Category Archives: OralHistory

Helberg, Roger (addendum)

Talk on BUTCHERING at German Lutheran Heritage Meeting on February 7, 2016 at Lutheran Social Services building in Archbold, Ohio

Butchering day was a family affair for the Helberg family even before I was born and continued into the 1950’s. It all started in the previous spring by Mom’s Dad, Grandma Helberg, and Grandpa and Grandma Hogrefe, and Aunts and Uncles on both sides of the family. After it was decided how much summer sausage, hams, shoulders, steaks, and pot roasts we would need next year.

Mom and Dad and Grandma Helberg would decide how many hogs and cows we would set aside for butchering the following winter. The date was set by the weather, it had to be cold, but not too cold to work outside, and not too warm so the hams and shoulders, bacon and summer sausage would smoke and cure properly before it got too warm in the Spring.

The day before butchering day Dad and my Uncles would set up the big cast iron kettle and jacket and chimney. Two wood barrels were set at an angle by a wood platform to scald the pigs so hair could be scraped off. Before sunup on that day Mom’s brother Ray would start the fire under the kettle and fill it with water from the well close by. At that time of day there would not be enough wind to pump the water. We used the little ones who took turns pumping the buckets full. After the water was hot enough to scald and scrape the hogs.

The rest of the men came out of the basement where they had been washing up the sausage stuffer and the big table, pots, pans and buckets.

They were all dressed in heavy clothes if we had a cold day. Dad would be carrying the old Stevens single shot 22 rifle. Dad was usually the shooter. If one of my Uncles shot it and did not put the hog down with the first shot he would be laughed at for a long time. After the hog was down the throat was cut so it would bleed out blood, or there would be blood in the veins and meat.

The pigs would be drug out of the barn to the scalding platform. The first barrel had a shovel of wood ashes added to the water. The lye in the ashes helped soften the bristles so the hair could be scraped off easier. After it was soaked a few minutes it was pulled out on the platform and 3 or 4 men scraped till it was clean on the outside. Then it was turned and the other end was scraped. Then it was rinsed in the other barrel of hot water to check if all the hair was off. Then the hog was hung on a tripod and gutted while the other hog was scalded and scraped.

The pig on the tripod was gutted and split the intestines were dropped in a wheelbarrow. The heart, liver, and kidneys were taken into the basement and cleaned. The liver was cleaned and put in the snow to firm up and sliced to be served at noon with fried potatoes.

The large and small intestines were brought into the basement and cleaned inside and out and scraped to remove the fat. They were turned inside and out and cleaned out again to be used as casings to stuff for the sausages that would be stuffed after supper.

By that time the hanging meat had cooled enough to be cut up. The pig was split with a hand meat saw and the two halves were carried to the heavy table in the basement. The hams and shoulders were cut off first and hung to dry for a week or so before they were rubbed down good with salt and pepper and Morton Sugar Cure. They were then wrapped in five or six layers of newspaper and a white cloth was sown around them and hung in the smokehouse till summer, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The sides of bacon from each pig were cured the same way. The meat was cut into the correct cuts that Dad decided and taught us where to cut and how to get the most chops and steaks and roasts.

The skin and fat was trimmed to the correct thickness. The fat was cut off the skin and cut in small chunks and put on the 2 burner kerosene hot plate to be rendered into lard.

Mom would decide how many chops and roasts would work out best for the next year and Dad would cut it to order. We didn’t have a freezer at the time so all the pork chops were browned and partly fried. Then they were put in a lard crock 1-2 or 3 gallon. A layer of chops and a layer of lard was poured over them and then another layer of lard until the crock was full. The crock was put on the shelf in an unheated room in the basement. In the summer Mom would send us to the basement with a plate and fork to dig as many chops out we would need for the meal. Those pork chops sure tasted good. We didn’t need low cholesterol oil or olive oil in the pan.

After we butchered the two pigs and preserved most of that meat we would butcher a beef. After it was killed we would help skin it. The hind legs were fastened to a single tree so we could lift if up with a block and tackle and skin the hide off as it was pulled up. We had to be careful not to cut holes in it so it could be sold to the fur buyer or be tanned to become a lap robe to keep in the car. The heater in the car did not keep the back seat very warm.

Dad would rent freezer space at the locker up town for steak, roast and hamburger. Most of the other meat was canned or used to make sausage and prettles. The odd pieces and trimmings were ground up for summer sausage. Other trimmings were boiled with the pork trimmings from the pig butchering to be used for prettles. The ground beef and pork was mixed 50/50 and mixed on the heavy table. Salt and pepper was added till the taste was just right and then it was stuffed in the casings the women had cleaned the day before. It was then hung in the smokehouse for about a week after fire was put out it would to cured and dry along with the hams, shoulders, and bacon. It would hang all summer. We were sent to cut down a sausage for a special occasion. If it had mold on it Mom would wipe it down with vinegar.

When we went to summer school at St. Paul’s Mom would pack a summer sausage sandwich, an apple, or peach and a package of Kool Aid and a pint jar with a lid on it so we mixed it with cool water from the well between the school and parsonage.

While the men made the sausage the women were boiling the trimmings from the beef and pork, about a 50/50 mix. The meat was removed from the kettle and pin oats (steel cut oats) were boiled in the broth. After the oats were tender the ground beef and pork and oats was mixed with spices, salt and pepper and just a little bit of allspice.

While it is still hot it was put in flat pans about 2 to 3 inches deep to cool. After everything was cleaned up and put away every family that helped was given a pan of prettles to take home. All of this took about 3 days and a lot of work. It wasn’t as easy as going to the store and buying a weeks supply of meat. It sure brings back a lot of memories.

Everyone had his favorite sausage and how to make it. Grandpa Hogrefe made the blood sausage. When we bled out the beef he would catch the blood in a dish pan and put it in the snow to cool down. He had to constantly stir it to keep it from coagulating. After if was cooled down he would mix flour and spices in it and stuff it in a large casing and hang it in the smokehouse. Some families made liver sausage, and some families made brain sausage.

My favorite is Head Cheese. ( it does not have any cheese in it). It contains meat trimmings from beef and pork. The trimming from the head, jowls, ears, and snout. It was stuffed in the pigs stomach, so it was limited to only one from each pig. It was boiled in the casing and smoked with the rest of the meat.

This is what I remembered about butchering in the 1940’s and after WW II. My brother Larry, Lynn and I butchered our own hogs and beef up till 1990.

Roger Helberg

Helberg, Roger

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, October 23, 2008

RH: I am Roger Helberg from Napoleon, Ohio and we live just west of town. I was born in 1938. We are recording this at the Red Cross office. I am on the board here and I spend a lot of time here so we are recording this here. Some of the things we used to do was my dad farmed. We had an eighty acre farm just west of town and we always helped on the farm. My brother Larry and I when we would get our things done Dad would take us fishing down on the river. Of course we just used a stick with a line on it but Dad had a fishing rod with a reel on it. One year we sold a trailer load of scrap iron and Dad bought a brand new fishing rod and reel and he gave Larry and I his old one.

CW: So you suddenly had a big reel.

LH: So we had a good fishing rod and reel. We spent a lot of time fishing in the river. Of course we only caught carp and sheepshead and so forth.

CW: Who used it? Did you fight over it?

RH: We didn’t eat the carp out of the river.

CW: No, I mean who used that fishing reel?

RH: Dad had two of them so we each had one. When one of us got something, the other one had to have the same. We were only a year apart in age so we were just like twins. We didn’t travel much, but once a year we went up to Michigan. We had some relatives that had access to a cottage up there. We couldn’t afford to pay the rent for a cottage for a whole week, but we would take our old truck, put a mattress and a spring in the back of it. We had a 1948 Ford flatbed truck that we hauled tomatoes on. We put a canvas over that to cover it up. We had a Coleman camp stove, and we would go up to the lake, rent a boat and then we would fish all week.

CW: You had good times doing it too.

RH: We would fish and we would eat what we caught.

CW: What kind of fish did you catch?

RH: Mostly bluegill.

CW: That is good eating!

RH: We were just up by Jackson, Michigan. We ate mostly bluegill. One year when we were still in school during the summer, Dad and my Uncle Walt Hogrefe went up there and they took the truck with the canvas over the top of it and they fished all week and then on the weekend on Saturday and Sunday Mom and Walt’s wife Norma and their kids and us went up and we packed a big lunch and we were going to spend a couple of days up there with them. Then when we got there the first thing we unpacked was the picnic basket. It had a bowl of baked beans in it. Dad and Walt were out on the lake and they saw us pull in and they came rowing up to the shore and the first thing they looked at that we had unpacked was that big bowl of baked beans. Well, they didn’t want to look at any more beans. They had been fishing all week and the fish weren’t biting. This was during the war, during meat rationing and there was a little grocery store close to the lake where they could buy beans and bread. They had taken along some homeade butter. They had eaten pork and bean sandwiches all week. When we came the first thing we had unpacked was that big bowl of baked beans. And they thought this is going to be a bummer. We had a big bowl of fried chicken too.

CW: That saved the day for them.

RH: So that is the story about Walt and Dad and their fishing. As my brother and I got older we did a lot more fishing. We had a cottage up by Hillsdale for about ten years. We prefabbed the cottage at home and took it up there and set it up.

CW: Is there a lake up there by Hillsdale?

RH: Yes, that is Bankers Lake just west of Hillsdale. It is a real small lake. We had an old wood fishing boat we built from a kit that we had bought from Sears Roebuck.

CW: I bet it didn’t even cost you much.

RH: I think maybe it was about $50.00 for the whole kit. We spent all winter putting that together. It had hundreds of brass screws. We built that fishing boat. It took us a long time. We usually rowed the boat and my dad had a little extra money so he bought a 3 1/2 horsepower Hiawatha motor from Gambles. He went up to the store and bought it on time. That was the little motor we put on the back of it. We spent a lot of time fishing in Michigan with that old boat.

CW: I bet you did.

RH: I think it is different for this area. The weddings we used to have. When a neighbor got married about a month or so before the wedding they would send out wedding invitations to their neighbors and the invitation would be a little slip of paper. It might say coffee cake or potato salad or it might say jello. When you went to a wedding you were expected to bring some food along. If you were invited to a wedding it might be in a barn sometimes. They would hire a band to play or some neighbors would play and we would dance and the kids always had 7Up or Dodgers pop, which was made here in Napoleon. At a wedding like that when you were eating they would pass a cigar box around the table and everybody would put in some money for a collection. Dad would give me and my brother each a quarter to put in that cigar box. Behind that cigar box the next thing to come along was the box of cigars. We would put our quarter in the collection box and then we would take out a cigar. There were other kids our age and that was always a big treat to have our own cigar. We would go out behind the barn or someplace else and smoke that cigar.

CW: Did you get sick?

RH: I don’t think so. It was just something we did in Ridgeville and when we went to Giffey Hall, that was a fancier place and a little bigger for bigger weddings. There we would take our cigar and walk down to the old Ridgeville School after we had eaten and we would smoke our cigar and walk back by the Fox Farm. They raised fox for their pelts. When we got back if we still had some cigar left why we would sit in back of Otte’s Feed and finish our cigar. When they were done feeding we would light our cigar and watch the other people dancing.

CW: Where did they have the wedding then? Were they in a church?

RH: The weddings were always at a church. The reception would be right afterwards. After the meal, after the evening meal all the farmers had to go home and milk and do chores and then come back.

CW: Oh they would!

RH: Yes, they would do their chores and then come right back to the wedding and dance until the wee hours of the morning.

CW: Yes, those cows would have to be milked a couple of times a day.

RH: Yes, the cows had to be milked and it would be a good chance for the city kids to go along to the farm with somebody who was doing chores and I remember they would borrow a pair of bib overalls and put them over their Sunday best clothes so they wouldn’t get straw and dirt on them. They would go along to the barn and help do chores. Of course then they would come back to the Giffey Hall then. I remember one time a bunch of us guys we tried to see how many 7 Up’s we could drink in one night. There were three of us, well maybe four of us. One of the guys drank seventeen bottles of 7 Up that night. That is one of the things we used to do at the weddings here.

CW: I understand that out here by the river when they would have that dance they would party into the wee hours.

RH: You mean up there at Wayne Park? I had never been to a dance or a wedding up there. It was on its last legs at that time.

CW: That would have been before your time. Men used to take their whiskey bottles and hide them outside by their car or a tree or something. These young boys would go and grab a whiskey bottle and run off with it.

RH: I can imagine. I never saw any of that. It was always beer. Of course during the Prohibition there was a lot of illegal whiskey. That was before my time too. I never got in on any of that. I can’t think of any other wedding stories. Growing up on the farm we used to help Mom and Dad husk corn. We were just little kids and we would go out and sit in the field and play on the ground while they were husking the corn. In the winter we would saw wood. They would take us along out to the woods. Mom would make a big glass jar full of chocolate milk. She would make some summer sausage sandwiches. While they were working they always had a fire going and we would sit around the fire and drink our chocolate milk, eat our summer sausage sandwiches. In the winter when Mom and Dad went to the woods to cut wood we went along.

CW: How did you play while you were waiting?

RH: Oh we would find a stick and poke at the fire or walk around the woods. We would come back to warm up. We didn’t have any fancy toys or anything to take along to the woods. The toys had to stay in the house. When we got older, of course we got a BB gun. That was a big thing for us. Then we would walk back to the woods, and that was three quarters of a mile back there. We would take our BB gun back with us and see if there was anything we could shoot. We never did.

CW: Did you tease the girls when you were little?

RH: We didn’t have too many girls in the neighborhood. The only girl in the neighborhood was Marilyn Cordes across the creek. She had two older brothers. They would start things and we would go down to the creek in the summer and play. We would build a dam in the creek and see if we could catch some fish. We never caught anything. I don’t believe there were fish in it.

CW: What creek was it?

RH: I think on the map it is called Garrett Creek. Then we got our rifles. We spent a lot of time walking along the creek looking for groundhogs and so forth. When hunting season came we would go hunting for rabbits and pheasant. There were always a lot of pheasants.

CW: Did you ever hit any?

RH: Oh yes, all the time. The first day of hunting season was a holiday at school. We could take off a day of school to go hunting. We’d go with our Dad and Uncles and we would spread out across the fields. If a pheasant went up we would all take a shot at it or a rabbit. I don’t remember ever coming back without our limit. The limit was 2 pheasants and four rabbits a day. We always had wild rabbit. Mom had a cast iron pot and we would put that on the back of our cook stove.She would put carrots, potatoes, and onions in there and just slow cook it and by supper time it would just be done and it fell off the bones. Then later on during the war we raised rabbits and Dad would dress those and sell them at Winzeler’s Market and Rasey’s Market and different places around town. We would always have ducks, geese, and rabbits. We would dress those and sell them around town.

CW: Now where was Winzeler’s Market?

RH: Just on the other side of the street from here.

CW: That would have been the North side of the street. and then where was the other one?

RH: Rasey’s had a store where the Car Wash is now. They also had a store across the river at one time.

CW: Their store was right by the river.

RH: Right. We always had plenty to eat during the War and during rationing. We always raised hogs and chickens. We would do our own butchering and sausage making.

CW: Did you help with the butchering when you were a kid?

RH: All the time.

CW: What was your job?

RH: I have it all written out for you in my written report. I think I was probably about ten years old before I got to shoot the hog. That was always a big thing. The senior member he got to shoot the hog. You would shoot the hog in the head and hang it up and scrape it. Grampa would make blood sausage, summer sausage, prettles and all of those things. The ham shoulders and bacon we would hang out in the smoke house along with the summer sauusage and they would get smoked. The ham was wrapped, and we salted it and wrapped it three or four times and hung it in the smoke house to get smoked. All summer long it hung out there in the smoke house and it would never spoil. It would dry down and that was sure good sugar cured ham.

CW: I bet it was.

RH: It might turn blue and get a little moldy on the outside, but you would just wipe that mold off with vinegar and water and it was good ham.

CW: Cheese was the same way. When it got mold on it you would just wipe it off.

RH: We never made cheese. We didin’t buy much cheese. Mom and Grandma used to make cottage cheese. I don’t think that is real cheese. I am just remembering how they used to make it. We butchered and made blood pudding and sausages and prettles. I liked all that and I still do.

CW: How did they make the cottage cheese?

RH: They would run the milk through the cream separator and would skim the curd off the top of that. They would strain this through cheese cloth and that would be cottage cheese. That skim milk that we had when we would run it through the cream separator, why we fed that to the hogs. We would put that on top of the hog feed. The hogs liked it real well. We’d always say that cottage cheese was because of the hogs.

CW: That was your opinion right? What school did you attend”

RH: I went to Napoleon. They called it Central school and grade school. I went there through the eight grades. The high school was in the next building, when they built the new high school they tore the old part down. We had half days of school then. We had school starting at 8:00 and we got out at noon. The busses had two routes. One for morning classes and one for afternoon classes. Dad was working in the ship yards working for Mel Lanzer and we had half days of school, Larry and I did the farming, hauled manure and other things. That was while he worked. We did a lot of the farming then.

CW: When you got home from school then you were expected to work.

RH: Right. The only thing ridiculous about the whole thing was we’d get up at 6:00 in the morning, do all the chores, and carry water to the hogs and chickens and carry feed and corn to the hogs and chickens. We had one cow and somebody had to milk her. We did all of that and by the time we got done with chores, Mom would fry a dozen eggs. She usually had toast ready. Between my brother and me we’d eat a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs before we went to school. Then our first class was gym and I couldn’t figure out why we had to have gym. Our teacher said everyone had to have some exercise. We had done all the chores and didn’t think we needed exercise.

CW: That would have been pretty ridiculous in your situation. Do you remember anything about World War II?

RH: I remember my Uncles all going. I remember being in the basement when Pearl Harbor was attacked. We were washing eggs. You have to wash the eggs before you sell them and we were going to sell them. We had a radio playing down there. Then with my Uncles going off to war we took them up to the train people and sold them. My Mom’s great grandparents were still in Germany. My Great Grandparents had moved here but some of their family was still living in Germany. We would send summer sausage and stuff like that to them. We always sent stuff over there to them. We always had plenty to eat.

CW: They were probably plenty hungry over there.

RH: A lot of things here were rationed. We had our own meat. We had a big garden. We would store carrots in our basement. They would store all winter. We had a couple of apple trees and we always had apples. We would plant kidney beans, lima beans, and soup beans. We would have to shell all of those. We would spread them out on the kitchen table and sort them out. The broken ones we would throw out. We would have bean soup and vegetable soup. We always had pork hocks and ham bones laying around.

CW: Did you have chicken too?

RH: Yes we always had chickens.

CW: What were your Sunday dinners like, did you have Sunday chicken dinners?

RH: Nothing real special. One thing I remember was Grandma lived with us and she could not go to church until she had a cup of coffee and a cookie. I don’t know why. Church was only a mile from town. We had German church services there until the early ‘50’s. We had one German service, two regular services until after the war. Mom and Dad and Grandma and us kids we spoke Low German. When us kids started school we would come home many a night and ask how do you say this word and that word in English.

CW: Did your parents know?

RH: Oh yes, but some things we just hadn’t thought of the words wouldn’t come to us right away.

CW: How did you feel when your Uncles went off to war?

RH: We were too young and too small to really know what I thought of. I was born in 1938, so I was only six years old. I didn’t really think much of it. I remember the black out drills where a certain time of day an announcement would come over the radio and we would all hang blankets over the windows. We didn’t understand why but they said that way if we were ever attacked the bombers couldn’t see the lights in the houses. We had black out drills and we would go outside. They had wardens and people would go around to check and see if there was lights any place.

CW: Was this in town or out in the country?

RH: No this was in the country. We lived three miles west of town. I was born and raised on that farm and I built a house on the farm. This land was bought from the state of Ohio in 1853 I think it was. The early 1800’s and the farm has been in the family all these years.

CW: Did your Great Grandfather build that house?

RH: Yes, Christopher Helberg built that house when he came back from the Civil War. He owned the land and just had a small house. There were eleven kids that lived in that house. After he came back from the Civil War he built that big house. It had two stories and I was raised in that house until I got married. That house is still there. The porch is off of it. It has been remodeled since then. We have pictures when the house was new. There is a picture of eleven kids sitting on that front porch. So it was a big family.

CW: Now that was not your immediate family that had the eleven children.

RH: That was my Great Grandfather and his kids.

CW: Now in your family you had just the two boys.

RH: Yes, well no. Larry and I are the same age. We had a sister Joyce. She lives in Lancaster now and Lynn, he just turned 55. He lives the next place down too. He built a house on the farm too.

CW: Were you old enough that you would have been able to talk to your grandfather.

RH: No, I couldn’t talk to my grandfather or my great grandfather. My grandmother lived with us till the mid 50’s. I was never able to talk to my grandfathers on my Dad’s side. I have pictures of me with my grandparents. They both came over from Germany.

CW: You were a baby probably when the pictures were taken.

RH: Yes. I was probably three or four years old. They came from Germany.

CW: Now when you were three or four years old did you have to wear a dress?

RH: Well we wore short pants then. Our baby pictures of course they were all in dresses.

CW: I have a picture of my father about that age and he is wearing a dress. All boys did. He was so mad and he wanted to have his picture taken with pants. Who was your best friend?

RH: When we started school there was a Ira Bruns that lived just a mile through the field. He was an only child. Of course he always had the fanciest and newest toys. We did everything together all through school, all through high school. We joined the Army Reserves in 1956 at the same time. We took the same basic training. He was in mail. We went to advanced training in Aberdeen, Maryland and he was in the same school that I was. Now he is living in Chicago and I see him every five years at our class reunion. When I was ten years old I became involved with 4H.

CW: That is a good organization.

RH: We would raise hogs and sheep and steers. When I was probably about fifteen I caught a steer in the calf scramble. They had turned eight calves loose in front of the grandstand. They had a fenced in area.They sent sixteen boys in and I caught one. If you caught him you would have to feed him for a whole year, sell him at the fair the following year. I caught this calf and he weighed about 250 pounds and

CW: How did you manage to do it? Did you have to get your arms around his neck or something?

RH: I always played and wrestled with calves in the winter time. We would go out and wrestle and play around with them. We knew how to take hold of their body. We took him back to the fair the next year and showed it and got grand champion. The market price was 25 cents a pound at that time, so as grand champion I got 44 cents a pound for it. He weighed 1005 pounds. To me that was big bucks.

CW: Wow!

RH: I took that money and then I bought five steers and fed them out. I did this when I was in 4H. When I was about fifteen I went to 4H Club Camp. I had never been away from home before but I went along to Harrison Lake at Camp Palmer. I had saved some money. I had worked for the neighbors and I went to 4H camp. They had a lot of things to do like swimming and hiking and they did a lot of square dancing, but no, not me. I wasn’t going to dance with any girl. So I sat and I watched and I listened all week. When I got home and was mowing the lawn or driving the tractor and such those tunes kept going through my head. I went to a 4H meeting one night. They were supposed to have a square dance caller there. He didn’t show up. They had the people and the records so I said I can do that. I really messed up. Just because I had the tunes in my head didn’t mean that I could call. I went out and bought some records and I still call square dances today. I have been calling square dances since I was about 16 years old.

CW: Do you belong to the square dance club?

RH: No, that is a different kind of square dancing. That is a different style. That is the Western style and you have to take lessons and all that stuff. These are the old traditional style of square dancing. I call and I have worked with all the polka bands in the county at one time or another. They would hire me for a year or so, then they would imitate me and then do it themselves. I have worked with dj’s. Whenever people would have weddings they would call me and I would do the calling. I have my music on tapes and records and I can call at weddings. I am calling now for people whose grandparents I had called for.

CW: Oh really!

RH: That has been a long time.

CW: Yes. I have often wondered how do they get these fiddle players? How did they learn how to play?

RH: If you got it in your blood and are good you can just pick it up and play it. You would have to have someone show you how. I had a neighbor who learned how to play the accordion all by himself. His grandmother could play the accordion and he watched her and that is how he could pick it up. I took accordion lessons and I never really could play it. My fingers were just too short and stubby. I just didn’t have the feel for it I guess.

CW: Well you could probably do a better job at calling.

RH: I always said the reason I would get so many jobs was that I was loud.

CW: Yes, you would have to be loud. Those things are fun though.

RH: I always had a good time. I don’t do too much any more maybe a half dozen a year now. I used to call 30 to 40 dances a year. Years ago there was one nearly every week. I have called in Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, and Toledo.

CW: Where did they have all of these dances or most of them? Did they rent halls?

RH: Some were weddings, some were at legion halls, the grange halls, in community centers and some were barn dances. I have a Halloween dance coming up to call, and a wedding. I am trying to get out of it. It is hard to find somebody to teach. There is only one other person who I know who can call in this three county area and he lives out of the area. I don’t know if he really wants to do it.

CW: Is it like piano? Every kid could play a little bit.

RH: Piano players they can pick it up by themselves too. If you have it in you and you have the the ambition you can learn.

CW: It just amazes me how Louisa Strock can play the piano. She can play for hours with no music and never tires.

RH: I have written a paper on our family history and included a history of our farm. I told about 4H experiences and Red Cross experiences.

CW: I hope you included how you made prettels. How did you meet your wife, Roger?

RH: My sister was in nurses training in Toledo. She was living in a Community Center, that type of thing. It was like a YMCA. This friend of hers worked as a secretary uptown and was a friend of hers. She had always talked about her. I had never met her until my sister graduated from nurses training. She was at the graduation service. I met her there. Her name was Mary Alice Wade. She was from Delta, Ohio. Her family was from the Grelton, Ohio area. I met her there while she was working in Toledo at the Verda Ray Company. She was living at the YWCA at the time. She lived there all week and on the weekend she would go to her brothers place in Delta. I would go up there and pick her up and take her to Delta. Then I would go back there and pick her up and take her back to the Y on Sunday night then.

CW: Was she pretty?

RH: Oh yes. I just never paid too much attention to the girls. I always had too many other things going on. It took me a while to get up enough gumption to really talk to her. But that is how I met her.

