Some of My

Early Memories

 (Part I)

 

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milton A. Hetrick, Sr.

 

April, 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Contents

 

Memories Before Age 10  (1918-1928) 4

The Original David Hetrick Homestead in Sandusky County, Ohio (c.1864) 4

Remodeling the Home. 7

Delco System... 8

Christmas. 8

Chores. 9

Early Transportation.. 9

Paving State Route 19. 9

Swimming Hole. 10

Haircuts. 10

Blacksmith Shop. 10

Rail Fences. 10

Carroll’s Birth.. 10

Children’s Games. 11

Radio.. 11

First Car.. 11

Home Made Ice Cream... 11

Fishing.. 12

Memories After 10 Years of Age (1928-1941) 12

Great Depression (1929) 12

School days (1924-1931) 15

Food & Shelter.. 16

Dinner Bell. 16

Watkins Man.. 17

Threshing day.. 17

Butchering day.. 21

Making Ice Day.. 21

Apple butter day.. 22

Income – earning money.. 23

Fun activities. 23

4-H Club (1930) 24

New Bicycle (1930) 24

Trip to Toledo (1928) 24

Growing up on a Farm... 25

Sleds – Important Farm Equipment.. 26

Making Wood.. 27

Boyhood Dreams. 28

Thankfulness. 28

More Memories.. 29 (Part II)

Remembering Decoration Day.. 29

A Day at the Sandusky County Fair (1924) 30

Christmas  (1924) 31

Trip to the Ohio Agriculture Experiment Station (1925) 31

Hay Crop (1925) 32

Producing a Crop of Corn (1925) 34

75 years later – 2000. 36

Producing a Crop of Wheat (1925) 37

75 years later - 2000. 38

The Oat Crop (1925) 38

75 years later - 2000. 39

First Day hunting (prior to 1941) 39

My First Date with Garnetta (1937) 40

My First Car (1940) 41

My Solo Flight (1971) 41

NicknamEs. 43

Food on the Farm... 44

The Apple Orchard.. 46

Going Barefoot (After age 10) 47

Farm Truck Memories (1939 – 1985) 48

Pickup Truck Memories (1939 – 1985) 49

Tractor Memories (1928 – 1982) 51

The Beginning of Military Service (1940) 59

Appendix A     Descendants of David Hetrick.. 65

Appendix B   Determining how much lumber could be sawed from a log. 66

 

List of Figures

 

Figure 1   Early Photo of David Hetrick’s Home Taken about 1864 (Looking North) 4

Figure 2   Photo of David Hetrick’s Home Taken about 1908   [Looking West] 5

Figure 3   Sketch of original layout 5

Figure 5   Mary Crowell Hetrick (before 1924) 7

Figure 6  Abner & Ida Hetrick’s Home - November 1942.  [Looking South] 8

Figure 7   Pedal Car – Gift for Christmas 1927. 11

Figure 8   Milt Sr.'s First Bank Book and outer jacket 13

Figure 9   Bank Rules (in English and German) 13

Figure 10  Initial entries into Bank Book (pages 1 & 2) 14

Figure 11  Final Entries and Close-out in 1932 (page 3) 14

Figure 12  Threshing Machine (typical) 17

Figure 13  Frick single-cylinder steam traction engine, 1921 (typical). 18

Figure 14  Avery Steam Engine Tractor, 1917 (typical). 18

Figure 15   Steam Powered Threshing machine-typical (Typical). 19

Figure 17  Hart Parr (Typical). 20

Figure 18   Abner and the threshing crew          Figure 19   Helping Farm Hands. 20

Figure 20  Cutting Ice for the Ice House (typical) 21

Figure 21  Abner & Ida Hetrick cooking apple butter 22

Figure 22    InterUrban Street Car that transported people between Toledo and Marblehead, Ohio (built c.1905) 24

Figure 23   Abner and Leroy (Pat) Hetrick with a log on Abner’s Bob sled.  Photo taken about 1930-32. 27

Figure 24   Old Wooden "Lunch Box" Used for Family Outings. 30

Figure 25  Hay Mowers - Horse Drawn  (Typical) 32

Figure 28   Cultivating "Checked" Corn - one row at a time. (Typical) 35

Figure 29   Cutting Corn by Hand with a Corn Knife. (Typical) 35

Figure 30   Starting a corn fodder shock using a corn buck. (Typical) 35

Figure 31   Binding a corn fodder shock using a rope/pulley tool. (Typical) 35

Figure 33  1941 Chevy  Farm Truck - c 1942 (Ida, Vin, Abner Hetrick, Dean and Larry Nickel) 48

Figure 34   Milk Trucks – c 1955 (Mike, Terry Hetrick) 49

Figure 36  1951 Chevrolet Pickup (typical) 50

Figure 38  1973 Dodge Pickup (typical) 50

Figure 39  The International Mogul. (Typical), 1914-1917.   (Ref: The Classic American Farm Tractor). 51

Figure 40   International Harvester 8-16.  (Ref: The Classic American Farm Tractor.) 51

Figure 41  Fordson 1920 (Typical).   (Ref: The Classic American Farm Tractor.) 52

Figure 42   1941 John Deere A with original steel lugs -c 1939 (Ronnie, Janet Nickel and Abner Hetrick) 53

Figure 43   1941 John Deere A – c 1945 (Vin, Milt Hetrick Jr) 53

Figure 44   Silver King - c 1943 (Howard Hetrick, Carroll Hetrick) 54

Figure 45   Silver King - c 1943 (Carroll, Milt Hetrick, Jr) 54

Figure 46   1946 John Deere A   (Garnetta, Milt Hetrick, Jr.) 55

Figure 47   B. F. Avery – c 1946 (Milt Hetrick, Jr.) 56

Figure 48   1950  8N Ford with front end manure loader - c 19?? (Vin Hetrick) 56

Figure 49    1967 860 Series Ford - c 1967  (Milt Hetrick, Sr.) 57

Figure 50   Oliver 70  (Typical) 57

Figure 51   Allis Chalmers Flat Top (Typical).   c1938. 58

Figure 52   Allis Chalmers WD45 (Typical) 58

Figure 53   Allis Chalmers 190. 59

Figure 54   Army Mess Lines at Camp Shelby, Mississippi - 1941. 60

Figure 56   Birthday - March 23, 1941 (Herb Nickel, Abner,Thelma, Ida, Milt Hetrick Sr. ) 61

Figure 57   Family Visit in July -7-18-1941 (Earl, Dot, Carroll, Milt Sr., Mildred) 61

Figure 60   Keen Kutter™ Doyle scale for Estimating Board Feet in a Log 66

Figure 61   Log cut from farm of Abner Hetrick.  Leroy (Pat) Hetrick is shown next to the log.  The Doyle log scale was added to depict how it was used to estimate “board feet.”. 67


Memories Before Age 10  (1918-1928) [1]

 

 

The Original David Hetrick  Homestead  in Sandusky County, Ohio (c.1864)

 

Figure 1   Early Photo of David Hetrick’s Home Taken about 1864 (Looking North) [2]

 

The old house that Grandpa Hetrick (David) lived in had a front porch facing east.   The entrance on the south facing side was called the portico.  Upon entering thru this door, one could walk to the north side of the house via a dark narrow hallway or go upstairs via a staircase near the door.  This staircase was moved to its present location on the other side of the house when Abner remodeled.

