Category Archives: OralHistory

Edminston, Eva Viola

Interviewed by unknown, date unknown.

Sex: Female
Race: Caucasian
Maiden Name: Warner
Spouse: Jim
Date of Marriage: Nov. 26, 1931
DOB: December 17, 1910
Place of Birth: Hancock County
Father: Charlie, Mother: Molly
Education: High school, Arcadia, OH, Graduated: 1930
Daughter: Phyllis Brookes, Son: James-deceased
Work Experience: Owned and operated Edmiston Dairy for 20 years. Collected Milk from area farmers, processed and bottled it.
Retired from: Marathon-House Keeping Dept., 1976
Church: Methodist
Organizations: Was in Pinochle Club at Marathon
Hobbies: Playing cards and watching TV

Interviewer: Can you tell me something about your childhood?

Eva: Something what?

Interviewer: Can you tell me something about your childhood?

Eva: I can’t understand what you are talking about.

Interviewer: Did you like school?

Eva: Yes, I guess I was the only one in family that did. There were 10 of us. My two brothers went into the service and the rest of them just… My hearing aid needs a new battery. It’s just about driving me nuts….hello nothing (laughs and takes out hearing aid). Just try to do what they tell me.

Interviewer: Do you watch TV? Do you watch Television?

Eva: Yea, when I don’t have anything else to do I just watch TV.

Interviewer: Where did you work when you were younger?

Eva: Not really long, I worked in the Marathon, and I worked on the 8th floor for 20 years. It was called house keeping, had so many rules to claim. I did that for 20 years.

Interviewer: We have the same birthday.

Eva: Well, what do you know! (laughs). I had four or five sisters. Let’s see, Helen Lois, Maxine and Lula, Lila and Nina, That’s five isn’t it. I had three Brothers. Does that come out to ten (laughs).

Interviewer: That’s eight. Are you one of the youngest?

Eva: No, I’m next to the oldest

Interviewer: Are your brothers younger then you then?

Eva: Yes.

Interviewer: Are your brothers still in the service?

Eva: No, the two that were in the service are deceased, and I just have the one brother now. He’s the youngest one and I have, let’ see, Alan and Ruth Maxine and Lula. I have five sisters deceased. Four sisters, and counting myself, and I’m still (laughs).

Eva: When I was married or afterwards or before?

Interviewer: Before.

Eva: We went to a lot of card games. We played a lot of cards. I belonged to a pinnacle club.

Interviewer: What where some of the things you did in the club?

Eva: Not much of anything. We just played cards, then lose your draw and go home (laughs).

Interviewer: When did you retire?

Eva: In, um, ‘76. I worked at marathon for 20 years.

Interviewer: Did you ever win any awards?

Eva: No response.

Interviewer: Where were you born?

Eva: Hancock County

Interviewer: What is your address?

Eva: I don’t think I know… 221. It’s another address out there. I don’t know. You can see it when you go out.

Interviewer: Have you always lived in Ohio?

Eva: Yea

Interviewer: Did you travel much?

Eva: Took one trip my husband and I took one trip to Florida and that’s about all.

Interviewer: What did you see down there?

Eva: What did I see?

Interviewer: Why did you go down there?

Eva: Just to go for a trip. Saw a lady that wanted to see, I don’t think we were there one or two days and then we came back home.

Interviewer: Was raising a farm difficult?

Eva: No, dad farmed. I dressed them and he sold them. I dressed 22 hundred chickens that year.

Interviewer: That’s a lot of chickens.

Eva: We went down to the Hyatt Regency and they wouldn’t let us go in; we had slacks on. We had put our coats on and they wouldn’t let us go through. There was men sitting in their sleeves and they didn’t want to see women with pants on (laugh).

Interviewer: What other places did you visit?

Eva: We went to the higher cabin (?). I didn’t get around much.

Interviewer: What kind of music did you listen to?

Eva: Oh, jazz. (laughs) Fast music.

Interviewer: Do you like to dance?

Eva: Well I never learned how. My husband knew, and when he met me, he never taught me. No-one ever taught me, so I never knew how. My daughter is a good dancer, but she goes to dances all the time, and that makes a difference.

Interviewer: Did you have a big wedding?

Eva: When I, no, we went to the justice of peace. I gave my daughter a big wedding. Interviewer: Did you have a good childhood?

Eva: Yea, it was pretty good. We had to work together. There were so many of us.

Interviewer: Was it hard for you to have so many brothers and sisters?

Eva: No, we got along fine; mother had three girls, she had, yea, that wore diapers at one time (laughs) at once.

Interviewer: Did you go through the depression?

Eva: did I what?

Interviewer: (Repeats question.)

Eva: Go through the depression? Yeah.

Interviewer: What was that like?

Eva: It was terrible. Mom had to bake bread and we didn’t know what it was to have a loaf of bread. Mother had to bake it. We didn’t have money to buy stuff. Dad was a tenant farmer. He only got so much money a month. Had to make it do.

Interviewer: Did you go to college?

Eva: My folks were too poor; they didn’t have money to send me.

Interviewer: What would you be if you did?

Eva: Well when I was in high school I would study economics, learned how to bake and I figured I was going to be a house wife, so I was going to need to know how.

Interviewer: You’re a good baker?

Eva: I haven’t done it for a long time.

Interviewer: What kind of things did you like to bake?

Eva: Butterscotch cookies. You can stir them up one night and bake them up the next day. You wouldn’t have all the mess at one time.

Interviewer: What did you guys do for fun?

Eva: Right now we don’t go play cards or anything like before. We belonged to a club and we enjoyed that.

Interviewer: You don’t play cards here?

Eva: Well they play, but they don’t call it pinnacle. They call it euchre. I mean they call it something else. They play once in a while.


Huddle, Dwight

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, February, 2004

C. Mr. Huddle is showing me a picture of his family. Let’s see, that’d be-how many generations ago?

D. He’s my great-grandfather.

C. And, tell me what he did?

D. Farmed.

C. Farmed? And then he must have also-didn’t you say he built that house?

D. Well he did but the first house that he built was a log cabin.

C. And that was where?

D. Right there by the fairground where the house sits now.

C. Good.

D. And he built another house. He built one on down the road later on. Corney Schumaker owned that house then, later. And he built the third house.

C. So he was sort of a carpenter then.

D. Yeah, the white house is still standing there.

C. Yeah. Built of good sturdy boards too I’ll bet.

D. There’s more of the family. Another generation’s on there. (shows a second picture)

C. This is a generation younger?

D. Um, hm. This is the same John Huddle and his wife. She was a Shumaker.

C. Oh, I’ll bet that’s how he happened to build for Schumaker.

D. Yeah. This is my grandad here and this is his wife. Dan Huddle. And this is Helen. Remember Helen Travis, Dad’s sister, schoolteacher?

C. I probably met her.

D. She taught at Malinta, McClure and other Wood County schools. But this is my Dad here/

C. Oh, the little one. He’s a cute little kid. My sister has the cutest picture of our father when he was just about that age, maybe a little bit older. He had to wear a dress to get his picture taken. He was just about ready to graduate into pants and he was so mad because they took a picture of him in a dress instead of pants. (laughs) It shows all over him in that picture.

D. Now this is Elizabeth Sudyam’s father and that is her mother.

C. Oh yeah. She looked just like her mother, didn’t she.

D. Yeah, she sure did.

D. This is Will Huddle, my grandad’s brother. He wrote the family history from down there in the Shenandoah Valley. They have a reunion every year. He went there and helped get a history together of all the Huddles.

C. When did they come to United States?

D. 1740 or 1730, I guess. They settled in the Shenandoah Valley.

C. They were there during the Revolutionary War then, weren’t they.

D. Yeah. As a matter of fact my sister belongs to the DAR.

C. Did he fight in the Revolutionary War?

D. No, no. They were farmers. They were all farmers, about ten, twelve generations of them now.

C. Well that’s something (the picture) your grandchildren will treasure some day.

D. This is the picture of one of the family reunions down there in Virginia.

C. Big one!

D. This is John’s girl Brenda and that’s Johnny. Well, I’ll have to write it all down sometime.

C. Yeah.

D. Oh, well that’s Will Huddle’s house. I wanted to show you where this one was.

C. This was Daniel Huddle?

D. No.

C. Say it again.

D. I think the first Huddle born in Henry County-uh-there was Samuel Huddle born to John and Catharine Shumaker and-uh-I think he was only four months old when he died, and he’s buried down here in Hoy Cemetery. And everybody always wondered why he was buried in Hoy Cemetery. He was buried in 1861, I think it was. I don’t know if there was many churches in Napoleon at that time. There was a church there at that cemetery and that’s where they went to church. But John Huddle was a charter member when they started the church up there in the corner by Emanuel’s church and St. Paul Lutheran. There was one settin’ in the corner there, what was it?

C. Episcopalian.

D. Episcopalian? Yeah, he was a charter member there when they started. I don’t know what year that started.

C. That was a beautiful little church and I thought it was too bad when they just sort of -what’d they do, tear that down or something?

D. Yeah. They tore it down. But anyway this boy only lived four months.

C. How’d he happen to die?

D. I don’t know. Nobody knows. Of course there’s this little stone down there on it.

C. They had so many diseases then that there was no cure for, and the kids’d get sick and there wouldn’t be any penicillin. All of a sudden they’d be gone. But then they always had quite a few children so they had others, but it made it hard, I’m sure. That’s O.K. Don’t worry about it. (both laugh)
(tape turned off while they discuss change of subject)

E. Well maybe I’d better start back from the beginning.

C. O.K. Do that!

D. When I was a Junior in High School Leo Dunbar took Dad and I out to Moline, Illinois where they were building that new self-propelled combine and Dad was interested in gettin’ one and-uh so he took us out and they was experimenting with it. There wasn’t any self-propells around at that time. I went along with them the first day. They toured the factory and then we went out to the farm and I got sick-awful sick. I laid in the car the whole day-oh just dry heaves. Then in the hotel that night I felt worse; then the next day we come home and I was really sick. I laid at home in bed for two days and then Dad finally called Dr. Delventhol and Doc come out and took a look at me and he said, “You’ve got to get him to the hospital right away. He’s got a bursted appendix.” I don’t know how he knew that but .

C. Well he probably felt all over your abdomen.

D. Yeah, they operated that day yet and-uh-I know everybody was worried because my Mom’s brother had died just a couple years before that from bursted appendix.

C. Oh yeah. Well back in those days they didn’t have any penicillan.

D. No, all they had was sulfa drugs. After that last operation I had they didn’t even sew me up. They left it all open. I just laid on my back and they kept pouring in sulfa powder.

C. Oh my gosh!

D. Yeah They’d pour on whole cupsful, just covered it with sulfa powder and let it heal from the inside out. The Doc told me that.

C. Is that what they did this time?

D. No. The first time they just sewed it up but then I got infection from that and the last time they left open then. I laid there in bed and people didn’t think I could hear but I could hear everything that was said. Couldn’t hardly talk but I could hear everything that was said. My Grandad came in one day and said, “Oh he’s a gonner. He’s a gonner.” (laughs)

C. Oh no, what a terrible thing to hear! (laughs)

D. He didn’t think I could hear but I could hear just as plain as day and-yeah. But then I was just about ready to leave the hospital and Dr. Delventhal and Walt Crahan went to the Ohio State/Michigan game up at Ann Arbor and on the way back they had an accident and Dr. Delventhal broke his leg. His office at that time was up above the bank, Community Bank.

C. That’s where it was.

D. Up that long stairway.

C. Oh he was a colorful character! Remember how he used to call everybody a ‘horse’s ass”? One day on his birthday the nurses got together and baked him this cake in the shape of a horse’s ass. (laughs)

D. Well, he was quite a doctor.

C. Yeah. He was a good old soul.

D. My wife would go there. She was afraid of doctors but she wasn’t afraid of him, I don’t think.

C. Well he was such a good guy.

D. Yeah. Sometimes you’d go in and sit there and wait, and you’d ask him how much you owed and he’d say, “Oh, get ya the next time.” Sometimes he didn’t even charge. It wasn’t very much either. Later on Doc and Walt Crahan and Charlie Bauman, they used to stop out here and Doc would always come in the house. He always had to come in the house to see Hazel and he’d give her a big hug. Oh that’d embarrass her to death.

C. (laughs) And he knew it, I’ll bet. Just to be ornery.

D. Yeah the three of them travelled around together quite a lot I think.

C. His wife-what was her name? I forget her first name. Delventhol’s wife.

D. Oh gee, she did?

C. Anyway, she smoked and he didn’t want her to smoke, so she rigged up a tent down in the cellar and she’d go down in that place and smoke a cigarette. Then he found out about it once or smelled it on her or something so her jig was up at that time but I remember her tellin’ about that.

D. I remember goin’ to his house at night to pick up medicine when the kids were sick or something and Hazel would call him and he’d say, “Oh pick it up, up to the house.” He’d have it sittin’ there on top of the mantel of the fireplace.

C. Would he make housecalls?

D. Oh yeah. They don’t do that any more.

C. Nope. Not any more. Just about the time my husband was starting to practice in 1951 people would say, “Oh it’s better just to go to the office but then if you need him he should come out to the house.” He made a few housecalls. He went to Bessie Yaichner. Did you know her? I think she’s dead now but anyway he used to go out there because she-(laughs)-she would be in the window watching for him when he’d drive up in the driveway. She’d leave the window and by the time he got to the house she was in bed and oh she hadn’t been out of bed for days. (laughs) But when he left her husband would give him some of this homemade wine and he said, “Boy it was wonderful stuff. It was really potent!” (laughs) So when Bessie was sick he’d go out and see her.

D. Yeah. I remember when our first boy was born-John-born in 1949-the doctor bill was $40 and the hospital bill was $60.

C. Is that right?

D. It’s a little different today. (laughs)

C. And you stayed in the hospital.

D. What: nine, ten days? They didn’t throw you out the next day.

C. And $60 for the whole thing.

D. Yeah. And that was in the old hospital, the old house yet.

C. And I remember Isabelle Aderman said-see she worked in that hospital-and she said, “Many’s the time we had to carry the patients on a stretcher up those steps. There wasn’t any elevator.

D. That’s where I was, in that old hospital on the top floor and they had to go out and get some men to go out to help carry me down to operate, then back up. While I was in there the Neuhouser boys all came in because their brother-in-law-he run the fox farm at Ridgeville Corners. He got crushed behind a truck up against a building. Yeah, he was married to a Neuhauser girl and they brought him in there and they put him in the room across the hall from me.

C. Did he live?

D. Yeah, he did live. It crushed his chest but he lived and the three Neuhauser men, Emil, or Ival and Menno-I don’t remember their names anymore but they run the Hatchery and were in there every day to see their brother-in-law and then they’d come across the hall to see me. We became good friends. In fact they built the chicken farm up here. Remember they raised the chickens and one of them put out a lot of pine trees. blue spruce. The three I’ve got out there in the front yard he give me when we built the house.

C. Did you build this house?

D. Yeah, about 35 years ago.

C. I always liked the layout of this house. Who planned it? Did you or Hazel or

D. Yeah we did I guess.

C. That’s what I thought. You drew up your own plans.

D. Drew up our own plans.

C. Yeah and that’s the way people used to do and it’d be perfectly fine. You didn’t have to have any architect to design it.

D. Howard Mitchell was the carpenter and he had Don Dickman. He was the carpenter that helped me. We helped. John was a senior in High School so he was home a half a day too and he helped. Yeah. Hazel kept track of everything we spent and it came up with just a little under $25,000 for the house and the pond and everything. Got a full basement. It’s a lot different today.

C. Oh yeah! $25,000 I think is what our house cost but we didn’t have a pond or any acreage. Well now, you were in World War II?

D. Yes. I thought maybe that’s what you were coming out for.

C. Well it was one thing. (both laugh)

D. That’s another long story.

C. How’d you get drafted, or didn’t you?

D. Well, I graduated from High School in 1944, and-well let’s back up. When Pearl Harbor was bombed in ’41 and I remember going with my Dad up to the Armory. He had to go register ’cause he was only . . .I was 15 at the time. He must have been 36 ’cause he had to register and I went along up there to the Armory. I had no thought of gettin’ in but of course he was worried that he was going to go. But then when I graduated in 1944 I got the ‘Greetings’ letter a couple months later and 40 of us left Napoleon on Dec. 7, 1944.

C. So you were drafted then?

D. When Pearl Harbor was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941 by the Japanese I was 15 years old and in the 10th grade. I remember going up to the Armory with my Dad. He had to register for the draft. I never thought I would end up in the service. I graduated in May, 1944, turned 18 in July, got a one-month deferment to help on the farm.

Then I got a notice to report for a physical. Well we went down to Cleveland to take a physical. That’s what I thought, we were goin’ down for a physical, but that night I ended up in Great Lakes Boot camp. (laughs)

C. Never had a chance to go home or anything?

D. No, no-and I just sent in a while back and got my service records and I came across one sheet in there that. . . I see what happened now. We got down there and they had a whole bunch of us in a room. There were people from all over taking their physicals and officers there. There was one officer said, “Who wants to go to the Navy?” Well right away everybody just put their hands up. They wanted to go to the Navy instead of the Army. So this fellow said, “You, you, you and you step up here. You’re in the Navy.” And I was one of the four.

C. Had you put your hand up?

D. Yeah. I’d sooner have the Navy than the Army. But then I got the service record back and it said I volunteered; I’d enlisted. (laughs) I wasn’t drafted. They had blanks there to check and I noticed that the blank on ‘drafted’ wasn’t check and here I’d enlisted that day. That’s how I got in the Navy, but I’m glad I did. I went through the Boot Camp up there in Great Lakes and in basic engineering school.

C. Was that in Cleveland?

D. No that was in Chicago. Great Lakes, Illinois. It’s a big naval training station up there. I spent, I think, 10 weeks in boot camp and then I went to service school, basic engineering for another eight and then I got a ten-day leave, I think. Come home and then I went back to Chicago and I shipped to San Francisco, Camp Shumaker, and then I caught a ship that had just come back from Okinawa and they needed some replacements, some extra men so twenty of us got aboard the ship there.

A word about the ship I was assigned to: APA-48 Uss – Leon. It turned out to be a breat ship. It was 492 feet long, 8100 tons. It could carry 2000 troops and all their equipment: trucks, jeeps. It carried 26 landing craft (LCVP’s) to take the troops ashore. Had a crew of 500. It left Norfolk March, 1944 for the Pacific on its first trip. It had gone through five invasions starting with Saipan, Jalua, Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa-all without hardly a scratch.

She was being known as the Lucky Leon. I boarded the Leon in San Francisco on May 20, 1945 with 20 other replacements and believe it or not 299 Navy Waves. The crew didn’t even notice us replacements coming abooard. (laughs) (The Waves were the women’s division of the Navy.) We took the Waves to Pearl Harbor, then came back to Portland, Oregon to get the Army troops. They had dances in the mess Hall every nite. I was sicker than a dog the first three days out. Sea Sick. Nothing any worse. Got over it and never got seasick again, even in the typhoon. After things got settled down my job was in the fire room. Had to watch steam boiler 4 hours on, 8 house off around the clock, 7 days a week.

And we went up to Portland, Oregon, got a load of Army troops. Sailed up the Columbia River–that was a nice view. I thought, “Boy this is gonna be nice.” We went up to Portland and loaded up troops. They loaded troops day and night. We weren’t there very long. Then we sailed right back down the river and across the Pacific, way over to Okinawa. Got there at Okinawa while they were still fightin’ down at the far end and-so we unloaded our troops.

C. What did you do?

D. I was down in the bottom of the ship. I was a fireman way down at the bottom and-uh-of course I volunteered to be a fireman. Most farm boys were firemen. When you go into the Navy you either wear a white band or a red shoulder band and the white band was ‘seaman’ and the red band around your arm was ‘fireman.’ They thought farm boys knew a little bit about machinery so they made them firemen. So we were made electricians or something like that but I got to be a fireman down in the fire room. I was a boilermaker really, my rank was boilermaker third class and-uh-after Okinawa we pulled away

C. What’d you feel like when you went into Okinawa, weren’t you pretty scared?

D. Well, we got a good scare before we got there. One night about three o’clock in the morning the Captain-y’know they always blow that whistle real loud and the bosun mate blows a whistle. It makes a real shrill noise and you hear it all over the ship. It wakes you up real quick. Then, “This is the Captain speaking.” He said, “We’re being trailed by a submarine and can’t make contact. Presumed to be enemy.” He said, “Just be alert. That’s all.” (laughs)

C. I’ll bet you would!

D. (laughs) That was three o’clock in the morning. I didn’t get much sleep the rest of the night. But the sub never bothered us. We were zig-zaggin’ of course. Ships did that during war. But he said the sub followed us for a ways but he was waitin’ for something bigger and then-uh-many years later we had a ship reunion and I found out what that sub was waitin’ on. A couple days after that is when the Indianapolis got sunk, the cruiser Indianapolis, right in that same area. Big loss of life on that. 800 men drowned and got ate up by sharks. That was a mess.

C. That was a bigger ship than yours was.

D. Yeah that was a big ship, a cruiser, and it had just delivered atomic bombs at Tinian, China and of course we didn’t know this till 40 years later. We didn’t know anything about it. The Indianapollis was going from Tinian to the Philippines.

C. But they had already delivered those bombs.

D. Yes, we were goin’ through that same area. I looked back at the timing and everything. But anyway we got to Okinawa with the troops and unloaded them. I got to go ashore. I rode ashore one day on an army dukw, went ashore with the troops.

C. Were you scared?

D. No. Well, the Captain was good to us fellows who worked down in the fireroom and it was awful hot. I don’t know. He treated us right. He told the officers to leave us go ashore a day if we weren’t standin’ watch. We could ride ashore, spend the day on the beach and ride back again at night cause there was always boats goin’ back and forth, either landing craft or dukws back and forth. But we were there only a couple days and unloaded. Then we backed off and went to-uh-Ulitli Atoll.

C. Did you unload troops there?

D. Yeah, troops and equipment. Then we backed off and went to Ulithi Atoll, a couple little maps.

C. Is that spelled like Ulysses like Ulysses Grant?

D. No. It’s Ulithis, somethin’ like that, a group of islands. They moved the natives off. The Navy took over. They had a marine airbase there, and while we were anchored there we were sittin’ there and waiting. See, they had the invasion of Japan all planned. It was supposed to take effect in October but then we found out later they moved it up to September. They were gonna go in September. While we were sittn’ there at this atoll I noticed on the bulletin board one day, “Anybody of a certain age and certain height and weight and so forth could volunteer for the Naval Air Corps.” Well, I thought, “Yeah. I took flying lessons before I went over there in Wauseon. And I always kind of wanted to be in the Air Corps. So I just volunteered. So there were just two of us on the ship that volunteered and fit everything so we went ashore; they took us ashore that day.”

C. At where?

D. At that atoll over to the Marine Air Base. The Marines had an Air Base there and they had a small hospital. We went over there and took our physical. We spent all day. They took us over in a small boat and-uh-we took the physicals and that afternoon before we left the officer called us in and he said we passed everything and we’d be leavin’ in October for Pensacola, the Naval Air Station. He had the orders all wrote out and-but then on the way out he said, “Take a look at the bulletin board when you go out.” We walked by the bulletin board and it said, “A large bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT.” Here that was the first atomic bomb, the day we took the physical..

C. Isn’t that something!

D. And it never said, ‘atomic bomb’. We didn’t know that till later. It just said, ‘the equilavent of 20,000 tons.”

C. They probably didn’t dare let that information out.

D. Well it wasn’t very long then till we got back on ship and about the next day then we took off, back to Okinawa. We got back there and then we loaded up Marines and-uh-for the invasion of Japan I guess. The plan was still on to invade. And then we found out it was an atomic bomb, whatever that was. That was something new. And then the next day, I think the third day another bomb was dropped then on Nagasaki. So then we were just settin’ there waitin’ with the load of Marines on ship and. .

C. Outside Okinawa, were you?

D. Yeah, we were settin’ there in the harbor, in the bay on Okinawa and the second bomb was dropped on the 9th. Oh, that was a busy place. We’d go to General Quarters night and morning. The kamicazes were comin over and they’d come out of the sun . . they’d wait till just about dusk and they’d fly out of the sun and you couldn’t see ’em.

C. Couldn’t see ’em?

D. Couldn’t see ’em. They come out of the sun and you couldn’t see ’em but we’d go to General Quarters every afternoon about 4 or 5 o’clock we’d go to General Quarters. Everybody takes their battle station, they’d seal all the hatches and we had smoke generators and . . .

C. This was on board ship?

D. Yeah, on board ship. They had smoke generators. Our captain, he was very cautious. He’d start up these smoke generators and they would hide the ship-make so much black smoke you couldn’t spot the ship. Some ships had those on and we had ’em on each end of the ship and one in a small boat along side the ship. He really hid the ship. So much smoke you couldn’t see nothing. So we came out a little lucky.

C. Did it affect your breathing?

D. Yeah, especially us that were on duty down in the fire room. They had to shut off the ventilators. They sucked that oily smoke down in the fire room so they had to shut off the ventilators and then the heat starts buildin’ up. It got pretty hot, sometimes 120 down there. It got warm down there. But we set there then . . .

C. Is that near the equator? It is isn’t it?

D. No it’s pretty well north, Okinawa is. It’s pretty close to Japan. It’s not that far away.

C. So it would be north of the Philippines?

D. Oh yeah, north of the Philippines. We sat there waitin’ to see what was goin’ to happen after we dropped those two bombs and then they told us one day, they said, “Watch for a white plane. Don’t fire at it. The Japanese are going to fly in a white Betty bomber over Okinawa down to the Philippines to talk to Mac Arthur, talk peace.” So we waited. A lot of us that were off watch we sat up there on the deck of the ship and we were waiting all day long to see if that white plane would fly over, if they wanted to talk peace. Well, we never seen it but then we find out later what happened, the Japanese delegation came in two Betty bombers and for some reason they landed on Ile Shima. Of course we were out in the bay anchored. We didn’t know that. Ile-shima is a small island next to Okinawa. Ernie Pyle, a reporter was shot and killed on this island just two weeks before this. These Betty bombers were painted white with green crosses.They landed on Ile-Shima and they ran into each other. They crashed their planes. I don’t know how they did it. I think one of ’em stopped or something and the other one hit it. There are different versions to this story.

C. Oh my gosh! Did they die?

D. No, they didn’t get hurt but they wrecked the planes so they loaded them in a C-47 army transport and they flew them down in an army transport to the Philippines. (laughs) Oh, things were really movin’ fast and furious that day. This was August 18th.

C. Oh that would have just been a hair-raising time because . . .

D. It was, because the kamikazes were comin’ in every night and . . . The last air raids we had was on the 19th.

C. 19th of October?

D. No, it was the 19th of August. It was about two weeks after the bombs dropped. Kamikazes came in and of course we made smoke again and they didn’t get out ship but they got . . .one of ’em hit the Pennsylvania battle ship. I was just readin’ a little while ago about that. Twenty men were killed on that and then they hit another transport ship and twenty men there were killed, or twenty-one. But that was the last of the kamikazes. They didn’t any of them come after that.

C. Were both of those ships in the harbor?

D. Yeah, right there in the harbor. Oh, there was 1000 ships around that island. They were just waiting for the invasion of Japan. They were just like-a lot of ’em.

C. Stacked up like Pearl Harbor.

D. And then B29s, the bombers, they were so thickin the air goin’ down to bomb Japan it looked about like a flock of crows in the air. B29s were just-hundreds of them. A lot of them were based there on Okinawa and Iwoshima another little island there along the side. Another was on Guam and Tinian and some of those other islands too but they just-they’d take off and circle ’till they all got up in the air and they’d head for Japan and it’d look just like crows flyin’, them great big bombers.

C. Well did you ever learn how to fly one of those things then, or . . .

D. Oh no. After the atomic bombs were dropped and the war ended they cancelled that program. They didn’t need aviators any more. Then, oh golly, we were so busy then! As soon as they signed peace. . . I don’t know what day it was they signed peace, the Japanese finally. . . . It was about the end of August, 20, maybe 25. And then we took off right away with our load of Marines, goin’ to Manchuria, Darwin Manchuria with this load of Marines because the Japanese had a bunch of Americans in prison up there, prisoners of war in Manchuria, but we got up there at Darwin and the Russians were already there and they wouldn’t let us land.

C. Oh!

D. Yeah. Them Russians, oh, them Russians come in the last day of the war, you know, about two days before, they come in the war. But they walked right over Manchuria, took it all over, took over North Korea, and they wouldn’t let us put troops ashore, so we went on down and put them ashore at Tiensin, China. But they was supposed to go in there and help get the prisoners out but they were a long ways from the prisoners ’cause they were in Manchuria. Well then, we come back to Okinawa again. No, from there we went to the Philippines and loaded up a load of Army troops. We carried 2000 troops.

C. Wow! That’s a lot. Now this was after they signed or before they signed the Peace Treaty?

D. This was just before they signed the Peace Treaty. The peace hadn’t been signed yet. That was Sept. 2 I think, but we went to Thailand before the peace was signed. There’s a long story to that too but . . .

C. Oh, tell!

D. We had seven ship reunions after the war and-uh-our Chief Executive Officer went on to be an Admiral. He’s still in good health and he comes to all the reunions and he fills us in on all the-what went on behind the scenes. And when we anchored off the coast of China there before we took the Marines he didn’t go in but he sent in another boat officer and he sent in some Marines. They went in to shore and they were supposed to make contact with somebody in there that they had made contact with there and they were gonns show ’em where to land the Marines the next morning but when they got ashore they couldn’t fine their contact and they were in the-where was that-the Yangtze River or something-in this boat sailin’ around there tryin’ to find a place to land and-the war was over. The peace wasn’t signed but the war was over and

C. How could that be?

D. Supposed to have been. But anyway they circled up by the dock in the boat and they happened to look up there and see there was a Japanese officer up there and he had three men with him that had rifles, and they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know whether to pick up their rifles or sneak out or-they’d spotted ’em, they spotted each other, and all at once this Japanese officer said, “Can I help you?” He shouted down there, “Can I help you?” It was in English, perfect English. This officer was tellin’ us about it at the reunion, and he said, I told him “Yes!” I said, “I’m lookin’ for a place to land the Marines in the morning.” (laughs) But anyway he went along with them back to the ship that night, this Jap officer, and rode the first boat in in the morning. And here he had been in college over in United States. He went back home for a visit just before the war and he got caught, and they made him an officer in the Japanese army and he said he talked perfect English and here he was aboard our ship that night. Of course most of us didn’t know that but he spent the night there and went back with the Marines in the morning.

C. So he was really a friend.

D. Yeah, he knew the war was over. He got the message the war was over and he was willing to help.

C. But those people wouldn’t know whether to trust him or not.

D. No, no, they were in a pretty tight spot, I tell ya. But we dropped our Marines then.

C. Where?

D. At Tientsin, China. From there we went to the Philippines then and picked up this load of Army troops and then we-and by that time the peace had been signed aboard the Missouri in Japan. The peace was signed Sept. 2 I think it was and -uh–

C. Excuse me, but where did you drop those Marines off in China? Was that by the Yangtze River?

D. Yeah, right there at the mouth of the Yangtzee River. I think they called it Tiensen. So they went on in to Beijing and up through there. So then when we picked up troops down at Manila; we landed there at Subic Bay and we got to go ashore while the troops were loadin,’ and Manila-there wasn’t a building standing. That was a smashed city. It was just smashed somethin’ awful. So we loaded troops and there was 20 ships loaded troops that day and that’d be 2000 on each one. That’d be 40,000 troops, and then we all headed for Korea. We took the occupation troops to Korea.

C. Oh, they went from the Philippines to Korea.

D. Yes. We had full military escort that day to-oh it took us about three or four days to get up there. We had escorts, destroyers, runnin’ along the side, air cover overhead. We didn’t know what to expect in Korea.

C. Did they still have to zigzag their way in?

D. No, we went straight. Uh-when the peace was signed we started goin’ straight, didn’t zigzag. But we got in mine fields, a lot of mines.

C. Oh, how did you know where you were goin’

D. Before we got to Korea all ships stopped in the ocean and each ship picked up a Jap pilot to guide the ship in. Yeah, we were the lead ship of the convoy. We had 20 ships in the convoy, but we had two mine sweepers out front and they had a cable between ’em and they cut a path through the mine field. If they hit a mine it would pop to the surface. They were on cables. You couldn’t see ’em; they were underneath the water but they were on cables. They’d pop to the surface and then they’d shoot ’em with 20mm cannon or something. Blow ’em up. So they shot up quite a few mines on the way up there. Then we went up the-Inchon River-took a whole day to get up that river.

C. I remember that being in the news, Inchon

D. Then we landed up there at Inchon, and the ships went in a big tidal basin and the tides up there are 30 feet. The water goes up and down 30 feet. We went in high tide and then when the water went out-30 feet-we were sitting high and dry in the mud.

C. Oh! I never heard of tides being that high.

D. But most of the troops got ashore at high tide and-uh-that was somethin’ though we were sittin’ there in the ship and there’d just be mud and all these people comin’ out from the shore and we couldn’t figure out what they was gonna do. When we left Korea our Captain ordered 500 Jap rifles brought back to the ship. Each crewman got one. I still got mine.

C. In the mud?

D. They were all carryin’ buckets, pickin’ up clams. They were so hungry that even with all the commotion goin’ on they still came out and picked up clams, bucketsful.

C. You know, Dr. Flora was just a kid at the time of World War II and he was a messenger. Being as little as he was he made friends with either side and he was friendly with everybody.

D. He didn’t show his age either I’ll bet. You know, you can’t tell how old those boys are.

C. No, so he did a lot of good in WWII, just delivering information. He was smart; he’d just memorize it.

D. But anyway we left Korea then. We dropped off the 40,000 troops. That’s what they put ashore there that day, and the Russians had their troops there. On their half. They drew a line and they cut Korea in two, and there’s still 40,000 troops there. United States kept 40,000 troops over there for the last 60 years.

C. So we took over South Korea and the Russians had the North.

D. Yeah. Then we left there and we went back over to Okinawa for the next adventure. Then we got part way back and Captain got a message that a big storm was coming up through the China Sea and-one of our ships got diverted after we left Korea over to Darwin, where we were supposed to land our troops to begin with, in Manchuria. Well here the Russians got our prisoners out and one ship went over there to Darwin and picked up our prisoners of war. The Russians put them on board our ship and then they joined up with us then oheadin’ for Okinawa.

C. Who did?

D. This other ship that picked ’em up, and then they joined up with us, and then we got down there in Okinawa and found out this storm was comin’ and the ship that picked up the prisoners came up alongside of us pretty close and history says that they called over and said, “What’s up?” And our Captain said, “There’s a big typhoon comin’ up the China Sea and you’d better fall in line and go along with us.” You know, the ships gotta go to sea in a typhoon. If you’re not you’re gonna get shipwrecked on the shore. They all head to sea. Head right in to the typhoon. Right in because you have to hit them waves head first because if you hit them sideways they’ll roll you over so you hit ’em head in. And we got into that storm. Oh it was bad. About the second day I’d just got off watch that morning down in the fire room. That was a major undertaking getting’ up and down the ladders cause the ship was a rollin’ 30 degrees, just rollin’ up and down and sideways.

C. Oh! Was there water coming in the hold?

D. No, no water. All the hatches were sealed between the rooms you know, to protect ’em in case they hit somethin’. And it was so hot down there and I come up on deck and nobody was on deck , and I was hangiin’ on just watching this ship and it was about a half-mile from us and it was up and down. One time you’d see it, then you wouldn’t see it.

C. How high would you say those waves would be?

D. Oh, 30, 40 feet high. Big enough to hide a whole ship. They would be big swells. And I was lookin’ right towards this ship and all at once the whole side opened up. They hit a mine. It blew a big hole in there. You could drive a car or truck through it.

C. Did it sink?

D. No, it didn’t sink but it knocked out the whole fire and engine room. Killed about 25 people.

C. That’s like down there where you were!

D. Yeah. It could have been our ship just as well as that one.

C. That’s what a mine did to you.

D. Yeah, that was a mine. I have a history here. You’ll have to read that. It tells all about it. But it was dead in the water. No power cause the whole engine room was flooded, but we couldn’t do anything ’cause we could barely stay afloat ourselves. And a cruiser came along then later in the day and they tried to get a line on it. They was afraid they’d hit it, and there had to be 400 prisoners of war on it, American prisoners-been in prison for four or five years. They sent us letters later and they said they’d spent all that time in a Japanese prison camp and they thought they’d die on the way home.

C. I wonder if Jim Huff was on that?

D. No, I asked him about it later. He wasn’t on that one. He don’t know anything about that, and a ship then later in the day, a two stacker, a little-this little ship came along and he got close enough to it that they could get a little line across. They shot a line across; they usually just shoot a small line, then they pull a bigger line and a bigger line. Just keep pullin’ a bigger line till you get a size that you need to pull. And they hooked on to that ship and took it under tow and then, so they could keep it headed the right way so it wouldn’t upset.

C. The typhoon was still goin’ on?

D. The typhoon was still goin’ on. And then it-it lasted only about three days, three or four days.

C. Whew!

D. Then after that died down then they told us to go to Okinawa. They took the prisoners off and it says in the history that after they took the prisoners off they took it back out to sea and sank it. It had a bad hole in it and-uh. Well anyway, let’s see, we went back to Okinawa again. I don’t remember just how that was anymore. Oh, then we-that’s a whole ‘nother story. We thought-they were startin’ to test the atomic bomb already at Bikini Atoll, and our ship was in such bad shape. It was an old ship really compared to some that was made later. We thought we had to take it over to Bikini and they were gonna use it to test the atomic bomb, see. They lined up a bunch of ships, old ships, and they dropped atomic bombs after the war to test them, and they done that right away after the peace was signed. They had some more bombs. They wanted to test them. Then, we didn’t go to that. They decided we needed to haul Chinese troops, so then we had to start hauling Chinese troops from way down in southern China and Burma. We hauled them up to Tiensen at the mouth of the Yangtzee River, and we made five trips doin’ that, haulin’ them Chinese troops up there, and there was 20 ships involved in that deal. Might have been the same 20 ships almost, but they figured they hauled about a half a million Chinese soldiers up there to fight the Communists. The Communists were startin’ to take over China then. It wasn’t the Japanese; it was the Communists.

About this same time we had to shut down both of our power plants to fix them. We were dead in the water for two days off the coast of China.

C. Oh my golly! Yeah, ’cause after World War II that’s when . . .

D. Oh yeah. Right away. So then we stayed there on the Chinese run for quite a while. Oh maybe it was a month. And then finally we got done with that. We headed to Saysebo, Japan. That was our first contact with Japan. Now Sasebo’s on the back side toward Korea. They had a big harbor there and big docks. We tied right in. That’s the first time we tied in at the dock. We went right up to the dock and tied to it.

C. How do you spell that?
D. Sasebo. It’s on the map. It was just 50 miles from where the atomic bomb was dropped, Nagaski. So the officers on our ship took the Captain’s jeep and they went over there to see where the bomb had dropped.. Of course the rest of us didn’t get to go but the officers went over there.

C. It’s probably just as well! It’d be unhealthy.

D. Oh, it was a mess! There wasn’t nothing left over there. I know that where we tied up at Sasebo the buildings were all-all’d been bombed and burned out. Yeah.

C. There was a song about that time: ‘Say-se-bo, da-ta-data.’ But that may have been French for ‘Say yes’ or something. I don’t know-just guessing, but it could have been that name.

D. Well we loaded up again our Marines, a bunch of Marines to head back to the States. A bunch-a-we only had 400 aboard. We could haul 2000. Of Chinese troops we hauled 4000. We only had bunks enough for two but we hauled four because they said they could sleep in shifts, some could sleep in the day and some at night, but I think most of them stayed up topside anyway. It took five days to make that trip one way, when we was haulin those Chinese.

C. Was it real hot too?

D. It was hot, and the Chinese officers would eat with the crew. They ate with us. And a lot of the officers could speak English and they could talk. The Chinese of course couldn’t. And-uh-they got out to sea and it was rough waters, the South China Sea, and a lot of them got seasick. Oh, they’d get seasick! And all they ate was rice, you know. They cooked rice right on the decks. The decks were steel and they built fires right on top of the deck to cook their rice. They brought their rice along.

