By Ruth Parker Ramage
This charming book of memories is being printed with the permission
of Mrs. Ruth Parker Ramage by the Fenton Historical Society.
The members would like to encourage others to record their
memories and to share them. These will be kept on file in the Archives of the Fenton Historical Society for future generations
to find out what life in Fenton was like "way back then."
FENTON HISTORICAL SOCIETY 1984
It has taken me a long time to make up my mind, to write about my "Home
Town", as requested.
I moved from Fenton, when I was about 18 years of age. I am nearly seventy
four years old, so you see, many years have passed by. Street names and people are vague, however, I will endeavor to share
my memories, as I remember them.
I was born, March 1910, on the Tom Hadley Farm - he was better known as
Uncle Tom. It was a large dairy farm. Many years later, he sold it to Dan Jaynis. I understand, it was sold again, and the
New Fenton High School, has been erected there..
My parents were Lyle and Lavina Lince Parker. I had one sister, Ercelle
Parker. She was nine years older than me. She resented the idea of having a "Kid Sister". I was always in her way.
Having no one to play with, I must of been mischievious, according
to the stories,told to me, by my elders. The windmill, had a great attraction to me even though I was less than two years
old. I would climb nearly to the top on three different occasions, and three times, my father climbed up and brought me down.
The last time, I received the spanking that I should have had the first time. He was so afraid I would get caught in the blades.
My next adventure was to toddle down the road and set down to play in the sand. A farmer and his team of horses came along.
The horses stopped and refused to go on, so he got off his wagon and walked to the front. There I was, having a good time
playing in the sand. He picked me up and returned me home and to another spanking, of course. I marvel at those horses,
they didn't want to walk on me. My other escapades are too numerous to mention. My father was happy to move to town with me
when the farm was sold.
A home was bought at 503 Main Street, where I grew up and attended the
local schools. How well I remember the house. There were two ladies,
Lottie Arnold and her sister, Elizabeth, lived in the front two rooms, and in the basement apartment, an Indian family lived.
Finally they all moved out and we had the whole house to ourselves. Then my Dad began to remodel. He removed the barn type
windows and put in dormers upstairs in my sister's room and one in mine, then redecorated. Ercelle's room was done in blue
and mine in pink. My father bought 2 good sized pink rugs from the Olson Rug Company for my room.
When I was playing in the garden area, I found Indian knives and Indian
arrow heads, and other artifacts. Perhaps the family living there must have left them, although I was told several Indian
families had lived in the area at one time.
Our heating system comprised of a hard coal burner in the living-room.
It was round and had ising glass windows and decorated with nickel trim, which my mother kept polished up everyday. The hard
coal made a bluish-red fire, it was so pretty shining through the windows. In the kitchen was a wood-coal range. It had a
grate in it running to the hotwater heater, but soon, this was replaced
by a Holland Furnace in the basement. The electric lights were next. They were nice, but I missed the pretty mantel lamps
with their bubbly glass shades. The large back porch was divided in two and a complete bathroom was installed, I'll have you
know that was the end of the outdoor privy. I can remember two wall telephones in our diningroom. There were two phone companies.
I'm not sure, but it seemed one was a Union Telephone and also the
Next door to us was a vacant lot
with a barn on it. The owner, "Ted Delehanty" used it for a large garden. Mr. Delehanty and his family had a good sized home
next door to Clifford Phillips on Main Street. He used to talk to me while working in his garden, and explained to me why
the lower end of both of our gardens was always damp. It was due to a creek running underground. Both of our gardens were
really great, along with our black walnut trees and asparagus. Dad always called it grass, but I loved it and still do. In
the front of the lot was a spearmint bed, between the sidewalk and road. All of the neighborhood children loved to play there
and nibble on it - much to the dismay of my mother. The children then were Judson Philips, Helen Lusk, Loa Sparks, Florence
Yerdon and her sister Jeanette; Violet Goodfellow moved into the banker home across the street.
The Fenton Normal School and College was on the corner, in back of our
home. It sat on a beautiful lot of shade trees. The building was three stories high. Young ladies and gentlemen attended the
school to study for their teachers diploma. Much later the school moved to Flint, and the building was rented out to families
except the third floor. It was closed off. I've often wondered what became of the bell. Other families, living on that street,
were the Carmers, Harold and Russel Haddon and parents, Mrs. Appel and son, the Duns, Harringtons, Armstrongs and Beebes.
Joseph Mount, lived on our street, he had a statue in front of his
house of a horse jockey. What a colorful little fellow he was, with a whip in one hand and a ring in the other that was used to tie up the visitor's horse. It was loved by all the children, and received
many a generous pat and hug.
Floyd Chapin, I believe he was a former postmaster, and the Pattersons
and Grandpa Newman (that's what the kids called him) lived across from Mr. Mount.