 

North

 

Figure 2   Photo of David Hetrick’s Home Taken about 1908   [Looking West]

The kitchen and living room formed a wing on the north side of the main house, with no basement.  The kitchen had a door to the west, and to the dining room, also a door leading to the porch on the east side.  The kitchen had a large cast iron wood burning cook stove.   The wood range was also used for all the cooking and baking.  It also provided heat for the kitchen and kept water warm in its reservoir.The living room was heated by a pot-bellied stove , a place we kids would usually dress around on cold winter mornings.

Above the kitchen and living room was one large room that had at least 3 beds that we kids shared. 

The living room had a door opening to the south into a hallway leading to the upstairs steps. This hallway also had a door opening to the cellar under the main section of the house.  I don’t recall ever going down there much because it was dark and damp.    I believe potatoes and fruit were probably stored there.  I do recall a shelf above the steps leading down, that Dad kept cigars stored.  It was damp and dark, good for cigars.  As I remember, the old wing was torn off to build the new kitchen around 1924.

Figure 3   Sketch of original layout  
   

I remember a pitcher pump at the kitchen sink that we used to draw rainwater from the cistern . [3]    Our drinking water was brought in from the well just north of the house and kept in a white 2-½ gallon granite pail with a dipper to drink from the pail.  The drinking water pail sat on a counter next to the sink.   On cold winter mornings, I remember breaking the ice in the drinking water pail before getting a drink – we had no need for ice cubes.

 I also remember wisps of powdery snow lying on the floor next to the kitchen door.  The crack under the door allowed the snow to be blown in during the night.  After a driving snowstorm, we might also find small drifts of snow lying on the inside of the window sills.  In the winter, the windowpanes would glaze over with a layer of frost on the inside surface of the glass.  We would scrap away some of the frost, place our hand on the cold glass, and melt a small viewing area in the shape of our hand to get a better view of how much snow had fallen during the night.   Mom would soon have the cook stove roaring to chase away the cold.

We had one large room upstairs with three beds, where all seven of us kids slept – at least two in each bed

At that time there was no electricity in the house so the long hallway leading to the stairs was always dark.  Mildred, our oldest sister, loved hiding behind a coat hanging on the wall to scare us as we went to bed. 
Figure 4 Milton, Dorothy, Esther, Thelma Hetrick taken around 1924 before remodeling.

Thanks to Mildred, we always paired up to go upstairs at bedtime.  On cold winter nights, I remember we often took a heated iron or brick wrapped in a towel to bed with us to help keep our feet warm.

Another of my first memories was the Saturday night bath in the old house.   Mom would fill a washtub with warm water from the reservoir on the cook stove.  The washtub was set in front of the open oven door that provided some heat and we’d each take turns to be scrubbed down.  I don’t remember who was first or last to take a bath, but warm water was precious and we all shared the same tub and water. 

 

I remember the old wooden “out-house” out by the chicken coop.  I seem to recall that it had two large openings and a small opening at one end that was lower for the younger children.   The well-remembered Sears Catalog lay on one side, plus a lot of newspapers cut in about 8 x 12 inch pieces.   Mom always raised chickens, and I remember one year there was a mean old rooster that would chase us if we came into the chicken yard to use the “out-house”, so it meant a dash there and back.   

 

I remember Dad bringing home a 1924 REO touring car that carried 7 passengers.  He opened a section of the picket fence out front to drive the car onto the front yard for all of us to see.  Some one [4] took him to Lansing Michigan to the factory where he picked up his new car.   A few parts [5] from this car still remain in the family.   I learned to drive this iron machine when I was about 12 years old. 

 

I remember Grandma Hetrick (Mary) lived in the front room or parlor.   She had a bed, table and chair, with a large coal burning Heatrola in her room.  I think she preferred to be alone because she cooked her own meals on a small stove in that room.  I remember the day she died in June 1924.   Dad was putting a new roof on the shed.  That morning, Mom rushed outside and informed Dad that Grandma had passed away in her sleep during the night. 

 

Remodeling the Home

I think I was starting school [6] about the time Dad began the major remodeling of the house.  The old kitchen was torn off the house.  A basement was dug and a wood burning furnace was installed in the basement to provide central heat to each room in the house. A new kitchen was built with an inside stairway to the basement.   The new kitchen included a water system.  The stairway inside the main house was reversed and the large room upstairs was divided into multiple rooms.

Figure 5   Mary Crowell Hetrick (before 1924)

A bathroom was installed upstairs, with a cast iron tub on legs and a flush toilet.   New windows were installed that were easy to open because they included ropes fastened to counter weights to help raise the heavy sashes.   Some internal doors were removed and replaced with archways in the house.

 

As I recall Oscar Hetrick, from Oak Harbor, was the carpenter for this remodeling project and almost always worked alone.   Rufus Hellar, also from Oak Harbor, was the plumber.  I think someone from Lindsey laid block for the kitchen addition, plus built a new chimney for the furnace.  I seem to remember Dad saying the remodeling cost in excess of $5000.00 – a lot of money at that time.   He borrowed most of the money from Uncle Henry Risch from Oak Harbor.   Most of the lumber came from the farm and I remember Dad taking a lot of oak boards to Lindsey to have planed at the Bloker Lumber Yard. [7]   I recall making trips to Lindsey for this lumber that required more than half a day because we used horse and wagon.  At that time, there were no trucks, at least that could be afforded.  

 

Figure 6  Abner & Ida Hetrick’s Home - November 1942.  [Looking South]

 

Scrap Lumber from the Remodeling Project

I remember Uncle Chet would give me nails – square tapered ones – when I came home from school, because he knew I was always building things.   I remember building a little shack but it fell down.  There was also an airplane – a long 3 sided body with a board across the top for a wing plus a small one on the back for a tail and a stick in the front for a propeller.  These boards were all used from the pile that was headed for a big bon fire. 

 

Delco System

I think Dad had the house wired for electricity at the time it was remodeled.   It was a 32-volt Delco system that included large batteries housed in the basement.   A gas driven electric generator charged the batteries.  A man by the last name of Bauman from Fremont installed the wiring for the house and barn.  At that time, the electrical wiring consisted of two insulated wires placed side by side and held in place with white porcelain insulators.  When the rural electricity later became available, Dad sold the batteries and the Delco Plant.

 

Christmas

I remember our Christmas tree was cut from somewhere on the farm and the folks would attach a few real candles to it.  The candles were lit on Christmas Eve and then had to be watched very  closely to be sure they didn’t start the tree on fire.  Mom always baked special cookies, plus some sweet popcorn.   I remember the Christmas Eve church programs.  After the program, each of us kids would get a small box of candy and an orange from the church.  Each of us found one gift under the tree when we returned home.  I remember how anxiously we looked forward to Christmas –– candy, a small gift, and special food.  How different from today’s commercial Christmas with no thankfulness and hardly any idea of why we really celebrate - in those days we were happy with so little, to celebrate the birthday of our Savior.  

 

Chores

I remember some of our daily chores.  Mom would always milk the cows, morning and night, with the help of one my older sisters.  Dad usually tended to the hogs and fed the extra livestock.  I don’t recall ever raising sheep when I was young.  We did raise turkeys and geese, although I never remember ducks.  My daily chore was to clean the horse stables.  We usually had five horses.  First we’d let the horses out in the barnyard to drink from the water trough and get a little exercise, plus a trip to the salt block under the overshoot.  After cleaning the stable we’d pull straw from the straw stack and give each stall a new bed of straw.   Then it was time to climb up into the haymow and throw down some hay, so we could put a couple of fork fulls of hay in each manger.  We would lift the heavy lid of the grain box, and use an old wash basin to scoop out some oats, and then dump the oats into each of the horse’s mangers.  Then we’d open the door to let the horses come back for their evening meal – each horse knew its own stall. 

