President’s Letter – September 2014
The book containing Ortha’s Long Letter has been proof read and proof read and is ready for the printers. Now I am trying to find a printer. Changes in weather cause my fibromyalgia to flare up. This last month has been really bad. The storms the last couple of days have given us about 8 inches of water. Streams are flooded, lawns are flooded, gee it’s great living in a swamp. Another one of our members, Ardith Phillips has passed. Ardith has been living with her daughter in Aurora, CO. Funeral services were held in Aurora and a short graveside service was held here. Ardith was buried in Troy Township Cemetery. Her phone calls, photographs and bits of information that she has shared pertaining to early Luckey will be missed. Ardith and her daughter have enjoyed reading and sharing our newsletter and her daughter continues to be a member.
I have a correction on last month’s news letter, Aug 2014. Page 2, 1946 cheerleaders should be Norma Kopp, Imogene Broka, Francis Urban and Helen Urban (Fran’s sister).
This month I am going to share with you material from “The Fahle Farm Stories”. The book was written by Lloyd Fahle and his siblings: Charlotte and Dale. The book was created by the Fahles recording their stories with a tape recorder and later I transcribed them into print. If you know someone who would like to get their stories into print, I would love to help them. I even have a tape recorder they can use.
When I was a child Doris and I were told to go outside and play and not go into the house until we were told to. Dr. Babione from Luckey and Aunt Florence were there. When we went into the house Mom had a little baby in bed with her. We were told we had a little brother. Mom said the doctor brought him.
When Grandma Fahle was sick in bed Dale had a small rocker that he would sit in and sing to her every day. In the winter our bedrooms were not heated. Doris’s bedroom was the only one with heat because of the opening in the ceiling. The windows would frost over. We had feather tick mattresses. Mom would have our clothes out on the oven door. When we would get up, we would head on down to the kitchen to get dressed. Then we would eat Mom’s pancakes. That is how Dale got the burn mark on his but. He leaned over on the oven door and got the emblem of the stove on it, on his rear end.
Our dog was a German shepherd named Owny. Owny would pull us on our sled when we had a lot of snow. Doris tried to hang me by tying a rope around my neck and the other end around Owny. Then she tried to get Owny to go forward and he would not move. Owny’s job was to go to the woods and walk the cows back to the barn every day in the spring summer and fall. When he got sick, Dad had to take him to Dr. Stuchel the vet. Dad said Owny got rabies. Dad had to keep him in a pen. We had to keep him in the barn. Us kids would go out and hold his head in our laps all day long. We really missed him.
I attended catechism in the German school building across from the church on Saturday mornings. Rev. Kating was the minister. For heat we had a pot bellied stove. We kept our coats on. Rev. Kating chewed tobacco. We thought that was unusual. When we got home, first we would eat and then went to the woods to cut wood for use at home. I went with Grandpa when I was 11 or 12 years old. After I was confirmed in the winter we would shred corn. We had to shred two wagon loads for the cattle for the next week. We had to do this in the morning before it got too muddy. This work was done on Saturday morning. When the cattle were sold in the spring, our work dropped off.
When I was 9 years old, my Grandmother died. She was sick for such a long time. My mother used to take her to a doctor in Weston. I don’t know what for, I think he was a quack. Finally she got so bad that mom told Granddad he had to take her to the hospital. By the time he took her to the hospital, it was too late to do anything for her. She had cancer. They operated and removed everything that they could. But then she came home and she was bed ridden for the rest of her life. But I think that my grandmother had so much illness that I can’t remember having any time with her. I think that she was so involved with her illness that she count’ think of anything else.
I used to go to the woods on Saturdays. Sat. morning, and all day Saturday afternoon, we would cut wood in the woods then pile it up. We would leave it there all winter and next spring. Then we would go get it when it would dry out there. Then we would bring it on home. My dad would split it and we would burn the wood in the furnace. We would burn wood and coal. That was the kid’s job to keep the coal and wood supply on the porch for the furnace. On Sat. we had a lot of chores to do like clean the sidewalks outside, pump water in the trough to the cattle, and in the barn. Before we had an electric pump we had to pump it by hand. We would be out there pumping, my sister, myself and my brother, would be out there pumping water for maybe 2 or 3 hours. We had to pump enough water to fill the trough up in the barn for the cattle.