For awhile, the neighborhood had a potluck-get-together for those living
on our street, but eventually it faded out. A home coming was held. The residents took in many who had come long distances
to attend. Their homes were opened to the visitors. What a difference then, to what it is nowadays. We had a lovely elderly
gentleman at our home. His name, I do not recall.
At the beginning of World War I, I remember army trucks stopping across
the street, with many of the Fenton boys. They were allowed to say
goodbye to their families and friends. It was a sorrowful time with much crying. Some of my cousins were with the group. "The
Parker boys" Ervin, George and Lydie, they all came back safely, but Jerry Appel was gassed and shell shocked.
He came back, but wanted to be left alone. My Father and I, on one cf our
Sunday walks would often find him at Highbanks, in the woods at the river, beyond the railroad tracks.
My school days started at the North Ward School. My teachers were Gladys
Brooks, Rose Major, Mabel Pamfret and Bessie Cramer. The writing teacher, I do not recall her name, but she was very strict
and walked up and down the aisles with a ruler, which she used frequently on our knuckles, if she caught us using our fingers.
She taught us the Palmer Method of writing.
In reading class one day, a story of Lazy Irene was read. That was my middle
name, but that name was used to please my mother's people, while my father's people wanted it Ruth. After unmerciful teasing
by the students, I did find my birth certificate and it was Ruth Irene. When I passed into the fifth grade at the other school,
the new teacher Catherine Carmody, asked me my name, and I told her Ruth. How I glared at the kids, they better not tell her
different, and bless their hearts, they didn't.
The following grades, several of the teachers, were Edith Hadley, Helen
Gould, Mabel Pamfret and T.R. Nunn. That is just a few of them. The principal was Mr. Dalrymple and the superintendent was
My father worked for the Aetna Cement Plant and my uncle Elijah worked
for the Egypt Plant, both on Linden Rd. across from Silver Lake. The
companies finally provided an open truck for the men for transportation to and from work. Before that you either walked or
rode a bicycle, such as my dad had. It had a carbide light on it, and he carried a square tin lunch pail with a container
for his tea, and used as a cover for the pail. I can still hear my dad say he wanted his tea, "Red as a fox's tail." Clifford
Phillips was the bookkeeper there. One day one of the pits filled up, and Mr. Comstock and my dad volunteered to go down and
clean it out. The pit caved in on them. The men were rescued, but my father's lungs filled up and his heart failed. Mr. Comstock
survived, thank goodness. Dr. Wright and Miss Brown gave excellent
care to dad, but he expired within a week. He had worked at the plant for seventeen years. I thought my world had ended, for Daddy and I were very close. When I returned to school, with a note from
my mother, I was met by the principal, lashing out at me with anger and ordered me to the study hall. I was in shock and crying.
One of the teachers went to his office and made him read my mother's note. He came and apologized to me, but by then I was
thoroughly angry and wouldn't talk to him. I had watched him before with another girl whose father had committed suicide,
I will not mention the name.
The rest of my classes and teachers were nice. Of course, like many, I
had my favorite teachers. They were Edith Hadley, Helen Gould and Bessie Cramer. Mrs. Gould was the grandaughter of our Doctor
Gould. He had taken care of me from the day I was born. During the war we had an influenza outbreak along with diptheria,
and of all things, the itch. They called it Seven Year Itch. I got them all, and was in bed for weeks. Our doctor told my
teacher not to let me play on the regular teams in gym class. I could be there as a substitute, what a boring life. Even my
precious roller skates were taken from me. I would rather skate than eat.
After my father's death, mother decided I should quit school and go to
work. Those days widows had no income like they do now days. She needed
me to help keep up the home. My father wanted me to graduate, but what
could I do, mother needed help. I went to work at Michigan Bell. My
sister had worked there before transferring to Durand. I liked the work and soon learned most everyone's number. I used to
tease my Aunt Jane. I knew every morning she called Osmun's Store at a set time with her grocery order. When her phone jack
buzzed, I never did ask her, "Number Please" but just connected her to the store. It took her quite some time before she realized
it was me teasing her.