 

Another chore I remember was filling the woodbox by the kitchen door.   Once filled, it would last until the next night.  I remember hunting out the smallest sticks of wood to put on top the box so we had fine kindling to pop corn. Small pieces of wood were needed to make a quick hot fire.  Corn was put in a large black kettle with a generous portion of lard in the bottom.   A lid was placed on top once the corn started popping until there was enough popped corn to keep it from flying out.  It was then dumped in a big dishpan, and we would really enjoy it. 

 

Early Transportation

I think I remember Dad using the horse and buggy a couple of times to get groceries in Oak Harbor.  Why he didn’t use the car I don’t know.   Maybe it was jacked up during bad weather.  I also think I recall Mom going with the horse and buggy once – probably to a Ladies Aid meeting.  They were held in the women’s homes, so it was probably to someone’s house close.   Mom never drove a car – or tractor. 

 

Paving State Route 19

I also remember during my early years, the road being paved from Oak Harbor south to the Rice- Sandusky Township line past Kingsway.  Dad allowed the construction crew to store bags of cement in one of his sheds – there were truck loads of cement as I recall.  First the roadway was scrapped level with a horse powered road scraper.  A concrete berm or curb was then poured on each side of the road.  The concrete was all mixed by hand in a motor gas driven cement mixer.  After the berm was poured and hardened, sand was placed between the berms, then again leveled to prepare for the brick to be laid.  Each road brick was almost 4”x 4”x 8”.  The bricks were all hand laid with about ½” to 1” spacing between each brick.  Following the laying of brick, hot tar was poured in all the spaces to allow for expansion and contraction.  The result of this labor intense effort was a really beautiful road.  Imagine driving to Oak Harbor or Fremont on a hard smooth road – no more mud ruts, mixed with some stone. 

 

As kids we used to dig some of the tar out in the summer time with a pocketknife and chew it.  We never thought that horses, cattle, cars and trucks were leaving their marks into the tar.  We never became sick from it, nor did we get sick from licking the salt block off the shiny clean spot made after a horse or cow had licked on it.  “Ignorance is bliss.” 

 

Swimming Hole

I remember the swimming hole in Mud Creek.  Just west of the railroad.   It was about 4 or 5 feet deep with a mud bottom.   After we would jump in a few times it really became muddy.  We would make a trip to the swimming hole as much as 3 or 4 times each day.

 

Haircuts

The first barber I remember was George Wallenga.  His brother Fred had a shop directly across the street.  I don’t recall washing my hair before going to the barber in Oak Harbor.  I do remember the great smelling tonic he dumped on before combing.

 

Blacksmith Shop

Another great experience I remember was going to the Blacksmith shop to have horses shoed.  The shop was in Oak Harbor where the parking lot is now for the IGA store.  Dad would tie up the team outside, and then take one horse at a time into the shop – it had a solid plank floor.  What a sight to see the blacksmith put the horseshoes in the forge, with a bellows making red-hot coals.  He would bring them out and pound to shape on his anvil, making a tune never to be forgotten.   After dipping the shoe in water he would fit it to horses hoof.  Usually he was right the first time but once in while he would have to re-heat the shoe to shape it again.  At the time I wondered how he could drive nails into the horse hoof without hurting, not knowing the horse ever felt it.

 

Rail Fences

Another memory is the rail fences. [8]    At one time, the lane from the barn going up to the railroad tracks had rail fences on each side.  I don’t recall any rail fences separating the fields, but Dad said they used to.  Those rails had been replaced with new wire fences when I was growing up. I’ve forgotten what kind of wood the rails were split from– Dad once told me.  Each spring we would take down a section of rails, replace them with wire fencing, then use the good rails to replace bad or rotten ones in the remaining rail fence.  I was too small to lift the corners so Dad would hold it up while I pulled out the end of the bad rail and slide a new one in.  The bad rails were buzzed up for wood for the cook stove. 

 

I remember going along with my sisters to get the cows from the woods, which meant going up the lane.  We’d see little chip monks scampering between the rails.  It was fun to pick wild raspberries and a few black berries from the corners.  The rail fences also provide good hiding places for wild rabbits.

 

Carroll’s Birth

I have memories of Dec 24th 1924.   Uncle Theodore came down from Toledo in the afternoon.   Mom was sick we were told, so he took us kids to Christmas Eve service and program at church.  We each had a part in the program followed by the traditional orange and small box of hard candy for each child. [9]    When we came home, Dr. B. O. Krielick’s car was there (he was the family doctor from Fremont and related to the family) so when we entered the house we were told to go up to bed right away.  Before we settled in we could hear a small baby cry from down stairs – at that time Mildred said she bet Mom had a new baby and we had a new brother or sister.   Carroll was born that Christmas Eve.  I was too young [10] to recall when Vin was born.  

 

Children’s Games

The games we played as kids were Andy-I-Over, Hide and seek, rolling hoops with a stick, and of course Hop Scotch.  For Hop Scotch, we’d scratch a pattern on the sidewalk with a special soft stone we’d pick up along the railroad tracks.  I don’t recall any store bought games around that time.  We also sometimes played “store” with empty boxes (for example, cracker boxes, baking soda boxes, brown sugar containers, empty sardine cans, etc.)  We would create the store by draping a canvas or rug over the clothesline to form a tent.

 

Radio

I recall our family’s first radio.  It was a big box with 3 dials, plus a couple more that had to be turned exactly right to get a station.  I think the first radio was an Atwater Kent.  It required a aerial that was a single wire running from the top of the house to the top of the barn – this antenna usually came down during an ice storm or extremely high winds.  Without this huge antenna, there was no radio.    The set was on a stand in the front room (parlor) and was only turned on at night.  We kids would lay on the floor in front of the set, with Mom and Dad in chairs telling us to be quiet.  The big event was the heavy weight boxing matches once or twice a year.   Since we were one of the first to have a set, neighbors and friends were invited in for the big night.  That was the era of Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Max Schmelling, etc.. Of course Mom always had hot dogs and coffee or cake or pop corn to serve to her guests.   One of my favorite radio programs was Amos and Andy. 

 

First Car

My gift at Christmas when I was 9 years old was a toy pedal car – it was a highlight of my life.  I made a lot of trips in my car up and down the sidewalk, plus some in the house, and even some in the stone driveway even though it was very difficult to pedal in the driveway. 

 

When Mildred and Glenis were married that next spring, I remember my little car ending up on the porch roof the night of their “belling.”   Someone attempted a prank meant to put my car into their bedroom through an upstairs window, but failed because the window wouldn’t open.  My car was left there on the front porch roof for Dad to take down the next morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 7   Pedal Car – Gift for Christmas 1927

 

Home Made Ice Cream

Another memory was that we often had homemade ice cream.  Someone would bring a block of ice in from the icehouse that was just east of the house.  We then washed off the sawdust, placed the block of ice inside a burlap bag, and then broke the ice up into fine chunks by striking the bag with the flat side of an axe.   We would then pack the crushed ice in a 2 ½ gallon freezer around a container that Mom had prepared with ice cream mix.  The ingredients came from the farm (e.g. the eggs, the cream).  No ingredients were purchased except for possible the vanilla flavoring that was bought from the traveling Watkins salesman.   Sometimes fresh strawberries or even raspberries were added, then the turning began.  Each of us kids would take turns on the crank or handle.  Of course we would count the turns, to make sure we didn’t do more than the other kids.  When the paddles came out we each had a spoon to clean it off. 

