Small town memories of times past

rotary telephone

People speak of little Hallmark towns this time of year, and those of us who hail from one really are the lucky ones.

When my hometown held its annual homecoming festivities a dozen years ago, the day was hotter than blue blazes, but I convinced myself to venture down the hill to the park.

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. 

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 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!

A treasure

“The Blue Jay, 1950” is a treasure. The old sepia-toned picture of my dad, standing with his nine classmates, can hold my attention every time I see it. 

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′ 2”, and the stories I remember hearing told of a great, winning season for a group of boys who had grown up playing barn ball together.

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. 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.

Small town businesses

Even the ads in the back of the yearbook bring back memories, my feet recalling the trip to each place. 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 figure to my children. To reach Fritz at that time, you could have picked up the phone and asked the town telephone operator for number 571.

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

D.E. Bodager Hardware was another common stop for us, mostly for needed farm hardware supplies, but we did some of our Christmas shopping there, too. 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?


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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, and three grandchildren.



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