CW: My husband was very shy and I was shy too. We would go out on a date and he wouldn’t say a word. He didn’t say one thing.

RH: You couldn’t get into an argument that way.

CW: You’re right.

RH: He couldn’t get into trouble that way either. After the War everybody was looking for some place to settle down. Mom had three uncles, three brothers that had been in the War. It seemed like we were moving somebody all the time. They would rent a place and then they would find something different. Every time they would move to a place to rent it we would go over there and help them. We’d take the wallpaper off. We would help to wallpaper and so forth. Between her three brothers there was somebody moving all the time. We spent an awful lot of time moving furniture around. One or the other was always moving.

CW: Wallpaper was cheap in those days. You could get it down in Columbus for 10 cents a roll.

RH: I don’t remember the prices, all I remember we were always scraping it off.

CW: You had the dirty job.

RH: My one uncle rented a farm over by Liberty. He farmed that until he died. He had bought it earlier. The owner sold it to him. My other two uncles they drove a truck all their life. That is what they did when they were in the service. Over in Germany they drove a truck and they hauled cannons around. When they came back they got a job driving truck. After the war they both bought a little truck. Steel prices were higher and they would go around the neighborhood picking up scrap iron and fences and stuff like that and taking it to the junkyard and they would haul steel in the summer and in the fall they would haul sugar beets to Ottawa. Everybody raised sugar beets around here. They could always get a job. Somebody around here always needed someone to haul sugar beets.

CW: And they used that to make the sugar that they sold there.

RH: Yes, they sold sugar, molasses, and cane sugar. Whenever they went to the sugar beet factory they would bring us some sugar, that is brown sugar. That wasn’t as refined as the white sugar. We never raised much sorghum. My Uncles, Grandpa and Grandma always raised cane and they would make sorghum molasses. Dad would always have to have molasses on his prettels when he made a sandwich.

CW: Molasses and prettels, that is a strange combination.

RH: We always had molasses on a prettel sandwich. Good old molasses cookies with real molasses in them not these cookies that are brown with a little coloring in them. I have to have real molasses in them. Those are the real molasses cookies.

CW: They would last a long time. Was that true? Probably not with you kids around.

RH: Not with kids around. The only ones that lasted were the lebkuchen because Mom hid them. They were the old German Christmas cookies. They would bake those in November . They would put them in a crock and cover them up. They would not get hard but the flavors would sort of mellow. The new recipes are mellow to begin with. The old recipes had molasses and citron in it.

CW: Citron! What did they do buy it? Did your mom buy it in a bottle?

RH: It was candied fruit you know. You would buy it in a little package.

CW: Oh.

RH: I can always remember having lebkuchen cookies for Christmas.

CW: How about coffee cakes? Did they make coffee cakes?

RH: Mom and Grandma every Saturday morning would bake bread. They would make bread dough, biscuit dough, and coffee cake dough. They would bake bread. The biscuits were for special occasions.

CW: So they didn’t make coffee cake every week.

RH: No, just on special occasions we had coffee cake. When Dad died we got a new barrel of blackstrap molasses. We would take a glass jug and fill that up with molasses and take that into the house. Then Mom and Grandma would bake the good molasses cookies.

CW: I bet they were very good.

RH: That was good strong molasses.

CW: Would you have bread with molasses on it sometimes?

RH: Yes, sometimes. On the prettel sandwich you had to have molasses on that. They just went together. Some people say you gotta have mustard. Some people say you have to put ketchup on it. I don’t know. None of it makes sense to me. Molasses is just good.

CW: Did you carry your lunch to school when you were a kid?

RH: Yes, when we were in grade school we’d usually carry a sandwich and an apple or so. Usually we would make a homeade summer sausage sandwich. Dad was working at Standard Brands or Lippincott’s and then Campbells bought it when we were still in school. Campbells came out with a neat product called V8. Dad bought some and brought it home and Larry and I each had a thermos bottle in our lunch box. You would take a bottle of V8, heat it up on a stove. So we always had hot V8 in our thermos for lunch.

CW: Was that good?

RH: Yes, real good. Not too many people drink it that way.

CW: I bet that would be good. Did they have a cafeteria in school?

RH: Yes, we had a cafeteria and lunch would cost 25 cents. It didn’t make much sense to wait in line to eat something that you didn’t know they would be serving. We would eat anything and every thing they would put in front of us but it just didn’t make any sense to us to stand in line and wait and 25 cents a day added up.

CW: Yes, with the two of you.

RH: We carried our lunch probably until the third or fourth or fifth grade.

CW: Did you ever walk to school?

RH: No, we always rode the bus. The bus came right past our house. We lived four miles from school. No, we never walked. After doing our chores and everything we didn’t think we needed more exercise.

CW: Yes, but what did you do over the lunch hour?

RH: Usually we would play marbles, football, or baseball. There was always some kind of a game going on.

CW: Did you play down where Loose field is now?

RH: No, we had to stay off of that. That was the football field and we didn’t dare go on that. One winter when I was in the third grade, there is a hill behind the old school and I had finished eating lunch and I was using the stairway going down but I took a shortcut and ran down the hill and I fell and I broke my leg. The principal brought me home. Dad was home at the time and they took me up to the doctor. The doctor wrapped my leg and I was flat on my back for six weeks. It was just a small break. There was no such thing as a walking cast.

CW: So the doctor just set it.

RH: It wasn’t dislocated or anything.

CW: You probably just had to stay off of it and let it heal.

RH: Six weeks I was flat on my back. That was rough. It was in February so that was in the winter. If it had been in the summer it would have been worse yet.

CW: Did your brother bring your school work home with him then?

RH: Yes, the teacher came out a couple of times, but it was just at the time we had math and learning multiplication tables. I had a hard time grasping that when I got back in to the classroom. But I learned most of it anyhow.

CW: Did the school have a football team at that time? They must have had a football team.

RH: They did, but I didn’t know a thing about it. There was no such thing as running into town for a football game. The bus picked you up and brought you home and that was it until the bus picked you up again. The busses didn’t run into town for extra curricular things.

CW: There weren’t too many other activities either were there?

RH: By the time we did our homework and did our chores that was it. We would go to the woods and as long as it was light outside we were always doing something.

CW: Who would milk the cow?

RH: One of us would. We didn’t like to milk the cow.

CW: Would she not stand still for you very long?

RH: She didn’t know any better. Whenever she was out we could walk up to her with a bucket set our stool down and milk her. If she was out in the pasture or the middle of the barn we would bring the bucket out and she would stand there and we would milk her. We did not like to milk. I would have rather hauled manure than milk that one old cow. I’m glad somebody likes to, but not me.

CW: Well, maybe one reason was there were stories about always having the girls milking the cows. You might have thought that was a girls job.

RH: I don’t remember any stories about the girls milking cows. City kids were city kids and farm kids were farm kids. There were two distinct clicks there. You didn’t mess with their world and they didn’t mess with your world and they could care less. There were the city kids and the farm kids.

CW: It seems to me there would be more people involved there is not so much clickiness going on but maybe I am wrong.

RH: We had 100 in our graduating class. We had two and three classrooms of 30 some people just in my grade.

CW: What subjects did you take? Were they the same as they have now or were they different?

RH: I think the same thing they have now. When I got into junior high and high school we had science. I liked that. That was interesting. We didn’t have that in grade school. I liked the art class. that was always interesting. I never had time to sit down and draw something just because I wanted to. I liked science and math then in high school we had gym and industrial arts.

CW: Did you like that?

RH: I did a lot of wood working in industrial arts. Woodworking and metalworking, that’s what my schooling was in the Army too along with metalworking, welding, machine shop, and blacksmith, and body and fender repair.

CW: Is that the sort of work you went into?

RH: I have been a machinist at Campbells. I have worked in machine shops around town.

CW: What does a machinst do at Campbells?

RH: Build machines, lathes and mills and stuff like this. I worked at Automatic Feed where we built automatic feeders. At Campbells we built all the can making machinery. We’d take them into the shop and tear them down to the base. We would rebuild and remanufacture it and repair parts and put it all back together and remake it. Every ten millions cans or so we would take the whole line out.

CW: So they kept you very busy.

RH: Yes. I worked there for twenty-eight years.

CW: Was it Lippincott that was there first?

RH: Standard Brands. I don’t know which was first. Standard Brands or Lippincott.

CW: Did they make the same stuff?

RH: They canned applesauce, chili sauce, and ketchup. During the war they made a lot of applesauce and so forth. I don’t know where they all came from, but that whole yard at Campbell’s was stocked as high as they could stack them with apples. They would dump them on the ground in big piles. They had prisoners of war there that worked at the plant. They lived at the fair grounds. They had bunks there and so forth. They had prisoners of war that worked at the factory. They made apple sauce and chili powder and chili sauce and ketchup.

CW: Did you ever talk to them?

RH: No.

CW: Not allowed to I bet.

RH: I wasn’t old enough to. At the time I was only six or eight years old. Dad would always get work there in the fall. He would work every winter as an electrician. Right after the war when jobs were hard to find. During the war he worked at the ship yards in Toledo. He was an electrician there.

CW: Did they build ships in Toledo?

RH: They built some there, but not too many. They had a dry dock where they did a lot of repairs. Maybe they did some Navy boats too. They would push them and put them in dry dock. He would do repair parts and put in new engines and electrical stuff.

CW: Was that after they had opened it up so they could come in from the Atlantic Oceon?

RH: Yes, the sea was open then. There were about four guys from this area that worked there. They had a carpool and they would drive up there and go to work.

CW: Then they would have to drive home at night.

RH: Yes


The following is a written history prepared and written by Roger Helberg


When we were growing up Mom and Grandma Helberg would bake break on Saturday morning. We woke up to the smell of fresh baked bread. When the wheat was harvested in the summer Dad would take a trailer full of wheat to Voke’s Mill in Napoleon. They would grind it and Dad brought home a trunk full of flour in the ‘37 Chevy. They would carry it upstairs and store it in the spare bedroom.

On special occasions Mom and Grandma would bake biscuits and coffee cake. We always had home made yeast biscuits and homemade summer sausage before Christmas Eve church service.


Butchering day started early. Before daylight my Uncle Ray Hogrefe would get the fire going under the 50 gallon cast iron kettle to heat the water for scalding and scraping the hair off the hogs. We would butcher 1 cow or beef and 2 or 3 hogs. After the hogs were cleaned he would add fresh water to use for boiling other meat and sausage. When they killed the beef Grandpa Hogrefe would catch the blood in a large pan and cool it in the snow so we could make blood sausage. When we butchered hogs we would take the small intestine, the large intestine, and the stomachs in to the house where the women would clean them which are casing after they are cleaned to stuff the summer sausage. The stomach would be stuffed to make head cheese. Then they took it to the smoke house to be smoked with the ham shoulders and bacon.

Then it was time to make prettels. We took 1/2 pork and 1/2 beef to be cooked outside in the butcher kettle. Then it was brought back into the basement and the meat was ground. A large pot of pin oats or steel cut oats was cooked to be mixed with the meat, salt, and pepper. It was then put in flat pans to cool. On butchering day everyone who helped would take home a pan of prettels. At noon we had a meal of fresh liver and at supper we had fresh pork chops.


Dad farmed the home place since his dad George Helberg died of a heart attack when he was 14 years old. (George Helberg 1882 – 1927) Grandma Helberg (Amelia 1887 – 1954) lived with us till the late 40’s. When Larry & I started school in 1944 & 1945 we came home from school many nights and asked Mom and Dad how to say a lot of words in English,because we spoke Low German at home. We had German church services till1953.

Dad farmed with horses till he bought a John Deere B in 1937. It had steel spade lug wheels. I remember he traded a team of horses to get rubber tires put on at Meyers shop in Okolona. He raised corn, wheat, hay, sugar beets, and tomatoes. During the war the County Agent enouraged him to try a new crop called soybeans. The tomatoes we planted as small sets and Mom and Dad and Grandma and my Uncles picked and hauled them to Standard Brands and Lippencott Canning Company to make ketchup, chili sauce and canned tomatoes. That plant was sold to Campbell Soup Company in the early 1950’s. They picked and hauled them to the plant in a farm trailer with the ‘37 Chevy.


Dad bought the 80 acre farm after Grandma died in 1957. He rented the 80 acres across the road from Paul Leifer of Napoleon on a 50/50 shares. I was working in machine shops in Napoleon and later as a tractor mechanic at Landmark and Dad bought a Model 960 Ford in 1957 and in 1971. He bought a 4000 Ford tractor. He also leased a 10 foot Ford Self-propelled combine with a 2 row corn head which he bought in 1970. He did custom combining and shelling till he died in 1972. In 1971 he rented the 120 acre Clark farm from Bob Clark and Angeline Rafferty Clark. Dad had plowed and started planting in the spring of 1972 when he had a heart attack at home.

Larry and I farmed the home place and the Clark farm for about 3 years. We were both working at Campbell Soup on the 2nd shift. We both retired in 1999. Lynn was working at Napoleon Creamery and helped farm too.

It became too much for us and we let the Clark farm go and just farmed the home 80 acres. After a few years of that we had an auction in 1978. We rent our farm to Ron Dachenhaus now.

Mary Alice and I were living in Napoleon on Hobson St and we built a house on Rd P1, east of the pond.

Dad helped Larry built a house north of the homestead in 1969.

We plotted Helberg subdivision east of the pond. Lynn built his house on Lot 1 and 2. I built on Lot 3 and 4 and use the pond for my water supply.

Mom sold the house and building to Mark and Tammy Norden in 1979.

Mom moved to Napoleon and lived on Strong Street until she entered the Lutheran Home. She passed away on May 22 2008.

In July of 2008 the farm was transferrd to Roger, Larry, Joyce Melick and Lynn. Joyce plans to sell her 1/4 share to Larry. Larry, Roger and Lynn will continue to keep the farm in the Helberg family, which was bought from the State of Ohio in 1865 by Christopher Helberg, then to George, then to Eldor Helberg, then to Roger, Larry and Lynn. The original deed is signed by Rutherford Hayes, governor of Ohio, before he was elected to be President.


I was born on May 20, 1938. I grew up on the family farm. We had hogs, chickens, and a few milk cows. I remember one team of horses, Dick and Doc. Dad had the to Napoleon 3 1/2 miles and traded them for rubber tires for the ‘37 John Deere Model B tractor.

During WWII Dad worked in the shipyard in Toledo. He carpooled with three or four others. He worked in the shop most of the time building and wiring electric boxes to be installed on ships in dry dock for rebuild.

Larry and I did chores before and after school and on Saturdays we hauled manure and buzzed and cut wood. We heated the house with wood and only a little coal.

In 1948 when I was 10 years old I joined 4H. I belonged to the Okolona Buckeyes 4H club. I had projects of feeder hogs, breeding gilts and steer. I entered the demonstration contest and attended 4H Congress in Columbus in 1953. I caught a 250 lb steer in the calf scramble. I fed it out till the fair the next year and it was judged Grand Champion and sold at the fair. He weighed 1005 lbs and I got 44 cents per lb. for it. The market price was 25 cents per lb. The Kroger store in Napoleon bought it to sell in the store. They gave me my first job after school and on Saturdays. They payed me $1.25 per hour. I used the money from my steer to buy five more steers, feed and raised them. Then I showed them at Lugbill’s and the fair.

In 1956 I entered a judging contest at the Ohio State Fair. We were judged as teams on pork, dairy, and beef. I placed 1st in the State and won a trip to the International Livestock Show in November. On Dec. 1st I joined the Army Reserve. I served 6 Mo. active duty and attended once a week drill and attended 2 week summer camp for 5 years.

When I got off active duty the used the $600.00 from the sale of my steers to buy a 1956 Chev. Bel Air yellow and black, and I have been broke ever since then.

While on active duty I had basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. Then metal working school at Aberdean Ma. The school covered welding, machine shop blacksmith, body and fender.

When I got off active duty I went to work at Kroger for a few years till they closed the store in Napoleon. Then I worked at Napoleon Products and ran an Automatic Screw Machine. At Automatic Feed Co. as a boring Mill, Lath, &I C.N.C. Lath operator and at at Landmark 6 years as a Ford & Cockshut tractor mechanic. I did service calls on plows, bailers, combines, and corn pickers.

In 1971 I started on Maintenance at Campbells as a welder for about a year, then I transferred to the Can Plant as a machinist. We would remove one can line, disassemble it, and rebuild it from the frame up. With new parts and parts that we built and remanufacture in the shop. My main job was to rebuild Seamers that put the bottom on the cans. I also did Maintenance on the coil line, ovens and sheet stackers and the last few years maintained the heating and air conditioning units on the roof. I retired from C.S.C in May of 1999.

While I was working at Krogers, Machine Shop, Landmark, and C.S.C. I became involved in Farm Bureau Youth. I served on the State Youth Committee and attended F.B. youth schools and camps during my vacations and weekends, and also refined my square dance calling skills. I still call square dances with D.J.’s at weddings and parties. I now call for people whose parents and Grandparents I called for. When my cousins Norbert & Betty Rohrs started a polka band in 1958, The R & M Polka Band, I called square dances with them and other bands such as The German Americans, The Village Dutchman, The Buckeye Polka Band, Happy Times, Bavarian Brass, The Freytag Band, The Dammans, Karen Stoves, and other bands that needed a square dance caller.

After I retired I volunteered for the County and Ohio Farm Bureau as board and convention delegate, county president, and membership chairman. I attended three F.B. Presidents Conferences in Washington D.C. met our Senators and Congressmen to present Farm Bureau views and policy for our county and state members.

In 1990 I volunteered at Henry County Red Cross to call blood donors. After retirement I became more involved. I became a board member and took Disaster Training and assisted at local fires, floods, and emergencies. In August 2004 when Charlie, Ivan, and Francis hurricanes struck Florida, after Charlie hit most of National R.C. had been on duty and they needed fresh volunteers. Three of us from Henry county volunteered. I, Virginia and Robin flew to Fall Clhurch Va. I went to Atlanta, Ga. Three vans full of us drove all night to central Florida and slept a few hours in a R.C. office. Then one van full of us headed west to Hernando and Citrus County Florida and helped run a shelter in an elementary school. While Francis moved over us for one week. After the wind stopped, we did damage assessment for one week and one week of family assistance.

In August of ‘05, a week after Hurricane Katrina, I was deployed to Gulfport and Biloxi Miss, a mass shelter assistant and served as an assistant shelter manager. I slept on the floor with the others in the shelter for a week, then we got folding cots. There were 19 shelters in our county. We had about 150 in our shelter. We got electricity back after one week. The water wasn’t fit to use, so we washed and bathed with bottled water and baby wipes. In 2006 I spent three days closer to home in Ottawa, after the Blanchard River flooded. I did preliminary damage assessment and family service.

I retired from C.S.C. in May of 1999. Now I do woodworking and build nautical crafts which I sell on consignment in craft and gift shops in Port Clinton and Napoleon, and at craft shows in the area. I build boat shelves from 10”-24”. 2 ft., 4 ft., and 6 ft., boat coffee tables with a wood motor regulator running light and a glass top. ship wheel clock, and wall decor. I have built 3 grandfather clocks and mantle clocks.

Roger Helberg, Sept. 2008

Riggs, Hazel

Interviewed By Russell and Marlene Patterson, March 24, 2008

MP: Hazel, will you please state your name and birth date.

HR: My name is Hazel Ruth Saul Riggs. I was born on Fifteen Road, Napoleon, Ohio on November 15, 1903. I am now 104 years old and on November 15, 2008 I will be 105.

MP: Hazel, you are remarkably young looking. You appear to be quite spry and so very sweet. Time has been very kind to you. Hazel, can you give us some information on your childhood days, in particular tell us about your school life.

HR:  I started school when I was five years old. I went to Sheats School. This was the first school that I attended. My teacher was Mr. Basil Hartman. The second school I attended was the Spangler School. It was located near Shunk. My sister Mae and I would walk to school. She walked so slow and pokey, so I would get behind her and kind of step on her heels and make her go faster.

MP: Did it work?

HR: Yeah it worked. She speeded up.

MP: It’s a wonder she didn’t turn around and smack you.

HR:  Mr. Vernon Brillhart was my teacher there and I liked him very much. I liked school and enjoyed going to school.

MP: Did you have what was known as a blab school? How did you learn your basics like spelling and arithmetic.

HR: We did a lot of reading and the teacher drilled us. I liked spelling. We had lots of spelldowns. I got an achievement award for spelling. I was real good at spelling.

MP: Did your teachers have problems with discipline when you were attending school? Did any teacher ever have to whip any boys. Usually the boys are the trouble makers.

HR: I don’t think so. Most kids behaved years ago. I can tell you about one thing I did when I was in school. My teacher was Burl Bauman at that time. I took a hairpin from my hair and bent it to make glasses. I used a hairpin you know those straight ones, not a bobby pin, just regular hair pins. I straightened it and bent it so I could put it on my nose. The kids were laughing so hard and Burl said, “Hazel, you come up here.” So I had to go up there and face everybody. I remember that. I was raised by the Baumans. Before I went to school I had to wash the breakfast dishes and sweep the kitchen floor. I used to feed the chickens before I went to school. I used to clean out the chicken coops. We had two chicken coops.

MP: Were they all laying hens?

HR: No, They were mixed. Some of them were roosters. In the fall I would help husk corn before I went to school. The corn was still standing at school startup time.

MP: Did your hands get all chapped and rough with the dried corn husks? We used to use Corn Huskers Lotion to help soften the skin. I think you can still buy it.

RP:  We used to sell lots of Corn Husker s Lotion in the fall to farmers.

MP: Basil Hartman was your first teacher. Am I correct?

HR: Yes. Burl Bauman, the teacher was the son of Will Bauman. He lived right next ot us. We had a big garden and I canned a lot of vegetables. We had very sandy soil.

MP: Did the boys have to bring in wood to fire the stove in the winter time?

HR: Oh, yes.

JK: When I went to the Glass School the two Slagle boys would start the fire before school started. They would crawl in through a vent in the back of the school, because they didn’t have a key to get in. They would start the fire and then when the kids got to school, it would be warm. They wouldn’t let it burn over night because of the fire hazard. They were some of the older kids, maybe the eighth graders.

MP: Did you have a picnic on the last day of school? We always had a picnic at the end of the school year.

HR: Yes we did. We had box socials.

MP: Were any of them your boyfriends? Maybe you were too smart to have a boyfriend. Did you decorate your box?

HR: Oh yes. They don’t have box socials anymore do they.

MP: No, they don’t. Did you pick out somebody special to get your box so the two of you could eat together.

HR: I would fix food for two people and then we would place a bid on the box. I would have to eat with whoever won the bid on my box.

GC:  We had picnics like that when I went to school. It was usually the Home Economic girls and the Industrial Arts boys.

MP: When you had recess, what games did you play? Did you every play ball with the boys?

HR: No, I never did. We played jump the rope, London Bridge is falling down, Andy I Over, and Ring around the Rosie. These are a few of the games I can remember.

MP: What kind of subjects were you taught? Did you have books for each subject? Did you learn any foreign language like German?

HR: No. We just had the usual school books.

MP: When my older sisters and brothers went to school the German language was required at St. Johns. By the time I started school it became optional. My father said we are in America and you will learn English and not German. I never learned the German language like my older sisters and brothers did. I could read the German language from the Bible and sing from the hymn book, but I didn’t know the meaning of the words.

MP: How did you fix your hair when you were in school? My mother would tear up sheets into strips and you would put a strip over your head on one side and my mother would wind your hair around these strips and you would let it dry and you would have these nice ringlets.

HR: I had my hair in braids many times.

MP: We had hitching rails in front of our school and we girls would pull our bodies up and with our stomach on the rail and we would twirl around and around. I can’t do that anymore. This was some of our fun times during recess. How long were your recesses?

HR: Not very long, maybe a half hour or so. After I went to live with the Baumans on Rd. 15, Charley Bauman and I went to Sheats School. We were told there at that school that we were in the wrong district. We were then sent to River School on Routes 109 & 110. That school is no longer there. Veda Conway was my first teacher and then Burl Bauman. Burl was a nephew to Caleb Bauman. One time Burl made me stand in front of the class for punishment because I had taken a hairpin from my hair and bent it to fit over my nose, like a pair of reading glasses. Edna Myers was another teacher at either Sheats or River School. Sometime Cal Bauman would take us to school on the old horse drawn sleigh. While I was walking to school I and the Lawrence girl would stop by and wait for Myrtle Zook on Route 109 on the way to River School. Myrtle Zook had to finish milking the cows before she could go to school. So we would wait for her.

MP: What did you do for food when you went to those one room schools?

HR: We packed our lunch and put it in a little metal dinner pail. I have the dinner pail here somewhere.

MP: Did you exchange Valentines?

HR: Yes we did and most of them we made ourselves.

MP: Hazel, did you go on to high school after your years in these one room schools?

HR: No, I didn’t get to go to high school. I wanted to go, but Charlie didn’t. I don’t know how we would have ever gotten there. I couldn’t walk that far. I have a picture of my classmates here. I would like to show it to you.

End of interview

The following was recorded by Geri Riggs Cline, a daughter of Hazel.

My mother told me this in 1985 and again in 1991, and then again on April 27, 2004 while I was staying with her while she was recuperating.

Her parents were William Alton Saul who was born in Damascus Township, in Henry County on May 14, 1871, and Lilly Mae Gunter, born November 24, 1881 near Malinta, Ohio. She, Hazel Ruth Saul was born November 15, 1903 on Fifteen Road, Napoleon, Ohio on the later owned Bennett farm. This is a little east of Route 109. It is also the road that I was born and raised on. Her father owned twenty acres of the farm that he had bought in 1902 and sold it to G. Wheeler in 1904. Her father’s mother Christine (Kline) Saul, owned the other twenty acres. This last twenty acres is where Laura Babcock lived and her son Earl, lives there now.