C. It’s a wonder they didn’t burn the ship down.

D. No, it was all steel. And they brought all that rice in bags-big 200 lb. bags. I don’t know how they carried them around. And that’s what they lived on. Of course the officers ate with us. They liked our food. (laughs) Then the officer told us, he said, “These troops are gonna, when they get up there they’re gonna surrender. They’ve been fightin’ five years. They’re tired. They’re done and I know they’re gonna surrender.” And that’s what happened. Even with a half-million troops hauled up there it wasn’t very long till they surrendered and the Communists took over, all across southern China. And that’s because they surrendered. That’s what they done.

C. I don’t blame ’em!

D. But those boys got so seasick when they got out there, and we lost quite a few of them every day.

C. Oh they died!

D. Yeah, we had to go around and bury ’em. Had to go around and pull ’em out of the hold, up the steps, up the ladders.

C. Oh, did you have to do that?

D. Well no, I didn’t have to help but the seamen had to do all that, all the deck seamen. The Chinese troops wouldn’t touch them I thought that was strange. They wouldn’t touch these bodies, but these seamen had to pull them up out of the holds and they’d tie a weight between their legs and throw ’em over the side and the Chinese would sit around there laughin’ and-uh-we couldn’t figure out what was goin’ on and we asked some of the officers and he said, “Oh, they laugh when they die. Their misery’s over when they die.” He said, “They cry when they’re born.” (laughs)

C. Wow!

D. I’ll have to ask some Chinese sometime about that. He said, “They cry when there’s a baby born. They laugh when they leave us.”

C. That’s just hard to believe.

D. I know but he said they did. They wouldn’t even get up. The boys had to pick them guys up and bury them at sea. That was a crude way of doin’ it. Well anyway we went back to Japan and then we loaded up some Marines that had been through all those invasions out there. We had a load of bad ones. Some of ’em was even hospital cases. Mental cases. They had a few of ’em even locked in the brig when we come back for their own safety. Yeah they were just a kind of a bad bunch. Boy, they could tell horrible stories that went on in them islands.

C. In the islands?

D. Yeah, you see they’d been up through them islands, those Marines, and they ended up in Japan in Occupation Duty, then we picked them up to take ’em back to the States. Yeah. This was in December, this was in December when that was goin’ on. We picked them up there at Sasebo and then we left for San Diego.

C. In other words, when you dropped off the Chinese you picked up these Marines, the bad ones, to bring home.

D. Yeah, the bad ones to bring home. Seventeen days it took us to come straight across and we didn’t see an island, didn’t see anything in those seventeen days comin’ back. We got into San Diego Christmas day. Isn’t that somethin? Christmas Day we pulled in to San Diego and then we put some of those Marines ashore right away, took some of them to hospitals and-uh-

C. I’ll bet you really would liked to have gotten off that ship to go home!

D. Well, I finished it up. The Navy had a point system and you get enough points then you were out and a lot of ’em left the ship right there in San Diego. They had enough points: if you had dependents and it depended on how long you was in service and this and that, you could get out of the Navy. And a lot of them got out over there before we even done the Chinese bit. Some of ’em got off the ship and come back.

C. You and Hazel hadn’t gotten married by that time?

D. No, no, it was way after that. This was still ’45, yeah, ’45 and we got in there on Christmas Day. Then we stayed there about a week and then we went down to Panama Canal. We were goin’ to Mobile, Alabama and there was about half the crew left on the ship yet. That’s about all that was on the ship, so the Captain wanted to give everybody liberty down in Panama. That was a great liberty place. We spent two days on each end so everybody’d go ashore on liberty. We went through the canal, then we spent two days on that side and we headed for Mobile, Alabama and the shipyard. And they were goin’ to decommission the ship. The Navy turned it over to the civilians so then we were goin’ across the bay there, the Gulf of Mexico. The Captain sent down orders one day; he said, “Let’s try out this tub; see how fast she’ll go-flank speed.” So we were to pour out everything we could-make as much steam as we could and see how fast it could go. He said, “I always wanted to see how fast it could go.” So it was ‘flank speed ahead’ (chuckles). We got her up to, I guess it went about 17 knots. Usually it’s only goin’ about 11, but it went 17 knots.

C. How did that compare to miles?

D Oh, probably 20 miles an hour. And it was shakin, oh it was just shakin’ somethin’ awful as if it would fly apart.

C. Oh dear!

D They didn’t hold it there too long, maybe backed off to standard speed. Then we pulled in there at Mobile, Alabama, and went up the river to Chickasaw, pulled in there and docked it, then about a week later we had decommission ceremonies. Everybody had to wear their dress whites. Of course we hadn’t had ’em on for a year. Put on dress whites, all lined up on the ship and they had a decommissioning ceremony, they called it. The Navy turned it over to the shipyard there. They took everything off it that was Navy. We had to work there about two weeks takin’ everything off of it. Took the guns off and anything that had to do with the Navy they stripped off.

C. Well then, they gave it to civilians?

D. Yeah, they sold it to a civilian outfit then to haul bananas from South America. Well, the history says later,1970, it was sold to a scrap yard over in Spain. It was taken to Spain, sold and cut up for scrap. After the decommissioning ceremonies in the afternoon they loaded us all on buses. Actually there was about a couple hundred left there yet. It took four or five buses.

C. By this time you were really anxious to get out, I’ll bet.

D. Yeah, yeah. They took us to New Orleans. We went to New Orleans at the Navy base there and then next day they give us papers and everything there to head home. They gave us a 30-day leave. Yeah, everybody took off, had a 30-day leave.

C. How’d you get home?

D. Train, I think. I’m not real sure. Usually went in and out of Lima. I know when I went to Chicago I’d go to Lima, then take the train into Chicago. We’d board the train there in Chicago and that takes you right out to Great Lakes, right out to the front door. I made that trip quite a few times. Then after that 30-day leave I still didn’t have enough points. I wasn’t in there long enough. I had to go back to Chicago, got on the train again and went to Seattle. At Seattle I took another train and went down to Treasure Island in San Francisco. Bay. You’ve heard of Treasure Island, haven’t you? That was where the World’s Fair was in the late ’30’s.

C. Yeah, I’ve seen the signs to Treasure Island.

D. Just as you go over the Bay, the Oakland Bay Bridge. You gotta go over the Oakland Bay Bridge and you cut down to Treasure Island.

C. I always wondered why they called it ‘Treasure Island.’

D. That was a big naval base then. I stayed there then about two weeks, Treasure Island.

C. Why was it called ‘Treasure’?

D. Oh just a fancy name for it.

C. Because they had the World’s Fair there maybe.

D. Yeah, the World’s Fair. Mammoth big buildings-boy! Big quonsut buildings-big, big buildings. There’s two buildings. They said there was 5000 sailors slept in each one, I mean bunks. Two-tiered bunks. They said there was 5000 in there. Man you could, at night you couldn’t hear yourself think: snorin’-oh! (C. laughs) I was there about two weeks and then I caught another ship-had to go right back out again. That’s it. (laughs) It didn’t last that long though. In about another three or four months I got out permanently, but I had to go right back out again.

C. Byron Armbruster was . . .

D. Byron’s got quite a story, I’ll tell ya!

C. Yeah, his 90th birthday comin’ up. He gave us his story too and he said that they came home from Europe and they were slated to go right on over to the Pacific.

D. Yeah, the ships were all headed that way, but when they dropped those bombs everything kind of slowed up.

C. It was either him or Bob Downey, one or the other, they expected they’d have to just keep right on going.

D. Yeah. I have a map that shows right where we were to land our troops, in the southern part of Japan, right on the island, right where we were gonna land. It was only about a month away. They said they moved it up to September and they dropped the bombs in August and they were goin’ in the next month.

C. I’m so glad they didn’t. That would have been so many lives lost, the Japanese and Americans. Both. They wouldn’t give up. They said the women and kids would fight just as hard. They wouldn’t give up either. That’s the way it was on Okinawa. They had to kill everybody.

C. What was the purpose of that? Why did the Japanese want to fight I wonder?

D. Oh, I don’t know. There was kids runnin’ around on Okinawa in packs, 30 to 40 kids in a pack. That’s all the-there wasn’t any grownups, adults at all, just kids. And, I suppose they were girls and boys both; they looked like boys but I’m sure they were half girls, and they just run around and they’d scrounge food wherever they could and wherever the Army had a kitchen or somethin’ they’d hang around there trying to get food and-I’m sure they fed a lot of them too, the Army, but they just would nobody give up. They’d get down there on the far end of the island, what was left just jumped off the cliffs, committed suicide.

C. Oh they did.

D. Oh yeah, there was pictures of them, women and men both, they just jumped off the high cliffs in the ocean and committed suicide before they’d surrender. Didn’t make sense. But these Marines, this one Marine was so shook up he said one night there on Okinawa they had a machine gun, he and another fellow, and they heard a noise out ahead of them in the bush. He said they opened up and fired, figured they was Japs comin’ after ’em. In the morning they went out and counted ’em-all kids. Runnin’ around there at night, they just got mowed down . But he felt bad about it but he said it was either them or me. They wouldn’t have hurt ‘im; they were just tryin’ to be friends, these kids you know. If you had anything to eat they wanted it. They were starving.

C. Ah, that’s sad!

D. Yeah, we’d take apples along with us when we went on shore leave, and they’d fight over the apple core.

C. Over the core! Well that’s why the prisoners were so emaciated; they hadn’t had enough to eat.

D. Yeah, the Japs were the worst.

C. Why was food so scarce, I wonder?

D. I don’t know if it really was; they just made it scarce.

C. Why would they make it scarce? I don’t understand.

D. Well, their philosophy was different. They thought anybody that surrendered didn’t, shouldn’t live, I guess. They should fight to the death. That was their training.

C. Oh yeah. That was honorable

D. Fight to the death. Yeah. Oh I didn’t-the night the peace was signed the battleship was you know, in Tokyo Bay and that night in Okinawa all the search lights came on, all the ships that had search lights came on. Search lights were on the shore. They was just rakin’ the sky.

C. Did you wonder what was goin’ on?

D. No, no, it was just celebration you know. Even we had some search lights, rakin’ them back and forth across the sky, and then everybody started firin’, firin’ their guns, celebratin’ the surrender you know. And oh, there was a lot of firin’, tracer bullets. See, every so many bullets there was a tracer bullet, so they could tell where they were goin’ and the sky was just red with traacer bullets.

C. Oh, it was!

D. Oh just red. And search lights yet, and they kept that up for a couple hours, everybody -oh, a thousand ships sittin’ around and everybody shootin’, shinin’ lights, and then later on years later at a reunion the Admiral said, “Yeah, there were nine sailors killed that night, stray bullets.”

C. Oh, but tracer bullets wouldn’t kill them.

D. No, tracer bullets wouldn’t but they used live bullets too. Yeah, but I suppose with all them bullets flyin’ around they had to come down somewhere.

C. Probably some of them shot straight in the air and it came down and-

D. Yeah. They was all shootin’ straight up, all around the island. You know they came down somewhere.

C. So after you were mustered out then you came home here, did you?

D. Yeah, I got out in August of ’46. Then Hazel and I got married in ’48.

C. Had you known her before?

D. No

C. How’d you happen to meet her?

D. Well, my sister got married first. She married Hazel’s brother, Lawrence. Do you know them up town there, Lawrence Leaders? They got married in the spring and then they took Hazel and I along on a blind date I guess and then we got married in September. And

C. What did Hazel do before she got married?

D. Well she just got out of school. (laughs) I got her right out of school. See, I was gone for two years and I come back and she graduated that year, I think and then we got married in the fall. Yeah, there was about three and a half years’difference in our age I guess.

C. Yeah, you still would be pretty young if you went in when you were fifteen.

D. I was 22 and she was 18. Hazel lived out on a farm out west of Holgate and she had to milk cows twice a day.

C. By hand?

D. By hand, yeah. Her Dad hated to lose her. He had to sign papers too in order for her to get married.

C. Yeah ’cause she wouldn’t be 21 yet.

D. He kind of hesitated a little bit. (laughs)

C. Did you have to ask for his permission or . . .

D. Well, I guess I must have. He went along to the courthouse to sign. Yeah, I don’t know.

C. Well then where did you live then when you were first married?

D. Down the road here was another house up on the hill there. It’s still there. I was born down in the house where John lives.

C. Which one?

D. On the corner there, right across from the township house, that big house? I was born right there, Dr. Fiser was the doctor.

.. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

C. George Rafferty said he spent-oh I don’t know how many trips he made to Chicago to try to convince Campbell Soup to put their plant here. He said he didn’t get any cooperation from the City fathers. Do you know anything about that?

D. George did?

C. Yeah, that’s what he said.

D. To get ’em to come here before they built?

C. Yeah.

D. Well I don’t know about that. Well I was on the first zoning board. I was on the zoning board when Campbell Soup came in here and built, and Moses Dickey was head of the zoning board, and we’d always meet over at Moses’ house and then we met down here at the township house with Campbell’s attorneys and they wanted us to set their land all outside the zoning you know. They threatened to pull out and not build here unless we set their land all outside the zoning and man we got phone calls from the city officials and they really put pressure on us to set that land out so Campbells would build here. We finally did . That was way back in the ’50’s.

C. So then the City Fathers helped you in a way.

D. Yeah, they got it in here but they weren’t happy. It was in Harrison Township instead of the city. They’ d liked to have had it in the city for taxes.

C. But better to have it outside, really, as big as that plant is. Remember the one that was built in the middle of Defiance and put out such an odor? What was the name of that? It was a real stink in the heart of the city. So you were on the zoning board?

D. Yeah, I was on for a long time. I was on for 30 years, then John followed me. He’s on now, so we’ve been on since it started.

C. Well, Byron Armbruster said that there were several canning plants in the city and one of them became Campbells, so maybe they bought out one of those little ones, did they?

D. Well there was other plants here during the war. Lippencott, then it went to Loudon; then Campbells.

C. Yeah, that’s the one I guess. And Foster.

D. That’s different over there in Foster’s I guess. But I remember when I was in high school I worked at Campbells cause when my folks died I noticed their Social Security numbers was right in line with mine: one two three right on the end.

C. You father’s?

D. Yeah, cause we got them all at the same time causes we all worked at Campbells Soup. We worked at Campbells and we had to get Social Security cards. We got them all at the same time. I didn’t realize that until they passed away but I worked there when I was in high school and Dad had an old Model A truck he took over there and he would load canned soup and haul it over to the fairgrounds and they stored it over at the fairgrounds in those buildings.

C. Oh they did?

D. Yeah. That’s where-he got paid for haulin’ it over there and couple of us would go over there and help load it and unload it. And at that time there was German prisoners-of-war workin’ in the plant, back in the back, stackin’ boxes and things, unloadin’ railcars. There was a whole bunch of German prisoners back there with an armed guard but they weren’t goin’ nowhere. They were happy bein’ here I think. They were stationed up and Defiance at them CCC camps up there.

C. Oh, I wondered where they stayed. Now Ed Peper said that he remembered when he was a kid there were German prisoners-of-war working where he was, but I don’t think it was Campbells. Would it have been the lumber yard where he worked in Holgate?

D. Oh they worked other places. Up at Pleasant Bend I’ve got a friend up there, Winzinger, they built a barn up there for them, German prisoners. A big barn. Carl Winzinger. Anybody that wanted to work could get it.

C. They weren’t a threat or anything.

D. No, they weren’t any threat. See, they was glad the war was over for them. If they’d been Japanese it might have been a different story. (laughs)

C. Well we had Japanese people that we forced ’em to go someplace here in United States. Nobody knew anything about it. It was kept very quiet but just now it’s come out, but I think they were probably treated all right. I never heard of any cruelty toward them.

D. Oh you mean out there in California? I think, they had to do something. There could have been some bad ones in that bunch. It turned out there weren’t any but who know? They could have been. During the war they had guards out here on the railroad bridge across the river. They were posted there all during the war.

C. I didn’t know that. Is that the one here by Campbells?

D. I don’t know about that one but the one right here on the DT&I railroad; they had a guard house on each end. There’s a fellow walked the bridge there, with a rifle. (chuckles)

C. I’d hate to be on there when the train was coming. He’d never . . .

D. Well, he probably wasn’t out there then but he . . . yeah, you’d never know if they had any sabotagers or not.

C. So, when you and Hazel were first living there across from the Grange house, that was on the north side of the road?

D. Yeah. That’s where we lived first. Oh, we moved up and down this road about four times.

C. Oh did ya?

D. Yeah.

C. How’d it happen?

D. Well, Dad bought a farm down the road where that brick house is down there?

C. Yeah.

D. So we moved in there, lived there a couple years.

C. Was that brick house there at the time?

D. Brick house, way down? Yeah. That was the Nelson farm.

C. ‘Way down.’ What do you mean?

D. The big brick half a mile down the road from the corner.

C. Yeah. About a half mile west.

D. From the corner. Yeah, he bought that farm after the war. We lived there and then he decided he was gonna remodel that so then we moved where he lived, down on the corner where John lives, moved in there.

C. And John lives katy corner from the Grange?

D. Straight across.

C. Straight across. Moved there then.

D. That’s where I was born. Moved back in there awhile and then, I don’t know what happened. We moved out of there and we moved down here on the hill.

C. On the other side of the road?

D. Yeah. Finally Hazel said, “That’s enough of that. Why don’t we build a house?” (laughs) So that’s when we built. Got my Dad all upset I guess but that’s when we built.

C. Why would he get upset?

D. Oh I don’t know. (chuckles) Y’know when you came back from service a little bit, you matured pretty fast out there. Always worked at home before that and I think your folks expect you to come back and work at home.

C. Oh, be the same, and you’re not.

D. Yeah. They don’t want ya to go out on your own. Hazel and I got married when we didn’t have much to farm here, just one little farm back here I was farmin’ for a fellow. There was a farm for rent up along the river, the Lenhart farm, Walter Lenhart, and he had two farms right after we got married and he said he’d rent one to me and we were goin’ to move up that way but my Dad wouldn’t have that. He said I had to stay here with him, so I had to go back and give ’em up. (chuckles)

C. I’m surprised that he would do that.

D. Yeah, he wanted us down here. He didn’t want us up that way, close to her folks.

C. Is that near where she was born and raised?

D. Well up that way, yeah. It’s a bit closer. Yeah.

C. So, what did you raise then when you were farming?

D. Oh, when Campbells came we started growin’ carrots then. We still grow carrots for Campbells, corn and beans and carrots.

C. Potatoes still?

D. No, we used to grow some potatoes but we give it up.

C. Karl said you have three refrigerated barns now.

D. We’ve got one. One refrigerated barn here. Jay’s got a couple.

C. Oh, that’s where he got the number.

D. Yeah, Jay’s got a couple, but we’ve got one. We store carrots for Campbells in it. We’ve got ’em in there pretty near the year around; they come and go.

C. Don’t they get rotten in there?

D. Well we’ve got refrigeration.

C. Oh that’s right.

D. Yeah, yeah. We’re haulin’ in right now every day, take some over to Campbells.

C. How do you refrigerate a barn?

D. You’ve got air tunnels in the floor. Air comes up through the floor. Yeah, ya gotta keep ’em cool; the air’s gotta stay cool, 32, 33 degrees or they go bad. They go bad quick if it isn’t cool.

C. Well what’d you do, did you just keep buying land then when your crops turned out pretty good?

D. Yeah. This farm here I bought in three different pieces. Ernie Buchop owned this farm. The first 40 acres on that farm I bought and I raised some hogs over there on that side. Then I bought this 40 along the road here and then that’s when we built the house.

C. That’s hard work to raise hogs isn’t it?

D. Yeah. I always liked hogs and I had hogs when we first got married. In fact Hazel’s dad gave us a sow that was gonna have pigs. That’s where I got started, and he always give each one of the kids some livestock or something to get started. I liked hogs. I had ’em back here on this other farm and I raised them over there in the woods. Then I built the building over here after I bought this 40 acres , then moved the hogs up there and kept ’em inside a building. And then I bought some other hogs to go with them to feed out and they got sick, and then I got the whole bunch sick.

C. What’d they get sick from?

D. Well, the ones I bought came from Virginia or somewhere-feeder pigs. They were gonna feed ’em out and they got sick. The other hogs I raised my own, they caught it. Doc Gregory was makin’ more money than I was so. . . (laughs)

C. How’d you get out?

D. So I sold them out. We sold out, and-uh-we had borrowed money at that time to build that hog house and after we sold the hogs we had a dickens of a time getting’ that paid off. Oh, we had a heck of a time. So we decided right then and there-it was only $7500-but that was a lot of money back then. But once we got that paid off we both decided we would never borrow any money for anything except land.

C. That was a pretty good rule.

D. That’s what we always did. We never did. We never borrowed money for anything. If we couldn’t pay for it we didn’t get it, but we’d borrow for land.

C. Good guide to go by.

D. Yeah. And we still do that today, I do. Not many people do that. (chuckles)

C. I remember when Ed was in medical school some neighbors of ours said, “Don’t you buy things on credit? Well look at what all you can buy! You can. . .” We said, “No. We’re not goin’ to do that.” We didn’t.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (end of tape)

Vocke, Dorothy

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, April 12, 2007

DV: This is Dorothy Vocke talking about the history of Napoleon. One of the things that you don’t see anymore is that-my Dad was in the Bakery here in Napoleon for many years, Chubb’s Bakery, and he had a wagon that was pulled by a horse and John Hoeffel, Sr. would bring the wagon all over town. That horse used to stop in front of our house and for some reason or other he had to relieve himself right there (chuckles) and my brother and my’s job was to take the hose out there and spray the street. They did that quite a few years. I don’t exactly know how many, and I still have one of the bells that I gave to my daughter that used to be on the bread wagon. They had two bells, one on either side, so people would hear the bread wagon come. They carried bread and baked goods and what have you.

CW: Did they go out into the country with it?

DV: Well he didn’t, no, it was just in town, and so that’s something that the kids-I’ve got a picture at home somewhere of that wagon and horse. I can’t tell you where it’s at. My sister may have it-Kay McColley.

CW: Oh, she’s your sister.

DV: Yeah. That was during the war years that he used to go around town. I don’t know how long they had that.

CW: Didn’t you say the other night that Florian Sauer would stop in at the bakery?

DV: Florian took a truck out in the country and Marie was working at the bakery. That’s where he met her and he would take rolls and bread and that on the truck out in the country then. If he didn’t sell it all he’d bring it back to the bakery and my Dad would sell it for day-old stuff. He had a case where he’d put it. It was all right. It was just traveled a little bit but-no, that’s where he started. That was a long time ago. Then of course we kids all got to work in the bakery whether we wanted to or not.

CW: What kind of work did you have to do there?

DV: I took cookies off the trays; I frosted cakes and iced rolls-that kind of thing. I didn’t do any actual baking. That was done by the men that worked there but I got to do that kind of stuff. And I’d wait on customers. We had to add up; this was before the registers added up for you so I learned to add up pretty fast. I kind of added it up in my head as I was waiting on people too.

CW: You’d have to do subtracting too to find out how much change to give them, wouldn’t you?

DV: Oh yes. You know now it’s amazing: some of the kids, even the paper boys, can’t make change.

CW: Right, and even if they can add , they can’t subtract.

DV: There’s something lost there someplace. But you know, all my group of friends worked-my high-school years were during the War years-we all worked someplace after school, and I think that’s kind of lost too. You know, you wouldn’t have kids getting into trouble if they had small jobs. But, well a lot of them do. You can’t bunch them all up together. But we all worked so I worked after school, and I worked on Saturday night. Nobody else wanted to work on Saturday night so I got that job. Liberty Center football players used to come in on Saturday night and I’d feed them all. (laughs) I’d give them cookies and everything: “Get rid of it. I want to get out of here!”

But downtown Napoleon was really busy on Saturday night. People would come in and the ‘little woman’ would go to Spenglers to do her grocery shopping; the men would go in the back. They had swinging doors then where the men would go in the back at the bar and have their beer while the little woman was shopping. It took me a long time to go through those doors, ’cause I used to go up there and pick up groceries for my mother but I wouldn’t dream of going through those swinging doors to the back. So when they finally opened up I felt really self-conscious about going back there.

CW: Was that sort of a ‘men only’ place?

DV: I don’t know if it was actually ‘men only’. Some of them were ‘men only’ but it was kind of the coffee shop nowadays. They’d all congregate back there. Of course Spenglers had a full line of groceries there. They didn’t have that much meat. They had a lot of cold cuts and stuff for sandwiches, canned goods and cheese and what-have-you.

Saturday night was a big night. People used to come in and park their cars just to watch the crowd go round, and meet their friends.

CW: Is that right? Stand around and talk a lot?

DV: Oh yeah. We had one problem though. There was a lady here in town who lost her son. He was actually in Jimmie Stuart’s group of fliers. He was killed and that was the only child she had, Mrs. Kiyser. She would be downtown at night and if she heard anybody talking German she would walk up to them and say, “Why don’t you go back to Germany?” That kind of ceased that talking German. Before that you could go from corner to corner and hear people speaking German because it was a German settlement here. And she was very bitter about that, but you know: it was her own son. He was a co-pilot or navigator or something and he was shot down over the Channel. She never forgave Germany for that and she didn’t want to hear German when she came downtown. So that’s kind of a different story too. And I had a friend whose mother-they had a–Thomsons had a photography shop-and she could speak German. They’d come in there and they didn’t know that she could speak German. She’d keep her mouth shut and they’d come in the shop and talk about how high the prices were and that. She’d let them go on and on and finally she’d answer them in German. (laughs) She got a bang out of that. Those are kind of funny stories.

CW: Yeah, they are. And they also tell you a lot about the people and their feelings.

DV: I think everybody-you probably had that too-was very patriotic during World War II. They had scrap drives and my mother used to save fat because they made soap out of it, and you know, shoes were rationed. I wish I had saved some of those rationing coupons on meat and stuff.

CW: And gas. You couldn’t drive much.

DV: Well that’s when the country boys became very popular ’cause they had tractor gas. We’d load up about ten kids in the car. It was packed solid. It’s a wonder we didn’t have a wreck. My sister had one: too many kids in the car.

CW: What’d they do, run the car off the road or something?

DV: My cousin came home. . . they’d had I don’t know how many kids in the car . . . and she had holes in her stockings and what have you. Her mother said, “What happened?” She said the car rolled over but nobody got hurt too bad because they were packed too tight. (chuckles) My aunt started to bawl ’cause she was so upset. My mother never knew that Marge, my sister, had been in an accident. That’s the way we used to travel, you know. If you had a car that had gas in it everybody that could get in got in. Of course you’d get arrested nowadays. That was just the times.

CW: Did you have flat tires?

DV: No, nobody seemed to have flat tires that I know of.

CW: That was after they’d improved the tires I guess.

DV: Yeah, well anyway, that’s just some of the things that happen As far as the school goes they kind of put the lid on a lot of stuff as far as going out of town. We did march-I was in the band. We did march at the Firemen’s Convention once up at Defiance, and I think at Port Clinton.

CW: Who was that band leader that was Italian?

DV: Mike Lombardi.

CW: Didn’t he get them started going to those firemen’s conventions?

DV: Well, he would yell at you pretty good if you did wrong. I was a flag carrier then. They only had two flags: I carried the school flag and my best friend had the American flag. Then we had three drum majors, one in the front and two in the back. That was at the head of the band, and my brother played trombone and he was marching right behind me. He was always tryin’ to hit me with his trombone (smiles) No, we used to . . . you’d think . . . we were sloppier than all get-out when we practiced before a football game, but when the lights came on, you were in uniform and everybody stepped up and tried to make the school proud of us. They used to have a football game on Thanksgiving.

CW: Oh they did!

DV: I can remember one Thanksgiving that was just colder than all get-out. We nearly froze our buns. You know, with those uniforms you couldn’t put a coat or anything over them.

CW: Did you wear the short skirts?

DV: No. We wore pants. You had to wear pants. Flag bearers were supposed to wear white-cream-colored outfits with a jacket.
The two drum majors had high-necked jackets with their bearskin hats. The head drum major had a red outfit with a bearskin hat. The Napoleon band looked pretty sharp. They won quite a few rewards. We had Mike. He used to yell, “You no prac!” (laughs) I’d think, “Oh, Thank God he isn’t talking to me!” No, he’d get mad. He was a softie at heart, but . . .

CW: My oldest son went in to see him. He wanted to play in the band and said he wanted to play a trumpet. Mike says, “Let me look at you.” He took hold of his face on either side of his mouth and he said, “You play trump.”

DV: Well John Chappel was here for a while and he taught but he had also been drum major at University of Toledo or some place, and he was very good, and he had his uniform and he would march with us, like in the Firemen’s Convention. He would be ahead of our drum major and he would throw his baton over the street lights and catch it on the other side. So that was a real plus. It was fun to watch him. He didn’t always march with us but he did on some of the major things that we did, so we looked pretty smart.

CW: Where was your home?

DV: Well I was down on Monroe St. I was one of the East End kids, with all the Smalls, John Dietrich and all those guys, and the Cochrans. In fact, Phil and CP and Mary Lou, they lived right next door to us, Bob and Corine Cochran, for a long time until they moved up on Riverview. They built a house there. George was born there, so I didn’t know . . . well I know George because he’s my dentist but I didn’t know him as a little kid, ’cause he was . . .

CW: You’d be quite a bit older.

DV: Well he was born after my two oldest were born so he kind of came late in life, but you know we had Lee Helberg who was an engineer. Those guys are gone already. Dick Murray, the Murrays-where the Elks Club is, that was the Murray home. They had the Norwalk Truck Line. That was kind of a central place for Norwalk Truck and Carolyn was in my class. She and I used to sit in those big trucks and we were goin’ all over the world! (laughs) Their Dad would let us kids crawl in those. Then Dick, her brother was her youngest brother and she was Principal over at Delta Pike York School for a long time.

CW: Who was this?

DV: Carlyn Murray Schied. So, those are memories.

CW: How did you play as a child?

DV: Well I was a kind of tomboy. They didn’t know I was a girl for a long time. I was just as rough as the boys. I played football.

CW: That would be unusual back then.

DV: Oh I don’t know. There weren’t that many girls. I did play with Carlyn at times but mostly it was boys in our neighborhood. When they needed somebody to play football I played football.

CW: Why sure.

DV: They cracked into me just as hard as they did each other.

CW: Oh did they?

DV: Oh yeah!

CW: Didn’t break any bones or anything?

DV: No. Well I was always in pants anyway. I hated to put on dresses. My Dad always said that I was the feisty one. My brother was . . . I have a twin brother and he said they kind of got the personalities mixed up because I’d get in a fight and he was kind of laid back and didn’t want to get into a competition but I didn’t turn ’em down.

CW: That’s interesting.

DV: We had one kid in our neighborhood who used to bully us and scare the crap out of us so I and two other girls got ahold of him one day and we were on their porch and we told him we were going to pull his pants down. He was about four years older than we were. So we sat on him and we got his pants down to just about where things were gonna pop out and he started to bawl. I said, “If you ever chase us, do anything to us, we’ll catch you again and the next time we’ll pull ’em off and throw them in the street!” (laughs) So that’s the kind of kid I was.

CW: You know, I remember when I was in grade school we girls had this nice slide where the water had come down the eave spout and it had frozen. Well along came this ol’ boy and didn’t he throw ashes on it so we couldn’t slide on it anymore. It made me so mad I started after him and he ran. He ran to the door of the school but the door was locked. He couldn’t get in, so I caught up with him in that little anteroom and I grabbed his hair. He was way taller than I was but I got his hair and I started to pull and pretty soon he was beggin’ for mercy!

DV: I know. You have to take care of those boys. (laughs) Well we were close enough we could walk downtown so my Mother used to send us up to Spenglers for stuff. We’d roller skate up there; one winter we had ice. It froze. She needed something and I said, “Well I can go.” She said, “Well it’s pretty icy out.” So I put my ice skates on and I skated up to Spenglers. (pause to rest) It was that icy. (pause)

CW: Now the 20th Century is history, even the 21st Century-yesterday-is history, so it doesn’t really matter whether we’re talking about long ago or not.

DV: Well when you think of the progress that’s been made in our lifetime, you know: goin’ to the moon and stuff like that. If you would have said that in the ’40’s they would have said, “Lock ’em up. They’re crazy!” They’ve made a lot of progress. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad. There’s something lost. You know, the kids can’t read nowadays ’cause they don’t have to learn to spell or anything else.

CW: Yeah, the computer does it. They don’t have to learn the multiplication tables or anything.

DV: No. My mother was a school teacher but she didn’t teach after she got married. But she was still the school teacher, the boss. I have to laugh at Jay Leno, when he’d ask “the man on the street.” You know Jay Leno asks some of these people, “Well what do you do?” “I’m in college. I’m going to be a teacher.” Well who’s the Vice-President of United States?” “I don’t know.” “Really! And you’re going to be a teacher?” It’s amazing. Some of these people sound illiterate. We grew up in a era when you had to read. I don’t so much anymore but I used to read all the time. I miss that. My eyesight isn’t that good.”

CW: What was the east side like when you were little? Was it different than it is now?

DV: Oh there were a lot of boys in that neighborhood. Of course you had the Small boys.

CW: Did Smalls have a big family too?

DV: Yeah. Bill Small, the older Bill Small from the original family, has written a book which is very interesting. It tells about the East End kids: Dietrich and Norm DeTray and some of them. Larry had that book and he gave it to me. He said, “You might find it interesting.” I said, “Heck yeah. I knew all those people.” So he’s kind of written a history of the East End kids. You might want to read that.

CW: Yeah, I’d like to.

DV: So that’s kind of a They had the history of John Bost whom they honored not too long ago. In fact I suggested to Larry, (he’s been the one who got started honoring past athletes so he’s been President of that for a while.) In getting that organized I said, “You should put John Bost in there. John was a heck of a good football player. He lived with his grandmother and I didn’t know whether he had any brothers or sisters or not, but Bill Small in Defiance knew him. He had a cousin Bob, who I knew, and they finally tracked Bob down and he came and accepted the award for John. John was killed in World War II. I knew a lot of those guys that were killed. You know, they were a couple classes ahead of us. So he was honored for which I was glad because he certainly deserved. He even played with a broken arm or finger or something. He wouldn’t give up on football.

CW: I was going to ask you too if your husband ever told you anything about Vocke’s Mill.

DV: Well, Bill wasn’t one to keep track of stuff. His grandfather started the mill. At one time the Vockes had a brewery down there at the end of Scott St. and then they sold that to Tiejens or somebody. Somebody else, Pilliods or somebody, had the mill where the original mill was and his grandfather, John H. bought that. And Lawrence ran it.

CW: Was Lawrence a brother?

DV: No, Lawrence was a son of John H. So they ran the mill and then Bill got into it. But the mill was like anything else. It was limited in how it would last ’cause bigger ones like Farmers’ Elevator got started and the farmers could have stock in that. They kind of put the smaller mills out of business. So Bill had to kind of close that one down. He said it didn’t bother him but I think it did.

CW: Oh. Was there an ice house close by too?

DV: Well that ice house used to be back of where the Wash ‘n Fill Station is. Yeah, I can remember that. I remember going down there and getting ice.

CW: Did you bring it home in a wagon or something?

DV: Well it depended on how much you got. They used to have the ice truck go around town and my mother had a card with different colors, whatever was up was what she wanted: 25 or 50 lbs. And she would turn up what she wanted. They would chip off the right size and take it up on our back porch. We had a refrigerator where they put the chunks of ice in and that’s how we kept stuff cold.

CW: The refrigerator was kept on the back porch?

DV: Yeah ’cause it had a water tray that we had to empty and they had a drain on the porch so we didn’t have to empty it as the ice melted. But it worked. I mean everybody had ’em then so I didn’t think anything about it. Our back porch was enclosed so it worked all right. You could keep milk and stuff there.

CW: And the milkman used to come every morning, didn’t he?

DV: Yeah. You had to watch it so it didn’t freeze and that’s when the cream would go to the top.

CW: If it did it pushed the cap way up. I remember that.

DV: They used to deliver milk too. Mom would set the bottles out if she needed it. We had to make sure we brought them in before they froze totally.

CW: Did they ever break the glass from freezing?

DV: I suppose they did but I wasn’t aware of it. I think they used to push the cap up from freezing. I used to go to my aunts. They had cows out on the farm. They lived in Tedrow-talk about a little town. I used to walk out there, which was about a mile or so and talk about a little town and I’d be over there and she kind of acted as a Grandparent to us because on my Dad’s side. . . he was the baby of the family and she always felt bad that we didn’t have grandparents so she-she was one of these older sisters-so she kind of acted like a grandma to us but she’d put the cream on our cereal. We’d say, “We can’t eat this.” She’d say, “Oh you’re just using that watered-down stuff you get from the creamery!” (laughs) She’d put pure cream on our cereal. It was too rich.
The small town that we used to visit was Tedrow on the other side of Wauseon.

CW: I wondered where that was: north of Wauseon?

DV: Yeah, I think so. You know, I can remember seeing the road but I think we probably went north. I know we only had to turn around the corner and we went by the fairgrounds so it was out that way. My uncle had a general store. Talk about a general store! He always had a candy case and every time we went over there we got sick. My Aunt Ellen could never figure it out but he was sneaking us bags of candy.

CW: And you’d eat every one. (laughs)

DV: He’d say, “Don’t tell I gave you this.” She never could figure out what was makin’ us sick. I can remember being in that store. He had a big cheese wheel and cold stuff on one side and on the other side he had coveralls, y’know and farm shirts and shoes, boots and what-have-you.

CW: Was there any hardware in the store?

DV: Probably. I was looking at the candy case mostly.

CW: (laughs) Not interested in that hardware.

DV: But that was only about a block from my aunt’s house so we used to go up there all the time. But he was a jolly guy. Just loved him. His mother was a Mennonite. I can remember when she was living with them but he never practiced their religion. My aunt was a Methodist so I got hauled to church. In those days Sunday was a big day. She had pies and stuff in the pantry because people came to call and you had coffee and served pie to anybody who was visiting. Can you imagine them doing that nowadays? They’ve got television and football. But that was a big deal on Sunday. I can remember that. She was a wonderful baker but then they’d sit and talk about whoever wasn’t there. She used to belong to a quilting bee and she’d drag me to that. I’d hear ’em chop up somebody that wasn’t there. I’m sitting there as a kid. I’d think, “Who are they talking about or why are they talking about her?” But those are just some of my memories.

CW: You know I remember women sitting and talking about certain people and they’d find out who their father was and their aunts and uncles and I’d think, “Why? Why do they want to know?” But once they got all that information then they knew a lot about that person.

DV: I guess. I don’t know. When they finally got the telephones and the party line they could find out a lot of stuff too. (chuckles) Well we gossip now too but we don’t go into detail like they did then. They didn’t have the distraction of television. Those were simple times. In a way they were a lot slower. My aunt was some canner. She must have canned everything that grew. Well that was a carryover from her upbringing. My Dad said, “We had a summer kitchen and all I can remember is her canning all summer.” Well they were a few miles to town and you didn’t just run into town to get something. Then my aunt decided that you could not set a table without that second spread of jelly or something. So she made a lot of jelly and stuff but she also canned a lot of stuff.

CW: You mean they wanted something beside butter as a second spread to put on the bread?

DV: Oh yeah. A second spread, which we didn’t need. Oh, she canned-she cold-packed chicken. We stopped over there on a Sunday and she’d throw a meal. She’d have a chicken out and whip out some biscuits have mashed potatoes and she’d have a whole meal, with all of that cold-packed. But that was a carryover from the farm days when you couldn’t run in to town for anything. My cousin finally bought her a freezer and three years after she died they still had stuff in there that she’d frozen and canned.

CW: Did she make pickles in the big pickle crock?

DV: Oh yeah. They had a huge garden. Everything in that garden went into cans and then they had chickens out in back. I remember they used to kill some of those big fat hens for Sunday dinner. My uncle’d tie their feet together and put it on the clothesline. He’d talk to them, “Now Uncle Mel doesn’t really want to do this.” Krrch! And the head would be off.

