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My brother, Mike Millar, was featured in an article that was reported by Mark Dunbar in the Wednesday, May 20, 1987, Reynoldsburg Reporter. Mike was a 1970 graduate of Reynoldsburg High School and a technical writer for Rockwell. He became interested in the story of an ill-fated bomber when he was going through our father’s belongings. Mike found a charred aviation mechanic’s book with the name of Clyde Taylor and a medieval-looking compass with sloshing oil in it. Mike discovered that the artifacts had come from our grandfather, Wason Millar’s house. Through research, Mike determined that grandpa had retrieved these items from the crash of a Huff-Daland XLB-5 bomber crash in Reynoldsburg on May 28, 1927. Here are excerpts from that story.
“The official Army report, dated May 31, 1927 reads, “Cause of Death: Crushing injury of the head and body.
“Private Daniel Leroy Yeager, 19, died in Reynoldsburg at 12:15 p.m. May 28, 1927, when the Army bomber he was in, a bi-wing Huff-Daland XLB-5, crash and burned in an oat field owned by J.F. Ayers directly across Rt. 256 from Silent Home Cemetery.
“With Yeager on that flight were four other men, all who survived by bailing out and parachuting to safety. The others were Major H.L. Brereton, first Lt. Bernard A. Bridget, Master Sgt. Clyde Taylor and Staff Sgt. Fred Miller.
“All five men had been participating in Army maneuvers in San Antonio, TX and were retruning to their home base of Langley, VA, when disaster struck, according to Mike Millar of Wigwam Way in Reynoldsburg. Millar, an aviation buff and a 13-year Navy flier, has researched the crash for one and a half years in attempts to locate eyewitnesses and learn more about the unique aircraft the five were flying that day.
“Millar has written to aviation magazines, the Smithsonian Institute, the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, the National Archives, as well as aviation buffs and Army veterans connected with the incident in an effort to recreate the event. (Suzy’s Note: All of Mike’s research was completed in the years before anyone had access to any internet. All of the research was done through letters, library work, and interviews.)
“According to Millar, the XLB-5 was one of the last bi-wing bombers used in the country. Its builder, Huff-Daland, went out of business a few years later and re-organized as the Keystone Aircraft Company. By the early 1930s, singe wing airplanes were replacing the bi-wings.
“According to the facts Millar uncovered, the five men flew the plane, with Brereton and Bridget at the controls, from Texas to McCook Field in Dayton, which eventually became Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. From there they flew to Norton Field, an Army airfield then at Yearling and Broad in Columbus.
“Opinions differ as to why the plane stopped at Norton. Some accounts delivered by men relying on memory say the plane had experienced engine difficulty. However, Millar doesn’t buy this theory. Millar’s theory is that the crew was refueling in order to make it over the mountains to Virginia. Even though the plane was an experimental model, according to Millar, it had logged only 100 flying hours.
“For whatever reason it stopped in Columbus (Note: According to available reports today, it appeared there was an engine problem with the right engine and the “brushes were worn out”.) The crew took off from Norton at around 12:10 p.m., according to the official Army records, and climbed to approximately 1,200 feet. About 10 miles and 10 minutes later, the propeller on the right engine failed and dislodged.
“The propeller ripped up the lower right wing as it sheared off and the crew turned the plane around in an attempt to make it back to Norton field. It traveled approximately half a mile back before going into a spin and crashing, according to reports.
“According to the Ohio State Journal of May 29, 1927, Private Yaeger died a “heroic” death. He was in the nose of the plane and climbed out onto the wing after the others had jumped, but when he saw that the plane was heading for some houses, he climbed back in to steer it toward the field. The time it took for that selfless act cost him his life, the paper said.
“However, another version is offered from Col. Henry B. Bridget, son of the plane’s pilot that day. In a June, 1986, letter to Millar, Bridget says, ‘My dad said he had done his best to get the crewman (who died) to jump, but the man was petrified. My dad…said he couldn’t wait any longer.’
“One eyewitness, Joseph C. Hamilton, Jr., described the crash in a letter as he remembered it as a nine-year-old.
“ ‘As a youngster, this incident affected my life. I had just read the ‘Extra’ newspaper Columbus-Citizen about Charles Lindbergh flying over the Atlantic Ocean a few days before (Note: The Lindbergh flight was completed on May 21, 1927), so naturally at the sound of an airplane I ran to observe this bi-plane bomber flying over the open field to the east of our home – the ‘Wisteria Inn’ on US 40, one quarter mile east of the first Hamilton Oil station built and started by my father in 1924.
“I heard the loud engines, then the prop flew off, but I was particularly interested in the men parachuting out of the plane. In fact, I started running out into the open field, thinking the plane would crash there and I saw it spinning down. As a nine-year-old, I misjudged and discovered that it crashed directly across the street to the west of Silent Home Cemetery.
“I observed the chutes coming down. One man had his catch on the steeple of the old Presbyterian Church, another lit in a tree. I stood by the burning crash. The Reynoldsburg Volunteer Fire Department could not remove the one man remaining in the plane because of exploding gasoline tanks. We watched him burn alive.’
“The man who hit the church was Bridget. Accounts differ as to the severity of his injuries, but he was the only one of the four survivors to be taken to a hospital – Grant, in Columbus. His son said that his father ‘landed on a church steeple and suffered a bad back the rest of his life, but only his family knew.’
“The church Bridget hit, according to Millar, was the United Presbyterian Church at the corner of Jackson and Main. It burnt down on Dec. 29, 1936.
“The other survivors suffered only minor injuries according to reports, which is amazing Millar said, since they all parachuted from less than 1,000 feet.
“Millar said one report had the owner of the field, Ayers, charging the curious a dime to look at the crash site the next day. ‘He was apparently attempting to recoup some of the damages done to his oat field,’ Millar said.
“Brereton ended up a general in command of the Far East Air Force in the Philippines at the outbreak of World War II and was eventually made commander of the 9th Air Force in Europe. He retired in 1948, according to Millar.
“Millar said he has tried to find copies of the crash photos that appeared on the front page of the Dispatch the morning of May 28, 1927, but has had no luck at the Ohio Historical Center. He said the Dispatch claimed the photos ‘didn’t exist’.”
Interesting side note: At one time, the Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society (RTHS) had objects from this crash, but apparently they were retrieved by the donor.
Thank You to Randy Morris
I want to thank retired USAF Col. Randy Morris for finding the research information on the 1927 Bomber Crash in the Burg that I wrote about in the May, 2020, Courier. Randy said my brother, Mike Millar, had turned over the research to him. Randy is a 3rd cousin of ours who now lives in Pickerington. Mike must have been in contact with him because their family lived near the crash site.
