 35 years to buy a girl a doll. Isn’t that something of a record. Our grandkids they have all been doing real good.
PS: What was the southside like when you were first here? Was it different from what it is now?
TS: There isn’t much over here, except for the Nazarene Church. That is the only thing that has been moved.
CW: What is she bringing now?
PS: These are pictures of our family.
TS: This is a picture when we were about 50 years old.
PS: This is Ray, our oldest. We lost him this past summer. Then Ray, he had four boys. David had two boys and a girl. Steve had two boys. Here is Ted, he had girls.
TS: He has three little girls. Scott has two girls. This girl here is the youngest. Here is a picture of our oldest granddaughter. She is a gymnast. She went to college and now she is in North Carolina somewhere.
CW: If you had all those boys they would all be Saneholtz’s.
TS: Oh yes. We sure have a lot of them. Sometimes now a girl won’t change her name.
CW: Oh yes.
TS: Here is a picture of our youngest one. She is getting married September the fifth. He is getting married in the state Capitol – in the governor’s mansion.
CW: Oh really!
TS: Do you know what I did. Go get that other picture – the little one over there by the fireplace. You know what I did when we were married for 50 years – I took everybody to the Bahamas.
CW: You did!
TS: All my kids, their kids, and their girlfriends. I took everybody to the Bahamas. That is something. The first to do it was Doug Baker’s in-laws. They had heard what I did.
CW: That is a lot better way than to take them on a cruise. They don’t really get together.
TS: To have a big family party or a dance, I don’t do that. Why not take them all to a place to gamble. Joe at fourteen years old went to a casino. I gave him a roll of quarters. He had a lot of fun. Nathan, he was fourteen or fourteen and a half. They went and gambled. We were the only ones really. They had a tag on everybody. Twenty four hours a day you could have anything you wanted. It cost me about twenty thousand.
CW: I bet it did.
TS: We flew out of Cleveland to Miami and then we got on the boat and went across to the Bahamas. Oh yes, what a trip. I still cnn’t get over that. We played with the dolphins.
PS: I wanted to show her this. Here is my mother’s picture. She was 102 years old.
CW: Yes that looks familiar. I saw that in the newspaper.
PS: They did put it in the paper. This is her sister Victoria Arps. This is a picture of my Aunt Josephine. She will be 100 years old next January.
TS: Those three girls are all over 90 years.
CW: These three sisters?
TS: Yes, those three are sisters. Here is a picture of the bunch we took to the Bahamas. After we finished eating we went out on this rotunda and I was going to take a picture and this guy stepped up and said let me take a picture of everybody. What a good time we had! This little guy here he gambled. Oh yes.
CW: What were the Bahamas like when you were there? Were they crowded with tourists?
TS: We went over there during Thanksgiving time. So all of my kids were out of school.
CW: Oh yes.
TS: The people who were still working needed to get off from work too. We had a lot of fun.
CW: You celebrated life.
TS: Everything was paid for. You could do and have anything you would want. What a deal!
CW: That would have been pretty nice.
TS: This guy is in Miami put a mark on his picture.
CW: You know what I would like to know is do you have any stories to tell. You know how families used to sit around and tell stories about people years ago and they would laugh and laugh. They would tell the same stories over and over maybe fifty some times and people would laugh as hard as they did the first time they had heard it. People enjoyed that. Do you remember doing that?
TS: Yes but I don’t remember just exactly what kind. They would tell all kinds of stories. I can tell you one. You know you see a blonde. This blonde got on an airplane out in California and was going to fly to New York. Of course she figures … 110. She got on the airplane and turned left instead of right and got in the first class section of the airplane. They took off for New York. The stewardess came along and was checking her paperwork and everything. She said hey lady you are in the first class section of the airplane. You belong in the back. She said nope, I am sitting right here. So the stewardess went and got the co-pilot. He said lady, you are sitting in the wrong part of the airplane, you belong in the back part, that is what you paid for. She said nope, I am blonde and I’m beautiful and I’m sitting right here. The co-pilot went back and told the pilot. The pilot came back and whispered something in her ear. She got up and just as polite as she could be she went and sat in the rear. The stewardess and the co-pilot said what did you tell her. I couldn’t make her move. All I told her was that the first class wasn’t going to New York. Charlotte and Paula both laugh.
CW: There are a lot of blonde jokes aren’t there.
TS: There must be a lot of them. That’s an old one. I have told that many many times.