CW: Now their feet would be on either side of the clothesline and then the necks would be hanging down and then he’d grab the head I suppose and he’d cut it off, just like that?

DV: Yeah. Quick! He was merciful I guess, I don’t know. The chicken never came back to say how it felt. Well they had those big fat hens. They weighed 6 or 7 pounds. They didn’t have those little leghorns; they had those big ones. They were good, and they had in town. . . I know everybody had little chicken coops in the back of their house at one time.

CW: In town?

DV: In town. I know when we got to Washington St. Gomers lived back of us. They still had a chicken coop. They’ve made it into a garage now but it was a chicken coop at one time. They had chickens back there. Of course they’ve outlawed it now. You can’t have that kind of stuff.

CW: Why is that, I wonder? Health reasons?

DV: You get a lot of manure when you have animals, chickens and so forth. I suppose for health reasons. And they get pretty smelly, their manure, you know. But everybody had a little chicken coop and the whole town would smell. But we’d go out and get little fresh eggs. But now, my aunt lived across from the Creamery. She had a little chicken coop back there. She used to make stewed chicken, biscuits and stuff on Sunday, I remember as a kid going down there. It was all good.

CW: That was down by the canal, wasn’t it?

DV: No, Snyders are beside where the canal used to run through. No, I was on Front St. where the canal used to be but I’ll you what they used to have was carnivals down there.

CW: Carnivals?!

DV: Yeah, in back of the . . . well, the ground was low. Of course they’ve got Rte. 424 there now. That was all filled in. When I was a kid they used to have carnivals a lot in town. I remember one year . . . oh, I was in high school when they closed down Perry St. where the bank is, that section of Perry St. where the bank is-they’d have that closed off. They’d re-route traffic and have a carnival right down town, you know. They’d have a ferris wheel and what have you-pretty junky.

CW: Did they have clowns that would travel with them?

DV: Oh yeah, I suppose. I don’t know but it was a great place to meet people. Then on the corner where the Hahn Center is there was always a little red wagon and every summer they had popcorn. You could stop and get popcorn. It was real popular, especially on Saturday night. You’d smell that popcorn all over, so-that’s gone. They don’t have that red wagon anymore. I don’t know whatever happened to it. I think somebody had that kind of a popcorn thing.

Larry was going to bring it out to the pool when they had the Conference. Napoleon was noted for having good food when they had those big swim meets, Conferences. It was centrally located and the parents put on a really good feed. They’d have hamburgs and hot dogs. They’ve got grills. Neil Thomas keeps a lot of that stuff at his place. His kids have been through the swim thing. He and Pam help out if they have a Conference, so the parents raise a lot of money that way too. There’s a lot of things that are donated. They have, like, veggies and dip. You know kids like that stuff cause they’re in swim suits and rather than get dressed up and leave. You know, when they have a Conference it’s usually parked up pretty good. People don’t like to leave; they lose their spot. So they serve food there.

CW: Do they still have synchronized swim?

DV: I guess but that’s a different thing from competition swimming, which is what they do.

CW: The reason I asked is that Jean Campbell used to have costumes and everything .

DV: I know what you mean. I don’t know whether they still have that or not. That’s separate from the Aquatic Club.

CW: Yeah it would be. There wouldn’t be any racing in it.

DV: I know Larry knew about the Aquatic Club ’cause that’s the feed-in for his swim teams at the high school. As far as those that are coming up, their potential, he’s done an excellent job. He’s been there for about 30 years-29. He’s built that up. I don’t think anybody will ever reach his record. It seems like every year he can bring them around. He can get good swimmers into champions.

CW: He must have a kind of charm or something.

DV: He does. He can get nasty if he has to but he doesn’t usually. They just do it because they like it. There’s enough kid in him that they recognize it.

CW: That’d be kind of the attraction that Roger King used to have with the kids. They liked him and so they would . . .

DV: Well, Larry was good. He was Fourth in the state in ’50 freestyle, so he knows all about practicing, what it takes to get to the state. But he’s tough on his nephews.

CW: He is?

DV: Oh yeah. (chuckles) Somebody said, “Does he give him extra instructions?” I said, “No. He said the only excuse for missing practice was death.” They’d rather go and practice than listen to him. No, they worked very hard for what they did. He bent over backwards to keep from showing favoritism toward them.

CW: That’d be hard.

DV: Oh, it was hard.

CW: Hard on the kids and hard on him too probably.

DV: Yeah. Well he didn’t want any favoritism propping up.

(end of tape, Side A)

DV: They were going on to Bowling Green and he said, “Well Mom, I always try to have a rigatoni dinner-you know, for the kids that are goin’ on to District or whatever.” So Larry tried it one year. Afterwards he said, “What do you put in your meatballs?”

I said, “Why?” and he said, “Well I made meat balls and the kids made fun of them.”
I said, “What kind of seasoning do you put in them?” He said, “Just Italian seasoning.”

I said, “Nothing else?”

He said, “No, why? They were like golf balls. The boys made so much fun of those meat balls!” This was after Bill died and I said, “Well maybe next year I can help you out with that.” Well he moves in and I make the meatballs and I make the sauce and all that. He said, “Y’know, that turned out pretty good. Maybe I’ll just . . .” So I got stuck doing that for about 26 years. (laughs) I got my big mouth in there!

But it took us about 10-12 years to get the recipe down to the way he liked-he liked it kind of spicy. And Connie Wolfe has helped the last few years but that takes all day to do that. I said when it looks like a little volcano-clomp! Clomp!-the sauce is done. We put five pounds of ground chuck in the meats balls; we have-some years it’s 35 or so-so we have it down to a system and now his wife’s stuck with it. But the recipe’s all been figured out. We even have a printed grocery list so we know what to get.

CW: Do you have the recipe in your mind?

DV: Well, I was writing it down every year, you know, adjusting it till one year Larry said, “Hey, this is it!” So all I had to do was write it down, but it takes time. One year I got too many meatballs in it, and not enough sauce so the next year I cut down on the meatballs. We get a big jar of Prego and put those meatballs in it in a roaster with V8 juice. Then we always had garlic bread and that was, I think 8 or 10 loaves of that we always have to slice and put butter and garlic powder on, and then we do a carrot dip. But they look forward to it. All the Seniors get to go to it. But I got stuck with that, but that’s what you do.

(interrupted by an aid bringing water. End of tape.)

DeTray, Norm

Norm DeTray – His Own Story

From my earliest memories, I was crazy about airplanes. If we were eating lunch or dinner, and I heard an airplane, I dropped every-thing and ran out to see whussup. My folks never batted an eye at this behavior — they knew my passion.

One whole summer, Jack Crahan & I built model airplanes in our garage — all day, every day. When we finished one, we took it up on our roof, wound her up, attached a firecracker to the nose, lit the firecracker and let ‘er rip. When you did this 5 times, you were an Ace.

My folks would say, “Why don’t you kids go outside and play?” We’d say, “Yeah, OK”, but we never did. We stayed in the garage and sniffed glue (not on purpose — sniffing was unadvoidable when you were building balsa model airplanes! But I learned a lot about airplanes that summer.


The war started on Dec. 7, 1941 for the United States, when the dirty, yellow Japs bombed Pearl Harbor. This happened on a Sunday in the U.S., and I was at my current girl’s house. I remember thinking that my life was soon going to change.

I graduated from high school in June of 1942, and and started college at Ohio State in the Fall. But before I went to OSU, I took the exam for West Point, ending up as first alternate. I knew the guy that was first was sure to take it, so that left me with other plans to make.

My dad and I went uptown to visit Jimmy Donovan, a local attorney but more importantly a big wheel in the Democratic party. I was thinking about taking the exam for Annapolis, and these appointments required political pull. Jimmy said he thought I ought to try for the Navy V-5 program which could lead to pilot training. This sounded good, so I decided that’s what I’d do.

I started at OSU and shortly enlisted in the Navy V-.5 program. At that time, when you went to OSU, you had to take Army ROTC (OSU being a land-grant university). When the Navy learned about that, they said you can’t be in the Navy and take Army ROTC. On the other hand, Ohio State said I couldn’t continue at OSU WITHOUT taking Army ROTC!!

I know it sounds weird, but after talking to the Dean, it was determined that I would have to transfer! So after one quarter at OSU, I transferred to BGSU for the 2nd semester.

The Navy called me up in Aug. 1943, and I was assigned to Flight Prep School at Wooster.

They took no prisoners at Wooster. The first day, they sent us to Sick Bay where they had a double line of 6 Corpsman. You went thru the line and each one gave you a shot! Then to the PT field for push-ups. We all got sick that nite, and some guys actually tied themselves to the John all nite. This is the Navy?? Buy hey, no excuses the next day — they put us thru hours of PT.

We learned “close-order drill”, and since I had experience in the State Guard, I was made platoon leader. They had a football team that played a collegiate schedule and I went out for the team. So, I was the platoon leader of the “Football Platoon”. That was a wild experience, as this group was totally full of testosterone and were, in a word, ornery. But they seemed to like me OK. These guys had all played college ball, and I was no match. Just before the first game, I was cut. But, I was still Platoon Leader. I later was promoted to Battalion Commander. It was good that I got cut, as they were beating me up plenty. I did help some of the schoolastically challenged ball players, especially in Navigation Class. The tests were all multiple choice (5 possible answers to each question) and the chairs had 5 vertical pieces of wood to form the back. You can guess the rest. I got several guys thru Navigation Class by “scratching my back” on the proper piece.

We learned the Morse Code, Aircraft Recognition and Elementary Navigation. But mostly they worked our butts off in PT. I thought I was in shape, but this was brutal. One time, running high hurdles, I pulled a muscle and got put on report for dogging it when I continued to limp! Had to walk-off demerits. Tough, real tough.

Helena, Montana, Queen City of the Rockies


Why would the Navy have anything in Montana? There’s not a ship withing a thousand miles!

Well, I’ll tell you why: The Navy didn’t have enough air bases to absorb all the cadets they wanted. They were furiously building bases, such as the Corpus Christi complex, but in the meantime, they had to have some place to store us cannon fodder, so they started a thing called the War Training Service. The WTS’s were located at colleges around the country that had an airfield nearby. As a matter of fact, the Army Air Corps also utilized WTS services. They had civilian instructors, both academic and pilot training. But, we had one Navy guy as the “Skipper”, and another Navy guy who was the PT slave-driver.

The Skipper was a pilot who was wounded early in the War, and I think the Navy looked for a soft spot for him. I think I only saw him twice while at Carroll College. Word had it that he was a near-alcoholic.

But boy, we did see the PT officer!

it was all Navy guys at Carroll College — I don’t know what happened to any girl students. Carroll was a catholic school, and was all in one building when I was there.

We actually got some liberty while we were at Carroll. Helena was a pretty nice town, and God knows there weren’t any other military around, so we got prime treatment. About the best duty you could have and still be in the military.

My flight instructor was Warren Anderson, a civilian of course. In fact, the pilot instructors used their own planes for instruction. I always had the feeling that these guys made out real well financially, plus they got to fly all they wanted. He worked me hard, as he wanted me to be the first in class to solo. Ready or not, I made it!

PRIMARY TRAINING, Norman, Oklahoma


After Wooster, Helena, St. Mary’s, the next step was Primary Training at Norman, OK. This was my first exposure to real flying.

Primary was heavy on aerobatics and precision landings.

Aerobatics could easily produce “upchucking”. This was real embarassing, but when you’re in an inverted spin, all the force is up and out!

The Stearman Biplane was a real sturdy performer. No aerobatics were restricted, and we learned ’em all: loops, snap-rolls, barrel rolls, falling leaf, chandelles, immelmans, regular and inverted spins etc.

The Stearman had one big problem: the brakes were terrible! And with the ever-present wind in Oklahoma, you needed brakes in order to keep a straight line when taxiing. If you were taxiing in a cross-wind, forget it — you were going to “Ground Loop”. This means that the plane was going to go into a violent circle, and there was nothin’ you could do about it. I well remember seeing 30-40 planes aimlessly going in circles on the taxiway until enlisted men came out to walk ’em in.


After considerable dual instruction, the time came for us to go out solo. After all the hammering from instructors, this promised to be a lot of fun. We were just to go out in the general area and do nothin’ special.

Well, that wasn’t good enough for me and some of my other “hot” buddies — we had to go buzzing farm houses, cows and stuff. And of course, I got caught!

This was a serious offense I had violated a direct order, so this wasn’t at all funny. It resulted in a “CAPTAIN’S MAST”.

There are several levels of discipline forthcoming when you were in violation of some regulation, and a Captain’s Mast was pretty high up on the list. It was like a trial, with 3 officers acting as the judges. If they ruled against me, I would be washed-out of the air program, and go to enlisted status. Somehow, they let me stay, but I had major demerits to walk-off, and was restricted from liberty for a good long time. The only reason I can think of that made them go easy on me is that they had probably done the same thing!!

St. Mary’s Pre-Flight, St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California

St. Mary’s College was a truly beautiful place. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay in any of these beautiful buildings — the Navy had to build wooden barracks for the lowly Cadets.

There were about 4 pre-flight schools across the country, and since I had been in Montana, the logical place to send us was California.

Navy Pre-Flight was considiered among the toughest and most demanding of all military training. The Navy stressed physical training, and stressed it in spades.

For example, when we pulled in to St. Mary’s, the buses were instructed to drive around the running track. We we shocked to see guys in leg casts and on crutches trying to run around the track!

There were two places you went if you were hurt: Misery Hall and Agony Hall. If you were just sick or had bruises or other non-life threatening wounds, you went to Misery Hall. There was no getting out of regular PT if you only had to go to Misery. If you had serious sprains, broken bones or something sorta life-threatening, you went to Agony. Here they evaluated you to see what they thought you could do. Guys in casts that truly couldn’t run, were doing pull-ups or push-ups endlessly. You had to do something physical, no question asked. It was impossible not to be in good shape after leaving Pre- Flight!


This is truly one of the dumbest things I have ever done!

It was our last day at Pre-Flight, and we were mustering in company formation prior to going to dinner. Four of us decided that we would sneak out early and go to the student union for a real burger and shake. So we asked 4 other guys to shout “Aye” when our names were called.

All went well until one of the four guys had a personal message from his family that had to be delivered to him personally. No dice. He wasn’t there!

So they had a complete stoppage of all activity and went over the roster one-by-one until they absolutely knew who was missing. The whole battalion was late for supper.

When we got back to the barracks we were told what happened. Tomorrow was Graduation Day for God’s sake! We hid in the shower, but the cadet officer of the day found us and told us to report to the Officer of the Day. I thought we were finished.

The officer sentenced us to 4 hrs. of demerits, which had to be marched-off that nite yet. But I was overjoyed to march for 4 hrs. & not get washed-out! Dumb and Dumber for sure!!! Graduation was nice!!!

We knew when we graduated from St. Mary’s Pre-Flight we would get 2 weeks leave. Many of us were from the East, so how were we gonna get home?

Well, the Union Pacific Railroad had our answer. One of their representatives came out to St. Mary’s to give us the scoop. Boy, it sounded good! We would have our own car and could take our meals in the Club Car. He assured us that it would be nice and deluxe. OK, problem solved.
When it came time to depart the train station, we found our car. It had to be the oldest car still rolling. It had a coal furnace in the middle of it! This was supposedly for use when we went over the Rockies, where it got mighty cold. We were also sorta led to believe that our car would be a “sleeper”, and what a joke that was. It was a real old fashioned coach with very uncomfortable seats, and this was what we had to go to Chicago in.

One of the guys had worked a short time for a railroad, and he knew how to dismantle the seats so they could be laid out in sort of a bed — at least we could get horizontal. We were pretty miffed at our treatment, and proceeded to dismantle the seats, and sorta dismantled the whole car.

The conductor was horrified at what we had done to that car. In fact, he locked us in so that we couldn’t get to the dining car! We stopped at some town along the way, and the USO provided us with box lunches, or else we might have starved.

It was a 3-day trip to Chicago. On the 2nd day, the John plugged up, of course. What a mess! Guys were going out the window or wherever. By the time we got to Chicago, we were savage!

Thank God the train I took from Chicago to Defiance had a wash-room so I could get cleaned up a little, lots I still needed a shave. I wasn’t a pretty sight by the time I got home. So much for deluxe train travel on the Union Pacific.

When we got ready to do our carrier landing qualifications, we went to a little port on the east coast of Florida called Mayport. We were to board a Destroyer Escort for transport out to the carrier.

We were Navy Men, right? Not exactly old salts, but Navy nontheless. A Destroyer Escort is not a very big ship, and she rocked a lot right at the dock. About half our guys never stopped walking when they boarded the DE, and headed straight for the HEAD, where they dutifully UPCHUCKED! What a way to start!

‘Way back at the beginning of all this, a carload of us went to Detroit for our Navy physicals. The night before the physicals, of course, we went out on the town. Consequently, the next morning we couldn’t pass the eye test! They told us to come back in the afternoon and try again. Well, what’s good for eye problems? Carrot juice is good for eye problems. So we got several jugs of carrot juice, went back and PASSED!!

At BGSU, I got acquainted with some other guys that had enlisted in the V-5 Program. We had a Navy liaison officer at BGSU whose main job was recruiting, but he was also there to assist guys like us were waiting to be called up. He told us we could form our own squadron and could go thru all the training together and go out to the fleet together. Boy, this sounded great, so we formed The Flying Falcons.

We all went to Wooster together. They were all football players, so we were in the same platoon there. What a nice deal! We would look out for each other, and generally build up Espirit de Corps.

What a joke! When we completed Wooster the Flying Falcons were scattered to the 4 winds and I never saw any of them again! The Navy Way.

One of my best buddies all thru training was Tommy Davis. Tommy had gone to Kent State, and was a gymnast. He was about the best-lookin’ guy I ever knew. Anyhow, since our names were close alphabetically we were generally in the same room, or close by.

But Tommy had a problem. He didn’t have a middle name. The Navy said ‘You have to have a middle name”. Tommy kept telling them that he didn’t have one. So, they gave him one. Actually, they weren’t worried about having a middle name as such, but you had to have a middle initial. So they gave him “L” as a middle name. Every time he signed his name, he had to write it as Thomas “L” Davis. I wonder if he continued to use “L” in later life…

The Navy issued you a Sea Chest, which was a big, green chest, to carry all your clothes and stuff. When I transferred to the West Coast after JaK, we went to a little base south of San Diego. My chest didn’t show up. Weeks went by, but no chest. I was getting desperate for clothes!

It came time to transfer to northern California, eventually to go to VernaIlls. When we went to the train station in San Diego to make the move, I SAW my sea chest with a bunch of other luggage going where we were going. I couldn’t get at it, but at least I knew it was in California, and maybe even stood a good chance of going where I was going! I finally caught up with it later.

At Norman, Oklahoma, one time I went up to the 2nd floor of our barracks to see someone. I was walking down the aisle between the beds when I saw a picture of a girl on some guys’ locker door. It was a glamor shot of Mary Helen Pohlman from Napoleon! Mary Helen was a real beauty, and was a Golden Girl for the Purdue band. So I hung around until the owner showed up. Turned out to be a guy who had gone with Mary Helen at Purdue. Small World Department.

Tommy “L” had a very steady girl back home in Cleveland. When we were at Norman, OK, we got a coupla’ weeks leave, and Tommy and I arranged to meet up in Chicago to make the train-trip back to Norman.

Tommy didn’t look good — pale and absolutely no pep. When we got to Norman, he checked into sick-bay His nurse turned out to be a former competetive swimmer, a big, good lookin’ women probably 10 years older than Tommy. She liked Tommy — she liked Tommy a LOT. She pretty well knew what Tommy’s problem was, and gently nursed him back to health. I won’t tell you his medical diagnosis, but you can guess.

While I was in the Navy, at least part of the time, I was going with one of the Marilyn’s. Not the one I married, but that’s another story. Anyhow, this Marilyn worked as a telephone operator here in Napoleon. When I was in Florida, I used to call her often, and we talked for hours. Somehow I was led to belived that she could “lose” the charges. Not so. When I got home on leave, my sister-in-law Jean infomed me that a pretty big bill had been paid. Jean kept books for my dad. and somehow she ivaaled the charges into his business account!

Corpus Christi, Texas

Advanced Training at Corpus Christi was a major goal of all the grief that went before. There were 2 advanced training complexes; Pensacola, Fla. and Corpus Christi. Since I completed Primary at Norman, OK, I was closest to Corpus, and that’s where I went.

“Corpus Christi” was really several air fields spread around about a 50-mile radius. The picture is of the main base, and I never flew out of there. At the main base, it was all ground-school and PT. We were introduced to Radar, which was super-secret at the time. The security at the class where we studied Radar was intense. We also studied Aerology, which was the Navy’s term for meteorology. Aerology and I didn’t get along well at all and I didn’t pass. This meant that I would get another chance somewhere along the line.

Transferred to NAS Cabiness (Imtermediate in Vultee Vibrator), then to Advanced at NAS Kingsville (SNJ “Texan”), then to NAS Beeville (SBD “Dauntless” dive bomber) It was at Beeville that my problem with Aerology returned.

This requires some explanation. After all the months of heavy PT and Ground School, the only thing standing in the way of getting my Wings & Commission was this stupid Aerology exam. I wasn’t the only one –there about 10 of us who had one more chance.

I don’t remember how, but one of the guys obtained the “Gouge” for all 5 of the possible Aerology tests. You didn’t know which one of the five you would end up with. They were all multiple choice. I’m not proud of this, but I took a 6-sided regular yellow pencil, and on each of 5 sides, using a knife, I carved in ALL THE ANSWERS FOR ALL THE TESTS!! This took awhile, but time wasn’t important. When we took the test, I determined which of the 5 I had, and turned the pencil to that side. I was done in minutes, but stayed there for an hour or more. I also purposely missed a couple, but believe me. I PASSED AEROLOGY!!!!

OPERATIONAL: Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida


Just before we were to graduate, get our wings and commission at Corpus, 4 of us made a little trip at night to the office where they made out your next assignment. Ordinarily, this was a random choice by the Navy: Multi-Engine, Dive Bombers, Torpedo Bombers, or Fighters. We wanted Fighters. Corsair Fighters at that.

We had heard that there was a nice little gal that worked in this office, and that she could be swayed. So we “swayed” her with a bottle of good booze, and by golly, we all got assigned to Corsair Fighters! What a stroke of luck!

We had 3-4 days delay enroute from Corpus to Jax, so we spent them in New Orleans. What with commissions, Wings of Gold and our general good looks (hah!), we felt really HOT. It took us a day to get into a decent hotel, The Roosevelt, but it was worth it.


Shortly after we got checked into Jax, we went down to the flight line to look at the planes. My God, how beautiful the Corsair looked to us!! We all had our hearts set on flying this bird since Flight Prep School, and here it was! “Boy, it’s Big!!”; “How the heck do you see in front of you?” We were soon to find out.


Lo and behold! Who showed up with us for Operationa!’. The Rotten Marine from Beeville!! He was very much the pussy-cat now, ‘cuz he knew we hated his guts. I think he was afraid we’d shoot him down the first chance we got, and he was close to being right!. We told him he should always be nice, ‘cuz you never knew who would be on his tail!


My love affair with the mighty Corsair,
Started out with a bit of doubt!
Could I fly this big bad awesome thing?
Did I have the guts to find out?

Some called it “Hose Nose” (a loving term)
Because of it’s extra long snout.
To others, it was “Bent Wing Bird”
Or “Birdcage” (I can’t see out!!)

To most it was the “F4U”,
With a mind all of it’s own!
The first few hops, the plane flew you,
A bit of a “twilight-zone”!

Although it’s over 50 years,
Since my initial flight,
I won’t forget that feeling,
Great excitement—mixed with fright!

“Cleared for take off’ said the tower,
Am I finally ready to go?
I locked the tail-wheel—Added power,
I really didn’t know!

Be still my heart, go back to your place,
Why are you up here, so close to my face?
Look straight ahead, can’t see a thing,
Look right and left, look at the wing.

At 90 some knots, the tail comes up,
By George there’s a runway I see,
I’m now off the ground, the wheels come up,
What’s wet?—did I take a pee?

The field is dropping away quite fast,
I just pulled up the flaps,
The gauge reads over 2000 feet,
I’ve got it made–perhaps?

2000 horses working hard,
That purring sound is sweet,
Was on the ground five minutes back,
And now—10,000 feet!

Down wheels and flaps, ease the stick back,
Time to practice a landing stall,
Try landing on a fluffy cloud-bank,
Hell, this ain’t bad at all.

Let’s do that again; go for another stall,
Down wheels and flaps,
Holy Smoke, no action at all!!
Hydraulic failure. could this be Taps?

My instructor flew up to take a look,
“Try it again, both wheels and flaps”,
So I did it just by the book,
“She’s busted for sure, you gotta bum rap.”

“Pump the Wobble Pump, see if that helps,
Jeeze, you gotta pump it harder than that!”,
“They’re comin’, they’re comin”‘ he said with a yelp
And brother, I pumped, with nary a gap.

“The wheels are down” I said with a shout,
But no flaps for my first landing?
What’s this all about?

Well, they cleared NAS JAX for me alone,
For a straight-in approach, which I’d never done,
But when you’re desperate, you grab any bone!
You get pretty inventive when under the gun!

You can’t stall her out without any flaps,
You fly it in and keep the speed up,
I lined her up with a 3 mile gap,
To the end of the runway, no if, and, or buts.

My instructor flew wing,
Told me just what to do,
Wheels contacted ground, I felt like a king,
And that’s my experience with an F4U.
(With help from “Anonymous”)



We had been out over the Atlantic for gunnery practice. For gunnery practice, they had a medium bomber trail a target sleeve, a long distance behind the bomber, of course! We were returning to base after practice, in formation about like the above.

For some reason, I was feeling particularly “hot” by this time. We were fairly well along in the F4U training, and I thought I was “Top Gun”.

Rather than join up with the other 2 guys as in the picture, I decided to barrel-roll around the 2 planes. The F4U was especially good at this.

The first roll was so much fun, I decided to “roll all the way home”, so I did. I’m not sure what the other guys thought.


My squadron of 6 planes was returning to NAS Jax after a training mission. We were in right echelon, and each plane peeled off in succession to land. There was not supposed to be much interval between planes.

As the Corsair had the biggest engine and biggest prop of any U.S. fighter, it produced tremendous slipstream. Usually the wind blew the slipstream off the runway.

But this was an especially still day— little did I know that the previous plane’s prop wash was still right above the runway. I found out, though!

As I rolled out to land at about 50 feet off the runway, all of a sudden I was rolled completely on my left side. AtI this point, pure reaction took over, and I threw the stick full right. I no sooner finished this manoeuver than I was on the runway, like nothin’ had happened. But believe me, somethin’ HAD happened!!


One of the gunnery approaches we used was called he “High Side”. In this approach, you get about 1000′ higher than the target sleeve and a little ahead.

Then you peel off and dive towards the target, urning to parrallel the target the closer you get. When ou get within range, you are coming in on his rear uarter, still in a dive, and then you fire as long as the arget is in the sight.

You build up a lot of speed on this approach, and fter firing, you pull back on the stick to recover. We idn’t have “C” suits, so all the blood went towards your eet, and you “blacked out”. This didn’t last long, maybe 10-15 seconds as you pulled out and climbed back to ltitude.
One time, when I finally got my vision back, I found hat I was in the shade! Odd, because there ain’t no hade over the ocean. I looked up, and there was an SB2C about 10 feet over my head! I was in HIS shade! Close. real close. maybe the closest thrill of all.


Carrier Landings were, of course, the ultimate in Naval Aviation. A lot of Navy pilots never qualified, for one reason or another. But, if you wanted to fly fighters, you had to qualify for carrier landings.

We qualified on the USS Guadacanal, an escort carrier, a “Kaiser Coffin” or “Jeep Carrier”. The reason it earned this name was that it was built on merchant-ship bottoms by the Kaiser Corp. The Guadacanal had a flight deck that was 477′ long and 80′ wide. To give you an idea of size, the Corsair’s wingspan was 41′ so there wasn’t a LOT of room side-to-side. And God knows, there wasn’t much length — 477′ is like one and a half football fields. This ain’t a lot of room to land a 400 mph fighter.

The deck had about 7 arresting wires, or cables stretched across the deck. The wires were hydraulically controlled so that they would “give” when hooked. The amount of “give” each cable had was dependent on it’s location on the deck. The first wire was quite forgiving, the second tighter etc. and the last wire was really tight. Then, there was a barrier also made of cables, which could be erected in a split second. The barrier was at the end of the wires, and was the last resort to keep a plane from going into the drink.

You had to land tail-first so the hook could engage. From the very first flight in the T-Craft, we were instructed to land tail-first. This is the “Navy Way”.

Sometimes when landing on the canner, it was possible to bounce over several wires before engaging one. I had one friend that bounced over all the wires, and hit the barrier. Beat up the plane a little, but he was OK.

Due to the huge engine and prop that the Corsair carried, it produced tremendous engine torque. This torque caused the left wing to drop when in a stall condition. They even added a “spoiler” to the right wing to kinda’ compensate for this, but it wasn’t totally effective.

When the Landing Signal Officer gave you the cut-off to land, the action was that you pushed the stick forward and then immediately pulled it back, and of course zero throttle. Due to the narrow deck, the landing crew had nets alongside the deck that they could dive into if a plane was off-center. On one of my landings, I apparently was just a little high, and when I got the cut-off, popped the stick etc., the left wing dropped! Crew members on the left side bailed into the nets, as did the LSO. Buy hey, I wasn’t that bad! I caught an early wire and everything was cool as far as I was concerned! Anyway, it counted as a successful landing. A carrier landing was commonly called a “Controlled Crash”, and in a sense, it was. There was no adding throttle to go around again, as you were in a completely stall condition. You either caught a wire or crashed into the barrier.


I was home on leave after Corsair training in the Summer of ’45 when the “A” Bomb_was dropped. There was a humongous celebration in Napoleon and everywhere else on “VJ Day”. You grabbed a girl (any girl!) and celebrated ’till the wee hours of the morning.

Downtown Napoleon was completely plugged with people, cars, trucks etc. You couldn’t move. The bad news is that they closed the bars. The good news is that they closed the bars!
When my leave was over, I was assigned to the west coast for Night Carrier Landing training, which I wasn’t especially looking forward to, as you can imagine. But when I got to California there was a certain amount of chaos. They didn’t know whether to continue our training, send us out to the fleet to replace pilots already there, or what.

They finally decided NOT to send us out as replacements. This meant that we really had nothing to do, except play basketball all day. No flying. Bummer!

I was finally transferred to NAS Vernalis, a small base near Modesto. Again, there was nothin’ to do. It was so dull that 4 of us went into Modesto and took jobs in the local fruit exchange manhandling boxes of fruit!

This was strict y illegal as ar as the Navy went, but the fruit exchange was desperate for help and didn’t ask any questions.


Eventually, we were given the chance to get our flight-time at Vernalis. You had to get 4 hrs. per month to earn your flight pay, which was an added 50% over base pay.

This was when I met the “Hellcat” up close and personal. This plane was the “other” first-line Navy fighter. It was slower than the Corsair, but way more forgiving. It had been designed to combat the Japanese “Zero” fighter, which was a real agile fighter. You could do maneuvers in the Hellcat that you wouldn’t consider doing in the Corsair. The Corsair was near impossible to get out of an inverted spin, for example. So you didn’t do anything that might get you in an inverted spin.

The Hellcat didn’t have these restrictions. I did a lot of acrobatics in the Hellcat that I hadn’t done since the SNJ days. There was no assigned training, you just went out and flew around doing whatever. It truly was Sport Flying.


As I mentioned before, when the bomb was dropped, the whole Naval Air program came to a halt. They literally didn’t know what to do with us.

Eventually they came out with a point system to establish if you were elgible for discharge. Since we were bored stiff, this seemed like a good idea and I was elgible. I thought long and hard about staying in the Navy (I would have been retired for about 40 years!) but finally decided to take the discharge.

I well remember packing up to leave NAS Vernalis. My closet had a shelf just a little bit higher than my head, and every month when I got paid, I threw a hundred dollar bill up on that shelf. As I was pulling shirts and stuff off that shelf, the hundred dollar bills were fluttering to the ground! I remember thinking “It’ll be a long time, if ever, that I will see 100 dollar bills fluttering to the floor”. And, I was right.

I was transferred to Great Lakes Naval Air Station near Chicago for discharge. Unfortunately, they were real bears on us turning in our watches, leather flight jackets etc. They were formal, right to the end. I had lost a winter flight helmet somewhere along the way, and they threatened to withhold my discharge! I offered to PAY for it, but they wouldn’t hear of it. I finally had to sign all kinds of legal documents to get out of there and on home.


Here’s some stuff that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere else. But I couldn’t leave it out.

While at Beeville we had a pretty funny thing happen. We had a Marine lieutenant who was the permanent Officer of the Day. This guy was a pilot, and this was a really lousy assignment. But well deserved, as this guy was a complete ass.

The reason he was permanent Officer of the Day was because he had run into a fuel tanker while taxiing his SBD Dauntless. This, was his discipline while he awaited trial.

This guy was really rotten. When Taps came at 10 PM, he would check the barracks to see if anyone was still up in violation of Lights Out. To disguise just where he was in the hall-way, he took one shoe off!! This allowed him to run down the hallway quickly, but if you counted his steps, he was well away from your room.

We got even with him, though. Every time he would walk past outside our barracks, we would holler out the window; “Hit a truck??? How’n the hell did he hit a truck?? Well, he would come charging in, but there was no way to tell where the “cheer” came from!!

At Wooster, one of the guys was a last-year football star at Wooster! He was a super guy, and had a lot of info about Wooster.

One of the very first things they had us do upon arrival the first day was to go to the pool to see how well we could swim. Well, this guy COULDN’T swim. He told the officers in charge that he couldn’t swim, but they wouldn’t listen.

Several of us told him we would stand at alert, and when he started to sink, we would pull him out. Sure enough, he jumped in and started to go down, and we violated our first order by jumping in to save him. You had to be able to swim to be in the Aviation Program, and he worked like a dog until he could at least dog-paddle, which was enough to get him by. The Navy didn’t like to listen to your problems!!

Wooster again: After a few weeks of isolation, we finally got liberty. Most of us lived in Ohio, and we wanted to go home to show off our uniforms etc. The train route was from Mansfield to Lima, where I would arrange for someone to pick me up.

Local civilians with cars, wanting to make a little extra money, would line up just outside campus to take us to Mansfield. Timing was critical, and there really wasn’t enough time to make the train schedule at Mansfield. But they guaranteed delivery, and drove 80 and 90 mph with a car-load of cadets. I guess it was worth it, but boy, it was scary. We just scooched down in the seat and closed our eyes.

Sorta the same thing in Helena. Carroll College was on the edge of Helena. When we got liberty, civilian cars would take us to a really nice nite-club, maybe the only one in Helena. They had an organ player for music, and he was pretty good. But mostly, they had booze!!

We had to be back at midnite. About 10 minutes till 12, the civilian cars would line up outside the nite-club. Once we didn’t make it. This was serious. Beaucoup demerits, again!!


“The first production F4U-1 made its first flight on June 25, 1942. The USN received its first aircraft on July 31, 1942.

Overall handling of the F4U-1 was acceptable, but not very good. In level flight the Corsair was stable enough to be flown hands-off. The ailerons were light and effective, and the high roll rate was used with good effect in combat. The elevators were heavy but effective. Only the rudder really stiffened with increasing speed. For combat maneuvering, the flaps could be deployed 20 degrees.

After the first delivery of an F4U-1 on July 31, 1942, more than two years passed before the US Navy cleared the type for shipboard operations. The Corsair was found to be much too difficult to land on a carrier deck. First of all, the pilot could hardly see the deck, because he sat so far aft of the bulky engine. The F4U tended to stall without warning, and was then certain to drop the left wing. Quick action had to be taken to prevent a spin. Spin recovery was difficult. On touchdown, the F4U-1 had sluggish controls and insufficient directional stability. It also was prone to “bounce” because of overly stiff landing gear oleo legs.”

(Some of these faults were corrected in later versions, primarily a change in the landing gear to reduce stiffness.)

“The F4U is often said to have been the most successful fighter of WWII. This is based on a claimed 11 to 1 kill ratio: 2140 enemy aircraft shot down for a loss of 189.”

The US Navy finally accepted the F4U for shipboard operations in April 1944, after the longer oleo leg was fitted, which finally eliminated the tendency to bounce. The increasing need for fighters, as a protection against Kamikaze attacks,resulted in more Corsair units being moved to the carriers.”

Delventhal, Walter

Interviewed by Marlene Patterson, November 16, 2007

We are beginning an oral history of Walter Delventhal (WD). Walter was the owner of the Delventhal Blacksmith Shop located in Gerald, Ohio in the 1950’s. Walter followed in his father’s occupation following the death of his father Herman. Walter learned the blacksmith trade from his father starting at an early age by helping him in the blacksmith shop. Walter has since retired. Walter and his wife Lucia (LD), Russell Patterson (RP) and I (MP) are sitting at Walter and Lucia’s dining room table visiting. They have built a new home in the country on their farm on County Road T.

MP: Walter, can you tell me where you were born?

WD: I and my sister Mary Ann were both born at home in Gerald.

MP: I ran into my birth certificate the other day and I see where Dr. J.J. Harrison delivered me. I think the rest of my sisters and brothers were born at home in Gerald also.

LD: Most children were delivered by Doc Delventhal or even by Ida Gerken.

MP: Wasn’t she like a midwife.

LD: Ida was here with us when we had our tonsils out.

MP: What we are doing is interviewing people like Walter who were early business men. I am interested in early businesses in the Gerald area and I know you qualify.

WD: Walter laughs!

MP: Well, weren’t you? This interview will be put on the Henry County Historical Society’s web sit. You will be able to click on Walter Delventhal and there will be your life story right before your eyes.

LD: So be careful what you say Walter.

MP: Did you remember my mother Walter, or were you too little. She died in 1941.

WD: Yes I remember her. You were just a little girl. She was a nice lady, Gerald was in shock.

MP: She died in April of 1941, and I was 5 1/2 years old.

WD: You know your dad built that house there where you lived in Gerald. Do you remember that old house?

MP: Yes I do, and that old house went across the street next to your house.

WD: Right. When they moved that old house from Naomi and put it there in Gerald where you lived. I remember seeing them move that old house because I was just a little boy four or five years old. That was something exciting to see. You don’t see a house being moved like that every day. That is where your mother Ruth and John lived.

MP: I remember Daddy telling about them moving the house right through the fields. About what year would that have been?

WD: Around 1928 -1930.

MP: See my brother Kenny was born in 1928. Do you remember what was there before they brought in that old house?

WD: It was an empty lot. It belonged to your Grandpa Gerken’s farm.

MP: I should have brought that picture. Bill Von Deylen came up with a picture that shows the Bindemans’ house there on the edge of town and then it is all empty farmland. There is not a thing there. So that picture was taken even before that house was moved there next to Bindemans’. It’s a real old photo.

WD: Do you know where Bindemans’ house was?

MP: Yes

WD: Right next door was that long building. That belonged to Badenhops’.

MP: Which Badenhops?

WD: It was Don Badenhop’s grandfather.

MP: How long did that saloon operate then?

WD: They were there a long time. They were there in 1920 when that tornado went through there. That was a two story building.

MP: Do you know what I remember. Was there a Witte that ran the saloon?

WD: No, he lived there. See him and Albert Meyer he worked for your grampa. He farmed the land.

MP: Do you mean Albert Miller?

WD: No, Albert Meyer. He was a bachelor, and he never got married. He lived upstairs there. See that was a long building.  I used to, see Henry Witte, my mom she would make soup and stuff and I would have to take it over there to him. There was a bedroom and the kitchen was in the front. I think your dad bought that later on.

MP: He did, and I can tell you why. The people that rented and lived upstairs would just throw their garbage out the window and it would land on our driveway. Daddy got so mad.

WD: There were some Welsteds that lived up there and he had spent some time in prison already and he ran a garage downstairs in that building.

MP: Do you mean a car repair business? Did he have gas pumps?

