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An Earlier Recollection as a Child

My earlier recollection as a child began when I was about three.

As I mention …the smells of cookies coming out of an oven from next door.

Mrs. Kerns had just pulled out another batch of my favorite sugar cookies. The smell was too great. I knock on her door. “Mrs. Kerns could I have one of those cookie?” I said.

“Not unless you come in and have a glass of milk with that one. She always said “take two or three for later on”.

I thought I was the lucky guy and she was one of the sweet person I new.

On the other side of our house was a vacant lot… and behind the lot was a large garden that my dad had made a deal with to grow vetegables. He was the previous landlord and original owner.

But then the property sold.

Then one day several men began unloading equipment and began
digging a big hole.

The appeared the new neighbor were going to put a basement in the new house..

The first piece of equipment was tractor with a big shovel.

I wondered… What was going to happen to our garden?

Mother and Dad had planted corn, tomatoes, peas, carrots, lettuce, potatoes and many other kind of vegetables.

Well I heard my father say “There goes the vegetables… They sold the lot next door and we better look around for another place to live and grow more vegetables.”

The men next started digging the next day and suddenly a little hole turned into a big hole, someone call it a “start of a basement. and stay away”

When you’re three or four, every thing becomes interesting, the big pile of dirt that you could run up and slide down, boy what fun that was.

That was exactly what I was doing ..when all of sudden my father said,

“Get off the dirt, say away from the equipment and basement or I will tan your britches”.

Boy did I know what that was and that was not my favorite color, anything but tan, in fact, I don’t like it today.

I had experience many times before…no thanks, he did not need a repeat it and no repeat performance, thank you.

However, Dad out was out of town for a couple of days.

I would go over there and watch them dig this big hole and the pile of dirt got bigger.

The workers were very friendly, and made me feel important.

“Hey, What you name?” one of them wanted to know.

“How about getting us a glass of water?” another requested.

My name is “Ron and I be right back”

I found a large jar and filled it water ….they like it, as I remember, it was hot for that time of year.

“Do you play baseball?” One of them added.

“No, I’m too small” I added.

Then one day one of workers threw a rubber ball on the bounce at me and said “Practice with this kid and you are a good player someday”.

I found a stick and kept trying to hit the ball and I was having all kinds of coordinations problems.

One of the workers said…”keep you eye on the ball.”

Well I was a little kid with little or no skills… problems.

One Saturday my father was home. “Didn’t I tell you to stay away from that basement” he said.

If he only knew he was impeding the progress of the future hall of fame and champion base ball player.

I bet you forgot, but I remember this particular day was Saturday because the workers went home. It had rained on and off for weeks. The men had not worked and finally when it stopped…it had a lot of water in the basement.

They a started bucket brigade. When one would scoop he handed it to another who threw it out of the basement.

I heard one say, “Unless we get a stove down there, to dry up the floor and we will never get the concrete poured. The next day one of the worker pulls up with a trailer, “Help unload this big stove” Another said, “Where did you get this big stove? It belongs to my grandfather.” It had to be some job.

How they got it down there was be on me.

I was out practicing with my new ball and stick after the men left that day.

Oh, my golly…”I hit it,” …it was rolling toward the basement.

I started towards it and Father yelled,

“Didn’t I tell you to stay way from that basement” and then he turns to leave…telling my mother, “That he would be back in a couple of hours”.

That told me…I better stay way from the basement but what about my new ball.

Ok, I have a look.

As I appeared into the basement…There it was.

Boy did I hit that one. I saw it the start of my big league career, but what about my new ball. I jump down there and get it before my Dad gets back.

Jumping down into the basement was easy and I quickly grab the ball and look around. Big problem, the whole world change, the wall were straight up, like a mountain.

There was nothing I could do but stay there until my Father got back.

Then POW right in the kisser…I got that from the movies…and it was my kisser…It over, I thought, I’m dead…What I’m going to do?

As I look around, looking for the last minute miracle, the big stove was in the corner and it had still had a fire in it. I went over there and touch it and it was hot, too hot to handle. Think…if the fire was out I could climb up on the stove and out. I need some thing to put out the fire. Every male is born with one…a little fire hose.

I waited for an hour and although it was still warm… I quickly climbed up the stove and out.

About ten minutes later my father came home I had got out just in time. I did learn one more thing from that hole episode. Stay away from basements. and thank God, he gave little boys fire hose’s.

War Story

During the war we had school drives to see who could collect the most milkweed ..The problem was. Where were they? Why do you need them?

