Saturday, May 16, 2009

Celina, Ohio -- My Home Town - Part 1

As mentioned before, my grandfather was the pastor of the Nazarene church in Celina, Ohio, in 1943 when we moved there. The church provided a house (parsonage) for the pastor and the first one I can remember was on Sugar Street near the church. We could walk to the church from that home. I was nine years old at the time.

The church bought another parsonage at 230 West Warren Street which was on the corner of Warren and Sugar about a mile from the church. This house I remember very well. Ben and I shared a corner room on the second floor. Grandpa had a printing press in the back of the house where he printed the church bulletin each week.

I had 4 uncles in the army serving the United States of America during World War Two. I can remember a flag that was placed in the window with four stars on it representing each of the four uncles. Uncle Carlan served in Peru. Cecil made a career of the Army serving 20 years. He was in Europe and was involved in secret work for our government. Cecil met his wife, Francis, who was also in the service of our country. Dale served in Patten’s 3rd Army in Europe and related to me how he came upon an airfield where planes without propellers were there. Germany had the first jet aircraft but fortunately ran out of fuel for them keeping the jets on the ground. Dale met his wife, Leyla, in Paris, France. Uncle Gerald (Gary) served in Okinawa in communications.

During the war rubber was hard to come by for bike tires and Grandpa wanted us to have a bike. So he bought one (1) and Ben and I shared it. You can imagine how successful that was. It wasn’t long before I bought my own bike from money I earned on the paper route. I bought a Schwinn bike from my Uncle Carlan.

From 1943 to 1949, I had a paper route with The Daily Standard. This was a 6 day a week job as they didn’t publish a Sunday paper. I had about 150 customers and collected every Saturday for the week. I think it was 20 cents a week for the paper then. Sometimes people would give me a dollar and I would punch their card for 5 weeks. But I had to budget the money and pay for the papers every week even though they were paid up on my books. The paper route taught me a lot concerning finances. Christmastime was great as many would give me a tip or a gift for my service throughout the year. Because of the job, I was able to save money and buy things that I wanted without needing to ask for help.

Besides the bicycle, I bought a used Whizzer Motor Bike. I rode this motor bike all over Celina and the surrounding area getting 35 miles per hour and about 125 miles to the gallon. Pretty cheap transportation. When I left Celina, I sold the Whizzer to another news boy for $100. A reconditioned one in 2000 sold for about $5,000. Whizzer is back in business again and you can read about it here.

One day in 1949 I found a 1948 (P48) Powell motor scooter for sale -- one year old. They sold for $300 new and he wanted $50 for it. I told my grandpa and he thought it was a mistake but we went to see it. He asked the man what he wanted for it and he said $45. Grandpa said sold! I paid for this one myself as I had for the other modes of transportation. The P48 got about 50 miles to the gallon and could travel at 70 miles per hour. Had a 7 horsepower motor and was belt driven using a centrifugal clutch (no gears to shift). That motor scooter went with me to Kansas City in 1949 when I moved there.You can read about my teen modes of transportation here, here, and here.

While we are on the subject of transportation, I rode solo only once on a motorcycle - a 1937 Indian whose controls were opposite those of a Harley Davidson. This belonged to my Uncle Bob. We visited him at his home and he saw me admiring it. He asked if I wanted to ride the motorcycle. I had never been on one so he showed me the foot clutch, hand gear shift, speed control on the left handlebar and said have fun. Bob lived in the country so there was very little traffic. The Indian had a clutch that wouldn’t stay down when you came to a stop. That added a little excitement when you had to slow down and turn around. But I managed and found this to be a fun experience.

During my last year in Celina and at the newspaper, I served as janitor of the office after my paper route. The publisher and owner, Parker Snyder, paid me 50 cents an hour to do that job. Mr. Snyder was getting ready to have one of the employees teach me to drive the Studebaker pickup truck so I could take the papers to other cities. I moved before that could happen. Besides I was 15 at the time. Probably could get a license that limited me to the job.