WD:  No, he didn’t have gas pumps. Welsted was his last name. I used to go over there, I was just about seven or eight or maybe ten years old and he told me he could make a chain out of a piece of wood. He could just carve it out and it would wind up being a chain. He told me that he would make those when he was in prison. He had an old wood stove in there and he burned coal. They sold coal at the elevator and they all suspicioned him of stealing coal from your grandfather at the elevator. They were watching him because he was a prime suspect. I know because Dad caught him in our wood shed one time and he was stealing coal there.

MP: How else are you supposed to get coal? He probably thought he could get away with it, and no one would miss a little bit of coal.

WD: After that John Norden he had a garage before your dad bought the building and I would go over there and John would let me work on Model A Fords. He would loosen the bolts and the two of us would work on those cars. I really enjoyed that.

MP: You know you were just like Bill Von Deylen as a little boy running around Gerald and Bill told me some of the wildest things that he did. It’s like Wow!

WD: Yes, I helped.

MP: Did you run around with Bill?

WD: He is about the same age as Kenny.

MP: He was a little younger then.

WD: Right, about two or three years younger. Kenny and my sister Mary Ann and Bill Von Deylen were the same age. All three were born in 1928.

MP: Wasn’t Mary Ann your sister, Rosella’s age?

WD: No Rosella was younger. Jeannette comes in there before. Mary Ann and Kenny were the same age.

MP: Okay. Now let’s get back to your father.

WD: You mean Herman.

MP: Yes, was he a brother to Bill Delventhal? Who were the Delventhals that lived east on Road U? They had a son named Willie.

WD: He was my dad’s brother.

MP: So your dad Herman and Bill Delventhal were brothers.

WD: My dad learned the blacksmith trade in Germany. He did his apprenticeship in Germany. In fact I have his diploma here. He served two years in the German army. Then he lived in Holland for a couple of years working with threshing machines. He made them. Then he decided to come over here to America. He had two uncles and an aunt living here and they more or less sponsored him to come over here.

MP: Who were the uncles?

WD: Henry Bischoff’s dad.

MP: Do you remember his name?

WD: Yes, it was Henry Bischoff.

MP: What were the names of your other uncle and aunt?

WD: Herman Bischoff and Minna Gerken.

MP:  And they sponsored your father to come here to America. Where in Germany was your father born?

WD: He was born in Bothel, in N.W. Germany.

MP: Do you know Lucille Sunderman. She would be able to tell you exactly where Bothel is.

WD: Yes I know her. In fact Minna was Mrs. Gerken, like Arnold Gerken and Alfred Gerken, their mother. She was a Bischoff. She was my dad’s aunt. She more or less took him in. Then when he got here your grandpa John Gerken, he had the blacksmith shop, then my dad started working for him and that is where he stayed. Then after your granddad sold the blacksmith shop. Bill Von Deylen, that’s Bill’s grandpa he took over the blacksmith shop and Dad kept working there. Then Harry’s dad Bill started the implement business.

MP: You mean Harry’s father Bill Von Deylen? He sold seed corn and clover seed and things like that right?

LD: Yes, they cleaned the clover seed there too.

WD: That is when my dad took over the blacksmith shop.

MP: Do you remember about what year that was?

WD: About 1923-25.

MP: I only remember your dad Herman ever being there. I am trying to piece together all these other people who at one time owned the blacksmith shop. My dad had a wood box that contained toe caulks. These were used to keep horses from slipping on the ice. They were pounded into the bottoms of the horse shoes. On the outside of the wood box is painted the name of George Von Deylen. It contained a shipment of toe caulks. It doesn’t have a return address painted on, only the destination which was the Von Deylen Blacksmith Shop in Gerald. That was one of the items my dad thought I should have and save and he made certain I knew what toe caulks were. He also gave me a mule shoe, which is real tiny. He found that in a shipment of coal that came by rail to the Gerald Elevator. Years ago the coal mines used small mules to load coal out of the mines and into the rail cars and I suppose a mule lost his shoe and it just got shoveled into the rail car and ended up with the coal delivery in Gerald. I treasure that shoe. Would that George Von Deylen painted on the outside of the box be the same George Von Deylen that had the implement shop in downtown Napoleon.

WD: Yes, they were first cousins. George Von Deylen and Harry Von Deylen.

MP: George started the implement business in downtown Napoleon.

WD: Yes, he had the hardware store in downtown Napoleon and his implement business was in the back of the hardware store.

MP: Did you see Bill Von Deylen’s St. John’s tape of the George Von Deylen parade of his tractors with iron lugs.

WD: There is a picture of tractors parked along side of the grandstand.

MP: I think we will have to show this video to you.

RP:  This video was taken in 1942 at St. John’s field day. It shows Mr. Gefeke, Mr. Bunsold, Miss Louise Schick and many more church members.

MP: You will be able to identify many of the people in this video. You would have been in the 8th grade and I was in the 1st grade. There is a nice picture of Pastor Zschoche of St. Paul’s and Miss Schick. There is a picture of Herman Badenhop with his pipe in his mouth. That is the way I remember him.

RP: There is a picture of you Lucia. I remember your Dad and Mother, and your sisters.

MP: There is a lot of Freedom Twp. farmers in that video that you would know who they were. Some of them I can recognize but most of them I don’t know. There is a picture of Luella Dehnbostel holding a small child. That would have to be her baby maybe Carol. We need some help to identify these people. One of the ladies is a Mrs. Behnfeldt. She lived just north of the School.

WD: That would have been Mrs. August Behnfeldt. Your Grandpa Gerken made that desk that I have right here in my living room.

MP: I don’t doubt you. He made a lot of furniture for people around here.

WD: He only charged me $35.00.

MP: At least you didn’t have to buy it at an auction.

WD: He made it in his chicken coop which was behind his house.

RP: He made hall trees. They were nice heavy ones.

WD: Do you remember when the bee shed burned?

MP: Yes, I remember that. I found a pocket knife the day after. The knife had the name Barlow on it. I suppose a fireman or somebody else dropped it. I gave it to my dad.

WD: It was on a Monday night just before supper. I was in the blacksmith shop.

RP: I should bring that. You see my mother was a Bernicke.

WD: Then your grandfather was a blacksmith.

RP: I have his apprenticeship papers from Germany. In about 1912 right along in there they had a blacksmith meeting at that hall in Gerald. They took a picture of all the blacksmiths and their families. You might be able to recognize some of the blacksmiths. Your dad might be on it. My grandfather was there, plus a group of other blacksmiths.

WD: Was Matt Becker there?

RP: I didn’t recognize him. I think the picture was taken before he arrived in America.

MP: Go on with the fire.

WD: It was about quitting time for me, and I had been to a wedding on Sunday night and I was glad it was quitting time because I wasn’t feeling too good. And Ed Bindeman came running in to the blacksmith shop and said John’s bee shed is on fire. Your grampa was in the house and do you remember he had his car parked in there. He had a 1939 Studebaker. Do you remember there was another shed behind there and it was all smoke in there.

MP: I think he had rabbits in there.

WD: No, not in that shed. We shoved his car out of the shed. I don’t remember who helped. Anyway when we got the car out we saw it was still in gear. No wonder it was so hard to push. I knew he had a 50 gallon barrel that he kept gas in. He couldn’t have had much gas in it because I carried it out of the shed by myself. They had to haul water. There was a pump in behind the blacksmith shop that belonged to the elevator. That fire burned off the wires to the pump and we had no electricity. So they had to pump water from that well by hand. See at that time Gerald was part of the Wauseon Fire territory. Wauseon ran out of water from that well.

Vic Nagel at that time was living on the farm. He had a Plymouth and he went and got milk cans on a trailer and went out to the farm and filled them up with water from the water tank. We were pumping water from cisterns. I know they saved Bindemans. They finally got the fire out. That old building had tin siding on it. They couldn’t get to it to get it out.

WD: It’s a wonder more things didn’t burn years ago. You stop and think about it where would you get water years ago to put out a fire. You were lucky to have good drinking water.

MP: Did you tell me what year your father Herman Delventhal came to America?

WD: 1909.

MP: And you told me where he was born. How did he come here to America?

WD: By ship.

MP: Do you remember where he landed?

WD: He went through Ellis Island.

MP: Have you ever checked to see if he is on the list of any passenger ships?

WD: Somebody else has.

MP: You could check with Lucille Sunderman. She would know. Now let’s start with your mother Emma. She was the sweetest little soul. Do you remember what year your mother Emma was born?

WD: She was born in 1893. Her maiden name was Ranzau.

MP: From the bunch at Ridgeville Corners?

WD: Yes. She came over here in 1923. Dick Ranzau was her nephew. Mother was in Germany during World War One. She was engaged to be married to a fellow and he got killed in the war. She then decided to come to America. She had an aunt and uncle that sponsored her.

MP: What was their name?

WD: Aschemeier, Henry Aschemeir and Mrs. Henry  Aschemeier. She came over here in 1923 and they came by ship and somehow they landed in Montreal, Canada. They took a Canadian ship. They came in the ship in May, and the ship got caught between two icebergs. They were stuck two days and three nights in the ship. She said on the third morning the sun came out real nice, and the iceberg moved enough so they could get out.

MP: That would give you goose bumps.

WD: Well they all had their life jackets on and when they landed in Montreal they got on a train and they had never had bananas. They ate too many and they both got sicker than a dog. They liked them and they ate too many.

MP: They are very good. What year was Mary Ann born?

WD: She was born in 1928.

MP: And you were born in 1925. What year was Mary Ann killed in that automobile accident?

WD: 1978. She died in July.

MP: You never ever forget those kinds of tragedies. What year did she and Dick Gerken get married?

WD: 1952.

MP: Now he – what Gerken was he? Was he some of Don Gerken’s relation? The Don that worked for Harry Von Deylen?

WD: No, his dad’s name was Henry.

MP: There are quite a few Henry Gerkens around here.

RP: You should have brought the Gerken reunion picture along.

WD: Lucia is a Gerken. She is a daughter of Albert and Lydia Gerken.

MP: The picture is an 8 by 16 inch print and it is dated 1922. It reads in script “First Annual Gerken Reunion.” The print has a barn in the background and there is probably about six or seven rows of people. The funniest thing is here are all these people. They are all dressed up in their suits in the middle of summer. The photographer has all these people lined up and here in the front are two chickens scratching away in the dirt probably for something to eat. Wouldn’t they have been scared away by all this commotion.

RP: They were definitely range fed chickens.

MP: My dad is sitting right in the front row. He would have been twelve years old and he is sitting on a long rug with other young boys. He has his legs crossed.

LD: We have a picture of the Meyer family like that. We just ran across a picture of my dad in school.

MP: If you know people you can easily pick them out. You see my grandfather is on the top row, and my dad is sitting down below with the little boys. My grandmother has to be there somewhere on this picture. I have taken a magnifying glass and have her spotted. I have a picture of my grandmother with her hair up in a bun. I can’t get my sisters to agree with me that that woman is our grandmother.

WD: When I started first grade at St. John’s Clarence was going to high school and I think Walter was in the eighth grade at St. Johns. Clarence had a Chevy coupe and I would ride with them. Clarence would take both Walters, that is myself and your uncle to St. John’s school and then he would go on to high school. Then after school he would take us back home again. I would walk over to his house before he left for school. At your grandmas house would be Edna. She had her oldest child Weldon there and she would be giving him a bath. Edna was living with your grandma at that time. I would be watching her and then I would head off to school. That was a long time ago. How old was your dad?

MP:  We celebrated his 90th birthday in the fellowship hall at St. John’s. I think it was a surprise party. No the surprise birthday party was earlier. We just had an open house for him when he turned 90.

WD: I remember I was at the party and I got to see Weldon. I hadn’t seen him since he was a little baby. Weldon used to come to your Grampa and Grandma’s house.

MP: He passed away several years ago.

WD: Oh, yes, he did. I remember.

MP: I know I walked into the funeral home and Weldon’s sister Carolyn said I look just like my grandma. I never thought I looked like her. I think it was my dad’s 70th birthday when she had the surprise party. I know we weren’t supposed to tell. My mother was always lining up things to do and places to go and people to see. We had a big meal at my Dad’s party and we weren’t supposed to tell or let on that we knew. She wanted everyone to be there on time so we could surprise him. I think it took Daddy totally by surprise and he loved it. My sister Karen is the spitting image of Ada. She is the one in our family that can organize families and get things going. She tells everybody do this and do that and everybody just gets going and does it. She is great. There has to be one person in everyone’s family that has to be the organizer and she is it.

WD: She and your brother Howard never hitched.

MP: You know I don’t think I ever did either. Not until later in life anyway. When my father married my step mother Ada we were all introduced to her by us sitting on a davenport and my Dad said, “This is your new Mother. You are to call her Mom.” Right then and there the rebellion stirred up in me and I suppose it did with Howard too. Nowadays you would see a counselor and everything would turn out all right. Now would you marry a man with five little kids and one of your own? I don’t think I would ever be able to keep a family like that together like she did. Ada was very young when she married my Dad. She did a real good job. They always got along and so did we.

LD: Little by little you accept it and realize what she did for you.

MP: Howard turned out okay.

WD: Gosh yes. Howard and Harlan Miller made a good pair.

MP: Ornery I bet.

WD: They made history every day I think. They roamed all over Gerald and didn’t miss a thing.

RP: When we were first married I didn’t like to go out to Gerald to visit because Ada would always put us to work picking strawberries or vegetables.

MP: Russell grew up without a garden. We always had vegetable gardens and all kinds of fruits. We always helped with the planting, hoeing, and picking of the crops. My mother always gave us some of the vegetables and strawberries to eat. It was really too much for her to do it alone. We had our potato patch in the area where my dad tore down that old long building. We had to take our little buckets out and pick up stones so the potatoes could grow. In later years my dad gave me the newel post out of that old building and he put a base on it and I use it for a plant stand.

WD: What ever happened to your Grandfather’s cuckoo clock?

MP: Jeannette has it. She got it at my Grandfather’s auction.

WD: I would be walking home for lunch and I could hear the cuckoo clock. My mother went back to Germany in 1953 and she brought back a cuckoo clock. One for Mary Ann and one for me.  I still have mine. It has the long chains on it where you pull down on them to wind the clock.

MP:  Germany is still making cuckoo clocks.

WD: I am wondering your Uncle Gustav Doepke, he came from Germany. I was just wondering if he more or less brought that clock along with him when he left Germany to come to America.

MP: He might very well have. I have never heard where it came from. My sister Jeannette has since told me that in fact my Uncle Gus did bring it along from Germany when he came to America. Do you know Ernie Delventhal from Waterville, Ohio. He would have been your father’s brother. When we bought our house on Washington St. it had these big old overgrown bushes out in front. Your Uncle Ernie came knocking on our door and he wanted to see what kind of bushes they were. The lady we bought our house from, she went to Waterville to see Ernie to have him come to Napoleon and checked out our bushes. Ernie had planted them for her years ago and she wanted the same kind planted at her new home. Ernie had a landscaping business in Waterville. In the course of the conversation he told us his name was Ernest Delventhal. I asked him if he was any relation to the Herman Delventhal that had lived in Gerald. He said, oh, yes, he was a brother. He told me he had dated my Aunt Luella years ago, and said he almost married her. He knew our whole family and we had a lengthy conversation just from this man knocking on our door. Anyway he was quite a talker and so is Russell.

WD: My dad went back to Germany in 1922 and that is when he brought Ernest with him here.

MP: Did you tell me what year you took over your Dad’s blacksmith shop?

WD: Well see I got out of the Navy in 1946, and then I was discharged in May. I got home on a Sunday and I went to work Monday morning.

MP: Nobody gave you any vacation time did they?

WD: Then in July my Dad had a stroke. He lived three years after that. That is when I took over the work. I was just 21 years old. I grew up pretty fast.

MP: Of course you grew up fast in the Navy.

WD: One good thing, you see, I went to service school at Navy Pier, Chicago for aviation metalsmith and I learned welding.  When I got out of school I got put in the welding shop. I was stationed in Norfolk and that is where I stayed. I was really fortunate. That is what I wanted to do. I got my education out of the service.

RP: I was in the Marine Corp. and was based at Cherry Point, North Carolina. I was in aviation and we had those Curtiss Comando transport planes. I worked around them. I was in two years and then I was discharged.

WD: It was interesting working around that welding shop. We had to fabricate parts from blueprints. It was a challenge.

MP: Not everybody can do that. You probably knew how to weld before you got into the service didn’t you?

WD: No, I didn’t know the welding part. I was only 18 years old when I went into service.

MP: When did you retire from the blacksmith business?

LD: Retire!

MP: Well it’s no longer in existence. Was it a process over several years? Oops there goes the cuckoo clock chiming away!

WD: Well, see in 1953 I got married to Lucia. You know Lucia had lost her husband and she had two children. They had just bought this farm here.

MP: You mean Lucia and her husband Bob Cordes.

WD: Yes, We went to school together for twelve years. The blacksmith shop needed a new building and Lucia’s dad influenced me to start farming. Then I farmed right here on this land.

MP: Actually with the horses on the farm dwindling it was probably the best thing you could have done.

WD: There aren’t that many blacksmith shops around anymore. Look how many blacksmith shops Napoleon used to have. I helped Dad shoe horses too.

MP: Bill told about the time the two of you had to deliver a horse to Henry Langenhop’s farm after it had been shoed.

WD: No it was Adolph Langenhop’s horse. He always had a buggy and a buggy horse. He came to Gerald and he wanted Dad to shoe that horse. Dad was so busy you know, and his next door neighbor was at the elevator getting some feed ground. So he told Dad that he would go home with Herman Fitzenreiter and Dad could send Walter home to his house with the horse and buggy. That was in the afternoon and Dad couldn’t get it done right away. In the meantime I had asked Bill if he wanted to ride along to deliver the horse. So Bill said, yes, I would like to go along. So it was suppertime and Dad said we’ll eat supper first and then I will help you two get going. So we did, and the horse was hungry you know so he took off. Let’s see that would have been two and a half miles east we traveled from Gerald. So we took off and there was no stopping. You know where 108 is, well Bill and I kept hollering whoa whoa. We had went about a mile and that is where my Uncle lived and he heard that commotion on the road, my Uncle Bill Delventhal. He happened to be outside, he walked up to the road and the horse stopped, he was winded and the horse took off again and just kept running. We got up to Langenhops’ and the horse turned right into the lane right up to the barn and right to his stall and that is where he stopped.

MP: Do you suppose it was just because he was hungry?

WD: I suppose. Adolph took the two of us home and he said I thought about it afterwards, but I had a smooth bit in his mouth which is why you guys couldn’t rein him in.

MP: It’s a wonder you two guys didn’t get killed.

WD: You know where that jog is in that road, well we straightened that out.

MP: Bill was just laughing about it. What all did you do in the blacksmith shop?

WD: We did about everything. We shoed horses, fixed wagons, made wagon wheels, sharpened plow points, and afterwards we started welding.

MP: Do you know that at the elevator years ago they used to get their coal in railroad cars. I still have this but I can’t put my finger on it. I have a mule horseshoe. It is a little tiny shoe for a mule that would have went in the coal mines and probably lost his shoe and it ended up in the railroad car.

WD: My dad had a horse that had died and he sawed that foot off. I still have that with the shoe on.

MP: You are still farming here right. I think that is what you said. It probably keeps you real busy these days.

WD: I am supposed to be retired.

MP: I bet you help with the farming. You can’t just sit still.

WD: I try to do very little.

MP: You went to St. John’s school all eight years right.

WD: Right.

MP: Then did you go to Ridgeville?

WD: Right.

MP: Who was your teacher at St. John’s?

WD: I had Miss Schick, Mr. Bunsold, and Mr. Gefeke.

MP: You had the same teachers I had. You know at home I had two catechisms.

WD: Did you know how to talk German?

MP: No, mine were in English. When I went to school you had a choice whether you wanted to learn German or not. For some reason my father didn’t want me to learn German. His philosophy was you are in America and you learn English. We are Americans and not Germans. So I was never taught German. It may have had something to do with Germany fighting in the Wars. Now I wish I could speak German, just to study my roots. I had two catechisms. You know how your family would buy school books and you would pass them on down to your brothers and sisters. I ended up with two catechisms as I was the last one of the family. Both of these were in English and both of them were copyrighted in 1912. I started school in 1942. I guess catechisms never become obsolete. They are just dog-eared. Do you know what I heard the other day? I have my class ring. It is 14K gold and I paid sixteen dollars for it. School kids now are paying $900.00 for a class ring. The kids are buying them. How can parents afford to pay for a class ring I will never know.

WD: My ring cost me about $10.00.

MP: Mine was $16.00 I know because I had to pick tomatoes out in the field to earn money to pay for the ring. Now I never wear it. I didn’t mind picking tomatoes but I hated those big black and yellow spiders that hung around the tomato plants. We had those big round hampers and we had to carry them full to the end of the rows. The farmer would come along with his tractor and wagon and pick them up. I got sixteen cents per hamper. So I picked lots of tomatoes that year.

WD: Your Uncle Walter and I used to hoe weeds in corn on your grampa’s farm. We used to get 50 cents a day for farm work.

MP: And you thought you were getting rich. Do you have anything else you want to share. Any wild stories? Did you go to any of the big weddings that they used to have around here? Do you remember years ago people got married and everybody for miles around came and celebrated.

WD: Everybody brought along a lot of food too.

MP:  You would eat twice too during the evening, and you always had coffeecake.

RP: I crashed some of those weddings too, even though I wasn’t invited. The bride thought I was with the groom’s side and the groom thought I was with the bride’s side. They always had kegs and kegs of free beer. I only did that when I was in high school. Us guys would all go together.

WD: Remember when we used to go belling. We as a group would go to where the wedding reception was being held and make a lot of noise. We used shot guns, big bells, etc. The bridegroom would give us a fairly good sum of money. After wishing them well we as a group would go to some tavern to enjoy ourselves.

LD: When you didn’t get invited to the wedding is when you went belling. You would haul the bride and groom around in a calf rack and drive them all around.

WD: How is your brother Kenny doing? We used to have a lot of fun growing up. We would play together. We would go sledding. Your brother Kenny couldn’t talk German, and of course I couldn’t talk English, but we got along just fine. We would go to your house and your mother would make us a sandwich. She would put margarine or butter on it and then she would put sugar on it. I liked that. We would call it sugar butha. You know when they lived next to us while you were building the new house your mom and my mom got to be good friends.

MP:  I suppose. I know very little about her. The only recollection I have of my real mother Ruth is when I went in the back door and Howard pinched my finger in the screen door. I have a new nail on my finger so I know it happened. I know Howard had to stand in the corner for punishment. I know we had a little water pump by the sink

WD: I know you didn’t have a well. When Mohrings bought that house. They lived there after you moved in to your new house. They used our well for drinking water and for washing clothes. They had a cistern with a pump. And then Ed Bindeman built that house next to your new house.

MP: I remember Ed and Lorna Bindeman. They never had any children. I remember she used to tell my mother that she was lucky to have all these girls to help her with the work. Little did she know that children were work.

LD: We all have lots of memories.

RP: Do you remember the Field Days we used to have at St. John’s. I went to St. Paul’s and we always got beat by you guys from St. John’s.

WD: I remember when we started those in 1938. At that time we had the biggest enrollment in the schools. At St. Paul’s, when did that school start?

RP: It would have been around 1933. The class before me was the first to go all eight years. Then of course I went all eight years and then on to high school. I remember on the Field Days Wesche’s Furniture Store would bring the truck to school. It was the same truck they used to deliver furniture to homes. Wesche’s would bring the truck to school and all the St. Paul kids would climb on the back of the truck and we would hang on and go out to St. John’s for field day. My friend at St. John’s was always Willie Delventhal. We just seemed to get along. At St. Paul’s we didn’t have a play ground or ball field so we could never practice. St. John’s always beat us in everything.

MP: You got along all right.

WD: We had a lot more kids too going to school than you did.

RP: I was telling Alma Dachenhaus about the film from St. Johns, she was a Von Seggern. I told her there were girls in dresses playing softball. She went to St. Luke’s school in Clinton Twp. and she said that was probably her playing softball. The girls there had to fill in for the boys because they didn’t have enough boys for a team. Of course their school has been discontinued.

MP: We will have to bring along when we come the film from St. John’s field day. It shows Miss Schick, Mr. Bunsold, Mr. Gefeke, Pastor Zschoche. I always liked Mr. Gefeke. He was strict.

WD: I always got along with Mr. Gefeke. I never had any problems with him.

LD: He seemed to kind of pick on children that had a hard time grasping their lessons.

WD: It might have been frustration on his part. He couldn’t get focused on teaching them what they were supposed to learn or rather didn’t want to learn. The two ideas didn’t mesh.

MP: I know I had a classmate that actually ran away from school. Mr. Gefeke went after him and found him hiding underneath a bridge near where Ellings lived on that half mile road near school. He brought him back to school and I am certain he got a beating.  Nowadays when you have children that have a hard time grasping subjects they are put in a separate class and given special attention to help them. I think some of them still could use a beating now and then.

WD:   Years ago we had a confirmation reunion and you know how they always ask each individual what they were doing and Ed Bahler had said I know when I had Mr. Gefeke I was so excited and I was constipated for days. I will never forget that. But he said now Miss Schick I really liked her. I almost liked her better than my mother.

MP: She was such a kindly person, so sweet. We are looking at pictures and I see the hydrangea bush with the big flowers. This is at my grandma’s house. I think that is why I like hydrangeas.

WD: The shrubs they had along the house at your grampa’s, they trimmed those all down. The spirareas they trimmed them too. They are all gone now.

MP: Do you remember that big tree in the front yard with the big long cigars hanging down? They had it trimmed.

WD: Kind of like it drooped. I think Walter and Clarence did that. They used a string so they would have it straight.

MP: Do you want to add anything.

WD: I gave you a lot of hot air.

LD: Tell about the time you were going to run away and go to Germany.

WD: Oh no, I can’t tell that.

MP: Why did you want to go to Germany?

WD: I got into trouble with my dad. We got into an argument or something and it was right after dinner. Whenever I left or anything I would always tell them where I was going. I made up my mind I was going to run away. I remember I went in back of everything and behind the elevator and Alvin Miller was there at the elevator getting a train car ready to haul grain. You know Alvin he was everybody’s friend. I told him that I was going to Germany. He said well you should go because you have relatives there. I started walking. I was going to Uncle Bill’s who lived a mile from Gerald.

MP: Were you walking?

WD: Yes, I was only about five years old. Here Frank Zimmer came to Gerald to go to the blacksmith shop to get something fixed. Frank said to my dad I saw your boy walking on the road. I remember he had an old Model T Ford. Dad said to Herman Vajen, he was from Germany and he worked for Dad, so those two came back and picked me up. So Dad, he had a big old planer where he planed wood. He laid my butt across that and I got a spanking. That was my last trip.

MP: I think everybody wants to run away at some time in their life.

LD: These are all memories.

MP: Do you remember when the St. John’s Church burned?

WD: Oh, yes, that was in 1961.

MP: You’re very good with dates.

WD: I was just getting ready to go to Gerald to get some feed ground. It was kind of foggy. When I got in line to get my feed ground Lucia Rosebrock worked there in the office. She come out of the office and said “Our church is on fire.” Norman  Ruetz said, “Come on, boys, lets go.” We were some of the first ones there. When we got there we could still see the altar. It was all smoke and we closed the doors and there was nothing we could do. Finally one truck came from Napoleon with some water. It was burning in the back of the church. On top our organ chamber, that was in there. The ladies had a gas stove down below. We put water down below and then up on top and all of a sudden we ran out of water. That’s when the fire took off and got a hold of that asphalt roof and that was it. I’d say within forty-five minutes the church was gone. The bell tower fell down. By noon it was all burned.

MP: Lightning hit the church am I right?

WD: That’s what they claim. Pastor Maassel had just been there and he is the one that called the fire department.

MP:  I remember that John Badenhop lived next door, and didn’t he see it too?

WD: That I don’t know.

MP: I think he did. We were married in that church in 1954. Fifty-three years ago.

LD: That white altar is what I miss.

RP: Arnold Miller has two pictures of the interior of that old church.

MP: One of the pictures is even before they remodeled years ago. He found these in his mother’s things after St. John’s published their book.

WD: Do you have that book?

MP: Yes I do. Norma Damman made sure I got a copy. She bought it for me and then I got it from her. We have a copy of the inside of the old church and I put it inside the book.

WD: We had two aisles in that old church.

MP: What do you mean two aisles?

WD: There were two aisles running from the narthex to the altar up front.

MP: Wasn’t there a center aisle?

WD: Not in the first church. There were pews up to the wall. The choir was up to the front on the right.

WD: I have been to Germany three times. My mother had three sisters and three brothers there. I have a lot of relatives in Germany. The first time we went I wanted to stay in my mother’s home. Mom’s niece Ella, a widow lived there. She treated us like a royal couple. My cousin lives there now. We have been back to Germany twice.

MP: Rather than tear something down and build new they remodel. They don’t tear things down in Germany like we do here in America. There is nothing wrong with those old places.

LD: She had chickens and pigs right there in the barn with them.

MP: Isn’t it in Indonesia where they have the chickens living right in the house with the people. That is one way they get these diseases like the bird flu.

LD: Early in the morning you could see Ella out there with her sythe cutting the grass getting ready to feed the animals.

MP: I used to help feed the pigs. We had pigs in the barn in back of our house. I’d climb up on the fence, lean over and throw them the slop. It was usually potato peelings and leftover food. They loved it. They’d usually try to nibble at your feet.

WD: My Dad’s brother he had a lot of hogs. I helped him feed the hogs. They gave the pigs cooked potatoes. They had a regular cooker and they would cook the potatoes right in the hog pen. He had a big long trough and he would put the potatoes in that trough and he would put mash on top of that. Then he had a water faucet there and he would put water on top of that. The hogs made a lot of noise when they ate.

MP: It was probably cheap feed using the potatoes and fattened the pigs up too.

end of tape

The following information has been provided by Walter Delventhal

My recollection of the old saloon in Gerald.

The first floor was a large room that was used for the tavern. The second floor had about four rooms. This furnished the living quarters for the owners. When the Prohibition started in 1920 the saloon went out of business. Henry Witte, a widower was the lineman or repairman for the Gerald Telephone Co. The switchboard was located in Gerald. All the calls had to go through the switchboard. It served all of Freedom Township plus the adjoining area of the neighboring township. Henry lived in the saloon by himself. He also did odd jobs for people. When your Grandpa Gerken bought the Homan farm next to Gerald he hired Albert Meyer, a bachelor to do the farming. He moved in with Henry. When the house on the farm was available those two lived in that house. After this, John Norden used the first floor to repair automobiles. After John quit for a while it was empty. Then some people of the name of Welstedt, a couple with two small girls lived upstairs. Mr. Welstedt did auto repair work. Then your Dad bought the building. He took the building down and used some of the lumber for your new house. I remember your mother pulling nails so the lumber could be used. She was looking forward to her new house. It was a very sad day in Gerald when she passed away. She only had a short time to enjoy her new house.
When the Prohibition started in 1920 that was the end of the saloon business. My dad told about the celebrating that went on Saturday nights. Wauseon was dry, no alcohol allowed. There were quite a few German Russians, my dad called them, that had settled there. The railroad had passenger service. Naomi also had a saloon. My dad said since you could get off in Naomi. Gerald, having two saloons could take care of quite a few. The balance went to Napoleon. I don’t know when the train took them back to Wauseon. No DUI’s. I remember in 1933 when Ferd Bindeman was allowed to sell beer again it was a happy day in Gerald.

The elevator was still using a steam engine to power the machinery. Electricity was mostly used for lights. More appliances, refrigerators, toasters, flat irons and TV was just beginning. Our electrical capacity was overloaded. When I got back from the Navy in 1946 I purchased an electric welder. I got along O.K. till Ferd Bindeman got a TV. He mounted it on a shelf in his tavern. Very few people had TV. Quite a few would come to watch boxing matches on Fridays at 9:00 p.m. The only problem every time I welded the picture flipped. I worked a lot after supper. I would join the crowd at Bindemans’. The World Series would be on TV. They were all day games. Ferd being a big baseball fan having sponsered a ball field and Gerald baseball beam. Welding was not permitted during the ballgame. I usually enjoyed the games also. In 1948 Napoleon Light Co. ran a complete new electric line along Road 15 to Gerald. That is when the elevator used electric motors to power the machinery. We were all happy Ferd could watch TV while I was welding.

Dachenhaus, Leonard "Lum"

Interviewed By Russ and Marlene Patterson, March 4, 2009
Bavarian Village, Napolen, Ohio 43545

LD: I am just finishing my lunch here.

MP: What did you eat?

LD: It is chicken over rice. The rice is really nice and done. I got it over here to the new Mexican restaurant. They put a white cheese on it. They melted a white cheese over it and it’s really good. I like it.

RP: We used to have a Spanish lady that helped us when we lived on Washington St. She prepared tacos for us.

MP: It had a real hard corn shell crust.

LD: She should have used the soft shells.

MP: It was hard to get down your throat. She said we might like the soft crust better. I thought they were a little gooshy.

LD: I ate at the Mexican restaurant several times and I like it. My goodness they have a lot of meat in it.

MP: Did they put hamburger in it too?

LD: Yes. The other night I was talking to my son Terry and I said I would like to go over there to the Mexican restaurant. I usually order a taco, either a chicken or a hamburg. They have tacos and enchilados. I know you would like their tacos.

MP: Maybe we should have went there.

LD: Be sure you order the soft shell.

RP: Actually we went to Mr. G’s and I had chicken and dressing.

MP: They had the chicken and dressing on special for $5.25. I tasted Russell’s dressing. I just had a hamburger. It was very good, wasn’t it.

RP: Yes

LD: Their meals are big too. I go up and have breakfast and I am not hungry. Now I will eat this noon but I am not real hungry.

RP: When we go to Mr. G’s on Saturday for breakfast, by the time we get home at noon I am never hungry either.

MP: You know Lum, all of the condos back here in Bavarian Village are the same size, but yours looks bigger than ours.

LD: Same size. My garage is bigger. You have too much junk in yours.

RP: If we didn’t have so much stuff cluttered all over.

MP: You can get rid of it because it is mostly yours.

LD: Mine is getting pretty empty. I told my kids to take what they need.

MP: I am trying to empty it out.

LD: I don’t need all that’s in there. Terry said we’ll get you a house cleaner and I told him I don’t need a house cleaner.

MP: I had one when my kids were little and now it is a different story. The housecleaner would put things away and clean in the basement. I don’t need one now.

LD: I clean and I get tired.

MP: You know I think running a sweeper is hard work. Russell does most of the sweeping for me. Mine is self propelled.

LD: Mine is too and I still can’t do that.

MP: I can’t either. We have another light weight one but I am afraid I will stumble over the cord.

LD: I don’t sweep mine every week. I don’t think it needs it.

MP: Our carpet is the same as yours.

LD: They asked me if I wanted to change mine and I said no. I didn’t want to be tore up.

MP: I don’t want to be tore up either.

LD: I sweep now every other week. Next week I mop the floor.

MP: You see we have carpet in our kitchen. I would rather have linoleum in the kitchen. Is your kitchen carpeted?

LD: Just where we eat at. The linoleum part I can mop real easy. The bathroom is just a small area. I mop that too.

MP: Our bathroom is all carpeted.

LD: Your bathroom is carpeted. Neila had that out on the farm. She always liked that. I never did like it. You’d get water over it. Neila liked it though. We had this inside-outside carpet. The water never hurt it.

MP: Well Lum let’s get started.

LD: Let’s see what you got here.

MP: You tell me first of all tell me your name.

LD: My name is Leonard Dachenhaus. I didn’t have any middle name.

MP: You had no middle name whatsoever. And you go by the name Lum.

LD: Yes.

MP: Why do they call you Lum?

LD: Did you know that guy that lived here?

MP: You mean the Reimund boys?

LD: No. He lived right where Florence Conners lives. I mean Florence Conners Claussen. She was married to Aaron Conners. He had a gas station in Hamler years ago and we were kids in town. Florence is just enough older than me. Dad had a restaurant just across the street

MP: You mean your dad?

LD: Yes and it was just across the street from his gas station. I had a brother two years younger than me. Lum and Abner at that time was on the radio. Aaron would holler across the street well it’s time for Lum and Abner, let’s get with it. We’d all be sitting on a bench in front of that radio and my brother would start imitating him. Then they’d start calling us Lum and Abner. Before long it got to be Big Lum and Little Lum.

MP: And you were Little Lum.

LD: No I was Big Lum. My brother was two years younger.

MP: Okay.

LD: I was 16 and he was 14 and that has stuck ever since. That is where that came from. When Aaron started calling us that he told everybody. First thing I knew everybody in town was calling us Lum and Abner.

MP: It was years before I ever knew what your real name was. I always thought that you were just Lum.

LD: You know when Nela’s dad died. I farmed her farm too. My checks were made out to Lum. Them banks all knew who I was and it didn’t really bother me. So I have been Lum for a very very long time.

MP: What did your dad run?

LD: He ran the Hamler Restaurant.

MP: About what year would that have been.

LD: Let’s see I was 14 when he started out and that was 76 some years ago. What year would that have been. It must have been in the early ‘30’s. I was still in school. It must have been my first year of high school. I only got two years of high school in. I didn’t graduate.

MP: A lot of people didn’t years ago.

LD: My dad couldn’t make enough farming. I had two sisters and a brother at home. After two years and I was 16 I didn’t go anymore. I didn’t think that was so important. I was working half of the time.

MP: What did you do, go help out in the restaurant?

LD: That is the time they built the Hamler School. I made good money.

MP: Do you mean building.

LD: I made fifty cents an hour. That was big money then.

MP: It was years ago. I worked at Murphy’s 5 and 10 and I made fifty cents an hour. I thought that was great. Your money went farther years ago.

LD: I bought a new car.

MP: What kind of car did you buy?

LD: I bought a four door Chevrolet. I bought it from Hamler’s Bichan’s Chevrolet. I bought it for $734.00. Now you can’t buy a piece of junk for that price.

MP: You can’t.

LD: It was brand new. Then when I got married.

MP: What year did you get married?

LD: It was 1941. It was in December so it was almost 1942. Oh yes, I wasn’t going to let that gal get away. It lasted 65 years.

MP: How did you meet Neila?

LD: In Elery at a dance. You guys don’t remember the dance hall there do you?

MP: No

RP: I do half ways.

MP: I can tell you that I was pretty well kept at home.

LD: See Judy and I we talked about that at one time and she asked if I remembered what year that dance hall was tore down. We had the grocery store when they tore it out. She said it was in the late ‘40’s or ‘50’s.

RP: I went with my Grandfather and Grandmother. His mother had been a Germann. They had a Germann reunion there in Elery in that dance hall. They took me along and I was probably about seven or eight years old.

MP: Where was this dance hall located?

LD: Right behind where the bar is. They tore that all out back in there.

MP: Right behind the bar.

LD: That little building out in back now they use that for storage. Do you ever go out the back door? If you open that other door it goes into a garage. That was open and it went into a dance hall. It was all hooked together.

MP: It must have been a pretty popular place.

LD: It was. Daman’s band used to play there.

MP: Do you mean Orville?

LD: No no, his folks. Orville got his start there.

RP: They had a Schutzenfest there.

LD: Orville started there. He was just a young kid when his dad and Schultz.

MP: Who was his dad?

LD: I am trying to think. There were two Schultz boys.

RP: I remember that older Damman.

LD: There were 4 or 5 guys and two of them were Schultz boys. Those boys I knew. They were older than I was. Orville was just a young boy at that time.

MP: Did you go to a one room school with an old pot bellied stove?

LD: Yes and we walked. Dad was bullheaded. All those schools were only two miles apart. The other one was only a mile down the road from me but Dad didn’t like that school. There were no German people that went there and none were any of our relation.

MP: Why did you go to that one?

LD: He wanted me to go to the other one where my relation went. So we walked two miles. My cousin lived right next to us. Do you remember George Badenhop?

RP: Oh yes.

LD: George Badenhop and my mother were brother and sister.

MP: Do you mean the George Badenhop that lived in Freedom Township

LD:No no, the George Badenhop that lived up in town here. Everybody knew him

MP: Did you know him Russell?

RP: Oh yes.