The teacher asked us one day. ” Do you want to make money and help the in war effort?”

We all knew what that meant.

My dad drove 100 miles to Detroit to work in the bomber plant. He was helping win the war and know I get a chance …I was 7 or 8 at the time.

Each of us was given an open-mesh onion bags.

Cash payments per-bag payment (15 cents for fresh-picked pods and 20 cents for dried pods). A good pickers like my self could earn $6 a week.

But I had to find the little suckers.

Hardly any in the garden behind the house. Then Mother suggested we go out to our farm and bingo what a harvest.

I still wanted to know why was I do this? I asked the teacher and she said “I see if I can find out?

Now this was a big deal because many of the kids that went to school lived on a farm and had a big advantage …plus they put bonus for the won that could bring in the most.

The teacher reported back that the milkweed was often the only thing that kept a downed aviator or soaking-wet sailor from slipping beneath the waves. The plant’s floss was used as the all-important filler for flotation devices.

So the plant’s floss was used as filler for flotation devices.

But when I got out to the farm …I found several different kinds.

Later on the school year they got more particular. They insisted that pods had to be picked while they were ripe but not yet fully open.

If you pick too early, and the crop would be spoiled by moisture. Too late, and there would be no crop at all.

Later I did more research.

A man named Berkman, had convinced the congressional agriculture committee in March 1942, that a little over a pound of milkweed floss could keep a 150-pound man floating in the water for more than 40 hours.

There are more than 20 kinds of milkweed in North America, but the specific type targeted for the wartime effort was the common milkweed (Asclepius syriaca). A medium-sized perennial, it has a tough central stalk and thick, leathery leaves. The seed pods erupt out of the flower clusters located on the upper reaches of the stalk.

It took approximately two full bags, or about 20 pounds of ripe pods, to produce enough floss for one life jacket; “Two Bags Save One Life” was the government slogan.

So we all did are part even though we were kids and no I did not win the big prize but I was second.

One side note

Dr. Boris Berkman, a Chicago physician and inventor who was a champion of the milkweed, long considered a noxious weed to farmers. Berkman envisioned this plant as a new crop rivaling the soybean in usefulness. He suggested more than 20 uses for the plant’s stems, leaves, and pods: among them insulation, pressed board, oil, animal food, rayon, cellophane, dynamite, surgical dressing, and textile fibers

More on the War

My Uncle Clete Schwab was in the Army and my cousin Ray Klear was in the Navy.

A story about Uncle Clete is on {Type Cletus J. Schwab} or
read about on our site.


Uncle Clete was my hero.

I almost drown.

Ohio was blessed with a lot of rain, especially around the spring, sometimes it caused old stinky creek got to the point of overflowing…it world swell to the top with a fast flowing current.

If you got to close, you would find your self doing the rapid without a boat.

One day I was down by the creek with some friends.

The creek had risen close to the top of the bank, about fifteen feet deep when I decided to do a little investigation.

A small piece of land was jetting out over the creek. I thought I saw something caught under the little piece of land I was standing on, I bent down to take a look, when sudden, the piece of land I was standing drop me into the creek and I was like that raft going down the rapids.

At the age of five, you better come up with something quick or you be shaking hands with you grand mother, who incidentally died when I was nine day old.{ Bother Bill said that when grand mother saw me, the shock overwhelmed her. }

I on the other hand believed that I was such a beautiful baby that when she saw me she automatically went to heaven.

Suddenly, another friend Ronnie Huber, up stream from me, saw my dilemma held out his hand and pulled me in.

Of course he has reminded me ever since. Life turns out to be a series of choices…after reflecting I think God put these learning experiences to develop our character.

Thank you father and grand mother for the wisdom and experiences…I have stayed away from rapids since.

Back to Mrs. Kerns

Mrs. Kerns was putting out small flags, in front of her house.

At the age 5, wandering down the street I saw many more.

It appeared that almost every body on the block was putting out little flags to honor the soldier and sailors of the war. Somes had large flags that were secured to the home by a flag holder and other would stick them in the ground with a stick.

Now, was time to gather these flags for the flag harvest.

What did I know, at five I thought they were there for the picking?

I think I gathered every flag in the neighborhood and brought them home.

Over 50 flags on the front porch, then mother came out.

“Where did you get all those flags?” mother wanted to know.

“Now we got to put them back” she said.

So we set out to the impossible … I had no idea who flags belong where.

