MEMOIRS

of over

FIFTY YEARS

by

Olin Glenwood Wilson

1977

 

          Since Aunt Sue graduated from Mount Union in 1904, it must have been before this date that I fell in the creek behind our house at 537 E. State Street There had been an unusually heavy rain storm, and we walked down the hill to see the flooding creek. I tumbled in and was rolling along with the flood when Aunt Sue waded in and rescued me from a watery grave. When I visited Aunt Sue a couple of years before her death, with Arwilda, she remembered the occasion.

 

          A couple of years later on a Sunday morning I complained of colic.  Mother went to Sunday School but I was excused. Father said, "I'll get you some medicine ", and went to the medicine chest in the bath room. He came out with what he thought was paragoric, held it up to my mouth and said, "Take this. "  I said,  "What is it?" He was vague, and I insisted that we wait until Mother came home, and he agreed. When she arrived, he got the bottle out, - a blue or purple bottle. Mother said, "That's carbolic acid! "I had avoided a horrible tragedy.

 

          In 1904 I remember going to college with Aunt Sue. We would sit on a bench in the front of Chapman Hall and she would study. There were many squirrels, - big grey ones, and I was armed with a nickles worth of peanuts. I would soon be joined by one or two squirrels and toss out one at a time until they were gone.

 

          About 1909 or 1910 Mother was in the front yard, working in her flower bed, with her back to the road. She was aware of some one or something being behind her, and looked over her shoulder. A camel was about two steps away! She calmly got to her feet and walked, - not ran, to the front porch and the camel was right behind her. She went in the house, called the police and watched the camel munching the grass. Some one eventually came from the circus that was in Alliance and took the beast away.

 

          We moved to the family home in 1909 and it wasn't long until we had a horse, a cow, and a flock of sheep, also a flock of chickens. It was one of my chores to milk the cow. We had too much milk for the family, and I was soon delivering the milk on the way to school. This was a very unwelcome task, and I resented being the milk man, carrying maybe a half dozen quarts of very unsanitary milk up State Street. The cow was never sponged off, morning and evening milk was not kept separate, just put in bottles from the bucket in which it was collected, and then delivered. It helped to buy groceries.

 

          In the winter we would toboggan down the hilt on Oysters' field across the road and ride the Flexible Flyer sled. I had barrel staves for skis and would slide down the barn bank.

 

          In the spring Lorin, Jay Oyster and I would go out at night and spear suckers. They would be on the riffles, head up stream. We would walk down to Cobbs' farm and work our way up to Liberty Street, wading the cold water and would usually catch a few suckers for dinner the next night. We would go barefooted and it was often quite cold.

 

          In 1906 one of the first things we had to learn was how to salute the flag in the first grade. We had to stand and place our right hand over our heart and pledge allegiance. Being left handed, I varied the performance and used my left hand. Our teacher was quick to note that I was at variance with the rest of the class and she reprimanded me. I was quite embarrassed and wet my pants. I quickly learned how to salute the flag right handed.

 

          At about 1913 I began smoking corn silk. One night we walked back through the pasture to a big chestnut tree and sat smoking our cigarettes. Mother had a clear view and could see the flashes of  light from the kitchen window when we lighted up. Upon returning, we were in interrogated about our activities and finally pleaded guilty. That ended my smoking for many years.

 

          I remember the thrill of riding with Grandfather Wilson. Bird was a race horse he drove and he was very fond of her. He had a sleigh and wore a Russian fur cap, had gauntlets and a buffalo robe. She was a high stepper and he used to enjoy going around other conveyances. A trip from the farm to his office was quite an exhilarating experience on a cold snowy morning.

 

          Discipline at home was no problem. I can not remember of ever

having any physical punishment. When we were told to do something, it was done. I vaguely remember a leather razor strap being a threat, but that was all. Money seemed to be no problem. Mother kept a little sugar bowl for household money, but large amounts did not seem to be needed.

 

          There was always work to be done in our large garden, and the orchard produced apples, peaches and pears. Mother canned them and the fruit cellar was always full of one or two hundred quart jars of fruit.
 