LD: They lived next to our place out in the country. We were not very far apart. His daughter Lorna she started school the year after I did. We would have to go through the field. Then we would start picking up the kids. We had half of the school.

MP: About how many kids were in your class?

LD: I don’t remember exactly.

MP: Maybe ten.

LD: I would say there were about eight. We had eight grades.

MP: And this was in a one room school.

LD: Yes.

RP: Do you remember your teachers name?

LD: I know a couple of them. One was Edna Panning. I didn’t like her. She was strict. She lived in Hamler. Her dad ran the lumber yard. After the schoolhouse was built I went to work for him. Her brother was a banker. His name was Julius Panning. You have probably heard the name. I went to work for his dad at the lumber yard. Her brother and I we unloaded coal and lumber every day. I got $25.00 that first week. I took my check to the bank and in the morning I heard growling through the walls and I thought what is going on. I listened a little while and it was him telling his dad why are you paying that kid so much, that is all the money I have got to put in the bank.

MP: I don’t doubt you.

LD: That was in 1939.

MP: You did physical labor. That would have been right during the Depression.

LD: I worked there then until I went into the service. I was still working there when we got married.

MP: Did you ever get into farming?

LD: When I got home from the service her dad was getting up in years and he wanted me to help him. He said I am going to have to quit farming before long and you might as well help me farm. That was Neila’s dad. We were married by then. That’s when I started farming. I’m doing pretty good right now. I’m living pretty well.

MP: Yes you are living pretty well.

LD: I am getting along up in years. You and Russell have a long ways to go to catch up with me.

MP: That is true.

LD: When you get as old as me then you can say you are getting old.

MP: I am getting old the way it is. You are really lucky because you are mentally real good.

LD: I forget things.

MP: We all forget things.

LD: I have good neighbors. I really appreciate my neighbors.

MP: We have really nice neighbors around here. Now Lum, getting back to this old stuff you one time told me about muskrats. You sold muskrats to Tietke’s up in Toledo. Where did you get these muskrats?

LD: August Yackee, he bought poultry and eggs and skinned furs in the fall.

MP: In town here?

LD: No, in Hamler. People would bring these muskrats in and we’d skin them. About 4 o’clock in the morning he’d tell me to take them up to Tietke’s. I’d get in the truck and drive them up to Tietke’s. They opened their store up at 6 in the morning. People would be standing, this is no joke, in line.

MP: Were they mostly black people?

LD: No, maybe about half were blacks. They were really good looking muskrats. Did you ever see muskrat skins?

MP: No, and I don’t want to.

LD: They have a nice red meat. Everybody would say taste it because it was good. Muskrats clean every bite of food they eat. Did you know that?

MP: I have heard that.

LD: I didn’t know that.

MP: Don’t raccoons wash their food too?

LD: Yes they wash their food too. Coon meat is greasy. I don’t care for coon meat. I have tried muskrat meat but I don’t like it. I have had a pickup load of muskrats. I would get there at 6 o’clock and by 8 o’clock they would be all gone, they were out of them. That is just how fast they sold. See it was only a few weeks in the fall during trapping season was the only time you were allowed to get them.

MP: Do you suppose any restaurants bought them?

LD: That I don’t know. I just knew the people were lined up and and waiting to buy them. We had coon on there too.

MP: Did people buy the coon too?

LD: They didn’t sell like the muskrats did.

MP: Just the thought of it turns me off.

LD: I couldn’t eat them. Coon is not a real bad tasting meat. I just didn’t care for them.

MP: Do organizations still have Coon Suppers around here?

LD: I think they do.

MP: Didn’t the Sportsman’s Club in Wauseon have the Coon Suppers?

LD: Yes that is where they were at. See we had them in Elery years ago, those Coon Suppers.

MP: Russell what was Mildred Eberle telling us about? Was it coon meat? You knew Mildred Eberle didn’t you Lum. They called her Midge. She talked a mile a minute. I just loved to visit with her.

LD: Yes, yes I knew Midge. She is gone now.

MP: Yes she is gone now. I really miss her. I think she was telling me how to cook coon.

LD: She was a real nice lady.

MP: I loved to visit with her.

LD: Her boy Bob I liked real well too.

RP: She collected cookie cutters.

MP: She had a big collection of cookie cutters and her son Bob collected marbles. He at one time bought me a gooseberry marble. It looked just like a gooseberry.

LD: I have never seen any of those. I always hunted marbles to make my cats.

MP: What kind of cats did you make?

LD: I make cats like the one I have by the front door.

MP: Did you really make that cat?

LD: That was my pattern. I copied off of that one. I have made close to 500 of those things.

MP: That cat out there is cute.

LD: I got that out of a magazine when I retired from farming. I had a real nice garage out there. I had a band saw. I was piddling around.

MP: Do you still have the band saw.

LD: No, that is why I quit making them. When we had a sale and moved up to here I sold all that stuff. I wished I had it now.

MP: I think you would still be able to sell cats like that.

RP: I like the cat’s eyes.

MP: The eyes are marbles!

LD: It got so I couldn’t find marbles that looked like a cat eye. Some of those marbles I bought over in Hicksville. At that time they still had the cat eye marbles. That was over fifteen years ago.

MP: I have some cat eye marbles.

LD: I just couldn’t fine them anywhere. Those were the last ones that I bought came from Hicksville. I used to enjoy making them. This kind of weather it gave me something to do. I made those and I made spinners, the ones that you hang. I made those too.

RP: About how many years did you take muskrats up to Toledo to sell?

LD: It was at least a couple of years.

MP: Tietke’s isn’t in business anymore either.

LD: I would think of that every time I would drive to Toledo. I would point and say that’s where Tietke’s was.

MP: Especially the downtown area is bad.

RP: Down by the river is where my folks always parked. Down there by Tietke’s parking lot. We would all go shopping and then we would all meet inside Tietke’s.

LD: Before you got to Tietke’s going in was a big hardware

RP: That would have been Bostwick & Braun.

LD: That was next to Tietke’s. I used to turn in behind Tietke’s and unload my muskrats.

MP: That was quite a story.

LD: It was, I had quite the time.

MP: I used to take the kids shopping there

LD: Nowadays everybody runs to Walmart.

MP: Right. Tietke’s was much nicer.

LD: You’re right, It was a nice store.

RP: I remember in the back they had a meat department and they would have fish on display. They had big suckers that you could buy.

LD: My muskrats came in the back door and they would go right out the other end.

MP: I can’t imagine people buying muskrats.

LD: That is true.

MP: Oh I believe you, yes I do.

LD: I did that for two years for him, hauling those muskrats. We sold chickens to them too.

MP: Were they dead or alive?

LD: Oh they were live chickens. We took them to Detroit, Buffalo and to Cleveland.

RP: Tell about your turkeys.

LD: I raised turkeys.

RP: Tell about taking them to market.

MP: You raised turkeys from little pullets on?

LD: Yes I did. They start out as laying hens. Orville Wyse over in Archbold talked me into that. They’d lay eggs. That was good money.

MP: You mean turkey eggs?

LD: Yes, see he had the hatchery. It got kinda bad at last. He was having money problems and we all knew it and we couldn’t get our money out. There was another one back in the late ‘50’s. Money was money then. I had a cousin and we put our money together. Of course he had more turkeys than I did. We both tried to get our money out of Orville. He had 10,000 dollars yet of mine. I was lucky, I only had 5,000 dollars. But I got a new car out of him. He did go under so I got about half of my money out of it.

RP: Didn’t you take turkeys to market too?

LD: I took turkeys to Buffalo.

MP: Do you mean Buffalo, New York?

LD: Yes.

RP: Tell about that

LD: We took them up in train cars.

MP: How did you get them in the train cars?

LD: There were cages inside the train cars. You’ve seen chicken cages, well these were bigger so you could put turkeys in them. They would load a whole train car with these turkeys. In the middle of the train car there was a little room about the size of your bathroom. It had a little stove and a little bitty table and a place to lay down. I would live in that for three days with those turkeys until we got to Buffalo.

MP: So were most of the turkeys still alive when you got to Buffalo.

LD: That was another thing. I had to feed them every day and if you had dead ones you couldn’t throw them out. You would have to pile them up. We usually had maybe five six or seven by the time we got to Buffalo. When we hit the rail yards the colored people would be lined up and holler to us if you have any dead ones throw them out. I had hauled them there for three days. They would grab them and run. They didn’t get sick or die. Nowadays you couldn’t do that. When I came home from the service I don’t think I was home three days and he called and said I was pretty good taking them turkeys to Buffalo and he asked me if I would take a run to Buffalo with some turkeys. Now this was in the Fall. I had just got out of the service in September. He told me he could sell a carload of turkeys in Buffalo, but he needed somebody to take them. I told Neila about this and asked her if she wanted to take a ride to Buffalo. She asked me how we were going to get to Buffalo. I told her we would ride along with the turkeys. She told me I could take the turkeys but you won’t stay married to me.

MP: So she wouldn’t go with you.

LD: No, she wouldn’t go. Denny had said she could go along if she wanted to.

MP: I don’t think I would have enjoyed a train trip with a bunch of turkeys.

LD: Well it was pretty good money for that time.

MP: Where did you take the turkeys to in Buffalo?

LD: The guys that bought them would come to the rail yard with their trucks and they would have to unload them there. I don’t remember their names.

MP: Maybe it was like a grocery chain or something.

LD: Yes it was a big outfit. At that time you weren’t able to go into a grocery store and buy turkeys year round.

MP: That is so true.

LD: You would buy a turkey just for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The turkeys sold like crazy.

MP: You know Chief had turkeys on sale last week and I think the whole big turkey you could buy it like for six dollars. They were frozen.

LD: The turkey breast is the only part I like.

MP: Same here.

LD: I don’t like the legs at all. There is too many fine bones in there.

MP: I love turkey.

LD: I love the turkey breasts too. I like to buy it sliced too. Did you ever eat smoked turkey? I like that too.

MP: Yes.

LD: We would take our biggest tom turkeys when we were done breeding them and we’d smoke the breast. That was so good.

RP: We used to go to Wauseon and buy smoked turkey. Was that at Snyder’s?

MP: No that was Figy’s just north of Wauseon on Rt. 2.

LD: Yes they smoked our turkeys a few times.

MP: You would pull up in their lane and they had this big old German Shepherd dog. It scared our boys and us. I was afraid to get out of the car.

RP: Marlene and I got out of the car. They had a high counter in their office where you bought the turkey and there was another German Shepherd that jumped right up over this counter. He started barking at us.

MP: Did we get turkey that time or did we leave?

RP: Yes we got some smoked turkey.

LD: He did have real good smoked turkey.

MP: That makes for real good sandwiches.

RP: We got a catalog in the mail from some company, I forget who, and they advertised smoked turkey. I ordered one and when we got it , why it was a smoked duck and not a turkey.

LD: You mean you got a whole duck?

RP: We ate it anyway.

LD: I never had smoked duck.

MP: Yes you and Dan ate it. Marlene didn’t want any.

LD: I like duck, but I don’t like to clean it.

MP: Do they have a lot of pinfeathers?

LD: Oh yes, they are full of them. If you get them at the wrong time they are just loaded with pinfeathers. I like duck but I don’t care for goose.

RP: Goose is too greasy.

LD: Oh yes.

RP: We went up one time to a restaurant in Marshall, Michigan with some friends and they ordered the restaurant special which was goose. They said too that it was real greasy.

LD: Goose is really greasy. That place in Marshall that is close to that place called Turkeyville.

MP: You mean up in Michigan?

LD: Yes, up in Marshall there is a place called Turkeyville Restaurant. It was still there when I was there. They have plays there. They would put on plays and things like that there. All you could get there were turkey meals. They had all different kinds of turkey meals.

MP: That sounds good. Is it still in business?

LD: Oh yes, I think Sturdevants still go up there.

RP: I got a kick out it. They ordered the goose because it was so cheap. Then they hollered it wasn’t good because it was so greasy.

LD: Muskrat is not greasy. It tastes good but I just can’t bring myself to eat it.

MP: Is it more like beef?

LD: I don’t know. I did taste coon. I don’t know how I did it, but I guess I might have had one too many beers.

MP: That will do it. Did you run a grocery store in Elery?

LD: Yes, it was right next to the bar and the elevator.

MP: There was another building that was torn down.

LD: Yes we had the store in there.

MP: Elery must have been a booming town at one time.

LD: Yes it was. We had two gas stations, two bars, a grocery store, an elevator. The beet dump was back in there.

MP: Did you raise beets?

LD: Yes. Neila’s dad was raising beets when I came home from the service.

MP: Was that profitable?

LD: Oh, it was fair. We’d get a good year. It was just like tomatoes. Tomatoes are good in a growing season of good weather. Profit is good when the weather cooperates. We had some of our sugar beets get wet one year and that was enough.

MP: Did they rot in the ground for you?

LD: No, we couldn’t get them out of the field it was so muddy. We had to throw them on a wagon and then haul them to the road and then haul them on trucks.

MP: Did you use, what we used to call them, beet hunkies? Those people from Belgium?

LD: No, we hired Jamaicans. They were worse than the Belgiums. The Belgiums were good.

MP: That would have been very hard work.

LD: The Belgiums were good people. Those Jamaicans you just couldn’t teach them anything. Neila’s dad would get so disgusted with those Jamaicans. He would start them on a row of beets and they would wind up in another row. They just couldn’t understand how to do it. He got mad and run them out. He said he’d let the beets rot out in the field before he would hire another Jamaican. Then he hired the Jamaicans. So after that we went and raised tomatoes. That was a better deal. We had 40 acres of them at last.

MP: Were all 40 acres planted in tomatoes?

LD:Yes, in two different places. We upset a load once and that ended up a disaster.

MP: That would have been a big loss.

LD: Not such a big loss as it was such a big job. I called my sister and her husband and two other couples and we sat out there till midnight getting the tomatoes reloaded.

MP: Were you using the hampers at that time?

LD: Yes. We had to stack a layer and then stack another layer. We couldn’t get them all on. Do you remember Orville Rettig?

RP: Oh yes.

LD: He said I will put on another layer if you put on another layer. We did finally get them all on. I got mine out on the road and he didn’t. His front wheels come up and the front of his truck come up and his whole works got dumped. So that was the last picking of the tomatoes. I quit that deal.

RP: What year did you take over the grocery store?

LD: That was in 1957.

MP: That would have been rather late for a grocery store to be in a small town like Elery.

LD: Rosie Hoffman’s dad had it.

MP: You mean the grocery store in Elery.

LD: Yes he had the grocery store. It was a Hoffman. What was her name. She was a nice lady.

RP: I can still remember him coming in the drug store. He was always laughing.

MP: Was it Harvey?

RP: Yes it was Harvey.

LD: What was her name anymore? He always worked the dance floor when Neila’s folks were there. That’s how I got to know them. When they sold it they sold it to Larry Myles’s folks. They had it maybe three or four years. Then we bought it from them. That was in ‘57.

RP: I can remember Eldor’s mother. She used to come in and get prescriptions.

LD: Eldor’s mother.

RP: Yes.

LD: You know where the Henry County Bank is here on this south side.

RP: She lived right next door to it. Is she still alive?

LD: No she has been dead for quite some time now. Eldor isn’t real good either. I should go see them. I just can’t bring myself to go see these people. We ran around with them all the time.

MP: I know just how you feel.

LD: I see Betty every once in a while.

MP: We saw Betty at the Legion over in Ridgeville.

LD: You mean the fish fry?

MP: No it was the Legion’s Chicken Pot Pie dinner.

LD: Neila and I used to always go over there for their fish fry.

MP: St. Augustine’s Catholic Church has a good fish fry too.

LD: I go to Alpine on Tuesdays to eat and I go to Elery on Thursdays to eat, and when my renters call me I go out to eat with them. That is about all. Of course I go out to eat on Sundays.

MP: You go to Hill’s for breakfast.

LD: I had swiss steak Sunday there.

MP: Was it good?

LD: It was real good.

MP:Was it tender.

LD: Yes, I ate it with a fork. I had potatoes and gravy and steak, string beans, and a tossed salad. By Sunday night I didn’t have to eat.

RP: How many years did you run the grocery store in Elery?

LD: Four years. In 1961 Larry Miles wrote me that he wanted that. So I told him I would sell it to him. She did most of it. So they bought it from me. They ran it for three to four years. That is just when the supermarkets started coming to town. We did pretty well there from ‘57 to ‘60.

RP: We had the same thing happening in the drug store business.

LD: When Chief first opened up they would have these big specials and things sold pretty good. We would go buy a bunch of the specials and sell them in our store.

MP: We had the same thing.

LD: We made money at the store. We didn’t make just too much money. In fact from the time we bought it from Franz’s and sold it to Myles we made a little bit of money.

MP: People think these small businesses are a gold mine.

LD: You can’t tell me that.

RP: Every once in a while we would sell some Clorox. I went down to the Defiance Grocery when they were still wholesaling and I went out to Chief to see what they were selling their Clorox for. Here I could have bought it cheaper at Chief than I bought it from the Defiance Grocery Wholesale Co.

MP: You have all these big chains and naturally they buy in quantity. Then you have Walmart and they kill everybody. Small businesses can’t survive.

RP: One thing I can remember my folks eating is liver pudding.

MP: Is that the same thing?

LD: Oh no. My dad used to make that when he butchered. I like liver pudding. That is kind of greasy.

MP: Did you get a $5.00 coupon from Dollar General. Did you use it. I gave mine to somebody.

LD: I threw mine out. You had to spend I think $25.00 before you could use it.

MP: It was a good buy if you used a lot of soap or something like that.

LD: I could see for a family it would pay out. I watch when I see something like that on special. I don’t use that much and I think my clothes look clean.

MP: You never smell so you must be clean. That’s the main thing.

RP: When you had your grocery store Lum, did you have medicines in there too?

LD: Well just the ones you can buy over the counter like aspirins, Vicks and stuff like that. That was pretty good money.

RP: Who supplied you. Do you remember.

LD: The Defiance Grocery Co. did. I bought all my stuff there. That’s how I got to know

RP: Did you know Clarence Cummings? He was a salesman for Defiance Grocery.

MP: He came over to visit us during the blizzard and got stuck at our house in the drive. The boys had to push him out. He shouldn’t have even been on the highway. He was 90 some years old.

LD: I am trying to think of this guy that started Chief Supermarkets. He was back there in the Home for a while.

RP: Do you mean Florian Saur?

LD: Yes. He was in the Defiance Grocery at that time.

MP: He always worked real hard.

RP: Didn’t he originally have a store in Holgate?

MP: Did he have a store in Liberty Center too?

LD: I can’t remember. When he started that Dad still had the restaurant. He was real young yet. When he first started out he came there to the restaurant. He had a huckster wagon and he told me you are old enough to drive. Would you like to drive a huckster wagon? I didn’t know. He said come with me for a day and see what you think. Maybe you would enjoy that. It was fun. You would buy eggs if the ladies didn’t have any money to buy groceries with.

MP: So they would pay you in eggs. So basically those eggs would not have been refrigerated.

LD: You would either put them in your basement or wherever you could.

MP: Isn’t that something.

LD: And nobody ever died because the eggs weren’t refrigerated.

MP: And nobody ever got sick.

LD: Florian was a real nice guy. I didn’t work for him that long. I had the huckster wagon on the road.

RP: I remember when he came to Napoleon then and he had a grocery store here on Washington Street. I think the bought out Dirr and Beck.

LD: Florian did. I think you are right.

RP: See that Beck, his wife was a Dirr. That Dirr had quite a bit of money over at New Bavaria.

LD: He did. That Oliver Dirr he was older than Florian.

RP: It was Pete Dirr that was the big money man.

LD: Those names come back to me when you say them. I knew who they were. I even knew who all the whisky makers were in the county.

MP: Did you really?

LD: I knew who they were and they had money.

RP: About how many of them were there in the county?

LD: Oh goodness. I knew at least four or five of them.

MP: New Bavaria was noted for making whisky.

LD: They had a guy in Hamler that made whisky too.

MP: Where did they make whisky at. Was it made in their kitchen?

LD: That guy in Hamler he was just a small operator. The young guys would go there and get their whisky. He knew my dad real well so I couldn’t take the chance of buying any whisky from him.

MP: He’d tell.

RP: One of the Shaff boys, George, he died real young. He would have my dad drive his car and take him to New Bavaria to buy whisky. My mother was always so mad that my dad had to drive him. She’d tell him you are going to get into trouble buying whisky down there.

LD: My dad never had a car until I was 8 years old. It was in 1928.

RP: Did you guys use horses, a buggy, and a wagon?

LD: Yes. That’s another thing I got to do. When I was little we lived on the farm with Grampa and Grandma. Grampa would have to drive to Hamler just once a week to get the groceries. She’s say let him go along. I was just 6 years old. My brother would cry. He couldn’t go along because he was only 4. He’d say I can’t take them both. You’d get up in the old buggy, put a brick down there to put my feet on and away we’d go to town. I can remember a lot of that stuff.

MP: Did you farm with horses then?

LD: I didn’t farm for myself. I farmed for my uncle. We had tractors by then. When I got back from the service in 1945 we had tractors.

RP: I remember that Arnold Huener, his in-laws had that farm out on old Route 6. They still had horses into the ‘50’s.

MP: They were still using them after we got married. That would have been in the ‘60’s.

LD: I worked for Fred Badenhop when I was 14 years old. I helped him plow with the horses in the summer. I kind of like horses. That’s why I enjoy going down to Kentucky.

MP: There are a lot of pretty horses down there.

LD: My granddaughter lives right there in that horse country. It’s pretty to go down there in the springtime and see the new colts out in the pasture. The mares just have their colts out there in the fields.

RP: Was Albert Fahr one of your customers?

LD: Yes. If you had a woman around he was a customer. He could tell more stories.

MP: Was he married?

LD: Oh yes a couple of times. Neila knew his family. We only lived a mile from them. That’s where these kids are from, the first wife. Then she died.

MP:You mean his first wife?

LD: Yes. Those kids were all pretty small when she died. He’d be outside and Neila would go down there and visit with him. We’d be sitting out there. Ethel, which was Neila’s mothers name. She’d say I don’t know who can talk the most, but they’re both pretty good at it. All the stuff that Albert could come up with. The best one I heard was the time he come home from hunting in Pennsylvania. There weren’t many deer around here then. He’d come home from Pennsylvania and he had this deer tied to his car. He said boy I got a good one this year. I told him that’s the biggest jersey calf I ever saw.

MP: Was it a cow that was tied on his car?

LD: Yes it was a calf.

MP: Didn’t he know the difference.

LD: I think he knew he was just lying again.


RP: I remember him telling me how he would take a bag of apples and string them along on the ground. Then he would sit by a tree and watch for the deer to come along and eat the apples. He said the deer would walk right up to you and then he would shoot it.

MP: It would probably work.

LD: We sat there one night. There used to be a lot of hawks around.They would sit on the power lines. He’d be sitting there and he said for me to take a look at the new rife he had just got. I have a scope on it. He told me he’d shot one off a post from 80 rods.

MP: What was Clem’s last name.

LD: Clem Eberle.

RP:Was that Eberle related to Don Eberle’s folks?

LD: Ray, who was Don’s dad were first cousins.

RP: That Don has all kinds of Indian artifacts.

LD: That is the second generation down. His dad’s name was Don too.

MP: So that would have been Don’s grandfather.

LD: Here is another one. Don’s mother died fairly young. Don’s father remarried.

MP: So Don would have been raised by his stepmother.

LD: I think Don was pretty well raised but I think some of the younger ones were raised by the stepmother. I think his second wife was a Rauch. She had a brother in Deshler too I think. No Toledo has really changed from the ‘50’s on.

MP: Yes it has and now with all these big department stores going belly up. More and more.

LD: Did you see the new skating rink and stuff that they have built.

MP: Do you mean like the Sports Arena?

LD: Terry’s office is right across the street.

MP: Who does he work for?

LD: Seagate.

MP: Now Terry is your only son.

LD: I have one son, one granddaughter and one great granddaughter. We are not a big family.

MP: We aren’t either.

LD: So Neila and I could never get into many big arguments that way. That is one thing you gain.

MP: No fights.

LD: No Terry has retired now. A week ago Sunday he said “This is my last day”. I talked to him on the phone last night and I asked him how his retirement was going. He told me he was bored. He told them last October that he was quitting the first of March. I’m giving you plenty of time to find someone to do my job. Anyway it came retirement time and they still didn’t have anybody to do his job. He had a guy working with him, under him. He said I’ll tell you what I am going to do. He told me that guy can’t handle the job alone and I had given them plenty of time to find someone. They came begging for Terry to keep on the job. He told them that he would work three days a week which would have been twenty hours a week and that would be on my time. Only when I want to work. He told them you have got to have somebody here that can take over my job here.

MP: He was the main man.

LD: He was. He gave them two weeks and asked them if they were looking and they said no, not yet. He had told them that he wasn’t going to stay. Last night I talked to him and I asked him if he has his twenty hours in and he told me that he ended up with thirty six hours.

MP: Terry and my sister Karen are the same age.

LD: They were the 4H king and queen together. When I saw that in the paper I thought I knew that girl. I can’t believe they are retired already.

MP: To me that is the scairy part. When my oldest boy Dan turned 50 I thought Oh my gosh!

LD: Wait till he turns 62 and comes and tells you Mom I am going to retire. That really hits you.

MP: I hope there is still Social Security so these kids can retire.

LD: I’m telling you that you just don’t know what is going to happen. People have lost a lot of money with this deal going on now.

RP: The stock deals are no good now.

LD: I have no idea what a 401 is.

MP: Isn’t that where the company you work for puts some of your wages in some type of savings account.

RP: Right.

LD: He said he really lost in that.

MP: I know Sam had one and he lost money in that too.

RP: Marlene had money in National City and that’s no good now either.

MP: I lost all of that too. It just didn’t pay a thing.

LD: So far I have been lucky. I haven’t lost too much in there. Nobody is making anything either now. Just so I have enough food to eat.

MP: You’re just like me. I don’t care any more. Just so there is food on the table.

LD: How do you like your new car?

MP: Well we got that with Obama’s stimulus money. You’ll be getting a new car too.

RP: There are several countries in Europe where you reach the age of 80 that you can no longer get a drivers license.

LD: I know that. They won’t even let you drive then.

RP: I think one of them is Germany.

LD: That’s what some people have told me. If I was in Germany I wouldn’t be even allowed to drive.

MP: Maybe that is not such a bad idea.

LD: I don’t know whether it is or not. You look in the paper and how many people do you see that get killed driving. Not very many.

MP: It’s the young kids. I just saw another 14 year old girl got killed. I don’t know what happened to her.

RP: When we went to look at that one house over on Welstead where they had a big fire.

MP: You couldn’t see where anything had been burned, unless it was all on the inside. They said the roof was burned. Maybe we looked at the wrong house. Of course you have to go see.

LD: I tell you I live different from when we first moved here.

MP: I noticed.

LD: Well see I go to Perrysburg where Terry lives. When I get to Perrysburg the first thing they will ask is which way did I come. I tell them that I don’t know. I use all the back roads.

RP: A lot of times we will use Poe Road to go to Bowling Green.

LD: When I go to Bowling Green I will use Poe Road and then come back on Route 6. I like Poe Road but you need to make quite a few stops on that. I’m never in a hurry and it’s a good road now. That comes out right behind the hospital there. I don’t have to go back there until May.

MP: That’s only a couple of months away.

LD: It used to always be six months. At first it was four. I asked him why four. He said you dang bullhead make it six. If you don’t feel good call me. I was in there the other day and he said I think we have your medicine finally straightened out. Do as I told you but I would like to see you in three months. Now he wants me every three months. I like that guy. He used to be here in Napoleon.

RP: Yes our doctor had us coming every three months. Now we go every six months.

LD: That’s where I was too, but he wants to see whether my heart is still beating. If I’m not around so what, you won’t have to know. I get along real good with him. When I was in the hospital one day, you didn’t know that I was in the hospital did you.

MP: You were!

LD: Yes I was, I got so sick I called I called my niece.

MP: When was that?

LD: It was a year ago in April. I called my niece and told her I was feeling real bad and I asked her how to get to the emergency room. She told me the way you sound right now I am going to come over and pick you up. I could hardly get to my car.

MP: What was wrong with you?

LD: My darn heart didn’t want to run right. Now they got it straightened out. My doctor told them to stomp on him to get that heart going. He’s pretty bullheaded and won’t listen to you. When I got back I told my doctor I didn’t know I was bullheaded. He’s a real good guy. He was here in town and when he left we just followed him to Bowling Green. I like him, that’s Dr. Miller. As long as I can drive I will drive up there.

MP: Bowling Green isn’t that far away.

LD: If I can’t drive it, I will just go up here. I do all my blood test work up here. They do things so quick. I get my blood tested in the morning and before I get home they have called and tell me the results. I am so glad I am up here at Bavarian Village living rather than back at the farm. Of course I can’t go back down there anymore. I sold the house and buildings and turned the farm over. Terry said we are all going to move out there and you’re going to grow tomatoes and beans. I told him there is enough out there for you guys to do that. I hope the economy doesn’t get as bad as it did in the ‘30’s. I don’t think these young people can handle it. We didn’t know any better. We grew up that way.

MP: We grew up that way. We always had plenty to eat. We had a big garden, my mother canned and froze vegetables, and we’d always butcher our beef. We didn’t suffer.

RP: My boy Sam, he got laid off from Arrow True Line over in Archbold. They are connected to the housing and building industry. It doesn’t look good there either. He’s supposed to go back in six weeks but it doesn’t look good for that to even happen.

LD: These places can’t sell anything, nobody is buying, nobody is building like they used to. You see my renters run the lumber yard in Holgate and they keep saying that they have plenty of work. They have three gangs going right now.

MP: Are they Buckeye Lumber Co.?

LD: Yes their office is up here. Their boy works up here.

MP: That’s the Buckeye Building Supply, that is the Holgate Lumber. They did some work for the Historical Sociey. They remodeled the Bloomfield House, the Carriage House part.

LD: Yes, he told me. See they built that new building out there on the fairgrounds too. I get to go with them and they go out to eat and take me along. They show me different jobs that they are doing.

MP: That way you get to know what’s going on.

RP: When we were still running the store, we had those big old wood doors for the opening of our outdoor cellar, this kid came along and set a fire back there, and the fire burned those doors. I called up Mel Lanzer and I wanted new doors put on and of course I asked him for an estimate. He gave me an estimate of five thousand dollars. I thought I had better check somewhere else. Holgate Lumber keeps advertising so I called them up and they wanted only five hundred dollars. So they didn’t come and they didn’t come and it got to be almost a year and it still wasn’t repaired. They said they were so busy. So I called Mike Austermiller and asked him to fix it and he came right away and only charged me $150.00.

LD: You just had to wait a little while. I don’t know, they just seem to be busy all the time.

RP: I was going to let Holgate do it, but they never got around to it.

MP:How did Neila start getting in the beauty shop business?

LD: She went to beauty school right after high school. She went to Ft. Wayne.

MP: Did she ever fix hair in Ft. Wayne or did she come right back home.

LD: She came back home here. When I went into the service she was working for Helen Yackee here. When I came home she opened her own shop right here in the summer kitchen.

MP: You mean out on the farm?

LD: Yes. She did that for a couple of years. All the women she got was people she knew. She did them for a lot less. Then it got to the point where they would bring their own home style permanent from home and want Neila to do it for them. Then they would just give her a dollar. I told her you can’t expect to make much money, you had better go to work. So when Terry went off to college she went to work at Campbell’s. So she never got rich running the beauty shop.

MP: I think they do now at this time.

LD: I think they make pretty good now. What do they get now 40 to 50 bucks just for a perm?

MP: It runs around $35.00 more or less.

LD: She always set her own hair. We never had to pay for that.

MP: You were lucky.

MP: So did she do it with pin curls?

LD: I don’t know. She had all kinds of stuff in there. I had boxes of that stuff. I didn’t know what to do with it so I threw it out. I gave some of it away. I have it all pretty well cleaned out. I told the family to take what they want and they said we have all we want. I am going to get rid of it. I said I am done.

MP: Those were the good old days.

LD: Yep. We have lived through the best years. You stop and think I came from horse and buggies to cars and now we fly everywhere.

MP: That is what I always told about my dad. He started with the horse and buggies, the the automobile, and then he went to the airplanes and from there we now have the space ships. Now they are going to the moon and back. It blows your mind.

LD: Then I keep thinking what else can they do. They always come up with something new.

MP: They will think of something else. Next they will go to Mars.

LD: And people will live on the moon. Not in my time and not in yours, but they will do it. Your kids or your grandkids might see that.

MP: It’s a different world out there. Well Pops do you think we should wrap it up

RP: Do you have any more questions for Lum?

MP: I think we have covered quite a bit of territory and some maybe we shouldn’t have.

LD: You got the muskrat story.

MP: I still think the muskrats is the best part. I could listen to you tell that story over and over. I just can’t imagine people eating muskrats.

LD: That is a true story.

MP: I believe it.

LD:The turkeys was another story. At that time we could put them on a train cheaper than we could truck them to Buffalo. We could get 3 to 4 truckloads on just one train car you know.

MP: Were you drafted in the Army?

LD: Yes.

MP:Where did you end up serving?

LD: I went overseas with the boys and got hit twice. Do you remember Eldon Koppenhoffer?

MP: The name is familiar. What was his wife’s name?

LD: It was Elnora.

MP: Elnora was one of Alvin Miller’s daughters from Gerald.

LD: Yep. Him and I went into the service on the same day. Hy Travis was in that. There was a big bunch of us. Him and I we stayed together. We went to Camp Perry. We were in the same company. I was in the infantry and I didn’t like all the walking we had to do. Eldon was a little timid and he knew a sergeant , well it was Helen Shiarla’s husband. So Eldon and I we had a chance to get out and we joined the light artillary. That guy drove company commanders all over and he never got hit. I never saw him after we hit the beach. I got hit 70 days in. I am not going to tell you but it hurt. But in ten days I was back with my company. Then in the Battle of the Bulge I got hit and I got shipped back to England. Then they lost my papers. I could have come home because nobody knew where I was. I didn’t have any money, I couldn’t even go across the street.

MP: Did they lose anybody elses papers?

LD: So they shipped me here and there and they finally got me shipped back to Germany. Most of the time I was waiting for my papers to show up. I couldn’t get paid. This went on for over a month. I couldn’t get paid. The pay wasn’t much the way it was. I couldn’t even buy a pack of cigarettes and I was still smoking then. Finally I went to the Red Cross. They gave me $20.00. Then when it came time to get paid I had used up my 20.00. I didn’t get paid and I still didn’t have any money. Finally they found my papers and they shipped me back and do you know when I got back to my company it was the day the war ended. I hadn’t seen Eldon all this time from the beach. They told me there would be a Jeep to pick me up and take me back to my company. The Jeep pulls up here it is Eldon that is doing the driving. I hadn’t seen him from the day we were at the beach. Him and I we were always pretty close.

MP: What was he doing like driving the generals around?

LD: He was driving the company commanders around. He was a captain and I guess it kept us all alive. He’d get lost every now and then. I was just lucky I transferred. I was using these little stubby Howitzer’s We were always about a mile to a mile and a half behind the front lines. One night orders came down that we were pulling out. The next morning we wind up and we are lost. He had made the wrong turn. We made it back. I had a little pickup truck. I was the gun commander. I had three different guns. The reason I got hit I got foolish. We couldn’t did a hole so we moved the people out of their houses and we moved in. The Germans blew up their own houses.

MP: You mean you moved the Germans out of their houses.

LD: No, they were the Belgiums we moved out.

MP: Where did they go then?

LD: I don’t know.

RP: Do you remember this Wally Praet from town here? He got in the Army. His folks were from Belgium.

MP: Was Wally born in Belgium?

RP: Yes he was born in Belgium. He served in the Battle of the Bulge and he reocognized his aunts house. He went and hid in her house.

LD: I still have a hole in my shoulder from that.

MP: Did you get hit in your shoulder?

LD: That one don’t hurt. The other one is where I got Arthur in.

MP: Did you get hit in both of your shoulders? Where did you get hit at was it in your butt.

LD: Worse than that. No, I just got some shrapnel down between my legs.

MP: That would have been ouchy.

LD: No that wasn’t just too bad. I was gone for two days. The other one they sent me clear back to England.

RP: I had a great uncle who served in World War I and he said he was holding horses and a shell hit this one horse and it blew the head off the horse and he got splattered with blood all over him. Then later on he got gassed. He always suffered from that.

LD: There was a ot of gas in the First World War. I guess that’s why I am a little hard headed. We’ve lost 4,000 troops by now. We lost that many that first day.

MP: You mean in Iraq?

LD: In Iraq we have lost 4.000. We lost 4,000 the first day we hit the beach.

MP: You just wonder. I always trusted Bush, but I don’t know.

LD: Right or wrong I don’t know either.’

MP: I have mixed feelings.

LD: That’s what always get me. We lost 4,000 in just one day. We are fighting ourselves.

MP: Of course those people have been fighting wars of some sort for years and years.

RP: Those people over there it has become their way of life.

LD: I keep telling Terry this stuff and he tells me to shut up. You are too old to worry about that stuff. I tell him you guys are going to have to live in this world too.

MP: It’s going to effect your granddaughter’s generation.

LD: I can’t worry about it anymore.


Creager, Ralph

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, May 12, 2012, Liberty Center, Ohio

Transcribed by Marlene Patterson

(Photo at left taken October 6, 2014.)

CW: Please tell us your name.

RC: My name is Ralph Creager. My great great grandfather Calvin C. Young was very instrumental in the starting of Liberty Center.

CW: Oh really.

RC: The earliest thing that I have written down that tells about the time he came to Liberty Center was 1849.

CW: That was pretty early.

RC: Shortly after that the Wabash Railroad was going to put a line through this area and they were going to have a station at Colton, but Calvin’s property was in the Liberty Center area so he went to the railroad to see if they would put a siding in to Liberty Center. The way it finally wound up, he offered to build a railroad station and to man it if they would put in a siding. So one thing led to another happened and that is why Liberty Center has a railroad station. The original railroad station, a small one story wood building now resides on Maple Street here in Liberty Center.

CW: It is right down the street.

RC: It was made into a house and some years ago someone put an addition on the back to make it bigger, but he (Calvin) became the stationmaster and studied Morse code so he could run the telegraph.

CW: Is that right.

RC: And directly across the street from the location of the hardware he built a building which was a combination store and house and he lived there.

CW: Now where on Maple street was this? Was it close to where the downtown is now or farther east?

RC: Do you mean that little house. It is farther East. It is just over here oh maybe three or four houses down.

CW: From here

RC: Yes from here. His farm was on Maple street and it ran from the Dairy Queen corner this way and down to the corporation limit going south.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: He had 80 acres that I know of and at one time he owned another 40 acres attached to it.

CW: Way back then 80 acres was a pretty good sized farm.

RC: Because it had trees on it and he had to clear it.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: The family doesn’t really remember him as a farmer, but he was a woodworker and he ran mercantile stores in town.

CW: He was a man of all trades.

RC: Yes he was a man of all trades. In 1865 he made an addition to Liberty Center. I think there were ten lots on the corner of Maple and Damascus Street, and they are still there. That was an addition to Liberty Center. It is still called Calvin C. Young First Addition. He was an interesting man. Our family has always been proud of him.

CW: They were rightly proud. He was probably a wheeler and dealer I bet.

RC: He was an interesting man and our family has always been proud of him. We don’t necessarily consider him to have been only a farmer. He came here from a little town named Scott in central New York state. From the south end of what is known as the finger lakes.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: That is the area they came from. We have often wondered how they got here because that was in the days of the great Black Swamp and transportation on land was not very good. Since they were in that area of New York.

CW: I have been there.

RC: Have you. This is my own personal opinion that they might have gone north over land to the Erie Canal. That would have carried them to Buffalo. Then they could have come across Lake Erie to Toledo and come out here on the Canal. Now that is all supposition on my part.

CW: Well it sounds reasonable.

RC: It was the easiest way to travel because the rest of it was not good.

CW: There were so many trees everywhere. I read about a family that walked from Pennsylvania through Ohio and they never saw the sun because of the trees.

RC: Because they made a canopy.

CW: Do you know of any members of his family that came with him.