Reading in the paper today about the economy and the way it is, I could remember peddlers coming to our door and ask for a sandwich. My mother would give them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because they were hungry and they didn’t have anything. This was just after the depression started. This went on for 3 or 4 years. Not many people in town had much. We on the farm, we had plenty to eat because we could raise everything that we needed. A lot of people from town couldn’t do that. My mother and dad helped a lot of her brothers and sisters because they didn’t have much. So they would come out to our farm for things to eat and get fruits and vegetables that we raised.
During the summer when I was 12 and 13, my Grandfather was, well you lets say, “Hell on Weeds!”. If there was a weed growing there in the back 40, well, he would go back there and hoe it out. After my dad got through cultivating and when the weeds got too tall, then my Grandfather and my brother and I would have to go through the corn again to get all of the weeds. My dad had an F12 International, which he got on a steal and got a cultivator with it. Well, that was really something, because everybody did their work by horses. There weren’t many cultivators on tractors at that time. So we were one of the first farms that had a tractor with a cultivator to cultivate corn.
My dad worked at the lime plant. He did the dynamiting after the man from Atlas Powder did the big shot. Like they broke off maybe 25 or 30 feet from the side of the quarry. They then would drill holes in the stone and my dad would pack them with dynamite. This would be done after the guys went home from work. There was nobody there but my dad. He would set them off and he would count them as they went off, so he would make sure there wasn’t any remaining in a stone. A guy drilling a hole in the stone might hit the dynamite. Dad maybe wouldn’t come home for a couple hours after the other men went home. He did this every day.
When I was 14 I drove the tractor for Orly Brokee, he had a bailer. He wanted me to drive tractor for him pulling the bailer. So I did. We went all over and bailed. I also drove tractor for Orville Metzger (for bailing). He had a string bailer. He had more work than Orly Brokee so I stayed with Orville Metzger. The first day I went over there to work for him, he had the tractor and the bailer setting out. He had a car in the back with a trailer pulling the tools grease, oil and supplies for the bailer. He said, “ Well, are you ready to go?” I said “Yeap” I thought that I was going to drive the tractor but he says “Can you drive a car?” and of course. I said I could. I never drove a car in my life. I watched my father shift gears and how he did it. He says, “While, you follow me and we will go” I started the car and put it in gear. The first time I let out the clutch I stalled it. So, I started over again and got it moving. Of course, I didn’t go very fast because I was following him pulling the bailer. I didn’t know where we were going. He lived on Stony Ridge Road, so we go south down to 582 and we turned left. So I wonder, gee, where are we going? Unbeknownst to me, we were going to my father’s house to bail. So, he drives in and my father waves to him. I drive in with the car pulling the trailer, my Dad looked at me and he took a second look and he smiled. And I thought well, I was over the gettin’’ I’d get chewed out for driving a car. But he smiled at me, so that was all right. So that was my first experience at driving a car. Well, I worked for him that summer. We would bail for people all over, in the neighborhood. I would work then maybe we would have to wait until the hay got dry in the morning then we would work in the evening until the hay got dew on it and got tough. So, maybe we work a total of maybe 8, 9, 10 hours. I think that I got about 50 cents an hour that was about all.