The second place they lived was the Reed farm which runs parallel to the new Route 6, between Fifteen Road and old Route 6. It is south of Merl Bauman’s home and farm, on 9-B Road. Their hired girl, Esther Murphy, lived in the now Bauman home with her parents. She later became Mom’s stepmother in December 1906 when they lived on this Reed farm. Esther Murphy’s mother was a Sheats from Seneca County, Ohio and the Sheats School, where we went as kids was named after that family. Mom remembers some people coming from Tiffin, Ohio to a picnic at the Sheats farm house. This Reed farm house is now remodeled. Aunt Mae was born here on April 27, 1906 and their mother died eleven days later. Also, she thinks her Grandmother Saul died in this house on December 17, 1906. Mom can barely remember the death and many people being at the house. She was only two years and five months old at the time her mother died.

This farm had ten or eleven acres. Mom remembers getting eggs at the neighbor house from the little, outside chicken-coops. Her Dad saw her and yelled at her to put them back. And another time she and Luella Smith, who was a half-sister to Maisie Hefflinger, broke a lot of eggs to make some mud pies. I remember Jean and I doing the same
thing when we were young once when Grandma Riggs was taking care of us. Also, her Dad had her and her cousin, Tillie Saul, fight and Mom would end up crying. Her father was a cut-up and liked to joke with them. Whenever they rode into Richfield Township in their horse-drawn buggy, he would tell Mom and sister Mae that they grew ‘candy-corn’ there. He could make pictures on the wall at night with his hand casting shadows from the light of an old oil lamp.

After Mom’s mother died they moved to the now-owned Rafferty farm. It is across from Sharon Church and the Grange Hall at the intersection of Route 109 and McClure Road. This farm was fifty to fifty-five acres and her father and perhaps Grandmother Saul owned it, if she was still living. Mom remembers her step-mother being at this house. She went to school at the Sheats one-room school where we four oldest attended for a few years.

The fourth place they lived was in Shunk, on Route 109, towards Malinta. Her father owned or was a partner with Frank M. Gensel in a tile mill here, across the road and south of their house. Mom would sometimes go outside near the road to wait for her father to walk home, even when they lived on the Reed farm. She also remembers sitting at the tile mill with him late at night and sometimes sleeping on a cot there overnight, while he was watching the kilns.

Orley Sturdevant lived next door to them.

When Mom and her sister walked to the Spangler School (near Huddles) from Shunk, she would get behind Aunt Mae and step on her heels to speed her up a little. She was so slow and easy going.

Her father raised guinea pigs when they lived at this place which consisted of seventeen or eighteen acres.

Her father died here on March 5, 1913. Mom found him dead in the morning. She was nine years old at the time and Mae was almost seven. On William Alton’s death certificate it says he died of apoplexy and that the death was sudden and there was no known contributory. She and Mae stayed on a while with the step-mother and a half-sister, Edna Alice, and Zona Luella who was born a little later. Edna married an Ovall, and Zona married a Robinette. She and Mae later went to the Gunter Grandparents to live, near Malinta. Her Uncle Am and her Aunt Maude still lived at home, being quite young.

This Gunter home is now gone and a cousin of Mom’s, Zelma (Gunter) Scheaffer, built a new home very close to where it had stood. At one time Mom’s Great Grandmother (Gunter) Hill, (second marriage) had lived back of this house near the Turkeyfoot Creek. A mound of earth back there is near the spot where her house stood, so this land has been in the family for many years. Great Grandma Hill had come up to Henry County from Richland County in ca. 1850 after her husband, Martin Gunter, was drowned in a river working as a logger.

Mom and sister Mae, stayed there a few months until their Grandma Gunter died later that year in 1913. Aunt Mae went to the Fred Cheney home, then to the home of a ball-player, then to Strolls and then to live with the Charley Yawbergs, near Whitehouse. When she lived with the Strolls on the Southside of Napoleon, they sent her to a religious college in Kentucky. Mrs. Stroll was a very religious person. Her husband ran a butcher shop at the main intersection on Southside, near the river.

Caleb Bauman and wife Dora and sometimes Dora Bauman and sister-in-law, Martha Bauman, would make trips to the Gunter home to ask Mom to come live with them. That is where she did go, eventually, on January 8, 1914, on Caleb Bauman’s birthday. Cal had a bull-dog named Toots and also had lots of cats. They had one son, Charley, who was six months younger than Mom. She and Charley went to River School on the corner of Routes 109 and 110. The teacher at that time was Veda Conway and she lived with the Baumans for a while. She was from Napoleon.

Once, on their way home from Napoleon on a Saturday night, Mom saw that there was a light on in Bauman’s house. When they got very close to their home the light went out and when they got inside and touched the glass chimney it was still hot. They believed it was a neighbor man, as it was known that he wandered around in people’s barns, buildings, and homes.

Mom stayed with the Baumans until she married my Dad, Leroy Riggs, in 1923. He lived west of Baumans on the same road and on the farm where we were raised. My Dad first saw my Mom there in 1916 when he went with his parents to look over the farm in anticipation of buying it, which my Grandfather did. She was there playing with her friend, Mary Renneckar, whose father owned the farm. Then after they were married they lived on the Crawford farm, on the McClure Road, and Norma Lee was born there. Then they moved to a nice, new bungalow on Grandpa Riggs farm and Jean was born there. Then they moved to the large brick house on the same farm and I was born there. Also, my brother and three younger sisters made their entrance into the world from there; namely, Norman, Arlene, Rita and Mary.

When Grandma and Grandpa Riggs died my parents bought a farm near Liberty Center in 1953. My Father passed away in 1986 and my Mother still lives there.


After Mom’s mother died and they moved to the ‘Rafferty’ farm she started to school at Sheats and her teacher was Basil Hartman. She and Mae went to the Sharon Methodist Church which was right across the road. They had probably been baptized there. Jean, Norman, and I were and maybe Norma Lee when she was a baby. Norma Lee told us that to get baptized we had to run down to the front and jump into a tub of water.

Her second school was the Spangler School, near Huddles, and her teacher was Vernon Brillhart, whom Mom liked very much.

After her father passed away and they lived with her Gunter grandparents, Mom went to a country school near by for a short period of time. Mae didn’t live with the Grandparents very long. Fred Cheney had become their (or just Mom’s) guardian. George E. Rafferty and Caleb Bauman were Sureties for Mom.

While she lived at Cal Bauman’s she went to Sheats School again, with Charley. They were told that they were in the wrong district so they started to River School with Veda Conway as their first teacher and then Burl Bauman, a nephew to Cal, taught later. One day Burl made Mom stand in front of the class for punishment, because she took a hair-pin out of her hair and bent it so it fit over her nose, like a pair of glasses. Another time a young neighbor man who lived on the river road, came walking into the school room and sat down and didn’t say anything. It scared the kids because he had recently been in a mental institution. Eventually, he walked back out. An Edna Myers taught at either Sheats or River School. When it was snowy and icy sometimes Cal would hitch up the team of horses to the mud boat and haul Mom and Charley to school. And sometimes on Mom’s walk to River School she would stop in to Zooks on Route 109, and wait for Myrtle to finish milking her cow. She couldn’t go to school until she finished.


Hazel R. Riggs passed away peacefully at the Lutheran Home in Napoleon, Ohio on July 13, 2008.

Johnson, Richard

Interviewed by Russell Patterson, September 14, 2007

(MP – Marlene Patterson, RP – Russell Patterson, RJ – Richard Johnson)

MP:  You tell him about the tabernacle.

RP: What about the tabernacle Richard?

RJ: You want me to tell about the tabernacle? All the things I can remember about the tabernacle it was there when I was a little kid. We went to it a couple of times because it was so hard for us to go across the street. It was right across the street. We lived on Brownell and we would go there and Louie Curdes was a big shot in it.. Norma (Grader) said that she used to go to it and she can tell you when because she used to go over there to the school house and swing on the swings when she was a little kid.

RP: Whatchamacallit, The thing was built in 1916.

RJ: That was before my time.

RP: But you think they were still having meetings in the 1950’s?

RJ: I am quite sure that they had a meeting there in the ‘50’s. Norma was born in ‘44.

RP: Oh is that right.

RJ: Her and Carol are the same age. Well Carol is about six months older than Norma maybe. I think Carol’s birthday is in the spring. I know Norma would kill me if she knew I knew this, but hers is a day before Christmas. She was born December the 24th, 1944. She went there as a kid. So I am quite sure it was there in at least ‘55. When Earl Shasteen mowed grass after the apartment was built. The southside bank, Jon Bisher was in it then. They built that about 1956 or ‘58. You know the southside bank. And Jon Bisher told me that they wanted him to manage them and he said he would manage the apartments for one apartment rent. So it had to be after 1960 that it was built.

RP: Yes, you mean the apartments.

RJ: The apartments yes. Then I am pretty sure the bank was built around ‘57 or ‘58.

RP: Now the south school was right across from the tabernacle.

RJ: You know Lucille McComb, she was Miss Bolton then and Maude Dorothy Hahn was a teacher when I went there. Lucille McComb taught the first grade and half of the second grade. Maude Hahn taught the other half of the second and the third grade. The fourth grade I don’t know when they quit it. There used to be four grades there. We went over across the river then. That was the first time I had seen Bob Showman.

RP: You went to the southside school there then until the third grade.

RJ: I went there three or four years. Bob Burkholder , Bill Huddle, Jim Young, Jack Boyer, Hilda Fackler, but you would never know him because we were all in the first grade together.

RP: By the way at that time did they take any school pictures with the group?

RJ: I think they did, but I don’t remember.

RP: You don’t have any pictures.

RJ: No I don’t have one. I am quite sure they did. I think they did but you know we were so poor that a nickel was a nickel. The reason I can remember Travis I think he retired the first of the year when I was in the first grade. I remember after Christmas and New Years coming back to school, Eddie McComb was standing in the back window looking out of the boys basement. We went into the basement to get into school in the back see. Eddie McComb was standing there and as soon as I got up there he turned around and went into the boiler room. I was the first one there that day. Later on I got to know him real well, he said to me I was always scaired that maybe the kids wouldn’t like me. When I first come here, I was scaired that the kids wouldn’t like me. Later on he married Miss Bolton. Now Maude Hahn she owned that building they now call the Hahn building. She was fat and she went to a convent. Bob Gasser told me me that all the rent, when he was there at that store, went down to a convent where she was at. It was one of them deals where she took a vow of poverty and all her money went to that “convent”.

RP: Now I don’t think she went into that convent some time in the ‘40s because when we were in high school she was a librarian.

RJ: In the ‘40s she went there, because I knew she had a horse. She used to go down in the barn below me, where Bob Ludeman’s father-in-law lived. Actually mine is 221 and he was at the end of 300 block, right behind where Sweetpea Onyon lived. He had a barn there. It wasn’t him that lived there when they done it. Sweetpea moved there later. That is where she kept her horse. I can remember her riding by on her horse and her dad found her. Her and somebody else at one time at Luther Dietrich’s gas station, the one that Bob Showman used to run and each one bought a bottle of pop and only drank about 6 or 8 drinks out of it and set it back down. She said you want to drink this and I said no. I don’t drink after people. It was a bottle of Coke or something. We poured the pop out then.

RP: In the fourth grade you went to Central school then.

RJ: I went to Central school and Miss Swartzbaugh was my teacher. The first time I’d seen Bob Showman I set in the back end in the corner. Bill Huddle set beside me. Jack Boyer sat over on the other side. Bob Showman set up in the front by the door. We had ink pens that we used to dip them in the ink well and write. Bob Showman took his ink pen and dropped his and tried to stick it in the floor. Miss Swartzbaugh made him stand up in front of the class to see how many times he could drop that without it sticking. I thought it was just terrible. I thought if one us ornery kids on the southside had done something like that, why we was brought up proper. Bob Showman hobbled by me the other day in the hospital.

RP: Do you remember Hugh Burrows the custodian?

RJ: Hugh Burrows

RP: He was the custodian.

RJ: Yes, Hugh Burroughs he lived in there and his wife used to hang her washing out in the back on top of the hill there every Monday. Now Don Otto Davis, Crook Davis when he went there he said that Hugh Burrows used to make all the kids pick up an armload of wood and carry it in to help fire the boiler when he went to school there. Now Crook was born after the Civil War. He died in about 1965. I am going to say 1965 and he was about 75 years old at the time he died. He was maybe 76 or 77 and he went to school there.

RP: When did Oldfather teach you?

RJ: Oldfather, I had him in the seventh grade. We were young. I sat up in the first one. He had us alphabetically. I sat by the window in the front row. And the rule where you used to walk through between the halls when you come out of the auditorium and start in the old building. Wilbur Young sat with the last one in there. Oldfather was always late getting into class and we were always talking and what not. Wilbur Young went to shoot a paper wad just as Oldfather opened up the door. Carlton Lemon sat on the side of me, Alvin Kraegel sat behind me. Bob Oldfather grabbed him, hit him on the back of the head, kicked him in the seat of the pants pushed him over to the blackboard, took him over to the office and beat him with a rubber hose. The room was very very quiet from then on you could have heard a pin drop at the Courthouse.

MP: I am going to go outside now. You have 90 minutes on this tape.

RP: Richard is telling some good ones.

MP: Are they true Richard?

RJ: Oh yes.

RP: I like that hat you are wearing. What does it say?

RJ: Keller Plaster Limiited.

MP Are they from Liberty?

RJ: Yes.

RP: When you were in the seventh or eighth grade did you start in Industrial Arts?

RJ: Oh yes Industrial Arts we started that in the seventh grade. At that time Louie B. Miller was not there. It was Dietch and Sayman came later. I can’t remember his name right now. In the seventh grade we started Industrial Arts.

RP: Was it Segrist?

RJ: Yes it was Segrist. And then Dietch one time

RP: Now did you go over to the basement of the High School into the shop part, is that where you had it?

RJ: Yes.

RP: In the seventh grade?

RJ: Yes.

RP: What did you do, primarily woodworking?

RJ: Woodworking and drawing and things like that. We never went into the machine shop until I was a Freshman. I was in the foundry and

RP: Did you have any welding?

RJ: I never did. They had welding They used acetylene and Don Barnes was in there, I am pretty sure it was Don Barnes, and he said what happened the aceylene tank blew up. They said that Oldfather was down there in three steps. He had heard the explosion from the office. Nobody was hurt. Nothing happened. But there was a big bang.

RP: It would be with acetylene.

RJ: They took this, what did they used to put in lanterns, kerosene? Oh it was carbine.

RP: No, it was carbide.

RJ: They took this carbide and water and made acetylene. They would pour so much cabide in and pour in so much water and make acetylene.

RP: I think years ago they used those carbide cannons. I think you would pour water in and it would explode. They would use those around the Fourth of July. Did you know Bill Huddle?

RJ: Now Bill Huddle worked in the shop with me and he went to school with me on the South Side also. His sister died when we was in the first grade. Bill Huddle had a sister that died from scarlet fever. I remember we looked at the funeral going by and it was Bill’s sister.

RP: Did Bill start working with radios right away?

RJ: Bill Huddle done a lot of radio. I went over to his dad’s house and he had W8JR station. Herb Huddle has it now sitting out in his shop. It’s out there in his shop museum.

RP: The one that Chick Huddle used?

RJ: Yes, the one that Chick Huddle used.

RP: I remember when I was a Freshman in Shop, Bill was always playing with the radio.

RJ: He and I were good friends and I went to his house and he used to come to mine and he used to live out here on Daggett Avenue. At first he lived out where Milton Sigg’s popcorn is.

RP: I remember at that time that Chick had that aerial up in the air there for his trasmissions. My dad used to tune him in on his shortwave radio and listen to him talk on the radio.

RJ: He was on the radio one time talking about getting Valentines when I was in about the second or third grade. He told that he didn’t get any Valentines but the kid did. That kid he was talking about was his son Bill. Chick Huddle was a World War I veteran and he was a bugler in the Army.

RP: He was in the National Guards too.

RJ: He was a half brother to Clarence Huddle and the rest of the Huddles.

RP: I remember they used to say that when Chick was in the Guards at camp they used to take his bugle and stuff toilet paper in his bugle so he couldn’t blow it for revelry.

RJ: Once when Ralph Zimmerman was in the Guards, Bud Saneholtz was in the Guards and Deak Herman was in the Guards. Bud Saneholtz was a Sergeant in charge of everybody. They were down South somewhere cleaning up something like a hurricane. They had had a tornado somewhere or a hurricane down there, or a big wind went through. Junior Zimmerman, Ralph’s boy said that Bud and Deak were drunk all the way down on the bus. Bud and Deak were cooks. After dinner they all sat around. There was a creek there, more like a ravine I guess. Bud said they were sitting there and Ralph pulled his hat down over his eyes and went to sleep. Bud and Deak sneaked up, took Ralph’s single barrel shotgun and threw it in the crick. (creek) Ralph
got up and got all the troops together, inspected them and wanted to know where his weapon was at. He was the Sergeant and he never found out. Bud told me that and one day I told Ralph you know I shouldn’t tell you this, but do you know what happened to your shotgun? He said no. Well he told him that Bud and Deak threw it in the crick. Bud always said he was going to tell you. Bud’s dead now so I can tell you. Bill Klotz, did I tell you his name, he was in the first grade with me too. Dorothy Kraegel and Donna June Ellinwood.

RP: Did she live on the south side?

RJ: Yes she lived on the south side.There was a Diemer girl. Howard Diemer was a year ahead of me. Bob Travis was a couple years ahead of me. Bob Travis’s dad and Augie Kaney’s wife were brother and sister. See Mrs. Kaney was a Travis, Janet’s mother. They all lived together in the house where It’s tore down now. It was where Bergstedt’s got those apartments. That is where they lived. No, Sam Travis lived there.

RP: Was that at the end of Brownell Street?

RJ: No that was at the end of Barnes. That is where the Pilgrim Holiness Church was. It was a brick church. When I went to school there was a girl by the name of Shelt and they lived in the house on Brownell on the corner and that was the church parsonage and his name was Shelt and he was the preacher at that church at that time. That would have been about 1936 or ‘37.

RP: Did they seem to have a pretty good-sized congregation.

RJ: At that time I went there and there were quite a few other people that went there also. But just like anything else like Norma said, the old people died off and the young people went some place else. They just didn’t come to church there anymore.

RP: They had a fairly nice little building in back there.

RJ: That was built by Sol Cedrick. He was a hillbilly that was a preacher and a carpenter together. He was there when Louie Curdes donated his house and four lots. Now Norma told me that now when they sell it that money has to go back to Louie’s heirs. Now one of the heirs you know would have been who we went to school with, the mailman’s boy. Hegley but I think he is dead.

RP: Yes he is dead. He was Maurice Hegley. I think you are right on that. He had a sister named Miriam Hegley. I think she had married some kind of a preacher. I think they live in Michigan someplace.

RJ: The last I heard was that Ed Hegley was out in Washington State somewhere.

RP: I think you are right there. It was either Washington or Oregon.

RJ: It was out west somewhere. I am pretty sure he is dead. It seems to me like I saw in the paper where he had died.

RP: Another one from our class that went out there was Betty Hatcher, the daughter. What was that Hatcher girls first name?

RJ: Betty

RP: She went out west too. I think she is dead.

RJ: Yes, she is dead.

RP: Let’s see when we were Freshmen, is that when L. B. Miller took over the Industrial Arts department?

RJ: He took over when we were about in the eigth grade. L. B. Miller was there with Segrist for a while and then Segrist left. . L. B. Miller was there until about 1947. He taught in ‘47. He hired a guy by the name of

RP: You knew him because didn’t you come and help him?

RJ: He was a good friend of Ed Bassett. His name was Clayton Starter. Starter come there in probably 1948. He stayed there for a couple or three years and then when he left I don’t know who

RP: Then you went and helped.

RJ: I come and worked for about six weeks. You see C. D. Brillhart had me come and showed him where the stuff was at. where the tools were at and this and that.

RP: Now you during your Freshman through Senior year you spent a lot of time in the shop.

RJ: Oh yes. Mostly down there was myself Floyd Keller, Bruce Honeck was just a seventh or eigth grader when I was a Freshman. I remember Bruce Heller coming down and he had a little toy truck on a string. He put a wheel on it and we all laughed at him. He started coming down to study. Roger Jaqua came down for a few years until he got interested in girls and then he quit coming. Dick Bell, Herb Huddle, and then Marilyn was his secretary. She came there in my Junior year. Then he hired her. Now wait a minute. In my Junior year she was there. In my Senior year that Margaret Cordes that married a doctor.

RP: I can tell you another one that was a secretary was that Nelda Stevens.

RJ: Nelda Stevens worked there before they hired Marilyn. Nelda married a Hefflinger. He sold real estate. Her husbands cousin was a secretary in agriculture. Her boy is the one. I don’t know but the name was Elizabeth Hefflinger. She was married and I don’t know what her married name was. Her boy was a policeman in Perrysburg.

RP: Was that right!

RJ: Somebody fell in the river and he jumped in to save him and he drowned. That was quite a while ago. I think that the last time I seen Liz was in your drug store one day. I am pretty sure it was her because she looked just like her Grandmother who was Lou Hefflinger. Lou Hefflinger was Lou Dills. I can’t remember what her maiden name was. That was Mike Anderson’s wifes mother too.

RP: Now right away did they have the high school shop open nights?

RJ: They used to ever since I can remember, but when Miller come there we was open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays I believe it was, and about nine o’clock all the little kids had to leave and then us older ones stayed there. We done a lot of things around that shop.We wired and we fixed doors. Bruce Honeck was out for electricity. I tore all the locks apart and fixed them for Augie Kanney. We had a shock in the wood shop that thing that would scrap wood where you go down in the basement . Augie opened up that door one day just to clean it out, we shoveled everything down in that room and we opened that door down there and dust flew all over. If he’d have had the door closed it wouldn’t have happened. He shoveled it out and threw it in the boiler. Earl Shasteen come there in my Senior year as a janitor. I can remember him. Earl Shasteen, Panning, Augie Kanney, and Harry Knipp. His daughter is Lois Knipp.

RP: When he sent the kids home at night, the younger ones, sometimes wasn’t that shop open until 11:00?

RJ: Eleven, twelve, one o’clock right along in there. Everybody would take turns to bring along something to eat. I brought some cider along one time. We had a broom closet and we hid the cider in the broom closet. It fermented and the cork blew off, we were all young kids and we didn’t know what was happening.

RP: I remember I even worked one evening when I was making prints for the annual in the darkroom I worked at that time and after we closed the store at 11 o’clock I went over to the shop and made some prints at midnight.

RJ: Yes we were there till all hours in the morning. One night the lumber yard was there and we all went home and Miller had a ‘37 Ford Coupe and there would be five or six of us and we would all crowd in that. Dick Bell and somebody else would get up on the back window and I would sit in there and Floyd Keller, I think Harley would sit on our lap and they took me and everybody else home and the cops stopped Miller and they wanted to know what he was doing coming out of the lumber yard that late at night.

RP: He had parked back in there didn’t he?

RJ: Yeah he parked back there where the smoke stack was at.

RP: When he came out on the road it was like he was coming out of the lumber company.

RJ: I remember walking back through there one time. Ray Shreves was the township trustee and he drove back down there and turned around and there was somebody that lived up there one Main Street but his garden was against that road you know and he was back there working and Ray Shreves drove back down there and turned around and then drove up and cussed him. It was somebody and he, they had been having a fight and that guy, he was cussing him right back. Ray Shreves was Carlton Lemons. Mrs. Lemon was a Shreve. I think they might have been cousins.

RP: I think that Roy Shreves was a councilman too.

RJ: He was a township trustee. His secretary, he’s dead now was Ritzmond Campbell’s mother. Ritzmond Campbell’s mother was divorced at the time and she was Roy Shreves’s secretary. Later on she was secretary for, during the war you could not leave the county to get a job and you had to have a permit to go to work. I went up to the courthouse and my dad was working at the Autolite in Toledo and they had said I could get a job at Autolite if they would let me go. I dare sent let you go out of the county I need too much help around here. The plating works needs a lot of help and I can’t get it for them. I went back two or three times to see if I could get a permit to leave the county. She said the plating works needs help. And I said I don’t know anything about the plating works, but I can go down to Toledo and get a job. With my dad working down there I can ride with him. I won’t need a car and I’ll ride along with him. After a while she said well I shouldn’t do it but you will be the first one that I have let go out of this county. I went down to work at the Autolite. I went to work in the plating department. (Richard laughs) They told me there was something that they called deeds. You done so much work and you would get paid so much. I was getting 90 cents and hour and a 10 cent bonus. That would be $1.00 an hour. I was working eight hours a day and six days a week and making $52.00 a week. In the plating department they paid by production. Some of those guys was making at that time when we were making $12.00 some of those guys were making $20.00 to $25.00 per day. Production counted on that see. This guy told me he said when you do all this junky work and do a lot of extra work you put that on your time table. I was only sixteen years old and I didn’t know what I was doing. I said all right, I don’t care. I didn’t pay no attention. I got my check and I learned one thing, don’t tell people how much you are making. Them guys were all right with me. Mike McGary, the guy that used to be the butcher,

RP: You mean Benein?

RJ: Yes, Mike Anderson and Henry Benien, They’d all get their checks out and play poker with them you know. They said let’s see your check. My take home pay was $65.00 and they was all making $52.00 a week. They threw a fit. I learned right there don’t let anybody learn how much money you are making. They’d say that kid is making $65.00. Well I was working and some of them would be standing around.

RP: Let’s see you have told them about the shop and about the school, why don’t you tell us about the sand yard with Eberwine.

