Letter from Robert Weeber of Denver Coloradoto his sister Virginia Regenold of Waterville, Ohio 1997
[Virginia donated the second part of his letter with his memories of Canal Road to WHS. She had sent him a photo of a barn to see if he could identify its location.]
My remembrance of north of the Kloene house [377 Canal Road, his grandparents' home] was the long row of huge maple trees and one tulip poplar along the Canal Road. The Haskins House [425 Canal] was very large and Marion and his mother [Martha] lived alone in the place. The yard and outbuildings were very well maintained and as I look back on all this I wonder how those two people managed all this work. Marion kept three horses, using two each day in a rotation process. Marion kept five cows, Jerseys and Holsteins, I can't remember how many of each. I used to bother Marion so much he actually taught me how to milk which I did a few times. One evening after milking I drank a cup of fresh warm milk and only got as far as the tulip poplar when I got violently ill. I do think this tree still stands and each time I walk down the road and pass it I recall that evening. I did get to crank the cream separator on several occasions which was a great experience.
The threshing season to me was a truly great event. The steam tractor was placed close to the road and a great long belt perhaps 10 inches in width was connected to the thresher. The distance between the two was to prevent fire from jumping from the steam engine to the wheat straw. The wheat poured out of the machine and the straw was blown into the west end of the barn over the cow shed. All the wheat was brought in by horse team on great wagons. Hay was brought in at different times, and with the use of a great fork the hay was lifted to the front part of the barn, this also all done with a team of horses.
During the summer Marion would take me back to the cornfield on a wagon, and we would get several large watermelons. In the fall we went after pumpkins, and would bring back a whole wagon load. What exciting times for me as a kid. Next to the Haskins barn was the cow pasture which bordered on the Detweiler property. There was an enormous apple tree in this area, which had several Flicker nests in it. It seems I spent a lot of time in that tree checking to see how the birds were doing, which caused the adult birds a lot of trouble. Many times I have stopped to remember how many different types of birds were in the area. Every bird one can imagine were around including game birds, lots of ring neck pheasants and ducks in the canal. What pleasant memories.
Next to the Haskins cow pasture and fence was the Detweiler House. [475 Canal Road] The yard, shrubs and trees were not in very good shape. It almost looked like it had little if any care, and the bushes were so thick Mr. D. could hardly get his car down the drive. Toward the rear of the house and end of drive was a garage, not used, with an almost second floor. This was a play house, and I can remember how full this area was with doll furniture, toys, games, clothes and so forth. At the rear of the house was a chicken house in which Mr. D. raised white leghorn chickens. I believe for eggs only, but I am not sure. I would imagine he had a couple of hundred more or less. I believe this endeavor did not last more than a couple of years. I rather imagine it was too much work. Mr. D. invited grandmother and me down to see the new electric range and refrigerator he had just purchased. The range was enormous and had four burners with a switch on the front with four positions of temperature. The fridge was huge and when he opened it youcould see how thick the walls and door was. This was driven by a big noisy compressor under the back porch outside of the house. It was a sight to see, big electric motor and belts running the compressor. Mr. D. made some lemonade and with a great deal of ceremony took enormous ice cubes out of the fridge and put them in the glasses. I think we were supposed to be impressed, I know I was. The inside of the house seemed to be cluttered and in a state of disarray. Lots of stuff around and not in much order. He did have a large radio. I think it was a Zenith which had many dials and a great horn speaker. Yet Mr. D. was always impeccably dressed in his riding pants, highly polished riding boots and his riding crop. He spent a lot of time at the Kloene place visiting at least once a day. He was always pleasant and friendly, but always in a subtle way let you know that he was very important. I have no idea what income he had. He just seemed to be around talking to people. He didn't seem to want for anything. Mr. D. seemed to be ageless and looked young even though I think he was older. Mary Eunice [Detweilers' adopted granddaughter] never seemed to be around even though she went to school in Waterville. Mr. D. was memorable to me as being a gentleman who was living his life in the wrong place at the wrong time in history. My grandparents thought him perhaps the most important person they ever knew and treated him with great respect. But then I think most people saw him in this light.
I do thank your friend Phyllis Witzler for giving me the pages from Memories of Lucas County. I was unsure the house we have been discussing is the Van Fleet Home, which has always been in question in my mind. It seems I have made an error, as to which side of the house, the organ was in. According to Eleanor [Longbrake] whose grandparents the house belongs, she must be right and somehow I have gotten my polarity reversed as I said it was on the left. Eleanor must know everythingabout that house [371 Canal Road] as well as I knew everything about the Kloene House. I'm sorry in years past I didn't stop in to visit with Eleanor, who I always thought was a most charming and lovely person. She could have answered many of my questions. But she probably would not remember me.
Back to the house which was also Mary's grandparents house. I suppose that is how we got in the place to start with. Ihad only seen a part of it up close and parts of it I never did see. If the house was empty in 1927, I was nine, that being seventy years ago and it is a wonder to me that I remembered anything at all. According to the document, George M. Van Fleet, born April 7, 1881 is Merle Van Fleet, who I noted is listed in "Old Waterville" as having graduated from High School 1899. Merle was a very kind man and I recall very plainly the time I visited him when he was very ill toward the end of his life. Is Anna Van Fleet, his wife, a Taylor, any relation to Grandma Taylor who lived in the house Franklin now lives in? [306 Elm]
The barn in the picture complete with Collie dog looks familiar to me. This is about the right size of the barn I remember and close to the house as I remember. I do not recall the fence in the picture. And there is the question of the side between the house and barn. These were very close together, but here again I'm not quite sure. The picture shows everything in a grand state of repair, so it could have been before a side was built. The picture could not have been taken after my remembrance because at that time the whole scene was one of decline and need of care. But the barn sure is the size I remember. It would seem the picture is a mystery for now. I do hope some further photos or information appears to identify the location. This is about all I can do. I'm just happy to have such pleasant memories of people and places...
[In Memorial Profiles Priscilla Bohland submitted her mother's information: Mary Eunice Sharpe (1915-1997) lived with her paternal grandparents at 475 Canal Road.
Parke Detweiler, Mary's birth father, was in the first Toledo Cavalry unit so his horse and other members' horses were boarded on Canal Road.]