Randy saw the Courier Bomber story on the RTHS Facebook page and contacted our editor, Mary Turner Stoots. She, in turn, put him in contact with me.
Randy said that he had the papers and artifacts from the crash that Mike had researched for a few years. I asked Randy to send them to me and a week later I had 26 pounds of material! My brother was a very thorough generator of paper work. Now I’m slowly going through the mounds of information.
Randy also sent the altimeter and photos of the maintenance log. I asked him to take the “whiskey” compass to Mary for RTHS because I didn’t want it shipped through the mail. Hard to believe these artifacts are almost 100-years old.
I hope to write a follow-up article on the crash in the future.
After looking at some of the personal letters Mike had received, I discovered that I made an error in assigning the nickname of “Red” to retired USAF Lt. Col. Joseph C. Hamilton. Joe corresponded with my brother at length and in one letter from 1986 he wrote, “...there was a Hamilton involved (in RHS basketball and baseball) from 1932 through 1940 (three brothers: Joe, Howard “Red”, and Ross “Budd”)”.
Thank you for the interest in this event from 1927.
~Suzy Millar Miller
The Reynoldsburg Press in September 1934
by Suzy Millar Miller
For some unknown reason, I just found a copy of The Reynoldsburg Press on a neglected shelf in my Texas living room. Now I admit I have unusual papers in my house because I “collect” history, but also because the newspapers provide a snapshot into the past as it was occurring. It is popular today to read everything online. Will there be a record of what was happening in the community for future people to review or will everything be tied to looking up something specific online?
The Reynoldsburg Pressadvertised itself as “A Centralized Newspaper serving many towns”. It was published every Thursday by James Ruvoldt and P.C. Milnor. According to their masthead, “The Press covers the following towns: Reynoldsburg, Pickerington, Blacklick, Brice, Etna, Wagram, Summit, Whitehall, Cedarhurst, Glenco, Pataskala, Basil, and Canal Winchester.” Subscriptions were $1.00 in Ohio and $1.50 outside of Ohio.
The September 27, 1934 (Vol. 3, No. 30) issue of the Press included
P.T.A. To Start Constructive Work for Year Oct. 1st – This program was directed by the general program chairman for the year, Mrs. Elza Connell. A discussion about “How a Child’s Attitude and Work Reflect Happy or Unhappy Relations at Home” was led by Mrs. Georgia Headley. There was a talk by a mother, Mrs. Rose Foltz. The Ohio theme for P.T.A. that year was “Working Together for Ohio’s Children.” This topic was to discuss people under the strain of the depression and to encourage more spending on schools. (Sound familiar?)
Two Local Young People Begin Careers as Teachers: Both are members of the high school class of 1932, both took Elementary training at Capital University, and both come from families of teachers. – H. Gaylord Headley and Eleanor Evans started their teaching careers in Franklin county consolidated elementary schools on September 4th. Gaylord participated in varsity baseball and basketball while at Capital. He is teaching 5th and 6thgrades in Fornoff Elementary school where he also coaches athletics. The school had a fruit and vegetable carnival to build up a school fund. About $33 was raised. Mrs. Clyde Headley, Ralph Headley, and Miss Zella Taylor attended the carnival.
Eleanor Evans, daughter of Mrs. Flora Evans, was in the Capital University chapel choir where she sang soprano and played the flute in the symphony. Eleanor teaches 1stand 2nd grade and special music at the Galloway Elementary School.
78 Years Young – Scott Rochelle, Reynoldsburg’s “grand old man”, and only remaining Civil War veteran, celebrated his 78th birthday. The ladies of the Relief Corps gave him a post card shower and presented him with homemade candy.
Violet Grange Program, Friday Night, Sept. 21st – The program included: Song, “The Old Oaken Bucket”; “The Housekeeper’s Tragedy” presented by Mrs. Maud Smith; Selections from McGuffey’s Reader, Charlie Turley; and Public school of forty years ago versus Today’s school, George Morris, Bexley.
Social News: Reynoldsburg – Mr. Ed Evans was pleasantly surprised on his birthday. Those present were: Mary Alice and Dorothy Evans, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon McCall and children, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Evans and children, and Mr. and Mrs. Dick McCray and children. A covered dish supper was enjoyed. The Reynoldsburg Christian Endeavor Societyheld a wiener roast Wednesday evening at the home of Miss Marion Woodruff. The WCTU met at the home of Mrs. Elizabeth Myers on Rose Hill Road. Mrs. Margaret Fishpaw was hostess to her bridge club. Those present were: Miss Hannah Ashton, Mrs. Bertha Compton, Mrs. Wilda Cornell, Mrs. Tressie Ebright, Mrs. Hattie England, Mrs. Margaret Ruvoldt, and Mrs. Ethel Whitehead.
Social News: Pickerington – Dr. W.B. Taylor entertained a group of friends Thursday evening. Miss Ida Fenstermaker and Miss Viola Able motored into the county and found many papaws, butternuts, and walnuts.
Social News: Brice – Miss Ruth Tussing has recovered from her attack of typhoid fever and started back to school last Friday. Rev. G.G. Reed is back from the Methodist Conference in Zanesville and was again appointed pastor of Pickerington and Brice.
Social News: Etna - Mr. and Mrs. Charles Holt have moved into the Homer White property. Mr. and Mrs. Byron Emswiler and family spent Saturday evening with Mrs. Anna Smoke.
The local paper published the legal notices from the state and local governments to keep the public informed about official changes to policy. A lot of information shows up in these notices. For instance in the September 27, 1934 edition of the Press included:
Notice to Contractors, State of Ohio, Department of Highways – excerpts appearing in the notice were about minimum wages paid for the bid; $1.20 for skilled workers, $1.00 for semi-skilled workers in group 1, .80 for group 2, .65 for group 4, and .50 for common laborers.
There were Notices of Appointment for people executing wills and Notices of Hearing for Paroles. The Parole Hearing listings gave the name and prisoner number, date of the hearing, length of sentence and what penitentiary.
In addition to display advertising there were a few Want Ads listed.
For Sale – Gas and coal combination cook stove. A real buy, 3-burner “Kitchen Cook” gasoline stove, and a 1927 Ford Coupe. Moving to city. Call Canal Winchester.
For Rent – House in Reynoldsburg, 6 rooms and bath, all modern. Garage included. Inquire D.W. Foltz. Phone 47.