The chief operator put us on rotation, so soon it came my time to
work nights. That was an interesting experience, especially one night a call came from Beck's Tea Room, and a voice said,
"My God Ruth, call the Fire Department, Tony's Store is going to blow up". That was the fruit store across from the telephone
office. I had visions of all of us blowing up with it. I was petrified and for a second I wanted to run and get out of there,
but common sense told me to get on the ball, so I called the Water Department,
then the Fire Chief (Mr. Woodworth, I think). Then I ran to the opposite wall and started to push buttons up and down for
the whistle. I also switched on the red light stationed on top of the City Hall for night watch Kellogg. It seemed everyone
in town called to find out where the fire was, which we were not supposed to give out information. I finally went to the window
to peek out for I had heard the fire truck arrive. They broke the glass in the door and the flames sprang up. "Yes" it was
arson. The floors and walls were sprayed with a flameable solution and a large hay rope was soaked in oil and laid on the
floor. When the parties who did it ran out closing the door, the air was shut off. For a second, I watched the flames, then
I called Mr. Granger who owned the hardware. He came right down and with help he removed all of the shot gun shells and powder
that was against the wall next to the fire. I also called the McClouds, who owned the paint and wallpaper store on the other
side. They too removed their wares to the other side of the store. There was a lot of smoke damage, but no explosion. I felt
sorry for the owner. He was in Lansing with his wife, who was hospitalized there. Their apartment over the store, was badly
damaged. The Fire Marshall asked me who had called in the alarm. I told him what I knew. That night before going to work I
went into the store to buy a snack. I heard the clerk lock the door
when I left. He and the shoe repairman were the only ones in the store at that time. It seemed that night was bewitched, for
following the fire, the Flint Police called to warn me of a jail break, and they were headed for Fenton. I called for help,
and they were caught on the edge of town. A couple of other incidents happened, but not serious.
The stores in Fenton were my ideal. Especially Rollands Department Store.
This store had a trolley that was used by the clerks to send the money
to the cashier's cage. It was manned by Lottie Arnold, the lady who had lived in our home. It was an interesting store, with
nearly everything you needed, and yet had two floors. On the main
floor there was a wide opening into Becker's Shoe Store. From there another
door let you in to the Osmun Grocery Store. It was really nice, no need to go outside in the bad weather.
Of course there were other stores like these, hardware stores, Grangers,
McGuires and Harrels. The grocery stores were Grant Whitman, Harry Lemen, Judevines and Osmuns. The meat markets were separate.
One or two for the North side and Grahams for the South.
The Damon Building was on the main corner of LeRoy and Caroline St. with
its many apartments and Ray Parker's Shoe Store. George Pellets had
a nice clothing store.The Opera House was in the same block and I spent
many happy hours there after work doing my favorite thing "Roller Skatinq." The Post Office was in that block, next to the furniture store. The furniture store burnt one night and set fire to the
Methodist Church. The Printing Office was there and run by Mr. Beach and son Bob, then Mickey McBroom's Dairy.
The other side of the street was a small ladies hat shop, run by a Mrs.
Faulkener, then Tinker's Law Office, and Harry Lemen's Store. He always gave me a sack of candy, when my dad and I went in
there on Saturday nights. I do not recall the other stores, though it seems to me there was a bank on the corner. Carl Osman
had an electrical shop and the telephone office was upstairs. Next to that was Bob Goodfellows Men's Clothing Store. There
was English's Ice Cream and Candy Store. They were generous to the telephone operators. We each received boxes of candy at
After the war was over, I remember several army trucks with tanks and arsenal,
and a Big Bertha Gun came Lolling into town and demonstrated how they worked. They were in the area when the Round Brick Water
Department was by the Shiawassee River. The tanks knocked the trees over so quickly.
I do not recall any carnivals, but a Chautauqua came to town. They asked
me to be a Dutch Dancing Girl wearing those wooden clogs. How stupid I felt and more so when I reached home to my mother's
ire. I had disgraced the family, so she said.
I was wondering if the large rock is still at the old Fenton school. It
seemed like everyone headed for it, to see who could get on it first. My sister made it one day, but was crowded off hurting
her side. Our Doctor Gould was called and he took her to the Wheelock Hospital in Goodrich for a removal of an abscess. Those
days people in Fenton went to the Goodrich Hospital, instead of Flint. I don't know why.
Back to school and Freshman Days. We went out to Ray Hunts parent's
farm to a spot between two knolls. It seemed like such a safe place, or so we thought. Before we could eat, a war whoop sounded
and people rushed in from all directions. Some of us were grabbed and shoved into cars, so fast it was impossible to see what
happened to the rest. Eula Carpenter was one of us and I can still hear her telling the driver of the car, he better not hurt
us, or she would tell her mother. It turned out to be her brother. We were taken to Holly and treated to an ice cream cone.
The flavor was sand, and it tasted yucky. We were then delivered to home safely. Next day we learned that the rest of the
girls were taken to town and set on top of the corner water fountains. As for the boys, well they walked to town slightly
A favorite parking spot to view the sights on a clear night, and a great
place to eat watermellons . "Shh", who said they were cooned?" They tasted very good, even though I can't stand them now.
Do you remember the six of us, crowded in the small car and Larry, do you remember tiptoeing in your mother's house for her
salt shakers? I'm so tempted to name the rest of us, but maybe I better not. By the way, what happened to that pretty red
car you won?