CW: When your cousins were here visiting did they tell any stories about their families?
PS: Not really. We live close enough we see each other on a regular basis.
CW: I see, so they came pretty often.
PS: You are talking about the ones that used to come down here on the farm. We would see them maybe two to three times a year. They never told much that went on with their families.
TS: Do you know where the Adrian Pike was. At the end of the cement is where she used to live. I would pick her up on my way to town. I didn’t waste any gas picking her up.
PS: He has always been conservative.
CW: We remember the Depression days and we had to be.
TS: You are right. We would get a nickel on Saturday nights. We would walk around all night waiting to spend that one nickel.
CW: You had to be careful what you bought.
TS: I remember you would go to the show I didn’t have enough money.
CW: I remember my husband saying that his father would give the kids each a nickel when they would go to the fair. That was all that they could have. Some of them would buy a big candy bar. They would buy that right away and then they would have no money for the rest of the day. Their dad worked parking cars. That was a lot of money in those days. You would learn to hang on to that nickel too. You had to spend it carefully, I guess.
TS: Do you remember Saturday nights here in town? I tell you there would be a crowd of people every Saturday night. They would just walk the streets, oh yes.
CW: They would stand and talk.
TS: You would go into Spenglers and all of them people were talking German.
TS: Oh yes. Mom could talk German. My Mom taught German in school. My Dad could talk German, but he never taught us kids. He told us we are Americans here in the United States and we will talk English. Now some words I can catch.
CW: That would have made it easier for you when you started school. Your schoolwork was in English.
TS: I never had any problem there. Some kids had a problem. Like some of the kids from Freedom Township. Them guys out there talked German for a long long time. That St. John’s Lutheran Church there just west of Gerald it wasn’t too many years ago that the men sat on one side of the church and the women sat on the other.
CW: In school?
TS: No, in church. That wasn’t very many years ago really.
CW: Just a few miles from West Unity there is an old church. Their hymnals are all written in German. There is a division right down through the middle of the church. It has two separate doors where you go in.
TS: See that is right.
CW: They have two bells. One was for calling people to church and the other one was for tolling when someone died. They would toll the bell once for every year the person lived. This old couple that used to take care of it said the last time they did it. The man that did it was eighty some years old. They tolled and tolled that bell. Then they found out that he hadn’t died yet.
TS: Oh yes, I don’t know!
CW: Do you remember going to Grelton, Ohio and seeing movies showed on the side of the building?
PS: Oh I remember going to one after we lived in Fulton County. Mostly we’d go there and they danced a lot.
TS: There was a dance hall right there by the railroad tracks.
CW: Was this in Grelton?
PS: Yes and there was a K of P. That was a lodge. They had a building there and upstairs they had a floor, a dance floor which is what they used it for really.
TS: It was a square dance.
CW: Oh yes. Was that the K of C?
TS: No it was the K of P.
CW: That would have been the Knights of Pythias.
PS: I don’t know what they call it now. I don’t know if they even have that now.
TS: It was just like the Grange Hall, same way you could go over there and dance. There was square dancing upstairs. Mr. Harmon was there. That is tore down now.
CW: Did you ever go to a barn dance? They would clean up the barn and have a big dance out there.They would have somebody with a fiddle come in and play. How else would they make music, do you know?
TS: Oh, trumpets, or a saxophone. Some people are pretty good at that.
PS: There are some real good fiddlers around too.
TS: Jim Slee’s father was good. He went to all kinds of fiddling contests. Jim Slee’s dad, did you know him?.
TS: He was my classmate and he is at Northcrest. Old Doc George. He was a good doctor. He brought me into this world.
PS: People used to line up and they would stand outside the building waiting to get in.
CW: How much did he charge each patient?
TS: A dollar.
CW: A dollar each patient and that was all?
TS: He bought suits from _____. He always had deep pockets. He always said he had to have deep pockets so he could put them dollar bills down in there. He had a medicine cabinet behind that wall. He’d go back in there and come out with some pills. Isn’t that something how they used to do that.
CW: That was before they had penicillin I suppose.
TS: Oh yes. Penicillin and sulphur. I was the first one in our family to play football.
CW: Oh you were!
TS: My mom and dad always said the older kids were in the band. I tried to play a saxophone. I started on a trombone, and then a clarinet. I got in band in one night. Mike Lombardi was the band director. The band took off playing. You can’t hear yourself play.
CW: No, you can’t.