We set out with the task at hand…

Some thing work out for the best…in some case some neighbors got more flags then they put out, other got less.

I don’t think any ever knew the difference… or at least we never heard to the contrary .

Only mother remind me the flowing year …. she reinforced the fact that it would never happened. The flags is the symbol of my later character …you only salute them as you pass by.

Brother Bill

Brother Bill was a year an half younger then me.

But the time I was four he was as tall and weighted as much as me and stayed at that pace until we were adults.

Bill was one the most competitive people you would find anywhere.

The old Farm House belong to an estate with 3 1/2 acres of Apple Orchard.
Full of weeds and tall grass.

Consisted of house, barn, a chicken coop, cellar, and a serious of sheds .

My uncle John suggested to my dad, that he bring over some cattle.
The cattle would eat the grass and then dad could remove the weeds .

Several weeks later Uncle John brought over a young lamb in payment for feeding his cattle…because dad would not take any payment.

Several days later he also brought a young goat. Sylva’s friend.


What would happen if these two never seen each other?

Let find out.

So brother Bill put his hands over the eyes of the sheep, and I put my hands over the goat.
We were about 10 feet apart… “On your mark …Get ready, Set, Go.”

Each took a look at each other. 

They lowered their heads. 
Each back off about 3 feet and they tried again.
But that was it.

We pulled them apart to see if they would do it again.
No way …they had enough.. 
From they on, they were inseparable.

This story comes to mind.

Bill was a smoker… but so was my Dad. Dad would buy carton of cigarettes so that when Brother Bill wanted one it was easy to slip into Mother and Dad bedroom and grab a pack from a carton and Dad would not even miss them.

One day he suggested that we meet in the upstair
bathroom and have a smoke. I was not a big smoker but that sounded ok with me.

“Hey guys where you going”? said my little brother

“It none of you business…besides your to small.” said Bill.

Bill and I proceed up the stairs and into the bathroom. Bill got out his newly acquired pack to cigarettes from Dad. He lit his smoke and was going extend the match to mine….when the closed door open and there was John…”I going to tell if you don’t give me one to.” said John.

“Ok you can have one.” he had us dead to rights.

This was a small bathroom and three smoking made a lot of smoke. The was one small window in the bath room that faced west over the gauge roof.

It so happen, that Dad was in the yard look up and saw the smoke rolling out of the window upstair.

He rushed in, then waited out side the bathroom door only discovered our conversations that were loud and boastful.

Two of us were sitting on the edge of the bath tub and the other on the toilet. Then next thing was a bucket of water was thrown through the window…drenching the three of us.

“Fire, fire” Dad yelled.

We were caught and in deep sugar. Mother word for cleaning up nasty word.

“So your smoking. Ok. so you want to smoke come down stairs” said Dad.

Boy this didn’t sound like my father. He had a belt to solved our differences.

So downstair we go…each one looking at each other.

Dad disappeared into his bedroom and brought Three old cigar he had in his top drawer..These were old cigars he had got from wedding and friends who had new born babies. They had to be several years old..

He took a knife and cut them into two and handed us each one.

“So you want to smoke…lit them up” was his command.

Well I thought this was not going to be as bad as I thought..

“Now take a deep breath’ said he.”That it and Now a Another..”No”, “No” Don’t put them down….Take another drag” were his words.

Bother John…”cough and headed for the bathroom..I took a couple of more puff…and got real sick and turned little green and headed for the bathroom.

Brother Bill on the other handed was right at home. Feeling a little cocky. He would take a big drag, Dad words, then ended arm out with the cigar like he was doing it all of his life.

The final straw was when Bill smoked the cigar was down to the ashes …He asked Dad, “Do you have a toothpick?”..My Father could not believe he gave that little chuckle.

This was one of reason Dad like Bill …I think he reminded him of him self.

And of course Bill never got sick.

Bill was one the most competitive people you would find anywhere.

Wresting was are game .

My brother John, Bill and I were all in the middle of the kitchen floor Wresting.

Dad had yelled several time from the Living room,“Knock it off. Did you hear what I said? “I’m only going to tell you one more
time and then I coming in there”

We continued wresting in the kitchen of the floor.

Suddenly in the doorway Dad appeared in stocking feet -without his shoes.

As he spoke “What did I tell you” and then he kicked in the middle of the pile at us with his stocking feet .

Brother Bill the closes to him raised his foot, had his shoe on and
Dad toe hit the bottom of Bill heal of his shoe and Dad grab his toe and was jumping .