In the six years I served as news boy I kept only one Daily Standard. That was April 12, 1945 Extra that we sold when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died and Harry S. Truman became president. Because of that paper, I was shown in one of the Reminisce magazines holding the paper with a short article about it. The story appeared on the front page of The Daily Standard as one of the subscribers to Reminisce lived in Celina and showed the article to the newspaper. So -- former Celina newspaper boy makes good!

In 1948 I decided to buy a box camera to record my adventures and friends. It was an Ansco Box Camera and my daughter currently has the original. I have one just like it that I found in an antique store in Oklahoma. The camera took eight (8) pictures to the roll and didn’t have a flash -- all pictures had to be taken in daylight outside. I took pictures of our home, my grandparents, brother who lived there and relatives who came to visit. I have a picture of Grandpa’s 1938 Hudson Terraplane, my Whizzer Motor Bike, Ben’s motor bike, a 1948 Tucker on tour that stopped in Celina, Uncle Gary’s 1937 Reo Coupe, and Uncle Cecil’s 1948 Frazer Sedan. I regret that I did not take a picture of my P48 Powell motor scooter.

I have pictures of a few friends, especially my best friend Tom Keifer. Tom and I were the same age and attended the same church. He lived a few blocks from me and we would go bike riding often together. We built a trailer that was attached to the back of my bike and there is a picture of that in my scrapbook. Tom was at the train station when I left Celina. After a few years, I lost track of Tom. He came to visit me in California in the early 1960’s and we lost contact after that. When my name appeared in the paper, his brother, Dick Keifer, called me to chat. He told me that Tom had passed away about 1989.

The church we attended was Celina Church of the Nazarene where my grandfather was the pastor. I took a picture of the church back then but the congregation has moved to another location which I have never seen. The building had a basement where all the Sunday School classes took place. Up stairs was the auditorium for services. There were approximately 125 who attended regularly. Some names that come to mind were Harlow Fetters (had the same birthday) and Bill Baer (led the music). Mr. Fetters bought a new 1946 Plymouth and I rode in it a few times. My first car was a 1947 Plymouth that I bought in 1954. The Keifer’s attended the church. Ralph Grapner was my age and attended.

Beside being the pastor, it fell to our family to mow the yard and remove the snow on Sundays when necessary. The church gave us a large plot of land surrounding the church building for farming. We grew a lot of our food there. Many hours were spent planting, hoeing, harvesting the food. You name it -- we grew it. Including sugar cane that was turned into molasses. We used to say we raised cane behind the church and got away with it!

When Grandpa retired as pastor, he continued to serve the church as janitor. So we spent a lot of time there taking care of the building and yard. They allowed us to continue to farm the grounds surrounding the church as well.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story.

Celina has a webcam at the corner of Main and Market showing the Mercer County Court House. You can check it as I do daily to see what is going on there. Here is how you can access it: , click on Community, then Celina, then webcam, and you can enlarge the picture for better viewing. With high speed internet, you can watch cars go by, people walking, see if it is raining, snowing, etc. Since it is my home town, I check it daily just to see what is going on. This corner is right down the street from The Daily Standard which is to the right of the picture. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

Interesting story, Dick. So many of the hometowns of people have changed so much and it is good that you can look in on Celina every day. Five years or so ago Marlene and I had the opportunity to visit both of our birth towns anad try to remember some of the good times of childhood, as well as the many hard times, especially post depression years. Marlene was born in Okemah, OK, home of the famous Woody Guthrie. My place of birth was Slaton, TX and, just like Okemah, Slaton still had some red brick streets downtown.

We enjoyed your story.

Dave and Marlene

Anonymous said...

Great stories, Dick!

My family lived in Celina for about 3 months in Grandpa Moore's home. Our home was being remodeled. Must have been the summer of 1965. Grandpa stayed in Florida for that summer.

I have good memories of Celina as the place where I learned to swim in the nice outdoor municipal pool, where my brother and I played daily at the fairgrounds, and where we watched the trotters and pacers train daily.

(Dick and I are cousins who have rarely seen one another.) My father married later in life so we are almost a generation apart.