Yearbook awakens memories of small town life

Sometimes, the smallest contribution pays big dividends. This past Saturday my hometown held its annual homecoming festivities. Though it was hotter than blue blazes, I just had to venture down the hill to the park to be a part of the day.

After chatting with friends and family, I went to see what was being offered in the silent auction. I was thrilled beyond words when I spotted the Jeromesville senior high school yearbook dated 1950, my dad’s senior year.

Prize

The book was in pristine condition, obviously tucked away for safe-keeping by someone in the community years ago. With a single bid, there were five yearbooks of various eras to potentially win.

I jotted my name on the silent auction board, placing a high enough bid that I hoped would make me the winner. I couldn’t stay to keep checking on my bid because I had been lucky enough to be asked to babysit five of the sweetest children in the community later in the evening.

I passed out quarters to some of my favorite little people for the games and the tractor ride, then headed for my babysitting gig. My son Cort, volunteering at the homecoming with the Lions Club, called me just after I’d gotten the kids to bed.

“You are the proud new owner of some very old high school yearbooks,” he said. I felt like I had won the lottery! I can hardly put The Blue Jay, 1950 down.

Small class

In it, I see a picture of my dad, standing with his nine classmates. Dressed in a crisp white shirt and tie, I see shades of my son in his somewhat serious expression. A notation under this photograph reads, “These ten seniors started school in the first grade at Jeromesville, and have gone through all twelve grades together.”

Dad often said his classmates felt as close as siblings, and it is easy to see why. Huddled with the varsity basketball team, he has been placed in the front center of the photograph, number 8. He was the team center, standing at over 6 feet 2 inches, and I remember hearing stories of a great, winning season.

The tall fellow in the senior class play photograph looks as though he would rather not be there. He looks much happier in the group FFA picture.

Baby picture

A photograph I had long ago forgotten appears near the end of the book, showing single snapshots of the seniors as babies. A cutie pie sitting in a wash bowl placed on the lawn, making a funny face for the camera, would have been taken on the family farm in the fall of 1932.

Even the ads in the back of the yearbook bring back memories. Circle B Dairy, a local dairy, had placed a full-page ad to describe “golden Guernsey” as “that special milk” which every homemaker should serve in her home.

Fritz’s Gulf Service was owned and operated by Fritz Kamp, who late in his life would become a neighborly grandfather to my children.

To reach Fritz at that time, you could have picked up the phone and asked the town telephone operator, Carol, for number 571. Or, most likely, you could just say, “Carol, I need Fritz,” and she would connect you.

Jeromesville Elevator’s ad simply reads, “Grain, seeds, feeds, coal, hardware, fertilizer. Don Glasgo, Proprietor, phone 118.” Smalley’s Store advertised “ice cream, candies, soft drinks, shoes and men’s furnishings. Phone 8-1.”

Shopping

What I remember is that we spent a great deal of our “town time” at the Jeromesville Elevator, and that going to Mick Smalley’s store for an ice cream or candy was a treat limited to very special occasions.

D.E. Bodager Hardware was another common stop for us, mostly for needed farm hardware supplies. The hardware ad in this yearbook reads, “Philco radios and refrigerators, RCA radios and Television. Hoover sweepers, Myers water systems, milk coolers, Speed Queen, Dexter and Easy Washing Machines. Service and plumbing.”

D & F Chevrolet’s ad offers “U.S. Tires” and reads, “See Shorty and Lee, friendly proprietors. Phone 1 on 56.”

Everything anyone needed could be found within that little village at that time. Friendly service in a small town. Sounds like heaven, wouldn’t you agree?

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

One Comment

  1. Lucinda Stumbaugh Wunderlin says:

    My name is Lucinda Stumbaugh Wunderlin, I also was raised in Jeromesville, Ohio. Was woundering what your maiden name was, and who your father is.We lived beside the elevator.

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