The Fox Farm was later put up there on our beloved hill, thus ending our
In the second grade in school, I made friends with a new girl who had moved
to town. Her name was Pearl Whitman. Her mother and mine looked so much alike that their cousin at Whitman's Store couldn't
tell the two ladies apart. We were no relation. To this day, Pearl and I have remained friends and still in contact with each
other at Christmas time.
The Phillips Library was one of my favorite places. Every week I would
get from three or four books to read. I loved reading then and I still do. My small den here is lined with books. One of them
is by Burns Fuller and autographed by him. It's an interesting book and I've read it often. It's his home town too.
Years ago the Fenton Independent asked for clippings and pictures
of Fenton. I sent them my book of clippings. They promised to return
it to me, but I never got it back. Oh well, I still have my memories.
In the winter time I walked up town with my dad. In front of two of the
hardware stores were round oak stoves with fire in them to warm the hands of those driving a long distance to town. What a
nice gesture then.
Skaters always used the mill pond by the iron bridge On East St.
The pond had several air pockets, so sticks and stones were put around these holes to prevent the skaters from falling in.
One day a strong wind picked up a lady on the bridge and tossed her headon off the bridge, killing her. Until the ice melted,
the blood stains remained on the ice. I always walked across that bridge on my way to the Jennings home for my music lessons.
Rhubottoms lived on the opposite corner from Jennings and had an ugly looking bull dog. That dog knew I was afraid of it,
and delighted in chasing me down the hill.
My First Car
Mother and I were walking up town one sunny afternoon. We were down between
the depot and creamery when all of a sudden, this horrible sound came around the curve. It was my first view of an automobile.
I tried to run, but my mother grabbed me by the neck of my dress, and there I stood shaking and scared to death.
One evening at dusk, a tornado hit Long Lake. The Bankers and Mr. Becker
came and took us to see the damage. It was terrible. One house was squashed together like an accordian. Their piano was flat
like a pancake. At another house the grandfather stopped to blowout the lamp. The wind sucked him out of the house and tossed
him across the power line, killing him. His grandchildren were pupils in our school. This tornado had a long lasting effect
and horror on all of us, every time the wind blew.
The Hotel Fenton, with its sign of "Fresh Frog Legs - Served today", never
changed. They had a big business.
The Huffman Grain Mill burnt down taking the trestle with it, over the
dam. The windows in the Phillips Library was cracked from the intense heat. I never could understand why the structure of
Bumps Bicycle Shop remained untouched. It was so close to the fire and looked like tar paper. That end of town had two disasterous
fires, the other was the Phillips Door & Sash Factory. I was almost five years old then when that happened.
We had several train accidents at the LeRoy Street Crossing, killing all
people in the cars. One accident I remember seeing men picking up members of the bodies and putting them in sacks. I do not
recall when the crossing gates and the little house on Stilts were removed, but it shouldn't have been. The Grand Trunk had
a midnight flyer and a fast afternoon train that zipped through our town, like we didn't exist.
I can remember when the Flint Fenton Road was paved, also Main Street passing
our home to Holly and eventually connected to the Dixie Highway. My parents rented a couple rooms to drivers hauling gravel
for the construction. One of them was killed at a train crossing at Rose Center.
There used to be bands of Gypsies pass by with their wares gangling on
the sides of the wagon. 'I'he word spread fast and the mothers lushed their children into their homes, and fear put in our
minds of being kidnapped and never see home again. The merchants
uptown were wary of them for they were light fingered. A sigh of relief when they moved on out of town. No one knew where
they came from, or where they went to.
A few times cattle were driven down the street and put in the stock yards
at the railroad tracks. The poor cows were so frightened they bawled every step of the way. There was not so much of this
after the pavement was put in, or, at least, I don't remember it.
Mrs. Lawson Becker lived on the opposite corner, across from the funeral
home. J. Lee Voorhees was the funeral director. Mrs. Becker's son from Detroit, brought her a new car every year, and exchanged
it for the car she had. She had a lovely home, with spacious lawn.
The Willis Becker Family lived on the opposite side of the funeral home.
He was injured while working at the gravel pit by the cemetery.
Our next door neiqhbor was the John Herberts. They had two married daughters,
Mable Thorpe, who lived in the country with her husband, and a Mrs. Warren of Chicago. She came every year to visit her parents.
She drove a car, and she did not drive it too well.
There is more I could write about, but I'm sure everyone is bored. There
is one thing that you people have that I miss so very much here, and that is the "Church Bells," that glorious call to worship.
We don't have that here in the military town.
May God Bless each and everyone of you.
My Memories Continued
I was surprised to be asked to write more of my memories, so I'll try.