We all scattered like mice….Except Bill

Bill had got up Dad was hobbling around.

As John took off.. “that’s what you get or something to the fact”

And Bill repeated it.

Dad said Bill “Repeat That” “Well you should not have kick us” said Bill.

Dad is now fumming and was not moving very fast.

Bill took off running from the kitchen, to the dining room , through the living room, down the hall and back into the kitchen .

It was a complete circle, Bill made a circle several times and Dad was still was in pursuit. Dad was still having some problems but he was getting closer.

Finally in the dining room, was a large wood dining table. That was set for six. Every time dad went one way, Bill would go the other way, uttering some verbal abuse. Dad was having none of it

Dad made a surprise move; dove on the dining room table sliding on his belly grabbing Bill.

Bill he said, “I was in shock” I never realized the old man could move so quickly.”

It was not a pretty sight and it was one of the few times Bill got his butt kicked.

Poor Dad hobbled around for week.

Mother came to our rescue “What we need is a vacation and you can stay off the foot” was her suggestion to my father.

“Great Idea “ he said.

So we packed up and drove to Northern Michigan.

Dad was a big sportsman. He loved hunting and fishing. An we all got the bug by osmosis .

Dad favorite spot was Cheboygan. Michigan. The city was located at the mouth on Lake Huron. It was over 350 miles from Holgate, Ohio. Depending when we left, it take most of the day to drive and as kids we all anxious to get there as soon as possible. Most of the time Dad would stop to make a pit stop but other time he suggested we hold it.

Mother insisted we stop and usually about halfway to picnic it a wood area that Dad like. While in the woods, we look around for mushrooms. We always had a fire. Mother world fry up a batch of mushrooms for snack and save the rest for the remain trip. Fried mushrooms in butter were delicious and then we would continue on with the drive to Cheboygan.

We had a camp site out side of Cheboygan and Dad had made many trip up there during the World War 2. Working in the Bomber Plant out side Detroit.

Muskie and Northern Pike fishing in Michigan and especially on Huron Lake were the best gaming fish the state had to offer. If you hook up with a muskie chances were it was in the neighbor hood of 30 to 50-inch fish.

Northern Pike on the other hand were toothy predators most commonly associated with the weedy shallows and often found around log jams or fallen timber.

Dad never took and changes he had a selection spoons, minnow-baits and spinners as well many different kinds of artificial bait.

Dad always said” During summer open-water season, be prepared. Because the weather could change in a second. As you got close to winter, two methods that worked to catch pike: natural baits such as suckers or minnow or artificial bait.

I remember one day I had a big nibble and I thought I caught up with a muskie…I fought it, but it was like fulling up a truck and brother said let me help. No I got this one” said I.

This was going to be my trophy. It sure was, it turn out that It was a bunch of junk. Brother Bill always reminded me of Junk Muskie.

A couple of days later, I had to go to the bath room at night but the trouble was it about 100 feet from our cottage where this camp site had combined the rest rooms with the showers. You had to have a flash light at night so you could find your way back.

There were a number of warning about bears being in the area…Mother said, “Be careful out there” . “Ok I am not waiting” said I.

I grab the light and headed toward the bath room…. I was in the middle of doing my thing…When all of sudden I heard ‘Bear, Bear’’

Out I went …Holding my trouser half up in one hand and the flash light in the other.

As I turned around and look back to see if the bear chasing me….I saw Brother Bill beating a large lid from the garbage can with a can yelling “Bear.”

And laughing like hell.

Jim Bortz was the meanest kid in town and was foot taller then we were. He would always pick
on us…

One day he caught me and was ready to rough me up when brother Bill show up. Need to stay
we never had any more trouble with Jim or any one else after that.

Yes we fought but we were brothers.

For Example. At 18 I remember I wanted to go to a bowling torment to win 250 cash money….

Bill, 16 want to borrow my car to go to his first prom. While we arguing about it. Dad dad the solution.

“To the gauge you two turkeys “… Dad had his one solution….for arguments …put the boxing gloves on and duke it out.

That was fine with me ….with my fancy foot work and my left jab he was no match for my quickness….did I mention my ability to duck a punch.

Quick into the fight I landed a left jab on in nose and he was bleeding .

Bill saw the blood and found out it was his ….and now he is mad …from out of now where came a round house punch and knock me on my butt ….Now I had the bloody nose ….

I took my gloves off and hand him the keys..

More on Bill later