 

Fishing

I remember many trips down to Muddy Creek to fish.  Sometimes we would make 3 or 4 trips a day.  We would use an old cane pole, sometimes even a long stick, plus some hooks Dad had discarded, or even a hook fashioned from a large pin.  A wire nut worked as a “sinker” and an old cork worked for a “bobber”.  I don’t recall that we caught much but even a little sunfish or a 4” bullhead was a thrill to pull in.

 

These are some of my first memories up until I was about 10 years old.  I have many more and many after 10 years.

     

 

Memories After 10 Years of Age [11] (1928-1941)

 

Great Depression (1929)

I was 11 years old in 1929 when the Great Depression started.  At the time, I was just growing up and had no real concerns about money.  I do recall the day the banks closed and it seemed to make Mom and Dad very concerned.  I remember being down to the creek and when I came to the house, Mom and Dad had received word from somewhere about banks closing and something about the Stock Market.   My life didn’t change that day but it did make a lot of changes for my folks.   Sometime after that I recall them talking about a life insurance policy Dad was going to lose, because he could not make the premium payment.  Also how they would repay Uncle Henry the money they had borrowed to remodel the house. 

 

I remember having a Savings Account in the Bank of Oak Harbor – it was started Jan 1st 1919, in the sum of $5.00 and during the years money was deposited a $1.00 at a time and sometimes only a few cents, that made a total of $44.47 by 1932.   The Bank in Oak Harbor reopened after the crash – I don’t recall what year – but in Feb of 1932, my account was closed.    I don’t remember why, but think the money was used to help the folks.   At that time pennies were hard to get.    I know from 1929 until the account was closed, interest was about all that was added.    I have the original savings account book yet.    

 

 

Figure 8   Milt Sr.'s First Bank Book and outer jacket

 

Figure 9   Bank Rules (in English and German)

 

Figure 10  Initial entries into Bank Book (pages 1 & 2)

 

Figure 11  Final Entries and Close-out in 1932 (page 3)

 

About that time, we learned to be very careful of our clothes.  We had one Sunday suit and a Sunday pair of shoes, only worn to church or a special occasion.   I remember Mom always saying after coming home from church, that we should go to our room NOW and change to our old clothes.  We wore clothes that had patches, but they were also clean when we left home, for school or whatever.   It was really exciting when we went to a church ice cream social or picnic and being able to get a bottle of pop.  When Christmas arrived we always received 1 gift, and that made a special time in our life, also that gift was always appreciated, and treasured.   All the other kids from school and church were like us, so we didn’t feel poor or left out.   During that time we made our own games and learned to do with what we had.  We were never hungry or without clothes, and learned to share, and because of that, we grew up as a close family and remained that way through life.  It was also a time that we learned to “make it do – or do without.”

 

A few of the specific memories I have

 

School days (1924-1931)

We attended a one room school known as the Hasselbach School.  It was named after the Hasselbach family that donated a small portion of ground for the school.  Rice Twp. had at least 8 one-room buildings scattered throughout the Township, all within walking distance of the families.   Some of the school names I recall were Tucker, Bower, Glasser, Hineline, Kingsway, Riverside, Fetterman, we had about one mile to school, and almost always walked.   On a rare occasion, I recall someone taking us or picking us up if it was a severe rain storm.   Snow or drifts we always walked.    I don’t believe school was ever called off due to bad weather – maybe once or twice in my school days.   Classes were combined i.e. 1st and 2nd – 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th.   I was the only one to start in my first year so as a result was doing some 2nd grade work my first year.   In my 3rd year I again was doing the same assignments as 2 boys in the 4th grade so the teacher promoted me to the fifth grade at the end of the year, skipping my 4th year. 

 

I finished elementary after just turning 13.   I was small for my age at that time, and rather than start high school – 4 miles from our place, the folks decided I should wait a year and just take the 8th grade over – allowed at that time – although I had already graduated.   This probably was a mistake, because during that year if there was work at home or if I sometimes chose, I did not go to school.   The teacher wasn’t concerned because I had already finished schooling with no more to gain at that level.  

 

Even though I did not dislike school, I believe I learned to enjoy the outdoors and helping the folks at home, plus the other freedoms that made it a little difficult to start high school the following year.   Rice Twp. did not have public transportation (school buses) at that time, it was decided I would attend Oak Harbor High School, rather than 8 miles to Fremont.  My Freshman year, two neighbors, Cliff Hetrick, a Sr., and Char Fisher, a Jr. and I would trade off driving a week at a time – Even though I was only 14, we didn’t need a drivers license – this worked fairly well that year, but my Sophomore year, I was left alone – Cliff had graduated and Chuck moved away.   That meant that I drove the old car, rode my bicycle or walked of which I did all three. 

 

One week after school started, my sophomore year, I was permitted to take the next week off to exhibit my 4-H pig at the Sandusky County Fair.   Returning to school again after the fair wasn’t much fun.  After a couple of weeks, I asked the folks if I could quit school.  Even though they didn’t insist I continue, they allowed me to make my own decision.  That ended my formal schooling at that time.   Also a few years later I considered it one of my biggest mistakes in life.   (Some years later, after returning from Military service, and Garnetta’s encouragement, I attended night classes and did receive my High School Diploma)  

 

The school sat on a 1 acre plot, on State Route #19, allowing a playground big enough for ball games, foot races, etc.  It was one room, with one door, blackboards across the front end.  The teacher’s desk was in front on one side, plus a long bench in front of the teacher for individual class periods.  A large pot-bellied stove sat in the middle, with a long stove pipe extended from the ceiling going back to the chimney at the end of the room.   With the pipe hanging in the open, it allowed heat into the room before entering the chimney.  Each pupil had a desk assigned to them – the youngest in the front, the older pupils in the rear.   While one class was upfront on the “recitation bench” being quizzed by the teacher, the rest of the students were required to study – I don’t ever recall taking homework home.   Those were the days of the “3 Rs” – Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic, plus I always added another R for recess.

 

I remember my 8th grade year as the school janitor.  Starting about Nov. my duties were going to school an hour early, to start the fire in the stove – first I would place a bucket of corncobs (from the coal shed out back) on top the paper then adding lumps of coal on that.   After a splash of kerosene or coal oil the match would be applied.  While the room was slowly heating, I would sweep the floors, empty any trash and clean the blackboards.  For this my pay was $3.00 each month – a lot of money at that time.  I remember buying a 22 cal Winchester rifle, single shot from my pay – a rifle I think Mike has now.

 

Food & Shelter

We were growing up during the Depression years at this time.  Even though we didn’t have much money or worldly possessions, I don’t think we were concerned about being poor.   We always had bountiful food, a warm home, and clothing to wear.  Our families always butchered about 5 to 7 hogs, weighing 200 lbs or better, a steer each winter, plus many wild rabbits, pheasants and squirrels to eat, also chickens.  Almost every Sunday we would come home after church to a noon meal of fried chicken, homemade noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy and most likely pie, always prepared on a wood burning cook stove.  Those were the days we kids were allowed to take all we want, but never did we leave anything on our plates.   We sometimes tried to hide a piece of fat or a bread crust under our plate, but were always caught.  At that time meat had a lot of fat and homemade bread had hard crusts.

