President’s Letter – November 2014
When I was young a year was an eternity. The older I get, the faster time passes. What happened to my summer? How did it get to be winter so quickly? Last weekend I was in beautiful North Carolina driving among the colorful leaves. With the sun setting or rising through the mountains it was like driving through fairy land. One week later her in Ohio I look out the window to see 3 or 4 inches of snow!!!! MY HOW TIME FLIES!!!
We have lost another member. Irma Meyer passed away the end of October. I should be writing more in our letter about Irma. However, I would like to save her tribute for another time and wish that you all would help me write this one. Please take a moment and write down an Irma story for me so we can share them in our letter.
A few months ago I shared with you a section of the Fahle Stories. I inadvertently left out one of my favorite bits. It goes as follows;
“The Power of the Pie”, Lloyd Fahle
I came up with the power of pie because that is one thing farm people did when someone was sick or passed away. My mother always had something to make a pie with. Of course everything was made from scratch including the pie dough. Sometimes she would even make pie dough and roll it up in a ball and put it in the refrigerator. When the occasion came up she would take it out and put it at room temperature. Then all she had to do was roll it out and she would always have something to put in it. She would have fresh fruit, or she would come up with some idea. So. I always felt that the pie had a lot of power. We took them to the church, to the school, to the neighbors. She worked at the quarry and she took pies there also.
Now for another taste of Ortha Wight’s “Long Letter”. This is one of my favorite months. Enjoy.
“No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no birds, no leaves
Our house, in November stood bare to the world. Nothing hid our view. The horizon dropped like a curtain and ended our round world. At night, in the North, the lights of Toledo lit the sky like some lesser Borealis; East of us bare winter woods etched the sky, and in the distance Peaceful Pemberville clustered on either side of the River was our nearest town.
South of us, at the edge of our Wight and Loomis farms, was our own Scotch Ridge built along its street that followed the River. Our road cut across the River Road, dividing the village into two parts. The East side began with the Robert Davidson house – its barn across the road. Next, the two-room schoolhouse, and across the road old Mr. and Mrs. Greiner lived. His old blacksmith shop near by. A brook ran between the schoolhouse and the Fenton property with its quaint white house, red tiled roof and a latticed portico.
West of this house were two barns, then the Lon Black house, built close to the road under a huge old Oak tree. Across the road was the Hansen house, built on the bank of low land leading to the River. Mr. Hansen was a carpenter, Mr. Black a mason. The Black property joined Mrs. Black’s mother’s house. This was the Corner. Granny’s house faced our road. Across from her on the South was the old white schoolhouse – now used as a Meeting Hall for the Band boys, Church socials and entertainments. Next to it on the Corner stood the old Store – now a barbershop and the barber’s home.
The West end of the village began with the large country store on the corner – next to it on our side of the village Mr. Rogers had his house and a small office where he sold wall paper and paint. For awhile [as written] he furnished its front room for his daughter’s little millinery shop.
Across the River Road on the south west corner on the roads stood the large square Inn owned by the Householder Family. West of it a large barn served as a livery stable. Travelers were accommodated in the Inn, and young Dr. Smith had an office there.
West of the store was the Grandfather Davidson’s house – and west of that the home of Old Squire Davidson.
Across the road, just where the River came near the road, stood a Creamery.
West of the old Squire’s was the Greiner house. Mr. Greiner, son of the former blacksmith, now had is own shop close to the road between his own house and Old Squire’s.
West of the Greiners lived an old couple in one of Scotch Ridge’s first houses. Named Bingle; I think when I was small, that he was retired. West of the Bingles lay the church land, on which had been built a small neat house.
Beyond that was a farm.
From our windows we saw the village from end to end. Hidden somewhat, in Summer, by trees – but now in November it stood bare.
We knew when people were up in the morning by the smoke in their chimneys and whose washing was the first on the clothes line.
That was all South of us.
West of us was the sunset over a vast winter landscape. Uncle Dave’s buildings stood black against such breath-taking beauty. We loved the sunsets – they seemed even more beautiful above the bleakness below than in Summer when the earth was beautiful.
November was a time for Indoors, so we moved in, physically and mentally. At home and at school we stayed inside.
Evan and I had winter chores. Our responsibility was the firewood. Great piles of wood, cut from the woods, had been stacked along the fence in the back yard. Some was left in short logs for the fireplace – some was spit for the kitchen stove.
