Sunday, February 27, 2011

Liberty: Filling Stations and Beer Joints

Liberty UM Church service February 27, 2011 was another opportunity for the Pastor, Rev. Glenn Sweigart to lead the flock with prayer, preaching and songs.  The service was held in the upstairs gathering room where we used to go before Sunday School in elementary and middle school ages, to save on oil costs.  The room wasn't quite full when son PRJ and I entered late into the second row.  I was touched by the prayer for those with needs as it included our granddaughter, Natalie Rose, who God has held in His hand since birth.  Joy Weaver did a wonderful job at piano and the women's choir quartet blended well on "Love Lifted Me".

After the service, I discussed bus drivers (and the history of Liberty) with Jim Nye, who corrected me about the driver of bus 4- it wasn't him.  Fortunately, PRJ and I lunched at Red Lobster with Mom (Esther) and Petie Longhenry Hammond, who lived up town Liberty and knew everybody.  She came up with Webb Marker as the correct driver of bus 4.  She also gave some background about two "beer joints" in Liberty, one started by her grandmother, Hattie Fisher. We'll review the other one in a later entry.

We discussed the filling stations of George Heeter, George Wintermute,  Rozzell (?1st name).  I remember the Pure Oil Station and Texaco but not remembering brand on George Heeter's.  I used to enjoy watching the men play cards at the Texaco station.  Mike and I had a "charge account" (no kidding) at the Pure station and the grocery for ice cream cones at one time or another.

Petie places the first TV set in Liberty at the Broadbent home (where they had a cleaning business) and she recalls watching Friday night wrestling on that TV, as well as some western shows.  She shared some comments about life up town (as the Back Street folks referred to it) in Liberty including the town pump, which will be the focus of another entry.  Anyone with town pump or other stories is welcome to chime in or contact me and I'll slide your comments into a blog post.

Who lived where is always fun to hear about.  Esther recounted that Ben Ankney and Aunt Mattie apparently built and lived in Pete and Gladys (Donna and Peggy's parents) home.  George and Norma (Ankney) Speelman (Sam, Suzie, Elyn, Sally and Mary) were the first to reside in the Bill and Ruth Knoll (Freddie and Billie) house before Jim and Henrietta Whitaker (Jimmy and Danny) who became the Florida vacation hosts for many of us when they ran a Ft Myers, FL motel.  Size of family after the twins came along drove the Speelman clan to larger digs where Leslie joined the team.

Lunch with Petie and Esther provided a rich backdrop to life in Liberty before I was around.  The people were active in all sorts of community and supportive ways.  So there was lots of life before TV and the internet.  More later.  As all you Liberty people read these, speak up when you see inaccuracies.  Our brains may not file as well as we wish.  I hope your hearts were set at Liberty, too.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Early Childhood in Liberty: 1946-1952

What about kids ages 2-4 in Liberty in the "old days"?

I remember vaguely some things about my toddler years.  They center on home and family.  Kitchen activities were  fun.  Licking the beaters when Mom made a cake was tasty.  "Helping" to make pie crusts with the rolling pin was fun as was making little cinnamon rolls with the leftover dough with the immediate reward of getting to eat them.  The pies were mostly for special occasions or church socials, so we had to wait a while to savor them.

Crawling behind the couch to pet our Fox Terrier + (mutt) dog, Blackie, was a meaningful pastime.  I would pet her and hug her until she hid behind the couch, but I was small enough to crawl in to hide with her.  I felt like she was my friend. She never was irritable or disagreeable and let me play with my toys without interruption.

Toys at this age were cars, trucks, tinker toys, Lincoln Logs and an electric train.  The cowboy items seemed to come along at age 6, along with a series of items sold in cereal boxes re-enforcing our commitment to various TV shows (cultural reminder-we didn't have a TV until I was about 6 years old).  The Hopalong Cassidy mug and bowl set was a favorite.  The Howdy Doody Puppet was an age 7or 8 item received from Santa Claus at Christmas.  Boxes were helpful as garages and homes, while we got a plastic item every Christmas to add to the train props.  A few examples were a plastic train station, a plastic house, fire station and filling station with lots of cute little plastic evergreen trees.

A milk man delivered milk to the front porch and was neighborly with those who stepped outside.  I remember a couple inches of cream at the very top of each bottle of milk.  I don't remember how often they delivered.  A bread man (they were called "men" in those days of gender specific job titles) delivered bread to the front door in a Sunbeam Bread truck.  In later years, I took advantage of the pastries they sold.

The garbage man had a huge truck and was really strong, evidenced by how easily he lifted the garbage cans that he emptied into his truck.  He chatted with anyone outside, too.  He and the milkman both went out of their way to speak to my Grandma Clayton, who was wheelchair bound with rheumatoid arthritis.  The neighborliness of people was a big part of small town life.

Easter was special with Easter egg hunts, new clothes, photos, church with Easter songs and extended family Easter gatherings.  Christmas was exciting since our parents did not put up the tree until after we went to sleep Christmas eve.  They usually decorated the tree after midnight.  Mike and I had quite a sight each Christmas morning when we came down the stairs to see the colorful setting.