 

 

Dinner Bell

Another of my memories was the dinner bell on top the summer kitchen.  Each farm had one and was used to call the farmer home to dinner, or in some cases to signal an emergency in the community.   If you heard a bell ringing other than meal time, some neighbor responded.   I recall working in the field with horses.   Each bell had a different pitch, and the horses seemed to know our bell – their ears would pick it up and they would walk faster, knowing they could head to the barn.  Another trait our horses had was discerning the train whistle.   At that time we had engines operated by steam, powered by coal.  Each engine had a whistle, and used it for each railroad crossing.   Trains ran on a very tight time schedule – one you could almost set your watch by.  Each day at 11:30 a train went through Dad’s farm, which was called the “local”. On clear days, you could hear the whistle as far away as Kingsway, and the horses always seemed to hear it first.   When they heard that train coming, their ears would pick up and they would start walking faster.   Like the dinner bell, it would have been almost impossible to turn them at the end of the field to make another round, once they heard that particular whistle.  Whistles were a little different on each engine – also each engineer sounded his whistle a little differently – i.e. long blasts, short blasts or a combination that made his train special to him.

 

Watkins Man

Another memory I have is the Watkins Man”, that would stop by on a regular basis.   The man I remember was Fred /Nickel – a brother of Herb and Earl – Fred was a rather tall thin man, soft spoken always a smile, and drove a Chevrolet 2 door car – about a 1927 model. 

When he would drive in our lane, we kids always wanted to be in the kitchen when he opened that big case he carried. In it was the most wonderful selection of bottles, boxes, and packets we had ever seen.   Mom always bought her vanilla and other spices from him, also often a new box of Watkins slave that cured everything.   Of course, if he gave us a small piece of hard candy our day was complete.   A Raleigh man also went through but Mom almost always bought from the Watkins Man.

 

Threshing day

Special days I remember was Threshing day, butchering day, ice making day, and a day set aside for apple butter.  When I was smaller threshing day was the day most looked forward to. 

 

I grew older and became part of the work crew, it wasn’t near as exciting.   The first rig I recall was powered by steam. 

I remember Dad going to Oak Harbor with the team of horses to get about a ton of coal that was piled right next to where the steam engine would be set up. 

Also a water wagon was there to supply water – it usually kept one of the men with the rig to keep water in the boiler and coal in the fire box. I remember a lot of noise and black smoke coming from that monster.  Later when

 

Figure 12  Threshing Machine (typical)

 

 

 

Figure 13  Frick single-cylinder steam traction engine, 1921 (typical). [12]  

Figure 14  Avery Steam Engine Tractor, 1917 (typical). [13]   

(I don’t recall exactly what the steam tractor looked like, but it I remember how high the belt drive was as indicated in the previous two photos.)

When the Steam Engine tractor was connected to the threshing machine, it appeared similar to that shown in the photo.

 

Later the thresher was powered by oil – a Rumley OilPull – which also licked out a lot of smoke. 

 was powered by gas – an “Eagle Six” - a big tractor with six cylinders.   I recall the neighbors coming with their wagons and team, to keep that big outfit busy all day.  Our job as kids was to make sure plenty of cold fresh water was available at the rig when they came in with their loads of bundles for the thresher. Also the meal served by Mom and a couple of neighbor women was something always to be remembered.

Figure 15   Steam Powered Threshing machine-typical (Typical). [14]

After that, the machine

 

 

 

 

I remember the Hasselbach Bros. (Ervin & Edrie) using a tractor like this when they came to Dad's to thrash grain.   When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I recall having the coal fired engine come with the Thresher and getting coal ready to stoke the tractor for steam – I’m not sure if the Hasselbachs owned that rig or not.  It was about 1923, I recall the Rumley Oil Pull.  A few years later, they used an Eagle tractor - gasoline powered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text Box: Figure 16  The Rumely OilPull, 1909-1931.   
(Ref: The Classic American Farm Tractor, pg 8).

 

 

 

 

Figure 17  Hart Parr (Typical). [15]   

 

Probably one of the last times Abner’s threshing machine was used is captured in the following photos taken around 1944. 

.

 

        

Figure 18   Abner and the threshing crew          Figure 19   Helping Farm Hands                         

           

Around 1945, Vin purchased an Allis-Chalmers combine just before I returned home from overseas.  About this time the draft horses were sold and farming was performed with tractors.

 

Butchering day

Butchering day was also special.   A few days before a lot of wood was split and piled for the fire to heat water.   A big pole was erected over the fire pit that held at least 3 large black cast iron kettles.  Long before daybreak – butchering day was always in the winter when days were short – the fire was started under the kettles filled with water.  Again some neighbors came as soon as it was light enough to shoot a hog and the water was hot, the day began.   Dad used to kill the hogs when I was small, but later it became my job – one I never enjoyed.   Two hogs at a time weighing 200 + pounds were killed and then dipped in a barrel of hot water to loosen the hair – first the front half of the hog and then the back half.   After they were scraped clean of hair, they were hung up on a scaffold (tripod) to be gutted and split. The intestines were taken to the basement where the neighbor women would clean them and later used as casings for the sausage.   After the first two hogs were hung up it was time to kill two more, and go through the same process.  I always remember at least six or seven hogs butchered on that day.   When the hogs were all killed and hanging, the men would move them to the basement and the cutting up would begin.  Slabs of bacon were trimmed out, hams and shoulders were carved out, extra meat was trimmed of fat, ready to make sausage, and also a pile of pig hocks would appear. The heads were trimmed of meat, plus the ears, and this went into one of the kettles, along with tongues and even the pig’s tail to cook for “head cheese” – something I didn’t like then but buy it now when I can find it.   Almost always a tail would end up on one of the men’s jacket or overalls in back unbeknownst to him – to create a little fun.   The noon meal usually was ribs cut from the first hog, plus all the extras and fresh home made pie.   The afternoon was spent in making sausage, trimming hams, shoulders, and bacon, also rendering the lard.   I remember so well all the cracklings left from the lard and after eating a few we would feed them to the chickens.   Now they are a premium and hard to find.  Every neighbor went home with a supply of fresh sausage, side pork, and maybe some ribs, to be given back when it was their turn for butchering day.  The neighbors spent time with each other in those days, helping each other and enjoying the time together.  It’s much different today.  

 

Making Ice Day

Another memory was the day Dad scheduled “Making Ice Day”. Actually it was a day to store ice, as the ice was already made.  It began a few days earlier, when we would go to a local saw mill to get a load of sawdust. 

Adam Glasser had a mill about 1 ½ miles from us.  The sawdust was used to pack the blocks of ice in that was placed in the ice house – a shed placed on a two foot high foundation, with double walls. 

The day began when the ice was about 10” or 12” thick, taken from the creek or a pond nearby.  The ice was scored or marked in about 18” squares. 

Figure 20  Cutting Ice for the Ice House (typical)

  After a hole was cut, cross cut saws where then used to saw out these squares or chunks of ice.   Again a few neighbors always helped.   The blocks of ice were then loaded on a rack, usually placed on a bob sled, because I remember almost always having snow.   The blocks were then placed in the ice house on a layer of saw dust, spaced 4” to 6” apart, and standing on edge.   After one layer was completed, saw dust was shoveled on and between the block for insulation.  After that another layer was packed in continuing until the shed was full.   I remember using a wooden chute to pull the blocks up to the top rows.   Just how many blocks required to fill the shed I don’t know, but I would guess at least a couple of hundred.   The ice was used during the warm months, at least one cake each day.  I remember it being a day’s work and needed about 4 men.   I also recall the daily trips to the ice shed to bring a block of ice in for the ice box, usually kept in the basement, because it was cooler there.  We would use our little wagon or wheel barrow to bring it to the pump to wash off the sawdust, before someone carried it to the ice chest.  Also remember the chips of ice we enjoyed to suck on – also all the home made ice cream frozen from the blocks of ice after being crushed.  We never thought about the ice coming from a stagnant pond that fish, crabs, etc. were living in.   Some of the ice chips were used to cool drinks such as lemonade, etc.