I don't promise it to be very exciting.
At school we had a teacher, Mabel Pomfret, who always seemed to come up
with her favorite quotation. If we complained of the world, she would always say "It's not the world, it's just the people
in it," and the weather would set her off. The globe according to her was slowly turning on its axis, and that the weather
would change from warm to cold. Florida would be cold and Michigan hot. I think the whole class laughed at her. Last year,
I thought of her, for I was told about the mild weather in Michigan.
I don't know about Florida, except for a large amount of rain.
Out here in SE Arizona we had cold weather with snow. I have pictures of
my grandaughter and her husband, building snowmen in my front yard, and that's unusual. My flowers, shrubs and palm tree were
really a mess. So maybe Miss Pomfret meant Arizona instead of Florida in her prediction.
I forgot to mention, Mildred Hodges. She was a very likeable teacher of
our sixth grade. She lived with her parents and sister, close to John and Elisabeth Jennings.
Whenever I think of Thomas R. Nunn , I always get amused. He was " new
teacher fresh out of school. The fourth grade at North Ward was large and I'm afraid unruly , He would get so frustrated.
One day he told us to sign our papers with our initials and our row
number. That was just fine, except in row one, there were three R.P.'S, but we did as he asked. The three of us were Ralph
Petts, Ralph Pillen, and myself, Ruth Parker; oh was he ever irritated with us, so the three of us had to write our full name
and row number. Of course, that wasn't fair, ha ha. I understand he was happy when the school year was over, and so were we.
I don't know where he went from Fenton, poor guy, but wherever, it surely had to be a happier experience than our fourth grade.
It's a wonder that he passed any of us.
We had a book store, stationery I think they called it, run by the Webber
Family. It was on LeRoy, close to Harry Lemens store. They were the nicest people, so patient with the crowd of students buying
school supplies and books, for they handled used books from older students. On one side of the store they had painted dishes.
They were so pretty, I bought a couple for my mother. The three books I bought used to belong to Violet Goodfellow, one about
a whale, another The Lady of the Lake and the Tale of Two Cities. In our English class we were to learn large portions of
each book. It sure hasn't stayed with me, for all I can remember is "All that glitters is not gold, often have you heard that
told." I have collected several rocks here in Arizona and everytime I run across a rock that glitters, I think of that verse. It is called fools gold
In the sixth grade (I believe) was a brother and his sister, by the names
of Alvin and Fern Thanes. Alvin was such a tease, especially when I was reading outside at recess time. I would get so angry
with him, and usually ended up by hitting him, over the head with my book. Several years later I answered a knock at my door
in Pontiac. When I opened the door a man's foot came in. It startled me, and I yelled "Get Out" in no uncertain words. He
laughed and said Ruth, you haven't changed a bit. You still are a spitfire. I looked at him, and wouldn't you know it, it
was that Alvin Thanes. He explained to me that he had stopped in to see a friend by the name of Clifford Bently, another Fenton
boy. He told Alvin I lived just a few houses down the street from him. So Alvin carne down to see if I was still a spitfire.
He was pretending to be a vacuum cleaner salesperson. It had been years since school days, I hardly recognized him. He only
stayed a few minutes, and I never did see him again.
Back to the telephone office, we had all been warned of a man who had kidnapped
a little girl in Flint. He was a tall man and wearing a long black overcoat. About midnight the buzzer on our office door
began to buzz madly. I knew it wasn't one of the operators, for we had a certain signal. I raised the window carefully and
peeked down, and there stood a tall man in a long black overcoat. I
rushed over to the switch for the red light on top of the City Hall, for the night watch, but he did not come or call me. The buzzer kept buzzing, plus pounding on the door. I finally called our
repairman, his name was Tony Cummings. I told him what was going on, in fact he could hear it over the phone. He came right
down, but by that time, the man had left. Tony used his pass key and came upstairs. He hardly had got to the top when the
buzzer started again. Tony rode the rail down and flung open the door so quickly that the man fell inside. After much talking
and identification, Tony brought him upstairs to use our pay phone, to call a wrecker, his car had broke down. It was bitter
cold and his girlfriend was alone in the car. After the phone call, he apologized to me for scaring me to death. He owned
a restaurant in Flint. He left and hurried back to his car. That was the first time I ever saw a tall dark skinned Oriental.
