I Witnessed The Coming Of The Industrial Age
These are memories that keep coming back time after time since I am growing older. Sometimes I would like to relive some of the experiences and other times I am thankful that I don’t have to.
I have grown up and aged during a time period, which I would have chosen if I would have had the choice to do so. I'm happy to have experienced both the "horse-and-buggy" days along with the "automobile" days.
I remember Dollie’ s father and mother going up the road in a buggy pulled by a horse. My dad also had horses, but in his early life he bought a car for transportation. His horses were used on my grandmother’s farm and our small farm. The first car that I can remember my dad having was a 1926 Chevrolet. It had no front bumper, so the springs stuck out in front. One time when he put it in the garage he did not get stopped in time and pushed two boards out of the garage. Then he got it stopped.
My family told the story of something that happened before I was born. It seems that my dad, my uncle Brady and my uncle Essie Bowser each bought a 1917 Ford. They decided to go to Gettysburg, which was about as far as anyone went at that time. On the way home, after having a good time looking over the battlefield and having a picnic lunch, one of the cars broke down. The other two took turns at pulling it up the mountains and hooking on the back to hold it from running off going down the next hill. But they had a great time, and said they would do it all over again. It was not until I was thirteen or fourteen that I got to go farther than Gettysburg on a vacation. That was to Washington DC, but that will be the subject of another story later.
I started to tell about the time period in which I have lived. I got side tracked, but will now talk about things, other than the automobile, that I saw when I was quite young. There was the occasional airplane. Once in a while, an airplane or a dirigible would come up through the hollow in which we lived. Neighbors would call to each other and tell them to look. They did not travel very fast back then. We would call by voice alone because we did not have telephones. Since then, we have seen much faster jet airplanes. Then a few years ago we were privileged to see a man walking on the moon. This time period is truly spectacular.
The years after World War I were laid-back years. The second World War was supposed to be the war to end wars, but alas it was not to be. At that time we lived on our small farm and took the bad years with the good. Money was hard to come by, so my dad still made moonshine and sold it to supplement what we raised on the farm. I have never felt bad about it, because he did the very best he could to keep the family going, and he worked very hard every day.
We spent the week working and then there were the reunions and the relatives visiting. Other people also visited. Once in a while, the McNess and Raleigh men came peddling their medicines, extracts and some things to use in cooking, like pie filling.
The automobiles back then were available in only two series in each class. For example there was the Ford Standard and the Ford Deluxe, the Chevrolet Standard and the Chevrolet Deluxe. Chrysler Motors cars were designated the same way. Of course there was the DeSoto, the Dodge, The Packard and Cadillac. There were two grades of gasoline, regular and Ethyl. Three grades of oil light, medium and heavy. With that in mind, I would like to interject this oft-told story about me and my cousin, Thelma Bowser. We would play on my uncles' sand pile with two blocks of wood, which were our autos. I being the oldest, had a service station, and Thelma would stop for a fill up. She always wanted Ethyl gas and to her the quart of oil she wanted was "Mejum." I always knew, of course, that it was medium that she wanted.
I also had another cousin, Duggie Potter, who furnished some of the blocks that we played with. He brought them from the E. H. & B Claar lumberyard. When I lived down on our new place, which I will tell about later, he lent me his bike to learn to ride. I never learned throughout my entire life.
My dad bought thirteen acres from my uncle Brady near where we now live. He started building us a home in 1932, the year I started to Hollidaysburg High. With a lot of help from brothers and other relatives it was finished that year. We lived with my uncle Brady and spent most of the time in a shanty on the property. The house was built from a one-third section of the old McKee railroad station. Uncle Brady purchased one third and built a barn near my son, Larry’s current property. The barn was torn down several years ago. Warren Dodson purchased the other third, and built a beer garden on the corner in East Freedom. It is still standing after several renovations; it is now used for apartments. The three sections of that railroad station made three buildings each twenty six by thirty feet.