 

Apple butter day

Another special memory each fall was apple butter day.  Making apple butter was a two-day process and several families were often involved.  The first day, Dad would make a trip to the cider mill with apples for fresh cider.  Art Hasselbach had a mill on State Route 19, just past the Hasselbach School.  Dad usually pressed about four 50 gal barrel of cider to be used for the apple butter, vinegar, and hard cider.   After coming back from the mill, a large copper kettle [16] was placed over the fire,  filled with cider and the rest of the day was spent boiling down the cider to condense it, removing the water to get ready for the cooking day following.  

 

That night some neighbors would gather at our place to peel and “schnitz” the apples.

A variety of apples called Sweet Apple was most often used to make apple butter.  While the youngest members of the families would be off playing somewhere, those old enough to help “schnitz” would sit around the kitchen table - each had a bowl and a paring knife.  

A few people would already be working in the basement.   Six or seven bushels of apples were taken from storage in the fruit cellar and were first peeled. 

Generally the apples were peeled with the help of an apple-peeling machine. The apple would be pushed onto some sharp prongs, sharp blades would press against the apple as a crank was turned shaving the peel from the apple. 

Figure 21  Abner & Ida Hetrick cooking apple butter

    Within seconds a peeled apple would emerge and be placed in a basket to go upstairs.  The folks assembled around the kitchen table would reach into the basket, remove a peeled apple, cut it into about 6 sections and then carve the seeds/core from each section.  The schnitzed piece of apple was then placed in another basket to be cooked.  About 8 milk pails of schnitzed apples were needed for each batch of apple butter.  Following a couple hours of enjoyment, while everyone told stories and were brought up to date what the other neighbors were doing, the evening usually ended over wieners – a real treat at that time – and coffee and sweet cider. 

Again the next morning before day break, the fire was again started under the big kettle and the condensed cider and apples were started to cook.  The apples were slowly added and constant stirring was required to cook them down into a thick, sweet, dark-brown apple butter.

 

The process required careful diligence because the fire had to be tended periodically and the mixture of apples and cider had to be stirred frequently, as Dad is doing, to avoid burning on the bottom of large copper kettle.   By the afternoon of the second day, the mixture had cooked down and there was a large copper kettle full of the thick sweet “apple butter.”  The apple butter was then placed in the one, two and three gal crocks, also some in quart cans to be divided among the families gathered.  Other ingredients were added such as cinnamon, sugar etc. but I don’t recall the proportions, except that I think it was the best ever, and we used a lot of it.

What remained for our family was placed into one-gallon crocks and stored in the fruit cellar.   During the next several months, many trips would be made into the basement to dip into the crocks and refill the apple butter bowl that sat on the table at every meal.

 

Income – earning money

Growing up during the Depression Days – from the time I was 10 and during my teens – will always be remembered, but I have no regrets.  We learned a lot during that period, and the experiences gained were valuable during my lifetime.  We were taught to “make do or do without” also “waste not – want not”.  I remember how the folks would say they used everything from the hog when butchered, except the squeal.  We kids never received an allowance while growing up, nor did we expect it.   I remember setting traps when I was about 12 years old, to catch fur bearing animals.  I recall getting up about 6:00am while still dark, to rum my trap line before breakfast and school. I trapped muskrat – worth about $1.00 per hide – skunk sold for about $0.75; possum was about $0.25; and once I did trap a raccoon – a real prize.   I remember getting a staggering sum of $15.00 for its hide and buying an erector set for my Christmas present.   Another source of income was the junk man when he came through once or twice a year to buy scrap iron and rags.  Dad would let us kids hunt up old iron and rags to sell, allowing us to keep the dollar or two from the proceeds.    He always watched the junk man when he weighed the iron and rags to make sure we weren’t cheated.  Also another income I had was mowing the cemetery at St. Paul’s Church.  I used an 18” reel mower push type which required a lot of time mowing around each tombstone.  Each stone also had to be hand trimmed – Mom would send lunch with me because this was an all day job.  My pay was $3.00 per mowing and again a lot of money.  I remember buying a new suit one time from the pay.  We sometimes would walk the roads to hunt bottles to turn in for refunds, pennies were saved during those years, and even though we had little in worldly possessions, we were rich in learning and growing up as a family that shared. 

 

Fun activities 

Some of the fun activities we had growing up were playing “Hide and Seek” in the barn and sheds, Hopscotch, a lot of ball games with the neighbor kids, exploring Muddy Creek and fishing.  We also shared a scooter, a couple of wagons and a sled for the winter months.  I remember ice skating on the creek with clamp-on ice skates that never seemed to stay on – never had a pair of skates or owned shoe skates.  Each summer we’d hang a swing from a tree or in the barn.  As kids we often had minor fights, but the difference always seemed to go away over night. –

 

4-H Club (1930)

I remember belonging to the R & S Pals 4-H Club, when I was 12 years old.  Norm Hasselbach would always pick me up in his Model T Ford.   I had market pigs as my project, and was lucky enough to place 1st one year at the Sandusky Co. Fair.   The highlight of those years was a trip to the Mich. State Fair one year and the Ohio State Fair another – always an overnight trip.   Both times we traveled in the back of someone’s farm truck. 

 

New Bicycle (1930)

The year I had the 1st place hog, Dad took me to Fremont to purchase a new bicycle from the sale of my hog.  There was a bicycle shop on West State Street, operated by a Mr. Davis, selling Columbia bicycles – they were considered to be one of the better bicycles.  This shop had been there a long time, because Mr. Davis dug in his records to find Uncle Thed had purchased a Columbia there many years before.   That bicycle served me for a long time, and other than riding it in our neighborhood, it also carried me to catechism classes, High School in Oak Harbor and many trips to the swimming hole.  

 

Trip to Toledo (1928)

A special trip I remember was when I was about 10 years old.   One Saturday morning in the winter, my sister Mildred took Dad and me to Oak Harbor.  Mildred drove the car – 1924 REO – home so the rest of the family could attend church Sunday morning.   I remember Dad buying tickets at the InterUrban station (also called Street Car station) for a round trip to Toledo.  

 

Figure 22    InterUrban Street Car that transported people between
Toledo
and Marblehead, Ohio (built c.1905)

 

W e waited across the street in the Hotel Lobby until the Street Car arrived, at which time we boarded – my first street car ride ever.   The car was powered by an electric cable extending over the tracks.  It was fairly quiet, other than the steel wheels of the car riding on the iron tracks.  The car first went to Genoa, Martin, Clay Center, Milbury and finally to Toledo. We arrived in Toledo about noon so we stopped at a restaurant for Dinner before going to Uncle Thed’s.  This was also a first – we looked at a menu, and I think I ordered Pot Roast, mashed potatoes with lots of gravy and some carrots, plus a piece of pie. I recall so well the aroma of food cooking, the many people at the tables and being served.  After the meal, we went to Uncle Thed’s where we spent a couple of hours talking  – Aunt Verna found some games and books to entertain me after which Uncle Thed drove Dad and I down town Toledo to a large department store.  Now the big event happened.   Dad let me pick a new suit – knicker pants and coat plus a tie to match.   But the best was yet to come.  After the purchase, the salesman gave me a brand new ball bat and new ball as a free gift.   I remember staying at Uncle Thed’s Saturday night, and Dad and Uncle Thed and I attending church in the morning.  After dinner at Uncle Thed’s, the trip by street car was again made to Oak Harbor, where Mildred was waiting to pick us up.   After that weekend, I was one happy boy that returned to school the next morning.

