Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Erma Brown

The following article was submitted by Erma M. Illig, Mayfield Heights, Ohio for "LakeLines," the newsletter of the Lake County Genealogical Society, 15:3 (1989) pp. 23-25. It was transcribed here by Casi Doskey and submitted by Sally Malone.
The author, Erma M. Brown, was partly raised by Mrs. Illig’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Newhous, who lived on Casement Ave., Painesville, across from the cemetery.

This is what I can remember of Grandpa and Grandma Newhouse, as I called them. Will also relate about the house and neighbors. Naturally can not remember their names.

Grandpa was a quiet person and walked with a cane. They maintained a large garden in back of the house. To me the house seemed small compared to the lot it sat on, for there was a large front/back yard. Can remember on a summer evening of chasing fire-flies, putting them in a jar to see them light-up. Seems cruel now.

The neighbors next door had children whom I played with. Such as make-believe house, tag and hide-go-seek. Seems to me there was a shed which contained oats that you would feed a horse, but for the life of me, do not remember any horse. Well, we would take a handful of these oats to eat. For some reason this seemed like a treat.

There was a dairy on the other side with a vacant lot in-between. This must have been off-limits for do not remember going there often. They had a separator, which separated the cream from the milk, which was then used to make butter and buttermilk. There were no cows, so the milk must have been brought in from surrounding farms.

The neighbors across the street, lived in a large house. Large enough to have servants. There were children and they had a pony and a sulky which was adventure to ride in. Remember the house as being very large with tall ceilings. There was a water tower at the very top of the house, this would heat water for washing and bathing purposes. As they had a complete bathroom, very lovely furniture and beautiful knick-knacks. (The sun heated the water, in the water tower). Was always told to be a little lady and to behave myself. (That is to sit correctly, not to touch anything and be quiet, speak only when spoken to). What a comparison, the rich on one side and the poor on the other.

Had a beautiful doll and a sulky (guess that is what you would call it). Had two wheels, a seat for my doll and then was pulled by a handle. Have a picture of this. I can remember the storage area at the top of the stairs. To the right as you would go up, this was my play area on raining days, or whenever. Kept my dishes, dolls and toys in this area. What other toys were there, do not remember. The stairs were steep and curved as you went up. Always slept upstairs alone in a crib, in the heat, or cold. Can remember being scared, for there was no electricity only the use of kerosene lamps. In the fall of the year we would make an out-line of the house with the fall leaves, then play house. Would sit and make dolls out of hollyhock flowers. Loved to climb trees, but was always told that this was not lady-like.

This must have been during the years of 1918-1919, for I have vivid memories of going to the railroad station to see young men go off to war, amid many tears that were shed as they left for the war. Their wives, sweethearts, mothers and friends sent them away with hand-knitted socks, mittens, scarfs, cigarettes and candy. There was a mansion at the end of the street, at least it seemed like a mansion to me. It had been converted into a place where you learned to knit, roll bandages, make packages for the boys overseas. Also, to learn new recipes for cooking, as there was a shortage of food, such as butter, flour, sugar and other things I do not remember of, as I can not remember going hungry. Grandma had a well stocked larder, she did a lot of canning. There was a room off the kitchen which was used partially for a clothes closet and behind that was her larder. In the kitchen which was a very large room and used the most in the house, contained a small sink with running water. There was a stove which burned kerosene or was it called coal oil? They had a basement which contained a furnace which burned coal. Can remember the coal being delivered. There was a washing machine with scrub boards on each side and agitated by using a handle. After the water had been heated, the clothes placed inside, then grandpa would stand there and push the handle back and fourth to agitate the clothes. A wringer was mounted on a bench where a tub of rinse water had been placed, then the clothes were wrung through the wringer being turned by hand. Rinsed again and wrung again, then hung up to dry. In the summer this was done on the outside, in the winter down in the basement. Forgot to mention that dresses, petticoats and shirts were starched, heavily. Then when the clothes were dry they had to be dampened before ironing. Irons were heated on top of the oil stove, and how you kept from getting black marks on the clothes I can not remember. But there was a lot of ironing to be done, very precisely. Too much work compared to today. Then we used to take a bath ONCE A WEEK, usually on Saturday night, to be ready for Church on the Sabbath. The water had to be heated before each bath. Even though they had a bathroom, can never remember it being used for bathing purposes. In the front parlor which was used only for special occasions, there was a pedal organ, which was never used. Wanted to play the organ even though I could not reach the pedals. Was not allowed to, only to dust it. Loved the sea shells, which you placed to your ear, to hear the roar of the sea. They were so pretty. There were pretty paper weights, book of pictures of people, book of postcards, which I dearly loved to look at. Can remember one Christmas when there were candles lit on the tree. Grandma, also had quite a few plants which she exchanged slips with her friends. Like any child was always asking what time it was, so was finally told to sit on the floor by the kitchen door and to watch the clock. Had been told what the numerals stood for, then as the time passed had to tell what time it was. When said incorrectly, would be corrected until I got it right. When I knew how to tell time was so happy, for it seemed such a struggle to learn.