RC: Yes. Calvin was married twice, three times as a matter of fact. He had ten children. If you want to shut your thing down for a minute I’ll see if I can find this information for you.

CW: Oh we can look at some pictures here.

(Far eft: Melvin Clifford Young. He was born in 1879 and died in 1961.)

(Left: Ralph Earl Young is on the right. and on the left is his older brother Melvin Young.)

Pictures were taken in Toledo.


RC: This is my own grandfather. His name was Melvin Clifford Young and he lived here.

CW: He is a distinquished looking gentleman isn’t he.

RC: He was a poor man. I don’t think he ever owned any property. He was a farmer. Years ago around 1900 these boys were born. This little one is my father and the bigger one is his brother. They had another son and daughter after this, but anyway around 1900 or before he was a conductor on a street car in Toledo. He was born here in Liberty but he migrated to Toledo. Then after a while he came back and he was a farmer.

CW: Were there any streetcars that came out towards Liberty. I know there were some around Deshler.

RC: The closest one here followed the New York Central Railroad and went through Swanton, Wauseon, Archbold, and Delta and down around Stryker and Bryan, and I think on to Elkhart; Indiana.

CW: A streetcar isn’t that something.

RC: This was a thing that I put together and you can carry it with you. There is more history of Liberty Center in it.

CW: I would like to borrow that.

RC: This goes back two generations beyond Calvin. They came from New England. Thomas, you see my great-grandfather. He was a born in 1875. He had a bunch of children.

CW: This says 1775.

RC: Yes

CW: His children were from 1871. They probably didn’t know for sure. Look at the number of children. There is twelve here.

RC: Then you get, you see it goes down through Daniel, and it comes down here to Calvin. He was born in 1825, and that tells about his children and what happened to them.

CW: That is a neat genealogy you have. You did a lot of work.

RC: I had a copy, I don’t know if it is in here, it may be in the back, a hand written copy. Calvin’s wife, this tells about each of the children and what happened to them. Then there is a part here as to who was Calvin. Tlhis is still not my original. This genealogy I gleaned from a hand written article, and I have no idea what I did with it. It was written by Calvin’s last wife. So I was able to get some first hand information from her.

CW: Oh yes. That would be valuable.

RC: This is, you will have to take this with you.

CW: Yes I would like to and then I will be sure to bring it back to you.

RC: Well I think I have it. This is the type written copy of the hand written copy. It was originally written in 1890.

CW: Oh for heavens sake!

RC: That is in there too.

CW: Yes we can just make copies of those.

RC: You will have to study that.

CW: Yes, it will be interesting to read. This work is very worthwhile. Somebody did a lot of work.

RC: Several years ago, if you notice down by the cemetery there is a placard up to Calvin C. Young as being one of the founders of Liberty Center. There is one up north and one down by the cemetery. So they wanted me to tell them what I knew abut Liberty Center. I put this thing together for them. That took some time to do too. As far as we know and this is general knowledge that one of the original settlers in this area was a man named Scribner, and he homesteaded or bought, one or the other, and he bought a lot of land starting from the river and coming this way. I forgot his first name.

CW: Was he related to the Scribner publishing man?

RC: I don’t know. But this Scribner llived down here by Damascus. He built the first sawmill in Henry County. It was out here at Dry Creek. Exactly where I don’t know, but he built the first sawmill . In fact the Young’s bought this piece of property, not this piece, but down to the corner from Scribner. There was a schoolhouse that sat down on Roads 6C or something, down towards the river. There was a schoolhouse there years ago that was named Scribner School. Warren Sharp bought the Scribner School and moved it a half mile north and a mile east from his farm and made a workshop out of it. I was a little boy, really little, about four years old and I got to see them move it.

CW: That would have been exciting for a little kid.

RC: Yes it was exciting. The reason I got to see it, that on the corner of 6C and Road S, was where I was born. A mile south and a mile east of Liberty Center. That is where I was born.

CW: Was that along the river?

RC: There is a bridge on Road S right there close and the house was right beside it.. That old farm now is 80 acres was bought by the State of Ohio when they put in the new Route 24. They are now making it a wildlife preserve. They have constructed a wetlands, a new wetlands.,except for the little triangle that the house sits on. That is still part of the field. Anyway, back about the schoolhouse, the house was up on a bit of a hill and I was able to sit there and watch them come down the road from the south and go east. I remember this very plainly.

CW: Is this when they were moving the schoolhouse.

RC: Yes this was when they were moving the schoolhouse. The road south of Road S was yellow sand and I remember the men had to lay planks down for the big rollers to roll on, so they wouldn’t get stuck. I remember this as plain as day.

CW: It wasn’t muck.

RC: No, It was yellow sand.

CW: Was it deep?

RC: Right on that, the road went up a hill right there the sand was very deep. In the summertime, the sand was just as bad as mud. That farm, I don’t know how much detail you want to know, but

CW: As much as you can remember.

RC: That farm was owned by a family named Rogge.

CW: I have heard that name before.

RC: My grandfather rented it from him. There are some of the Rogge descendents around here. He was the grandfather of Marvin Mueller. Do you know Marvin Mueller?

CW: I knew Carl Mueller from Tony’s Bakery.

RC: No, This was Marvin Mueller, well there were several in Marvin’s family. They were related to the Rogge. Yes, I was born on that farm.

CW: Tell me again just where that farm was.

RC: It is a mile south of Liberty and then east on Road S. And the farm started at Road 7 and went another half mile east to Road 6. It is in that section. In fact if there weren’t any trees I could see the house where I was born. Speaking about that time I was born there on January 10, 1924 at my grandfather’s home.

CW: The babies were all born on kitchen tables back then.

RC: Right. My mother told me it was on a Thursday and it rained all day in January. No snow.

CW: Were you the oldest in the family?

RC: That is another story. I was an only child at that time. My father whose name was Ralph Earl Young, he is the little one in that picture, he was born in Toledo during the time that my grandfather was a conductor on the streetcar line. They came back to Liberty when he was small. He graduated from Liberty Center High School in 1919. He went to work as a clerk in the Liberty Center State Savings Bank. He always had a desire that he wanted to work for the railroad. Well, somehow or other, I don’t tknow that part of the story. He acquired a job on the railroad and he was the fireman on a switch engine in the railroad yards in Toledo. He was 22 years old and he got typhoid fever and they broke up their household in Toledo and moved back to Grampa Youngs. He died there in October 1923. I wasn’t born until January, 1924. So he died three months before I was born.

CW: My goodness.

RC: My mother and I lived with Grandma and Grampa until August of 1925 and she married a man named Fred Creager. Well, my Grandmother Young was broken up because of my Dad dying. She didn’t want my stepfather to adopt me, so I always went by the name of Young until after I had finished high school. My Dad and my Mom we talked about it and one day in the summer of 1941 and my Dad said to me that you know we have been talking about changing your name to Creager and since you are going off to college this fall I think this would be an opportune time. So in August of 1941 we changed my name to Creager.

CW: That would have been just before World War II broke out.

RC: Yes

CW: That broke out in December.

RC: In fact I have another story about that, but that is how my name became Creager. I went through the School of Applied Science in Cleveland and became a Chemical Engineer in three years because the Navy had taken over the school. I found out that the Navy did not take summer vacations during wartime.

CW: So you stayed and worked.

RC: The local draft board knew that I wanted to finish school and since I was studying chemical engineering they gave me oh about four or five months deferrment. I remember a man named Baughman was the head of that draft board. He said we are going to let you finish school, but as soon as you are out of school you are in the Army. So I graduated from college in August of 1944 on the 20th. On the 19th of September I was in the Army. I served two years with the Army, most of them with the counter intelligence force in Japan. During that time in June of 1945 a young lady by the name of Margaret Jean Lance from Cleveland Heights and I were married. Then I went overseas after that. I was discharged on October 1st of 1946. I had to tell people that my grandson here that you just saw was the same age as I was when I left for service. In those 23 years I went to grade school, high school, college, got married and spent two years in the Army, got home and I was only 23 years old.

CW: You lived a very full life.

RC: I lived pretty fast.

CW: Yes you did.

RC: That took in a big period of time. Speaking of Jean she was a student at Western Reserve, and that is how I met her. We had three children, Cheryl Lynn who was born in 1950, Mary Beth, who was born in 1953, and Julie Amelia, who was born in 1957, and now they are spread all over. Cheryl, the oldest one lives in Bradenton, Florida. Mary Beth, the middle one lives in Chicago, and Julie, the youngest one lives by Waco, Texas.

CW: They have a way of getting spread out, don’t they.

RC: I keep in contact with all of them. Cell phones do pretty well for this. Cheryl is a graduate nurse at the University of Michigan. Then she went back and got a Masters Degree in Home Health Care Administration. She now is retired. Mary Beth studied Library Science, and all her life she was a Librarian. She worked nine years for the Toledo Public Library, and the rest of the time here in Liberty Center as Director of the Liberty Center Library. You might have come across her.

CW: What is her married name?

RC: Slee. That is spelled S l e e.

CW: I remember her, she is a very nice young lady.

RC: She is very sharp.

CW: Yes

RW And my youngest daughter Julie went to college for a year or more, and she gave it up, got married and she wound up in Waco, Texas. They have one son who is a Freshman at Baylor University in Waco.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: Mary Beth had three children, two boys and one girl. The oldest boy Eric, lives in Los Angeles. Erin, a girl lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Tate lives here with me.

CW: Isn’t that nice that he can stay here with you and help you out. There is nothing like being in your own home.

RC: Oh yes. I am pretty self-sufficient. You saw me hobbling around, but they do things for me that I can’t get done. Cheryl, the oldest girl could never have children. They adopted a boy who was seven years old. He is now thirty-six years old. After I came home from the Army I had made contact before I went into the Army with Standard Oil Company in Cleveland. After the war when I got home my dad, he wasn’t an old man, but he was badly crippled with arthritis, and how he worked I don’t know. He asked me and he said what are you going to do now. I said well maybe I will go with the Standard Oil Co. if they will hire me. He said will you stay home and work for a year because he couldn’t get help. He couldn’t buy machinery or haul those things that the war had brought on. I told him, yes I will stay and help you for a year. When my brother got home a few months later he asked him the same thing. Bruce, my brother said that he would stay and work too. That was in the end of 1946, so we worked the summer of 1947 on the road. On January 1st of 1948 he said can you both come over to the house. We went over to his house and he said I’ll tell you worked good for the year you promised. Now I have a proposition for you. Of course we were interested in what he was going to say.

CW: Oh yes.

RC: He said if you will stay on here and run the business, I will make the business a three way partner. So he gave us each a third of the business. So we stayed.

CW: What was the name of this company?

RC: Fred Creager and Sons.

CW: Oh, the cement company.

RC: We did cement, built houses, but our main thing was asphalt. We paved roads. We both stayed. Dad died in 1960. He was only sixty-five years old. It was a result of his arthritis and hardening of the arteries and a stroke. He turned sixty-five on the thirteenth of June and died on the twenty-third. It was bitter-sweet.

CW: Yes, there was a Creager that lived on West Washington St.

RC: That was my Uncle Pearl. He was my step-fathers brother. He built roads also. That is what he did. The Creager’s started building stone roads and this is a give and take date, in 1912. Our grandfather started that.

CW: That has been a company for a long time.

RC: We had it for fifty-nine years and sold it and went to work for the people who bought it from us.

CW: Let them have the headaches.

RC: Well, that was in 1971. As late as 1960 and up through 1971 it became harder and harder to finance a road job with your own personal money.

CW: It took more capital by them.

RC: All the time. We made money on our jobs, and by the end of the year we found out we had taken most of it down to the bank. The interest was high. If you go out and do $5,000 dollars worth of work every day and the State doesn’t pay you for two months your bills pile up. So we sold it. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. I went to work for Johnson Company and Bruce decided he wanted to do something else. I worked for Johnson Co. seventeen years.

CW: What do they make?

RC: They have stone quarries and blacktop plants. They build bridges. They pave roads.

CW: It would have been the same sort of thing.

RC: Yes, I was back into the same type of business. They gave me the job of, for the first five years since I knew all these people out here in this area, the county engineer, they made me a Public Relations man. I spent most of the time visiting these people. At the end of that time or even before, the man who was in charge of the EPA for the companies got sick and they asked me to come and help. Well he eventually had to leave the company for health reasons. I became the head of the EPA as well as doing my Public Relations job. I did some engineering for the stone company, they were going to build a plant. Then OSHA came in. So they needed somebody to head up the OSHA. So then I was EPA and OSHA.

CW: Were you the head of both of them?

RC: Yes, when they first started. So the OSHA got to be a big thing, and the Safety Director had retired so I became the Safety Director too, which wasn’t too bad as it tied in with OSHA. When i was sixty-four I decided I had enough, so I retired. “Dog starts barking wildly” Do you remember when we had sonic booms from the airplanes? They were caused by the fighter pilots out of Toledo. They said that it wouldn’t crack the plaster in your house. People would complain that the boom had cracked their plaster and they said it can’t be. I have one crack in this house and I was right there when it happened. It was caused by a sonic boom.

CW: So you could see it when it happened.

RC: Yes I saw it. Now they have made the pilots quit doing that. Those training pilots would come out would have to dive-bomb to pass the 660 miles per hour. That is what caused the sonic boom. They were going faster than the speed of sound. A strange phenomenon happens. With the change of energy is what causes the sonic boom. The pilots don’t do it anymore now.

CW: I can remember hearing those things.

RC: They were loud. Back talking before, I don’t know how detailed you want to go . Talking about houses I hope that whoever buys this house does not decide to paint this woodwork white. These are all premium birch doors. The baseboards and the trim were all made at Sauder Manufacturing.

CW: Oh that is where they make the church pews.

RC: Nowadays they build this type of thing.

CW: There has been a big change.

RC: The Liechty boys weren’t satisfied with what they could buy at the lumber yard. Sauder made the baseboard and the trim around. You can’t even buy that birch nowadays.

CW: Is that right.

RC: I had to remodel my lavoratory and I had to buy enough, maybe fourteen feet of baseboards, I couldn’t buy birch, so I had to take oak. I was telling my daughters when you sell this house you tell them not to paint these doors. You can’t buy them anymore.

CW: Yes

RC: They were expensive even in 1954.

CW: You just wonder how much longer they will be able to keep cutting down trees.

RC: Did you notice the logs out by Damascus Bridge, on the corner.

CW: No, I haven’t been down there.

RC: You didn’t come down Route 109.

CW: No, I came out Road T.

RC: I think the logs are from Holgate. There is a sawmill in Holgate. They have a yard right on the corner of 109 and Road 24. They store their logs in before they take them to the sawmill. They are big trees. There are lots of them.

CW: Where are they getting them from?

RC: Well, I know one place on the other side of the river after you go across South Turkeyfoot Creek you will come to the two King properties. You know those two big brick houses. Levi King is on the right hand and I don’t know who the other King is that lives on the other side.

CW: Is that the road that runs along the river?

RC: Yes, it is on the south side of the river. There are two great big brick houses.

CW: Yes, I know.

RC: North of the one that is on the north side of the road, at the edge of the river there was always almost like a native woods there. There was always a woods there as long as I can remember. I think they are getting some logs out of that. I think too that they cut logs from from that tornado that went through here a couple of years ago.

CW: Yes a tornado will take them down for you.

RC: So I don’t know, but I think their name is Wagner. Their sawmill is down there by Holgate, or maybe New Bavaria.

CW: Isn’t there a Wagner Sawmill. I have seen their sign just south of Holgate.

RC: I think they are the people that are harvesting these trees. One day you go by and the lot will be empty. The next day you go by and the lot is piled real high with logs. They haul them away. There is a lot of them.

CW: You would think they could use some of these huge old beams they have in these old barns that are falling down, but they don’t.

RC: Well a lot of them are not in good condition. Those barns were built a hundred years ago. A lot of those beams have dry rot in them or something.

CW: Oh I see.

RC: But, people do use them. Somebody might want a fancy beam in their house . We built houses for nine years.

CW: Oh you did!

RC: In 1962 we bought a lumber yard.




Calvin C. Young was born March 31, 1825 in the Village of Scott, Cortland County. New York. At the age of 24 he moved to Henry County, Ohio arriving in 1849 and lived in Liberty Center until his death on March 1, 1911.

He was the husband of three wives and the father of ten children. Two of the children were born in Scott, New York. The other eight were born in Henry County, Ohio.

He must have been an energetic person because he cleared his farm and evidently continued as a farmer even though he followed other business pursuits. One would have to say he was an entrepreneur, because he promoted various businesses.

He must have had great foresight realizing what might be good for the community where he lived. Along with the farming, he was engaged in the mercantile business. He was also engaged in woodworking since he built a woodworking shop. It is also believed that he built houses, not only his own, but several others along the North boundary of his farm along Maple Street.

He became the Postmaster and was certified as a Notary Public.

Probably one of his ventures that proved most valuable to the community was his success in persuading the Wabash railroad to place a switch track in the town. He was also the station master and telegrapher. At no cost to the railroad.

He donated land for a cemetery — Young — which is still in use.

He was an enthusiastic and devoted Free and Accepted Mason and never missed a meeting of his beloved order when it was at all possible for him to attend. So faithful was he that, in the earlly days before Liberty Center had a lodge, it was nothing unusual for him to walk to Napoleon to attend the lodge meetings. He was one of the oldest Masons in Henry County having been made an Entered Apprentice in Napoleon Lodge No. 256 on September 2, 1862 and passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on March 31, 1863. He was raised to the degree of Master Mason on June 2, 1863. He remained a member of the Napoleon lodge until October 18, 1877 at which time Liberty Center Lodge No. 518 was chartered. He was one of the seventeen charter members. He was the lodge treasurer for nearly 30 years.

In 1867, he plotted and added twelve lots to the village. This was the second plotted sub-division in the village.

He has been deemed the “Father of Liberty Center” not because he was the first founder but because he seemed to be the sparkplug needed to get things organized. His leadership did inspire others to create businesses and homes and this resulted into the Village of Liberty Center.

Information supplied by Esther Amanda (Eldredge) Young
February 23, 1890

The family of Calvin Cheney Young lived in the village of Scott in Cortland County, New York for several generations before moving to Henry County, Ohio. The earliest one that there is a record of was named Thomas. He married a widow who had one son named Peleg Allen. After their marriage, they had eleven more sons together. So Thomas really had twelve sons. The sons after Peleg Allen were — Thomas; George, Winthrop, Clayton, Silas, John, Simeon, Ebenezer, Johnathan and David (twins) and Daniel T. Daniel T. is the one that played an the most important part in the life of Calvin C.

Daniel T. Young was married to Hannah Cheney. They were the parents of five children —-Polly (who died while a baby), Fidelia, Calvin Cheney, born March 31,1825, Charles (who died while a baby) and Martin C. The Daniel T. Young family moved to Henry County, Ohio in 1849 and settled in Liberty Township. Daniel T. died on April 27, 1871 and his wife Hannah died on July 14, 1875 in Liberty Center, Henry County, Ohio. They are both buried in Young Cemetary in Liberty Center.

Fidelia, daughter of Daniel, married Ward Woodward. This couple had six children – Malina, Mary, Amelia, Hellen, Samantha and Frankie ( who died while a baby).

Martin C., also known as C.M., married Francis Smith they had five children. They were — Delia, Frances, Eddie (who died while a baby), Charles and William. Martin C. died in Lockport, New York on October 8, 1888.

Calvin Cheney married Lucy Ann Eldredge, born August 1825, in Scott New York. This marriage produced two children — Charles Orlando born May 13, 1845 and George David, born September 6, 1847, Lucy Ann died.

After Lucy Ann had died, Calvin married Esther Amanda Eldredge, who was born in September 1826, and they had eight children. Their children were — Julia Amanda born November 6, 1850 and died February 19, 1884. Jewett Otis born May 12, 1852, Dwight Cheny born September 1, 1854. Dorr D. born December 1, 1857 and died December 9, 1858. Delia Abba born January 7,1860, Ward Woodward born June 14, 1862, Lucy Anna born January 7, 1864 and Cora Hellen born October 19, 1866.

Charles Orlando was born May 13, 1845 in Scott, New York. He never married. He died in October of 1869 in Philadelphia where he had gone to take his last or graduating course of medical lectures.

George David was also born in Scott, New York on September 6, 1847. Evidently, he moved with his father and step mother to Henry County when he was two years old. He married Esther A. Ferguson, who was born September 13, 1826 and died in the fall of 1873. This couple had one son — James D.

After the death of Esther, George married Elisabeth Burgess and had five more children —Fred, Charles, Melvin Clifford, born March 31, 1879, Vida, and Grace.

Julia Amanda, born November 4 1850, married William J Gasser and had four children — Charles A., Nettie (who died before she was 2 years old)., Minnie (who died before she was 2 years old), and Eddie (who died before he was 3 years old). Julia died on Feb. 19,1884. She and the babies are buried in Young cemetery.

Jewett Otis, born May 12, 1852 married Tillie Avery. They had one son Gurney who was born in October 1885.

Dwight Cheney, born September 1, 1854, married Ellen Hales. Their family consisted of Winnie who died when only a few weeks old, Gertie who died at about 4 years old, Dorr who was born November 16, 1880 and Bessie who was born March 1, 1884 and died August 27, 1889. Allen died about six days after Bessie on September 2, 1889. After Allen’s death Dwight married Sylvia Jones.

Delia Abba Young, born January 7, 1860, married Charles M. Showman on November 9, 1881.To this couple was born the following chidren — Cloyce M. born November 12, 1882, Melville B. born May 18, 1884, Meme born September 8, 1885 and Louvinia Amanda born January 29, 1890.

Ward Woodward, born June 14, 1862, married Adella M. Haag on August 7, 1889. They had one son named Eldon.

Lucy Anna Young, born January 7, 1864, married William Ferguson on November 9,1882. They had one child Gale L. born September 28, 1882. While they owned property in Liberty Center, they moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. William worked in New York.

Cora Hellen Young born October 16, 1866. Hellen never married and lived at home with Calvin C. and Esther Amanda.

Esther Amanda Young died in 1893. After her death, Calvin C. married Sarah A. (Pinney) Geering. Sarah Pinney was born on November 7, 1840 in Erie, Pennsylvania. She married J. W. Geering in 1878. Her husband died in 1880 in Washington Twp.

After Calvin C. died on March 1, 1911, Sarah continued to live in Liberty Center where she was active in the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Order of Eastern Stars. Her active interest in foreign missions caused her to maintain a Women’s Mission and a scholarship at Vicarabad in India and she also built, at a cost of $700.00, a school house in Corea. (also known as Korea in some languages) She worked toward raising $3000.00 for a mission house and institute also in Corea. Her charity at home was no less extensive, though not as well known. She was constantly devising plans for the benefit of public and educational institutions.

INTRODUCTION September 22, 2001

The remarks I have prepared for today are to provide a short history of the Village of Liberty Center and one of its more illustrious “founding fathers”. I must say “one” of its founders because actually there were many persons who contributed to the reason Liberty Center came into existence.

The area around Liberty Center evidently attracted the attention of adventurous people around the time of the French and Indian War. The site of Damascus was the location of two different Indian tribes and shortly thereafter a trading post started by Samuel Vance about 1816. It is not a proven fact, but the Damascus site might have been chosen because it might have been a place where the river could be forded. Some of you remember the islands and sand bars in that area.

Another reason this area was popular was drainage. The Great Black Swamp covered most of the area South of the Maumee but on the North side the area was drained both by three creeks — Bad Creek, Dry Creek, and Turkeyfoot Creek.

There were settlers in the area some forty-three years before the incorporation of Liberty Center and twenty-nine years before the Young family arrived. Some of the early names in the area were —Biggins, Hales, Reed, Steambarge, Rathburn, Woodward, Chamberlain, and Merriman. In fact, Henry County was chartered in 1820 and the 1840 census showed there were 2492 people here and by 1860 there were 8901.

Finally in 1863, there were enough people that Alphius Buchanan saw the need for a trading center in Liberty Township and proceeded to plot a village. Others added to the process and Liberty Center was born.

The data presented today is taken from a number of articles published in various books. You may well find some contradictions to your memory. Don’t feel badly — there are contradictions in the published articles also.

Daniel Young purchased the property on October 2, 1849 for $800.00 or $10.00 per acre. Calvin C. Young evidently inherited this farm on March 3, 1863 at least he only paid $1.00 for it.

The 1849 date when the Youngs acquired this farm coincides with the date they arrived in the area.

Thus the availability of the “canal lands” led to the settlement of this area and the eventual establishment of Liberty Center.

In 1849 the canal was in full operation. The first canal boat from Cincinnati having arrived in Toledo on June 27, 1845. There are no published records available to tell how the Young family arrived in Liiberty Township, but they could have traveled part of the way on the canal.

The nearest post office was located in the Damascus area. It was established there on September 3, 1819 and was operated by Charles Gunn. Samuel Vance became postmaster in on March 19, 1825. The office was closed in 1868.

Even though the “canal lands” sales were not available until about 1844, there were settlers in the area as early as 1820. A Mr. Biggins, in Washington Township, acquired a land grant to purchase land from the Federal government in that year.

Edwin Scribner, the first owner of the C. C. Young farm was in the area of Damascus as early as 1814. Sometime before the start of the canal construction, he erected a “thundergust sawmill” on the banks of Dry Creek in the area of what is now known as the Robert Bortel farm.


The village of Liberty Center, though located some two miles from it, partly owes its existence to the canal. During the planning stages of the canals in 1827, the Congress of the United States granted Indiana millions of acres of land along the canal route to help finance its constuction. But this action would have resulted in Indiana’s owning and controlling 250,000 acres in Ohio. Indiana agreed to relinquish its right to these lands if Ohio would pay for the construction in Ohio. Ohio proceeded to sell this land to raise the required money and construction was started.

The only documented land sale that I have available is for the parcel that eventally wound up belonging to Calvin Cheney Young and which became a portion of the Village of Liberty Center. this parcel is described as — the West half of the Northeast quarter of section 36, Townshp six North, Range seven East in the County of Henry in the State of Ohio. This section borders State Route 109 on the West and Maple Street on the North. Its Northwest corner is at the Dairy Bar Intersection.

This land, containing 80 acres, was sold by the State of Ohio to Edwin Scribner for the amount of $120.00 or $1.50 per acre. The date of this sale was November 10, 1843.

The next owner was Samuel J. Meader who paid $500.00 or $6.25 per acre. The date was December 11, 1844. This was the first sawmill in Henry County and the first business to be established on land in the Liberty Center area.

In 1855 the railroad was completed, this was another boost to the area. About 1858, Calvin C. Young persuaded the railroad people to put in a switch track. In exchange he agreed to build a building, at his own expense, to be used as a station. He agreed to man the station for no compensation and even learned telegraphy so the town would have a communication link. So, Liberty Center was placed on the railroad map. The old station was moved to East Maple Street, where it still stands and is used as part of a residence.

Also in about 1858, C. C. built a carpenter’s shop on East Maple Street about on the site where Wright’s funeral home is located. About the time the Civil War broke out, he built a home on East Maple Street. It is the house that Charles Grundy now lives in. The original Young home had been down by Dry Creek.

On July 4, 1863, Alphas Buchanan first conceived the idea of establishing a trading post in Liberty Township and on that day recorded 12 lots on the South side of the Wabash railroad. To these were added a second and third addition.

On January 19, 1867 Calvin C. Young added an additional 12 lots and on June 7, 1868, E. T. Coon added 10 more lots with the requisite streets and alleys.

Liberty Center was the second incorporated village in Henry County.

By 1858, some three years after the coming of the railroad, the village really began to take form. The “town” was covered with more or less groves of saplings and shrubs. There were no roads except the one extending East and West past the old Wright school and one North and South from the canal to the Hales-Reed community. The bridge near Wright school was the only one in existence for miles around.

The years between 1849, when the “canal lands” became available and 1855, when the railroad started operation, are not well described in the research writings available. It is reasonable to assume that people were moving in and establishing farms and small businesses. After 1855, and especially after 1858 when the railroad siding was built and a depot and train station were established, progress seemed to take a more positive direction. This was probably what prompted Alpheas Buchanan to realize there was a need for some platted land so that Liberty Center could develop in a more orderly manner.

The thirty-seven years between 1863 and 1900 must have been very active for people in the community. During this time stores were built, churches were formed and buildings erected, schools were developed, streets were laid out and graded, two cemeteries were defined — Young and Wright. The railroad was doing a good business. However, travel on the canal was diminishing. In fact, the last canal boats ceased to use the canal only twelve years later in 1912.

The community was always well known for and proud of its school. The old Wright school, which sat a short mile to the West, was moved in 1877 to the Northwest corner of the school grounds. In 1886, a two-story addition was attached to the East end of the old building. Liberty schools were defined as being “graded” which must have been a unique style for the time and was known to be one of the best in the county.

The Wright school portion of the building was moved away to make room for a new building — a two-story brick building containing four rooms. It was moved to a location on East Street, just South of the Corporation line and made into a residence. It is still in use today in 2001.

The two-story portion was purchased by the G.A.R. and was moved to the corner of East and Maple Streets to about where David Perry’s gas station is now situated. It later burned down.

During this time there were four churches — The Methodist Episcopal, St. John’s German Reformed, The United Brethren and the Seventh-Day Adventist.

The first hotel was built on the main street near the depot. It later burned down. Liberty Center suffered several disastrous fires. Before the business district assumed its present form, nearly all the original structured had been destroyed by fire.

The main street North through town was opened up about 1860 along the East boundary of the Chamberlain-Woodward farms by a gathering of the interested neighbors, who cut a passage through the brush to the Rathburn neighborhood. It was years before the road was improved. About the same time, the road half a mile West was extended North from the Merriman and Chamberlain area to connect with the Hales-Clapp road. This gave a direct route South from the Hales road to the Wright school and on to the Wabash canal. This road, too, was not improved for many years later.

NOTE: this description of the roads leads me to believe that the main route South to the canal and the river was the one we now call Road 8.

About 1858, or a little later, a young doctor located in the neighborhood and built a neat little cottage not far from the sawmill. His name was Dr. Frank E. Pray who came from Norwalk soon after his graduation from medical school. He served here until he enlisted in the Army in 1862, during the Civil War. The Pennocks came in about 1860 and Ed Pennock opened a grocery store next to Dr. Pray.

About this time, there were several businesses established in the area. There was a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, a cooper’s shop, grocery store, hotel, dry goods store, a carpenter’s shop, a post office, a railroad station, a grist mill, a wagon factory, a livery stable and several others.

There always seemed to be a goodly number of businesses in the town. In the time after 1920, there are a number to be remembered — a sauerkraut factory, a pickle processing plant, a grain elevator, two undertakers, a furniture maker, three automobile dealers, two hardware stores, a men’s clothing store, a millinery shop, a weekly newspaper, a shoe repair shop, a drug store, a bank, a dry goods store, a lumber yard, a road construction company, a trucking company, a hatchery, a photograper’s studio, a bakery, a tinsmith shop, five gas stations, three barber shops, a movie theatre, two saloons, two billiard parlors, four grocery stores, two restaurants, three beauty parlors, a produce buyer, an egg processing plant, a machine shop, two coal yards, two farm machinery dealers, a cider press, a sorghum syrup cookery, a tile and brick yard and probably some others.

Liberty Center, from the very start, has been a thriving community.

We have to feel that some families were well established in the area before Liberty Center came into existence. Evidently some were here as early as 1820. Probably the earliest was about 1812 to 1814. The canal building days — 1825 — 1845 brought settlers to the area. Some of the people, many of Irish descent and having worked on the Erie canal to help build the Miami-Erie canal, bought farms when the canal lands became available and stayed and made their homes here. Some of those families still reside in the area. Some on the same farms they acquired so long ago.

It is interesting to note that Calvin C. Young’s life span closely paralleled the life span of the canal. The first construction began in Cincinnati in1825 — Calvin was born in 1825. The canal went out of business after the great flood of 1913 — Calvin died in 1911.

The main street, East Street, in the business area was originally paved with brick. It was used as such until it was covered by asphalt in 1951. The North end of East Street, Maple Street and Damascus Street were graded and curbing installed even though they were paved only dirt or gravel. The founding fathers had good foresight when they left the wide right-of-way where the business district was going to be.

It is hard to imagine now, but the Wabash railroad was very busy. Even up to and after World War II there were four passenger and two freight trains each day. There were no freight trains on Sunday. Mail was picked up and dropped off four times a day. It was hauled to the post office in a two-wheeled push-cart.

At one time, there was a train called “the Four O’clock Flyer”. It didn’t stop in Liberty Center but did throw off the mail and pick up mail from a mail hook that held the bag. The train is said to have gone through town at sixty miles per hour. The line through Liberty went directly to Fort Wayne with connections to St. Louis. It was a very direct and important rail link.

The trading area of Liberty Center was probably a circle with a radius of about six miles. This was about a hour’s trip for a horse and buggy. With the advent of the automobile, this radius expanded and in doing so, reached past other trading centers which added more competition to the businesses in Liberty Center. Gradually businesses started to close their doors. The ones that remain are those that provide a convenience service to the local people. The large national chains of stores and services have taken their toll.

As we learned earlier, the school has always been a jewel and a central binding force in the community. It is still so today. It is the largest employer. Without the school, Liberty Center would become a place you passed through on your way to somewhere else.

Liberty Center has recently enjoyed a pattern of newly constructed residences that not only enhance the appearance of the town but also strengthened it by providing a larger tax base which in turn strengthens the school. The older homes and businesses have also been repaired and beautified.

Liberty Center has always been known as a pleasant place to live. It still is.

Cox, Elsworth "Elzy"

Interviewed by Russ and Marlene Patterson, August 1, 2012
Transcribed by Marlene Patterson

MP Today is Wednesday August the first of 2012 and we are interviewing Ellsworth Cox who answers to the nickname of Ellsy Cox and that is spelled C o x. He is a friend of ours and lives here in Napoleon part time. We are going to talk about his coal mining experiences in southern Ohio where he was born and grew up.

MP How young were you when you first entered a coal mine?

EC Oh I guess I would have been twelve years old.

MP Was that common practice for kids at that age to work in the coal mines?

EC It wasn’t as much for the kids as it was for the mothers and dads. My mother went all the way to the eighth grade. They took her out of school and made her work which was pretty common in those days.

MP Did they make her go down into the coal mine?

EC No, they were looking more for a baby sitter. If you might want to call it that, because there were things to do at the coal mine. The men could overlook it. They would look and see what was being done. All my activities, with a few exceptions, were done on the outside of the coal mines.

MP Did you ever do anything down in the coal mines?

EC Oh yes in the summertime. I will be duplicating this a little later on.

MP Okay

EC In the summertime with school being out, the coal mine went into maintenance time with maintenance work and off season work done by what we call “dead work”. This was done by my dad and brothers. I was part of the outside crew and I took care of the outside while they were inside the mine working.

MP By inside, do you mean down in the coal mine?

EC Yes. Now I will make the difference between a coal mine and a strip mine. Ours was definitely a coal mine which is so fine you have to dig in the side of the hill. Our vein of coal run about 3 foot 10 inches and that vein of coal would be followed. The routes in and out of the mine were not radiant, to use a better word more like train tracks as they strayed over and would turn left and they would turn right. These lines would go up and they would go down. They followed the vein of coal as we progressed digging out the coal.

MP With you working as a young child, I call you a child when you are only twelve years old. It would have been comparable to the farmers around here that put their kids on a tractor and let them plow their fields and do work. So this is not what you would call child labor. This was a family run business.

EC Yes it was a family run business.

MP To me it would have been very exciting to have a coal mine.

EC Yes it would be. If you have pictures and that is what will be needed, expecially when you get into a situation with telling about it. One of these days I hope to have stuff like that. The Cox family is looking back several years to the activities of coal mining. We started out in 1935. At that time is when we bought the coal mine. We lived in Uhrichsville, Ohio and after two years of squibbling in Uhrichsville, and then in 1935 we moved to the little town of Tuscarawas. It was about four miles away. I entered the second grade at that school and finished my formal schooling in Tuscarawas, in the Warwick Township School in 1945. So it was during the late 30’s and early 40’s that I had the experience of coal mining and such, but being a worker in and around the coal mines. I also did truck driving and maintenance work and things like that which needed to be done.

MP Did you drive truck like the kids around here drive their grain trucks before they are old enough?

EC I was driving a truck when I was twelve years old. Then I got my official license when I was fifteen years old. That was during the second World War. A person was allowed to get emergency licenses. We were in a business where people needed coal. I was able then to drive the trucks. I hauled coal as far away as Canton, Ohio, which is thirty to thirty-five miles north of us.

MP At that period a lot of people used coal to heat their house.

EC I think about 80% of my coal was taken to the residents around Uhrichsville, Tuscarawas, Gnadenhutten, Dennison, New Philly, and included with that were the clay plants. They had these huge kilns. They were circular shaped, and about twelve feet high, domed and about every six feet there was an opening where you would fire a furnace. They went around the kilns and put a little bit of coal here and a little bit of coal there. That was part of my activities during the winter. In the summertime the activities in both instances, the coal mines and the clay pits were not as busy.

MP Did you make brick in that area?

EC In some of them. There was one down near Port Washington and it was Belden Brick Co.

MP They are still in business, aren’t they?

EC They might be now. Most are gone via progress. There was brick being made and also there was about a half dozen plants where they were making this sewer pipe. It was molded into pipes – clay that was heated to withstand the pressure. They made forms that were put into towns and roundhouses for drainage. They would bake these to over 2000°. They put a glaze on these to boot.

MP We had a plant here in town that made clay bricks. Would they have used the same type of clay? We had a brickyard just north of town.

EC It was a softer type of clay that was used around houses and foundations. They would pick up excess moisture that would be seeping through the ground and drain it away to a low point. That was tile, yes. The only difference between tile and some of the other stuff they call tile is that some of them they will put a glaze on many of them. The tile size went from four inches and some of them went from twenty-four to thirty-six inches.

MP People would buy glazed bricks for building houses too.

EC Yes, some people did use the glazed bricks. And sometimes people would use the colored brick.

MP I think that the only color they made around here was the red.

RP You do see a white brick also.

MP That was probably brought in from somewhere else.

EC It was an off shade of white.

EC Every day there was something going on. Yes I did have some good instances and some things that happened were not so good.

MP Did you ever get to go down under the ground into your coal mine? What was it like?

EC Yes, during the summertime the temperature inside our coal mine was a constant 55°. The opening was called a pit mouth. If it was a hot day like we have been having here this summer we would cool down our air conditioning. The temperature as we walked back twenty-five to thirty feet and cool down. The way you would usually go into that coal mine – there was like a railroad track and the power that took it in – the electric motor – DC current – and we had a trolley like the old trolleys in the older years.

MP About how big were the trolleys?

EC They were about 10 to 12 feet long. It was powered by an electric motor. The track itself was grounded as it was all metal. On the one side they had an arm that stuck out with a pulley. The arm that stuck out would have a little spring against a wire that we stretched. It was about five feet high, a little bit lower inside the mine. It would roll along there and with the DC current it would just go around and generate its own current. We had our own generator. This would power the trolley going in and out of the coal mine. The trolley would take in empty cars, fill them up and then bring them out of the mine. There were open car grids where the men worked and shoveled the coal into the cars. On the return trip they would begin to collect them and haul out anywhere from four to six or seven of those cars. Each car held about a ton of coal.

MP How many tons of coal would you estimate a railroad car can hold?

EC Probably, now I am going to give you a wild estimate, it might be around 150 tons.

MP Remember I told you that my dad when he was in the Gerald Elevator would order a whole railroad car full of coal from a coal mine. The railroad car full of coal would be delivered by rail to the Gerald Elevator and then the workers at the elevator would unload it by hand. They would put it on trucks and dump it by the elevator. It was at that point that my dad found the little mule shoe.

EC We had a contract for several years that, not the railroad which was just an in between person. We would contract with some businesses that wanted coal. The coal was sent to them by way of rail. We would back up on these ramps and I did this many times and throw the coal down the chute. It was strictly a trough and they went down into these coal cars – they were on the railroad – fill them up and pulled them away and put the empty in and do it all over again. That was the part of the truck driving business I had. The most interesting experience I had while driving truck was up in Canton, Ohio they had a slaughterhouse. They needed coal for running whatever they needed to run there. I backed up and the only problem was, and I never will forget it was I had to shovel that coal by hand off that truck.I carried about five and a half ton of coal up there. I put the tailgate down and shoveled into their coal bin. I would take a break now and then and then would go and watch them slaughter animals. That was very interesting to me. We went up through New Philadelphia and Dover.