RJ: They had the sand yard down on the end of Front Street. Leo Eberwine got the sand yard. Joe Kistner started up by May 3rd of 1952. I can remember that because I went back to the Army, and came home on furlough from Korea. Joe was about 75 years old when he died too. His father was an officer in the German army and he didn’t want his boys to be in the German army so he came to this country. Joe was born in Germany. He had a sister Bertha that was born in Germany. He had a brother Clementz that was born in Germany. Clementz died awful young. He died, I don’t know exactly when he died. He is buried over there in the Catholic cemetery. Frank Kistner was his brother and Frank always said he came over here in a submarine. His mother was pregnant with him when she left Germany. Frank and Joe was born here, but he was conceived over in Germany. He had a brother Rosie that was born here. Carly was born here and his wife was Fraley. His wife and Stell Young’s mother were sisters and my grandmother was married to Farley’s wife’s sister. Then Joe started the sand yard by taking a scoop and like a hoe that was bent crooked and he would go out and stick it down and shake it, throw sand up and dump it. Then he got a steam engine and made a pump and put on it. And Pup Shroeder told me that that steam engine and stuff was somewhere, I think it sat behind or maybe across from the water works and it sank. Somewhere along in there is a steam engine buried under water. Then Joe went ahead and built a better boat and put a gasoline engine on it and pumped sand. He said he bought a 1929 Buick from Dawson. There was two guys from Marblehead come down and wanted to buy the sand yard. So Joe said he sold the sand yard to them two guys. He said after he got it sold they asked him which way the river run. Joe said that the guy that bought the sand yard didn’t know which way the river run. Leo Eberwine was from Marblehead and his dad had some money and he invested money in them guys to buy the sand yard from Joe Kistner. Joe said when Dawson brought the car down to him he stopped and brought cash with him. His eyes popped right out on seeing somebody pay cash for a brand new car. He thought he was making money which he was. After a short while they went broke and couldn’t make a go of it. Leo Eberwine’s dad sent him down to take the business over. He wanted him to run the sand yard because he had his money into it. Then Leo went ahead and married that girl who was a sister to Cleat Sheibley’s wife. I think she was a niece to Miss Lebay.

RP: Wasn’t there some connection too to Mrs. Hildred from the lumber company?

RJ: That Mrs. Hildred was his wife’s grandmother I think.

RP: Dorothy Sheibley and Mrs. Eberwine always kind of took care of Mrs. Hildred.

RJ: Yes, Mrs. Eberwine built that house up there I believe on Sheffield and Main.

RP: Yes it was up along in there.

RJ: I will have to drive by and look at it. I am sure it was Sheffield and Main. They said it was such a good house because the Hildred Lumber Company had furnished the very best wood for them to build it. After Leo took it over and run it Joe worked for him. Ted Corder worked for him. Pup Schroeder whose right name was Alfred he worked for him pumping sand. They were pumping sand. Harve Hill worked on the sand boat Clarence Gee worked on the sand boat. Leo Eberwine finally sold the sand yard to Harper. Not to Harper, I mean Gerken. Harper started his own sand boat down by Turkeyfoot Creek. He sold to Gerken and Leo Eberwine moved the sand yard from Front Street down to the Damascus bridge. There was no sand up in here. They would have to run that boat back and forth so much. It got to the point where it was no problem for a truck to go four or five miles. Back when it first started out people would come with teams of horses to get sand. They used to put gravel and sand into cement when they made that. Later on they just used concrete sand which is course and then they used mason sand which they used to lay brick.

RP: Now did they have to get a permit from the state?

RJ: Yes they had a permit from the state to pump.

RP: Did they have to pay any tax?

RJ: No, I don’t think they paid no tax. Leo told me one time and I understand it now but he told me they had what they called a mineral depreciation. Leo got to take so much of his profit away because the sand was disappearing. Because the sand was not always going to be there. Ten thousand dollars this year and you would take off maybe a thousand dollars of that in depreciation. Because maybe next year there would be no sand. That’s what they say. When it comes down to it the sand kept coming down and they didn’t run out of it. I walked down to Leo’s one day when he was still down on Front Street and I was sitting down with him and I said aren’t you pumping today. He said no that the power shaft broke and fell into the river and we can’t find it. This was about in 1947. He said it will take about six weeks before I can get a propellor. I said well Dwight Huddle had bought an Army Duck. I told him that thing had a big propellor on it. I said maybe it would work for you. He sent Pup Schroeder out to see. I told him where it was. I think Leo said at that time it was going to cost him $500.00 just for the propellor. The propellor off the duck was just about perfect. Dwight Huddle sold it to him for $10.00. The only thing they done was take it down to Toledo and repitched it. They turned it to give it a little bit more power. So he got a propellor for about $50 to $60 dollars. Every time I wanted sand I got my sand at Napoleon Sand and Gravel awful cheap because I told him about the propellor. He’d say go help yourself. He saved a bunch of money plus he got his guys back to work in less than six weeks.

RP: About what year did you say he sold first to Gerken?

RJ: Let’s see it was in the late ‘50’s, because there was one flood down there in ‘58.

RP: That was the Gerken Paving right?

RJ: Right. Yes the Gerken Paving bought it. He had a cottage, a little building up on top of the hill for his office. There was water almost up to it at Damascus Bridge. Almost up to his shed. That was in ‘58. So it was sometime after ‘58.

RP: You mean that Eberwine sold.

RJ: Yes, that he sold. Then they later on moved down to where they are at now. Right down there on this side of the railroad, on the west side of the railroad down there. The main line. They have a blacktop down there you know.

RP: Aren’t they on the North side of the river?

RJ: Yes now Harper started up a sand yard and he was at Turkeyfoot Creek.

RP: That was on the south side.

RJ: Yes that was the south side of Turkeyfoot.

RP: Didn’t Maher’s have a sand yard too?

RJ: Maher’s cupped sand and they put theirs on a trolley and pulled it up. That would be about right now where the car wash is, the one where you wash yourself. Where the main car wash is where you drive through that is where Maher’s made the ice and stuff.

RP: Right.

RJ: You can remember that.

RP: Oh yes. They were kind of late with the sand stuff, was it just Maher’s that started that?

RJ: I think it was just Maher’s Coal and Ice Co. On behind Maher’s there was a house there and that is where Paul Bargman lived and he was the engineer at Vocke’s Mill.

RP: Right.

RJ: Then there was another house in there I am quite sure, and then there was Matt Becker’s blacksmith shop. Then on down was where Grant had his furniture shop and on down

RP: He made swings. He was a specialty company.

RJ: Yes, and on down. At one time that had been the Woolen Mill. Then beyond that was where Thiesen’s had their lumber yard.

RP: Did you remember that channel that went from the canal to the river?

RJ: I can remember it. Yes, it was back behind about where the smokestack used to sit. It was caved in and us kids used to look into it.

RP: Was it from where the school yard.

RJ: Yes the school yard.


RJ: Where the tennis court used to be, I guess it is still there, behind that, before they got the road through there that was all open and we used to play ball in there. We’d play baseball there.

RP: Oh yes.

RJ: Back there where the Elite Plating Works is, that used to be just a little building, well during the war they put up that big block building along there see. That’s where that channel went under where the road is now.

RP: Do you remember did it look like brick in there.

RJ: Well, it’s been so long ago. I can’t remember that. We used to look into it. I imagine it was brick because I don’t think they would have had Ready Mix cement or anything like that at that time.

RP: It was brick because the one that Frucon uncovered at Snyders that ran down to the Vocke Mill was double bricked.

RJ: Yes, I can remember seeing that one from the river bridgel. I think that must have went about where Snyders is at.

RP: You are right. It went right down the street. They also had a channel for the Woolen Mill. There was also a channel for the saw mill. That would have been where Thiesen & Hildred’s Lumber Company was. Those early industries used the water from the canal.

RJ: That one would have been filled in when they put the football field in. Because the football field at that time, there was just a dirt road down through there and further on down there used to be a bunch of houses there. They were more just like little shanties there. They took and moved them out to Majestic Heights.

RP: I think that the, I heard from old timers, that area down in there, in back of Funkhouser’s, that was called Smokey Hollow.

RJ: Yes, Norman Cupp lived down in there, There were about three houses in there. Norman Cupp lifed in there and, oh she married that Red Yocum,

RP: I can see her, but I can’t think of her name.

RJ: Ah, who was the convict? Oh yes, Jesse James. It was Jesse James’s daughter. They lived down there too.

RP: Oh did they? Was he really Jesse James, or did they just call him that. Oh yes his real name was Jesse James.

RJ: Oh you rmember the girls that were in that show.

RP: Do you mean the Kinsey Komedy?

RJ: The Kinsey Komedy had their tent set up right where now Route 424 is now. That would have been when it was just a canal. They had their show down in there.

RP: About what year was that?

RJ: My Freshman year.

RP: So that would have been 1942.

RJ:  ‘42 or somewhere in there. Barney Perry and I went over there and looked around.      said would you go boys like to earn some free tickets. We said yes. He said they had house trailers there where the people lived in and back in them times they were pretty primitive. So what they’d done, they had a tank there that you would pour water in and they went to a couple of houses to find out where they could get water. And we went to this Jesse James’s house and we had to go into the house to get it and Jesse wouldn’t give us water. I don’t know if it was Norm Cupp’s house that we went to but they had a spigot on the outside. So Barney Perry and I we had to go over there after school to carry water in buckets.and pour it into a thing in the house trailer on the outside so people would have water to drink or to take a bath or to cook and stuff. Well I went every night and carried water. Barney Perry did not go every time. We went to go into the show and he left me go and he grabbed Barney and said you can’t go. He said he’s the only one that has been carrying water, meaning me. He had said you can’t go so I got in the show for free. I had a pass you know. I asked my grandmother, and she went one night.. One night they had a show on and this woman that run it her daughter was really good looking. She got up and they started talking and a bunch of guys down there they started whistling and she stopped right then. She was in front of the show and said this is a show, not a burlesque show. If there are any more cat calls, I can’t remember just how she said it, but you better be leaving. It was quiet then.

RP: I remember them in the ‘30’s when they had them out by the Napoleon Products.

RJ: Yes they had them out there and also where all them houses are now out there across from Charlie Bauman’s. I was out there. Another thing I can remember down in that canal and that was when I was about a Freshman or Sophomore there was some kind of carnival that had come to town. We went down there to build a fire and they had a baloon and this guy sat on a trapeze with a parachute hooked on to the balloon. He was going to go up in the air and then drop down. Well we built a fire and all these kids were standing around and pretty soon the balloon got away from him. It didn’t get as high or as full as it was supposed to. It started drifting and all of us kids ran like Indians after it. It drifted across Vocke’s Mill. It didn’t hit that and drifted across the river and started coming down. This guy he got on the parachute on his trapeze and lifted himself down and hung by his hands and he went down in the river. I don’t know who it was but I think it was Pup Schroeder, but I am not sure who it was, it might have been Fred Sickmiller because I didn’t know him at that time. It happened right where the Hartman’s lived at the end of

RP: You mean Monroe

RP: Yes it was at the end of Monroe St. A boat came over and got him. He was up in the balloon and they had to keep turning him every every which way because he had just about drowned. They got him up in the boat and one of the guys that went and got him, I can remember this, He said you are about two thirds drunk. The guy said don’t you think you’d have to be drunk to do something like this. At that time that is where the airplane used to land. Jim Young wiped out the windshield.

RP: Tell about that. That was in 1940. It would have been Fair time because Eddie Bassett told about the sea plane taking off and landing in the river. It was docked there at the end of Monroe Street. Tell about Jim Young.

RJ: Jim Young was – It was where a pilot would sit out in the open. There was just a windshield and the passengers sat inside.

RP: You see Ed Bassett when he took that picture I have with the name Napoleon spelled out in the brick. He sat with the pilot and took pictures.

RJ: Ted Corder said he was drunk. He opened the door to the airplane and sat with his feet hanging out the door.

RP: I remember the plane held quite a few people inside. At that time they charged $2.00 to go for a ride.

RJ: I was down there but I didn’t know how much they charged.

RP: I watched them take off and land. I went up to the drug store and asked my dad for $2.00. He thought it was a fortune and he didn’t give me the money.

RJ: It was! That is what I made in a weeks time. A whole weeks worth. I don’t know how long they took off. I think it was a guy who I think was a relation to, and you might know who it was, the guy who had the Hatchery. Pharon Heckler’s father in law.

RP: That would be DeTray. Do you think the pilot would have been relation to the DeTrays?

RJ: There was a guy that landed behind Mike Andersons . It wasn’t the same one.

RP: Oh so this was different.

RJ: When he landed there and I was sitting down there and fishing and I think he had said he was relation to DeTray. I talked to him and there was somebody he was relation to that he knew. I am not 100%. What he was going to do was take off and give rides too. Now this was after the war. This might have been in ‘49 or ‘50. This was before I went in the Army. He said was there any wires across the river that I will hit and I said no it was the raildroad bridge and the river bridge are the only obstacles now. There are more obstacles now. Later on when they built Clevite Harris there was a wire going across from there.

RP: What about those people that had outlines? Some of those were wire.

RJ: Yeah it was illegal, but they were wires.

RP: They wouldn’t have been too far under would they?

RJ: No they wouldn’t bother nothing unless they had been floating.

RP: I remember my grandfather he had one down by the island. That was across from the hospital right along in there. He had an outline. In fact he had two of them. One of them was farther on down.

RJ: That’s what I was going to say. There were probably about 15 of them between the river bridge and the railroad bridge. Wilbur Kistner had some in. Joe Kistner had some in. Mike Anderson had some in. Don Cramer had one in. Ted Bordner and Clyde Lloyd had some in. Don Slagle had one in. He worked at the elevator at that time. The fish just between those two bridges just would not get any farther. With all those outlines anyways.

RP: Did you when Mike Anderson had that outline stuff, did you ever get turtles on it?

RJ: Once in a while we did.

RP: Were they a pretty good size? How big in diameter were they. Do you remember.

RJ: I would say roughly oh maybe 12 to14 inches across.

RP: I remember my grandfather caught one once on the outlines and then he cleaned it out and my grandmother cooked it. It was an awful job to clean them out.

RJ: We were seining at Biddies and we caught some one time in a pond and Mike Anderson had two in each hand and I had one in each hand and they were still seining for another one. They were trying to see how many turtles they could get. The last turtle I caught was when I was going down the Neowash Road and just about before you get to Colton Road there was one turtle going across the road. I stopped and I had my old ‘55 Chrysler. I jumped out and grabbed that old turtle by the tail and threw him in my trailer. I gave him to Keller and he cleaned it and cut his hand.

RP: Did he try to cook it and eat it?

RJ: Oh yeah. You see he was cleaning it and he cut his hand with a butcher knife. He went to the hospital and they wrapped him up. She (Wilma) was driving and they went up there to Ayersville, I mean Antwerp, up in that area, and this was in about 1972. There was a ‘70 Buick setting up there in a showroom and he bought it. He went up and asked the guy about two or three times and the guy finally sold it to him.

RP: Yes those were quite the days then.

RJ: Another thing I can tell you about old times is Joe Kistner used to tell me about the old ice house. They used to cut ice by hand and they had a couple of teams of mules and they had horse shoes on and Matt Becker put their shoes on. I seen old Matt Becker do that for Ott Hess. They had cleats (toe caulks) that the blacksmith put on their horse shoes so the horses wouldn’t slip on the ice. Your grandfather Bill Bernicke probably put a lot of them on when he was a blacksmith.

RP: They were toe caulks. Marlene has a wood box that had toe caulks in. A box of toe caulks had been shipped to her grandfather when he did blacksmith work.

RJ: Some way or another they were wedge shaped. There was a hole in the iron shoe and the blacksmith would put them in the shoe and hit them so they would stay in. When they were done with the toe caulks they would put the shoe on the side, hit it with a hammer and the caulks would just pop out. I seen Matt put them in and I seen Matt take them out. Anyway Joe said what they would do is go out there and cut them big blocks of ice. Then they would pull them over to along the bank. They had a skid tied up to that chain and stuff. Then they would put sawdust between them and they stored them up in that ice house.

RP: They used to have a regular ice house down there.

RJ: It was right by the sand yard. Ralph Zimmerman tore it down. They tore it down right after the war.

RP: Do you remember was that Alsbaugh’s Beach going when you were young?

RJ: Oh yeah I have been to that house.

RP: Did people swim there then?

RJ: Oh yes.

RP: About up to what time?

RJ: We moved from Brownell Street to there and that was in 1937. He had died just before that. He died in about ‘35 or ‘36. You have that postcard I gave you.

RP: Yes and it shows the people.

RJ: He used to have a cage there and it had monkeys in it and my grandmother used to take me there. I was just a little kid. He had a place there and he sold pop and ice cream and stuff you see. Then he had that building on the other side where they had dances in. That was a dance hall. And then Ralph Zimmerman bought that and he used it for a storage shed. He had his stuff in there. Then they had two little cottages back in there and people would go in there to change clothes. Ted Corder bought them both and then Ralph when he tore the ice house down he took the lumber and Ted gave him one of the cottages and Ralph built an addition on to the other one and Ted had a three bedroom house there. Not a three bedroom but a three room house there a living room, a kitchen, plus a bathroom. Ralph Zimmerman built that with the lumber there. Right now that is the last house on Front Street along the river.

RP: Is that right.

RJ: That last house was a bath house.

RP: Now did you when you were a kid swim in the river?

RJ: Maybe one or two times.

RP: Not very much right. I know my dad claimed that kids here over on the South side the kids would swim over to Alsbaugh’s. (Alsbaugh’s charged 10 cents to swim and use their beach)

RJ: As long as you stayed in the river he couldn’t say anything. Joe Kistner said that every year. you’d see him and Charlie Alsbaugh were good friends. Joe said that every year in June or somewheres when it got nice weather you know he would get a boat load of sand and take it up there and shovel it off.

RP: You mean to make a beach.

RJ: To make a beach yes. So people when they’d walk out they’d be walking on sand and not rocks until they got out to where they could swim. He had some kind of a strap up there so you could jump off of it and into the river.

RP: You mean kind of like a diving board.

RJ: Yes.

RP: That shows in the picture. That was quite the place then. I remember in one of his ads he mentioned “Healthful Swimming in the Maumee River”. You could swim there for your health.

RJ: He was at one time married to Grace Bowarrd.

RP: Is that right.

RJ:  She was Bill Renolet’s aunt. He said that Grace had a daughter and they went down to the house and somebody come to Charlie’s house and asked “Is your Dad home?” Yes, but he is busy right now. He is marking the cards. (Richard and Russell both laugh out loud) He used to gamble and they’d play cards and bootlegged there. He was going to give her a licking and Aunt Grace wouldn’t let him do it. She had told the truth. She’s said he was marking the cards and he was busy.

RP: She went by the name Bullard in her last years though. I can remember her. She got religion just before she passed away and came to our church. The Dishops would bring her. That was Hugo and Gladys Dishop. In her younger days she was quite the gal.

RJ: Joe Kistner he had her over here at the fairgrounds and they were in the horse barns and Joe said I got down on my hands and knees and felt all around to make sure there were no horse terds in there before we made out. That may have been Ollie Meyers. Charley Shaff was the blacksmith and Charley told a story about Ollie Meyers which was up around where the water works is now he said in one of them cottages up there after church why they was up there hooting and hollering for her to get out of town, get out of town you old bag. Ollie came out and said I have had all of your husbands at one time or another. Charley said they all got up turned around and went away. She died in the house. They said the dog had started eating on her and he said the flies were so thick in there you could almost walk on them.

RP: Did Charley, he was a blacksmith is that right.

RJ: Yes, when I was working there at school why I took a bunch of kids up there a couple of times and showed them how to bend iron and how to heat it and what a blacksmith does. That was when he was over in that where George’s Furniture used to be. That was right across from Ed Peper’s office there.

RP: George’s Furniture.

RJ: Yes that is where George started up at. Years and years ago I think I sold fish there. At one time Fruth sold apples in there during the war. I used to go over there and get apples and cider.

RP: Is that right.

RJ: It was just a cement foundation there and then they built a wooden frame on it. They tore that down and Charley Shaff put up a cement block building up. That is where he went in when he used to be up there on the corner. Now did they own that?

RP: Yes. That is where Charley’s dad made wagons.

RJ: Oh was that his dad the one that done that.

RP: Yes that was Charley’s dad. You see Charley’s brother Frank owned the drug store and on Saturdays Charley would come up and help out. A lot of times all he did was stand back of the counter and customers would ask for cigars and stuff like that. I used to stand up there and talk to him. He would tell me different stories which were interesting.

RJ: I know Clayton Starter told me he used to sell papers on Sundays.

RP: He was quite the fellow. I think he ran around with those fellows, those singers because I would get postcards with Charley Shaff and those singers. Whether they were a group of guys.

RJ: Oh you mean they a bunch of guys that sang together.

RP: No they ran around together.

RJ: Oh you mean Pat Singer.

RP: Yes. I think Charley was friends with those guys.

RJ: See Crook Davis used to work with Pat Singer and I told you that story about how they got a cow.

RP: Tell that one again.

RJ: Crook Davis and Pat Singer went out on the South side out on 108 somewhere and bought a cow. There was a stockyard where Precht had his – down around where Ronnie Meyer used to live on County Road S and 108. Beyond where the viaduct is now where Pharon Heckler used to live. That’s where Beck owned that ground. He’d take all that stuff and just turn it loose in there.and then they butchered in there. Crook said what they’d done was buy that cow out in the country and he had a team of mules and a spring wagon. Crook said they were leading the cow in to town and Crook said as long as they were on this dirt road it was alright He’d walk in the dirt and walk on the grass. So he said they got in to town and that cow rather than stumble on them stones the cow dropped down on his knees. They started pulling the cow. Nat Belknaps father in law (J. P. Ragan) was a Humane Society officer. He came over and hollered at them what are you guys doing with that poor old cow. Crook said the old cow was all sweaty and nervous and had diarrhea. He said poor old boss poor old boss what are they doing to you. He said the cows tail had a bunch of feces on it and he swatted him on the side and said get that son of a bitch out of here. He said Pat cracked the whip and they took off and drove him down through town and when they got out in the country and the cow walked. Then Crook told Bonnie he used to trim the meat.. They would call him up and Crook knew every street in town. Now this was one hundred or so years ago.

RP: Oh yes.

RJ: Well there wasn’t as many streets. He said Lawrence Vocke and who was that guy that lived behind him

RP: Okay I can tell you who it was. It was Ray Bargman.

RJ: Old Lawrence Vocke and Ray Bargman was throwing stones at him. Crook said I jumped out of that buggy, and I had a black snake (whip) I was right behind them and I was cracking it.. so I hit them right against their ass. Old Lawrence Vocke and Ray Bargman run like hell right up to their house. So old lady Vocke called up down to Beck’s (Beck’s Meat Market) and said Crook did this and that. Well Crook had already went in and told him what he’d done. He said Beck said well if you hadn’t bothered Crook he wouldn’t have done it. You tell him that Crook was delivering meat. Crook said, him and Freddy Hacket worked for Charlie Gunther doing the same thing. Charley said him and Freddy Hacked used to race buggies when they were delivering meat and Crook said he’d go down there about where Standard Metal is now not Standard Metal, I mean Automatic Feed and at that time the canal was there and a bunch of houses were there on the other side. He said what he’d do is he’d holler at the people and they would come out of their house and he’d pitch the meat across the canal to them. Pause  I should be going. l What time is it getting to be?

RP: It’s a quarter till 3. Don’t forget to take along your picture. Here I can turn this recorder off.

RJ: That’s about all I can say. Isn’t that what that guy said in that movie.

RP: That’s all folks.

RJ: Now what was his name.

RP: Now tell me what is your name.

RJ: My name is Richard E. Johnson and I was born in 1928 the 24th of April. I am a young man compared to Russell Patterson.

RP: And what town were you born in?

RJ: I was born in Napoleon, Ohio at 221 East Main Street                        321 Brownell Street. Napoleon, Ohio. My mother was Vivian Cramer and my dad was Donald B. Johnson. My Great Grandfather owned Girty’s Island.


Rettig, Emma

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, September 27, 2010; transcribed by Marlene Patterson

CW: Can you give me your name.

ER: My name is Emma Rettig

CW: Emma, did you say you lived in McClure or Malinta?

ER: I live four miles south of McClure.

CW: I wanted to ask you about the big storm of 1978. I understand you and your husband missed it. You had left the day before to head for Florida. Am I correct?

ER: We had left.

CW: But you were telling about your son and your daughter. They lived next door to each other. Is that right?

ER: They lived about 60 rods apart. They didn’t live real close.

CW: They lived close enough they could get to each other if they needed to.

ER: Not during the storm. Not that day. They couldn’t go anywhere. They waited till the next day to leave.

CW: You couldn’t see I guess.

ER: No, my son went out to his barn there to get a propane lighter or something. You know just to heat up a little food or something. They had the two kids. They were little. One was a baby. My son got lost on the way back to the house until he saw a tree that was close to the house.

CW: Oh my.

ER: The other one was four years old at the time. They had no heat in the house. They just stayed in one room and the kids had their snow suits on.

CW: The baby needed to be kept warm. The four year old could probably run around and manage to keep warm.

ER: A lot of people had a lot of trouble during that time. Everybody seems to have made it okay. My son-in-law walked up to my son’s house on the second day and then they all stayed at my son-in-law and daughters house since they had a fireplace. They all slept and cooked and at in the family room in the basement..

CW: People helped each other. I have heard so many stories as to how people helped each other out.

ER: Well our neighbor could see our light here and they didn’t have light and they saw that our pole light was on. If they could have gotten over here they would have been over here.

CW: Because they thought you had electricity.

ER: Yes. They could see that our pole light was turned on.That has been a while ago.

CW: Yes that has been quite a while ago.

ER: What year did you say that was – “78?

CW: Yes that was in 1978. That would have been over 30 years ago. People did cope and they helped each other.

ER: Yes they did.

CW: That’s when you found out how valuable your friends and neighbors and relatives are.

ER: Yes you could count on them.

CW: I don’t think there was anybody that refused to help out, was there? I can’t imagine anybody being like that.

ER: They couldn’t get out at all, not that day. They had to help each other to survive.