I advised him to wear somethinq else besides that long black overcoat. Well anyway, Tony went to the City Hall to see where
the nightwatch was. He was in a chair beside the stove fast asleep. He said he had lust made his rounds, and being so cold
outside, he set down by the stove and fell asleep, that's understandable. Tony got him wide awake when I turned the red light
on again. I had received a call that two men were chopping a house
down with axes, so they went and put a stop to that noise. They were two brothers and drinking and decided they no longer
needed the old house. I don't recall what happened to the brothers, but the house was remodeled, and a family by the name
of Parker (no relation) moved in. They had two children by the name of John and Theda. Their father worked with my dad at
the cement plant. They were originally from Lake Odessa. The last I heard of them they had moved to a farm out in Denton Hill
There were a lot of Parkers in and around Fenton, but very few were related.
Noreen and Madeline Parker lived there, but I don't think they were related either.
We had a well liked f:amily by the name of Hill. They moved into the Becker
house across from our home. Their children's names were Harold, Uarda, Madeline, Lena, Walter and Mary, but Mary passed away
quite young. From the Becker house, they moved on S. LeRoy Street. From there I do not remember.
I loved the way the store owners decorated their windows near Christmas
time, especially Coles Variety. They always opened up their upstairs for Christmas shoppers. Their extra clerks were Savella
Sparks and Mae Smith. I never was allowed to even window shop. I had to go home directly from school, but one day at Coles
Store, a doll was in the window, and I stopped to stare at it. I don't
know how long I stood there, for suddenly my father took me by the arm demanding why was I there. I pointed at the doll and
said it looked so real, then started to cry. He sent me home a flying. The
next day or so at the hardware, Mr. Harrell put a real pretty sled in the window. It was green with flowers painted on it.
Again my dad caught me, and again I went home crying. When Christmas morning came, and I went downstairs, there was my doll
on that pretty green sled. Oh, I was so happy. That doll wore a six month size clothes, so it was not small. I loved that
doll, but my mother gave it away. She said I was too big to have doll.
Savella and Loa Sparks had a brother by the name of Victor, he was the
oldest. The other family of Sparks, brothers I believe, worked a farm on N. Main Street. Each family had their own house,
Muriel belonged to the other family. On the next lot to them is where McNeils lived with their three children, Mary, Stuart,
and John. Their father lit a firecracker on the 4th of July. It exploded and blew part of his chin away. Next door to them
lived the Stroms (or was it Strongs) and then the Miners, whose two children were Leo and Margaret. Across the street lived
a family, whose name I can't recall. One night a parade of K.K.K. marched by carrying a cross and put it in this family's yard after lighting it.
I do not remember anymore of that activity.
Ralph Pillen's father had a horse and snowplow. He kept the city sidewalks
plowed out. That was so nice of him. I hope the City paid him for his work. It seems that in the summer time that he worked
on the grocery dray. In my mind I can still see it with its covered top and side curtains and shelves where each grocery order
was placed, and in the back kerosene cans were filled up and delivered. We had no city gas those days. We also had a milkman.
It was either Richards or Richardsons Dairy, out on Flint Rd. He gave me the cutest puppy, black and white terrier. My mother
made him take it back. She said it tore up everything. I was heart broken, for I loved that rascal. She gave "Old Shep" away
after my father passed away, because it howled every night when it was time for daddy to come home from work. I remember Shep
howling late one night. The next day Harry Lusk, a close neighbor, was found dead in his home from a heart attack.
There were several new houses built on our street. One was the Garveys.
Their two children were Mafalda and Phillip. What a snob Mafalda turned out to be, because she lived in a new house. I hope
her attitude changed, for really she wasn't too bad of a girl.
George Pellett built a nice house on Main Street and Caskys or McCasky
built a new home across from Mr. Mount on Main Street.
On the street behind, a new house went up, built by Mr. Wortman for his
wife and his sister-in-law, Bessie Cramer. Across from them was the Marc Peck family and the Jamieson's in the pretty yellow
house on the corner. MacFaddens also lived on that street, next door to Lynn Welch. The McCurdy's lived across the street.
He and Mr. Goodfellow had the mens clothing store together. A family
of Brices lived on that block also, but their house was burned. I do not recall if it was torn down or remodeled.
The McClouds lived on N. Main Street. They owned the wallpaper store uptown.
Their grandaughter lived with them. She was a pianist. Every time I walked by she was practicing. I always walked slow, for
her music was beautiful.
The Clifford Phillips family consisted of two children, Judson
and his older sister Nellie. One day she came down in our backyard and was watching a group of us playing "Ring around the
rosie". Suddenly she grabbed the back of my dress and dropped a handful
of angleworms down my back. I do not remember her ever coming back
to play with us again. In later years I admired her for going to Nursing School in Chicago. I wanted to go there too, but
my mother said no way, but I kept on dreaming, for someday I was determined
to become a nurse.