 

Growing up on a Farm

Some of my memories growing up as a farm boy – I remember all the animals and livestock we had on the farm.  We learned where they came from, proper care and the importance of each of them.   The cattle furnished us milk, butter, meat and also sale.   Chickens were for eggs and meat, also a few turkeys and some geese.  I also recall the many wild animals and birds we grew up with, such as rabbits, squirrels, pheasants, and many fur bearing animals.  The horses were of course of most importance because they furnished us with power to farm also provided transportation.   Our farm was considered a general grain and livestock operation.  Along with corn, wheat, oats and hay, Dad for a few years raised sugar beets, tomatoes and pickles.  Corn and hay were hand harvested, while the wheat and oats after cutting and shocking was run through the threshing machine to remove the grain.   Sugar beets were drilled in rows, and after reaching about 3” had to be thinned to only one plant about every 12”.   The plants often grew together, so after spacing them with a short hoe, we had to separate them by hand to leave one plant.  The effort required really long days in the hot sun and hard on the back. I recall this taking almost a full week or more to finish.  Then during the summer many trips were made down the rows to keep the weeds out.   In the fall, the beets were lifted one row at a time, placed in rows again to “top” – meaning each beet had to be held while the top was cut off by a beet knife then placed on piles to be shoveled on a truck to be delivered to the beet plant in Fremont.  When I was smaller, the beets were taken by wagon to be loaded on a rail car for the trip to the plant in Fremont.

 

Another labor intensive crop was tomatoes that were contracted to the H.J. Heinz plant in Fremont.  The tomato plants were hand set and then hoed to keep the plants weed free, also we had to watch for tomato worms that ate the leaves.  When the tomatoes started ripening they had to be picked every other day – we would pick one half of the field each day.  They were picked in hampers and required the exact amount of color, or they could be rejected at the plant – once in a while a farmer was sent home with his load.  Another crop when harvested that was hard on the back.

 

Pickles were planted in rows and hills and after they were up and doing well had to be thinned to 3 plants to each hill.  The usual hoeing was required, plus constant dusting to keep them bug free.  As the vines grew they had to be trained to grow in rows rather than spread in all directions.  They required picking every other day,  again one-half of the field was picked each day to harvest them at the right size.  Small pickles about 2” in length brought the most money, where the cucumber, 4” or bigger, brought the least.  Dad had a contract with the J. Weller Co. in Oak Harbor, and the crates of pickles were delivered there on a two wheel farm trailer pulled behind the 1924 REO car that was kept just for that purpose.  Again a back braking crop to raise but it brought in cash for the folks.  I don’t recall being bored during those days, because each day we were kept busy.   We worked as a family to plant and harvest the crops, and we never ran out of Canada Thistle patches to hoe out of the fields.  At that time everything was organic – never used herbicides or insecticides. 

 

We had the big fruit orchard, which required pruning in the spring, spraying all summer and then picking the apples and fruit in the fall.   We had a large potato patch that provided us potatoes for the year, plus some to sell.   I also recall growing cane one year for molasses.   When it was ready to harvest, we would strip the leaves, cut the stalks and tie them in bundles.  They were then taken to a mill in Gibsonburg to be pressed and boiled into molasses.   I remember a 55 gallon steel drum in the basement full of molasses, which Mom used for baking, pancake syrup and even some taffy was made from it.   When I was small and growing up almost everything was hand labor – from the time of planting through harvest.   Today almost everything is planted and harvested with no human hands touching the crop during this process.   At that time an 80 acre farm kept a family busy year round.   Now one man can operate up to 1000 acres alone with little or no help.   The investment in farm equipment was minimal when I was growing up.  I remember Dad having a grain drill, corn planter and grain binder, also a steel walking plow, an old manure spreader and hay mower, with total cost of probably a few hundred dollars.  The Land Roller was homemade as were the drags, ditch openers, sleds, and hay racks.  It seemed like there was never a day that we had nothing to do. Spring summers and fall was spent planting, cultivating and harvesting of crops.   After the harvest, we were kept busy preparing for winter – butchering, making apple butter, etc.  

 

Sleds – Important Farm Equipment

A sled was an important piece of equipment on every farm when I was growing up. 

 

Small Sled.   My first memories are of a small sled made from two planks set on edge as sled runners.  Each plank was 2” thick, about 10” wide and probably 6 feet long.   The two runners were tapered at the front.  Braces between the two upright planks allowed a board top to be fastened to the runners forming a sled.   This little sled had many uses, and could be pulled by a team of horses or just one horse.   Whenever Dad hooked on to the little sled, we (kids) always wanted a ride.  The sled was used all year round on the farm.  We pulled it over grass, bare ground, snow or ice.  We tried to avoid pulling it over the stone driveway and roads because stone wore down the runners quickly.

 

There were many uses for the sled.  We would use the sled to take the section drag to the field for working ground; to take the ditch opener to the field after planting.   When a new section of fence was to be put up, the corner posts, the roll of fencing, fence stretcher, post-hole digger and shovels were piled on the sled and pulled out to the field.  The sled was used to take bags of seed wheat or oats to the field and distributed along the fence row where the seed would be needed to refill the grain drill.  Bags of fertilizer were also pulled to field on the sled and placed along side the bags of seed.  

 

The sled hauled many crates and bushels of apples and fruit in from the orchard.  Also, many crates of potatoes were transported from the patch on the sled and carried into the basement and placed in the potatoes bin.  I remember going with Mom or Dad to the field to bring a new born calf back to the barn on the sled. 

 

Mud Boat.  Another important sled was much larger and referred to as the “mud boat.”   Why it was called mud boat, I don’t know because it was almost always used on frozen ground or when we had snow.   The size of this sled was almost 4’ wide and probably 8’ long.  Dad had the runners of the mud boat sawed from a log that was almost 4” thick and 6” wide as I remember.   The saw mill tapered them up so they would be about 12” high at the front.  Wooden braces were placed between the runners to hold them rigid.    A solid plank floor was secured on top.  Holes were drilled in at each corner, about 1’ from the end to allow stacks to be set in if a side board was needed.  We would place sideboards on and then load it high with manure to take to the orchard for the fruit trees   Each tree received a generous supply of manure extending to the outer branches of the limbs.   Many loads were hauled there in the winter.   This sled was also used to haul buzz wood (sometimes called circle wood) home for big pile to use for the sled was at butchering time. It would be placed on blocks, with a 55 gallon wooden barrel secured to the end at an angle.  Boiling water was placed in this barrel to dunk the hogs so the hair could be scraped off.  I recall sometimes the men would throw a handful or two of wood ashes in the barrel – why I don’t know.  The big sled was also used to give relatives an occasional ride in the snow.  Dad had secured an old buggy tire iron on the bottom of the runner to make them last longer

 

Bobsleds.  We also had 2 bobsleds.  These sleds were in two sections and could be adjusted for length the same as a wagon, by use of a “reach” or center pole.   The front section had a tongue the same as a wagon.  I think Dad had two bobsleds, as one would have log bunks on used to harvest logs and timber saleThe other bobsled was used for keeping a grain box or hay rack on for winter use

 

I recall one log on the sled that had 1000 board feet of lumber in it. [17]    This log made a load and was headed to Oak Harbor, either to the sawmill or the basket factory to sell.  I think it was Sycamore. 