For Rent – 125-acre farm one-half mile north of Reynoldsburg. Call 142-F-11 Rey. Mrs. Cora Wildermuth.
For Sale - 20 acres of excellent sweet corn fodder, standing. Will sell cheap. Phone 23J or see Mrs. James Ruvoldt.
For Rent – Convenient Slaughterhouse, gas and electricity. Mrs. Arthur Evans.
I know that the enjoyment of reading newspapers, especially local papers, is a dying form of entertainment, but for me, it is important. I love reading old advertisements and small town observations. I smile over “fillers” such as: “Generally, the people who know you best never think of writing your biography.”
THE 1939 REYNOLDSBURG DIRECTORY
by Suzy Millar Miller
Eighty years ago, The Reynoldsburg Press published “The Reynoldsburg Directory, a Directory of The City of Reynoldsburg and all of its Rural Routes”. I found the copy buried in my collection of “odd artifacts”. The booklet has 19 pages of phone numbers and addresses from 1939. Directory sold for $1.50, which seems like a lot of money for the time period. The Directory is a snapshot of where the people lived and worked. The booklet cost 1 ½ cents to mail. The stamp has a picture of Martha Washington!
On the inside front cover there is a list of classified advertisers and throughout the pages there are other ads positioned within the listing of names. One of the most notable advertisements was the Annen-McCray Funeral Home, “You can depend on us to carry out a service of distinction and always within your means.” The funeral home also stated, “Distinctive but Not Expensive.” Annen-McCray had the one-inch ad placed on every even numbered page of the directory, plus a few extras for a total of 12 ads. Annen-McCray could be contacted at 709 S. High St. phone, GArfield 7717. Not to be outdone by the funeral home, Glen Rest Memorial Estate, “Buy in Advance of Need”, placed 10 ads on the odd numbered pages. The phone number for Glen Rest was 8.
“Dr. D. Orval Kraner, Optometrist and Optician, 1032 E. Main St., Office: EV-7404, Evenings by Appointment” placed 11 ads.
Most businesses only placed one or two advertisements! Some of the other advertisers were: “Your County Auditor, N.A. Thatcher, MA. 1376”; “E.E. Connell Hardware, Telephone 35, Res. 121-W”; “G-W Electric Shop, At Your Service 24 Hours, House Wiring – Sales – Service – Westinghouse Appliances, Phones – Rey Bus. 111, Res. 110”; “Richard Evans, Red & White Grocery, Phone 10”; “Hayes Store, Soda Grill, Patent Medicines, Cigarettes, Cigars, Tobacco, Phone 66”; “Horton’s Restaurant on Route Forty, Lunches and Dinners”; “E.M. Lunn, Patronize Your Home Dry Goods Store, Yard Goods, Shoes, Notions, Gifts, Men’s Work Clothes”; “McNaghten’s Store, Fine Quality Groceries and Meats, We’ll deliver the goods if you’ll let us, the busiest and biggest little store in the country, Brice Pike at Main, Rey 125” and “Whitehead Coal and Builders’ Supplies, Ohio and West VA. Coal, Sand, Gravel, Cement, Plaster, 117-W, 117-J.” To contact the police or fire departments you just phoned the operator.
Now I admit that I am always fascinated by advertisements. Even more interesting was the actual resident listings. The following is a small selection from the listings.
ANTRIM, Rex – St. Serum Farm. (Mary) Margaret, Max. N. Lancaster St.
ASHTON, Mrs. Emma – Housewife, Albert Ashton – Laborer. Lancaster
ASHTON, Hannah – Teacher, Pickerington-Reynoldsburg Road. Rey 113-F-3 (Note: there are five listings for Ashton name)
BARBER SHOP – Prop., D.L. Kitzmiller, S. Lancaster St. Rey 5-W
BARBER SHOP – Prop. Carl Whitmer, Main Street, Central
BARNEY’S TAVERN – Prop. Harold Rothrock, Main and S. Lancaster St.
BERRY, D.W. – Retired (Martha A.) Ethel. Nat’l Bl’v’d East. Rey 52-F-2
BLUE BONNET – Prop. Edward Rhinehart. Charles Burton – Porter, Margaret Cummins – Waitress, Dorothy Miller – Waitress, Donald Vanatta – Waiter. Nat’l. Bl’v’d and McNaughten Rd., Rey 135-F-2
BOND, Ward – Stove Repair. (May), Mrs. Ida Pierce, Earl McCormick – Hired Hand, 9023 E. Broad St., Pataskala 170-R-12
BRILL, James – School Janitor. (Anna) Mary Ellen Lisk, Everett Lisk – Mechanic. N. Lancaster St.
BUTTS, Edward D. – Plumber. (Olive) Edward DD. Jr., Birdella, William. Main St. and Central.
CHEATWOOD, E. Ray – Funeral Director. (Mary) Edith. Carl Whitmer – Barber. Main St. Central Rey 4
CONNELL, E.E. – Owner of Hardware Store. (Nelle) Ralph. Bryden Road Rey 121-W
DAMSEL, William – Shipping Clerk. (Gertrude) Connie, Sharon, Pauline, Carpenter – Student. E. Main St., Log House. Rey 133-M
DODDROE, Mrs. Martha – Housewife. Virginia, J. Dorsie. Manor Drive, Nat’l. Bl’v’d West.
DONAHEY, James – Dept. of Education. (Erma) Vicki, Carol Lee, N. Lancaster St. Rey 105
EVANS, Donivan – Prin. of Rey School (Dorothy), Randal Near – Music Instructor. N. Lancaster St. (Note: there are 14 listings for the Evans name)
FEUCHT, Fred – Dairyman. (Freda) Dora, Fred Jr., Mary Alice, Richard, Lura Fern. E. Livingston Ave. Rey 98-F-5
FOLTZ, Alonzo – Plumber. (Laura) Jean. East Main Street Rey 46
FOLTZ, David W. – Carpenter, Contractor. (Rose), Josephine, Hester, Ella Foltz – Sister. East Main, Rey 47
FRENCH, Homer – Mechanic. (Bess) Herbert French – Mechanic. Janette French – Nurse. Nat’l Bl’v’d
GRAHAM, W. Fred – Machinist. (Serena). Fred Jr., Mary Grace, Lucia Ann. Broad St. (Note: there are 11 listings for the Graham name. Also, the current name for “Broad Street” is Broadwyn)
HAFT, Al – Sports Promoter. (Mary Lee) Al Jr. 6767 Nat’l Bl’v’d Rey 78
HAYES, E. T. – Owner of Drug Store. (Jessie) Robert, Elmore Jr. Jackson St. Rey 86
HEADLEY, Clyde – Road Construction. (Georgia), Howard Gaylord – Salesman. Ralph Edgerly – Student. Pickerington and Reynoldsburg Road
HICKMAN, Nelson – Farmer. (Vivian) Seymoure. Pickerington R. and E. Livingston Ave. Rey 113-F-4
JEWELL, James M. – Electric Crane Operator. (Eva). Bryden Rd. Rey 126-R
KARNEs, C.E. – Union Fork and Hoe Co. (Mary) Mary Alice, Archie, Raymond, Ruth. Broad St.