The next summer I was 15, so I could get a drivers license. But I had to, (and it says right on the license) that I could only drive and run errands for my parents. That was kind of crap. When I was 15, I know a lot of guys from Luckey were going down to Walbridge to the railroad and they would get a job when they were 15. So, I went down there, and I got a job. Lied my age, said that I was 16. Well a lot of the guys they found out their age and they just told them to come back when they were 16. But they never found out my age, I don’t know why. I worked there the whole summer and even through the winter on the weekends. What we were doing is we were working in place of the men, because they couldn’t find enough because of the war. We were only there to do the jobs until these service men came home and took their jobs back. Then of course we were released. We knew that. But, a guy asked me how much I made doing that and I said that I couldn’t remember. He said, “Well I worked there and we made 83 cents an hour.” So I believe him. It was a lot of hard work, it was no easy job, but we were young. Yeah, I worked there through the winter and on weekends. Right through, boy that is the hottest place in the summer, right there between two railroad tracks with cars on them. It is the coldest in the winter between two tracks with cars on them. All that steel, in the summer it was just like a radiator and in the winter, it was just like an iceberg. But, I learned allot working there. At that time I made enough money that I could support myself, bought my school clothes, and I had spending money throughout the year. I didn’t splurge or spend it all but I knew my parents, I knew they didn’t have a lot of money. I could support myself, so I did.
In school, I played sports. I played Basketball and Baseball. I had a lot of fun doing that. The next summer I was 16. A friend that I graduated with was Lee Gotchalk, his father was the president of the hay mill in Dunbridge. So, he and I worked for the hay mill that summer. We cut hay out in the field. If we got a good field of hay we could cut allot of hay in advance. We would walk back up to the mill and get his car. He drove his mother’s car and we would go out and date some girls that night. Then after we took them home, we would go back to our jobs. Our only job was to have enough hay ahead, so if we had a good field of hay we could have a job, get paid and go out and spend some time with our girlfriends and then go back to our jobs. That was pretty good.
The next summer, I worked at the hay mill. But, that year I worked out in the field driving a chopper. In other words, we chopped the hay that was cut, it would blow it up on a truck and then they would haul it up to the mill. But, I stayed out in the field. I made good money doing that, for that time. We worked 12 hours a shift and we would usually work 6 days a week. So for that school year I had good money and I bought my own school clothes and paid for my books. Everything that I needed, I had money for. Of course I didn’t have enough for a car but occasionally I would be able to borrow dad’s car.
In the wintertime Dad didn’t have any heater in the car. He just had a fan blowing air on the inside of the windshield because it would freeze. That would keep it defrosted. But if it was extremely cold out, that fan would allow you to just have a hole to look through to drive. Of course there weren’t very many cars out on the road then, only us young guys. I came home one night and missed the driveway and I drove off the edge of the bridge. So then I had to go out and start up the tractor and bring it out to pull the car off the bridge. My dad didn’t take that kindly, he didn’t like that too well. However, I was able to use the car one night a week (usually on a Sunday night). When I was a senior, after my senior year, why, I decided to go to electrical school in Chicago. At Coin Electrical School. Never had been to a big city before, this was a new experience. Me and another guy, Jim Miller, another graduate ‘49, decided to go together and live together. . We took the train to Chicago and got a taxi. We took the taxi to the school, then we had to find a place to stay. Boy was that ever a learning experience. Us coming from the country and we didn’t know everything that went on in the world. I would have to say that we were a couple of country bumpkins to begin with. After we got out of school, we decided that everybody in Chicago had a sideline job that was usually illegal. (They were crooked. That’s the impression we got!) But I graduated from trade school and then I came back home looking for a job. At that time jobs were hard to find. It was like a mini depression. So, I worked at home on the farm and then got a job with a contractor from Genoa. I worked for him for several months. Then one of my neighbors said that he could get me a job a Dolar Jarvis. I would have to work in production first to build up some seniority before I could get into the electrical department. Well, I did that. I didn’t like working production. I made more money doing that, but I had to work third shift and I didn’t like that. Then while I was working there I got polio and I was off work for a year. Then after I went back to work, I managed to find a job as an electrical helper at a factory. In fact, I was there for 10 years. Then I left there and went to work for another contractor and was there about 35 years working as a supervisor electrician. I traveled allot starting up equipment traveling all over the country. But I liked it, met a lot of interesting people. I worked until I was 69 when I retired.