            Lorin and I would often walk down to the Mahoning river after Sunday dinner. We might do a bit of  "skinny dipping", but I cannot remember fishing. We would meet Earl Zurbrugg and Arthur Stocker who lived in that area. One day they began to argue whether Zurbrugg could lick me. There was no animosity between us, but they finally got us to fight each other. There was no decision but we finally stopped. Next day I had a black eye. Years later he was a student at Mount Union and we were good friends.

 

          One night I came home from a date and I was locked out. The corners of the house had a row of bricks recessed a couple of inches, so I climbed up to the front porch roof and tried to get in the sewing room window. It was locked. I went over to Dad's and Mother's room and the window was open. As I was crawling over the window, Dad wakened and thought a burglar was coming in. He let out a yell that wakened Mother and every body was scared. That was the last time they locked me out.

 

          Our favorite winter social life was going on bob-sled parties. We would hire one of Grandfather's drivers and borrow his bob-sled and his team of horses. Our favorite spot was a home in Homeworth that served oyster dinners for about $1.00 a piece. There was much singing and a little necking on the eight-mile ride.

 

          My first job was when Milner Avenue was being paved. I was the water boy at fifty cents a day. Water was pumped from the wells between Arch and Union avenues. There was one drinking cup for all of the workers. The worst thing that could happen was to hear some one call out from the far end of the line, " Water Boy" when I had a full bucket of water.

 

          The lawn was a big job, but Lorin and I took turns at it. We rigged a single tree, traces and a horse collar to the old mare, Nell, and let her pull the lawn mower. I cannot remember of ever getting paid for doing work around the house, or having an allowance.

 

          Among my few accomplishments I consider myself a very fine weather forecaster. I have always predicted it would be a "Damn cold day in January" when I would admit to being the black sheep in the Wilson family. Here it is seventeen degrees below zero and about the coldest day in history.

 

          I think I am the only jailbird in the family. It was on a pleasant summer day in 1926. I was interning, and was driving my battered little Dodge roadster home for a weekend at home. I turned north off the road home from Salem and was going to Alliance via Beloit and Sebring on a brick road wide enough for only one car. An elderly gentleman was driving ahead of me at about 25 m.p.h. and would not pull off the road to let me pass. After about a mile I swung around him on the right side and went on my way. Shortly later a car swung around me and stopped. I went around him and kept going. This was repeated twice. The third time the driver jumped out of the car pointing a big pistol at me! I stopped. "You are under arrest", he said. "Follow me." The car was unmarked, he had no uniform or badge. We drove to Sebring and he took me to a garage. "Leave your car and come with me", were his orders. We went across the street to the city Bastille and he ushered me into a cell and shut the door. When I asked him why I was being held, he said," On suspicion." I was allowed one telephone call, so I called home and told Mother of my predicament, and was again locked up. The bang of the cell door made a very definite sound of finality. This was about 10 A.M., and the deputy said that the Justice of the Peace worked at the pottery and would be through at 4 P.M. There was one other prisoner who had failed to pay his alimony. The cell was elegantly furnished with a stool, a bunk, and a commode. I decided the bunk was infested with bedbugs, so settled myself on the stool. Conversation with the other felon soon diminished and stopped. At noon the deputy returned with a sandwich from a restaurant and a pitcher of water, and left. No one was in charge of the jail. About 6 P.M. the deputy returned with a cold dinner and said the Justice of the Peace had gone home to Damascus and would hold the hearing after he had eaten his dinner. About 8 P.M. he returned and said for me to get my car and follow him. We drove to Damascus and I was charged with passing a vehicle on the wrong side. I plead guilty, was fined $8.00 and costs and discharged. It turned out that the deputy had searched my car without a search warrant, found a 1/4 inch rubber hose in the back, and sure that I was a bootlegger. Therefore he would investigate my past life. Having nothing better to do, he drove to Alliance and made some inquiries. This added to the cost and gave him a few dollars.

 

          It was a long day, and I decided to give up a life of crime, obey all traffic laws and avoid driving through Beloit for the rest of my life. I have never been back.


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