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Last updated: Sunday, September 19, 2010


Ranch Drive-In Memories | Tipperaries at Pearce's  

     Thank You Greenfield | Runaway Imaginations | Miller Remembers | Willet Recalls | Cindy Pearce's Town

Collins' WWII Memories | Porter Graves | Mossbarger 8th Air Corps | Day at the Ballpark | Company "G" ONG 

Tales of Sabina's Eugene | Leesburg After Dark | Dave Miley's Stories | Rand Theatre | Greenfield Rocks

  Jim McCullough's WWII | Shad Gossett's | Pavlov's Horse | Barb Sutherland Memories | Ed Purdin's Burma-China

Don Helterbrand's WWII | Greenfield; The Perfect Place

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Ranch Drive In Memories

I believe my mother, Justine Burnett, (later Justine Priest-wife of Warren Paul "Bud" Priest) was one of the startup employees at the Ranch.  Mom worked as a ticket cashier many evenings after a full day's work at the bank in Leesburg. 
 
During summer vacations from Highland/Fairfield school my sister, Marilyn, and I would ride to work with Mom in her '49 Plymouth and see shows like It Came From Outer Space, The 50 Foot Woman, and other spine tingling greats.  I remember the little playground out in front of the screen, "Red Sails In the Sunset" on the pot metal speakers hanging off the roll up window, and Kib and Hank and all the neat things to see and do.
 
I can't remember just when it occurred (I must have been 10 or 11), but my first "retail sales" experience was helping out at the concession stand.
 
I don't know how long Mom worked at the Ranch...I don't think more than 2 or 3 years, but when you're 10, 2 years is 20% of your life.  In that perspective, it seemed forever.
 
I wonder if the guy that lived in the little white house on the right hand side back towards Centerfield just over the tracks that carried those "@#@$!$ Trains" past on the right hand side going back towards Centerfield ever did shoot Santa?
 
The Ranch remained a part of my life all the way through the mid-60s when I left the area.
 
I can remember going as a family with Bud, Mom, and Marilyn in the late 50's, then going with Billy Moore in our $10 1941 Ford, and finally, after moving to Bainbridge for the Bill Boatman Company relocation, finally getting my driver's license and attending the Ranch as an adult (more or less).
 
A half a century ago, there were many good people and great times had at the Ranch Drive In.
 
Jack Connor, abtech_jconnor@bellsouth.net 2/22/06

Tipperaries At Pearces Restaurant

Hey Larry,  
I saw those letters ( Feedback Letters ) about tipperaries from a few months back (a couple from Cindy Pearce of the Bakery family).  I thought I was the only one in this world who still craves those wonderful pastries - My mom knew about Mr. Bowen being the one who was the "keeper of the famous recipe".  I must have driven all the bakery owners here in Columbus, Ohio crazy as I called each and every one and inquired about "tipperaries" - None of them had ever heard of such.  Mr. Bowen must have totally invented them as I have been searching for them since they stopped selling them at Pearce's.  The closest I have come is a sort of fried pie type of pastry they sell at Thurn's Bakery/sandwich shop in the German Village area of Columbus.  They do not have that divine whipped cream filling but they have that same outside type of texture and taste.  If you should happen to see this, Cindy, you will have to check them out and maybe you can get their recipe for the outside part as you said  you already had the cream filling recipe.  You could go into the mail order bakery business and every one who lives in or lived in Greenfield will keep you in business.  These pastries were the highlight of our weekend as my dad would send us down to Pearce's to get tipperaries and donuts, which also appeared to be deep fried of that same stuff.  I must confess, and my mom says she is ashamed of me, but once, several years ago when I was feeling especially desparate I called down to Mrs. Pearce's home - the mother of the owner of Pearce's and asked to speak to her, hoping she might give me some info about the tipperaries - but her nurse told me she was very ill and too ill to speak on the phone to anyone about anything.  I swear I did not mean to disturb her - I did not know she was sick - I only wanted some tipperary information.  I also called Mr. Pearce himself and he then told me he still gets requests from as far away as California asking him about those tipperaries.  Cindy, it is hard to believe you missed out on the world's truly greatest sweet treat.  Maybe someday, we tipperary cravers can have them again, but this could be up to you.  It was really fun to take this trip down memory lane.  Cindy feel free to contact me via email - my address is:  rapatrick@fccs.co.franklin.oh.us - a transplanted Greenfielder.  I would love to hear from you and all other tipperary lovers.  Thanks  Roberta A. (Jackson) Patrick. 12/08/05

Thank You Greenfield from Don Meadows

Thank you Greenfield,

I came to your (my town) in 1980. Just another high school kid. No idea what life was about. No idea of where I would go or do or see. But sometime during the two years there I found a niche, a niche coaxed out of my by a wonderful lady by the name of Ruth Ann Trutner.

She allowed me to find the true me.  I wrote school plays and puppet shows. She understood that maybe there might be a little bit more than the class clown of 1981.

Well as most people of that age.  I had high hopes and dreams. I met life with a passion and yes I failed many times.  Funny though through each failure I remember the shop teacher there at EL McClain telling us, "Well, that's the way you musta' wanted it."

I kept trying at a number of tasks and jobs.  Finally though all the lessons from that two years came back when I opened a letter.  My novel OF ICE AND STEEL will be published.  Mrs. Baldwin the Home Economics teacher never let me stop trying, and now it has paid off.

I think to the nights we practiced on the High school stage, for a play I wrote, and now I'm working with DREAM WORKS to bring my novel to the big screen.

To a tiny town in Ohio, I say thank you and I do indeed miss you. I left my youth there, and sometimes how I want it back.

Don Meadows, TORPEDOCHIEF@aol.com 7/23/2005


Runaway Imaginations from Fred McMullen

   
Life is stranger than fiction.  The fall of 1959 I was in Mrs. Rife's sixth grade class.  One of our first class assignments was to write a story about something that happened to us the past summer.  Nothing of note happened so I decided to write about an incident from the year before.  That summer Dick Hakes and myself were riding our bicycles in the cemetery on North Washington and shooting our BB guns.  We entered an old vault with a broken door that was situated on the far back side of the cemetery.  I was first to the door and turned to wave Dick on up.  Half way up the path he froze in his tracks and pointed past my shoulder...I turned to see a mini whirlwind inside the vault, wind spinning, leaves and twigs spinning as in a mini tornado.  The situation was terrifying to a couple of boys our age.  We raced to our bikes and peddled home.  We reached Dick's home out of breath and discovered Dick had dropped his BB gun at the cemetery.  We told Dick's father what happened!
d and he volunteered to drive us back to retrieve the gun.  We were both too scared to even talk about it again.  This was the story I submitted a year later in Mrs. Rife's class.  She asked me to stay after class a couple of days later and I thought I must be in trouble, considering she said she wanted to talk about my paper.  She asked me about the content and I did confess that nothing interesting had happened the past summer so I wrote about an event from the summer before.  She just shook her head and asked me to look at a paper and asked me if this was my story.  I read the story she gave me.  I replied that it was close but it wasn't my hand writing. 

You see Dick was a year ahead of me in school and had had Mrs. Rife the year before and had written about the same incident in almost the identical verbiage.  How could we have written about the same event more than a year apart using almost the same verbiage?