KIELMEYER, Albert – Pressman. (Esther) Marjorie, James, Bryon. E. Livingston Ave.
LUNN, Esta M. – Owner of Lunn’s Dry Goods Co. Birnadine Lunn. Mrs. Electa Ritter – Housek’p’r.
MILLAR, Wason, property – Vacant S. Graham Rd.
MINOR, Lester – Supt. Of Walnut Hill Farm. (Birdella) Carol Ann,, Mrs. Emma Minor, N. Lancaster St.
MCCALL, Vernon B. – Station Attendant. (Gracie) Bill, Marjorie. Hazel Moore – Teacher. E. Main Rey 57-W
MCCRAY, N.F. (Dick) – Truck Driver. (Eunice) Ted, Sue, Hetty Jean, Bobby. E. Main St. Rey 82-M
MCNAUGHTEN, Harold H. – Salesman. (Mary) Martha Jane. 500 McNaughten Rd. Rey 89-F-13
MCNAUGHTEN, Tunis J. – Salesman. (Louise) Stuart James, George D. Jones – Mechanic. McNaughten Rd. Rey 89-F 5
NAAYERS, Bob – Godman Shoe Co. (Dorothy) Bob Jr., Clarence, Mrs. Della Naayers, Marjorie Baker – State Motor Vehicle. Stanley Baer. Nat’l Bl’v’d East
NESSLEY, Miss Olive – Housewife, East Main St
OLDHAM, Clark – Farmer. (Dorothy) Marilyn. Wagner Rd. (Note: there are eight listings for the Oldham name)
OPPY, J.A. – Supt of Reynoldsburg School. (Bertha) Bryden Rd.
PARKINSON, Mrs. Helen – Clerk. Richard – Plumbing. Broad St.
PICKERING, Harold D. – Deputy Clerk, Probate Court. (Ruth) James – Salesman, Harold Jr. – Clerk. Broad St Rey 29
RAYMER, Vinton – Garage Owner. (Kathryn) Virginia Lee. Rich St. Rey 39
RICKLY, Edward H. – Rickly Sausage. (Edna) Rich St. Rey 24
RUVOLDT, James O. – Newspaper Publisher. (Margaret) Sandra Sue, Rosie Boyer – Domestic Helper Main St Central
SHANNON, Philip – Pa. R.R. Fruit Inspector (Mary) Mary Ann, Helen. Pickerington-Reynoldsburg Rd.
SLACK, Bryant – Owner of Linco Filling Station. (Frances) Gwen. E. Main St. Rey 82-J
SNOOK, John – Farmer. (Mary) Harley, Earl, Muriel, Aurel, Sadie. N. Taylor Rd. Rey 52-F-3
STAPLETON, Ezra – Caretaker. (Evelyn) Connie Lou, Robert Arthur, Ruth Elaine. Pickerington- Reynoldsburg Rd.
STOCKDALE, Charles – Yardley Screen and Weatherstrip Co. (Alice) Virginia. Broad St.
TAYLOR, Mrs. Mary – Housewife. Zella Taylor – Music Teacher. Frank Taylor – Real Estate. Church St. Rey 107
TUSSING, Fred – Farmer. (Luda) Ruth, Betty. Tussing Rd. Rey 34-F-21
VAN SCHOYCK, Carl – Creasey Wholesale Grocery Co. (Lois) Suzanne, Mary Lou. Wagner Rd.
WALZ, Perry – Electrician. (Bernice) Lagatha, Perry Jr., Dana Lee. Nat’l Bl’v’d West
WEBER, James A. – Laborer. (Maggie B.) Elbert, Marybelle (sic), Norma, Ben. Broad St. (now Broadwyn)
WINTERS, A. A. – Farmer. Jack, Martha Janice, Mrs. Esther Allspaugh, Williams Allspaugh. Corner Nat’l Bl’v’d and Brice Pike.
WISWELL, Gary – Grocer Clerk. (Maude) William, Mary Ann, Wilma. Bryden and Jackson St.
ZARBAUGH, Mrs. Mattie – Corner Bryden and Jackson Streets.
Members of the Reynoldsburg High School Class of 1943 will be turning 95 this year. Most of the classmates were born in 1925 and we still have a few members, or relatives, of that class listed as members of RTHS. I wanted to honor them at the beginning of a new decade to show how much they mean to us. You will recognize many of the names of this outstanding group of people immediately.
In 1925, when the class of 1943 was born, the average income was $2,239 a year. A new car cost $290; new house was $7,809 (but you could get a “self-build” house from Sears in the $2,000 range); a loaf of bread was 9 cents; a gallon of gas was 12 cents; a gallon of milk, 56 cents.
The President was Calvin Coolidge and the Vice President was Charles Dawes. Some of the great inventions of the time were Scotch tape, the circuit breaker and methanol. Life expectancy was 54.1 years.
Headlines of the nation included: Scopes was found guilty in Tennessee’s “Monkey Trial”; Walter Chrysler founded an automobile company; the Charleston was the newest dance craze; the American Automobile Association declared that women drivers were as competent as men; tornadoes killed about 800 people in the Midwest.
Popular songs were: “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Moonlight and Roses,” If You Knew Susie Like I Know Susie,” and “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue."
Famous people born in 1925 included: June Lockhart, Cliff Robertson, Art Buchwald, Dorothy Malone, Peter Graves, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, William F. Buckley, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Fess Parker, Angela Lansbury, Jonathan Winters, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
When the class of 1943 graduated, the United States was fighting in World War II and many of the Burg’s residents were serving in the Armed Forces. Some of the 1943 classmates who joined early were: “Snerd” Hays (Navy), Don Marcum (Navy), “Pod” Hayes (Naval Reserve), Lee Hall (Naval Reserve), Tom Arnet (Army), Jim Morris (Naval Air Corps), Bill Brennon (Army), and Ralph Rickly (Army). According to the 1943 Reynolian, “Jim Gordon is working at the Depot, and Bill McCall is attending Monmouth College. Spike Myers was planning to enter the Merchant Marines but at the last moment he was rejected. He is staying in Detroit. In the near future Bill Nirote plans to enter the Army.” – quote by Peggy Bingham. Most of the boys in the class joined the Armed Forces within the next year.