Evan carried all the fireplace wood while I filled the kitchen wood box with split wood. All this had to be done every day from early Fall to late Spring. The only way to be excused was to be sick. Sickness was a luxury we might have enjoyed more if it had not been for some of the medicine we had to take.
No cold was allowed to “take its time” while we languished in bed. It was treated from the start with onion syrup and poultices, mustard plasters and Uncle Pete’s un-sugar-coated pills. It was better to get well soon.
On Wednesdays our parents went to town. By four-thirty when we arrived home from school, the house was tomb cold. With the skill of a grown-up, Evan laid the fires, dousing them with kerosene from an open can and setting them off to a roar, with the quick toss of a match. My heart would stand still, because I grew up on the fear of fire.
By five o’clock when our folks came home, the house was on its way to being comfortable. Comfort as we knew it was never the comfort of central heating. Houses sheltered us from the elements, but their responsibility ended there. If we cared to be warm, we worked for it. The fireplace did its best, and within a few feet of it we could be warm on whichever side we turned to the fire. Eight feet away there was a decided chill in the air, and upon opening the stair door we felt a blast from the arctic.
If we had a game of marbles against the portiers on the far side of the room, we were warned to stop when we began to shiver.
Bedtime came early – it saved wood. That suited us. We changed to our night clothes, close to the fireplace – absorbed as much heat as a flannel nightgown would hold, and measuring the distance to the stair door with a practiced eye, we shot into the frigid upstairs and leaped between the covers of a cold scornful unfriendly bed. Covered to the ears, we listened to the night sounds out there in that vast darkness. Sometimes it was a wind moaning around the corners and rattling the shutters, but on the coldest nights it was the “Wires”.
A telegraph line with many wires strung on high poles bordered our road. On winter nights the wires were taut and humming. Angels strummed their harp stirrings!
Morning called us just as we thought we had gone to sleep – but we were always ready for a new day. Boo, it was cold! Slipping from the covers we tore downstairs to the crackling fire in the fireplace to dress to the aroma of pancakes and sausage. We could just die eating pancakes and sausage, but any other breakfast was not worth the time it took.
The school bell rang at 8:30 – and again at 9:00. Between bells we were on our way.
November belonged to school. Sheltered from the cold we sat in rows, dressed in our several layers of clothes. On the blackboard was the program for our day. Every fifteen minutes there seemed to be something else to do. Reading: 9:00 to 9:15. Spelling, arithmetic and the like all parceled out to its allotted time.
One of our first lessons was “concentration” – there were no quiet moments as some class was always reciting. We learned to shut our ears to what did not belong to us.
An old stove heated our schoolroom in its own temperamental way. Quick wood fires flared hot, then died down. Coal sent its fumes to mingle with the pungent aroma of woolen clothes over bodies bathed on Saturday nights only. Fresh air remained out doors except for the few quick dashes someone made through the open door. We had plenty of fresh air outside in our small world and really enjoyed the fragrance of coal and wood smoke, chalk dust and unwashed kids. It smelled like school.
Teachers wore their second best clothes to school – nothing too nice, for they tended the fire and did the other janitor work.
Little girls looked entranced at bright satin yokes and braid, with a gold watch anchored bosom-wise by a gold pin, or better still fastened to a long gold chain and tucked somewhere out of sight in the area of the belt buckle.
For all our knowledge of the Pilgrims feasting with the Indians on Thanksgiving Day, we took that great day lightly. It was treated as another “Sunday – Church service first followed by a Sunday type dinner. The dessert may have been traditional – pumpkin pie, mince meat pie or one of Grandma Wight’s suet puddings. Pumpkin from the field was steamed and mashed for the pie – the mince meat was made from chopped beef, apples, boiled cider, suet, raisins, spices, currants, sugar, peach pickle juice, etc. all cooked together and packed into cans or crocks. The pudding was steamed fluffy and golden brown, and we ate it swimming in a sweet hot sauce. That put the finishing touches on Thanksgiving Day.
From now on we could look for snow and December.
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Darla Kohring (Ardith Phillips’ daughter) sent the following two photographs.
Our next meeting will be Thurs. November 20th at 6:30 in the library.
Those of you who are also members of the Friends of the Library remember our November meeting is at 2:30 in the afternoon on that same Thursday.
Over and out,
The top photo is obviously showing the LeMoyne baseball team. We have no date and no names.
The photo below is a group of faculty and students at Luckey School on Krotzer Ave. across from the cemetery. Although we have been able to identify some of the individuals the occasion has us bewildered.