Fred McMullen, dougmcmullen@earthlink.net  7/23/2005

Sammi Miller's Greenfield

   
My memories of "Our Town" go way back. Does anyone remember when the furniture store (I think it was Fashion Furniture) across from Daniel's Pool Hall had people who were supposed to be hypnotized, sleep for days on a bed in the showroom window? Or how about the man who in front of the City Hall, was supposed to be hypnotized, blindfolded and drove a car around the downtown area? There was quite a turnout for all of that. I never knew if it was a hoax or not. I mentioned once to Dave Miley about the fashion faux pas the fashion conscience McClain coeds were into. How about the 'balloon dress' the 'trapeze dress' the 'Ben Casey' and 'Dr. Kildare' blouses and the 'sack dress.' The empire waistline dresses and the flared blouses alarmed many Greenfield Moms because they were perceived to resemble maternity clothes! The 'shift' and 'jumper'  were not so controversial because Jackie Kennedy favored them so. There were no panty hose at that time, so if a student or staff wanted to wear hose, they had to use girdles and garter belts and needed to be VERY careful when sitting down. Since skirts were just then starting to get shorter, "modesty boards" were requested for open front desks. NO female students or staff had the option of slacks! PERISH THE THOUGHT! LOL! Susan Collins (Koch) made the ultimate fashion statement with her 'bouffant' hairdo! (Also called a 'bubble.) Her coiffure was professional. My attempt was strictly amateur. If a boy tried to emulate the Beatles style (which was really pretty tame by later standards) he was practically un-American! Girls didn't have pierced ears and CERTAINLY NOT BOYS! Facial hair? Don't even go there! For all of our nostalgia for days gone by; it's better that some things have change--I think.

Sammi Miller


Cindy Pearce's Greenfield

   
Downtown Greenfield, Ohio in the 1960's was a pretty lively place, at least for a child who lived on a farm on the outskirts. "We're going into town" was always good news, as it conjured up the possibility that your mother might decide to browse at Bays' Variety Store, which sold gadgets, trinkets, and toys. There were restaurants, ice cream shops, a shoe store, two department stores, jewelry stores, a furniture store, a grocery store, a movie theater and a drug store with a fountain, all in downtown Greenfield.

People came to Greenfield on Friday nights to eat dinner out with their families, quite a few of them dining on pan-fried chicken in my grandparents' restaurant. Downtown was a focal point for the community and surrounding rural area during at that time - a place where you shopped and visited with people you knew.

Downtown Greenfield withered, as did many small towns in Ohio, from the increased mobility of its population and competition from shopping centers elsewhere. All of the conveniences of modern life - television, movie rentals, and now the internet, which tend to isolate people in their homes, have contributed to loss of the sense of community. The downtown no longer supports the wide range of businesses it once did, and sometimes appears virtually deserted on weekend nights. That is, it did until the "Think Tank" started planning activities for our community.

My family attended and enjoyed many of the activities planned by the "Think Tank" this past year. Midsummers' Night on Midway consisted of a variety of performances and shows put on weekly throughout the summer. The site was the lawn of our newly refurbished city hall, an aesthetically pleasing central location. Families brought lawn chairs or blankets and sat outside, enjoying musical performances and even classical movies shown on a large screen erected for the purpose. My husband and I commented to each other how nice it was to have an opportunity to socialize with people we ordinarily wouldn't have. We could hear the music from our home two blocks away, and it was a nice change to experience vitality emanating from the center of our small town.

Our community was extremely pleased to host the Ohio Chautauqua this summer. The "Think Tank" was responsible for this, and we are grateful to them for the tremendous effort they made in providing us with this high-quality event. With the Chautauqua theme in mind (Roaring Twenties), the members of the "Think Tank" dressed in flapper costumes and pin-striped suits with wide-brimmed hats. They chose a beautiful setting in Mitchell Park for the Chautauqua tent, and coordinated food service by local organizations. We enjoyed eating dinner with other families at picnic tables before the shows. I learned things I hadn't known about this era, and especially enjoyed the monologue by "H. L. Mencken".

The Aronoff Center for the Arts needn't be concerned that Greenfield is its newest competitor in providing performances in the arts; however, we are very proud of what's going on here, and hopeful for its continuation in the future. This small, grass-roots group, the "Think Tank", deserves your consideration in this award for their contribution to the arts in Ohio. I recommend them to you on behalf of the citizens of our community for their vision, energy, and creativity. GreenfieldCD@adelphia.net 4/2005

   
NOTE: The above was a letter Cindy wrote to The Ohio Humanities Council in support of the "Think Tank" being nominated for recognition. 
      

Willett Recalls

   
I HAVE OVER THE YEARS SAT AND READ THIS WEBSITE WITH THE AWE RESERVED FOR FIREWORKS AND THUNDERSTORMS. MY NAME IS DONNA WILLETT STOCKMAN AND I GREW UP ON A FARM NOT FAR FROM GREENFIELD. MY ROOTS AND A LOT OF TIME WAS SPENT IN THE TOWN AND SURROUNDING AREA. I ALWAYS FEEL SO MUCH PEACE WHEN I VISIT HERE. I LEARNED ABOUT LIFE AND HOW MUCH FAMILY MEANS. MY LIFE HAS TAKEN ME NORTH TO GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OHIO BUT MY HEART IS THERE. I REMEMBER WHEN PAINT CREEK DAM WAS JUST A THOUGHT ON A BLUEPRINT. I REMEMBER CHURCH SOCIALS AND THE CARNIVAL EACH SUMMER. THE RANCH DRIVE-IN AND OF COURSE THE RAND. MY PARENTS ARE BOTH IN GREENFIELD CEMETERY AS ARE MY GRANDPARENTS. BOTH MY BROTHER AND SISTER STILL LIVE IN THE AREA, I WISH I COULD BE THERE MORE. MY FAMILY WAS A PART OF GREENFIELD AND IT SHALL ALWAYS BE MY HOME. I STILL TELL PEOPLE ABOUT OUR HIGH SCHOOL AND THE TEACHERS LIKE TRAVIS TURVEY AND T.J. HIKE. MY MOST FOND MEMORY OF MY YOUTH WAS GOING TO STEWARD'S PHARMACY WITH OUR NEIGHBORS FOR AN ICE CREAM CONE AND GOING TO STERNS' FOR SHOES. I STILL HAVE A SUGAR BOWL AND PITCHER FROM THE DOLLAR STORE THAT WAS ON JEFFERSON STREET DOWN FROM THE POLICE STATION. THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES AND I WISH EVERYONE THE BEST.

DONNA WILLETT STOCKMAN, dwillett@eathlink.net, 5/19/2005


Middle America's Most Perfect Town

Not much of a story, however, and completely unrelated to WWII. I lived in Greenfield for six months in 1962 and remember it as perhaps the most perfect Middle America town imaginable: A five-day daily newspaper, next door to a drug store, right beside Blake's Diner, which had a horseshoe bar, served canned oyster stew and a son who played fullback on the Tigers' winless team that year. Penny's, across the street, was a 50s type high school hangout where kids still gathered, but had quit dancing; and Freddie's, a creek side (riverside?) restaurant where I had my first legal drink and took serious dates; a perfect little city hall with a cop who referred to my TR-3 as a pregnant roller skate; a beautiful, broad main street and a yellow brick house with a green ottoman that was home to the prettiest girl in Ohio. I expect it's all gone now, swallowed up and digested by some suburban Super Wal-Mart over in suburban Chillicothe or someplace, but I'd sort of like to know, for sure, and what happened to it and everything and everybody I knew. tomahawk@eastky.net  3/14/2005

Don Helterbrand’s WWII Story by Cliff Chamblin

War clouds were forming all over the world in the decade preceding 1940, threatening to rain destruction on the peoples of the earth in the global holocaust that was to be World War II.  Military leaders of the Allied Nations, with their eyes on the war thermometer, saw the need for preparation long before the inevitable conflict.  And so, while the world was tensed for war in those bleak, black, ominous days, the President of the United States and Congress started in motion the vast military machine that was to safeguard our nation. 

One of the key cogs was the 35th (Santa Fe) Infantry Division.  As part of the military foresight of the War Department, the 35th was ordered into federal service by executive order 8605 on December 23, 1940, almost a full year before the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

During the years of peace, the 35th as units of the Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri National Guard, had stood ready in its vigil for our national security.  Now called into federal service during the period of free peoples darkest hour, it assembled at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas, early in January, 1941, for training.  Advance work as a unit at the Louisiana Maneuver Area made it almost immediately ready for action.  Then, with Pearl Harbor, came its first assignment, the defense of the southern California sector of the western defense command.