There was an Indian family living by the woods, at the rear of the Sparks
Farm. I've tried to think what street or path we took to get there,
but it doesn't ring a bell. It had to be close to the North Ward School for our teacher would take the class to the woods
to gather wild flowers for our May Baskets. This Indian Family was The Tobias'. Their son's name was Charles and he was in
our class. Much to my surprise, my parents let me accompany them to an Indian Settlement near Saginaw. The house was a low
squatty type house, but very clean and neat. After we finished eating a delicious meal, the Chief said, "We go", so we started
out. He took the lead and the rest of us followed, Indian fashion, one behind the other. We had an enjoyable time, and returned
to our homes in Fenton before dark. I do not remember what became of
Uptown, behind the Damon Building, were three houses. The one belonged
to a widow lady. She turned her livingroom into a reception room with a bathroom leading off from it. It was labeled "The Ladies Rest Rooms". It was so convenient for all women, old and young
and mothers with small children and babies. It had a couch, rocking chairs and small tables in it. It was kept so clean, no
scribbling and nasty words on the walls or trash on the floors. Sometimes
the lady would come in and visit with the ladies. She was really nice.
The next house was Dr. Gould's office. I can remember a wall clock with
its pendulum swinging back and forth. Below it was a black leather couch, stuffed with horsehair, it was awful picky. Our
beloved Doctor would be behind his wooden desk with rows of bottles
filled with all color pills and liquids, behind him on shelves.
The next house had several different families living in it. The one I remember
was the Carmody's. Their daughter Catherine taught our fifth grade. During the World War #1 many epidemics broke out and on
the Carmody house a "Diptheria sign was put up. Other diseases, such as measles, black and some red, mumps, itch and other
diseases. Scarlet Fever too. I do not remember too much of the happenings, for I was sick in bed for weeks. Dr. Gould said
I had what they called a complication of diseases. I looked like skin
and bones when I was allowed up. My plumpness was gone.
The last time I visited Fenton, the Carmody house was gone, or else it
was remodeled into the Ray Hunt Insurance Office. On the corner lot was the home of Dr. McGary, but now it's the Post Office.
Further up the block, on the opposite side, the telegraph family for the Grand Trunk Depot, lived in a two story gray house.
They had a son by the name of Max. The last name I don't exactly remember, unless it was Weidman.
I often went into the depot to listen to the telegraph keys clicking away.
One of our neighbors, Mr. Robinson, was the freight man. He called out the wagons to pick up the luggage from incoming trains.
There was a large freight building across the several rows of tracks. One
of the men working there was Mr. Miner, Leo and Margaret's father. There was another brick building, across from the freight
office, but I don't know what it was used for. The box cars were always at the unloading dock, and boxes of all sizes, were
rolled in and some rolled out.
A sidewalk lead across the tracks over to Main St, which everybody used.
My sister came home from her work in Durand one weekend, and we walked uptown after supper to get an ornament she wanted for
the Christmas tree. Coming back we met a stranger walking in the opposite
direction. We passed him by and crossed the tracks toward home, when I thought I heard something. I glanced back just in time
to see that man lunge at my sister, knocking her down. I took off in high gear screaming "Help, help". People came running from all directions. They didn't catch the man, but helped my sister up and one of the men walked home with us. You better believe we never went uptown again after dark, our dad forbid us anyway. Everyone thought
it might have been one of the workers off from the work train, that
had pulled in that day and parked on one of the side tracks. I told my sister NEVER would I walk uptown with her again
if she wore those diamond earrings, her Christmas gift from her fiancee. She snorted at me and said "don't worry, I'll never
take you again. You ran off and left me, screeching like mad". Now, wasn't that sisterly love for you?
I remember being with a group of teenagers one night, when the driver of
the car said he wondered how far the car would coast down Denton Hill. So, he shut the motor off and shoved in the clutch
on his Model T Ford and away we went, faster and faster down the hill, around the corner on High Street, never stopping, down
Bangs Hill, still gaining speed, past Shiawassee Avenue (no stop signs then) and on into town, coasting to a stop in front
of the Methodist Church. The driver was laughing and said, "look at all the gas I saved." It wouldn't have been so funny if
another vehicle had crossed in front of us. It scares me even now, to think of the wild and dangerous things we used to do.
Of course, my mother never knew about it, thank goodness.
Just out of Fenton, going to Holly, was a sink hole. It was a bad one.
Loads and loads of gravel was poured into it, but it never seemed like enough. Many a car had to be pulled out. The farmers
must have got rich hauling people out with their horses and tractors.
As far as I know, after the pavement was put in, the situation cleared up.