When my father passed away, at the funeral home a little old lady was in line to pay respects, she said” I’ll bet you don’t know who I am.” And I said, “I’ll bet, I do.” Here it was Edith Stine. She used to live with us years and years ago, taking care of my Grandmother. She was amazed that I could remember her name. When she lived with us, she was just like one of the family. She ate with us, her job was to take care of Grandma, whatever she needed. At that time, at home there, she had a lot of work to do to take care of her (Grandma).
I always remember when we got off the train in Chicago. We went to get a taxi. So, we got a taxi, told him were we wanted to go. He took off we thought that we were going to die before we got to our destination. We had never ridden with somebody that drove so crazy and erratic as he did. I guess that is the way that a taxi driver drove. But, boy oh boy, when we finally got to our destination, I asked him, “How much do we owe ya?” And I don’t remember what it was, but I gave him that exact amount of change. He kept holding out his hand, I said we paid ya. He said, “ What are you guys, a couple of cheap scapes?” He was supposed to get a tip and we didn’t know that. I said, “You got your money, you told me what we owed ya and you got it so that is it.” He called us some good names, but we just took off. That was a learning experience there.
When my brother Dale and I were smaller, well Dale was probably about four, and I was maybe six, my dad would go over to where a guy raised sheep. When the sheep had their lambs a lot of times he had orphans, maybe the mother died or maybe the mother rejected the lamb. You would have to feed them with a bottle. Well, he didn’t want to do that, so he would take and sell them. So my dad would go over there and he would get two lambs. Then he would bring them home and Dale and I’ s job was to feed the lambs their bottles of milk. They became like pets to us. They would follow us all over. We just let them run lose and they would lay up on the porch. Then when we would come out of the house they would follow us. They were just like a couple of dogs. Finally, it got so we couldn’t do that any more. There was too many of these black marbles lying around. …on the sidewalk and on the porch. Mom said that we had to put them in the orchard. So we put them in the orchard, but we would go out there and play with them. When they would get older then they would graze and we would feed them hay. When they got old enough then we would sell them. We did that for two or three years. We got these lambs and fed them with a bottle until they got older then they would graze, eat grain and hay. I don’t remember getting the money when they were sold. I think mom and dad kept that.
When we were teenagers, my sister and I would ask dad if we could use the car. He would say,” Why don’t you go ask your mother.” Then we would go ask our mother and she would say, “It’s all right with me, but go ask your dad.” We would have to go back and forth between the two before we finally got the OK to use the car. The car was a ‘36 Ford, four door. My how things have changed. My grandfather had a ‘33 Oakland. It was a big car. It drove like a truck. She would take that car uptown to the store to buy things. And I think back, it sure steered like a truck because when she backed up, she had to really work to get it straightened up going back down the road again. It would steer all right as long as you were moving, but as soon as you were standing still why, it was hard to turn. You were lucky if you could get it moving 30 miles per hour. Of course, back then the speed limit was 35. So nobody went fast, compared to today’s speeds. In the summer time we would usually take one big trip and that was usually to Jim Beach. We kids all got to go swimming, boy that was a big thing for us. That is about as far away as we got from home. Sometimes when we were teenagers, the Greyhound had a shortline that went to all of these small towns and into Toledo. I would go up town and catch the Shortway line into Toledo. Then I would go to the Paramount Theater to see a show. My cousin would usually meet me and we would go together to the show. Usually they had a show and they had a big orchestra. It would be like maybe Guy Lumbardo and his orchestra, or three or four of those well-known bands at that time. We would go to see the movie and see the band perform. Then I would get on the bus and hop the bus back to Luckey. We didn’t start doing that until we were about 15. Like on weekends. That was a big deal for us.
This is only a small section of “The Fahle Farm Stories. ” Hope you enjoyed reading about days gone by and hope I have encouraged you to spend some time recording your own stories.
Monthly meeting Thurs. At 6:30 in the Luckey Library. Those of you who are also Friends of the Library, they are not meeting this month. October our dues are due….still $20.
Fall Festival is Sep. 26th, 27th and 28th, we are in the big tent again this year. Hope to see you there.
Over and out, Sally