Spread along the California coast, the division maintained its unity and quickly won the respect and admiration of the Californians who called it their “adopted army.”  Meanwhile, the War Department was working speedily to schedule its war-winning plans.  Already the destiny of the Santa Fe Division was being shaped.  On March 1, 1942, came reorganization as a standard triangular division.  Then, early in 1943, the various units were assembled at Camp San Luis Obispo, California.  Here, for several months, training and reorganization took place.  The Army’s fast-changing new methods of waging all-out global war were introduced quickly.  The military incubator was hatching one of the roughest, toughest outfits ever to step onto the field of battle.

The entire Division moved to Camp Rucker, Alabama on April 1, 1943 for advanced training.  At the time the components of the division were substantially the same as those which accompanied it later into the combat zones.  The men who trained with the Santa Fe at Camp Rucker will long remember those days.  The combat ranges and battle courses gave the men rigorous and thorough training.  The division was taking shape as a top notch fighting team. 

By November 1943, the Santa Fe was considered sufficiently trained to participate in the Tennessee maneuvers.  It was cold and wet and under the most unfavorable weather conditions the division engaged in two months of realistic battle problems, two months of conditioning for combat that earned the 35th the commendation of the Second Army directors of the exercises.  Following the completion of the eight phases of the Tennessee maneuvers, the division moved to Camp Butner, North Carolina on January 18, 1944 for its final polishing.  Combat teams 134th and 137th went to West Virginia to attend cliff-scaling schools and take mountain training, in the West Virginia Maneuver Area.  After four months of putting the final touches to its men, the units of the Santa Fe, during the first week of May, 1944, moved into the staging area at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.  A final, thorough inspection of the men and equipment by Port of Embarkation officials and the 35th was ready to sail, ready to assemble with the gathering Allied forces to uncork its power when the word was given to attack.

The advance detachment, under the command of Brigadier General Edmund B. Sebree, assistant division commander, sailed from Fort Hamilton on April 20 aboard the SS Queen Elizabeth.  The party consisted of 54 officers, one warrant officer and 69 enlisted men.  The ship docked at Greennock, Scotland on April 27, 1944.  Debarking the next day, the detachment boarded a train for a 21 hour ride to Okehampton where they remained from April 30th to May 20th, making  arrangements for the reception of the division.

On the 25th of May, 1944, Major General Paul W. Baade stepped ashore in the city of Liverpool, England.  The 35th Infantry Division was in the European Theater of Operations to do their part in World War Two.  “Behind us”, according to one of their men, “was the memories of many months of hard training.”  That was behind them now, and from here on it was the real thing.  They saw the scars of war as they traveled across England.  Buildings with pock marks where machinegun bullets had hit them. Buildings with great gaping holes where enemy war planes had dropped their bombs. “We vowed this would never happen to the United States of America if we could help it.  They had sworn to hit the enemy wherever he could be found.

D-Day of the invasion of Europe was almost at hand and England was crowded to its peak with American soldiers.  The 134th Infantry Regiment was quartered at the Pendarves and Clowance Estates in Camborne.  The Third Battalion, which was quartered at Newton-Abbot. Don’s Company K went to Bishopsteignton.  At this time, the division was assigned to the XV Corps which was a part of the United States Third Army, commanded by General George S. Patton, Jr.  D-Day, June 6, 1944, found the 35th Infantry Division entering its final phase of preparation.

DID YOU KNOW that William Donald Helterbrand was a part of that Operation?  William Donald Helterbrand is the son of the late Clarence and Sarah Catherine (Groves) Helterbrand.  Don was born June 11, 1911 at Elmville, Ohio.  He entered the United States Army the first part of 1944.  He left from Hillsboro, Ohio and was sent to Camp Fannin, Texas where he completed 9 weeks of basic training.  After basic training, he was sent to Fort Meade, MD for advanced training.  From there Don’s Regiment, the 134th of the 35th  Division was sent overseas.  William Donald Helterbrand also had five brothers, two nephews and one brother-in-law in WWII at the same time.

Thanks to Michele Kingsolver of The Times Gazette, for this opportunity to write about a World War Two Veteran who is 93 years old.  Also, thanks to Don Helterbrand’s grandchildren, Nick and Sarah Ewing, for assisting me in gathering the information for this story.  After calling the Helterbrand residence for directions to their home near Fort Hill, I found their home after driving for some time, getting lost, and having to ask for directions.  When I finally drove up the lane that leads to their home, I was reminded of how much this reminded me of my own grandparents home in Adams County.

After parking my truck, I got out and noticed someone standing in the doorway of their home. I asked if this was the Helterbrand residence, and was told it was.  Someone called from a workshop nearby and said, “I’m out here in the barn”.  This was my first meeting with William Donald Helterbrand.  I introduced myself, and was never a stranger from that point on.  I was made welcome by these fine folks and had a good warm feeling that maybe I had known them from some other place.  When I met Don that evening, he was working on a table saw he had bought at an auction.  He told me the story of how he came to have this saw.  Seems the saw he had been using belonged to someone else and they needed it.  So, Don attended an auction and while looking around, he saw this old saw lying on the ground covered up with debris. “I uncovered it and saw it was worth fixing up”, said Don, “so I ended up buying it for $15.00.”  “I brought it home, cleaned it up, and what do you know, it looks like a new one!”  I also noticed a nice base he had built for it and made a remark about it.  “That base is made from an old bedstead I had lying around”, he said.  He had welded this base himself and the welding was as professional as I have ever seen.

Don told me, he had always enjoyed working with metal, and took me to a building next door and showed me his machine shop.  A milling machine, a metal lathe and everything else that has to do with a machine shop.  He also showed me a 22 Cal. Rifle he had built himself. The housing group of the rifle was part of a draw bar from a Ford tractor that had broken, Don related to me  He had machined the parts that went into the housing.  This rifle functions perfectly.  I was amazed, seeing a 93-year-old man this productive and efficient.  I also noticed that Don didn’t wear glasses!

He invited me to into the house, where we would talk about his WWII days.  He introduced me to his daughter, Velma, who lives with him, also his Grandchildren, Nick and Sarah Ewing and their children, Trea and Taylor.  I felt right at home with these folks.  I started asking Don about his war experiences and he began telling some of the things that happened to him.  I could sense a deep feeling of pride for his country and for his contribution to America.  Don brought several different papers and documents for me to see.  He went on to say that his “outfit” was in contact with the enemy for 183 straight days.  “When we landed in Europe, we went in about 12 miles above St. Lo.”  When that battle was over, we had 12 men left in our company,” Don said.

Don went on to tell another story. “In this area we were in, there was a dam across the valley, and the Germans held this dam.”  “ But after we got settled in on an island, some of our torpedo planes shelled and blew it up and flooded the valley, water was everywhere”, according to Don.  Don went on to tell that the Germans were dug in, only about a hundred yards away from us, two to a fox hole. “We had dug some pretty good holes ourselves and were settled in for the night”, Don said.  “Along in the night, my buddy and I heard some splashing coming through the water, like footsteps, and believe me we were scared.”  “I got on the radio and told my Sergeant about it and he said to be quiet and stay calm”.  “After awhile, around the corner where we were at, out walked a black and white cow”.  “She must have swum across the valley which was flooded from the dam”, said Don.  They all had a good laugh later about this, but according to Don, it wasn’t funny at the time, “I was scared to death,” Don went on to say. 

Another story Don told was about the bridge over the Saar River.  It had been bombed and had bent in the middle., which was in the water, making it impossible for anyone to cross over it.  So, according to Don, “every night we would carry lumber to the bridge and the engineers made a ramp that could be walked on in order to cross to the other side.  “At the one end of the bridge was a light pole”, Don said, “and one morning as we went over on patrol, we got off at the end of the bridge and as we turned, I glimpsed something out of the corner of my eye.”  “When I looked, it was a German soldier in a fox hole with a machine gun.”  According to Don, they didn’t know why the German hadn’t shot at them.  When coming back from patrol, they surrounded the German.  When he saw the patrol around him, Don said, “he just threw up his hands and surrendered.