CW: Were their doors blown shut or snowed shut?

ER: It was blowing and snowing so bad they couldn’t see. You couldn’t go any place. John went to the barn to get the propane to heat a little soup for them. He couldn’t see his way back into the house. The barn wasn’t very far away.

CW: What did he do then?

ER: He just kind of knew which direction to go. Finally he saw a tree and that was close to the house.

CW: So he knew where the tree was. I have heard of farmers in New England that would get lost going from the house to the barn.

ER: I think of them too how hard it is for them to get through winter. They have to get used to it.

CW: Oh yes they just don’t seem to mind it, I guess.

ER: I wouldn’t want to be in it. It gets cold enough around here.

CW: Have you lived on this farm all of your life?

ER: Not all my life, but sixty-one years I have been here.

CW: Did you come here right after you were married?

ER: No, my husband was in the service for three years. I stayed with my mom and dad.

CW: Oh yes.

ER: We had been married a half a year before he was drafted into the Army. Then he went overseas. He served almost two years all of his three years in the service.

CW: Was he injured?

ER: No, he was in chemical warfare.

CW: Oh my.

ER: But they didn’t use the chemicals. He was lucky in that way.

CW: My father had a friend who was gassed in World War I. He came through it alright but it is nothing to fool with.

ER: Is this all being recorded?

CW: Yes but we don’t have to use it. We won’t worry about it. We will just let that thing do its thing. Now when you were first married, well not first married, when you first came here after the war like you mentioned did you have livestock to take care of?

EW: Yes we did. My husband had cattle for a while too. We didn’t have that much when we came over here. He got into that business for a while.

CW: Did you have to milk a cow?

ER: Oh sure. We had a couple of cows here and later on we had more cows over on another farm. We were there every morning and every night to milk.

CW: That is a hard job.

ER: That place was about two miles from here.

CW: That wouldn’t give you any time off. When they need to be milked they needed it to be done right now.

ER: It was hard to go on vacation.

CW: My husband used to say the dairy farmers earn every penny they make.

ER: We had chickens and we had horses at first too. When the tractors came by that was a lot easier.

CW: Now when did those tractors come. Was that right after World War II?

ER: Yes for us. I don’t think my husband used horses again after he came back from the service. He did use horses before that.

CW: Did you have neighbors near by at that time or not?

ER: Well, they were not too far away.We could get over there real quick.

CW: I grew up in the city so I didn’t get to experience farm life as a young girl. I remember my in-laws lived on a farm near Archbold and every Sunday it seems like every Sunday these people would drive up and they would be relatives from some other town or nearby and they would come and spend the afternoon. Kate, my mother-in-law would cook a dinner for them. Of course the girls would help her.

ER: Oh yes, whoever was there was usually in the kitchen helping.

CW: Yes and there was a lot of camaraderie went on. Did she know Amelia Kryder. She lived just outside of McClure toward Napoleon.

ER: What was her name?

CW: Amelia Kryder.

ER: Yes at one time they lived close to us.

CW: Oh they did!

ER: Out in Bartlow Township. Not the Kryders but the Freytags.

CW: That is what she was as a girl.

ER: Her name wasn’t Emma. I think it was Amelia.

CW: You are right. It was Amelia. She said that when she went to school, she first went to grade school that she didn’t know a word of English. Her teacher only talked in English. She had a hard time because she had to learn how to read and write and so forth and had to learn English.

ER: That is the way it was. I was German too.

CW: Did you have the same experience?

ER: Yes.

CW: Is that right. My sister and I went to the same country school. She was out of school when I started. She was that much older than I.

CW: I see. What was it like when you went to school. You wouldn’t have known what the teacher was saying, is that right.

ER: No, I must have known something. When my brother started school my Aunt was a teacher. She took him along the first week to her school so he could start a little bit.

CW: Oh yes. He was probably used to hearing the language which would have helped.

ER: My Aunt’s school started a week earlier than the one my brother had to attend. Of course my mom talked a little bit of English to us. My dad tried to help too. There were a lot of the students that were German. I had a teacher in my first grade that knew German.

CW: That would have been a big help.

ER: She knew her German. I had one teacher in the fourth grade who did not know German . I had another teacher that was a sister to my first one. She taught 3 1/2 years and then she went back to college. The first one came back to finish the eighth grade. Five of us were still living until this year.

CW: Is that right!

ER: There were five of us girls that finished grade school together.

CW: Did you ever get together?

ER: Not after that. One of them passed away this year but four of us are still living. They are all older than I am.

CW: We are beginning to get to where we live to be pretty old.

ER: One of the girls started a year later than I did. She was nine months older. They left her skip up to where she should be. She was able to handle it.

CW: It was according to what month your birthday fell on.

ER: She started a year later than I did. She was nine months younger. They left her skip up to where she should be. She was able to handle it.

CW: I know for a while parents would push their children to go to school as early as possible. Now it is the opposite. They hold them back.

ER: They put them in preschool so early now. I have a great-granddaughter and she was just three, maybe today, and she is in preschool. She is over here at West Hope. Her birthday is tomorrow.

CW: How many grades do they have at the West Hope school?

ER: They just have preschool. They have three year olds and four year olds.

CW: Didn’t they used to have a primary school there?

ER: Yes, that is where all my children went.

CW: They have a nice building now.

ER: They had school through the eighth grade for three of our children, Then later they had only six grades here. . The one left here when she was in the seventh grade and she went on to Deshler. The boy left in the sixth grade. They didn’t have the upper grades anymore so they had to go elsewhere. They had their choice of going to McClure or Deshler. They went to Deshler. My three older ones went to McClure for high school. The two younger ones didn’t. They went to Deshler. It was Patrick Henry district then.

CW: Oh yes.

ER: We are part of Patrick Henry.

CW: That is a nice school now isn’t it? They have camaraderie and loyalty. It’s a lot like Liberty Center.

ER: I have a daughter who works there. She works in the treasurer’s office. She has been in Kansas City this weekend.

CW: Did she go to a ball game?

ER: Yes to a football game.

CW: And they won too didn’t they.

ER: Their son works for the Kansas City team. He has been there now for ten years.

CW: That would have been fun for them.

ER: He likes to travel. We went there a couple of years ago for a wedding. They got married in Kansas City. They have had so much water. My oldest daughter was coming from New York state. Her children and their family came by train. They were detoured because of water but they made it to the wedding.

CW: Oh my!

ER: It all depends on the weather.

CW: I remember how we used to just sit after we did the dishes. We would just sit and talk and talk. We would tell the same stories over and over. We never got tired of hearing them. It seems to me they were just as funny the fifthteenth time we heard them as they were the first.

ER: Probably.

CW: I often wondered why that was.

ER: Of course sometimes when they went to visit they would play cards. Some of them did. My mom would play Flinch but she wouldn’t play anything else. She would just listen to them talk. They enjoyed each other.

CW: Now what did the men do? Would they just sit in the living room and just talk or would they go outside?

ER: Whatever. Or they would play cards mostly.

CW: Oh yes, a lot of the men would play cards. They would maybe go outside and walk around a bit. They would come back into the house and just talk.

CW: I remember those old stories. They were good stories. Even though we knew how the story ended we loved to hear how different people would tell them. It would always be just a little bit different from this person or that person.

ER: We always give a little different angle to stories.

CW: Yes we do.

ER: It is that way now too. A lot of things are told at a different angle.

CW: That keeps things interesting. What did you do for entertainment as a young girl? What did you enjoy doing?

ER: I didn’t play with dolls very much.

CW: My daughter wouldn’t play with dolls either. She had four brothers. Of course they wouldn’t play with dolls. Every year I would buy a different doll and she would push it away. She didn’t want any part of a doll.

ER: I had a little doll bed and the dolls just slept all the time. I liked running around and playing with my brother. I rode a tricycle or something like that.

CW: Now we know it was better for you. We would all be healthier.

ER: I still have one of my dolls.

CW: You do!

ER: I had two of them sleeping together all of the time. The head on one of my dolls came apart for some reason. I guess she was getting too old.

CW: They just couldn’t stay together.

ER: I didn’t think of glueing it back together at that time.

CW: Did it have a china head?

ER: Oh yes. This one I have now does too. I will have to show that to you.

CW: You are lucky to still have it.

ER: I didn’t have any little brothers or sisters to play with the dolls either. I was the youngest.

CW: That would have made a big difference. How many brothers and sisters did you have?

ER: There was just the one brother.

CW: Oh there were just the two of you.

ER: He was two years older than I. I was a good climber and he would always tell Mom what I was doing or where I was.

CW: He would have been a tattletale.

ER: Then Mom would come and get me down. I might have been up on the grain binder swinging my legs or something. I had to walk to school. I had almost a mile to walk.

CW: They had a school located every two square miles they said.

ER: Schoolhouses were two miles apart at that time.

CW: Oh they were.

ER: Well it would give you, if you were on the side roads, it would give you over a mile to walk. I had almost a mile to walk.

CW: Did your mother pack you a lunch in the morning?

ER: Yes, and it sure didn’t taste good out of a tin dinner bucket.

CW: What did you carry in your dinner bucket?

ER: I don’t know but I think I did the packing. You know it was in the bucket for a half of a day by lunch time and when I got home I was hungry. I would look in the cupboard and see what they had for lunch. I would just help myself.

CW: You were a pretty independent kid.

ER: Well I guess we had to be. All we had to drink, we didn’t carry any milk to drink at school. We had to pump water out of the pump outside. I never carried anything to drink.

CW: You probably didn’t carry a cup or anything to drink out of. Everybody just drank out of the well and used the common cup that was hanging there by the pump.

ER: Yes and sometimes we would have an apple. They were good. We might have a cookie. My mom worked in Toledo before she was married. She was cooking for some people. She knew when she got married how to cook. She was a good cook.

CW: I was going to tell you that my first husband, we would go to my mother-in-law. She had the ideal family of two children. I had an Aunt Mary who had six children and they had so much fun playing together. I thought the ideal family would be six children. I thought we would end up somewhere between the two numbers. My goodness they kept coming when we didn’t expect them. We had five. I have never been sorry.

ER: Of course my daughter lives in the Buffalo area. She just lost her husband this year.

CW: That is pretty young.

ER: We had her during the war too.

CW: She was your oldest one?

ER: She would call me every week. She would either call me or I would call her. She has two children and they live close to her. They each have two children. So she has grandchildren. The oldest one is twelve. The two boys are in the fourth grade and the little girl is in the second grade. My oldest great grandchild is Kaitlyn, she lives close here.

CW: Now do they come to the family home at Christmas time?

ER: Do you mean up here?

CW: Yes.

ER: Some of them usually do. Not at Christmas time because they are busy in their church there. My daughter is the organist and my son-in-law was the choir director. They are needed there and the grown-ups are all in the choir there. They get together every weekend. They go to one or the other homes.

CW: Oh they do!

ER: They will have a supper or a lunch together on weekends. The kids get to play together then.

CW: Do you get to go to those too?

ER: When I am up there yes I get to go.

CW: Oh so this would be up at Buffalo.

ER: They are in the Buffalo area. My grandson works in Buffalo but my granddaughter and her husband they are both teachers. One teaches math and the other teaches science. My daughter was a math teacher too.

CW: It must run in the family.

ER: She didn’t teach anymore after she had her children. She did some subbing, but just at the parochial school there. They went to a school and it was closed up so they don’t have it anymore.

CW: My sister was going with a boyfriend and he got a car that had a rumble seat. They were going to go to Buffalo. I was teased and teased and they left me ride in the rumble seat. It was quite a long trip to get to Buffalo. I was so excited and I got in that car and the wind just blew and blew. I just couldn’t wait to get back home again.

ER: That would be quite a ways.

CW: It was not comfortable.

ER: That is about 350 miles away.

CW: See I lived close to Bufflao and it was only about a hundred miles away. Still in those days that was a long way. Those rumble seats they just look so nice. We didn’t have convertibles at that time.

ER: You know it was alright going a little ways, but going a hundred miles you would have to hang on.

CW: Tell me about your wedding. Where was the wedding held? Yes, your wedding when you were a young girl.

ER: We just went to have our wedding vows at our Pastor’s house with some of our family.

CW: It was so much simpler in those days wasn’t it.

ER: I think some of the weddings are just too big.

CW: I do too.

ER: Those great big weddings, and the first thing you know is they are separated. Not all of them, but some of them.

CW: Yes, and they have started to give such expensive gifts. For a lot of people it is hard to scrape up enough for a gift. It really isn’t necessary.You can get married in your living room and you can have a perfectly good marriage.

ER: Of course this was war time too when we were married.

CW: Oh yes. I think it was quite common in those days to get married at the parsonage.

ER: Yes, and I hadn’t even told my brother we were going to get married.

CW: Oh you didn’t!

ER: My mother and dad knew it of course. My brother came over on a Saturday morning and Mom and I were doing something in the kitchen and we told him.

CW: He probably didn’t think his kid sister would be getting married.

ER: He had been married a couple of years at that time.

CW: Now did you have a long wedding dress?

ER: No.

CW: What did you wear?

ER: I just wore a nice dress. That is what people did a lot at that time. I didn’t want to be a formal bride.

CW: That doesn’t sound like you. You were kind of a tomboy.You didn’t want a long flowery gown I bet.

ER: I didn’t have a dress that was long.

CW: That is what I did when I was married. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

ER: You know it was a lot easier for my mom. She didn’t have to prepare a big meal or anything.

CW: So did you have a reception at your house or something afterwards?

ER: Yes, just for those that were at the wedding. There was eight of us or so. His mother wasn’t living at the time. He came from a big family where there were nine children.

CW: Oh yes! Did you know him when you were a child?

ER: No, not really. We didn’t go to the same school.

CW: How did you happen to meet him?

ER: Oh young people would get together some place. I met him that way. We were in with a big crowd. We would walk places at that time. People didn’t always have cars.

CW: Would they walk to somebodies house?

ER: Yes, and a whole bunch of young people would be there. Young people from the same area would get together.

CW: I bet that would have been a lot of fun.

ER: Later on they would have cars too.

CW: You wouldn’t have had to worry about traffic in those days. You wouldn’t see too many people with fast cars.

ER: I really don’t know. We just would get together and get acquainted that way. Girls and boys both.

CW: Had you noticed him ahead of time or had he noticed you?

ER: I really don’t know.

CW: I just bet he had you all picked out ahead of time. He found a way to meet you.

ER: He went to a different church school and he knew I went past there.

CW: Oh he probably saw you going past, I bet.

ER: Our church was one mile east of his church. They were both Lutheran churches.

CW: Did they have a parochial school?

ER: No they didn’t have a parochial school. We did in the summertime go to church school.

CW: Oh yes. For our future generations would you explain why you had church school and what it was like in the summer. I imagine these children don’t know.

ER: We went all summer from the first part of May to the end of July. We walked and that was two miles away.

CW: That would get pretty hot during that time. You would leave in the morning and then what time did you get done?

ER: I think we got excused around 4 o’clock.

CW: So you would have been there all day.

ER: We had to carry our lunch.

CW: What did you study then?

ER: We had Bible History and Catechism. We had to learn to write the German language.

CW: That would have been good for you too.

ER: We were learning High German and we talked Low German at home. It was different.

CW: Yes it would have been very different. It’s a different language.

ER: One set of my grandparents they were East German. That was on my mom’s side.

CW: I had never heard of that.

ER: That is a different dialect of German too. A lot of people couldn’t understand that. There weren’t very many Frisian Germans around here.

CW: Now where would they have been located in Germany?

ER: They were from an area close to Denmark.

CW: Was this in Northern Germany?

ER: It was close to Friesland..

CW: I don’t know what that means.

ER: Oast means east.

CW: Oh yes, because Denmark would be north and east.

ER: I don’t remember all of it anymore. I haven’t spoken German for a long time. I really don’t remember all of it now. My children didn’t learn it. My husband and I we didn’t talk German at home. He was kind of High German and I was Low German so we talked English.

CW: When we went to Germany. —-We have to watch my recorder here because it will stop and if we keep on talking and it won’t pick anything up.

ER: You can turn it off if you want to.

A loud train can be heard blowing its’ whistle and chugging along on the train tracks close to her house.

ER: It’s 3 o’clock and that is the time for the train to come through. It is really kind of neat. I got this at the alumni banquet. (Emma is showing her a clock that has a train whistle to identify the hours).

CW: I wonder where they would have found it.

ER: I don’t know. They probably found it in Deshler, Ohio. There is a train crossing there.

CW: What are they going to be doing in Deshler? They have a big change coming.

ER: Trains go through there pretty fast now.

CW: Oh does it! I remember when there were two girls that were walking to school in McClure and got hit by a train.

ER: That has been a number of years ago. I don’t know if we were over here already maybe. Of course we have been here sixty-one years now.

CW: Then you would have come right after World War II.

ER: No, we lived over in Bartlow Township at that time. My husband rented this place and later we built here.

CW: This house must have been remodeled a lot.

ER: We built this.

CW: It is a pretty house.

ER: We built this when we bought the farm. The other house had no air conditioning. It was cold in the wintertime especially. It was hard to heat. We were going to remodel it and put a furnace in. It would have cost us about as much as building a new house.

CW: Now you have a good sturdy house and it has served you well over the years.

ER: We have been in it for 38 years now so it is not a new house.

CW: It’s a very nice comfortable place to raise your family. You have plenty of room for the kids to go outside and run.

ER: We had all the children already before we built this house.

CW: My mother used to say “Oh for heavens sake, go outside and play”. We would be fighting or something and we would go outside and say what are we going to do. It would take us less than five minutes to think of something.


Rentz, Luella

World War II Experiences

Interviewed by C. Wangrin, August 2002

I graduated in Ridgeville Corners in 1938 and I took all my subjects in science and math, thinking of going into nurse’s training, but my Dad wasn’t even at my graduation. He was in the hospital, so how could I tell my mother that I wanted to go to college? Well, I was fortunate enough that the Commissioners asked me to work at the Henry County Home. I worked there as a hospital maid and cook. My sister was working in Ft. Wayne. She was getting homesick and wanted to quit her job. But she was making more a week than I could make in a month so I said, “Don’t come here; I’ll come up there.” So I worked at General Electric six months. And then I saw the sign pointing at me, “IF YOU JOIN NOW YOU CAN GET IN THE HOSPITAL CORPS IN THE WAVES,” and so I thought, “Boy, that’s for me!” and so I quit my job at General Electric and I went to St. Albans, er, I went to Hunter College first for training and then all those that had some hospital experience, which I did–I worked at the Henry County Hospital and the County Home Hospital–we were sent directly to a hospital for training. So I was sent to St. Albans, Long Island, the Navy hospital there.

Well, the handwriting was already on the wall that there was going to be a war and it wasn’t long. When D-Day come I remember staying up till ten o’clock one night helping to admit fellows to our ward and it’s something that you never, never will forget because they looked like kids, young boys that had been into battle. I remember one fellow that had both arms and both legs off and so you had to do everything for them. And I remember lighting a cigarette for him so that he could smoke. I enjoyed my work in the doctor’s office of this orthopedic ward, but then we had to take turns cleaning the Waves’ quarters. And while I was there on duty for that the girl that was in charge of the ship’s service quarters got a call, so I was just handy to be put in charge of the store,  temporarily. So there I was managing a ship’s service store in Waves’ quarters. I sold uniforms and cosmetics and cigarettes and things like that to the girls. And, ah, I really liked it there. It wasn’t what I intended to do but I got $25.00 a month extra for this job so how could I say no?

That was a lot of money in those days.

Yeah, and besides they were right next door to a beauty shop and they were so grateful that I had cigarettes for sale and so I got my hair done for nothing as an appreciation for it.

I might be called a religious fanatic but I think sometimes we’re put in a certain place for a purpose, because here I was in New York when my brother got leave, Well, he jumped ship a couple times and he came to see me. And my husband-to-be at that time was in New York and he came to see me, and a classmate, Wilford Bockelman, was taking some classes there and he came to see me. So it just seemed it was supposed to be that I was there at that time.

My grandmother didn’t want me to go into the service but at the same time she was looking up addresses for me to look up: her cousin that was in Brooklyn and a lady that she at the age of seven got to know when they came here on the ship from Germany, so I had to look them up, and so I had places to go. It was just like I said, the Lord looks after you and it was that when those people came to see me it was as if it was meant to be.

And then I learned a lot too when I was in the service. What do we know here in Ridgeville Corners? ‘Lutheran, Lutheran.’ And when I got there, they had a party once for the Waves and I got a box with an invitation inviting me to some people’s house, and they were Christian Scientists. And so I learned a little bit there, and my two roommates were Catholic so I learned a little bit there. Yeah, it broadened my education in that respect. And they had services right there on the base too and, uh, so I went to several baptisms and some people saw to it that I went regular.

I had a dry cleaner that picked up Waves’ clothes and he was Jewish, a real friendly Jew. I was invited to their house at different times and I learned a lot there. I remember one time, it was Easter time and I, being brought up in Ridgeville, knew that if you went someplace you should take a hostess gift. So I went to a delicatessen and I picked up a couple big Easter bunnies to give to their children. And when I got there I found out that was the wrong thing to do. The father said he’d find a way to sneak it in to them but his wife said, “If you do I’ll break every finger in your hand!” because it was against their religion to at that special time to have any kind of food in the house. I don’t know what happened to the bunnies. But I learned. I meant no offense by doing that but I was just too dumb about their religion. (laughs) I think a lot of people should go different places and learn different life styles that they have.

I made a lot of lasting friendships while I was in the service. In fact, I had one family, I think it was the Christian Scientists, that came here to Ridgeville to visit me. We had an outside toilet so that was an experience for them too!

C: Coming from New York City…

Coming from New York City, but they learned too. It was a real good visit. And some people from here came to visit so while I was on duty these people took them around and they got to see a lot more of the city than they would have otherwise.

At Easter time somebody–I guess they thought it was a good joke–they brought me a little live chick and they even brought food for it. It was an attraction and people enjoyed it. But then I heard we were going to have an inspection so now what would I do? I knew they weren’t allowed so I put it in a shoe box and hid it behind some boxes in the spare room. Well the inspectors came and looked over everything. They got in the back room and sure enough–‘cheep, cheep!’ One of them said, “You can sure tell it’s spring.” He evidently thought the noise was coming from outside.

The next weekend I looked up an address that my Grandmother had given me–they lived in the Bronx–and so I took the chicken on the subway ride with me and delivered it to them. It was quite an experience, yeah. (laughs)

Somebody thought that was funny I guess and so they brought me a little wooden dog. Well I tied it to a table leg and pretty soon an article came out in their newspaper that said, “Well, _____ must want to be transferred to Brooklyn. They have a tree there.

When you were in the hospital did you take care of any returning sailors?

Yes, as I said on D-Day. They were in casts and things like that, but my roommate worked in a mental ward and she’d come back and cry a lot of times. It was hard on her. They’d think they were out on the field and they’d yell ‘Medic! Medic!’ and it was hard. They were just kids fresh out of school. It was hard on them.

My brother wanted so bad to get in the Navy and he thought he might be drafted into the Army, so my father had to go up and get his diploma when he graduated. Yeah, it was definitely hard on the boys.

People are the same all over. It was a real education for me.


Reinbolt Family

Submitted by Lucille Erdmann Sholeen, September 7, 2008

My earliest recollections of going to my Great Grandmother Reinbolt’s farm are from the mid 1920’s. As a child, I remember going to the farm — which was a large, two-story, 10-room, red brick house, with a slate roof, and 5 porches. This house had very high ceilings, with 2 bedrooms downstairs and 4 upstairs. In addition to the regular kitchen, with a wood-burning stove, there was a summer kitchen connected at the rear. When winter came, the door to the summer kitchen was closed. This made for a cool house during the summer. To my knowledge, the house still stands and is located south of the Maumee River.

As I recall, there was a large barn and several out — buildings, which probably housed the farm animals. My mother Josephine Margaret Ingle has told me there were horses, cows, pigs, lambs, etc. In fact, she had a pet lamb. She also told me they had a black walnut grove. Nearby, there was also a large wooded area south of the farm property. She used to go down to the woods, pick wild flowers (Trillium, commonly known as Wake Robin) and sit in the poison ivy! The family could fish in the Maumee River. Great Grandma Reinbolt’s sons, Clay & George (so close in age they were almost like twins) were forbidden to swim in the river, however, they would take off their clothes, take a swim, come home with wet hair and deny the act, so their mother knew they  did swim.

My great grandparents were: George Reinbolt, from Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio and Mary Josephine Halteman, of Napoleon, Ohio — married on the 13th of October, 1868, by Reverend J.V.Carrol. Her parents were Henry Halteman, and Louisa F. Lautenschlager, who were married in 1847 by Squire Abels. Henry was born in 1818, in Montgomery County, PA. Louisa was born in 1828, in Wurtenberg, Germany.

George & Mary’s first child was Alice E., born September 25, 1869, in Seneca County. Evidently they moved, because the next child, Leo A. was born April 13th 1871 in Henry County. All of the rest of the children were born in Henry County. Next was Annice (Annie) C., born April 9th 1873; then Charles A., born July 21st 1875. Clement (Clay) A., was born June 14th 1877, then came George M., born Oct. 3rd 1878; and last was Lucille L., born June 23rd 1881. All of these children survived. Their progeny was eleven grandchildren. None had seven children.

George Sr. died December 11, 1915; his wife Mary J. died February 9, 1931.

Annice (Aunt Annie) Porter — Sideheimer died December 16, 1928. Her first husband, Dr. J.A.Porter, MD, had passed on. Alice Sherman died December 4, 1958. Dr. Charles Reinbolt died October 30, 1960. Clay Reinbolt died August 30, 1961, and Leo Reinbolt died at the age of 91 in 1961. My grandmother, Lucille Ingle, died March 15th 1971, while living in a nursing home in Napoleon. I have an old photograph of my great grandparents, their children and respective spouses. I have no record of the death of George.

