Monday, December 21, 2009

Memory Monday : Hoyt Stories

Top Row: Garner (1916), Rex (1911), Clarence Lyman (1884-1968), Herman (1909), Lowell (1919), Solon (1921)
Bottom Row: Gladys (1916), Thelma (1912), Eldon (1924), Anna Leola Dorsey (1884-1957), Arlene (1914), Charlotte (1923)

A few weeks back I started out on a quest to learn more about my paternal grandfather. I wrote about my initial findings in this Memory Monday post. I realize now, regretfully, that I am years too late. A word of advice to all: do not let family stories slip through your grasp, grab them, write them down, record them ASAP!

I learned of cousin-in-law Margery Gehman's interest in family history and geneology, so I contacted her through Facebook. This was her contribution:

"Jim says his mother said he was an alcoholic. We don't know if this is true or not. His mother never talked about it. Perhaps, Uncle Bud or your dad would know more. I once heard Uncle Herman and some of the siblings talk about not owing their Dad anything. They did not seem to have much respect for him. It must have been a sad situation."

A visit to Uncle Bud had already been arranged, so Saturday afternoon we drove to Noblesville and had a wonderful time with Uncle Bud and Aunt Doris. The meal was delicious and served so beautifully. And the stories were unending.

As a novice interviewer, I failed to remember my little tape recorder which still sits here on my desk. I was ever so sorry. What a treasure it would have been to have these family tales and details registered in Bud's own voice which, now in his mid eighties, is faltering at times. I will, nevertheless, attempt to recreate from my notes some of what the youngest Hoyt sibling remembers.

Eldon, nicknamed Bud, was only ten or twelve when his father left home, too young to really understand the family dynamics at the time. He recalls images, anecdotes, and snippets that add to our portrait and may trigger more memories as others join in this quest.

As young as he was, he came away with the impression that the issue that finally led to divorce was that he liked women. "I know that. Mother used to say 'I love him from the waist up and not from the waist down'... although I can't imagine her saying that."

"I can see us all around the big table, not much food. My father would say a prayer, always the same one."
Life was difficult, but they pulled together to keep food on the table.
Herman, the oldest sibling, is credited for supporting the family, working hard and rallying the others to contribute what they could to the pool.

When they lived in Ohio, Bud and Sam (my father) had four paper routes, a couple starting at 5 a.m. and then some in the evening:
"The Cleveland Plain Dealer; The Akron Beacon Journal; The Mansfield Journal...there were a lot of towns and papers in that area."
"Did you deliver papers on bike or on foot?" I asked.
Bud said, "I rode a bike. I bought my very first bike for $10 and worked on it, fixed it up...used it for the paper routes."  Then added, "Garner peddled [sold] cottage cheese. I remember he made enough to buy a leather jacket...he was proud of that jacket."
"Lowell always had a hankering for anything electrical. He ran an aerial from the steeple all the way back several houses to a telephone pole." This was the house on Evergreen St. in Ashland, the one with many gables. Lowell built his ham radio station in the 6 by 6 foot tower, with crystal sets.
"Lowell was good at building kites. He make a big box kite that became a great attraction."

"What about the girls?" I asked.
"They helped Mother with the younger children. She would say, 'Arlene, you're in charge of these two. And, Thelma, you take the other two.' "
"Thelma carried that on the rest of her life," he added. "She had six children."
Aunt Doris commented, "Thelma was a great cook and she could cook for crowds."

In that same neighborhood, "down in the gully", the fifty or so neighborhood kids played and fought together.
Uncle Bud said, "I've never known such a close-knit community. We had gang fights and had so much fun, especially at Halloween. We operated a Haunted House, and everyone came through. Garner and Gladys [twins], Lowell and Sam ran the whole operation." Or was it a business? I wonder.
From the way he talked, I understood that those gang wars were only fun and games. One weapon mentioned was a type of weed they could uproot and use as a spear. In fact, on one occasion my father succeeded in spearing a member of the 'enemy' gang through the cheek.
"Bus [Garner's nickname] and Sam collected old wood, cleaned it up, took the nails out, and built a shack."
In my mind, I see my Dad and realize that his love for building and knack for making things out of whatever is available, continued all his life.
Was that shed the Haunted House? I wonder. I may have to make another trip to Noblesville to ask more questions, and record the answers this time!

In winter, the icy steep incline on the other side of the gully was perfect for sliding down on pieces of cardboard.

Bud was always sorely tempted to play down in the gully and would often get in trouble. He'd play hooky or escape through the gable window onto the roof, down the spout to the cherry tree and run! The four trees provided wonderful treats, some dark cherries and sweet yellow ones as well. But the escapades got him in trouble more than once.
"I felt like I was always in trouble. Once when I played hooky, Mother didn't know what to do with me, so when my father came home, I remember it was late; she told him what had happened and he whipped me mercilessly with a leather strap."
"Herm was strong that way, too. His way was always right and he would not listen to anything you might have to say." Bud recalls his earlier childhood."I remember back in Dallas Center [Iowa], he always protected me."

"So, why did you all move to Ohio?" I ask.

"Herm got work and wanted to go to college there." In Iowa he drove  trucks for Chataqua; in Ohio he worked for Faultless Rubber Company.
The family had always attended the Brethren Church, that is why Herman decided to attend the Brethren college in Ashland, Ohio.


Sara Bowyer said...

It is so interesting to hear these stories. I have a very small family, but I always loved going to family reunions and hear my grandfather's siblings talk about the old days. One tradition they had is writing letters. One would start and send it to the next, they would read it and add to it and send it on.....I wonder where those letters are now? I am going to have to look into that!

Lhoyt said...

I'm so excited at the things you have unearthed. I have recollection of a few things that Uncle Bob said about Grandpa, which I will try to put into writing in the next few days, by e-mail. You may want to follow up on that.

SmallTownRunner said...

I think you mean "Garner peddled cottage cheese" -- not pedaled.

rita said...

Thanks! Oh, how I need you, my English-expert DIL!

Kim said...

How interesting! When Ivan and Tina get back from their walk to the river, I'll show him your post.

We arrived in Sta. Rosa about an hour ago; unpacked, made lunch and I hopped online while they took a walk. The house is hot and musty from being shut up for several weeks. We have all the windows open and the fans going. ¡Qúe calor!