Another time, according to Don, they were ordered to clean out the Germans from the houses in a village.  Going from house to house, they would go in and rout out the Germans and take them prisoner.  “My buddy and I went into this one house, and was checking for Germans and finally ended up downstairs in the basement”.  “I noticed a door that looked like it went into a coal bin, so I went over and pulled on it, and it would pull back shut.”  “I told my buddy to stand at one side and I would ‘yank’ the door open and he could take out what was in there.”  According to Don, he yanked the door open and there stood a German officer, which they captured.  Don went on to say, “while we were waiting on the MP’s to come and get this man, I talked with him nearly all night.  “We come to find out that he was an SS officer,”  “He could speak good English, so I asked him several questions, he told me he was part of the Gestapo but never wanted to be in the army”   “ I asked him why he fought against us?” “He said he was forced to”. After a while, according to Don, the MP’s came and took him away.  Don went on to tell me that he would never forget the man’s name, Wather Meadows.

“Many things happened all the time I was over there, some were funny, some were not so funny, and many times we didn’t know if we would ever get home or not.”  Don went on to tell me one other story about getting hurt trying to cross the Muse River.  “ We were in this house, in the second story, firing out a window across the river at the Germans.”  “The Germans fired a mortar round that exploded under the window we were firing out of.”  The concussion of it blew me across the room and down a broken stairway.”  “In the course of this action, I broke my nose.”  “I didn’t actually know at the time I had broken it, but later when crossing the river, I fell in the water, and it being polluted, I got infection in my nose and was told by the medics that I had broken it.”  “My whole face swelled up so bad I could hardly see.”  Don was taken back to a field hospital in France for help, but the infection got worse.  It was then he was flown on to England for medical attention.  According to Don, “while I was in the hospital in France, the Battle of the Bulge started.”  “The day they took me out, my brother Wilbur was killed in the Ardennes, not far from where I was, but I never knew it until later.”  Don went on to tell me he was always a rifleman while in the war, he seemed proud of that and I was deeply moved by what he had to say about the Second World War.  Don was eventually shipped back to the ‘states’, to Swannanoa, North Carolina, a hospital for several weeks to get well. Then on to Fort Meade, Maryland.  While at Fort Meade, Don lectured Officers and enlisted men getting ready to go overseas, on the new weapons that were being introduced at that time. From there, Don was shipped to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where he was Honorably Discharged on November 25, 1945.

So, to all who fought in the Second World War in all the different battles, to give those people freedom and to keep our United States of America free, I salute you.  General McArthur’s remarks at West Point in his final days as An Army General, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”, has always been a very vivid memory to me that old soldiers will always be a strong reminder that what was accomplished by these veterans will never fade away nor die, but should  be remembered forever.. For some of these WWII veterans, taps has sounded and reveille has been blown in another world.  God Bless Our Service Men and Women who are deployed all over the world and God Bless America.          

Submitted by Cliff Chamblin as part of a series of articles he has written about area World War II veterans entitled "Did You Know." cchamblin@in-touch.net 11/25/2004

Ed Purdin's WWII Story by Cliff Chamblin

     

21 Men Went Up That Hill Only Three Made It Back

World War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict in the history of mankind.  However, the half century that now separates us from that conflict has exacted its toll on our collective knowledge.  While World War II continues to catch the attention of military scholars and historians, as well as its veterans, a generation of Americans has grown to maturity largely unaware of the political, social and military implications of a war that, more than any other, united us as a people with a common purpose. 
   
World War II was waged on land, on sea, and in the air over several diverse theaters of operation for approximately 6 years. The story that follows is about a local Greenfield man who fought in the Second World War, in the China-Burma-India theater.  Their job was to open the Burma Road from India to China to insure getting supplies through to Chiang’s Chinese army, who were helping to win the war against the Japanese.  The 5332d Brigade, also known as the MARS Task Force, had three regiments.  One contained the survivors of Merrill’s Marauders, which had been reorganized, brought up to strength with replacements from the United States, and redesignated the 475th Infantry Regiment. Another was the 124th Calvary Regiment, a dismounted former National Guard unit from Texas functioning as infantry.  The third, considered to be an elite unit, was the U.S. trained and equipped 1st Chinese Regiment (separate).
   
Against increasing resistance from the Japanese 33d Army, Sultan’s forces moved south from Myitkyina (pronounced mish-in-aw) with the British 36th Division to the west, the Chinese 50th Division in the center and the 30th and 38th Chinese divisions, along with the MARS Task Force on the east.  At the same time, the Chinese expeditionary force drove west toward the town of Wanting on the China-Burma border.  Although the 33d Army’s defensive positions along the border separated the two converging forces, the Japanese were greatly outnumbered and no match for Sultan’s men.  By late January the Japanese 33d Army was forced back, Wanting was captured and the land route to China was restored to Allied control.
   
General Sultan next considered how to deal with the Japanese forces in north central Burma, who were still near enough to disrupt road traffic moving into China, as well as to threaten the flank and rear of British forces now driving into central Burma. Believing that a threat to the Japanese supply line, the old Burma Road which ran from the Chinese border south to Lashio and Mandalay, would result in Japanese withdrawal, General Sultan ordered Brig. Gen. John Willey, the MARS Task Force commander, into action. He wanted the MARS force, less the 1st Chinese Regiment, which was held in reserve, to move overland around the Japanese defenses and cut the road near the village of Ho-si, about thirty miles south of Wanting.  General Willey’s projected route was suitable for resupply by air, long recognized as the key to success while operating behind enemy lines, but the overall plan had disadvantages.  In the objective area, the Burma Road was not easily severed, since it was beyond machine gun range from the ridge paralleling the road on the west and secondary roads existed in the hills to the east, providing the enemy with an alternative line of communication.  Nevertheless, Willey’s troops executed their part of the operation, reaching the vicinity of the Burma Road on the 17th of January.
   
Did You Know that Edward Purdin was part of the MARS Task Force that was relied on to help reopen the Burma Road?  I’ve known Ed Purdin for several years, but never heard him talk too much about his World War II experiences.  I visited Ed and Mary’s home not long ago to see if Ed would allow me to tell his story.  Mary met me at the door and invited me in.  Ed was sitting in his easy chair, resting, when I arrived.  We exchanged a few words, then Ed asked me what I was “up to”.  I explained I would like to write about his WWII experiences.  He said, “you want to know about my army days?”  I told him I would be proud to tell everyone about his days in the army during WWII.
   
Edward Purdin was born April 23, 1925, in Greenfield, Ohio, to Roy and Amy (Pigg) Purdin.  Ed is married to the former Mary Koch.  They were married in 1949.  I asked Ed if he enlisted in the army or was he drafted.  He went on to tell me that he was drafted.  Then he explained that a friend of his called him to tell him that he received his draft papers and was to report for duty and  wanted to know if he (Ed) had received his.  Ed told him he had.  His friend went on to ask him if he would go to the draft board and request to be drafted at the same time, so they could enter the service together.  “I went to the draft board and requested to be taken in the same time as my friend and they said it was fine.”  “I came back home only to find my friend had received notice from the draft board that he wasn’t needed at the present because there had been several enlistees,”   According to Ed, “I volunteered, sorta!”  “I went on by myself”.   Ed had to report to Fort Thomas, Kentucky where he was inducted and sworn in to the United States Army.  “I was at  Fort Thomas three days, then was shipped on to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for thirteen weeks  of basic training.”  Ed was assigned to the 124th Calvary, training with pack mules.  According to Ed, when they worked the mules, they were responsible for their well-being.  “When we came in, in the evening, the mules had to be fed and watered before we could eat.”  According to Ed, the mules came first.  I asked what the mules was used for, Ed went on to tell me that they carried the 75mm Howitzers and the ammunition for these weapons., along with other supplies.
   