In 1898 George, Sr., having left the Catholic Church, became interested in the I.B.S.A (this could be Independent Bible Society of America) and for 12 years, studied the Bible daily and remained faithful to this study to the end. The bone of contention was that, after my Great Grandmother had 7 children and raised 3 orphans, the priest on a Sunday, sometime after her last child, asked her if it “wasn’t time to have another child?” She said, “No, that’s our business!!” That took care of the situation, and they left the church. She was a farm woman who spoke her mind, but people liked her. There was many a Sunday when friends gathered on their front lawn and picnicked.

The earliest memory I have — as a little child — was being put to bed on the antique love seat (now in our living room), which was turned around to the wall to keep me in, and, waking up in the night I went into my parents’ room crying that, “grandma sounded like a moo cow!” I went to see my Great Grandmother as a child, until my seventh year. I recall the old pump organ in the front room, which my Grandmother Lucille, could play by ear — and I would put my pink tutu on and dance.

As I got older, there were Reinbolt family reunions, one of which was held in the farm house after my great grandmother died. We brought my brother Paul, who was born in March of 1931, and my grandmother Lucille proudly carried him around, in his bassinet, showing him off to the relatives. There were other reunions for a few years. When they ended I don’t know.

I don’t remember ever meeting Uncles Leo and Clay, but do remember Aunt Annie, whose husband, Dr. Porter and the famous Victor Herbert, held musicales in the Porter living room when they lived in Greensburg, PA. Uncle George, my mother and I boarded a train in Chicago and went to Aunt Annie’s funeral service. That was the first time I had met Aunt Annie’s son, Worth Porter. As an adult, he became a career army officer and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.

I personally knew Aunt Alice, Aunt Annie, Uncle Charles (Doc) and Uncle George. Speaking of Uncle George, he occasionally lived in the Chicago area, and also lived in San Francisco, experiencing the devastating earthquake of 1906. George was quite the ladies man, married three times and was living with a woman, not his wife, at the time of his death in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He never had children, probably afraid they’d be the rascals he was.

Aunt Alice and her husband August Sherman lived in Napoleon, on the north side of the Maumee River. Their son, Paul Sherman, was a very good friend of my mother. He and his wife Josephine never had children. The second son, Francis was married and had a daughter Debbie and I believe a son, but that marriage didn’t last.

When I was quite small, my parents and I visited Uncle Doc (Charles Reinbolt, MD) in his home in Sherwood Forest — which at that time was an exclusive area of Detroit, Michigan. Their home was quite wonderful, complete with live-in servants. In addition to his practice of homeopathic medicine, I’ve been told he owned drug stores. They had a son and two daughters.

My Grandmother, Lucille, married my Grandfather, Elmer Cowdrick Ingle on June 14, 1898. My mother was born Jan 8, 1900, an only child. I don’t know the year they were divorced. Because my Grandmother had to find employment, and moving elsewhere, my Great Grandmother raised my mother. My Grandfather remarried and lived in Toledo, Ohio, and had one son Jack. I don’t remember when my Grandmother bought the house in Cleveland and opened it as a rooming house, which my family and I visited occasionally. She was extremely talented at quilting, crocheting, and embroidery work. Sorry to say, we used the many beautiful quilts she sent like bed sheets. They would be very costly today. I still have crocheted table cloths, pillow edging, and crocheted bed spreads.

My Mother, Josephine Margaret Ingle married my Father, Alfred Paul Erdmann on July 26, 1920, in Toledo, Ohio. My Dad, who lived in Chicago, met my Uncle George in a bar in Chicago and they became friends. When Uncle George went home to Napoleon to visit family, he took my Dad with him. And that’s how my Mom & Dad became acquainted. After their marriage, they moved to the north side of Chicago, and I was born in 1922. In 1924, they bought a house in Homewood, Illinois, where I grew up. At that time he worked at the Chicago Bank & Trust Company, and then the Chicago Bank of Commerce, which folded during the depression in 1931. Through prayer, he was only out of work for three days, when he found employment at the solid Northern Trust Bank of Chicago. At this time, my brother Paul was an infant, born March 8, 1931. He passed on in November 2001.

Carl R. Sholeen, a native of Chicago, and I met at a youth gathering in 1947, went together until October 1, 1949, when we got married in my hometown. After his service in the Navy at Great Lakes Naval Center from 1950-1951 during the Korean Conflict, we had our first son Jeffery Paul on October 11, 1952, while living in an apartment in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. Our second son Todd Carl was born December 13, 1956, after moving into our first house in Harvey, Illinois. It was at this time that Carl sold real estate and subsequently became an appraiser for Talman Federal Savings & Loan Association — ultimately becoming the largest in Chicago. In 1964 we moved to our current home in Glenwood, Illinois. He continued in this work for over 40 years, becoming the chief appraiser for LaSalle/Talman Bank in Chicago, and president of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Real Estate Appraisers in 1989 – now the Appraisal Institute. He retired from the bank in 1995, but continues to appraise commercial real estate for a former staff member’s company.

My working career began at a bank in Chicago, but when WWII started, and a lot of women were going into the service, I decided to do something, so I went to work for the main office of the Chicago Chapter of the American Red Cross, on Wabash Avenue. I worked in the purchasing department, where all of the supplies were ordered for all the departments of the chapter, and the many other satellite offices. I later worked in the Entertainment Dept., where we sent volunteers as well as big name entertainers to visit servicemen in the hospitals in the area. I left there in 1952 before our oldest son was born. My current interests include: my home, church and P.E.O. membership, which is a philanthropic educational organization for women.

Our oldest son now lives in New York City and is a successful real estate agent with the title of senior vice president of the well known Corcoran Group. He has not married. Our younger son and his wife Heather live in north suburban Barrington, Illinois and have our two grand children — Philip Carl and Bonnie Clare, now 14 and 11 years old. Phil starts his freshman year of high school, Bonnie starts 6th grade. Todd is now a vice president of Charter One Bank, in the Government Banking Division. Both of our sons have Masters Degrees.

Voigt, Reevea Jeannette

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, November 3, 2003, with help from Jackie (Howe) Sautter

Interviewer: Can I get your name please?

RV: Reevea Voigt.

I:. Do you remember anything about your parents and families when you were younger? RV: Yes.

I: Is there anything particular that you remember?

RV: Well my mother ran a restaurant. She was the head cook at the five-hundred hospital. My father worked for the United States government and was in charge of the stock room at Wright Patterson AFB. That included gases like oxygen and hydrogen in a tank.

I: Could you tell us anything about your childhood?

RV: Well I’m an only child and as a child I was very very very heavy. I wasn’t heavy when I was a baby but at the time I was ready to graduate from high school I weighed 250 and wore size 42 dresses. So I was a fat kid and that wasn’t popular to be fat.

I: Is there anything historical that you remember in your childhood, anything happening?

RV: Well I remember the day that World War II broke out, very vividly. That’s probably the most. It was a Sunday. We went to my Dad’s uncle’s that day. They were fanners who did custom bgutchering. In the kitchen we sat around a big table and once we fginished eating all the fellows went out to listen to the radio in the car while the women did the dishes and they heard the announcement. So they rushed back in and everyone started listening to the radio. Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

I: What would a regular day be? Well in grade school you were in a class, in a classroom and sometimes it was like two classes in a rom and they would have like all of the first grade and half of the other, like half of the second and all of the third grade, but sometimes you had a grade and a half.

I: Looking back what changes would you have liked to see in the world? What did you decide to become after college? What did you take during college?

RV: I started out to be a dietician but I wound up being a school teacher. I was to go to Bowling Green University and when I got there they had done away with diatetics. I had to declare something so I declared Education and then left Bowling Green. I went back to Wittenberg and got my degree there. I worked in the daytime and went to night school so it took me 13 years to get my degree. During that time i took everything I could pertaining to Library Science and they still didn’t have enough pertinent courses so I took some at College of St. Mary’s of the Springs. Then it was back to Springfield. I taught in NC-B local schools on the west side of Clark County; then I had to drive 50 miles to get to Columbus.

I: Is there anything else that is important that we did not cover?

RV: Church. Church is very important to us.

I: Reevea, can you talk more about World War II beginning? How old were your?

RV: Well it started in ’41. I would have been in the first grade. But anyways it was on a Sunday and we were at a great aunt of mine’s house and her husband’s for dinner and my grandparents were there and the seven of us all went out and there was a car radio in the barnyard, you know, and somebody came running in and said we’ve been attacked!

I: Okay. So what was that day like then? I mean you just said it was a Sunday, I mean what was the feeling that you had?

RV: Pretty shocked. They had no idea that this was going to take place or that the Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor to start that war. You know.

I: And what was it your dad did? Did your dad or anybody go into the service then at that time?

RV: No, he was . . .

I: Well did you have brothers or anything that did go into the service?

RV: No, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. My Dad is an only child. He missed having to go into the service during World War II by, I think it was like ten days when his birthday was and they stopped it. Though I was only a child I was so afraid he’d be taken and possibly die they took me to a Psychiatrist where my father had to state clearly that he wouldn’t be drafted. (Here Reevea is close to tears.) But during that time he worked in one of the army plants and was in charge of all the liquid gases, the oxygen and the hydrogen and the nitrogen and so forth, that was sent out to different places from this factory.

I: And then what about your mother, what did she do at that time? I mean did she have anything that really affected her?

RV: She worked in school lunch rooms and did catering for factory parties and weddings. I So the war didn’t really affect her that day when we were bombed?

RV: Well, do you remember the days when John F. Kennedy was shot? World War Ii was probably three times that great. It was just the same thing. And that was just everybody was flabbergasted you know, but news didn’t travel like it does now.

I: Okay, going on to a different subject, what type of involvement with the church did you have? Now you can start your thing in the war time.

RV: Well it’s not necessary. I mean that’s the period of time that you’re talking about right now. At that time we lived in North Hampton which was 10 miles away from Springfield, but our church was in Springfield, so it was difficult to find gas to get there. So all you did was go to church and that was about it because of the gas rationing and you only got so much gas and you had to stance (sp?) to get it , and so you used your gas to go to church and back on Sunday but there was not gas to go as a group. When I was a teenager we couldn’t go on Wednesdays or Thursdays or whatever day that whenever you liked to go.

I: Did they have several services even though the gas was rationed?

RV: I don’t remember.

I: I mean did they have like Wednesday or midweek services or just because of gas.

RV: I’m sure they had them in the town because people could walk but we wouldn’t have been able to go 10 things as they have today.

I: So okay, now can you tell me about what type of involvement with the church did you have?

RV: That was about all I remember until I married Louis and then I thought I’d married someone that was not going to sit in church all that time, but when you were married to a preacher you sit in church most of the time.

I: So your husband is a preacher?

RV: Between preachers. They didn’t ordain him because of his hearing problems. He wouldn’t be able to hear what you or I had to say to him, to get it straight. So he was the one who got his—Master’s I think—anyway he came back and trained pastors that came to school.

I: So that is how the church was a big part of your life, wasn’t it.

RV: Yes. You know, 26 years.

I: So with Louis doing that you took up a new big thing?

RV: Since I’ve been married to him, yes.

I: Okay, is there anything else you would like to add. . . any comments you’d like to make or anything? Anything that you think you should add to this?

RV: Well as far as my early life, I lived three houses from my grandparents in a small town on the same street and there were three houses between us and their land was kind of like a U when Dad bought the one tail of it. So whenever we would have company or something we would go down to Grandma’s the next day and she would say, “Ohh. . . who was at your house last night? There was a car on the driveway.” You know how small towns are.

I: Yes, everybody knows everybody. Well I’d like to thank you for this interview and hopefully everybody can enjoy it too. Thank you Reevea.

Reese, Ben and GraceAnn (Honeck)

Interviewed by C. Wangrin, October 22, 2004

(This oral history has not been fully edited or checked for quality control.)

C: They’re going to take me on a little tour of their house and tell me about it. When was this house built?

B: The original portion of the house was built in 1853 by Washington L. Heller, who would be GraceAnn’s great-great grandfather. He was the brother of Samuel Heller who donated his home for the first hospital in Napoleon.

C: Yes, I remember that.

B: Then the house was renovated a couple of times, but most drastically in the late 1800’s when GraceAnn’s great-grandfather, Russell B. Heller, converted it to the Queen Anne style architecture. It remained largely in the same mode for many years. GraceAnn and I added a room and made several improvements to the home in 2001-2002. That’s what you are seeing today.

C: It’s certainly impressive.

G: The entrance was the front porch. At one time it was wide open, in fact at one time Mother had the front porch painted white and we went back and took the white paint off to put it back to the original. There are stones that are actually fit into the work on the front porch. We speculate, we’re not absolutely positive, but my great-grandparents both traveled quite a bit. These were stones which were probably brought back from some of their trips because they’re all just a little different.

C: Each one just a little different from the other. Interesting. This is an old, old desk here, isn’t it? I remember seeing desks like that.

G: That used to be upstairs and it would come out from the wall and there was a bed on the back. It would pull out for guests. It has the drawers and the shelves; it had everything that you could put your clothes on so it was for company when it came. The piece that held the mattress is still up in the attic, but it was just warped and we certainly didn’t need it. The wicker furniture out here on the front porch was done at our cottage at Lakeside on Lake Erie, which belonged to my great-great grandfather originally. The wicker furniture was my mother’s first furniture that she had when she went into housekeeping. Mom gave the cottage back to the Lakeside Association. We no longer could use it as much as we thought we should be able to. I made the request that I have the wicker furniture. This little piece over here I played with as a child. It was finished painted white with a brown lacquer over it. I refinished it because I really didn’t care much for that.

C: Do you remember playing with that as a child? G: These are stickers that I put on there

C: Oh, really?

G: I didn’t refinish that part so it would still be there. C: Is that an old family Bible?

G: Yes, this is one that came from Lakeside. This is a picture of my mother, my grandparents and my great-grandparents at the cottage.

C: I remember pictures like that. I don’t know how they got that effect. The glass is curved.

G: That’s my mother on the hammock. This was Mother’s little iron. She used to tell me that back in those days most of them had help at home. When the lady was doing the ironing, she would keep her little iron there so she could iron along with her and not burn her fingers.

B: Most of those irons came from salesmen’s samples when the family had a hardware store downtown.

G: Right. This is a salesman’s sample and Mom said she played with this as a little girl. Her grandfather brought it home for her so she could play with it.

C: My mother used to tell that a traveling salesman who stayed at their house over night gave her a little washing machine. It was a little tiny thing, she loved it.

G: These chairs came down through the family. One of these chairs I re-caned to see just how hard it was to do. I was told you couldn’t have chosen a harder thing to do because a round seat is the hardest pattern. I learned to do it, so I felt very good about that. These pictures are all family pictures. I’ve been very blessed that this house has never been outside the family. That’s the reason Mom always wanted it kept in the family. She said, “You’ve got such a nice house in the country.” I said, “Mom, someday we’re not going to be able to take care of that big house and all the property.” This piece is one of the few pieces that doesn’t actually belong in the house, but it is Napoleon history. It’s a hall tree. It belonged to the Morrisons who lived on the South Side. They had a grocery store there. They had a lot of very beautiful furniture, and Ben’s parents knew their son who got them to get rid of some belongings he still had stored here. They had an auction, and Dad bought that at the auction, and it survived their father, thank goodness.

C: This originally belonged to your family, then? I can just see them hanging their hats on that.

B: No, they actually purchased it from the Morrisons. GraceAnn’s mother, who was Ruth Heller, was an only child and an only grandchild.

G: Mom said everybody considered her a spoiled brat because she was the only one. Her grandparents would carry a cushion for her to sit on in the pew at church. She was just very much babied. When she went away to college and got her teaching degree, they wouldn’t give her a job right here which would have been a block away. They said she’ll never last, she’s just too spoiled. She isn’t serious. So they gave her a schoolhouse out in Colton. A one-room schoolhouse. She said she taught kids who were older than she was. There was a stove, and she had a lot of older kids who would help carry the firewood in, and that was her first year. The second year she was out at Dietrich school, which she had to walk to teach. Finally they decide if she managed to handle those two country schools, she must be serious. She finally got a job here just a block away from home. She taught there for 35 years. She went to college one year, and then went back. She went to Ohio Wesleyan, Ohio Northern, and Bowling Green. She ended up graduating from Defiance College, but she took a lot of course in the summertime to keep her degree current.

This used to be my great-grandfather’s library, but we reversed the two rooms and made this into the music room. This piano was given to my mother for her 18th birthday from my great-grandfather.

C: That still has the old ivory keys.

G: This piano actually had the ceiling fall on it at Lakeside. All the strings were rusted in place and it was just a mess. I have antiqued it green, it used to be popular to do that kind of stuff. When Mom passed away, because we have Ben’s mother’s Steinway, I offered this piano to my nieces and nephews, anybody in the family. It was very important to Mom. She played this piano the day before she died. Nobody wanted it, so I said I can’t get rid of it. We had the whole thing restored. The man who restored it said it is a very unusual piece, a very nice piece, and well worth saving.

C: Was it your grandfather or great-grandfather who started the Heller-Aller Company?

B: No, that would be her great-great uncle, who lived at the house at the corner of Clinton and Scott. It later became Napoleon’s first hospital. The father and three or four brothers came here as they moved west. They came originally from Pennsylvania, and then parts of the family kept moving further west. Before they came to Napoleon, they were in Van Buren and Hancock County, so there is family history down there.

C: Where in Pennsylvania?

B: The original land was in Hellertown, in Eastern Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia. Hellertown still exists. GraceAnn and I visited there a couple of years ago. We have uncovered evidence that parts of the family moved up to Western Pennsylvania, and then came into Northeastern Ohio, the Canton area, then Van Buren, and moved east in several years to Napoleon. Some of them just kept moving further west. They were merchants and landowners. Sam Heller did start the windmill factory. GraceAnn’s great-grandfather and grandfather were more into retailing. They had the hardware store downtown. That’s how they got here.

G: They were even involved in one of the banks, the Heller and Saur Bank.

C: Was that a relative of Florian Sauer?

B: It was spelled differently. It was spelled S-a-u-r. Now we’re standing in what we call our library and we had the shelving built. The books you see were stored in the attic of this house, and they are some wonderful books. My attorney is _____. And when he comes here, he has to go through them and admire them.

C: I’ll bet that ladder was from the hardware store.

B: Yes, you’ll notice it has drawers on each side, looks like it dates to the 20’s or 30’s. One thing I want to show you….obviously when the house was built, it was pre-indoor plumbing and as soon as it came along, they added this little room on which is original tile, the original tub. Up in the corner there you’ll notice it is literally hooked onto the house. We left the hook there and this tub. There’s a picture of GraceAnn’s mother in the tub and she was born in 1903, about the time the plumbing was built.

C: I’ve never seen a tub that size.

G: It’s very unusual. It’s still capable, but when they took it out and went to put it back in, they took 999999, so we can’t turn it off. We could go to the basement and turn the water off if we wanted to use it.

B: We’ll show you what we added on here, the back bedroom and bath. This room is for when we occupy the house, I wasn’t quite willing to live in the Victorian age, so this is more comfortable.

C: I like this little alcove here and the overstuffed chairs.

B: Our idea of a tub is a little different than the other one.

C: You could have a tub bath together!

(Something about wisteria, cannot hear.)

G: That window over there actually came out of a mausoleum that was torn down over in Liberty. The cemetery you go by when you turn on 24 and go into Liberty.

B: The mausoleum had deteriorated and so my construction company got the contract to demolish it and these window frames came from there.

G: They had been smashed up so badly, but there was still enough of a pattern to see what it was originally, so I had it rebuilt. The reason I left the _____. I’m not going to make anyone else guess where the house was added on to.

C: Is this bed an antique?

G: This one isn’t, but we have _____. This window used to be _____. These windows came from a house in Tiffin. These doors are accidental, but they are the right vintage for the house. _____ nephew is a curator _____.

C: You have an interesting house. What is this thing?

G: (something about “initials in a hatband”) When they went out of business, it was sitting there.

B: I remember playing with it as a little kid.

G: This has my mother’s _____. A lot of her old schoolbooks, and a lot of my grandfather’s.

C: It’s a nice little display.

B: Notice the fireplace, it was probably added during one of the additions.

G: This is a similar tile which was done in _____ fashion.

C: It’s a little familiar to me. I’ll bet that is from the 20s.

B: The Bloomfield home has the _____.

G: This picture up here is my grandmother’s grandfather. Grandpa Andrews… It was supposedly painted before he came over.

C: He must have liked to read, with the book.

G: The book was probably his _____. All these pictures are my grandmother and grandfather Hellers. He was quite a hunter and a fisherman. I refer to them as grandmother and grandfather because of my mother. She was scared to death of my great-grandmother because she was very strict. You can see it in the picture.

B: This at one time was the entrance to the house, where that window is and that was changed in later renovations.

G: We’re playing with the idea of actually putting doors there again. It was just a little single door, but if we could do it correctly, it would be nice to open the house up and let air through.

B: The furniture is original to the room. It’s been here ever since it was built. The same person built the fireplace and the hutch because the _____ on them look similar, and it could have been a door-to-door contractor.

G: It is on wheels which I never realized it was. Mother had this room carpeted and they carpeted around it. When we came in, the plaster was in very poor shape and it needed all the walls _____. We removed every bit of plaster on the first floor.

B: It would have been nice to save the original plaster, but there was just too much water damage.

G: They actually took the top piece off and wheeled the rest into the kitchen so we could refinish the floors. The floors in here are original, but Mom had radiators, so where the radiators are, we ended up removing the flooring from the hallway. It had water damage so we removed all that and saved the pieces so we could fill in. The old dishes and tea-set came from a door-to-door salesman, so great-grandfather sent him down here to show his wife. He had two sets, one was platinum with gold, and the other was gold with platinum center. My great-grandmother bought one set, and her sister-in-law bought the other set. This was Grandmother Heller’s tea set and butter dish. A lot of the dishes in there were her dishes.

C: They look old.

G: There are coffee cups as well as teacups.

C: Were these imported from China?

G: I don’t know. My great-_____.

C: This was for chocolate.

G: That was Aunt Minnie. That was Minnie _____, who was my great-aunt, and she really came to help take care of my grandmother when she got ill. She helped raise me. My mother taught school, and I was always underfoot. She used to take me and my friends to Lakeside, to the cottage, and let us stay there with her for a week at a time.

B: Nothing very historical out here, the kitchen is obviously modernized.

C: That’s the way you want it, utilitarian.

B: It had been remodeled previously. We added this room here, some of the fixtures came from the hardware store. This supposedly was in the Post Office, which shared a building with the hardware store downtown where the restaurant is now. Half of it was our hardware store, and half of it was the Post Office in the 1930’s, I think.

G: This is a picture of Washington Heller, that’s R.B. Heller, and that’s William Heller. This sign, if you could see it, says “Napoleon Post Office” on it. The hardware store was 122, so the Post Office would have been 124 West Washington Street.

B: You remember when the retail store was still there, there were two halves. There is a lot of old advertising memorabilia on the walls.

G: _____. His grandfather became a substitute mail carrier. He got $100 for his retirement. _____ came from the Post Office. That clock, which still runs, came from the Post Office because when my grandfather Heller owned the building. My mother would tell me that if a light bulb went out, he had to go down and get up on a ladder and change the light bulb, because he owned the building. That’s the reason we still have a few things left.

C: Where did that clock come from?

B: That one we bought in Port Clinton.

G: That one doesn’t have local history, but it still works. The old wagon was Ben’s.

C: And wood wheels!

G: The sled was his father’s.

C: That’s really old, isn’t it? Look at the wooden _____ and _____.

G: That duck has my grandfather’s initials. He was out fishing with my Mom on the river and the duck _____ came apart, so he put his initials on it, and gave it to Mom. It’s always been here. The scale here was up on the third floor of the hardware. It’s a scale for weighing feed.

C: I remember those things. They used to have great big rolls of paper to wrap things.

G: I still have a couple of larger ones, this is the only little one. This is a scale from the hardware to measure the mail. The little collection of advertising things, most of them are Napoleon, one was here in the house, which my great-grandfather collected. Let’s go upstairs. The _____ on the stairs was a wedding gift to my mother. This piece over here came out of the McClure music store in Napoleon. The McClure family owned it. It was across from the hardware. _____ it’s velvet lined for the plates _____.

C: I wonder if that store was here when Mike Lombardi was teaching.

B: Yes, until about 1930.

C: The portrait is of R.B. Heller.

G: Yes, that would be the one who gave his home to the hospital. Sam Heller was a Presbyterian, and R. B. Heller and Washington Heller were Methodists. Sam Heller was a Democrat, R.B. and Washington were Republicans. I think they were good businessmen. What one didn’t, the other one did, because they were partners in business together. The picture down there is Sam and his wife, and those pictures are the Presbyterian members, one is all the men, and the other is of the women. There is one child, C.D. Brillhart, his father is holding him. This bedroom is my _____. This is a picture of my grandmother in her wedding dress, and this is the dress, right there. The framed piece was a gift when they were married with a picture of my grandmother and grandfather. I’ve added my mother. She had a very unusual wedding dress. I played with it when I was young, and it _____. I added my wedding dress, and my two girls’. There is a picture of my mother-in-law and my father-in-law in that little frame there when they got married. They had five dollars between the two of them! This is her dress.

C: What about that dress?

G: I don’t know. It was in the family, it was in this trunk, which was amazing. My in-laws used to go to auctions all the time and they had this stored out in the summer kitchen. We figured they had bought it all from auctions. We went through everything to find the family items. I told my daughter to at least keep one of the 999999 We closed the trunk and we stored it until we had this house refinished, about 15 years, not knowing there was anything in it. I thought I would clean it out, and that was where my mother-in-law’s wedding dress and these coats were all in there. All the bowties were probably grandfather’s. Most of his pictures show a bowtie when he was working as a mail carrier. This dress was my mother’s baby dress. That is a picture of her in it. That was her baptism dress. She was being held by her grandmother. This is _____. Lots of family history. _____ used to work as a beautician, so a lot of these curling irons were hers.