TS: Not when you are in the band. I came home that night and threw the clarinet on the davenport and my dad asked what was the matter with me. I told him I quit. I went out for football.
CW: What did you wear for protection?
TS: You mean for football? Oh we had a helmet. It was a leather helmet. We had shoulder pads. We had blocking pads and hip pads.
CW: Were these all leather?
TS: The pads was. With my helmet why you could take it and bend it around you know. I tell you, my boys can’t believe it. One time they tackled me you know and I run into a pile and somebody grabbed my helmet and turned it around backwards. It didn’t fit. I jumped up and I was going to whip him. The old referee grabbed me and I said look at my helmet. Well I didn’t know who did it. There was a whole big pile of guys. I was an all star really in playing football. Now this is Liberty Center now. That’s where I went to school. Did Ray have a hardware down here too at one time? It was around the corner down there. Yes it was right by the railroad tracks. That’s what I was trying to tell the guys down at the coffee shop. He had a hardware in Liberty Center. Did he sell that to Bill Sharpe?
CW: I don’t know who he sold his hardware store to.
TS: I don’t know either. Bill Sharpe came in here later on. Gerald Spiess bought that hardware years ago. I sold gas in the Liberty area since 1946. That corner station.
CW: How did you sell the gas? Did you just go around and ask if they needed any?
TS: We had customers you know. Like if you were my customer for heating oil I would come around every couple of weeks, fill up your drum and give you a bill. You wouldn’t have to call me. It was just automatic. I sold fuel oil, man oh man.
CW: How about your farm machinery. How would you go about and get gas to them?
TS: I would go to the refinery and fill up. I would drive around. I had a route and stop at these farmers and check their tank. If they needed any I would put some in.
CW: How did you check the tanks?
TS: I would lift up the lid and put a stick down in there. A lot of times it got so I could just look at the shadow down in there and I could tell just how far down it was. When you look into a mirror it is so simple to me. When you look into a mirror you are the same distance away as you are from it. Isn’t that right?
TS: So I would look down into their gas tank and I could see my shadow down in there, so I knew the gas was halfway from that.
TS: So I didn’t have to use my stick all the time. Those are some of the tricky things you learn.
CW: Did you ever become the owner of the business?
TS: I will tell you I started working for Wilbur in 1946 after I graduated.
CW: Wilbur was your older brother?
TS: Right. He was seven years older than me. He come back from the Air Force in 1946 in the Spring. Ray Cook had this distributorship here in Napoleon. He took it away from Moe Meyers dad – Leo. Of course Ray Cook wanted to go back to Cleveland, which is where he was from. Of course Wilbur went along and met with the district manager, and said yes we have an opening and you can run it. He ran that from 1946 to 1950. When the Korean War started the Air Force wanted him to come back and be a pilot. He got to be a Captain, so he went back and turned it over to me. I got to be the agent. That was in 1950. They were tough times and sometimes they didn’t pay you know. In1952 Wilbur come back from the service from California. He flew the B52’s He never came back.
CW: Did he lose it or what.
TS: He was getting ready to go to Korea.
CW: What happened?
TS: The engine caught fire on the B59 he was flying over California. He was doing a practice run. There were13 guys in that airplane. Wilbur and the co-pilot sat in the front here. They were doing practice sessions to jump. They were teaching them how to jump. These guys would line up you know, and they would say jump. He said to him Jump, no this is serious. This is no practice. So they started jumping. Of course Wilbur was the last one out. The wing was damaged. He finally said to the co-pilot Jump. He jumped out and Wilbur let go and the plane rolled and he come out the top. That is how lucky he was. You know him, how lucky he was. When he pulled his chute some of the burning flames had burned some of the panels on his parachute.
CW: It’s a wonder the fire didn’t burn them all.
TS: He come down pretty hard. He hurt his knees. We went out there a few years ago and looked up that mountain. We knew about where it was. It took a couple of different trips to find it just where the airplane came down. He was looking for different parts.
CW: Was there anything left?
TS: No they had cleaned it up pretty good. There was nothing there. I was there sitting along the road. I didn’t walk clear up that mountain. I got part way up and I quit. That was enough for me. I walked back to the car. Yes that was quite a deal. They made him the Agent and I was the Route Salesman for about four years. Then he decided life wasn’t fast enough for him or he didn’t make enough money or something so he quit. Wilbur got to selling cars. I got to be the Agent then. I had to hire a man to help me. I got two trucks. Then the savings plan started. That was a good deal.
END OF TAPE