MP You were watching them slaughter the animals then. About how old were you at that time.

EC That is when I was fifteen. I was seventeen when I finally got out of the coal mine.

MP That would be something that stuck with you.

EC Yes, I was very strong. I am just like Arnie Palmer.

MP You would have had to be very strong to be able to shovel coal like that.

EC One time my brother sent me down and we were going to a cement block place in this little town of Tuscarawas called “Deckers”. Anyway his last name was Decker. He didn’t send anybody with me so I had to load it all. So I backed up, let the tailgate down and I took two fifty pounds in each hand I would do that two or three times and then I would jump up on the truck and pile them up on the back of the truck.

MP That would have been very hard work.

EC Yes it was hard work.

MP Even though you were young it was still hard work.

EC I was doing that when I was fifteen – sixteen – seventeen years old. It would have been closer to fifteen. We bought an old coal mine in 1935, which was near Wainwright.

MP Would the name have been like the General Wainwright?

EC was just a little Italian village close to Tuscarawas and the kids came into our school. We had what you would call a tipple. A tipple was the bins that they put up like a house.. The tracks came out of the coal mine onto the tipple and then the one we had to hook like a car on an incline that went up and this one went up about thirty feet.

MP What pulled it?

EC More electric motors and steel cables. My oldest brother would run that. It would wind around and around and as it did it would tighten the cable up. The cable went up to some pulleys on the top and come straight down and hook on to the cars. My job was to hook on the car and go on up and wait for the first car to come up and when it got up to the top. It would go like this (Ellsy motions how) and the car would tip up.

MP Almost straight up.

EC Each car had a tail gate on it, it would lift up and out comes that coal. That coal goes down through what they call a “shaker screen”. We had to grade our coal which is another interesting thing to clarify.

MP Did you have to do this by hand?

EC No, my oldest brother was a genius. He built a shaker screen. He used concentric wheels to make that thing run with an electric motor. As he run it in an oblong fashion that coal would hop up and down just like you would use it if you were sifting for gold. The first pieces to go out would be the little pieces of coal. We called that slack. It was real fine stuff. Then next would be the kind people would use in their homes a lot of times. It was placed on a screw and as it turned it would pull that coal out of their coal bin and on into the furnace.

MP My dad shoveled ours.

EC We shoveled too. The second was the slack and then we had nut coal. We had an egg coal, and the last size was what we called lump coal. So we had four bins. Then we had one off to the side that we called mine run coal. As it came out of the mine whatever the guys loaded that and it would go into that bin. One interesting point I might make there we had a contract with a Cleveland firm of supplying coal to them buying the mine run coal and we had a crusher built in to that particular bin. As we left that coal run out the lumps and the fine stuff and the machine would grind it up and we’d put this in their truck that they had sent down to pick up their coal. It was the kind of coal they needed to run their plant. I remember the last name of these people, but I don’t remember what their company made. That was all part of the tipple.

MP How do you spell the word tipple?

EC It is t i p p l e. Then there is another part of coal mining that people never realized. I said earlier that there was a 3 foot 10 inch vein of coal. Above that 3 foot ten inch vein was a layer of what we called cash. It wasn’t money but it was shale substance. That was sort of like a buffer for that vein. It kept the water out and different things. That pressure was made millions and millions of years ago. It got crushed down to make that coal and the shale. The shale would have to be taken down to about a 4 inch vein itself. If you didn’t take it down what would happen you could be standing there and it could and if you get oxygen – air to it would loosen up and drop. So the coal miners had to load that onto one particular car.

MP Would that have been worth anything?

EC No, that wasn’t worth a thing. That was worth nothing. We would have a big pile of that. Part of my truck driving was learning how to back that truck up and dump it. We had a pile like they build up high these landfills around here. Incidently, there is a place in southeast Ohio, or it could be in West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, all of this area has the same type of coal. That shale heats up. You would have to roll it. If you didn’t roll it out, it would heat up and catch on fire. It would not be like a bonfire, but it would smoulder. There was one that was in Pennsylvania, this happened years ago, maybe 75 years ago it caught on fire. What it releases is odor and smoke. Then the ground would sink a little bit because the coal was burning. It would be very little and that car would drop down. If you didn’t roll it, it would get air in there and continue to burn. There was one burning here in the United States that started long before I was born.

MP It’s probably difficult, if not impossible to stop the burning.

EC That is another thing that is interesting to look up and read about.

MP We’ll have to Google that one. Now did you do all of this coal mining bit while you were going to High School?

EC This is a little side light here. When I got out of school there were three things facing me, and one was World War II. The second thing was I could work around clay mines there in Newcomerstown, Uhrichsville and I could work in the coal mines. I was a decent athlete in school and at the insistence of the preacher – Lutheran and my athletic coach, he told me I should go to college.

MP It sounds like they had taken you under their wings and guided you.

EC They contacted the athletic director down at Wittenberg University at Springfield, Ohio .He came to the little town of Tuscarawas and we had a little settee. We had a little snack and we visited and I enrolled in Wittenberg University.

MP What did you study?

EC I didn’t know what I was going to study. It was the war years and you didn’t think about going anywhere. I didn’t know what I was going to study. I said I’m leaving. I left town in the fall of 1945 and in a sense I only went back to visit, because I got married to my wife Edwinna in 1948.

MP Where did you meet Edwinna?

EC At Wittenberg. Luckiest day of my life.

MP God Love You.

EC I was a good athlete in some respects, but I wasn’t good enough to be like the pros are today. So I continued my education and entered the physical education in athletic training and with the aid of the coal mine I worked there every summer. I would go back home in the summer. My oldest brother was the bookkeeper and took care of things. He said to me “you work for me and I will pay your way through college”. So I worked my way in the dining room at Wittenberg and then worked piecemeal, a little bit here and a little bit there. At one time I was making a dollar an hour.

MP For that period in time that would not have been too bad.

EC So I got through those four years of college. I did not have any loans of any sort. Financially, going through college I was free. My grandkids going through college now are at 8 to 25,000 a year.

MP A year?

EC Yes a year.

MP Hopefully it will be worth it though.

EC Yes it will be worth it in the end, but these young kids nowadays have got to learn that you have to get out and work for money. I had a savings account and when I went to Wittenberg I had 700.00 saved up.

MP That’s pretty good.

EC I was only 17 years old. I used all of that

MP for college. Nothing comes cheap.

EC The work ethic you learn in a company like a coal mine stays with you forever.

MP Sure.

EC That has helped me as much as anything else I can think of.

MP You had a job when you were a kid. Not everyone has the chance.

EC I had one kid there in my class in the eighth and ninth grade his parents started him out. In the summer he went to a farm and stayed there all summer and worked.

MP That is what my brother did.

EC You wouldn’t see him all summer and then he would come back.

MP He would be all brown and have muscles.

EC I wanted to tell you something else too. In the coal mine, when they follow that vein, do you know how they do it. They had a big drill and they would drill a hole, I’d say about a two inch hole, not just one but a series of them about as far as what they would call a “room”. That room could be anywhere from ten feet to twenty feet wide. We had what was called a “cutting machine”. It was like a chain saw only it was flat like this. (Ellsy motions with his hand). Well chain saws are flat but it ran flat. It would drill holes in it, or mostly slits. It was a chain saw type drill. Then we would drill holes with augers and shoot the coal down. We would put black powder in the holes and then tamp it down with slack. We would just put a handful in and tamp it with the rod. We would tamp it tight. You would then get to the edge and stick a fuse in there. It would be like a firecracker. You know how firecrackers are built with the fuse. We would have the powder with a little fuse sticking out. That is what we did only we had to judge how long – once you light that fuse it goes right back to that powder and shoots the coal out and packs it down.

MP Is that what would tell you how deep the vein was?

EC It would tell you not only how deep but how long you have got to get out of the way. What we did, and I will never forget this as long as I live – you have a lot of instances in a coal mine you remember it did not go in straight. You know how a town is layed out with criss-crosses. I can tell you if you are shooting over in this room and if you hit the main artery that goes into the coal mine – you would go sit down twenty-five to thirty feet away and wait for it. We light that fuse and move out and then we mostly sit down on a rail or something and wait. The first time I ever experienced an explosion underground it went K-Boom!. It wasn’t like outside. And all of a sudden air shot by you. That air was pushed by us and of course it got dusty and it had to settle down. Then we could go back and see what had been done.

MP Where was the gust of air coming from?

EC That is another interesting facet. The government says that you just can’t dig a hole in the side of a hill. Mining coal has a one point entry way. It is called the “entry way” . If you are on the side – maybe a hundred yards away, we had a huge six foot fan. That was what you would call the air shaft. It blew air into the coal mine. It would of course eventually come out the main course entrance. Otherwise you would be breathing that damp coal dust all the time. They had a lung disease.

MP Would this be what was called a black lung disease.

EC Yes, it was a black lung disease. We had a huge fan that would blow the air. Like I said it was 55° down there and the air was already moving. So when you light firecrackers off there is some air that gets to it. So it would follow the pattern of your coal mine – your veins. Nobody told me about that when the first one happened. The pressure gets your face you know. Then we knew that we could go back down and start loading the coal up again.

MP And start all over again!

EC Those kind of workers in our coal mine worked piece-work. We had a little nail sticking in the side of each car. Each of the nails had a number on them for identification. When they loaded those cars up working piece work got a number. When it came outside – and I worked outside most of the time. We would take them off those cars knowing that “John Doe” loaded this car. And if he was number 5 we put that on his chart. That would show how many cars he had done.

MP Was that how he was paid?

EC You would pay him so much for each car load. That would have been piece work. We had hourly workers too. If you were driving the motor in and out one would have no idea of piece work.

MP Was this before the unions?

EC The unions came in

MP what year?

EC In the ‘late 30’s. The United Mine Workers came in and then we had the C.I.O. They joined forces and became what used to be United Mine Workers.

MP What is it now?

EC It is the AFL. Another interesting thing, we were not a union mine.

MP You were an independent mine?

EC They would make trouble for you.

MP They wanted you to join the union.

EC Oh yes. They want you to do that now – the United States, you do know that don’t you?

MP They didn’t do anything to you personally though did they – or were you too young?

EC They followed my brother at one time and got into a fight with him. I was riding with him but we weren’t supposed to be working because they were on strike. Well he hauled off and hit one of my brothers and we hauled him into court.

MP I don’t blame you at all.

EC I went in as a witness. The name of the first union organizer was John L. Lewis. We built shanties so when we were working outside we could keep warm. Inside the door where you went in we had a picture of – not a gorilla, but a monkey.

RP (everybody laughts) He had those real thick eyebrows.

EC Anyway, I have to shut that off. Now don’t you dare take me to court.

MP We would not dream of it.

EC The coal mine was good to me. I had a place to work. It was good healthy work. I didn’t work inside the mine as much as I did outside, but I sure learned a lot.

MP Did you have sisters while you were growing up or were there just boys the Cox boys?

EC There were ten of us.

MP Ten total?

EC There were seven boys and three girls.

MP Can you name them all?

EC I can name them all, even the one that died. One of my sisters died. She was just a little older than me. We start with Juanita, she is the oldest, then Chuck, Howard, Johnny and then Bill, and then Eleanor, she lived six months. In those days pneumonia was a killer. Then me (Ellsworth), and then my brother Ben, who is still alive. He went to Wittenberg too, just because I did. And then my youngest brother Harold. There were nine of us that lived, seven boys and two girls.

MP That was a load. No wonder Mom didn’t go down in the coal mines. She had enough work to do.

EC I had a hard working dad. I had a mother if she ever said a cuss word I tell you it would have been a miracle. She was a God fearing person, went to church and made sure we went there. Made sure we went to church.

MP Wonderful!

EC It didn’t hurt my background.

MP No it didn’t. You had good work ethics. Did you go to a grade school like a parochial school or a public school?

EC I had no kindergarten. I went to a public school in Uhrichsville a year and a half, then we moved into Tuscarawas I started there in the second grade and finished there in the twelfth grade. One room schoolhouses were rather prominent back then.

MP They were around here too.

EC Like you mentioned the other day, somebody was talking to me about that – you would have grades 1 – 2 – and 3 in one room.

MP That was Russell talking to you.

EC When you were getting your lessons you could be listening to what the teacher was telling the other grades.

MP We were lucky, we had three rooms. The first and second grade, then the intermediate, then the upper classroom.

EC You know my wife (Edwinna) taught in a one room school house until we started having children. You know not many teachers can say that.

MP No they can’t.

EC What time are we meeting for dinner tonight? I kind of like that early one. Some people sit there for a half hour before they even go up to eat.

RP Aren’t we going to go early?

MP They start serving at 5:30, but we want to get there early to get a good table.


Johnson, Catherine

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, May 14, 2007

CJ My name is Catherine Shaffer Johnson. I live on County Rd. N.

CW In Henry County? And you have lived here many years I believe.

CJ Yes I have, in this house since 1943.

CW Is that right!

CJ We came back from Detroit. My husband Ivan & I were in Detroit about 5 years and came back then to the farm.

CW Is this the farm you grew up on or was that another one?

CJ I was raised on a farm on Rd. P ( N of McClure). My husband grew up here. When we were married he got a job with General Electric in Detroit after he graduated from high school. We lived in Detroit those years after we were married in Ô37. His father had failing health and asked if we wanted to come back and have my husband farm the farm, and so we decided we would because it was better to raise the children around here than it would be in the city.

CW That’s right. Where in Detroit did you live, probably in the heart of the city, it is such a big place.

CJ No it was more on the south side. Brightmore was the name of the suburb of Detroit, and when I go back there now it has all changed so much. They put a big highway in there now. I don’t even recognize the place and hardly the street even where we lived.

CW Oh my! Now how many children did you have?

CJ 5.

CW I haven’t seen them around here. What are they boys or girls?

CJ I had 4 girls and No. 5 was a boy.

CW Isn’t that something. I had 4 boys and 1 girl.

CJ Oh is that right. The youngest one the girl?

CW No the next oldest one.

CJ I see.

CW They’re wonderful to have aren’t they, but they are a lot of work.

CJ I would never have it any different. They are all so precious and helpful.

CW Is that how many you had when you came back to McClure?

CJ I had just one when we came back to McClure. The second one was born during the war in 1943, and my husband was drafted, had his physical and ready to go into the service when the war ended. He didn’t have to go.

CW They didn’t like to draft farmers anyway I believe because we needed the food.

CJ But it was getting to the place where they needed men, and I know he had his examination, but like I said the war closed then.

CW Isn’t that a scary feeling though.

CJ It is – it is.

CW Your life is not your own. You can’t control your own life.

CJ I had two brothers that were in the service. I had a brother in law that was injured – schrapnel hit him in the head. He was taken out for a few months and then put back in again. One of my brothers was in the Navy and the other one was in the Army.

CW Were they a little too young do you think?

CJ No I think my older brother was a farmer with a family, and he wasn’t called right away and the other one was a teacher and didn’t get called until near the end of the war. One got to Japan and the other one was in the Navy.

CW Did you grow up here or in the Detroit region?

CJ My husband and I went to McClure to school. I lived north of McClure and he lived here. I a m now at the place we were married. We were school days sweethearts from the 8th grade on up.

CW Is that right. It’s kind of unusual to stick together that long.

CJ Well we were married two years after getting through high school, but neither one of us got to college. His uncle helped him get a job in Detroit..

CW Well you don’t need to go to college I guess to go into farming.

CJ He wanted to be an electrical engineer, but his father needed him back here. Then he gave that up and didn’t go on to college and he came back and helped here on the farm. He did a lot of electrical work. He worked here at Weasel’s too besides farming. (Tem Cole)

CW Did he do electrical work there at Weasel’s radish factory?

CJ He was maintenance man there. He was working part time nights and was called out so much that he couldn’t take all the hours plus the farming. He quit here and went to work at Campbells third shift. It was more regular and he knew his hours at Tem Cole he was just called at any hour of the evening.

CW Did he do electrical work for Campbells?

CJ He was a maintenance man there on the lines. And he worked up to Class 1. He started in at Class 3, then on up to Class 1. He had a good job there.

CW Your great grandfather?

CJ Yes, Levi Shaffer cleared eighty acres north of McClure and from that lumber built the house that I was raised in, farthest back in the lane. He raised a family of eight. My grandfather was one of them – Samuel Shaffer. Then when he got married he built a second house in the same lane. He lived in the one closer to the road. My father sold that house and it was moved to McClure and it is still being used.

CW Yes and it was a pretty sturdy house. Was it made from wood from this area?

CJ Yes it was. I was told Levi Shaffer came from Pennsylvania, but I am not too sure. He bought land here, then he cleared the land and built his house, raised his family and my grandfather was one of his children. My grandfather was Sam Shaffer. When my father Guy Shaffer married Lena Schlotz in 1915 they moved into the Levi Shaffer house where I was born (plus my two brothers Robert and James). When Samuel Shaffer passed away, I was living in Detroit. They moved in with my grandmother (first house in lane), sold the Levi Shaffer house, moved it to McClure. The Orville Babcocks remodeled it and Leona is still living in it. When we moved back from Detroit and started farming my father in law had been farming with horses and it wasn’t too long until we got a tractor and sold the horses and I remember our first corn picker and it was just a two row and everything is changed from what it used to be.

CW Was it hard to get used to living on the farm after being in Detroit?

CJ I was raised on the farm until I was married. I was out in the field with my grandfather helping with the combining and setting up sheaves of wheat and oats and threshing, butchering and all those things. My grandfather had a shop where he made cider. He had apple trees and cherry trees and also in the spring of the year he had his spraying outfit hooked up to a cart, was pulled by a horse and he went from neighbor to neighbor and sometimes far enough that he never came home at night and stayed overnight until he got his job finished.

CW What did he do?

CJ He sprayed fruit trees.

CW Did it affect his health then with all the spraying?

CJ I don’t know. He did get cancer on his face and at that time they were told not to remove it because it would spread and so he went to some faith doctors for a while and it would clear up, break out again, and he did have a large spot on his face when he died. That was not the cause of his death. I don’t know if it was due to the spraying or not.

CW What did he die of then?

CJ He had a heart disease too and that is what took him. He also, my father and he worked together and they would take chicken manure, and work with it and put it up, so they didn’t have to buy fertilizer. They used that on their fields. Of course he was only farming 80 acres. They used that kind of fertilizer instead of buying because they had the chickens and manure from the cattle and horses.

CW How did you make ends meet when you only had 80 acres?

CJ We couldn’t get any more acreage, but I remember helping with all that. They butchered. They made apple butter.

CW That would take a lot of apples. Did you have to cut them?

CJ Yes you did and you had to peel and core them too, and when we were going to make it we would call in the neighbors the night or so before and peel apples, cut them in pieces, and they had the cider mill there, and had the cider ready to put the cider into the apple butter.

CW Now did you cook the apple butter in one of those big iron kettles? And then did you have a wooden stirrer that had a 90¡ angle. Then you stand out here and then you would go straight in front of you and come straight down into the kettle. Would that scrape the bottom of the kettle then?

CJ Well it had a pad on the end of it that made it so it didn’t scrape the copper bottom.

CW And it would keep the apples from settling on the bottom.

CJ That’s right. My grandfather Sam was very talented. He made a cooler and it had water pumped through the pipes to the many pipes going through this big cooler, on its way out to the watering trough for the animals. And that would be the cooling system. He made this, it was a beautiful piece of wood that he designed.

CW Now what did this refrigerator look like? Was that a big piece of wood too?

CJ It was in a small room and across the end of the little room and the pipes were all in there and the doors were all cut to a beautiful design.

CW Hm. Did he do that too? He was quite accomplished, wasn’t he.

CJ He was, very much so.

CW And then your children probably helped with the work on the farm.

CJ Yes, when we got married and moved over here south of McClure, that is where we raised our children. Our farm equipment was smaller then too, so the children could manage it and they cultivated corn and beans. They were four and three and fi
ve years difference in all of them. When one of them got married the other one stepped up. They all helped in the fields. We hoed beans and corn to get rid of the weeds and picked up corn after some was left in the field from the picker.

CW Did you have sugar beets?

CJ No we never did. It was just corn, beans, wheat and oats.

CW My husband had said that working in the sugar beets was the hardest work he ever did because he had to bend over all the time. What they did they call it cropping or something, I forget the word.

CJ We did try popcorn. We raised popcorn for several years.

CW You had a lot of help if you had all those children. You had help in canning and stuff didn’t you?

CJ We did a lot of canning. The girls mention it now how we would get three bushels of peaches and can them and now I don’t even try. But I was glad for freezing too. I saw the beginning of freezing food. At first I wondered about its safety.

CW Oh it is much easier now. Isn’t that nice.

CJ Yes it is much easier. I don’t know how they ever did that much. Our third daughter had appendicitis and it ruptured. She was taken to the hospital and at that time penicillin just came out and that was what saved her.

CW They must have been pretty healthy.

CJ They were. My first two were born at home, and the next three at Heller Memorial Hospital.

CW A lot of people tell me they were born on the kitchen table.

CJ Is that right. I have heard of them having their tonsils taken our. My husband had his tonsils taken out on the kitchen table by his uncle Dr. Bernard Johnson who practiced in Deshler many years.

CW They used to think it was advisable whether the kid was sick or not. Take those tonsils out then they wouldn’t have to worry about it. I guess eventually they found out that the tonsils did do something to contribute to our health.

CJ I often wondered what they were doing. Only two of my children had their tonsils removed and the others were fortunate enough to keep them, but they had a lot of earaches and colds.

CW Were you glad to move back to the McClure area?

CJ Yes, we were given a choice would we like to come back and we did and both of us were born her, raised here, and then we came back and lived here. My husbad had quite a time in his life. He had a heart attack. He had arthritis in his ankles. You don’t want to hear all this.

CW Why yes.

CJ He had an ankle operation and it wouldn’t heal right. So we went to the Mayo Clinic and finally they amputated his leg and he was on an artificiial leg and he had open heart surgery – but we did spend nine nice winters in Florida and then he went out on a fishing trip with a group and he had had open heart surgery before we went to Florida and about eleven to twelve years after that he went out on a fishing trip that he got sick and they thought maybe it was due to waves. Since it was a group they didn’t want to return to the land they were on a trip so he put up with it. When the trip was over they took him into the hospital and he lasted about five days. He passed away then.

CW So he was having a heart attack.

CJ He was having another heart attack. Besides his ankles, his two to three ankle operations, he ended up at the Mayo Clinic. He had heart problems too, so we had a rough time for a while.

CW Yes, how old was he when he died?

CJ He was 73.

CW He had a good number of years together.

CJ Yes we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary plus two years.

CW I see by the paper you must be more than 90 years old.

CJ I was 90 on March 29th, 2007.

CW Well your mind is really good what do they call it – or something.

CJ I don’t know about that. I am thankful for being on my feet and in my home.

CW You’re doing really well, and you don’t even use a cane do you?

CJ No I don’t, but I have one of these little walkers to go out to get the mail. I can’t stand any length of time. We used to go on little trips, day trips and you do quite a lot of walking. I can’t stand that any more. I had to give that up. But I have that little wa
lker that I push and all I need is something to lean on. I am thankful that I can be in my home. I can still drive, but I don’t want to go any farther than Napoleon or Bowling Green. I go to McClure to church. I passed my drivers test in March so renewed that now for a few years. I know I won’t ever have to do it again.

CW I bet you go to the same church-St. Paul’s Lutheran,McClure-the Rowlands do, because they mentioned you. That is how I got your name.

CJ Well we go to Sunday school together, the ladies group together, and then we have another social group. Yes, I have known them all my life. I have seen Bob grow up. And I feel at home here. It was nice. I liked it in Detroit for a while. My home was here on the farm.

CW And that’s where your heart was too.

CJ That’s where my heart was. My grandmother Shaffer liked to piece quilts. One time when I worked, the only time I worked was at Tem-Cole and that was after the children were all grown and out of school, well my daughter was a senior and I g
uess my son was a couple years younger too, but I worked here at the radish plant and then several years tomato pack at Campbells.

CW You were talking about quilts.

CJ Well anyway that was when I was in Detroit yet. I took my Grandmother Shaffer back with me for a couple of weeks and I bought the Lone Star quilt pattern and the material and we cut it out and started piecing it and worked with it and she helped me till we got it all pieced and then she passed away. She never saw it finished. So when I retired we put up the quilting frame. My husband always wanted to play the organ so we bought an organ, a Hammond organ and he took lessons. We’d go to Toledo once a week for lessons and this winter that he bought the organ he said we’re not going to Florida. I want to play the organ and you can quilt. So we put that quilt in a frame and I quilted that all by myself, but my grandmother never saw it finished.I was kind of proud of having done it all by myself. It now hangs on the wall of my bedroom.

Years and years ago when people used to go out West, some of them would go in covered wagons. They would put together a quilt and each neighbor, friend, or relative would make one block and they would put them all together. They would sign it and embroider it, put them all together and that person would have something to remind them of all their friends and neighbors back home after they had gone West. I thought that would be a very meaningtul thing to do.

CJ It sure would be. Way back the Kryders, Steve and Pat went to a sale, bought a quilt. There were a lot of names on it. We have tried to find out what organization that was done by and we still haven’t found out. They have the names on the quilt. They have asked a lot of different people, but we haven’t found out what organization those people belonged to. Now one of the Kryder boys started the Applebutterfest in Grand Rapids.

CW Oh did he.

CJ It might have been Steve, because it was out to his farm and they make apple butter every year. It might have been.

CW There was George and Steve. There were about four or five boys. I can’t name them all. I think there were more than five though. Well they raised one that wasn’t their son.

CJ That’s true. There were quite a few. Katy always comes over and talks to me when she comes back. She’s in college, now she is in Chicago.

CW Now whose daughter is she?

CJ That’s Steve and Pat’s daughter.

CW Oh Steve’s daughter.

CJ He’s got two sons and a daughter. The boys have all gone through college and she’s had a couple years of college too.

CW I think people in small towns like McClure are unsually friendly.

CJ But you know we used to know our neighbors. When I was a kid we would get together once a week. My parents did and they would have card parties. On Sunday afternoons they would go visit each other. We always liked to cross the river and take those side roads over to the Oak Openings area. Well anyway we knew our neighbors then. Now I don’t know my neighbors on this road even.

CW Oh, you don’t!

CJ They built a couple of new houses here. I don’t know those people. I know across the road we are related to them.

CW Did people just walk down the road and knock on the door and visit in those days?

CJ Yes, or drop in on you. We always had a telephone, so that was convenient. We never could have Toledo Edison because we were back into the lane. They didn’t want to wire back into the lane. It was too expensive for us to pay for it so we had a delco plant and that was run on batteries. We would have to charge the batteries up and we had a sweeper and an iron, but they were a little different. They were delco operated.

CW Was that quite expensive?

CJ It was expensive.

CW You would have to buy your own plant in the first place.

CW We didn’t have electricity back to those two houses in the back of the lane until I was married. And then Toledo Edison finally wired back there, but up to that point it was Delco power.

CJ We used to slide down the hills when there was snow.

CW Where did you find a hill to slide?

CJ Oh on this same road going towards Napoleon. There was a hill we would go to and there was a pond at McClure near the school house. My family couldn’t afford skates for us so we would go up there and just slide on the ice. A whole bunch of us. We played with sleds too and slid on the ice.

CW You didn’t have ice skates!

CJ No I didn.t. Some of them did, but I didn’t . We lived about two and a half miles north of McClure and my brother and I would walk uptown to skate, sled, and slide on the pond uptown.

CW Where would that be then?

CJ It was called the Old Mill Pond. I think they filled it in now, but it was right on the edge of McClure.

CW Was there a mill beside it?

CJ I don’t know why they called it that. It’s not there now. It’s been filled in.

CW Back to what you were saying about neighboring more with people, I think lots of times younger people think well it must have been hard to have to do without all these modern appliances, but I think you are right, you spent more time with people as a result.

CJ We used to have movies uptown.

CW You did!

CJ Yes, for the summer maybe. Once a week they would have free movies uptown.

CW Were they in a movie house?

CJ No, it was outside. There was a movie house up there though. The elevator would once a year have a dinner. My father had bought shares in it and I always got out of school to go to the meal. The elevator would have it at noon. They would have entertainment at the little movie theater in McClure and the school kids would be left out of school a couple of hours to go to the movies. It was paid for by the elevator once a year. Tlhey would have a dance at night too.

CW What did they do for a dance floor?

CJ There is the Legion Hall where it is now. It’s been there a long long time. And that’s where it was held. It comes to mind too the Farmers Institute was always up there.

CW What was that?

CJ They had speakers. It was two days, morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. One session would be run by the churches. There would be a speaker for each session. The Institute speakers were hired to come and talk on different subjects. And there would be music. The school would furnish some music. The church session would furnish music. I played piano. I played duets with one of the girls a couple of times. Another time I was a little bit older and I had a group of around eight or ten year olds and we pantomined a couple of religious pieces.

CW That would be fun for them.

CJ It always ended up with a play too. The last session somebody would have organized a play by the people right in the area. But anyway one night it was always in the wintertime in February so my Dad hitched up the horses and had a bobsled and picked up three or four families from our neighborhood and rode up to that Institute for the evening in a bobsled on the snow.

CW That would be fun.

CJ I wouldn’t want to do it I guess anymore.

CW Would they have straw in there to pull the straw over them to keep warm?

CJ They would keep warm with blankets. It was drawn by horses. It was quite a thing, they enjoyed it.

CW Everybody pitched in so nobody had to pay a lot of money.

CJ That is right. I remember when the Deshler road, it is Road 2 here I think now, I had cousins living on the road and they had about six children. My mother would always help when one of the children would be born. It was a mud road at that time. We would hitch the horse to the buggy and go from our place around the corner to this family and mud was up to the middle of the wheel. It would be that muddy in the spring.

CW In their driveway?

CJ On the Deshler road!

CW On the main road?

CJ On the main road. It was not paved at that time. I remember that winter it was so muddy that the wheels of the buggy would cut through the mud. I remember when our road P was stoned, ah paved, no it was stoned first and then I remember it being paved too. When I went to school the first couple years was an enclosed wagon drawn by horses when I was in the first grade. Of course then they got into buses.

CW You mean they had horse drawn wagons that picked children up and took them to school?

CJ First year or so.

CW That’s nice, I didn’t know they ever did that.

CJ But it soon turned into busses. They picked them up in busses. Now we don’t even have our school up here anymore.

CW What did you do for the mail? Did the mailman come around?

CJ He came around in a little old mail truck too.

CW That was drawn by horses?

CJ When I was real young it was, but they soon changed over to cars too and trucks. I remember yet when I was real young they were drawn by a horse.

CW Did you have to help take care of the horses on the farm?

CJ The horses I would help once in a while to clean out the stables. My father was very proud of his horses. He had Belgian horses. He raised colts, two or three colts. They were very pretty. I would throw hay down from the haymow, put grain in their box to eat, things like that.

CW Now did those colts have to be trained so they weren’t so wild?

CJ He trained them too. When they got to be a certain age he worked with them and trained them by putting a bridle on them and leading them around.

CW Wasn’t that scary?

CJ It seems like it would be but he got along real well with them. When they got along so far he would hitch them to one of the older horses and so they would walk along side of them. He trained about three or four colts.

CW How many cows did you milk?

CJ We never had any more than five.

CW It was just for your own.

CJ At that time we had a cream separator.

CW Would you describe one for children that wouldn’t know what that was like?

CJ You would pour the milk in the bowl on the top of the little separator that had a crank on it. That is where you put your milk. Then you would crank it at a certain speed and then there were two spouts. The milk would come down to a spout. The cream would be taken out of the milk and that would go through one spout into a container. The other would be skim milk we called it and that would be taken out to our pigs or our chickens.

CW Is that right!

CJ The cream we would keep it for a couple days and take it uptown. There was a creamery uptown McClure.We took what eggs we didn’t use uptown too. There was a place right there. She did both. This lady had her creamery and her eggs.

CW Did they make cheese there?

CJ No, I don’t know who she sold it then to. It was just a place you could take your things and have it collected. I don’t know what she did with it. She sold it to somebody too, but I don’t know where it went from there. Saturday night we would take our eggs and our cream to McClure, sell it and buy our groceries.

CW I’ll bet that was one reason why people went to town on Saturday nights. They would have to at some time in the week take their produce in or it would spoil.

CJ We never had a refrigerator, we kept things cool in an old cellar. Now I talked about my grandfather having this homeade refrigerator, but we never did. At groceries you would go to the counter tell him what groceries you’d want, and they would get it up off the shelf. I saw the change from that into self serve. I always thought how strange it would be to have a cart and go around and gather up your own groceries.

CW They have a lot more of supplies. They had barrels at that time too didn’t they.

CJ That is right, they did. It was up to the grocer to dish that out and weigh it, and you stood there. Then when we threshed we would call in an order what we wanted for the meal, and they would bring it out to us. The meat and whatever we ordered.

CW You had a big bunch. Did you have friends that came in and helped you at threshing time to help cook the meals?

CJ Yes we did. We had two or three ladies. We would bake pies the day before. They didn’t help with that, but they helped put the meal on the table and we young girls would keep the water glasses filled for the men.

CW Oh that’s right.

CJ We had these sticky things hanging from the ceiling you know. We had fly swatters and we girls had to swat flies. Sounds terrible now.

CW It was better than having the flies in your food. Now my grandmother used to take newspapers and shred them and she had a strip at the top to hold the thing together. Then she would put them at the top of her screen door.

CJ My grandmother did the same thing.

CW I think that was before they got those sticky coil things.

CJ I think it was.

CW We have seen lots of changes.

CJ We surely have.

CW I remember the first radio and the first television. Was that exciting when you got your first radio?

CJ Yes I was in the fourth or fifth grade or maybe the sixth grade and they had a program on. This program had a lot of questions and answers. I would write down those and then take them to school the next day. The teacher would try them on the class.

CW You must have been one of the first ones to have a radio.

CJ There weren’t too many of them. We had a neighbor boy who made his own radio. Then after the radios came the televisions. I can remember the first television too.

CW What was it, a news thing?

CJ Oh Amos & Andy, Lum & Abner. Everybody would listen to them. We would gather around the radio and listen to them play jokes going back and forth, plus the news.

CW Did the relationships we all had with our churches. Did those relationships change over the years do you think?

CJ Do you mean different denominations?

CW No it would be individual and his or her church.

CJ Ours hasn’t although we are a small church over here at McClure. My daughters all like praise services. No, I don’t think it has changed in our church, but maybe that’s the reason we don’t have many young people either. They like their kind of music and we don’t have the leaders up here to change it, but we are still hanging in there. I saw the basement going in, plus classroom addition, plus a new parsonage. I remember my mother and ladies taking food up to the men who were working on it. We used to have a large Luther League. Every Sunday night we would meet and there was at least twelve to fifteen kids there at 6:30 every Sunday night. We would go out on our dates after that. We don’t even have a Luther League now.

CW That was probably one of the highlights of the week then, I bet.

CJ It was. We used to have a roller rink up here at McClure too.

CW You did!

CJ It was above Nelson’s building. Nelson’s used to have a drug store, a grocery store, I think he even had medications. They had school books. We had to buy our books at that time.

CW I think you have done very well. You say all of your girls took piano lessons.

CJ Then we got a little Hammond organ up at the church and the oldest daughter was fourteen. She started to play there and when she got married at eighteen, the other one come along and she played. There were four of them that played. I had played too. Not very fancy but I got through it. The girls have all been organists at their churches, played for weddings and funerals

end of tape

Callaway, Mary Ellen

Interviewedby Charlotte Wangrin, April 21, 2011

Transcribed by Marlene Patterson

CW: Would you please give us your name.

MEC: My name is Mary Ellen Fruth Callaway. I want the Fruth name included. This is a picture of my great grandmother Katharine Fruth, and she came over to America in 1854 on the ship Redwood. Her parents were John Jacob Fruth and Eva Marie Burch. This is a picture of my great grandmother right here. She lived to be 98.

CW: My goodness that was old in those days.

MEC: This man died of typhoid fever.

CW: They don’t have much of that disease anymore.

MEC: Her four children were Henry Fruth who was my grandfather and married Louise Franz. My great-grandmother was a Fruth and married a Fruth. Another daughter was Lo Dema Franz and also had a son Conrad. Fruth’s married Franz’s and Franz’s married Fruth’s. They didn’t live very far apart. They lived on Rd. 14 and K. It was just like around the corner from each other. Another daughter was Louise Yackee who had 10 children.

CW: They would have gotten to know each other real well.

MEC: Well you know they didn’t go anywhere. Well, I didn’t either when I was a kid. We lived out there on a farm and you just had to work seven days a week. Everybody had cows and chickens and you just had to do all that stuff. We went to church and I can remember when I was very young my Grandmother would have dinner one Sunday.The next Sunday my Uncle Walter and Aunt Gertie would have it. and then another Sunday my parents would have it. That is about all we did.

CW: Then you woud just sit around and talk. Lots of talking went on.

MEC: We would play cards.

CW: You would have done a lot of gossiping too because there wasn’t much else to do.

MEC: There wasn’t much else to do. When I was a kid you only went to town on Saturdays to buy your groceries. My brother and I would go to the movies while my mother did her shopping. It would be so crowded on Saturday nights downtown you couldn’t even walk on the sidewalks. People would just stand around and talk. They would meet their friends and would just stand around and talk.

CW: People still do that, but not to the extent that they used to. I can remember Isabel Aderman saying that it took her a long time just to walk one block.

MEC: People would bring their cars to downtown and just park them. They would sit in the car and just watch people.

CW: If someone came by that they knew they would just stand around and talk.

MEC: Mom would go to Spenglers where you would get waited on when you were buying your groceries. You would set the groceries over here and leave them. Then you would go over to Crahans. We had Meyerholtz’s store and there was another one.

CW: We had Wendt’s Shoes.

MEC: I can remember, you know Denise McColley, her grandmother was Irene Wendt,. She had a hat shop. In those days you had to have a new hat and shoes for Easter,

CW: And gloves.

MEC: Definitely. Here is a picture of Henry Franz. He is my Great-grandfather. This is where he was born.

CW: You have Franz relatives too.

MEC: I have double Franz relatives. My Grandfather Fruth married a Franz and my Great Aunt Lodema Fruth married a Franz. We are double related somehow. My Great Grandfather Henry Franz came to this country on a Russian sailing vessel – The Vista, which was hired by the Red Star Line on June 27, 1852. His daughter was my Grandmother Louise Anna Fruth. Then John Jacob Fruth was born in Beindersheim and his wife was Eva Marie Burch. Their children were Kathryn, who was my Great Grandmother, and Otto,and Louise.They came in 1854 on a steamer named Redwood.

CW: Where did you get all this information from?

MEC: I did a lot of research. They lived in Hancock County first..They moved to Seneca County for sixteen years and then they moved to Henry County.

CW: They were from France is that correct.

MEC: Yes, the Fruths were originally from France. They went to Bavaria , Germany which is right next to France. They had a religious thing in France.

CW: It was probably some type of religious persecution.

MEC: My Great Grandfather was Mathias Knepley. (my mother was a Knepley} He was born in Germany and he married Mary Christman and they had 8 children. My Grandfather David and William were twins. There is an Ada and Ida in the family and they were twins. We had a lot of twins in our family.

CW: That would have been unusual during that time.

MEC: With his brother, Mathias entered the New World at New York. The two brothers became separated and they never saw each other again.

CW: Isn’t that strange!

MEC: I think this is really interesting. Matthias married Mary Christman. He was born in Germany in 1826 and he settled in Monroe Township, Henry County. On December 16, 1848 he purchased 80.72 acres of undeveloped land from the State of Ohio for $ 81.13.

CW: The whole 80 acres, isn’t that something.

MEC: The county tax record of 1851 lists Matthias Knepley among only seven other land owners in the newly organized Monroe Township. That year he paid 97 cents in taxes.

CW: Oh my goodness!