After basic training was finished, “I was given a delay enroute home.”  After his leave was up, Ed went on to Fort Ord, California where he spent two weeks in training then was shipped to Camp Anders, California and eventually taken to the ‘Boat Docks’ where a ship was waiting to take them overseas.  Ed shipped out on a Liberty Ship, the SS Raymond T. Baker.  “When we crossed the equator, we were given a certificate that inducted us into the order of Neptune Rex, Ruler of the Raging Main.”  According to Ed, it took 70 days sailing, to get to their destination.  Their first stop was Australia.  “The people in Australia was really good to us”, Ed said.  They left Australia and sailed on to Calcutta, India, where Ed served as a military policeman for 6 weeks.  A group was formed, according to Ed, called the MARS Task Force. This unit was part of a group fighting to re-open the Burma Road. “We fought all along the Burma Road, through the jungles and on to Knights Hill where a bloody battle was fought.
   
A sniper on this hill had been killing and wounding several men.  “Twenty one of us went up that hill to get this sniper, 3 came back down, I was very fortunate to be one of the three.”  I asked Ed if he got the sniper, he said he did and was given the Bronze Star for his action. “ We fought on along the Burma Road, through village after village.” “Five of us got separated from our outfit one day.” “I will never forget how the Burmese took us in and hid us in a cave, and fed us for several days, until we could get back to our own outfit, they treated us real well.”  “I remember many nights, looking down from the hill I was on, watching the battles going on and seeing hundreds of our men being killed”.
   
On February 2, the 124th Calvary attacked what was thought to be a Japanese battalion entrenched on the high ground near the village of Hpa-pen, about a mile and a quarter northeast of the regiment’s foxholes. Gen. Willey believed that the capture of this position would make it easier for the 124th to stop Japanese traffic along the Burma Road.  “We didn’t know it, but the Japanese had set up a strong defense in front of the MARS Task Force.”  After a twenty minute barrage of artillery, they moved up a rough trail. “1st Lt. Jack Knight was out in front when two Japs jumped up in front of him, he killed both of them”.  Crossing the hill to the reverse slope, they found a cluster of Japanese emplacements.  Lt Knight led a successful grenade attack on the Japs. However, according to Ed, the Japanese fought back, killing and wounding several of our men.  Lt Knight, half blinded by grenade fragments and bleeding pretty bad, seen his brother shot down on his way to help him.  Knight fought on, but was killed leading an attack on the Japanese.  For his action, Lt Knight was awarded the Medal of Honor, the only Medal of Honor awarded in the China-Burma-India theater during WWII.
   
When the fighting ended, the Americans held the high ground close to the road and reported killing over two hundred of the enemy.  “Twenty-two of our soldiers were dead and another eighty-eight was wounded and had to be evacuated,” according to Ed.  When the Burma Road was retaken and secured, Ed’s outfit was sent to Kunming, China. From there, he shipped home on another liberty ship, the Carol Lumbard with 5000 men on board.  They sailed to Seattle, Washington and then traveled by train to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.  Ed Purdin was given an Honorable Discharge from the United States Army on November 5, 1945.
   
I asked Ed about his medals, he went on to tell me that he had earned three Bonze Star Medals, the Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze stars, World War Two Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
   
I am proud of the achievements of our WWII Veterans, who fought on many different fronts, keeping our United States of America safe and secure.  If you know any WWII Veterans, tell them how much you appreciate them.  And not only the WWII Veterans, but all the other veterans from the other wars who have fought in many different countries to keep us free and safe.  I am proud to be an American, we live in the greatest country in the world, God Bless America.
  
Submitted by Cliff Chamblin as part of a series of articles he has written about area World War II veterans entitled "Did You Know." cchamblin@in-touch.net 10/13/2004

Memories of Greenfield in The 1940s from Barb Sutherland

I lived with my grandparents and every Saturday "Daddy" would come to town and went to Scott Rooks' meat market next to the A&P store. Mr. Rooks made the best sausage ever and he always joked with my grandfather. Then located behind Blake's Diner, was a building with an open door for customers to enter. It was very dark inside and smelled of chicken feathers because it housed live chickens. People came in and picked out a chicken for Sunday dinner. He killed the chicken you picked out. I can't remember if he cleaned it there or not and I don't remember a name for the man in charge. Does anyone know?

And, does anybody remember Roy Betts' Taxi? He was a double amputee and parked on the corner of Washington and Jefferson Streets. Daddy always had to stop to talk with him and I hated it because the car smelled so bad.

Barb Sutherland, barbsly@yahoo.com 10/4/04


Pavlov's Horse from Helen Sue Hull Kapp

I am a new reader of this site - I'm not sure if South Salem in Ross County fits into your scope, but the story about the blind minister and his faithful horse reminded me of a story my mother, the late Helen Hull, told many times about her grandfather's horse, Flip. Her grandparents, Tom and Albina Rogers, lived on their farm less than a mile east of South Salem. When they drove their buggy to Salem or beyond, they always took the more northern road. The exception was Sunday, when they took the back road that led directly to the Presbyterian Church. Flip did not need to be guided by the reins. When she heard the church bell ringing, she automatically took the back road. In fact, one Sunday she was hitched to the buggy and waiting for the family, who were a bit late getting ready. When the bell began to peal, Flip took the empty buggy to the church, using the back road, much to the amusement of everyone else in Salem. The Rogers family took a good ribbing about their horse being a more faithful churchgoer than her owners!

Helen Sue Hull Kapp, hskapp2@netscape.net, 9/7/2004


Shad Gossett's and More by Michael C. Smith (Gossett)

I lived in Greenfield from 1948 to 1961. My stepfather was Shad Gossett, who owned the Shell Station. We lived on Edgewood for awhile and then on South Street.

I and my brother Chuck experienced much of what's been described (well) on this site. For years I would go on about how idyllic Greenfield was to my wife, and at length, she was understandably dubious. (Indeed, I had begun to doubt my own memories.) But on the way to a conference in 1993, traveling from Washington, DC to Cincinnati, we detoured to Greenfield, and she beheld what I was talking about. Though most of the landmarks I remembered -- the Rand and Lyric, Daniel's pool hall, where my brother and I spent too much time and lost too much money, Fred's (Shad's) gas station -- were no longer there, still there was McClain High School (whose hallways were once guarded (I think) by classical statues) and the court house -- the gentle sweep of the fields and hills, Paint Creek, Hill Crest hill -- enough to persuade her that my memories were accurate and enough to restore my confidence in my own memories.

I remember well coach Paul Maple, who led our football teams through long strings of hard-fought victories, how one day he invited a uniformed tackle to block him as hard as he could, and was surprised and laughing to find himself on the ground with a bleeding nose... and Mr. Turner, yes, the minister of science...

Since leaving Greenfield, I've lived almost exclusively in large cities -- Washington, Boston, Los Angeles. It's a simplistic cliché to express longing for the simpler green fields of my youth. Growing up is a kind of urbanization, no matter where we end up. But Greenfield is nearly prototypical of what used to be America. Even those who did not grow up in it -- like my wife -- sense the change, and, yes, the loss.

Michael C. Smith (Gossett),  smithpoet@charter.net, 8/27/04


World War II Memories of James M. McCullough

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, my Father and I drove to Cincinnati to enlist. I, in the Navy and he in the Marine Corps. They had a special deal for postal employees. Sergeant stripes for running an APO. I flunked the physical a/c of my perforated eardrum and my Father was turned down a/c of age. 

A year later at the end of my Fall Quarter at Ohio State, I received my draft notice. They had just lowered the draft age to 18, and my number was in the first batch called up. I entrained at Greenfield, Ohio [my home town] for Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. Because of my eardrum, I was offered, "limited service" and given the choice of Drill Instructor, Band or a Non Combat Medic. (Click here for complete story...)