C: I can remember when you put those curling irons in the chimney of a lamp and they would heat them up that way.

G: It’s amazing how much needlework I found, some unfinished with the needle still in them. The quilts were all _____.

C: I remember the velvet.

G: These are a lot of the family pictures I haven’t gotten up. This is Mother’s high school graduation, I think there are three copies of that framed. We call this room the “McKinley Room”. This bed was my great-grandparents’ and President McKinley was a good friend of my great-grandfather’s. They were personal friends. When he was campaigning to be President, he stopped here in Napoleon and he might have stayed here one other time, but we always called this the “McKinley Bed.” I’ve come across at least three different documents that McKinley signed. One was just a personal note to my great-grandfather and one was when he asked him to serve as Sheriff of Napoleon, Ohio, when they had the last hanging. He was in charge of the National Guard at the same time. This letter asks him to please go and serve at the Sheriff’s wishes and do what he asks.

C: I didn’t even know they had a hanging in Napoleon.

G: I think they had more than one, but this was the last one. It’s written up in the history books pretty well. The picture over there as painted by my great-grandmother, it’s supposed to be my great-grandfather on Turkey Foot Creek.

C: Turkey Foot Creek ran through my in-law’s farm.

G: My great-grandfather was on the board for the Deaf and the Dumb. He was appointed by McKinley. He has all these books. This desk was actually built by a blind person. It has drawers on the front and matching drawers on the back. It’s quite a unique piece. The dresses in here were my great-grandmother’s.

C: Look at that bonnet.

G: The little shoes. The nightgown and bed socks. When we were down at the Harding home, they said that back before they had the capability of heating, they had the bedroom on the first floor attached to the main room so you could keep it warmer. The other bedrooms were up here. This is the same tub that was here. The other fixtures are different, but we left the old tub. It’s actually been removed and set back in.

C: That shower curtain goes all the way around.

G: This was actually the main bedroom in the house. We’ve made this into a suite for our daughter so that when she’s here, she has a home area. The room back here, nothing’s been changed much, but this used to be the maid’s quarters.

C: They had their own kitchen and everything.

G: This is a place for Jane, and then the back stairway is here. This is the trunk room. When people came for visits, they had to have a place to put their trunks. I actually have three old trunks in here. This one has my mother’s initials on it, she used it when she went to college. You have to be careful going down this back stairway because the ceiling is low. Here’s a half step and we end up in the kitchen. This goes to the garage. There was probably an outhouse right here before they added on the bathroom.

C: You sure have a lovely place here.

B: At Forest Hill Cemetery, looking at the crypts, a lot of people have been forgotten, and their stories could be told. In some areas you can see neighborhoods, and there are two crypt rooms, one of them occupied by the Tietjens family who were partners in the Heller-Aller company. The other side is the Root family, also a later partner in Heller-Aller. There is no one buried there because they moved out of town. Lots of interesting stories. I, like GraceAnn, am a native of Napoleon. My mother was the daughter of John and Lula _____, on Avon. The house is no longer there, it would have been adjacent to Loose Field. My father came to town in 1920 as a crane operator, building the DT & I Railroad bridge east of Napoleon between Napoleon and Liberty Center. That was Wren Reese. I’ve been mystified how they ever met, and unfortunately I never asked. How a crane operator and a musician ended up getting married. Anyway, they traveled. He was in construction and paving work building bridges for various companies. During the Depression when they all went out of business, he was unemployed and so they came back to Napoleon to live with my grandparents until he got assistance through the WPA and ended up working for the Ohio Highway Department. In 1940 he started his own bridge-building business which I entered after college and diversified quite a bit with national specialty contracting working with concrete pavement.

C: Didn’t your company have the guard rail _____?

B: We painted guard rail briefly. That wasn’t too profitable. We built bridges up until the 1980’s and then went into pavement repair working coast to coast. We have had jobs in Korea and Hong Kong, Hawaii, and a lot of work in California in recent years and a lot of work in Virginia. I sold the business about three years ago and doing a little of this and a little of that.

C: Was your brother in the business?

B: I purchased my brother’s interest over 10 years ago. He originally was, but I bought him out, so he wasn’t involved. We feel fortunate. As a child, I was in the 500 block of West Washington, and we’re in the 300 block here, so GraceAnn and I were neighbors. We’re 16 days apart in age, she’s older, and we have known each other literally all of our lives. I went to Florida to college and thought I’d find an out of town girl, but ended up coming back to Napoleon, and GraceAnn and I were married my senior year of college, 44 years ago.

G: I’d like to say, yes, we’ve known each other for years and he used to pull my braids. I used to say, “Ben Reese, someday I’m going to get even with you!”

B: My first name is actually John and in the business world I was known as John after my grandfather, John Ringhisen. My middle name is Benton after my father’s father, who was _____ Benton Reese in Clearfield County, Ohio. I was called Ben or Benny until I went to college. In the business world I signed my name John B., so for the record I’m the same guy.

C: When you were married, did she insist on calling you Ben?

B: It just comes naturally to her.

C: Tell me, do you remember any little incidents about your childhood?

B: I’m not sure where to go. My first cousin is Dr. Phil Cochran, who lives here in Napoleon. As children, we grew up more like brothers than cousins. We’re very close. We started a business venture called the Phil-Ben Car Company. We took our little wagon with wooden sides, fixed it all up, painted Phil-Ben on it, and took it down to my uncle’s electric shop. Unfortunately, we almost manufactured one and never sold it. I would guess we were 8 to 10 years old at that time. My friends were girls, GraceAnn and her friends, Mary Beth Tietjens and her sister Emily, lived next door to me. Janet Bernicke was on the other side of me, Maureen Meekison, Bridget Beck, Linda Liefer, Sara Sauer.

G: Neil Sheibley, and later John Swearingen in the neighborhood, but most of them were girls.

B: For the record, we’re _____ in 2004. We had quite a good band. Mike Lombardi was succeeded by Roger King while I was still in high school. I remember my first trip to the band was to the Ohio State Fair in the early 1950s. As we were boarding the school buses at Central School on Main Street, a police car and ambulance went by, which in those days was fairly unusual. We got to Columbus and happened to notice a newspaper that gave the news of a murder in Napoleon. A man had murdered his wife and two of three of his children, including one who was a member of the band. She was supposed to be there and we had waited briefly for her, but had a long way to go, so took off without her. Then we found out that she had been murdered. The family name was Hefflinger and they lived up on Welsted Street. As a child, up until fairly recently, I thought I wanted to be in the newspaper printing business because one of my neighbors on Washington Street was Don Orwig, who published the Northwest News at that time. Their print shop was on Main Street where the Meekison Law Office is now. I used to go down there and Don would let me help him print. The smell of the ink and the type fascinated me immensely. I always thought that is what I wanted to do. I bought one printing press in my life and we still have it, an old pedal printing press, but I never made it into the newspaper business. Until a few years ago, I thought I would still do that, but now I’ve decided I really don’t want to. I have good memories of standing in the shop of the Northwest News. The Northwest News was the Democratic paper and the Henry County Signal was the Republican paper. Don’s nephew John Orwig was part owner of the Henry County Signal and later upon Don’s death, the two businesses merged and continue today with different people running the business. There were a lot of other newspapers before that, of course.

C: Do either of you have any memories of the Depression?

G: The only thing I remember is stamps, but that was World War II.

B: We were both born in 1939. I, like GraceAnn, remember the rationing coupons. My father had a different kind of fuel rationing sticker in the window. He could get more, but he wasn’t supposed to use it for personal use, just for back and forth to work. He drove from here to _____. He was always alarmed when he was using the car for some personal trip that somebody would notice the sticker and challenge him on it. That never happened. I vaguely remember VJ Day. We were kindergarten age at that time. I remember we did some posters, but I don’t remember a big celebration or anything.

C: Were there men coming home?

B: Oh yes, I’m sure every family had somebody. My uncle, my mother’s brother was an officer in the Army. I think we all knew people, and a lot of them still around town too.

C: What about when Pearl Harbor happened?

B: I have no memory at two years old. World War II, I don’t remember much at all. The Korean War in the 50s, my brother, for some reason, who was a student at Purdue University and doing fine, all of a sudden my parents get a phone call from him and he quit college and joined the Army. He ended up in the Korean War for a couple of years, a period of great angst for the family, while he was over there.

C: Did he happen to be a prisoner of war?

B: No, he got shot at a few times, he had a Purple Heart, but he survived in pretty good shape. This is sort of a side story, but he had been in Korea and Japan for quite a while, so was attracted to Asian women. When he got home, he was hell-bent to go back to Japan and get a wife. Probably one of the first nights he was home, we went down to what was then Tony’s, and met up with some of the Freedom Township German girls, and all of a sudden, his tastes changed! He ended up marrying a very attractive Freedom Township woman, and they lived for many years. That I remember.

C: I remember there was a house where the Post Office is now, an old man lived in it.

B: By the time we came to town, the Post Office was built, in the late 30s when that was built. There were actually two houses between the Methodist Church and the Post Office. _____ Wilson lived in one of them, and _____.

G: My great-aunt was friends with both of them. The big house that was there, I remember a woman having a pre-school there.

B: But that was in the 60’s.

C: My youngest son went to _____ School for a little bit, and she painted each of the stairs with a number so they could learn their numbers. Some old man had lived there before _____ bought it. He must have died. Do you remember a lady who used to walk to town every day and wore a hat? If she and her husband were getting on well together, she wore a white hat.

B: That was Mrs. Gomer and they lived up on the west end of town. He lived in a little shanty out behind the main house and she lived in the main house. As kids, we would see her either in a white dress or a black dress. We made up names, one woman who used to walk a lot we called “Tiptoe through the Tulips”, but that wasn’t Mrs. Gomer. She and her husband didn’t get along all that well, so she wore black a lot!

G: What we have is a city directory from 1909.

B: We looked at all the addresses and when we were here in town, we’d walk the streets and try to find the houses. The directory was printed before a lot of the houses were even built.

G: It’s amazing, the names you go through, and the names still exist. Their descendants are here. A lot of them are no longer here. Gilson, Meyerholtz.

C: Dr. Gilson had his office right beside my husband’s. The story goes that he answered the phone in the middle of the night one night. The person on the other end took quite a while to tell what the trouble was, and all of a sudden he snored!

B: Doctoring was different back then too!

C: Did your mother have any memory of this Dr. Bloomfield?

G: Not that I know. My great-aunt knew the daughter, Eva. I can remember as a kid going over. The closest I ever got was sitting in the swing on the front porch.

B: That home, maybe we should discuss that a little bit. It’s noted in records, I’m sure, that GraceAnn and I donated the home to the Historical Society and it was unexpected. I always knew the home was there, never knew anything about it. When we were rebuilding this home, I noticed it was deteriorating, and didn’t look too good, and it was for sale. I asked my realtor to check in on it, and found out what the deal was. We made an offer, and it was accepted. I truthfully had never been inside it. We bought it sight unseen. My intention was to turn it into offices or something, it was in a commercial location. But the first time GraceAnn and I walked in and observed the condition of the woodwork and the beauty and saw what could be done, we started thinking in terms of a museum, but were clueless as to how to go about finding someone to do this. We connected up with an intern who was working with the local Historical Society back then, Lisa Crouse, and she gave us excellent guidance on how to do it. Ultimately we were able to donate it to the Historical Society. A lot of people have done a lot of work on it, and it looks outstanding.

C: A lot needs to be done yet, especially to the Carriage House, but we’ll get it done.

G: That was the thing that bothered us because it was really bad. If I went into Mother’s kitchen and looked out the window, that’s what we saw.

B: We made a special request to the people working over there to put a coat of paint on the Carriage House, at least so we could look at it.

C: We have to work on the upstairs because that’s where they’re having these “Mom and Me” programs. With little children up there, they have to make everything safe.

B: We went through it a couple of weeks ago. A lot of work has been done. The acquisition of it by me and the ultimate gift was a God-directed accident, but I never had any intention of buying the house, and I sure never had any intention of giving it away, but that’s how it worked out. Dr. Bloomfield was quite the _____, because a couple of stained glass windows at the Presbyterian Church have his daughter’s name on them.

G: I have a picture where my great-grandfather was a Sunday School teacher up here at the Methodist Church, and Dr. Bloomfield’s daughter was in his class.

B: There must be a connection between the Presbyterian and the Methodist.

G: The Presbyterians and the Methodists and the Republicans and Democrats, they covered every angle!

C: You know, Russ Patterson used to live across the street when he was a boy and he remembers the Bloomfield family. They had a daughter, didn’t they?

B: Yes, Eva Yeager. I expect she would be older than Russell. Our memory is of a man and wife who lived by the railroad, and she took in boarders. It was a boarding house. Her name was Winfield. Grace Ann _____ Yocum, who I bought the home from. We’re blessed that we are able to give _____. My mother was the organist at the Presbyterian Church. I remember as a child, she would be playing the organ, and my father would fix the Sunday dinner. Sunday lunch was a special meal. Ten years ago I concluded I’d like to see a new pipe organ installed in the church, so we made a major gift toward the purchase of the organ in memory of my mother. We have a bell tower in the church. Previously we’d had an electronic device of some sort, and it became obsolete. We discussed purchasing a new electronic carillon. I said, “The people who built this church built a bell tower, and I’m sure planned on putting some bells there in some year, so I decided that we’d take it upon ourselves to accomplish that. Grace Ann and I purchased four bronze cast bells. They were installed several years ago.

C: The music is very pretty, I like it.

B: The music you hear is still electronic, but it’s an improved system. The bells strike on the hour and half hour. They are the real thing. They light it at night.

G: We were having a terrible time. The vibration of the bells would cause the light bulb to go out. I think they finally have the right one up there. So far we’ve only had one major complaint that the noise bothers them, but otherwise we’ve had good responses.

B: Wayne Park’s heyday was in the 30s and 40s, I think. The biggest thing I remember about it in the 60s is that we put on a melodrama there, and my mother was the piano player for the melodrama.

G: It was 1960 because it was when we got engaged!

B: I’d forgotten that part! Wayne Park was a popular spot, and may answer my questions about where my mother and father met, I don’t know. A lot of couples did meet there. It wasn’t a real acceptable place to go when we were kids. That was off limits. We did tear the building down.

C: They had a melodrama close to your father’s company, didn’t they?

B: We did one down on the farm.

C: Didn’t you make use of that old railroad caboose for the play?

B: No, that was just something my dad purchased. It sat by the pond for fishing poles. The current owners are trying to save it. It came from down in Kenton, Ohio where there was a railroad yard. My dad built a lot of bridges in that part of the state. He bought two cabooses. One is behind _____. Those weren’t of local origin.

C: My kids played in some of those melodramas and I remembered they had one on this bluff overlooking the golf course where the clubhouse was. One time they had a play and she was to be an Indian princess and was supposed to dance around this fire. To light this fire, they had a string up to the top of this tree, and put it down into the fire, except the tree caught fire! It was an exciting evening.

G: I was in “The Chalk Garden”, but Ben’s mother didn’t play in that one.

C: I remember her sense of humor, she was funny.

B: Very outspoken!

G: When she finally dropped out of the Child Conservation and Literary Society, my mother said, “It isn’t any fun any more when Jo isn’t there.” Before the _____, Mom and Merle Warden and _____ used to go and travel together. Every weekend they’d go antiquing somewhere, just to get together. Members of downtown merchants, we could tell stories on those.

B: When we were younger, we still had a downtown for the retail businesses. Grace Ann’s family owns quite a few of the buildings downtown. We mentioned the hardware store.

C: Is that the store that used to be Watson-Lash?

B: No, it was bought out a couple of times. We bought out the Watson-Lash business when they decided to retire, and I was in the construction business, which is a risky business, and difficult. I thought if I can do that, I can run a retail store. We bought out the hardware and gift store, and we had a lot of fun for a while. We liked to go to gift markets and buy all this stuff, but we discovered quickly we didn’t know a bit how to sell it. We struggled along with it. GraceAnn did most of the work. I traveled a lot. I wrote the checks and got tired of it, so we decided to close the business down and auction everything off that we didn’t want. We weren’t able to rent the building, so we were faced with a big empty business. We reopened a gift store in just half of the building, made it very elegant, lovely things….and very few customers! An opportunity came along to rent the building to an antique shop. GraceAnn said, “Give me 30 days.”

G: Two daughters were getting married within two months, one wedding was in May and one was in July. We would have a going out of business sale, and if they would take over what we don’t sell on consignment, they can have it in a month. Between weddings, we had a sale and retired from the retail business. I kept saying I missed some of the customers, but as far as the headache, I don’t miss that at all. We never enjoyed Christmas; we were there till the very last minute. I told the kids if there was anything they wanted, just to go and pick out their own presents. It was so hectic and we worked so hard. It did take all the fun out of it.

C: There was a toy store upstairs over the hardware store, and they had so many toys that the shelves were so high in the middle of the aisle. I was picking out toys for my children one time. I heard a woman say, “I fell down and got a black eye, so I just painted the other one to match.” I peeped around the end, it was Harriet Harper, and she had painted her second eye black, so she had two black eyes!

G: She painted murals on the second floor of the store, they were still up there. There were nursery rhymes.

C: I remember at their house they had railroads all around their house in the great room. I remember Bob Downey talking about Wayne Park, some acquaintance of his had an old shack on the river. He said they’d go out there and wait until everybody was dancing. We’d go up there and steal the whiskey that the men had stored outside because they weren’t allowed to bring it in!

G: Lots of memories of Chucky Dillon’s place, when we were in school.

B: Special school _____. High school in the morning, grade school in the afternoon, and his father had a downtown office at that time, in what is known as the Vocke building, and I would go to school for a half-day and go into the coffee shop she’s referring to, which was at the corner of Washington and Scott, the Corner Coffee Shop. I’d eat my hamburger and French fries and work at my Dad’s office doing payroll or whatnot. It was much simpler in those days, so I could do it. So I was a working guy at 14 or 15. Well-fed.

G: Social Security _____.

B: But I’m drawing it now! There have been two hardware stores downtown which were probably the longest fixtures of the downtown retail business. The kids’ favorite hangout was the old five and dime store in what is now the Hahn Center at the corner of Washington and Perry. It was there for many, many years. It was the Morris Store at first, and then a Murphy’s store. They had everything comparable to Wal-Mart today on a smaller scale. You could find anything you wanted in there.

C: Did they have offices upstairs?

B: There have always been offices up there. The store office was in a loft, so you could see that.

C: Maybe to catch people stealing?

B: There was another smaller five and dime store that was run by Ed _____. That was where _____ is now.

G: Living on the south side still _____. He was saying how many kids lived within two blocks up on Welsted. He has lots of memories too.

C: Do you remember Gloria Peterson? She tells about one winter, cold, she went into the dimestore in a big hurry and got her purchase ready. She wanted to get her money out, took her gloves off, and gave a yank, and her teeth fell out on the floor!

G: They used to have these drawings at the Crahan store on Saturday night. That was a big shopping night. You got an entry ticket for every dollar you spent and put your name in.

B: The prize was probably 5 bucks!

G: They did the same thing at the movie theater. Minnie would always get all dressed up and go downtown to Spengler’s. She’d never go in the back room, but in the front room, and get a glass of buttermilk. _____ was a great friend of hers, she lived down here on Main Street, she would pick her up and they’d walk to downtown Napoleon.

B: We aren’t old enough to remember when the retail business was very strong in Napoleon, but Saturday night was the night the stores stayed open and the farmers came in and would go into Spengler’s or Tony’s, and the wives would go shopping. They had big crowds then.

G: Shoemaker’s and Cash Quality and all those, were open on Saturday nights.

B: I remember 3 downtown groceries. Winzeler’s, the Tanner store, and Bill Beck had a store on Washington Street where Sterling’s used to be.

C: Where was the one Florian Sauer had?

B: I used to hang around there quite a bit because Florian had a daughter my age, Sara, and we were good buddies. I had a Cushman motor scooter back then, and she’d get behind me and hold me around the waist and I kind of liked that! Back when I was 14 or 15, before I had a car. Sara was in town just a couple weeks ago.

C: They stayed at Rebar’s.

B: Yes, they’re good friends.

C: Carolyn is helping me now, she’s typing.

G: Oh, good! Having Carolyn get Jim back here has been very good for us.

C: Oh, my yes! A very active and capable person.

G: How many drugstores were there? Two Shaffs, and Gilbert and Herr.

C: What about the bank?

B: That building always housed a bank.

C: Did it have two doors at that time?

B: I think it did. There was also a bank across the alley on Washington Street.

Napoleon Post Offic _____.

C: Are those your bells we’re hearing now?

G: Lists a number of buildings….possibly looking at a map….1892? 1886? Looking at photo?

C: I’ve come across old ledgers. I don’t know if they would want these at the Methodist Church. My great-grandfather and grandfather were doing the books, and when checks were made out, they both had to sign them. There are bunches of them, I only need to keep one as a memory. These were signed by Washington Heller, my great-great-grandfather. Either he bought a house on Washington Street or they changed the name.

B: We’ve referred to the name Seidlinger, Russell B. Heller’s sister by marriage, married William Seidlinger. They built a home catty-cornered from this home at the corner of Webster and Washington across the street. Their daughter was Mary Seidlinger, who later became Mary Vocke, who was quite a woman about town. Vocke refers to the flour mill people, and their home at Avon and Main where the Bed and Breakfast now is. Mary Seidlinger Vocke was known for her little Pekingese puppies that she would take with her wherever she went, including restaurants and grocery stores, and you better not challenge her!

G: She would sit the dog on the table and the dog would eat like a _____. She got away with it.

B: The Idle Hour was the high school hangout when we were that age, on Perry Street.

C: That was where my daughter learned to smoke, unfortunately.

B: Later years, we couldn’t have gotten away with that in those days! The Idle Hour and the Palmer House were attached to each other.

C: The Palmer House must have gone out of business first, didn’t it? What was that, a bar?

B: The Palmer House was just a family restaurant, it was around for years, probably when my mother was young. The Idle Hour opened in the 50s, it was more of an ice cream and soda shoppe. They weren’t connected originally, but I’m thinking that one or the other bought each other out. Then they both went out of business.

C: I remember Biddie’s restaurant on the South Side. That was famous for its chicken dinners.

B: At that time Route 6 was a very well-traveled road. Biddie’s was regionally famous for Sunday chicken dinners.

C: Would people come out from Toledo?

B: I’m sure they did, from all around.

C: How’d it happen that they closed it down?

B: The family all died out. Bittenkofer was the name of the founder, and in our day it was operated by her daughter and son-in-law. They separated the motel from the business and ended up selling. He retired. There were lots of motels on the South Side in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. They called them tourist cabins in those days. I’m old enough to remember when Holiday Inns started. Two weeks every summer we would take a driving trip, by the time I was 16, I had been in all 48 states. I saw the inside of a lot of tourist cabins! In the 50s when motels started, they were pretty fancy places. I liked those a lot. We took our first trip to Florida when I was in 6th grade.

C: They were always little individual buildings?

B: You would pull the car up beside them. Now they’re very quaint!

C: They still have people living in them, I guess. Out on the river road behind that little ice cream _____.

B: Those are the same ones.

G: This is a picture of Mary Vocke. They had two sons.

B: These are her grandsons.

G: We know his kids, and the young man reminds me a lot of them. It would be his great-uncle.

G: Dr. George would come here every day and would take me temperature every day, I was five years old. I was supposed to go into first grade, but because I had scarlet fever, I ended up staying back one year. I can remember him as a big guy and he wore suspenders. I had to stay in the house and my great-aunt and my grandfather stayed with me. My grandfather read books to me. He had so much patience with me. I was quarantined. Afterwards the blankets, mattress, and my favorite rabbit had to be burned. I had a picture taken of me with it before, so at least I have a picture. My mother and brother and sister all got to go down and stay at the Wellington Hotel. I was jealous because they got to stay there, but Mom was teaching school. After school they’d walk by and wave to me in the window, and I’d wave, and they’d go off. I probably had it a lot nicer than they did because I had home-cooked meals and got to sleep in my own bed. I still have good memories of the doctors and their black bags. I could tell a story about Dr. Stough. When Mom got so bad, he came over and I’m sure he would tell you, he and my mother had a very special relationship. It was like a mother and son relationship. He came over and said he didn’t know what to bring because he didn’t have a black bag anymore. I thought, what a shame, they should have one! I remember Mom asking Dr. Stough who to call because he was retiring and he said there was a young man who didn’t have a bedside personality. Dr, George didn’t have a whole lot of bedside personality either!


Trietch, Raymond W.

Interviewed by Charlotte Wangrin, August 17, 2007, Holgate, Ohio

CW: What happened?

RT: Because the minister back then said it had to be a saint’s name. I was named Ray Wahl Trietch. The Wahl was her maiden name. The minister said it would have to be Raymond, because that is a saint’s name. So that is what he put on my baptism. Well then, I never knew any different. So in ’37 when I went to the post office to send in for Social Security, that is what I had put down, Raymond Wahl Trietch. Well after I came home from service in World War II and we were going to get married, because we started before I ever went in 1940. At her graduation in Miller City School, I had been graduated from up here and I was working at Zeller Corporation in Defiance. Well, I worked about a year, and I made a foreman. I had just turned 20 and I thought, boy I am doing pretty good. I started at 35 cents an hour, and then I went to 50 cents when I made foreman. The reason I think I made foreman is because I tried to do a good job. Bob Zeller who owned the place knew me pretty well. He used to come up here sometimes to pick his future wife up which was my English teacher, Virginia Seible. She really liked me as a young guy and I got a job real easy up there when I went up. Later on they started over in the Pacific, the Japanese in the World War, ’41 I think it was. Bob built on to the big room, and pretty soon there was a bunch of new machines come in.

(The above photo was taken of Ray Trietch in July 2007.)

CW: You mean Mr. Zeller?