MEC: They had eight children and one of them was my grandfather David.

CW: A lot of people had 6 or 7 children in those days.

MEC: My sister-in-law is Wilma Plassman. Her mother was a Gerken. She had 99 first cousins. The Gerkens had 10 or 12 kids. There were six of us on my dads side. I only have one cousin on my mothers side. When we went to New York I had this all written down and we went to Ellis Island. We thought we would be able to look this all up. We had it all written down and were going to look this up. We found out that there were many baskets and trunks in that building on Ellis Island. We tried to look up all those pictures. When we wanted to look it up we found out anybody who came in before 1892, did not come through Ellis Island. They came to the lower part of Manhattan Island. We took a subway to lower Manhattan and then took a ferry. This is a picture of my Mom and this is my Dad.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: My mom was a wonderful seamstress. I look like my dad. My sister Marjorie looked like my mother, This is a picture of my brother Bob.

CW: You were the baby at that time.

MEC: Yes I was the baby.

CW: I certainly admire the way you have kept all of this information.

MEC: Now my Aunt Gertie kept these obituaries. She died and they gave them to my brother, and my brother gave them to me. This is what I was really interested in – my Grandfather Franz who came over from Germany.

CW: Is this when he died?

MEC: This is his obituary and it says here he enlisted in Co. A 68th OVI in 1862 until the close of the Civil War.

CW: My that was such a terribe war. He wasn’t injured or anything.

MEC: No. They said he walked all the way home from the state of Louisiana. There would have been no other way.

CW: William Wiles tells us all about it.

MEC: During the Civil War he fought with General Sherman on his famous march from Atlanta to the Sea. During his time in the South he was impressed by the spanish moss clinging to the pine trees. He said the moss was like silver in the moonlight. He was so interested in the state of Louisiana he named his daughter Louise Anna. That would have been my Grandmother. This is a picture of my dad’s first cousin. She wrote this. She had been a school teacher. I have all these pictures and they are all real old.

CW: Would you like to sit down a while?

MEC: Sure.

CW: We can put this recorder right there. You have lots of information for us.

MEC: Oh yes. He is going to be giving a talk or something. He has lots of information on the Civil War.

CW: Oh you mean Ed Peper.

MEC: Yes. His brother Bob was my Mom’s lawyer and when he died we just stayed with his brother Ed. He is going to give us a presentation when he traveled through the South next week I think.

CW: I don’t know but I can find out.

MEC: The information is in there someplace. He was always interested in my brother. He wanted my brother to write his story. My brother Bob Fruth went into the Air Force and worked as a mechanic. He became a gunner on a B24 bomber during the war.

CW: Now this would be World War II.

MEC: On his 13th mission over Germany, when they returned from the mission they were shot down over occupied France. My brother Bob was about the last one to get out of the plane. A couple of them didn’t get out of the plane. Some of them did and they were captured by the Germans. He landed in a fence row and the Free French got hold of him and kept him for 3 months hidden.

CW: Isn’t that interesting!

MEC: Ed always wanted Bob to write this up. It was in the Reader’s Digest which was only published in the Canadian edition. He was called an Evadee. He evaded being captured by the Germans. They took him to the coast of France and then put him on a fishing boat. He returned to England after 3 months.

CW: He was lucky.

MEC: Yes. Some of them were captured and some of them never got out of the airplane. He was sent home after this ordeal. The last year of the war he was stationed at Murfreesboro, Tennessee at the base there. Anyway Ed is giving a talk about the Civil War.

CW: I was always interested in that too but I don’t like to go alone.

MEC: You are like me I don’t like to either.

CW: Maybe we can go together sometime.

MEC: Oh I was going to ask you something.
This is Mr. Crossland, he was a teacher. This is the Farison school. Do you know where that was.

CW: No, it was in Flatrock Township.

MEC: You know Road 14 is the road that goes to Holgate. You go out Road 14 to L.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: It would be right where they built the new park on the Southside. (Oberhaus Park). That road will take you straight South – Road 14 and L There was a schoolhouse – The Farison schoolhouse – was right here.

CW: You didn’t have to walk very far to get to school.

MEC: My brother had to go 2 years there. When it got consolidated I got on a bus and went to the Florida School. Then my dad bought the schoolhouse and used it to store his machinery in. Anyway he went to the Farison Schoolhouse. These are all the grades. You can see all the Yackee’s. They were my dad’s first cousins.

CW: There were three Youngs.

MEC: They were of all the eight grades. There is Albert Yackee, Ethel Friend, Carl Farison, they were our next door neighbors This is my dad in the sixth grade.

CW: Isn’t that unusual to have a program printed up like that.

MEC: Here is the poem – The Village Blacksmith – printed on the program.

CW: Most teachers would not have had the money to have the program printed. You have pictures and everything. This is your grandmother.

MEC: I know. Do you belong to the Heritage Society or not?

CW: No but I belong to the Henry County Historical Society.

MEC: He even had his picture there.

CW: Don’t lose track of all this.

MEC: Oh no. Now here is the Farison Public School. It is signed by Mr. Crossman, a teacher. Mr. Smith was the Superintendent. Anyway these are all the kids that went to school there.

CW: They would love to have something like this at the Historical Society.

MEC: I said something to Jean Steele about this. Maybe I could put it in the Schoolhouse at the fairgrounds.

CW: Somebody would have to watch it because it is so little somebody could steal it – just pick it up and put it in their pocket.

MEC: Well they would have to put it in their glass case.

CW: Yes, they would put it in their glass case. That would be great.

MEC: I don’t know but I got it for something. I think it had a ribbon on it but it was worn out. My mom had it and I guess she got it from my Grandma Fruth.

CW: You know every year there are a lot of people that go through that schoolhouse. They are looking to see what they can find.

MEC: Why do they take them

CW: You mean how do they steal things

MEC: Yes

CW: and who knows why. Of course there would be someone watching.

MEC: I think I would like to give it to them because – then I won’t have to worry about somebody stealing it. I don’t know about you but did you really care about who your ancestors were when you were little.

CW: No I didn’t. I know there were members of the family that were looking up the history of the family. I thought at the time – ho hum that is so boring – they both laugh.

MEC: Now that I want to know they are all dead. I don’t have anybody to ask. I will be 87 in August. There isn’t anybody left.

CW: Now when you were going to school how do you think schools have changed.

MEC: Now this was a long time ago when my grandchildren – they are all now in their 20’s. I had my children late in life. But anyway I went to Grandparents Day and I could not believe I am telling you, in High School now this was Florida – we had one big Study Hall and it must have been Junior High too. There were about 70 or 80 in that one room. Nobody talked and nobody whispered and nobody got up. You sat there and when it was your class you would get up and leave. Now this was in High School. I mean when I went to school. Even in grade school you did not whisper or even talk. I could not believe when I went to Grandparents Day the kids got up, talked. They have their desks like here – here – here. I just couldn’t believe it.

CW: Now they have all these little things they can hold in their hands.

MEC: They don’t know their multiplication tables because they use these calculators.

CW: That is so true.

MEC: They don’t know them. The teachers don’t teach them anymore. They don’t teach writing anymore. They don’t teach math, which most people need. I took Algebra, Geometry. Ordinarily most people just need ordinary math. They don’t teach half of that anymore. They don’t learn their multiplication tables at all.

CW: My husband learned his multiplication tables through the 12’s. I thought I was doing good learning them through the 10’s.

MEC: Just like when we go to the store I will say that the item is 40% off. Then my daughter will say to me – how much is that. I don’t take 40 times – you know what I do is I take six times that and there is your answer, because if you take 40 you have to subtract which is another transaction. Instead of 40.I take 60 times the amount and that is how much it would cost you. She doesn’t understand that.

CW: The merchants are taking advantage of their customers’ lack of knowledge.

MEC: Some people don’t even know how to make change. If it doesn’t show up on their cash register they can’t make change.

CW: I wondered – they have these signs in the newspapers – half off. It would be easy to take advantage of their customers. A lot of people can’t even figure half off.

MEC: I know. Or even if it is 25% off all you do is take half off and then half off of that. I don’t want to just sit there and not do anything. I am illiterate on the computer. I don’t care because my mind works better that way. I have an encyclopedia. I use my encyclopedia all the time. I have had mine since 1965 and it is about worn out. It looks pretty bad. My children will say – Mom if you just had a computer you could look it up there. So I still look it up in my encyclopedia.

CW: Now tell me why do you think it is that a classroom used to be so quiet.

MEC: You behaved. You did not talk back to the teacher. They had a paddle but I never saw anybody get paddled. We just behaved. My Mom and Dad even made us behave. I think that is part of it. You didn’t even think of not behaving.

CW: I think that is a very important part of it.

MEC: The parents are part of the problem now. They think their child never did anything wrong. If the teacher tells their parents what their child did, they will counter and say – oh not my child. Do you know what I used to tell my children. I would tell them if you get into trouble at school you will get into more trouble at home from me.

CW: I think every family has experienced this I think it is because they respected the knowledge of the teacer.

MEC: That is right. You lived by rules.

CW: Now parents have so much power in the schools

MEC: The teachers can’t even touch a child but what they say – you’re touching my child. It is a bunch of baloney.

CW: I guess we don’t know anything.

MEC: I said you know the way the laws are nowadays. The way the morals are nowadays I feel like it’s the Fall of the Roman Empire. I mean, don’t you think so. You know what, another thing these young girls have two, three, four, and five kids with different fathers. How can they raise them? The children don’t have any family life. They don’t know what family life is like.

CW: It is really too bad.

MEC: The children are always the one who suffer because of this.

CW: You are so right.

MEC: The young people can’t see this. I just don’t believe in this. They have lost the family structure.

CW: It is so important.

MEC: I think it is. Anyway I have said my piece. Now this picture – he was born in 1892. If they wanted to go in to town they went by riding a horse or using a horse and buggy. Like I told you before people very seldom went to town. Most of the farmers raised everything they used. They didn’t need much. I know that like during World War II, when I was a young girl – during the recession as I was born in 1924. In the 1930’s people didn’t have jobs. My neighbor, Vernie Rettig he went to CC Camp. They would build these rest areas we have around here.

CW: Isn’t there a plaque at this one house right across from Ritter Park that says this was a Civil War camp.

MEC: I know, I have seen that.

CW: I think they recruited troops there. What about later on where did they build the camps.

MEC: I don’t know. I only know that my Great Grandfather was in the Civil War. I know they always said he had to walk all the way home from Louisiana. They didn’t have horses to ride. They didn’t have any type of transportation. That was back in 1865.

CW: Yes. Now during the Depression people are really afraid of a Depression – but when you were a child

MEC: I was a child and I didn’t realize it – but my husband lived in Toledo and he said they got prunes and beans handed out. His father worked for the WPA, but here on the farm, everybody had cows. Everybody had chickens. Everybody had a big garden. Everybody butchered. We would have hams hanging up in the storage room. My Grandmother had a smoke house – so we woud have hams all the time. I remember the lady had dishpans and a board there to scrape the intenstines out. We had a sausage maker in our store room and we ground up the meat and made our own sausage. In our kitchen we had a cookstove and we burned wood. We used corn cobs to start it. We would use wood and soft coal. We didn’t have a furnace on the farm. We had a hard coal burner with isinglass windows. That was what we had to heat our home. We didn’t have electricity. Do you see that little lamp over there with a handle. My sister said she would carry it upstairs when we went to bed. That was my moms too. When we got electricity, we lived just a mile from State Route 108. In order for us to have electricity Dad had to pay so much a month, so my dad said if I have to pay that much a month, so he bought an electric stove.. At one time he had a threshing rig with a farmer. And then for a long time he had a rural milk route. The milk would come in those big 10 gallons. He would start out at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning and he would pick up all the neighbors milk and he wouldn’t get home till noon. He would take them to Diehls, which was in Defiance. He had that route for years. So during the Depression he had money. Every two weeks he would get paid and he had money.

CW: That would be unusual.

MEC: He had extra money with the milk route. The banks were closed and he would come home every two weeks and bring a cardboard box and he had all these little envelopes and he had money in it for each customer. Then he had a stack of checks for each customer. I only remember the part during the summertime when I was home from school. He would come home at noon and wanted us to deliver the money to the customers. He didn’t want the money laying around and he would hide it either in the barn or in the garage. You know we never locked our doors. We would leave the keys in the car and nothing ever happened.

CW: Oh yes, that is true.

MEC: Anyway Mom would drive the car and we would take the money and the checks, ususally it was just the lady of the house because the man was never there. I had them sign the check and then I would give them a little envelope with their money in it. Then my dad would come back with the checks and take them back to the condensory. I don’t know how they got their money. There were no banks open.

CW: So you wouldn’t have been able to go to a bank with them.

MEC: No. I remember my mom had some money in the bank then and lost some of it.

CW: She probably never did get it back.

MEC: No. So my dad had this extra money, besides. We also had a gas tank – it was a huge tank and he used this to run his truck. We had our own gasoline. He would let us drive. None of the other kids in the neighborhood got to drive. Most of the places we went to were things that were going on in school like basketball games. We would drive around and pick up all the kids because he always left us have the car. He’d give us a little bit of money and he would say – now you don’t have to spend it.

CW: Charlotte laughs.

MEC: I would never spend mine so we always had just a little bit of money in our pockets.

CW: I know of one woman

MEC: And my mom was a seamstress. She made me clothes out of old things.

CW: That’s what my mother did too.

MEC: Then we had the flour sacks that we made dresses out of.

CW: My mother made me a coat.

MEC: My mother made me a suit and she lined it when I was a teenager. She was a wonderful seamstress.

CW: I remember this one woman, now they had to take turns getting new shoes. One girl would get them one year. It would have been hard with their feet growing.

MEC: You know you got a new pair of shoes when school started. When you came home from school you changed your clothes and your shoes. That was the first thing that you did.

CW: You would get out of your good clothes.

MEC: We were just kids. I was like maybe only ten years old. We would make hay and I had to drive the horses. I was always working. Then when my dad started planting tomatoes we had three acres of tomatoes. I planted them. I hoed the weeds out of them while the tomato plants were growing. We picked them all. My dad would come home at noon and he would take them – well it wasn’t Campbells at that time. I think it was called Lippincott at that time. We made a lot of money on that. When I got older, like a teenager, then the Mexicans came and did the picking. When you picked tomatoes you would get green all over you. I remember my dad saying it was enough to pay the mortgage off. I was really proud of myself. I was only maybe twelve or thirteen years old at the time. I enjoyed helping.

CW: They needed you children helping with things like that.

MEC: Oh I drove the tractor. I did everything on the farm. My one neighbor she never had to do anything. We had to work. My mom gathered and cleaned between 90 and 100 dozen eggs a week.

CW: Oh my goodness.

MEC: We had over 300 hens. That was her money. If she needed a new chair – she never got very much – that was her money and that is what she used it for. We had to shell the corn, sack up the oats, and she wasn’t as tall as I was. She drove the car, put a trailer on the car and went to the mill and got mash – which is what you called it so she could feed the chickens.

CW: You mean she would take the eggs into town to sell.

MEC: For a while we had a man that came from Wauseon and picked them up. Then we would go like to what we called an egg auction on Riverview Ave. I don’t know what they called that building. That is where we used to take our eggs. You would go out to the hen house and pick them up in the morning, then in the afternoon and then in the evening. You picked the eggs up maybe three times a day.

CW: Why

MEC: Well to keep them fresh expecially in the summertime it gets hot. Then we had an outside brick cellar.

CW: What is that?

MEC: It is a brick building and we called it a cellar. It was built into the ground. You would go down a couple of steps. There were two rooms down there and it was always cool. My dad made a tray with wood and wire. We counted by threes – like 3- 6- 9- 12 because you can get 3 eggs at a time in your hand. You would bring the eggs in and she always wanted to know how many eggs we got. We’d lay them there to cool them off.

CW: Oh yes. Did you have cartons to put them in?

MEC: No, we used egg crates – double ones.

CW: So you must have had a lot of eggs.

MEC: Oh yes. Then of course you always have a lot of cracked eggs. The cracked eggs you used when you made noodles. My mom made noodles all the time. I think we had eggs every night for supper. We always had dinner at noon and supper at night.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: I know we ate eggs almost every night for supper. We had them scrambled or this or that. We had all these eggs we had to use.

CW: How did you clean these eggs?

MEC: We used Bon Ami. You would use just a slightly damp cloth – it would have to be absolutely not wet. If there was chicken dirt on it we had to scrape that off first.

CW: They still sell Bon Ami.

MEC: Yes that is what she used. We would put that on the cloth and used that to clean the eggs. The chicken eggs do not come out clean – most of them don’t. You would always put the eggs with the small side down.

CW: Why?

MEC: I don’t know. That is what you are supposed to do. You don’t want any roosters in your chicken coop especially if you are going the sell the eggs. When you buy chickens you used to get so many that were roosters. We would raise these little chickens until towards the fall like maybe in August. When they would get big she would sell all the roosters off. If you are going to sell the eggs to eat you can’t have roosters in with the hens. You don’t want to get your eggs fertilized. If you have roosters the eggs become fertilized and you have to send them to the hatchery. Just to eat the eggs you don’t want any males in with the hens. Then later on it got to where when you bought baby chicks they were all pullets. They were all hens. I don’t know how they do that. Then you didn’t have to worry about roosters being in with your egg laying hens.

CW: Would she once a year grow her own?

MEC: Oh yes, every year you would start with a new batch of chicks. We sold our eggs for food. We didn’t take them to the hatchery. She started with new hens every year. We didn’t keep them.

CW: Well then when she would get new hens were they baby chicks?

MEC: Oh in the spring you would buy baby chicks. These little baby chicks that had just hatched you would buy. We had a brooder house and we had a stove in it and she would go outside and sit in there with the baby chicks and also so they wouldn’t smother each other – you see it had to be warm enough in the buiding to keep the chicks warm.

CW: You would have had good customers if your mother was that careful with them.

MEC: Oh yes you had to be careful. Now Farisons, our next door neighbor, raised Jersey cows and they sold cream to the Creamery. We raised holsteins and we sold our milk to the Pet Milk Co.

MEC: So that was the Depression and my sister was like almost 9 years older than I was. She was only 5 when she went to school. Then they skipped a grade for her too. Anyway she graduated when she was 16 years old. She went to Toledo to The Davis Business School. My dad could pay for that but he couldn’t pay for her room and board so she stayed with my mom’s cousin for room and board.

CW: She probably helped her with her work she had to do.

MEC: She knew how to cook and bake. She learned that when she was just a young girl. So that is what she did and then when I graduated several years later I went to Toledo too and went to Davis Business School.

CW: At the time when you were in high school were there a lot of the girls who lived out in the country and didn’t have transportation?

MEC: A lot of the girls out in the country couldn’t even drive. Most of my neighbor girls didn’t drive, but I did. I had the car most of the time.

CW: You were lucky.

MEC: Oh I know it. Like I said I always had a little bit of money in my pocket. I drove and we would take the other kids because I could drive and they didn’t get their car to drive.

CW: I think some of the girls would take jobs in town and go to high school at the same time.

MEC: I think so too. Like I said we always had things to do at home like raising tomatoes. We made money that way where other people didn’t do things like that. Like I said my mom raised chickens and had all these eggs. Not every farmer did that. They would just have a few chickens for their own use. My mom did it and that was her money, but it was for us to live on too.

CW: They call that their egg money.

MEC: Yes. Lot of our neighbors didn’t do that. So they wouldn’t have had any extra money. They would have their money from their crops when they sold it.

CW: How did they live?

MEC: I don’t know. Like I said their kids didn’t drive, they didn’t get to use the car. My dad always had something on the side. My neighbor girl, she would be doing her finger nails and I would be working. You know though that after a while and then I went to the city. I learned how to get along in the city. I could get on the street car, the bus and these other things But you know you know those city girls didn’t know anything about where a chicken was or – they just didn’t know anything about a farm or where their food came from. You know I am glad I lived in the country. It is easy to learn how to live in the city.

CW: Yes, you are right

MEC: I knew all the steps about farm work. We really worked and knew where the food comes from.

CW: So you were raised on the farm.

MEC: You know then you had to really work just to earn a dollar. Nowadays these kids want this, this, and this. They don’t even do anything.

CW: I know.

MEC: The boys might have a paper route or something. Nobody comes around to shovel your walks. I was out shoveling snow.

CW: That is good for you.

MEC: Kids just don’t do anything. Now the farmers they don’t live like they used to. Now they just farm. They don’t have any cattle, most of them don’t. They have nothing. They just farm they don’t do anythiing else. I wouldn’t mind being a farmer now. I didn’t want to be a farmers wife because you worked seven days a week. You could never do anything. Sunday was just like any other day. That was another thing – the war.

CW: What was that like?

MEC: Well I had worked at National Supply Co. in Toledo.

CW: What did they supply?

MEC: It was a whole square block just off of Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue. They made oil well equipment. During the war they made reduction gears for Navy ships – but what reduction gears are I don’t know. During the war everything was rationed. Gas was rationed. Sugar was rationed. Liquor was rationed. Anyway we had no nylon hose to wear and what little hose we had, we would have to sew our runners up. You couldn’t buy them new. We couldn’t buy anything.

CW: I can remember sewing runners.

MEC: I remember, oh they would get bananas in at this grocery store and we would all run down and buy them. We didn’t have a car to drive, but everything cost like a dime. Movies were a dime. So you just had to ride a street car or a bus.

CW: What did it cost you to ride a street car?

MEC: In my job. I started May the fifteenth in May of 1943. My pay was $85.00 a month

CW: Was that your pay?

MEC: I still have the letter.

CW: You were probably happy just to get that.

MEC: I was even able to save money.

CW: For heavens sake!

MEC: I worked in the billing department and I also did stenography work for the man that was in charge of the billing department. It was a big office. There were a lot of people that worked there. Then they wanted me to – they were going to move my department to Pittsburgh – they wanted me to move to Pittsburgh. I even went one week and looked it all over and Pittsburgh

CW: It would have been up and down.

MEC: I came back and I said no. Then I went another place and worked there for three years and then I went to Springfield.

CW: Was that Springfield, Ohio?

MEC: We lived in Springfield for about four years and then we moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.

CW: What did your husband do?

MEC: He was a salesman. He sold cartons like for the Puff tissues. He sold things like that.

CW: Where did you meet your husband?

MEC: In Toledo. I met him in 1947. You know the Valentine Theatre is still there.

CW: Yes I remember seeing it.

MEC: Downstairs was a bar – The Rainbow Room. My friend at work – Mary McCarthy and I we went there one night. I don’t remember if we went there after bowling. We had a bowling league. We were there having a drink.This guy came over and asked me if I wanted to dance and I said yes. So that is how I met him. He lived over on the East Side.

CW: Was this in Toledo?

MEC: Yes, but he had been in the war too.

CW: Those boys were really looking for girls at that time.

MEC: Oh yes. That is how I met him. About a year later I got married.

CW: That was the time of the big jazz bands.

MEC: I just love that music.

CW: Was that the kind of music you danced to?

MEC: Oh yes. He was a wonderful dancer. Every once in a while I think of my mother. She was 97 years old. She had been born in 1892. Thinking that she lived almost 100 years. What a difference! When she was young their hair was

CW: all in a knot.

MEC: They wore long dresses when she was young. Now they cut their hair and no more long dresses. They have cars. It was a horse and buggy when she was young. My dad always said when they rode the horse and buggy that you could even sleep on the way home because the horse knew how to get home. You would wake up and the horse was pulling right into the barn. Now they have cars

CW: and then along came the radio and television.

MEC: Now we have telephones and electricity, and then airplanes.

CW: What do you remember about the old telephones?

MEC: Yes, you weren’t supposed to listen. Everybody was on the same line. So many rings and it would be yours. If you were talking to somebody and you heard a click, you would know somebody was listening and you would say to the other party – someone is listening – and then you would talk about something else.

CW: I guess if you needed to find the doctor or if it was somebody you needed to find Central would call you and tell you where he was.

MEC: Doctors would make houae calls in those days. They would go out in the country too for you I remember. Oh I was saying we didn’t have electricity. My dad said because in the summertime a lot of people had summer kitchens with a kitchen stove out there so you didn’t have to heat the big cookstove in your main kitchen because it made the kitchen so hot.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: My dad said he would pay so much for electricity and then buy an electric stove So we had it over in the kitchen and the other stove up here. We would use that in the summertime. We were lucky.

CW: Did they used to have a lot of fires in those summer kitchens?

MEC: No not really. I remember my Grandma had like a covered porch and she had her kerosene stove out there that she would use in the summertime. She even had one of those oven things that you would set on top of a burner and it was an oven.

CW: I remember those.

MEC: My mother didn’t have that. I can just remember having a cook stove. I was probably too young at that time. I think we might have had a kerosene stove.

CW: You didn’t have a gas stove did you?

MEC: Oh no, not out in the country. In the walkway we did have electricity though.

CW: What kind of games did you kids play when you were little, do you remember?

MEC: I remember at school we would play Rover, Red Rover, send somebody over. I can remember that game. That we played at school.

CW: Yes I think you threw a ball or something on top of the schoolhouse I think.

MEC: No we didn’t do that. I didn’t go to that Farison School. My brother went two years and then he got to go to the big school. We played tag I guess.

CW: You probably played Hide and Seek.

MEC: Oh yes. I played baseball at school

CW: So did the girls play baseball right along with the boys?

MEC: Oh yes, but it was nothing like they do now.

CW: How was it different?

MEC: They didn’t have girls playing softball. It was just like regular baseball I guess. We didn’t have softball teams like they have now for girls. My granddaughter is really a good ball player.

CW: Now, when they would have a ball team at school would there be girls on that ball team?

MEC: When I was young we had girls basketball, but we only played at one end. You didn’t go all that way down. You had at the middle line, if you were down you didn’t go down that way.

CW: You mean beyond that line.

MEC: Right. The girls play like boys now. It wasn’t like that at all. It was a lot different. We had different rules and everything. Those girls really run and shoot now.

CW: They are really good now.

MEC: It wasn’t like that at all.

CW: One time when I finally got to play some baseball I finally got a hit and I was so excited. I threw that bat down and ran and by the time I got to first base I was out. You weren’t supposed to throw the bat back. You just weren’t allowed to do that, so that made me out.

MEC: I had never heard of that.

CW: I can remember that because I was so disappointed.

MEC: Girls have gotten more now. It used to be for all the boys. Girls should be allowed to play too.

CW: Yes it is much more healthy.

MEC: Yes it is. Girls just didn’t do that much. I had a bicycle and rode that all over.

CW: Did you ever teach anyone else how to ride a bicycle?

MEC: How I learned is we would get up to a fence. If I ride a bike yet today, which I used to do before we moved into town, I still get on like a boy. I put my foot on and throw my leg over. My brother had a boys bicycle and my dad was supposed to get a bicycle for me. Then I think it was the neighbor boy – which was my first cousin – this Knepley lived about a mile down the road from us – it was across State Route 108. He was like 13 years old or something. He was coming down to our house I guess. He rode across 108 and he got killed on his bicycle. Then my dad wouldn’t buy me a bicycle. I had to ride my brothers bicycle. So I learned how to do that.

CW: How did you ride a bicycle with a dress on? Wouldn’t that have been hard?

MEC: I don’t know but I did it. I rode my bike all over.

CW: Did you consider yourself a tomboy?

MEC: I guess I was. I love to play and I love sports. I guess I get that from my dad. Now my brother, my dad had one son – now car races he will go to – but he wouldn’t go to a World Series game if he had a free ticket and lived right across the street from it. He is just not interested in sports. I always wondered what my dad thought about that. My dad loved baseball. I wondered if he thought his only son – why he didn’t like sports.

CW: Maybe his father pushed him a little too much.

MEC: No my dad said when he was 16 years old he had a team and wagon and in those days they would haul stone from the creek for stone roads and things.

CW: They did!

MEC: Yes, and he said he was only 16, so my father had to really work.

CW: Where did he live when he was growing up?

MEC: He lived right there where I lived too. It was his parents – on L and Rd. 14. That farm was my Grandmother and Grampa’s farm. Then they decided to move to Holgate. They bought a house in Holgate. Grampa was going to work for Chinie Franz. He was into oil. He worked at a gas station in Holgate. Well that didn’t work out. They moved back to my Great Grandma’s farm which was a mile South and a half on Rd.K . There was a big creek right there. Those big creeks they used to haul the stone out for those stone roads.

CW: I think at first a farmer was responsible for his property in front of his farm.

MEC: I don’t know but ours was a stone road.

CW: That is probably why you had to go to the creek to get the stone.

MEC: Then we were only a mile or a mile and a half – do you know where Girty’s Island is?

CW: Yes

MEC: We were only a mile or a mile and a half from Girty’s Island. When I was little in the summertime – it was like a stone beach there – but when I was little everybody – like when it was hot – they would go swimming there. Everybody would come there just to go swimming. Then our neighbor boy one day stepped in a hole you know and drowned. We never went swimming again. In the old days before that in the early 1900’s, on Girty’s Island was a dance hall. People would come from Holgate with a horse and wagon and have picnics there. They had a ferry also.

CW: That would have carried you across the river.

MEC: Yes. Then when my sister who was 10 years older than I am. She was 10 years ahead of me in school. When she was in High School she had a roller skating party there in the old dance hall. Our neighbor Mrs. Rettig lived near and we went over there with her to pick berries one time.

CW: Now this would have been Girty’s Island where you picked berries?

MEC: Yes this was Girty’s Island.

CW: That was a roller skating rink?

MEC: Yes it was a dance hall too. People would come from all over even Holgate and dance. That old dance hall my sister had a roller skating party there. Of course in those days there was nothing to do. It wasn’t like it is now at all.

CW: Was the ferry going then too?

MEC: Oh yes. The ferry came right there. There was Girty’s Island and then right up here is the Cole Cemetery. Right there.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: My Grandpa who was in the Civil War, that is where he is buried.

CW: Is that the cemetery that is up on the hill by Florida?

MEC: No, this is by Girty’s Island.

CW: Oh yes farther East.

MEC: It is only like – State Route108 goes into Holgate. it is only like 2 miles off of there.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: When I think of my mother living nearly 100 years there was such a difference in the world. Just think we have computers now, TV, just think of all the changes from the period that she lived. The periods before they didn’t have changes like we do today.

CW: Just think when she was young or for how long afterwards almost everybody in the area was a farmer.

MEC: Everybody was. She had to go out and work when she was 14 years old.

CW: She did!

MEC: Nobody went to high school unless you lived in town I guess. In those days you know. Or you could stay with somebody that lived in town. You didn’t have a car. They used horse and buggies. So they only went to the 8th grade. Some of them took the 8th grace twice. Then she went out to work.

CW: Was your mother

MEC: My mother lived in Toledo before she married and worked for a banker in the old West End. She was a nanny and she took care of their twin girls. She even had to do their own laundry. In those days they had to go on the train from here to get to Toledo.

CW: Was that like a trolley or what?

MEC: No it was a regular passenger train. It went into Toledo. Do you know where the station was here over on Oakwood Avenue..

CW: Oh yes. Well that was where she got on.

MEC: Yes and she would go to work. Then when the lady died and the man wanted her to stay and she didn’t want to. So she came back and stayed with her cousin. In those days a man especially a friend like that – if he wasn’t married yet and he lived at home and his mother and dad had died and he couldn’t take care of himself. He needed a housekeeper. So then when the lady died she didn’t stay. So she came home and did housekeeping for her cousin Arthur Knepley. So that is what she did and she got married a few years later.

CW: Then what did she do?

MEC: Well she got married. She was 23 and my dad was 23. I will show you this card. Do you want to come in here and look. My daughter had it framed and enlarged. This is the Lutheran Church in Florida.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: The date on the postcard is Dec 6, 1912 and he wrote to Miss Ida Knepley, 2057 Glenwood Avenue,, Toledo, Ohio and it says. “I am enjoying myself in Florida. this evening received your letter”. Signed Alfred.

CW: Oh that would be when he was courting her probably. Isn’t that something. Oh that is a postcard.

MEC: In a lot of those pictures I found a lot of them were postcards. Did you know that?

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: All of these postcards they have pictures on the front.

CW: Who made this quilt. Isn’t that nice.

MEC: I bought that. Look at these pillows. I made these.

CW: That is pretty good.

MEC: I got this from a picture. I designed them all and I made them.

CW: What about this one.

MEC: I bought that. I tried to find the material that was about the same. I made the two pillows too. This, my son was in Russia last summer and it is one of those dolls.

CW: There is one inside and another one inside that.

MEC: He was at the Hermitage, that museum. These are his pictures.

CW: Oh yes.

MEC: It was the winter palace at the Hermitage in Russia.

CW: Now they have renamed it Leningrad. Have they changed that name again.

MEC: I don’t know. This looks like St. Petersburg. Don’t you think it is.

CW: I bet it is.

MEC: It says interior of St. Peter Cathedral. incredibly the top attraction. It says Peter and Paul Cathedral. Contains remains of numerous czars including Peter the Second.

CW: Do you remember going out on the ice in the river?

MEC: Yes, a little bit. My Dad had a car and he also had a little run around. It was like a Model A Ford. My brother, there was a way – where the Florida Bridge was – He would take that car on the ice on the river. That is what he did.

CW: Oh my.

MEC: Then I can remember trying to skate too in those days, like you said girls didn’t wear pants. They didn’t wear trousers you know. I remember I took a pair of my brothers pants and wore them. I tried to skate. I was never a very good skater but we would have roller skating parties during school.

CW: Oh you did.

MEC: We would go to Power Dam and roller skate.

CW: Where is Power Dam?

MEC: It is south of Defiance. Also in Napoleon, at Wayne Park you know there was a skating rink. We would get a roller skating party. We roller skated there all the time. Of course that is all gone now.

CW: Now did they have roller skates there that you could rent?

MEC: I think they must have had. I don’t remember having any. We must have rented them.

CW: I think that the ice skates that they used to have they would put on with a key.

MEC: Oh yes they would clamp on your shoes. I had a heck of a time. I was probably 17 or 18 years old when I tried. I had to borrow a pair of my brothers pants because girls didn’t wear pants in those days. In working too we wore dresses and heels.

CW: Oh you did.

MEC: Oh yes. My sling pumps, that was my favorite shoe. I can remember in the wintertime my feet would get so cold. I had to walk blocks to get to work because there wasn’t a bus that went that way. I remember that. We wore dresses. We wore no pants.

CW: Do you remember curling your hair with a curling iron? The one you pinched to open it up.

MEC: We had as a kid. We stuck it in the chimney of a kerosene lamp to get it hot. They both laugh. It was fun. I don’t know about fun, but it was different. Kids nowadays don’t know what we had to go through. I think we had a good time. I used to think boy we really have to work. After I got older I was glad that I knew how to work. I had to work to make a dollar. Once I got out of school and got a job I never took a penny from my parents ever.

CW: It gave you a feeling of accomplishment. Although I do think that the girls that wear their hair straight now are prettier that when we used to curl everything up.

MEC: What I don’t like to see is an older person like in their 60’s and 70’s wear their hair straight. It makes them look older. If they cut their hair short it will make you look ten years younger. when they leave their hair hang straight I don’t think it does a thing for them.

CW: I think you are right. What kinds of cosmetics did you have when you were young? They had Coty I know.

MEC: The Coty product is about the only thing I can remember. I can’t remember anything else. I never really did wear all this makeup. I wore a little bit of rouge, maybe a touch of powder. I never wore makeup.

CW: I don’t think girls did but the powder was pretty important. People are always talking about powdering their nose. Movie stars would stand and powder their face.

MEC: A lot of people wore pancake makeup. I never wore much makeup. Did you?

CW: I never did either.

MEC: I think my sister-in-law did but I never did.

CW: I guess you were a tomboy.

MEC: I just put on a little rouge some lipstick, put a little powder on my nose and I was ready to go. I worked here at the bank for 12 years up in the bookkeeping department. It was at PNC. Then they sold the bank.

CW: Did you have a lot of trouble with people because they couldn’t get their account to balance.

MEC: Not too many. It was Community Bank, then it was Bank Ohio, then they consolidated Napoleon all the bookkeeping work and we had to go to Swanton if we wanted to work. It was Napoleon, Delta, Perrysburg. We all had to come over there and work in Swanton. We had to do this for 3 years. We drove to Swanton to work. Then this Bank Ohio they made a bad investment – their office was in Columbus – They made a bad investment – I think in Cincinnati it was. It was a piano or organ company – so they had to sell half of Bank Ohio up here..They closed the office there. So we didn’t have a job. If you wanted to work you had to go downtown I think it was National City, but anyway if you wanted a job you had to go to downtown Toledo and apply for a job. They were not just going to give you a job you had to apply for a job. I was 61 years old and Hildegarde Reiser – do you know her – there are two Hildegarde Reiser’s. This was Rich Imbrock’s mom. Anway she was two years younger. I was 61 and she had been there longer than I had. They left us retire. So I got retirement. Then my husband and I ran the golf course here in town for two years after that. He was a good golfer too. I don’t play golf. We ran that for two years and he didn’t want to do that anymore.

CW: Has it changed from when you were there?

MEC: I think she is still running it. I can’t remember her name.

CW: Her husband was a good golfer too. He golfed with my son.

MEC: He is not teaching anymore is he?

CW: No he has retired.

MEC: Bill ran it before us. He was the Suiperintendent. of schools. Bill Mossing he ran it for a long time and then he didn’t want to. We ran it for two years and then he went back for a little while. It was a lot of work – seven days a week. We didn’t make much pay. It was 8’oclock in the morning until 9 o’clock at night.

CW: You would just have to be there.

MEC: At night you had this form you had to fill out. We had to count all the money and fill out the form and take it down to deposit it late at night. That is a lot of hours. By the time you closed at 9 and you would still have your bookwork it would be like 11 o’clock. He would go in a 8 in the morning and I would come in at noon and work until 6 or so. Then he would finish it up. You didn’t have much time together. It just wasn’t much of a life. We would hire high school kids sometimes – they were so nice. To me they were making more money per hour than we were. The City told you what you had to pay them. There were a lot of hours and it was a job.

CW: It kept you busy.

MEC: He didn’t want to anymore so we stopped. I worked 25 years of my life. I didn’t work when we had children and I don’t regret it. We lived in Cincinnati for a while. My boys were all on baseball teams. The last year that we left down there the boys were on a football team. They were only in the 6th or 7th grade. They were really good at football. I took them to practice every night of the week. One boy and one girl. I didn’t work and I took them to practice every game. I don’t regret not working. We lived next to a family and the father was wrapped up in Boy Scouts. He never came to any of his boys games. I had to pick him up and I took him to practice and to the games. He never showed up until the last game of the season. I thought you are real great in Boy Scouts but you don’t pay any attention to your own. The mother had another little kid at home. I don’t know. We lived on the edge sort of out in the country near Cincinnati. If I didn’t take them they couldn’t get there.

CW: It is a good thing that you weren’t working.

MEC: I think all children should be involved in something. They loved it. They played baseball and they were very good at it. I was just very involved with them. I never regretted that I didn’t work at that time.

CW: Was your daughter involved too?

MEC: Oh yes. She was a good softball player. Yes they all three were. My granddaughter Erin she was in gymnastics. I went to all those games. She was in softball and I went to all those games. I went clear dowm to Cambridge one time. That is really hilly country down there. Have you ever been to Cambridge, Ohio? It is way down close to West Virginia.

CW: I don’t think so. you mean kinda south eastern Ohio.

MEC: I was really involved with my grandchildren too. Do you see that picture right over there. That is Cara Walker She was one of two Cara’s. One was the Cara McColley who was killed in that accident. You remember that. She was Denise McColley’s daughter.

CW: And she was with her. Was she killed too?

MEC: yes they both were. Cara McColley had just gotten her drivers license and she wasn’t supposed to be out. It was like two days or a day before Thanksgiving. She was only 15. Cara McColley was 16. They weren’t supposed to be out but they went anyway. There was light snow on the road and by Hamler, they were there but I don’t know what for. They were on a curve and they slid and a pickup was coming and hit them.

CW: That was sad.

MEC: Yes it was. She was at my house half of the time. My daughter had another daughter but Denise had just the one daughter.

CW: She is a lawyer isn’t she?

MEC: Yes she is a Judge.