The senior class of 1943 produced the first Reynolian, the RHS yearbook, with Connie McNary (Parkinson) as editor. Lee Hall was elected editor, but the Navy got him. Connie is still an active writer of Reynoldsburg history and the most treasured contributor to the RTHS Courier. The class motto was “We are not at our height, but still climbing.” The class colors were maroon and silver with a red rose as the class flower.
RHS Class of 1943
Thomas Arnet (Tom), Hi-Y two years; Marion Bingham Howard (Bingy), Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Basketball, Physical Education Instructor, Annual Staff; Margaret (Peggy) Bingham Esterly, Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Cheerleader, Honor Society, Scholarship Team, Annual Staff; William Brennon (Bill), Orchestra, Golf, Annual Staff; Birdella Marie Butts Wagner (Birdie or Marie), Honor Society, Girl Reserves, Girls’ Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Scholarship Team, F.H.A., Annual Staff; Betty Carey Holly (Honey), “Never too sober, never too gay – a rare good girl in every way.”
Jack Carson, “Downbeat”, Annual Staff; Patty Click Butler (Chicken), Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Homecoming Queen attendant in Freshman year; Ralph Connell, F.H.A, Band; Sybil Duffy Heim (Sybbie), Girl Reserves, Glee Club, F.H.A., Homecoming Queen attendant in Junior year; Charles Phillip Esterly (was spelled Oesterle) (Chuck), Senior Class President, Varsity Basketball, Baseball, Mixed Chorus, Hi-Y; Margaret Fulton Brown (Peggy), Annual Staff.
Gladys Lucille Gillespie Mapes (Tiny), Glee Club, Basketball, Cheerleader, F.H.A., at Summit School; Franklin Gornall (Frank), Orchestra at Rome, Honor Society; Leland Hall (Lee), Senior Class Vice President, Hi-Y, Boys’ Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Basketball, Annual Staff; Charles Hanners (Charlie), Senior Class Treasurer, Honor Society, Student Council, Annual Staff; William Alden Hayes (Pod), Hi-Y, F.H.A., Basketball, Baseball; Richard Hays (Snerd), Basketball, Baseball; Marvin Hicks (Tuny), Honor Society, Student Council; Betty Hollinger, Honor Society; Richard E. Johnson (Dick) (Slim), Sergeant-at-arms Freshman year, F.H.A.
Ester Jones Early (Essie), F.H.A. two years; Maryalys Karnes Hill (MAK), Girl Reserves, Band, Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Sextet, Honor Society, F.H.A., Annual Staff; Marjorie Kielmeyer Thornton (Margee), Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Annual Staff; Grace King Ducey (Dynamite), Glee Club, Mixed Chorus; Betty Lewis Gornall (Sugar), Glee Club, Mixed Chorus; Don Marcum (Butch), F.H.A; William McCall (Bill), F.H.A., Hi-Y, Band, Glee Club, Orchestra; Marilyn McCandlish Friesland (Chick), “A flower of meedness on a stem of grace.”
Dorothy Alice McCray Miles (Sue), Girl Reserves, Honor Society, Glee Club, Sextet, Band, Orchestra, F.H.A., Cheerleader, Mixed Chorus, Annual Staff; Cornelia McNary Parkinson (Connie), Senior Class Secretary, Scholarship Team, Annual Staff, Cheerleader at Bloomingburg, Ohio; Mae Mitchell Freeman (Maxie), “Humor is like history – it repeats itself.”
James Elmore Morris (Elmer) (Jim), Hi-Y, F.H.A., Band, Orchestra, Woodwind Ensemble; Bonnie Murphy Kuehner (Murph), F.H.A, Honor Society; William R. Nirote (Bill) (Reggie), F.H.A, Basketball, Band, Music, Baseball; Wilfred R. (Ron) Nirote; Ralph Dean Rickly (Beany), F.H.A., Hi-Y, Basketball; Doris Sanders Spradlin (Red), Glee Club one year; Virginia Sands Porter (Ginny), Girl Reserves, F.H.A.; Marye Louise Schultis Mansfield (Ann), Band, Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Sextet, Girl Reserves, Orchestra; George Seltzer (Bromo), Basketball, Orchestra, Speedball, Track, Baseball.
June Stillwell Weber (Blondie), Glee Club, Band, Mixed Chorus, Cheerleader, Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Annual Staff; Mary Jane Tudor Schmitt (Red), Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Annual Staff; Donna Turner Gordon (Squirt), Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Annual Staff, 1943 Homecoming Queen; Leon Walker (Welding Walker), F.F.A., Annual Staff; Lagatha Walz Fledderjohann (Dade), Girl Reserves, F.H.A., Glee Club, Mixed Chorus, Homecoming Queen Attendant, 1943; Ben Weber (Web), Basketball, F.H.A., Hi-Y; and Ruth Janet Williams Rickly (Janet), Girl Reserves, Honor Society, Glee Club, Sextet, Orchestra, Mixed Chorus.
The members of the class of 1943 contributed on every level of society as business owners, executives, professional men & women, writers, parents, mentors, friends, and even a federal auditor who helped Reynoldsburg grow into a stable, thriving community.
I feel blessed to have known almost all of them. Thank you.
The Reynolian Staff
Hard to believe it has been 65 yearssince 1956. The world has changed since those simple times where everyone in the Burg knew one another. The Reynoldsburg High School Class of 1956 graduated 61 members who made plans to raise families with a motto of, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it.” Members of the class of ’56 gathered in 2006 for a class photo at the Alumni Banquet at the Days Inn (pictured in the photo gallery above).
Nancy Vance Johnson is a current member of RTHS. In the 1956 Reynolian the caption under her picture read: “This is the girl with the natural curl. Ambition – to have identical twins…Ohh honestly!...Gene… Pet Peeve -- dandruff…Dutch Chocolates…Anybody got a stick of gum?...Wants to travel… loves lilacs… buttermilk…Bermuda shorts.” Nancy wrote as her class “Last Will and Testament”: “I Nancy Vance, bequeath my six years as cheerleader to any seventh grader who can last that long.”
Other former RTHS members of the class of 1956, Barbara Doane and Delores Trivett, have both passed away. Both Barbara and Delores were very active members of the society and we miss their smiling faces.