My mother had a sister, living in Fenton, by the name of Mary Spring. She
had three children, by the names of John, Andrew and Bertha, the whole family have passed away. Andrew, or as I called him,
Andy, married a nice girl from Grand Blanc, and they made their home
in Holly. They had 3 or 4 children. Anyway before Andy was married, he dared me one night to walk to Holly and go to the show
with him. So after getting permission, we took off. It was only 5 miles, but I'm sure it was more like twenty five, or at
least it felt that way. It was a cold wintery night so Andy bought us an ice cream cone with red pepper in it, boy did that
burn. You know, come to think about it, I wonder if the same person fixed that cone that made the cone filled with sand the
night of the Freshman Party. It was the same place joining onto the theatre there. Getting back to Andy, the next day I met
him walking to work, leaning on a cane. He was so lame. I wasn't, and
he said, no more long walks.
I remember Julia Lee and her cousin Dorothy Bradshaw. Julia lived with
her folks on the McCloud Farm on N. Holly Rd. On down the Street and across the tracks lived the Rector family. Two of their
children, I remember, Paul and Mary. The name Maro, sticks in my mind, but
I'm not sure who it was. There was a Max Bly also.
The bus lines were run to Pontiac by Bill Stockton, his son was Howard.
The Flint lines were run by Guy Merrick, his son was Kleber.
On the south side of town was an ice cream and candy store, corner building.
My dad let me work there for $4 a week. Arla Hicks worked there with me, but neither one of us worked too long for the owner's
attitude toward young girls was not too good, so that ended my first job.
I stayed at the Voorhees Funeral Home on nights Lee and his wife wanted
to spend the evenings out. So many of my friends chided me for staying in a funeral home, but I told them to forget it, it didn't bother me. Before Voorhees took the funeral home over, a family
by the name of Eagan, lived there with their daughter. Mr. Eagan was a meat cutter and worked in one of the markets uptown.
They and the Voorhees exchanged homes, the Eagans moving into the cute bungalow on Main Street. Later Howard Craft took over
the Funeral Home when the Voorhees moved to Pontiac. I understand Tom Allen has it now. Howard Craft married a former schoolmate,
Dorothy Tucker, he also had a sister, Nadine.
On our way to school one day, we saw Kenneth Robbins heading for us at
a fast rate of speed. He swerved his car to avoid us, but it rolled over instead. None of us or the driver were hurt. Some
of the school boys helped him set the car back on its wheels, and he
drove off at a much slower speed. Really, I think he was just feeling his oats. He has a younger brother by the name of Gordon,
but he was the quieter type and well liked. Two other boys from our
school did not fare so well. Their parents found them under the car dead when they were returning from church. Loose gravel
caused so many accidents.
My girlfriend, Pearl Whitman was in such an accident on the wide curve
out of Fenton on Linden Rd. My parents were afraid to tell me for we were such close friends. Imagine their surprise when
they answered a knock on the door and there stood Pearl. Her parents had brought her in to tell me, she was very much alive
and not dead as reported. We cried together. When suddenly she said, "I'm mad, I lost my shoes and they can't find them" .
Leave it to Pearl to come up with something to laugh at.
Pearl had a sister Fern and a brother Claire. She and her husband live
in Harrison in summer time and spend the winters in Florida.
At school we girls were exchanging recipes for our cookbooks, to go in
our hope chest. My book came up missing. One name I do remember was Ruth Bretzke. She gave me a carmel cookie recipe. I'm
sorry my book was lost for it had a lot of girls names and recipes.
A few other names come to me, like the Yaeger boys, Howard and Leonard;
the Moores, Donald and Eugene, Kenneth Beebe, Donald Brabon and many
The elevator on corner of Main and LeRoy was an active spot, with line
after line of farmers with their teams of horses, pulling loads of grain and beans to go in the elevator. The company hired
women to pick beans upstairs in that building. I know, for my mother and Aunt worked there. It seems to me that it was called
the Michigan Bean Company.
Across from the hotel was a garage,Worthington's Garage. They did general
repairing. Mr. & Mrs. Worthington lived up over the garage. They had children, but the one I remember most was Virginia.
She was my age and a grand friend.
The Floyd Poppy Blacksmith Shop was on LeRoy St. I believe he was in business
with another man, by the name of Lavery, I think it was in the same building or the one next to it, that a small tool and
die plant was. It employed several men.
In the Town Hall, during the War, the Red Cross and ladies met upstairs
and knit socks, scarfs, caps and mittens for the soldier boys.
I remember one morning, walking to school in "Winters Wonderland", a light
snow had fallen the night before, then a slight rain, which froze the ice hanging On the trees. The sun shining through the
ice crystals made it so beautiful. God makes such beauty for people
to enjoy. I think more of these things, especially now, with my failing eyes. I hope I never forget how beautiful the world
I don't find anymore notes that I wrote to myself, reminding me of people
and my hometown. So guess I've come to the end of "My Memories". Now new people and things have come to keep our home alive
May they be as Happy and contented as I was.
Good Luck to All
Ruth Parker Ramage