Other toddler experiences and childhood up to age 6 in Liberty were unique for many others who will be commenting from time to time, as they feel inspired to reflect in writing.

Pat Jonas

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kids Playing in Liberty: Bikes, Trees, Cowboys, Marbles

As a child, what did kids do in Liberty, a town of 100 or so, counting dogs?  I remember riding bikes a lot.  From our house to the Whitaker's, just around the corner from us, or down to Bear Creek or over to church.  And back again.  Since cowboys and Indians were big on the radio (we got a 13 inch black and white TV when I was 6), the boys in the neighborhood often wore a holster with plastic handled guns while playing or riding bikes.  I remember Bobby Benson of the B Bar B Ranch on the radio.  Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey were on the radio, also, I just can't remember listening to them.

Once we started watching westerns on TV, we had visible role models to imitate with our hats and guns.  Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes, Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix were some of our heroes.  I seemed to have a beat-up hat for a while so I liked to act like Gabby Hayes.

My brother, Mike, two years older, often tried to ditch me so he could play with Bobby W.  They liked to climb trees and I was too little to get very high up, and maybe restricted by my mother according to age from climbing trees.  They could ride bikes faster and could take off before I could get started.

Marbles was popular play focus in my Liberty childhood.  I played against anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to play.  I was afraid to "play for keeps" very often because I didn't want to lose some of my favorite marbles. When we did, we didn't "play for shooters", so we could protect our favorites (not great gamblers in Liberty).  We sometimes traded marbles, too, to get ones we really liked that someone else was tired of.

I often played marbles with my Grandma Clayton, who had severe Rheumatoid Arthritis with mobility impairment (wheelchair bound).  She lived right across Back Street from us and was a real sport about playing marbles any time I wished (or so it seemed to a young boy)  My aunt Crockey had some really cool, ancient looking marbles and shooters that impressed me more than any marbles we kids had.

For play, we kids would each put ten marbles in the ring and shoot at them when our turn came until all the marbles were out of the circle (usually a piece of string).  As we got bigger shooters, the games got shorter since we could knock out more marbles per shot with the huge Shooters.  I had a favorite medium sized red shooter, then larger cat's eye shooters as my childhood marble career evolved.

Wow, I just found a jar with many of my old marbles and noticed a couple shooters I used to like.  I don't see the red one, but if I dump them all out, I might find it, but might make a mess and get in trouble with my wife (who won't let me climb trees, either).  Nothing like Liberty nostalgia.  What are your play memories from early childhood, especially if it was in or near to Liberty?

Pat Jonas

P.S. My wife showed me the last jar of marbles (and jacks) in the secret stash when I lamented not finding my red shooter (I dumped out all the marbles).  Alas, the red shooter is in front of me now, spewing nostalgia.  I hope that you all have a favorite marble or shooter that will spew for you.  See Facebook comment from P. Cox for a great message from "the girls".

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bus 4 and Bus 3 Through Liberty. Cards and Kids on Back Street

In my photo album from childhood, there is a group of children waiting for the school bus between the Eller and Atkins homes on Back Street (now Longbourne Street).  Ten kids form two rows so mothers can get  a photo on the first day of school.  The kids include Mike, Freddie, Donna, Peggy, Nancy, Judy, Patty A, Mike, Pat and two girls I don't recognize ("maybe from the red farm house or Larry's sister plus someone else?).  This was my first day in the first grade.  We didn't have kindergarten in those days (1952).

We rode on bus 4, driven by Jim N.  Most of the buses were driven by farmers.  Bus 3, driven by Orien H., another farmer, also came through Liberty, but not on back street.  A few times when I was a bit late, I ran up town to the "corner" and caught bus 3.  It seemed that the girls on bus 3 were overall slightly cuter than bus 4.  Bus 4 eventually went from Liberty out the Dayton-Liberty Road to the western end of Olt Rd, then backtracking to Union south over to East on Derby, through Carver Village, down Dayton-Farmersville Road to Jefferson ("The school we love, the one among the throng", to quote our alma mater).  It was about 35 to 40 minutes long from Liberty to Jefferson, time enough to nap or do some homework.

I guess Liberty never had its own school.  We did have a doctor for a while, Doctor Hall who practiced in the Hill home.  We had two filling stations for a while, Pure and Texaco.  I used to go to the Texaco and watch men play cards and tell stories and jokes.  I love to listen to stories.  Men playing cards were interesting, too. 

Uncle Oscar and Aunt Clara Jonas from East Dayton used to come to Liberty to visit Mary (Grandma) and Art (Grandpa) Jonas, play euchre, eat cashews and tell stories.  Uncle Oscar also cut Grandpa Jonas hair and Grandma and Aunt Clara traded hair permanents.  The men drank beer from a bottle, very slowly and would occasionally let Mike or I drink the last sip.  It didn't taste very good, but it seemed manly to me.