It was late summer of the year 1936. I was about to start my freshman year in York Center High School. Living with me in the house beside my dad’s stone quarry were my brother Bee, ten years older than me, and my younger brother Bugs (Howard). My sister Bobbie (she gave herself this nickname, because she didn’t like her given name Hazel) declared she was coming to live with us and finish her senior year. This gave my sister Fannie the courage to come home to finish junior and senior years. Our father had made all of his children quit school, so this was much against his wishes.
It was always a big deal when they put off a so called “shot” which was a dynamite blast from the deep holes drilled down through the rock at my father’s York Center stone quarry. Two of my dad’s working men would stand at each end of the road to stop traffic. The other working men and some of my family would stand in the yard by the house. Sam Manley, who worked as my dad’s foreman for his men, would press down on a lever on top of a wooden box causing the dynamite deep down in the holes to explode. Broken rocks flew high in the air then settled down in the pit amidst a cloud of lime dust.
When my father was teaching me to drive a car he told me that he was born into the poorest family in the poorest community. I didn’t say that was true, I only said that is what my father told me.
When he was 19 years old my father borrowed money from the Mt Victory, Ohio bank through the bank president Henry Dickerson for his first little business venture. After making that venture profitable he went on to larger and larger enterprises until he contracted to build “horse and buggy” dirt roads into crushed stone roads for the first cars that were being built.
When I was selling real estate in Venice, Florida, I told my fellow sales people that when I was very little my dad owned a town. I can’t remember if I ever told them differently, but I’m going to tell you what he really did own.
I was born the twelfth of thirteen children and was the seventh daughter. We lived in a big white house on the southeast corner in the little cross roads town of Byhalia, Ohio. Since I was born in 1922, this was the few years following that. At this time on another corner of town my dad owned a mercantile that sold everything from food to clothing, to boots, shoes, bolts of cloth sold by the yard for making clothing, trimmings, many household items, farm tools, etc., and more.
Normal doesn’t have the same meaning for each of us. What is normal to one of us may be abnormal to another. I grew up in a house with older brothers and sisters, while my parents lived in another house seven miles away. For me that was normal. My baby brother lived with them until he was about 5 years old. When according to his words, “They brought me over and dumped me out with all you strangers”. As an adult someone said to me, “That’s awful!” I said, “If I had thirteen kids I’d move out of the house too.” Continue reading