Another member of the RHS Class of 1956 was Jim Near who became the “Whiz Kid” of Fast Food. Jim’s senior picture caption read: “He’s really neat from head to feet.” Ambition – to own a drive-in…Pet peeve – dumb car hops…”Where’s Dan?”…favorite pastime – Cattin’ around…Burger Boy…”Rose La Rose.” In his class Last Will and Testament” Jim wrote: “I, Jim Near, bequeath my ability to fry hamburgers to Gary Blackstone.” Those words were very prophetic. Jim began working as a short order cook while still in high school and became the night manager at the Burger Boy in the Burg. He graduated from Hanover College in Indiana in 1960, joined the National Guard for a while, and then started working at the first McDonald’s in Columbus on South High Street where he became the manager. His former boss from the Burger Boy, Roy Tuggle, co-founded BBF (Burger Boy Food-O-Rama) “home of the whirling satellite” and asked Jim to become manager of the new burger chain. Jim eventually became vice-president. Borden, Inc. bought out BBF and Jim became the President of Borden Retail Operations. After he left Borden’s, Jim joined Dave Thomas, his BBF boss, and other investors to found Wendy’s Hamburgers where he opened over 39 Wendy’s restaurants in West Virginia and Florida. He sold the franchises back to Wendy’s to “retire”, but ended up developing a spicy chicken sandwich which became the basis of “Sisters Chicken and Biscuits”. Wendy’s bought the concept. Jim became President and Chief Operating Officer and later CEO and Chairman of Wendy’s International.
Here are some other things that were happening 65 years ago
The cost of living in 1956 was: Average new house, $11,700; Monthly rent, $88; Yearly wages, $4,450; Gallon of gasoline, $0.22; New car, $2,050; and Coffee was $0.85 per pound. The Interstate Highway System was authorized in June by President Eisenhower and General Electric/Telechron introduced the first snooze alarm clock. Black and white portable televisions hit the market and Tefal started producing non-stick frying pans. Polio pioneer, Dr. Albert Sabin, developed an oral vaccine while Dr. Jonas Salk was administering injectable polio vaccine. There were 57,879 reported cases of polio in 1952.
Rocky Marciano,31, retired as the only undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the World with a perfect record. New York Yankees pitcher, Don Larson, threw the only perfect game in World Series history in game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
We watched “To Tell the Truth” on CBS-TV and Bob Barker made his TV debut as the host of “Truth or Consequences”. The “Huntley-Brinkley Report” was on NBC and MGM debuted “The Wizard of Oz” on CBS as the final installment of the Ford Star Jubilee. Popular films were “Guys and Dolls”, “The King and I”, “Trapeze”, “High Society”, and “Around the World in Eighty Days”.
Other entertainment news included the premiere of the movie “The Ten Commandments” and “My Fair Lady” opened on Broadway with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. “As the World Turns” became the first half-hour soap opera on CBS and lasted until 2010. Elvis Pressley appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. Norma Jean Mortenson changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and married playwright, Arthur Miller. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis performed their last comedy show together after being a team for 10 years.
Disneyland opened in Anaheim, CA. Film idol, James Dean, was killed in an auto accident at the young age of 24. In the comic strip, Dogpatch, Li’l Abner and Daisy Mae were married in a surprise wedding after 18 years of “dating”. Jacqueline Bouvier married Senator John F. Kennedy. Davy Crockett hats were popular with boys and Bermuda shorts were being worn by men!
On the local front, the Burg residents danced at the Reynoldsburg Barn Dance (both Round & Square), went to Town and Country for luggage sales, bought stylish dresses and shopped at Cussins and Fearn.
One of the most memorable events in the Burg happened during the middle of the night on Friday, June 22, 1956. A raging thunderstorm hit around 10:30 pm on the 21st with high winds and heavy rain. During the long night, rain passed through western Licking County and Franklin County which deluged the Blacklick Creek and French Run watersheds. The “Columbus Dispatch” wrote: “Shortly before midnight, two roaring walls of water burst upon the Village (the Burg), one traveling west down French Run and the other traveling south down Blacklick Creek. They collided in a roaring, whirling, maelstrom of mud and debris at the confluence of the two streams, just west of Lancaster Ave. and several hundred feet north of US Route 40.”
Along the banks of French Run the power lines went down, water swirled into homes, the bridge on Lancaster Ave. collapsed, the footbridge floated away, and yellow mud and tree limbs flowed with the massive flood waters. The firemen said the four hours after midnight were a nightmare. There were daring rescues of residents trapped in their homes. Using boats, people evacuated children to higher ground while everyone tried to save their homes.
The night of the flood was truly terrifying. I was one of the children who rode a boat up Lancaster Ave. to my grandparent’s house. One of my cousins, Marty Nessley, was a baby and I remember him being passed over flood waters from the front porch to the boat. When our basement wall collapsed, the house just groaned and sank to one side. Eventually, the water came up to the first floor level, but it didn’t cover the beds. After that flood, all of the doors in the house were a little warped and never closed easily.
1956 was one of my most memorable years!
~ Suzy Millar Miller
While rearranging some books in my living room, I ran across the 1960 Reynolian. As I leafed through it, I noticed that there were pictures of current Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society (RTHS) members in the book. It seemed like it would be fun to have a look at these current members as they looked 60 years ago! As a disclaimer, I’m sure I haven’t included all of our current members that appeared in that Reynolian in this article, but here is a small sampling. I also included a few teachers and other groups.
I’ll start with a couple of the Senior class members.
CAROLYN JEANNE ASHTON (HILL) has been an RTHS member for many years. Next to her picture it read: The boys with this gal really rate, But Texas is still her favorite state, Jerry…”Rave on”…blue…favorite pastime---writing letters…ice skating. Nickname “Tod”. Her “Last Will and Testament” read: I, Carolyn Ashton, bequeath my experience of going steady with a boy in Texas to Mary Burkey. In the “Future Times” where predictions were written for 20 years in the future, Carolyn’s sentence said, “Mrs. Jerry King (Tod) of the King Ranch in Texas sent one of her Cadillacs to nationally known comedienne, Pat Krumm.”
JAMES “JIM” WESLEY SHARPS was also a 1960 senior. His photo tag was: “Good-natured and well-liked is he, He’ll have a gay life – that’s plain to see. Ginny… “Oh no!”…bowling… “77”… football …steak…red. Jim’s Last Will read: I, Jim Sharps, bequeath my uniform number 77, to Dan Young, and my little blocking ability to Charles Woods. In the “Future Letter” Jim was listed as the president of the Reynoldsburg Bank.