James M. McCullough, 8/17/2004


Craig Vandermark Agrees That Greenfield Rocks

TI think you pretty well hit the nail on the head with "Hey, Greenfield Rocks".
 
We moved to Greenfield in 1952, when I was 12, from a town with a population of 250. (Pickerington - you probably know it now as a wealthy bedroom community of Columbus, but in 1952 it was a real treat to drive to Columbus for a drive-in movie.) Moving from a population of 250 to 5000 was a really big deal. I was scared to death of moving to 'the big city'.
 
I started the 7th grade with Mrs Snyder as my homeroom teacher. She shook my hand so hard I almost had tears come to my eyes. I decided then and there to never allow anyone to do that to me again. Harry Turner started his first year as a teacher of Science. I'll never forget his opening remarks to us were (paraphrasing). "My name is Harry Turner. You will call me Mr. Turner while at school, but you can call me Harry when not in school." To this day, I still think of him as Mr. Turner (who says it is okay to call him Harry).
 
I spent the required time at Tiny's eating $.25 hamburgers (I don't like chili), going to the Rand (and Ranch in later years when I had wheels and a 'gal' to keep me company) and the occasional movie at the Lyric.
 
Shot almost every known species of bird known to man down at Paint Creek with my BB gun and later .22 rifle.
 
Ice skated above the Mill Dam in the winter and fished below it in the summer. I don't know of anyone who ever fell into the creek, but a few "slipped" and got wet. Today, I see that it is posted and with the way people sue, I can understand why. However, it is a shame it is that way.
 
Then came graduation and I left town and didn't return for about 7 years. I returned in '67 with a wife and started a family, bought a house, sat on the town council (the same one that Bo Narcross FIRST sat on... a LONG time ago), Went to CPR classes with the first class ever held which later evolved into GALS. For those that don't remember, it was held in the Methodist Church.
 
There came a time when my wife and I had an opportunity to reenter the service with our former rank and at a place of our choosing. That place was San Antonio Texas. Now THAT is a big city.
 
Over the years we saw several big cities and enjoyed all of them, but always talked about returning to a small town like Greenfield. Notice I said a town "like" Greenfield. The drawback was the lack of 'things to do' in Greenfield. We did retire to a very small town (only 2 traffic lights) and chose the location due to the location of our boys and (most importantly) the grandkids.
 
However, if it wasn't for the Gkids, I think we would have to move back to Greenfield. In all our travels, we have never seen a small town with so much going on. Even those who believe they do know, have no concept of what Greenfield has in Mitchel Park. Larry says he doesn't understand why only 200 show up. I can't believe that 200 DO show up.
(Of course, I'm of the opinion that parents should be gagged at the gate before being permitted to attend their childs game. In the case of Steve and Connie Wile, I'm not even sure grandparents should be permitted in the park. LOL)
 
Folks, a LOT of big cities don't have duck races, lawn concerts, yearly reunions and people like Norm Baxla who has 7000 alumni records, a business district as nicely maintained as Greenfields and a Dairy Isle with the best dang beef tenderloin sandwich East of the Mississippi. For those who say there are no jobs I can only say I saw, at least, three banks and a credit union. There must be money somewhere.
 
But Greenfields real treasure is its people. Next time you think poorly of Greenfield pass out that article that Larry wrote and then count the number of people you know and can call them a friend. I guarantee you that if you have lived in Greenfield for more than 3 years you have more friends than someone who lives in a city apartment for 10 years even knows. Then think of the Bo Narcross's, Larry Chapman's, Cindi Pearce's, George Foltz's, your mayor and numerous others who make Greenfield the unique small green town it is.
 
Enjoy what you have and if you can't participate, at least, support those that make the effort to "make Greenfield Rock"
 
Craig Vandemark, kram29@comcast.net 
Old and no longer on his soap box 8/6/2004

Rand Theatre Memories by Nancy Federbush Dean

Just came across the site on memories of the Rand Theatre and would like to share my own. I recall going there with my sisters and friends to see a horror film which, I believe, was entitled, "Them".  It was about ants who had grown to gigantic proportions due to encountering the waste of a nuclear bomb set off in New Mexico.   Everyone was issued 3-D glasses to wear during the show. Does anyone else remember these 3-D movies?  This took place in the fifties. Later we saw another horror movie, "The Creeping Unknown".

Another memory is that of going to see Old Yeller" with Terri Bergen.  Both of us sobbed during most of the movie.

Say, does anyone out there remember the "Lyric"?   It seems that this theatre preceded the Rand but I'm not sure.  Hope someone can give input on this.

Nancy Federbush Dean, ndean9003@hotmail.com  7/28/04 (For more about the Rand Theatre, click HERE.)


Leesburg After Dark

Here's a couple of photos Ron Barber let me scan. They are street scenes of Leesburg and judging from the autos, they were taken during the 1930s. I don't have a story to go with them, but if you can add any trivia I'm sure someone would enjoy it. 
leesburg street scene a.jpg (47467 bytes) leesburg street scene b..jpg (60257 bytes)

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Tales of Sabina's Eugene

More Eugene Info, Anonymous

I have often thought of writing stories about a small town with a character like "Eugene" in the background. 
 
I went down to Sabina 5 or 10 years ago to try to gather some info.  I talked to a fellow who I believe said his name was Ted Isles, 88 years old at that time.  He said he was an embalmer for the Littleton Funeral Home where Eugene was displayed.  He wasn't the embalmer who did Eugene, but he worked for the Littleton's.  He said one of the reasons they couldn't bury Eugene was that there was no Death Certificate.  The Coroner wouldn't sign a Death Certificate because they didn't know the cause of death.  They couldn't do an autopsy because there was no sign of foul play and there was no family to permit an autopsy.  It sounded like double talk to me. 
 
One thing that sounded true, that Ted Isles said, was that the Littleton Funeral Home had received a telephone call from a magazine in Chicago, Ill.  He said, "We buried him right.  We had to because they were watching.  We had a minister and a service and a coffin and we did it right.  We had to..."  Those may not have been his exact words, but what I surmised was that a Chicago magazine got wind of Eugene and threatened to publish a story if they did not give him a proper burial.  It was a time of racial unrest and I believe the Littleton's were afraid of a riot.  Think of it, a black man on display in a mostly white community.  It just wouldn't have happened if Eugene wasn't black.
 
I also talked with Roger Littleton.  He's about my age and is now in charge of the Funeral Home.  He said some of his earliest memories were about Eugene.  He remembers the buses stopping there on their way between Columbus and Cincinnati and the sound their air brakes made.  Roger said his father gave Eugene one of his old suits every year and then would go buy a new one.  Roger also said that Eugene had a several healed stab wounds but that was not what killed him.  He said towards the end people would take souvenirs.  They would pluck out his mustache hairs.  At the time I talked to Roger he said "You would think people's interest in Eugene would diminish," but he was still receiving 4 or 5 telephone calls a month about Eugene.
 
Anonymous, 3/12/05

Memories of Eugene by Anonymous 

As a child, I actually saw," Eugene"

Even though I couldn't articulate it, I was both horrified and outraged at the well know, albeit unadvertised, 'roadside attraction.'

Sunday drives were a common diversion for many families in those days, and on one such trip my father stopped at the 'display.'

It seems to me there was either a 'fee' or 'donation' to see him. I can remember the site very clearly, even now. We approached from his left side, and he lay in repose, dressed in a charcoal colored suit, white shirt and tie. I was taken by how clean and fresh his clothes appeared. There was an attendant; older male, short sleeved shirt and ball cap, who cautioned us not to touch him. (Hey; NOT a problem!)

Eugene's skin looked sort of slate gray to me. A placard at the site stated that this was intended to show what professional mortuary service could do and that he was regularly shaved, hair cut, and nails groomed.

No doubt in my mind, then and now, there was a large element of racism involved. I can't imagine that a white male of that era would have been so exploited.