Figure 23   Abner and Leroy (Pat) Hetrick with a log on Abner’s Bob sled.  Photo taken about 1930-32. 

 

Sleigh.   Another form of sled I recall was a sleigh.  It was pulled by one horse and was used only for transportation as far as I can remember.  It was stored on a top loft of a shed, and is now in the barn on a hay loft.  Dad may have used the sleigh when he was dating Mom, or after they were first married for trips to town or maybe church. I never had a ride in the sleigh or saw a horse hooked to it.  We still have a set of sleigh bells they used to attach to the horse or sleigh. [18]      

 

Making Wood

Also as a kid our source of keeping warm and preparing food was derived from wood (grown on the farm).  We had two wood lots – one we called above the track the other down at the other place.   

I remember after chores in the winter, Dad and I would head for one of the woods, often walking and carrying at least 3 steel wedges, an axe, heavy sledge hammer and a crosscut saw about 6”’ long – we would walk home at noon and back again after dinner. 

 

First we would saw a tree down – Dad always walked the woods in the summer and marked trees that were dead or dying – never did we cut a live tree for wood alone.  I never liked this part of wood making, because Dad always said I was riding the saw – trying to force the saw rather than letting the sharp teeth eat its way through.   After the tree was felled, the “working up” started.     First all the limbs and branches were trimmed – all the limbs 2” or more in diameter were cut in lengths for the buzz wood pile and the smaller branches placed on a pile for wildlife to hide in.   The main trunk of the tree was cut in 6’ to 8’ lengths to be split with the wedges in pieces 2 men could handle, again to be hauled home for the buzz wood pile.  

Dad never left us leave the firewood laying around, but rather it was placed on small piles until hauled home.   Probably the reason for this was that when we hauled it home for the big pile, we didn’t have to dig it out of the snow or stumble over it.   After working up several trees – sometimes taking a week or more, depending on the size of the tree – we would take a day or two to haul it home on what we called a mud boat to be piled on a large pile for buzzing day.  Dad always picked days when the ground was covered with snow so we could use the sled, rather than lifting it up on a wagon. 

When hauling from the other place we always used the wagon because we could haul more at one time, making less trips with bigger loads.   Saw wood buzzing day came toward spring, with usually Henry Garner and Howard Leaser to help – an all day job.   Dad would help them back, and I recall one time Henry asking me to help also – my pay $1.00 and a big meal at noon.   After wood was cut in stove wood lengths – about 14” to 16” long, the bigger pieces had to again be split for cook wood and then piled in the wood shed to be kept dry to keep the wood box full.   The heating wood for the furnace was racked in long rows to cure and then taken to the basement as needed for the furnace, where it was again piled before use.  

Wood provided heat many times – when we sawed the tree down, worked it up, hauled it home, then sawed and piled before finally getting heat from the wood cook stove and furnace.   I don’t think the folks ever bought coal during those times.  I mentioned heating wood was from dead or dying trees, but Dad would cut some nice larger trees to harvest for lumber and in some cases sell logs to the Basket Factory in Oak Harbor.  We always had piles of lumber in the barn or shed to be used for planking of stables, making gates, building barnyard fences, making wagon racks, sleds, etc.  Of course, the tops from those trees were made into firewood.  I can also recall making firewood with a home-made drag saw – the wood being split and piled and sold to a “wood products” yard in Toledo.   Even though I didn’t like all that work at the time, maybe now it’s the reason I usually have boards stored and always save small pieces for something later.

 

Boyhood Dreams

In summing my memories up, it probably was because of all these activities that as a kid, I would dream of being a Hermit, going up North somewhere away from everything and everybody, to run trap lines, also had dreams of becoming a truck driver to travel the country, and also would dream of becoming an airplane pilot.  The dream of becoming a Hermit soon fizzled out, but I did own and drive trucks and tractors later, also learned to fly a plane. 

 

Thankfulness

Again these are only a few of my memories during my teen years.  I wouldn’t say I would want to relive them but rather that I’ve been blessed to have experienced them, for which I am thankful.  I grew up in a family that shared, was taught to believe in God.  We attended Church regularly, and we still do.  At no time do I feel better than people of other religions, or their beliefs, but rather thankful, that I can have the freedom to practice my beliefs because of my early years.  I firmly believe that my accomplishments in life were not by my doing alone, but by proper training from my parents and divine help.  I’ve never been more sure of that, especially during my 3 ½ years in the South Pacific in World War II.

 

For More Memories (Part II)... click here


Footnotes

[1] Written January 2001

[2] Photo provided by Carroll Hetrick. The identity of the family members is discussed in Appendix A.   In this photo, the “front entrance” appears to be the one facing south.  Upon entering the front door, there would have been a staircase leading to the upper level.  The kitchen was on the north side of the home.  The barn and a straw stack appear in the background.   A good example of the rail fences that were used at that time is illustrated in the foreground.   

 

[3] Rain that fell onto the roof of the house was collected in the rain gutters and then channeled down into the cistern  via downspouts.  Cistern water was used for washing-up before meals and for washing clothes.  Unlike well-water that contained iron and other minerals, the rainwater was “soft” and ideal for washing.

[4] Ida Gahn Hetrick had a number of relatives who moved to Lansing, Michigan, so it is possible that Abner was able to get a ride with a visiting Gahn relative.    The Hit and Miss stationary gas engine that Abner used for his apple orchard sprayer was also purchased from the United Company in Lansing, Michigan.

[5] Chrome radiator, chrome headlights, jack, and folding seventh passenger seat.

[6] Around 1924.  Probably after Mary Crowell Hetrick’s death.

[7] This later became the Farmers Mercantile Elevator and is currently owned by the Gordon Lumber Co.

[8] See the early photo of David Hetrick’s house.

[9] This Christmas tradition remained unchanged for another 30 years and was still practiced when St. Paul’s Lutheran Church merged with the Four-Mile House becoming Faith Lutheran in the early 1960’s. 

[10] Milton was 4 years old when Vincent was born.

[11]  Written March 2002

 

[12] The smooth steady power delivered by the steam tractor kept alive the demand for these powerful machines long into the age of gas power.  

[13] Four years after introducing the 40-80, Avery still was introducing steam tractors - evidence of the conservatism of the industry and the surprising competitive efficiency of steam

[14] Notice the water wagon next to the steam tractor

[15] I think Charles Miller had one of these to run his Threshing rig, when I was very small.

[16] Carroll Hetrick now has the old copper kettle.  

[17] See Appendix B for a more detailed discussion of the how they determined the number of “board feet” in a log.

[18] At the home of Milt Hetrick, Jr.

[19] Written June 2002

[20] Proclaimed on May 30, 1868 by General John Logan and first observed on May 30, 1868

[21] When International Harvestor, McCormick and Deering merged, the 20-hp Mogul was the showcase tractor of the McCormick distributors. 

[22] This is the forerunner to the 10-20 International tractor.

[23] As successful as they were, the Fordson had a sometimes fatal tendency to flop over backwards.  It was not until the introduction of the Ferguson system that this problem was alleviated. 

[24] (owned by Abner Hetrick – still in the family)