There were many teachers and support staff who influenced hundreds of Reynoldsburg High School students over the years. I’m sure you will recognize the names and photos of these people.
HANNAH ASHTON was the High School Principal.
MISS MARGUERIETE CLICK went to Capital University, Ohio State University, and Bliss Business College. She was a Reynoldsburg native who taught English X and XII, Speech, Latin I, and Latin II. Miss Click also was the Advisor for the Reynolian, Senior Class, and Latin Club, in addition to being the Director of the Senior Play. She is in the middle of the photo with the watering can in her hands. What do you want to bet the photo was taken in her classroom?
MISS MARY ESWINE (left) went to Ohio State University and Ohio University with B.S., B.A., and M.S.C. degrees. She was from Etna, Ohio and taught Shorthand, Typing I and Typing II while being the Junior Red Cross Sponsor and Senior Advisor.
MRS. LENA MOWERY from Mt. Sterling, Ohio, went to Wilmington and Marshall Colleges and had a B.S. in Education. Lena was School Librarian, Senior Advisor, and also taught Physical Education.
BETTY BARTLETT was the school nurse for many years. She was always available to patch up or send home students.
CONNIE PARKINSON, a current RTHS member, was the secretary to Mr. Heischman, who was the Superintendent of Schools.
MRS. DOROTHEA (DOT) MARSHALL went to Wittenburg, Ithaca, and Capital University. She was from Newcomerstown, Ohio, with a degree in A.B. Mrs. Marshall taught Home Economics and ran the school Cafeteria while advising the Home Ec. Club. Mrs. Marshall always “bustled” into a room and on Wednesdays she would say, “Hump Day!” It seems strange to see her in dress clothes rather than her bright, white uniform!
GENE SHEPARD went to Ohio State University with a B.S. in Ed. He was from Cleveland, Ohio. Gene taught P.O.D., Bookkeeping, and Drivers Ed. While being the Sophomore and Student Council Advisor. Mr. Shepard would say, “Do you really believe that?” after a student had pulled a blooper. How many of you learned to drive under his tutelage?
DONNA AND HARRY WOLFORD are current members of RTHS. Donna went to Marshall College and received her A.B. degree. Her hometown is Buffalo, West Virginia. Donna taught Physical Education and English X while being the Cheerleader and Y-Teens Advisor. (Note: I remember sitting in Donna’s English class when President Kennedy was shot. She had us write a theme paper on the event)
HARRY WOLFORD went to West Virginia State with a B.S. in Education. His hometown is Charleston, West Virginia. Harry taught Industrial Arts and Mechanical Drawing. He was also head Basketball Coach.
The Varsity Football Managers were MIKE GRAYEM and JOHN EVANS. John was in the RHS Class of 1961 and is a current RTHS member. John was also in the Honor Society and in the Student Council.
The JUNIOR CLASS OFFICERS were: President, Dick Stockdale; Vice President, Dianna Francis; Secretary, Janet Skeen; and Treasurer, John Evans.
The SOPHOMORE OFFICERS were: President, Bob Marshall; Vice President, Polly Heischman; Secretary Diane Hlad; and Treasurer, Cassie Parkinson.
I have included a photo of the STUDENT COUNCIL which includes various class grades. In the picture are current RTHS members CASSIE PARKINSON (ADAMS), JOHN EVANS, AND DIANNA FRANCIS (VAN BUREN).
There are a few 8TH GRADE CLASSMATES shown in the 1960 Reynolian who are current members of the Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society. These members are in the photo gallery above and include: WANDA (WENDY) WHEATLEY (RAFTERY), STEVEN WOLLAM, MARK GILES, MARY WESTERWILLER (MERRINGER), ROBERTA MCELHINNEY (SILVERMAN), CONNIE PACK (OWEN), and TOM MCCRAY
I know that I have missed many current Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society members who appeared in the 1960 Reynolian and I apologize for that. I want to encourage our members to consider volunteering and attending future events. The time has come to renew your memberships and possibly consider donating to the museum upkeep. It won’t be long before things open up again and we need to re-establish our close human connections.
Take this holiday time period to get close to your families and connect with past friends and neighbors. I know I have had some interesting calls in the past few months that have reconnected me with the Old Burg even if I haven’t been able to visit. You can see the class composite picture for the class of 1960 at the museum by contacting us by phone at (614) 902-2831.
The RTHS Board wishes everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING and a MERRY CHRISTMAS.
You have probably read the news and are already aware that the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus performed their final show on May 21, 2017. After 146 years, “The Greatest Show on Earth” is no more.
It began in 1871 as P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome. It survived the Depression, two world wars and the news media of its time. But on May 21st, the world’s most historic circus, Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey shut down after failing to sufficiently dazzle the children of the smartphone & video game age and overcome the fierce opposition of the animal-rights movement, which does not want to see animals in the circus.
Were you aware of the little-known fact that a 1966 RHS Alumna and long-time member of the Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society was a performer in the circus? As a showgirl for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sharon Cosner Sellitto rode the elephants, performed aerial ballet, danced, flew on the trapeze, and was the ‘Bluebird of Happiness.’
Many baby-boomers dreamed of running away with the circus, but Sellitto actually DID tour with Ringling Bros. for several seasons during the 1970s. “My mother seems to have saved every letter I wrote during those years,” Sellitto said recently, sitting at her kitchen table, covered with scrapbooks and memorabilia of her circus years.
“In one letter, I wrote I was getting ready to climb 40 feet in the air — in high heels, in the dark — to hang by my knee. Isn’t it nice to know that’s why you sent me to college?”
As a showgirl, she performed high above the rest of the acts an average of three shows a day, suspended by not only her knee, but her wrists or ankles while doing various forms of aerial ballet.
She said she took dancing her entire life, but added some gymnastics and dancing classes at Ohio University. After heading out West, Sharon danced with the Ballet Celeste in San Francisco for a couple of years. Eventually, she moved farther north and was dancing in the casinos at Lake Tahoe. Sharon also worked dancing in Bob Hope’s shows when he was in the area. One day, she spotted an advertisement that Ringling Bros. was having auditions. She and a friend tried out, and four months later she got a call asking if she could come to Florida to start training.
It was the start of an adventure that would last several years. “It was so painful at first, climbing a rope,” she said. Performing in heels and with a plumed headdress that could sometimes weigh as much as 30 pounds made it all the more challenging.
Eventually, she learned a little trapeze work and still has a trapeze from the circus in her collection of memorabilia. Sharon said that the scariest thing she did in the circus was swinging out and releasing hold of the trapeze to fall 50 feet into a safety net below, then bounce around until somersaulting from the edge of the net to the floor.