I read, I think in the Greenfield Times, some years later that the 'owner' was forced to abandon the enterprise and afford him an appropriate burial or cremation.

I had the impression that he was probably in his mid-thirties, 'unclaimed,' unmourned and unidentified.

6/16/2004

Tea Time For Eugene by Sandi Collins

Larry - Memories of Eugene. We lived in Sabina until I was 10 and lived right down the street from Eugene. I remember on the weekends buses would pull in to view Eugene. On occasion my friends and I (the Littleton kids - their parents owned the funeral home) would try and scare the visitors by making scary noises and tap on the window outside in the back of Eugene's house. Also, if I remember correctly, we would have tea parties with Eugene. 7/19/04

More Memories of Eugene from Nola Hutchinson

Larry, I am looking for the write up I have on Eugene from the funeral home he was at all those years. I use to visit him a lot at night time with a group of kids. The funeral home kept new suits on him and they had found him along a roadside. He was stolen and brought to Columbus and stood up against a door. A woman answered the door bell and there he was! Another time he was "borrowed" and taken to Ohio State University and left on a park bench. Following that is when they finally buried him. If I remember, he was just behind a fence inside a small brick building. 6/16/2004

Reflections on Eugene from Danny Alexander

I too remember Eugene! My father took us up to the Sabina area when I was a mere boy. The fact that a human being could lay there for years in that state grabbed my imagination and I carried that with me the rest of my days.

I am glad to know they finally gave him the burial he deserved, but am saddened by the fact he had no one to morn him or remember him.

I also remember walking the train tracks form my Grandparents place (The old Knisley carryout) to go to my Aunt Virgie's who lived near the Old Mill. I loved the time walking and on occasion scaring up rabbits and then wandering off to throw a rock into Paint Creek.

I have always regretted never returning to Greenfield to settle after entering the military following high school graduation in Cincinnati.

Oh the days of our youth! Where do they go and why so fast!

ncirish49@hotmail.com, 6/17/04

Church Camp With Eugene from Vicki Unger

I remember Eugene from Sabina Methodist Church Camp in the early 60's. We told ghost stories about him, and giggled about him. Then when walking through the dark at night, we were always afraid he might be behind the next tree. When I finally got to see him, his hair and nails were all grown out and his skin was beginning to flake away. The story can also be read in the "OHIO ODDITIES" book by Neil Zurcher** on page 200. (6/24/04)

**see below

Editor's note: My wife Janet attended the same church camp in the 1950s and had the same experiences and memories of Vicki, but a decade earlier. She remembered that Eugene's corpse had cobwebs in it's nose. She had no idea that Eugene was on display as advertising for a local funeral home. As a child, she had been told that Eugene's body had simply been found by a road and that the remains were naturally "petrified."

My Eugene Memories from Larry Chapman

Like most people my age I too have memories of visiting Eugene. Mostly, my recollections are associated with my great aunt Allen. 

For whatever reason, Aunt Allen thought Eugene was important enough that everyone who visited her from out of town needed to make the trip to Sabina. So, come Sunday after church, we'd all be piled into the car and off to Eugene's we would go. I'm sure that Eugene was the first dead person I ever saw but I don't remember being scared or upset by these visits. The adults didn't appear frightened so I must have taken my clue from them. 

In high school we would occasionally sneak into Eugene's building late at night to pay him a visit. By the time we got to Sabina we would have talked ourselves into being scared and that, coupled with the darkness and the fear of getting caught, made for a nerve-racking, albeit fun, experience.

I too remember hearing about Eugene being stolen and showing up in Columbus a few times and how that eventually led to his being buried. I also agree that the same thing would have never been done with the remains of a white person in those times and in that respect it was without a doubt racist. 

I do remember it being said that the funeral home's motive was the hope that someone would recognize the body and Eugene would be reunited with his friends and family. It that was their true motive, then maybe much of what happened was to their credit. Then again, probably not!

The Legend of Eugene by Neil Zurcher

Reprinted from Ohio Oddities by Neil Zurcher

    Sabina is located in the northeastern part of Clinton County. One of the slogans they have used over the years is "1,700 friendly people welcome you to Sabina."

It may have been that sign that attracted Eugene to Sabina back in June of 1929. He might also have just been passing through, a man from nowhere, going nowhere. Sadly, no one will ever know.

The good folks of Sabina had their first encounter with Eugene on the morning of June 6, when the body of an African-American male was discovered along Highway 3C, near Borum Road.

Dr. C. E. Kinzel, the county coroner, was called. He determined that the body was that of a man 50 to 60 years old and that he ap­parently had died of "natural causes." The only piece of identification on the body was a slip of paper that said, "1118 Yale Avenue, Cincin­nati, Ohio." There was no name. Local officers immediately alerted the Cincinnati police, who drove to the address, only to find a vacant lot.

They told Sabina authorities that they had questioned the man living nearest to the vacant lot, a Eugene Johnson, who told them he had no knowledge of a missing man in his neighborhood and did not recognize the description of the dead body in Sabina.

For some reason officials in Sabina, using this information, gave the body the nickname "Eugene."

Not knowing what to do with the body, the local police had it transferred to Littleton Funeral Home in Sabina to have it em­balmed. Days went by, then weeks and months. No missing persons reports were received that matched Eugene's description.

Finally, in desperation, Sabina authorities decided to place Eu­gene's body on display in a small brick building near the funeral home, in hopes that some visitor might recognize him and they would be able to reunite him with his family.

By this time, Eugene, in death, had become quite a local celebrity. As word spread about the mysterious body, people came from all over to view the remains, which by this time had been spruced up with a new suit of clothes.

Well, you know how things go in a small town. People got busy with one thing or another, and while they didn't exactly forget about Eugene, he just sort of became part of the town. Next thing you know, 35 years had gone by with Eugene living, so to speak, in his lit­tle brick building, being stared at by tourists and people passing through the town who had heard of the legend. He was viewed by an estimated 1.3 million visitors, but no one ever recognized him.

About the only time Eugene ever got any publicity in those days was when high school or college pranksters would "borrow" him, take him to some nearby town, and place him on a park bench, where he would stay until he was found and the funeral home was called to come and take him back home.

It was an increase in this kind of prank, and the fact that 35 years had passed without anybody identifying him, that finally prompted the Littleton family to put an end to the story. Deciding they had done everything they could to identify him, they purchased a tomb-stone and a plot in the Sabina Cemetery (330 N. College St., Sabina) and fi­nally had Eugene laid to rest.

His tombstone reads: "`Eugene' found dead 1928 [this is an error, it was 1929] buried 1964."

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Company "G" 147th Infantry, 1957, ONG from Ron Barber

This isn't exactly a story, but it's an interesting and important part of Greenfield's past. Residents today are aware of the Ralph Phillips Recreation Center, but before it acquired that name, it was known to several generations as simply, the Armory. It was home to Greenfield's Ohio National Guard unit of which Ron Barber was a member during the 1950s. Ron has provided the following photograph of Company "G" during summer camp in 1956 and 1957. It's a large photo so give it some time to load. If anyone has any additional information, please email larry@highland-ohio.com

1956 photo, no roster

ong company g 1956.jpg (344134 bytes)

1957 photo and roster

ong company g 1957.jpg (410235 bytes)

Front l-r: Russell Cruthers, Joe Grate, Bill Jackson, Cliff Chamblin, Stanley Strobel, Capt. Findley, Jim Crabtree, Berlin Whitley, Coleman Jackson, Al “Slug” Cox, Bobby Taylor
Second l-r: Ron Barber, Jim Wilson, Terry Cowman, Francis Fanning, Fred Kay, Tom Young, Joe Stafford, Russ Jones, Gene Knisley, Bill Stratton, Carl Cowman, Fred Daugherty
Third l-r: Joe Spiers, Bob Willett, Jim Henderson, Tom Howland, Jerry Cox, Bernard Hester, Joe Cannon, Paul Penn, Lawrence Hester, Larry Waddell, Jim Mitchell, Roger Crabtree, Billy Joe Ruddle, Paul Smith
Fourth l-r: ???, Fred Martin, Maurice Shady, George Newland, John L. Wright, Perk Lightle, Roger Howland, Jake Manning, Elmer Highley, Bobby Cottrill, Max Watts, Donald Scott, Jack Elkins

Company "G" from Fred Martin

By golly...right between Bobby Butler and Maurice Shady in livin' color! The fifth guy over is John L. Wright of Lyndon...he and I joined the navy together. Up at Dave Leaverton's Barber Shop, the day before we left, when I got in the chair, I said "I ought to get a boot camp special", John said "I'll Pay for it" and Dave said "I'll cut it" and guess what? Greenfield's first skin head!