Grandma had many nice hand embroidery, crocheted handkerchiefs. She used lilac or sweetpea water cologne, it had a nice fragrance. Was used sparingly. Can not remember her dressing as well as Mother Bartell, but she always looked very neat in her clean starched dresses.

Liked to watch the storms, see the lightening and listen to it thunder. Not anymore, am scared of storms. In the winter the windows would freeze leaving a beautiful pattern, then I would make up stories as to what I saw. That was a terrible winter, when I stayed there. Wore long underwear, with a harness which had long garters to fasten to my long stockings (two in the back, two in the front). Then over this wore a flannel petticoat, then a starched lace petticoat, then a flannel dress, then over this an apron to keep the dress clean. When I ventured outside had to put on leggings, which were buttoned-up the sides over my high-top button shoes. Then a heavy coat with a cord through the sleeves which was attached to mittens (so they would not get lost). On my head a hand knitted cap then a scarf, the last thing were the rubbers. It must have taken at least a half-hour to put all of this on, only to go out to play for a short time, for it was so cold. Of course it was the same when I attended school. Must have only been six of seven to remember all these things. The snow was so high that I found it very difficult to walk or play in. Will never forget that winter.

Can also remember going to the train when soldiers returned from the war. They came off the train maimed. No legs, no arms, half of a face gone, no nose, IT WAS JUST TERRIBLE. They sure did not have the hospital facilities that they have today.

It was a modest home, but clean. A busy place for she was always doing something. Ironing, baking, cooking, canning, sewing, crocheting, knitting, scrubbing, cleaning, etc. She taught me to knit by using toothpicks, then I graduated to regular needles, but I did not like to knit. Can not remember Grandpa doing much of anything, only standing at the washer and agitating clothes. Grandma was very good and kind to me, always hated to leave.

My memories of the Painesville Bridge. I just loved parasols, but when walking across the bridge the parasol invariably would get caught between the planks and then break. Was told repeatedly that this would happen, but did it again and again, only to cry my heart out over a broken parasol. Loved to stop and watch them make apple cider at the mill, the fragrance was heavenly. The mill was at the end of the bridge just before going up the hill into town. Used to have fun coming home from school with the other children, who lived near us. We would always dawdle then get bawled out for always being late. It was a good walk home from school. We used to cut through the cemetery and gathered buckeye nuts. Someone would carve these nuts into shapes of animals or baskets. Maybe Grandpa did this. Do not remember who did the carving, only that I was delighted with them.

Well, there is one more incident that I must relate to (only that I am ashamed to think that I did such a thing). One day on returning home from school I got up on the railing of this bridge and proceeded to walk across. Just imagine there was a raging river underneath. Well, a neighbor came by and told me to get down. I sassed him and he said that he would tell grandma, which he did. This is the only time that I can remember her punishing me, believe that she gave me a whipping, which I sure did deserve!! Forgot all about this until you sent me the clipping that they were destroying the bridge. To think that that bridge was twenty years old then for it is ninety now. What a historical monument. How often does anything last that long and the use it received, as it was the only way across town was by using this bridge.

Erma Marie Hays, Goodwin, Salvage, Brown

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