Each season would last about ten months, she said, taking her across the United States and Canada, living in a train car with other performers, including the legendary Mihaley “Michu” Meszaros, the “world’s smallest man,” standing 33 inches tall, according to his 2016 obituary. “We would sit in the vestibule between the train cars and watch the world go by,” she remembered. “We went places on trains where the roads don’t go, and you’d see things you’d never see otherwise.
“When you went into a town, there were 250 of you, so someone always had your back, and you always had friends. Probably ten showgirls and two clowns are still my best friends. It really was a big, happy family, and everyone watched out for everyone.”
From venues in Los Angeles, California, to Quebec City in Canada, and Madison Square Garden, celebrities would often stop by the show, she said, including Sonny and Cher, actor Jimmy Stewart, and Paul McCartney and the Beatles.
As the Bluebird of Happiness, Sharon donned a bright blue costume that included a heavy headdress and a 17-foot blue ostrich feather train. Wearing high heels, she would climb a 30-foot ladder, in the dark, with the train wrapped around her arm. When she reached the top of the ladder, the spotlight would come on. At that point, Sharon released the plumage, and it would gracefully float downward. As the feathers headed towards the floor, she grabbed a rope above her head and would then hang by her wrist with one leg wrapped around the ladder until all the acts on the floor of the arena were finished.
One season, while the circus was at Madison Square Garden for a few weeks, one of the tigers had two cubs named Bonnie & Clyde. Their mother rejected them, so the cubs were moved to the home of the animal trainer, which happened to be a railroad car. Every night, Sharon would go to that car to bottle-feed and play with the cubs. The newborn cubs were already the size of a small dog. Sharon said that they were too big to hold in your arms to feed, so the cubs were propped on their backs on her thighs facing up as they were fed with a baby bottle. Their bellies had to be rubbed to aid digestion, and they made little noises of satisfaction. When the cubs reached about 30 pounds, they were moved to the tiger quarters and began training for the big top!
“One of the best things was riding elephants,” she said. “My elephant's name was Targa, and she was so gentle and so smart. She loved having her tongue rubbed and being fed whole loaves of bread. To 'board' her, you just put your foot on her leg, and she would gently throw you straight up in the air to her back.”
The elephants performed their last show in 2016.
The fact that 2017 saw the complete closure of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” leaves Sellitto feeling very sad. “I'm in mourning about the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus pulling up its three rings and going dark,” she said. “I'm so proud to have been a Ringling Brothers showgirl, and part of the history of the greatest circus in the world; the train pulling in, unloading the animals, riding the elephants to the building, hanging the rigging, setting the three rings. And the Ringmaster calling out “Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of All Ages, Welcome to the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus! The Greatest Show on Earth!”
Would you like to meet an actual performer from the circus? You might have the opportunity! Sharon will be bringing a trunk full of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus memorabilia to share with all of us at one of our Open House events this coming year. Watch our "Calendar of Events" page to see when it is scheduled! Bring your children and grandchildren! Sharon will be setting up in the lower level of the Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society Museum accessible directly from our parking lot in the rear of the building at 1485 Jackson Street (across the street from the Hannah J. Ashton Middle School).
The Museum Open House hours are from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Contributors: Max Garland (The Charleston Gazette), Craig McDonald (Granville News), Lizette Alvarez (The New York Times)
Many of us who have whispered permanent sayonara to forty can remember when our grandmothers (and mothers) kept children in line by horrible threats, scarcely any of which could actually happen. But a child can hardly tell a threat from a promise. Since we didn’t know for sure, we “shinnied on our own side,” straightened up and flew right.
The Gramma I’m thinking of was nearly 70 when I was born, so her patience with the didoes of two combat-oriented siblings was limited. She had reared three boys, which caused her to have a very creative imagination. Mostly, we behaved. Mostly, she just wished we’d ever.
For a mild offense, like wading out into the deep water, Gramma would threaten, “If you ever do that again, I’ll tan you!” She did not mean she’d make us stay out in the sunshine a while. Saying she would “tan your hide” was more serious, and she really might do it. When she threatened “a taste of the cat,” we knew we were home free. She did not own any such implement of torture as a cat-o’-nine tails [ancient whip].
Or she would say, “If you don’t get out of that cookie jar, I’m going to skin you alive!” Like many kids who don’t entirely understand what’s going on, I once asked, “Gramma, what are you going to do with the skin?” (hoping I’d get it to play with). That was a mistake. Gramma nearly skinned me alive for that one.
Gramma’s s pedestrian threats were to “jerk you up into a peak,” or “knock you galley west,” or “shake you ‘til your teeth rattle.” Her most gruesome threats concerned nonfeasance and consequence, like, “If you don’t get up off your kidneys and bring in that bucket of water right now, you’re going to wake up sleeping in a marble orchard!” Once we figured out what a marble orchard was, our obedience took a headstart. If she was really mad, she might say, “I’m gonna kick your backside so hard you’ll have to open your mouth to shine your shoes!” Even my dreaded first grade teacher never made a threat that vivid.
Once Gramma said, “I’ll whack you so hard it’ll make your shirttail pop up your back like a window shade!” Anyone who has ever lost control of a window blind knows how swiftly that could happen. Confronted by my brother Fred’s bloody knee, Gramma would threaten (me) to “snatch you baldheaded” before diving in to lend aid and comfort to the wounded. But let my mother, may she R.I.P., say the same, and Fred and I “got out of her road,” so she’d forget she’d said it. Another thing Gramma specialized in was saying she’d “spank you ‘til your toes curl.” She never did, but our toes curled just the same. After all, one of these days she might mean it when she said she’d “pinch your head off,” or “pinch your neck off,” and then where would we be? It wasn’t worth the risk to find out.
One of Gramma’s most extravagant and delicious threats was to “reach down your throat, grab your toenails, and pull! Getting hold of your toenails was so plainly impossible it was good for a giggle -- out of Gramma’s hearing.
But in spite of her inventive declarations, Gramma was basically good-natured and put up with a lot -- unless you hinted at criticizing her. You’d say, “Gramma, why don’t you do thus and such?” Promptly she would round on you with a tart, “Well, ditto, Brother Cabbagehead!” which disarmed every-one, including herself. I’m grown up now, so I know that all Gramma was doing was exercising her wits to soften things up, to make us laugh when the situation got beyond her tolerance level.
Yep, Gramma, I “gave my brain pan a stir,” “put that in my pipe and smoked it,” “let the penny drop,” and finally “got that through my noble knot.”