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World War II Memories by Bill Collins

Because of the length of Bill Collins' story it has been published in serial form on separate pages.

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Several of Greenfield's WWII veterans, L-R: Paull (Bill) Howland, Hayward Riley, Jim Mossbarger, Floyd Shockey, Bill Collins

Bill Collins, 6/10/04 goldenpigbc@yahoo.com 

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Memories of Porter Graves by Sammi MIller

Two years ago, I was strolling through the Veteran's Section at the Greenfield Cemetery, when I came across a head stone for Porter Graves. Porter Graves was an enigma in my youth. He had a small cabin in what is now known as the 'Old Burial Ground.' I learned more about him from his tombstone than I had ever know about him in life; even though he was well known in the town. I never heard him speak and neither did anyone I knew who had seen him. He had snow white hair and a swarthy complexion; his build was sturdy but spare. He lived in the grave yard, apparently as caretaker. The irony of being named 'Porter Graves' and living and working in a graveyard was not lost on my generation.

He must have had some family, and as a veteran, he must have had an interesting history. Two years ago I searched for some sign of that cabin. Couldn't find anything I would recognize as a building. It's funny in a strange way to me that he was buried in the Municipal Cemetery after living (and I guess dying) in the 'Old Burial Ground.' I think he deserves to be at least a 'foot note' in any updated history of Greenfield.

S. Miller, Box 28395, Columbus, Ohio 43228, MetroSammi@AOL.com  6/9/2004

   
Editor's note: I had numerous contacts with Porter Graves when I was a kid hanging around the creek. However, I don't really remember anything about him other than that he was friendly, lived in a small shack in the cemetery and had a funny name. At that time in my life I didn't know the meaning of the word irony. But, if I had I would have certainly said, "Now ain't that an ironic name!"

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Life in the 8th Air Force by Jim Mossbarger

As part of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Jim Mossbarger spoke to an assembled group of interested people at the Greenfield Library. Here’s a little of what he had to say. 

Following graduation from McClain High School, Jim Mossbarger entered the Army Air Corp and was trained as a waist gunner on a B-24 bomber. He left the US, headed for England, in early 1944, prior to D-Day. 

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World War II Vets,l-r: Paul Howland, Hayward Riley, Jim Mossbarger, Floyd Shockey, Bill Collins

For reasons he didn’t divulge, the trip took almost 2 weeks and took his group into the Caribbean, Brazil, the Azores Islands, the Western Sahara desert of North Africa and finally to England; very much the long way around. 

As a member of the 8th Air Force, Jim, and his crewmates, flew 35 missions into occupied Europe. Most missions were against targets in Germany and France with side trips into Belgium, Holland, Norway and Denmark. 

By the time his unit arrived in the European Theatre, American bombers were receiving long-range fighter support from planes such as the P-38 and the P-51. This meant he and his buddies rarely had to face the threat of German fighters but did have to contend with enemy anti-aircraft flak wherever they flew. Jim offered that except for testing his guns, he never had occasion to fire his waist gun in combat. 

He also mentioned that Bill Collins, another of Greenfield’s WWII veterans, was serving with a fighter group in England that was involved in flying cover for the 8th Air Force. After D-Day, Collins’ group was detailed to providing air support for American ground forces trying to establish a foothold in France. 

Jim and Bill had an occasion before D-Day to meet in London and spend an evening in an English dance hall. They inferred that the ladies were friendly and all had a good time. Also, as they wiled away the evening and without their knowledge, the city was under a major bombing from the Nazi’s. 

Mossbarger related a story in which his B-24 was part of a much larger force flying a mission to Munich, Germany. The tail gunner of his plane, observing bombs falling out of their bomb bay doors, announced over the radio, “bombs away.” This was the signal for the other planes in the group to begin dropping their payloads. Turned out they had released their bombs 12 miles short of the intended target. An electrical malfunction had caused the initial bombs to be dropped prematurely. 

Another episode “Mossy” told about was an experience where his plane had taken off from a small English airfield headed for a mission in France. At 11,000 feet and still over English soil, the tail gunner reported that he was witnessing hot metal flying past his gun position. The pilot immediately reported that one of the left engines was on fire and someone, probably the co-pilot, prematurely sounded the abandon plane alarm. Jim and the other waist gunner hiked up their courage and exited the plane via the escape hatch. 

Meanwhile, the pilot, maintaining his cool, sent the turret gunner to shut off the fuel to the burning engine, thus extinguishing the blaze. So, as the B-24 shakily turned about and returned to base, Mossy and his crewmate found themselves quietly floating downwards into a small English community named Florida. 

The town’s folks took them in and tended to their needs while they waited for the Air Corp to pick them up. Jim said that one of the ladies asked him if he needed something to settle his nerves. He replied that he was okay but could stand a cup of coffee. Not having coffee, the lady offered him a cup of hot tea served on a saucer. When he reached for the saucer the cup went flying in to the air spilling its contents. It was then that he realized just how, “shook up,” he was. 

He offered an accounting of the losses his group experienced and, though they were bad, they were not near as bad as those suffered by earlier fliers who ventured into Nazi held Europe before the advent of fighter support and a weakened German air force.

As told by James Mossbarger 6/8/04

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A Day at the Ballpark by Larry Chapman

Sometime in the early 1990s I took my son to see the Cincinnati Reds play the newly franchised Colorado Rockies. I gassed up the car, threw the kid in and headed for the Queen City. We stopped along the way for lunch and arrived in time to make several loops of the river front area looking for a $5 parking spot. Once at Riverfront Stadium I bought 2 mid-level seats and we settled in for an afternoon of America’s pastime. Well, throw in a couple of dogs, soft drinks, a bag of peanuts, a souvenir pennant, a trip through a McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home, and the cost of the day well exceeded $100. 

Now, compare that with the first time my dad took me to a Reds game in the early 1950s. The local Eagles Aerie booked space on a B&O railway baseball excursion and my dad, along with Johnny Paycheck’s, threw us on the train early in the morning and down the tracks we went. 

Full of free donuts and milk provided by the railroad, we arrived at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal and made the short walk to a Mecca of baseball, Crosley Field. When we got there both our dads gave us each $5 for food and eats during the day’s double-header. They probably had to explain what a $5 bill was since I’m sure neither of us had ever had one, let alone seen one. 

I don’t know what accounted for their generosity but it probably had something to do with how much free beer they had consumed while we were eating those free donuts. 

Don’t remember who played the Reds or which team won. I only know that it was the first of many times I went to Crosley Field as a child and later as an adult. Baseball, in those days, was affordable, up close and real. Crosley Field was so much smaller than the today’s mega stadiums and as a spectator, you felt closer to the game. I remember seeing the Yankees play the Angels in California and from our seats in the far upper-right field aisles, Mickey Mantle could have been Mickey Mouse, he was so far away from us. This intimacy, I think, helped make baseball truly the nation’s pastime. 

I have no idea what it would cost a father in 2004 to take his son to a professional baseball game. I only hope that it makes the lasting impression on him that I experienced way back when the grass was real, the beer locally brewed, and a $5 bill would buy you more popcorn and peanuts than you could eat in an entire day. 

Larry Chapman, 6/4/2004 larry@highland-ohio.com 

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