RT: Yes, the Zeller Corporation. The plant. So my head foreman which was Ted Drewes at the time, he came and got me to come over and help him. We put all those machines together so we could run parts for the government. Well we got it started and everything and then he left and I said, “Where are you going, Ted?” He said well I have some materials in the back room to take care of. I said “Who is running this place?” He said “This is yours now.” I said, “You have to be kidding. Me run three shifts?” I said I didn’t even hit 21 yet. He couldn’t believe it. Well we had three shifts. I run 6:30 in the morning till 6:30 at night, twelve hours, and then we got two foremans under me. I went to 75 cents and hour. Boy did I have money!

CW: You thought you were rich.

RT: Gosh, yes! You didn’t have stuff to pay for like you do today. So then it wasn’t long till I got a notice that Uncle Sam wanted me. I had hit 21. Well, I got $20.00 a month, and then they took $9.85 out for insurance, so I had $10.15 left. Then I took basic down in Alabama, Fort McClellan, then they shipped me up to Massachusetts and put me in the 36th Texas Infantry National Guard. Now I had to fight the Civil War over because I was a Yankee. There weren’t too many of us in there. Then we took basic training for amphibious. I could never figure out what they wanted that for because they shipped us out to North Africa to chase Rommel on the desert.

CW: Oh yes.

RT: That is a 600 mile stretch. It was 120 degrees in the shade and no shade and you lived on it. It took me probably four months I’d say to get across that and then we went on up into Tunisia and Algeria, then came back and they put us on a boat and sent us towards Naples, Italy. Then I found out why we took that amphibious training. We waded in the Mediterranean up to our chin with our rifle on top of us walking in while they were shooting at us. We made the invasion in Salerno, which they really shot us up.

CW: Yes I remember reading about that. That was pretty bad.

RT: That was very bad. So then we fought all the way up the hill to Monte Cassino, Rapido River, Aldevilla, and all the rough stuff.

CW: What was that like trying to fight your way. Was it mountainous?

RT: Yes, there were mountains, not as bad as some places, but it was bad enough.

CW: Was it hot there too?

RT: No, it was more like it is here in Italy. Then about eleven months later they brought us back and got us on a boat and took us to southern France, so we invaded that on the 14th of August in ’44. Salerno was on September the 9th in ’43. We went there all the way up to Sigfried Mines we went across that and they said we couldn’t do that, because of the concrete bunkers. We made it, we went through it. When the war ended May 8 in ’45 I went in to, I was close to kind of a hill like, beautiful trees and everything. Hitler’s sisters mansion house.Ii went through that. She wasn’t there. We went through some places to check and see stuff.

CW: It must have been really tough trying to fight your way through places like that.

RT: We wound up, our division, I found out just two years ago that we had the most combat days of any, Pacific or Europe because when we started in. I have a book of our division, but they never made anything out of, or put in it about North Africa, where we started.

CW: You spent quite a bit of time there.

RT: Oh, yes. It think the reason that was because they started at Salerno, Italy where we made the spearhead invasion. I think that’s what they done. So the part of down in North Africa where the old desert is and that stuff, there were very few trees and nothing. Way off in the distance if you could get close enough to the south end of the desert you might see a little forest with some trees, but never a drop of rain there.

CW: Did you have a sand storm?

RT: The funny thing of it is, no, because that desert sand does not blow. It looks just like that blacktop. That hard. Our big trucks that pulled stuff, they would go over that and you couldn’t see any tire marks. It was just like running on a blacktop. I never saw a drop of rain.

CW: Isn’t that where Rommel was?

RT: Oh yes, we were chasing Rommel.

CW: Rommel was Hitler’s general.

RT: I don’t know what they would call this in. What Army when we were there. When we made the invasion into Italy and up into southern France we were in the Fifth first, then the Seventh in Europe. I don’t know what they called the Army, and I know there were some other divisions that come to North Africa, there had to.

CW: Yes, Bob Downey was in North Africa.

RT: Yes I heard that, I don’t know him, but I heard that. I was there and the funny part of it is, as I am so young now, I don’t remember names like I used to up here, but I can see everything, every place I was is right here.

CW: I bet you can remember what you felt like too.

RT: I went through Aiginol Forest, which was a rough one.

CW: What was that like?

RT: Well, a thick forest with enemy shooting at you, and we were shooting back. When we came off the one field and we got to the east end there were a thousand German soldiers that came out, threw their guns up in the air and they was done, and there was a bare spot.

CW: Where did you say this was?

RT: The eastern part of France. I am trying to think of the doggone hill. The hill I can see it just as plain and they came and they threw their guns up with no fighting. It was a field that looked like clover, and green grass, about ten acres. They went in there, we had a man at each corner is all, four guys with their rifle. They didn’t go no place or do nothing. They wanted to give up.

CW: Now was this near the end of the war?

RT: Oh yah, yah.

CW: They had enough of it. You were not in D Day though.

RT: D Day was two years after I was getting shot at. What they call D Day was Normandy. That didn’t start until the sixth of June of ‘44. I started in ‘42.

CW: You kept them on the move then.

RT: Yes, we pushed them up toward Normandy. I very seldom ever said anything, in fact I talked more now than I ever have since I have been home going on 62 years. It was something you just didn’t talk about. There are some things I do talk about. I get a little disgusted with the situation at hand and everything because I don’t agree with what we are doing.

CW: I don’t either.

RT: I wouldn’t say what I am thinking, well it’s recorded. I am not that kind of guy. When I came home, there was approximately 214 guys in my unit when we went over, and when I got home, I left over there the first of October in ’45, because I wasn’t married or anything at the time. The guys that were married had more points, so they left first. When I left, I was one of five of the original 214, because we lost so many. We do have a cemetery over in Italy. I saw the figures here, I was checking something one day and we lost like 16,000 to 17,000 in our division, and 7,000 in the war, and 2,100 in Italy at Salerno. I know my wife doesn’t like it when I say things, and I said well if they had went through the h— I went through for this country, they would probably feel the same way I do, because you don’t take and do and I can’t stand the idea of being in Iraq. It has nothing to do with this country.

CW: Events are proving that true too.

RT: Iraq, what they are fighting is, even before GW took over, when Bill was in there eight years we wasn’t down there fighting. His dad had troops down there before, because I had friends with the Ohio Guard that he had sent down there. When they came back, this one close friend of mine was a son of a guy from up here in New Bavaria. He lived in New Bavaria, well he still does, and he said we had no business being there. He’s a smart well educated guy.

CW: Excuse me for interrupting, but now you went into France. Was it southern France?

RT: Yes, it was southern France.

CW: From there you pushed him towards…

RT: All the way up into Germany.

CW: Oh, all the way in to Germany?

RT: Oh yes, I was in Germany you better believe it, Ardennes Forest. My great grandpa Wahl came from Vollinheim and Hessedorm Stadt is where my great great grandpa Trietsch came from.

CW: Now my brother in law said when they got in to Germany they could tell right away because each cellar had a ham hanging in it in Germany. In France there were no hams.

RT: No food in France. They even had potatoes in a big wooden barrel which I stole.

CW: That would keep you alive for a while.

RT: Well, I took the steel off my helmet and built a little fire and cooked the potatoes in it. I bought a ham bone, I just happened to think of this, in Italy because we hadn’t had any food for a long time. I bought a ham bone, I paid $2.00, which over there at the time, and even here probably wasn’t worth fiftty cents. I remember cooking that in the steel helmet. I stole some potatoes from a barrel peeled them and put them in there and cooked them so I would have something to eat, because I do cook.

CW: I bet that was a good meal.

RT: Yes, they didn’t put too many medals out back in my day like they do now. I see a lot of these young people, they have not been on the front lines like I was with all these medals sticking on them and what little bit I did get I went through h— for.

CW: War is like that, awful.

RT: I was lucky enough in Italy and southern France we were in five of the worst battles any place that they had, and I was in them. I got a bronze star for each one of those.

CW: Now would Salerno be one of those?

RT: No, for that I got a spearhead oak. So I got seven oaks altogether. In Southern France it was a spearhead.

CW: Where else did you get the medals from?

RT: From Italy.

CW: You don’t remeber the names.

RT: No, Mount Casino was one I know, that was on the other side of the Rapido River, Rome, and I think Altevilla was one place I can see the places, but I can’t think of the names of them now..

CW: Well, it is not important.

RT: I was lucky because I made it through and it was just like I tell people when they say things, or get to talking about things I say, “Well there is one thing about it, I believe in praying. I said I prayed all the time. I thank the good Lord every night that I have lived as long as I have, and I am as good as I am at my age, because I know he pulled me through there.

CW: Yes, He gave you strength when you needed it too. I’ll bet there were many times when you needed him to lean on.

RT: You are not kidding! Yes, I have the book on the 36th, and I never could figure out why they didn’t start out with it in the book from North Africa. They didn’t say a thing about that, and we were chasing Rommel. He was shooting at us, and we were shooting at him.

CW: The Italians at that time were under Mussolini and they would shoot at the Americans.

RT: Oh yes, Mussolini gave up the day we invaded, the 9th day, well I waded ashore 5 am in the morning on the 9th of September in ’43. They put us on, what do they call them boats, we got off the big boat and went

CW: You mean the front of the boat lets down and you walk off.

RT: I can’t think of the name of it. You walk off and water was up to here, put your rifle up there. The third day I helped bury cause the people that done that wasn’t in yet and they’d take a couple of us at a time off the front up a ways we were probably eight to ten miles at the most those three days. Of course they dug them all up later . They would put one dog tag in and the other left on and sent home or the government took care of that. That is why there is two dog tags. One you are buried with.

CW: And one for them to keep track of who you are. I always wondered why there were two tags.

RT: They got this little, I call them pins, good conduct medals, I think the one is called European something, which takes care of North Africa.

CW: You mean European theater of operations.

RT: I have a book that has all that stuff in. They call them medals, I call them ribbons. I can’t believe all those that I see some of these guys have, and I know they’ve never been in combat. Not as long as I was in. Six months would be about the size of it. They replace them and…

CW: Now let’s go back to you pushed them up into Normandy, so they were ready for the D Day invasion. Did you know the D Day invasion was coming? Did you have any news about it?

RT: No, we knew there was a bunch of GIs and stuff there in England. We all got to ship over across the water. They hit southern France about three weeks after they hit Normandy.They hit Normandy because they knew where we was at. The big boys did. They went in the 6th of June and then on the 14th of August we spearheaded this from Italy on up. That’s when we started pushing and by the 5th of May, which is just eleven months after they went in, it was over with.

CW: That’s right, rather suddenly, maybe because they gave up by the thousands.

RT: Yes, because we had them on both sides.

CW: Did you have close buddies there in the war?

RT: I had, yes, I lost my closest one just two years ago in February. He lived out in Nebraska. He got in like I did you know and of course he was married, but we met when we got in up at Cape Cod, Camp Edwards, and we became good friends and he had his wife up there at the time. She stayed in his colony. .

CW: That was Massachusets.

RT: Yes, Camp Edwards. Cape Cod goes out and that is where we done the basic . We were always close. I went out a couple of different times to see him. We would talk on the phone every once in a while and write. His wife died in January and the first thing you know in February he died. So that ended that. He and I always went around together. I went into the draft with a guy from Indiana . His name was Wade, and while we were down in camp in Alabama we’d associate together. We were two close ones then. He went someplace else and I went up there. I don’t remember where he went. He came to see me after the war was over with. I saw him a few times and first thing you know I got a letter that he died. I don’t know what happened to his wife after that, she had heart failure for about a year and that was it.

CW: I think I misunderstood. I thought you said his wife died and then later he died. Oh, this was a different guy.

RT: This was a different guy from Nebraska. He was in my division. Anyway to get back to this name business. Do you remember a Doc Bolles in Napoleon? Well, he was in Holgate. He brought me in this world, and when, after I came home I bought the little gas station over here, because my uncle wanted me to have it. He was in the insurance business here in Holgate at the time, Harry Frost in Napoleon.

Bob gave me a job and he told me when I left I had a job. So, it wasn’t the work I was doing, anyway I bought it and started the first day of April in 1946 then. Well, I came home the first day of October. I left France and came home the 15th of October of ’45. So, my wife and I decided we would get married a little later because we had gone together since 1940. I left and she was here with her folks. We decided to get married on the 4th of July in ’46. We couldn’t get any church, so we had to take the third. We got married the 3rd of July in ’46. Well, I had to go and get my birth certificate, because I never had one from him. I went over to the courthouse and they told me it was at Wesche-Hagen Furniture Store across from the hardware store. I said you got to be kidding. Nope, that’s where they are. Well, I went there and I got it.

CW: Why were they keeping courthouse records in a furniture store?

RT: I don’t know, but they did. So I took it and went over to the courthouse. I found out what my name was that Doc Bolles gave me. Baby Boy Trietch. So I couldn’t argue.

CW: Oh good grief!

RT: I had Raymond on my birth certificate, so they put that on my new one then, Raymond Wahl Trietch, but I am Ray.

CW: Then you didn’t have to get married as Baby Boy Trietch.

RT: No, It burns me up that it couldn’t be right, but I am Ray to everybody, that’s my name. That’s what my mother named me. Then he came out on the farm where I was born and which is two miles and three fourth from Holgate.

CW: Were you born on the kitchen table? A lot of people around here were.

RT: No, it was the bedroom where I was born in, on the bed.

CW: So you grew up on the farm.

RT: Yes, I am an old farm boy. I went threshing in the old days. I started, well I took the team and wagon and pitched bundles on it when I was 12. And I got a dollar a day. I thought I was good. I have my fork yet that I pitched it with. I brought all the stuff we had out on the farm. I got a hoe out there that I hoed our beets with which you don’t see sugar beets around here anymore.

CW: That was hard work.

RT: And then the handled one that you thinned the rows out with. I got $2.00 an acre for doing that.

CW: Isn’t that the hardest work where you have to bend over.

RT: You have to bend over all the time when you thin them out so they grow. I have my beet fork which is the big boy that you loaded them up with.

CW: Were they heavy?

RT: Yes, we could get a whole bunch of them on there. I was as stout as an ox even when I was a young kid.

CW: Well, the farm work would make you muscular.

RT: I used to lift stuff over here in the garage when I was working on cars. Lots of guys bigger than me couldn’t even move. I would pick it up and they’d say, “How do you do that?” I would say very carefully.

CW: And with your feet out of the way.

RT: Yep I was one of 88 businesses when we started on the first day of April in ‘46.

CW: When you bought this?

RT: No, when I started. It was on a Monday.

CW: Started what.

RT: Over at the garage.

CW: Oh, started working there.

RT: Then we built the lube room on which is 20 feet, and come ’68 there was a house just on the other side that was on a small lot. I knew the old lady that had it years before because she was a close friend of my great-grandma who lived in town here. I used to go with her to see her. Then Harvey Rettig and Rudy Brown built the Ford garage which is now the library. Harvey Rettig lived in the house there. He had bought that little house. He was only five feet from my lube room. He decided to move it down at the west end of town, he had bought a full lot. I bought that partial from him. I added 30 feet on.

CW: What did you put in that 30 feet?

RT: I got the other two doors for cars to work on, because I done mechanic work. I spent 40 years there doing that and then I retired. Twenty-one years later I find out that it was not the best thing to do. I should have stayed working for somebody else because my little Social Security takes 60% of it to pay for the health insurance. They don’t understand why I don’t have money to pay the bills. The high priced gas that we heat the house with now. I was on city council when they had Suburban Gas put in Holgate. I used to heat this big house at that time and raise four kids. They were upstairs and all over. 450 bucks a year took care of it. Now, in my old age, with a very low income it takes most of it for health stuff. I am on the ten month budget deal with the gas, $207.00 a month. Just for gas. Then you have your other stuff to buy yet.

CW: At least you have Medicare, don’t you, that helps.

RT: I’m paying for it. Yea, then I pay AARP for the other 20%. I’m paying it in taxes. And then I gotta pay $159.00 for the D part medical.

CW: Look around. Try Humana. They don’t charge anything for the D part.

RT: It takes $600.00 in insurance for the month, just for Pauline and me.

CW: Yes, of course you do have double. It’s not easy.

RT: No, and I do know that people that gets things that didn’t go through what I did. How they do it, I don’t know. The 88 businesses that I started with, there are 19 today in Holgate left. It’s about like all the other little towns, there isn’t nothing left. Businesses can’t keep up.

CW: I heard somewhere that in these little towns, including Napoleon that it is going to become more and more expensive to live as time goes on.

RT: It is, it is because I know for a fact that being an old business man that the big boys can buy the stuff for a lot less than the little guy.

CW: Witness WalMart.

RT: Yes, you get all these other places, that’s just like, I can’t figure out Eric Hench who owns Chief. I knew his dad and his dad’s brother up in Defiance when they had the little grocery store. Hench Grocery years ago. We were on the farm and would go up there every once in a while. We’d go on Saturday nights. That’s when you went, and that was it. Not everyone but maybe once a month or so we were in there at different times. I knew them, and now since he’s a multi millionare and owns all these. An old friend of mine from Holgate, they used to own stock in Chief, you probably knew him, he had a grocery store right across the street from where the hardware is.

CW: Florian Sauer?

RT: Sorny Sauer, that was his nickname here. His folks lived right out of town. His younger brother graduated with me, went to school and we were good friends. He had a sister, besides he was the oldest. I’ve known him ever since he and he lost his wife here not too long ago. I was told from a friend that I know in Napoleon he was in the hospital. I don’t know what his problem was here sometime back. He’s out now. He’s 95 now I think.

CW: I had such a good time interviewing Gertrude Mengerink.

RT: She’s my old friend.

CW: Is she!

RT: Her dad was our mail carrier out in the country.

CW: Now I have a picture of her dad in that mail carrier cart.

RT: No kidding, I’ll be darned.

CW: If you want to see it, go to the historical house there in Napoleon, Maybe it’s upstairs in the office.

RT: My oldest son became an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission. Chief attorney from Holgate High School. They think Holgate didn’t. My mother, my dad, their brothers and sisters all graduated from Holgate. I graduated from Holgate.

CW: Gertrude Mengerink was telling me about that fire when she was a girl in the hatchery. Do you remember that?

RT: Oh yes, it was right beside where the house is built now. Her house was south of it. Right along the alley is where the hatchery was. Across the street where the houses are today you see that was a little woods. They had chickens over there back in the 20s and early 30s. I used to go over in Napoleon a lot in the 20s. My Grampa Wahl was a commissioner at that time. I used to go up to the courthouse with him and on his second time in, four years was the end of the 20s. Ferd Dettmer from Elery, had a little store over there. He was commissioner and when he knew I was over he would bring me the little licorice drops, because he knew I liked them. He’d bring me a bag of them.

CW: You were just a little kid at that time.

RT: Then he had married a lady, a Mrs. Weber her husband had died and I knew all the kids that she had and his wife had died over there. Then about ten to twelve years later they both got married. They lived right across the street from him. Every morning he’d come over and talk to me when I worked at the garage. She was a Muntz. Her dad’s brother carried mail on the one route two. At that time there were three routes out of Holgate. We were always good friends and then her husband, I was a sexton at the cemetary for years and years, buried people, and I had gone to school to be a sexton and all that stuff so I was the church sexton. Her husband after he retired they moved back here to Holgate. He was down around Lima where he worked. He done all that kind of work, I can’t think, I lose track. He measured stuff.

CW: Surveying?

RT: Surveyor, Yes, he was a surveyor. He was a good friend of mine too, just like she was. She just turned 90.

CW: Oh, did she. I didn’t realize that.

RT: I said Happy Birthday to her a couple of weeks ago. Anyway he said, Ray, We’ll go over that thing and get it straightened up because it was in one heck of a mess.

CW: What thing?

RT: The cemetery.

CW: I see what you mean.

RT: Because of the way it was taken care of. Everything was crooked. I don’t think anybody had ever surveyed it. I went out and resurveyed it. It took about a week to do it. Then I put stakes every twenty-four feet, and that gave me six burial plots for a section. I had everything straightened up. Well, I done that work probably for twenty-five years at least.

CW: Did you have to move any of the markers when you surveyed it?

RT: I couldn’t, the people was down there. But I could put markers where it belonged. It had two rows. It started from the South and went North sixteen feet like it was supposed to. When they got to the North it was twenty-four feet. I said, how could people be so stupid. So, I could make a row part-way in where we could put small, like kids and stuff. I marked that off. Yep, I had it all straightened up. Didn’t make much off of it either.

CW: Probably just like volunteering your time.

RT: Well it’s like when I was on the council here. I used to do stuff and for a while a couple of us guys we used to be a night watchman. After I’d lock up, instead of going to bed I’d change and put my gun on and take my billy club on and put it in the car and and take off and keep everything checked.

CW: You didn’t have police.

RT: Well yes, but he had that day off, like one night or so. They worked six nights and were on twenty-four hour call too when he wasn’t working. It wasn’t like today.

CW: Do you remember anything about Joe E. Brown? A lot has been said about him.

RT: He was a good friend of mine.

CW: He was!

RT: Here I will show you something. He was born in 1892.

CW: Was that your uncle or Joe E. Brown?

RT: Joe E. Brown and my uncle both were born in 1892. My uncle was born in March, and Joe E. Brown was born in July. He has relatives here yet too. These are my two sweet daughters. He held them while I took the picture. This was Memorial Day of ‘62. Shortly after that I forget just what date it was ‘70 something he died. But I’d always see him every year. He’d always come down to my garage while I was here.

CW: His mother was here. Didn’t he come to see his mother?

RT: She lived in Toledo. His mother was Annie.

CW: Did he come to see a relative?

RT: No, he came for Memorial Day. He was down to his mother’s. See, when he was-he started school probably seven at the time when they moved to Toledo. So he wasnt here anymore, but his house that he was born in in still down here on Randal Street.

CW: So then he started school here.

RT: First year, yep he was my old buddy.

CW: So they probably had a parade here every year.

RT: They had a parade, yes.

CW: Now there was another big fire in Holgate.

RT: Oh, in the old days the old grist mill.

CW: Where was that?

RT: Where the, what do they call it, that little restaurant, on the corner of 108. I saw it burn from out in the country. I was told it was time to go to bed. I went up and looked out the glass window and I could see Holgate. The fire was going. I didn’t know what it was. I hollered downstairs to Dad. I said Dad, I think there’s a fire. That was in the 20’s.

CW: Could you see flames, or black smoke?

RT: Red flames. That was a mess, and finally they got it cleaned up and they built that restaurant there.

CW: That’s why there is so much land around there.

RT: Yep.

CW: Then there was another fire down this main street of town right by the railroad track.

RT: The hotel.

CW: Where was the hotel?

RT: The corner down there.

CW: Right by the railroad tracks?

RT: Well, you know where the fire station and stuff is today, that used to be Pet Milk and right across was the hotel.

CW: How did that fire get started?

RT: I don’t know, but we had our dinner there when we got married .Hey no, that was Knipps. That was where the Shell is today. That was when I was in the Army. I think that was Knipps Grocery Store.

CW: So you had a couple of grocery stores at that time.

RT: Oh there was five at once.Two meat markets, Voight’s Meat Market, good meat and homemade bologna like that. I would bring two slices of homemade bread to school in my dinner bucket which I still have. I would come up and get a slice of bologna for a nickel cut it that thick, that big around and homemade, good stuff. Voight’s and Knapp Brothers, where Mary Evans beauty shop is, that was Knapp Brothers grocery store, Where there ain’t nothing today except blacktop on this side of Hubers Chevrolet there, that was McGill and Zachrich grocery store. We went to Walt Meyers when he moved to town and up where the grocery store is today. Walt bought that and his son Marv he run it and he quit and died. Let’s see Ralph’s, he bought it, but there was somebody that had it before him.

CW: There was a movie in there too wasn’t there?

RT: Yes, that was right where the drive is where the bank’s got their window at, just on the side parking. Yes, we used to go on Saturday nights. Where the drive through that was Yenner Clothing Store before the bank took it over. It moved from that side over there. On the west that was where the counter was you went up to. A little office that was enclosed, and then on this side. Then they switched over on the other side, that’s where the drive in was, or where Aaron Yenner was. His folks lived next door.

CW: The drive in window for the bank.

RT: Yes.

CW: Do you remember when, Ed Peper was telling me about they used to have movies and the trains went through it would be so noisy and they would make sure they would have the doors closed.

RT: I used to go there before it was talkies. Hazel Mink, which became Hazel Hays played the piano while you read off the screen what they were talking.

CW: For heaven’s sake!

RT: Then they finally got the talkies. Then just down the road, it would be in the second block house, right across from Mary Evans were the Knapp Brothers, Carl Cummins was on the corner, where he worked on cars and painted and Bob Westrick . He died and his kids are running it now, plumbing shop. I visited with his daughter Hazel Mink, Hazel Hays lived on that side in the block house. Up where the little ice cream thing is at Jo Jo’s. Have you been up there and seen it? That was Barringer barber shop. The old man Barringer , right across the street where Youngman lived. They were both barbers. The old man lived in there. Then there was a house there close to the corner which was Doc Meeken department.

CW: Did Doctor Cooper have an office here?

RT: Yes, out where she lives.

CW: She is in a nursing home now.

RT: I mean June, his daughter. The log house where Donnie lived, yes she is in a nursing home. I don’t know who lives there now, but he on that side and he did here for quite a while had one up here and one in Napoleon. He went both places. Then when he quit, I called him. He was a close friend of mine. He had antique cars, and he wouldn’t let anybody drive his one old Hupmobile, but me. I used to drive it on Sundays. He used to have quite a few things on Sundays each year. Then I would drive it down to Kalida, and back. The old boy was a right hand drive.

CW: Is that right! It must have been made in England or something..

RT: No, it was made here. All the cars were made here in the old days. Just like the stuff we buy. It didn’t have China, that they’re calling in nine million now. Everything you pick up is, you know why that is. It’s on account of they want more money for this and that. That’s why all the big boys went bankrupt. They can’t keep keep paying.

End of tape