James W. Norma J. Burns School Bus 1938I had the pleasure of talking with Jim Burns on April 5, 2008 about growing up in the area. I had a photo album with me with different things around the area so this discussion changed subjects quickly. But these are Jim’s memories:

“There used to be a lot of business in Medway way back when. Everything is gone now. Chet Pencil had the gas station here in Crystal Lakes. Joe Maupin had the old Sunoco station in Medway. This was way back. It was where the park is today. Different people also ran it – Art Cain had it and Russ Arnett before he had the Gulf Station where the tire place is now. Arnett’s live in Medway on the corner where you back to the school on Middle Street and Sycamore. The old Tavernette goes back quite a few years. My Grandma Haines lived in Medway in a big two-story house.”

“Tecumseh Park was down there along the river and they used to have big parties down there. That was quite a place I guess from what I heard. I’ve been down there where the old park was but all there is was residue of what is left, the foundations. When I was a kid we also used to go down there on the other side of the Mad River back to where old Osborn was. It was there before they moved it to where it is now. I guess there is quite a story on how they moved that. The bought a strip of land and moved those buildings.”

“I remember Joe McAdams. He had a little Cadillac Coupe that he used to drive past here. He had a shop in Springfield, Steel Products Engineering Company. He was a wealthy guy but he was a regular guy. I didn’t know him personally because I was only a kid then.”

“Jack McKnight used to work for Heinz down there. That is probably where he got his green thumb. That’s been his life. He had his own greenhouse and the he got into selling greenhouses. Me and Jack used to double date in school together. Jack may have graduated a year ahead of me. I spent a lot of time down at their old house. It’s a big family, but they were a good family. They didn’t have much but they enjoyed life. We used to go down in the old kitchen in the back and we played poker back there. We played penny ante. Nobody really had much to lose anyhow. We had some good times there.”

“George Dennewitz had a camera shop on Tulip for a long time. He is pretty much closed down now. But he used to show movies out off the old barbershop in Medway. It was out in the gravel and they would hang an old sheet on the garage. We’d go down there on Friday night for free movies. There used to be a garage out there where the dumpster is now. And they ran an electric cord over to the old barbershop where Slim Young was. That’s where they got their electric. They would set the projector in the parking lot and people would bring their chairs and go in there and watch the movies.”

“Where this building (Burns Furniture) sits I used to help my granddad shock corn and shock wheat. And I remember threshing. We’d bring it up the old barn. The farm was probably 15 acres when I was a kid. My dad got two acres off this end of the old farm. His dad gave it to him for a dollar so he could build him a house. Of course when I came up here my dad did the same thing. I think this is the last of the homestead the Burns had left from when they came up from Virginia, but I ‘m not sure on that. Somebody asked what I was going to do with the place but I told him that I’ll let my kids worry about that. I am not sure but I heard they originally had about two square miles they homesteaded.”

“I know over where the Sheehans lives was a Marshall that built that house. There is a two-story house on Aspen that was an old farmhouse. There was another at the corner of Tulip and Park that my mom and dad lived in when they were first married. That house is now gone. There weren’t too many houses around here when I was a kid. What was here was a resort where people would come out for the summertime or for parties on the weekends. They would then go back to Springfield or wherever. Very few stayed year round. There was another farmhouse down there on Kennedy where the trailer court is. Now that old house bas been around a while. Bill and Marian Lucas lived there. I can remember these people well.”

“Bob and Mary Widener, I worked for Bob when I was a kid. He had chickens and he had gardens. I used to go down there and help him clean out the chicken houses. He sold chickens and eggs and stuff like that. He had a couple cows but I don’t know if he sold milk or not. I did. I sold milk when I was in high school. People used to come by the house and buy it by the gallon. We churned butter and we sold butter. We also had chickens and we sold eggs. I used to walk across open field to the barn next door. That was my grandpa and grandma’s barn. That’s where I kept my cows up there. And I go up there and work. Before school I had to get up, go milk, come home and then go to school and come back. That why I wasn’t much in sports in school because I had all these jobs.”

“I worked at the gun club ever since it was put in. It started around 1940 so I would have been about nine years old. Aaron and Lawrence Bird put that building up and started it back there. And Gene Maupin had it later on. I had done it all. I loaded. I can remember going out there when we used to go out there and rake up shells. And we had to take them back there to a place where we burned them like a pit. Then they got all the copper heads on the shells and they sold the copper. They’d start at noon and run until six o’clock at night. They used to have big shoots there. They had a lot of people. They had a good business there. It got expensive as time went on. They only had four traps when I worked there. And then they put in what they called a practice trap. I’ve done it all – the loading, the pulling, the scoring, and I used to go in and mow. I remember a lot of the older shooters. There was a Harbage from South Charleston. There was this man and his wife named Rader who were good shooters. Pete Gram who lived down here by the lake was a pretty good shooter. I don’t remember how many years that Pete’s been gone. His son Larry lived in Medway but I think he moved away now. The people came here from everywhere. I never shot much trap. We’d go there and work and then Aaron would say, “You guys can shoot a little bit.” So we’d take a single barrel shotgun and not the usual trap gun. But we kids would go out there and shot a half of a dozen birds. There’s a trick to doing it. When they shoot them birds, when they get to the apex and they start to go down – it’s skill. Like golf, it’s skill. You can’t blame anybody else. But it was expensive way back then. I was never into it but I know I made decent money. I think that was when I got my Social Security card. We had to have our Social Security cards to work over there. I got my card in 1939 or 1940. I don’t remember what I made.”

“I also used to ride my bicycle over to New Carlisle to work. I worked at Wright’s Five and Dime. I got thirty-five cents and hour and I got my meal. I didn’t always get a meal but when they went to a restaurant, they’d take me with them. And on Saturday we would go down to the house and Mrs. Wright would fix us a meal. I don’t know how many years I worked up there at Mrs. Wright’s soda fountain. But that was good money.”

“I remember the winter of 1950 when we had to shovel out to 40. They had an ambulance waiting up on 40 to take Mrs. Mattingly to the hospital in Springfield. As they came up the road, everybody just came out of their house with shovels. And they shoveled all the way to 40 to get her out to the ambulance to take her to the hospital safely. We had trouble with the calves at that time. But of course there was no traffic so I couldn’t get the milk out. So at the market down here, they sold out of milk and people were wanting milk. So I told them down there that if anybody wants milk, bring a jug, come to the house and fill up. So I don’t know how many people came to the house to get milk. I didn’t charge them anything. You know what a lot of places done, they yanked the prices way up.”

“I had this brick home built in 1971 (on Lake Road). We lived in Donnelsville for sixteen years before that. We was out there past the cemetery north on Hampton Road, first house on the right is where we lived. It sits up there on the bank. I always said if I ever bought a house, I didn’t want to live near Donnelsville. But that was where I bought my first house. I coached Little League up there three or four years. I was on the fire department. Bargdill had a rock shop on Harrison Street in Donnelsville. He was the fire chief for Donnelsville a while back when I was on the fire department for a few years.”

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