JUNE 29, 2010


Interviewed by: Mike Robinson

Interviewer’s note: In this interview, Linda discusses her early life growing up literally on the Public Square of Troy, Ohio.

I was born in Troy in 1936. I’m going to talk about my childhood from about the age of nine until I graduated from High School. During that time, my mother and I lived in a downtown apartment at 20 North Market Street. Living in a downtown apartment was certainly a different kind of life, an interesting place to be; certainly that’s where all the action was.

I was fairly young during the World War II years, but I have a few memories from that period. I recall the sadness I felt when my mother's’cousin went into the service; I did not understand the need for him to go and felt deserted because he was leaving us. I also remember rationing stamps and going with my father to stand in line to get sugar and butter- I didn’t understand the need for war rationing. I do remember using little red tokens but don’t remember their purpose. I also remember gasoline rationing, but that was not a big problem for us…..we didn’t have a car.

I remember especially the Friday night football games watching as people walked down the middle of North Market Street carrying their blankets on their way over the bridge to the old football field on the east side of the street. I also vividly remember the snowstorm of 1950. By 3:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday, the stores closed and it continued to snow hard all afternoon and all evening; it was still snowing that evening when we went to bed. My mother awakened me in the middle of the night to look outside; all I could see was the top right of the parking meters, the snow almost enveloping them. Quite a sight!

Living downtown provided some problems; one of those was the disposal of trash. If we wanted to empty our garbage or trash can, we had to take the trash out Market Street to Water Street turning left, then down the alley to the trash can behind our building. We avoided that problem by eating most meals in a restaurant. Brumbaughs restaurant was on the northwest corner of the Public Square, a tiny little place, wonderful food, four or five booths, with three tables that would seat four people each, two or three tables seating two people, and a counter seating about ten. Tight quarters, to be sure, but the food was excellent and the prices very reasonable. In fact, we could eat at Brumbaughs as inexpensively as shopping at the grocery for our meals. We had no car, but there were two downtown groceries and a meat market next to David’s Shoe Store. (Interviewer’s note: now Anjanette’s Candy Store).

We could get a complete meal at Brumbaughs, with an entrée, three side dishes, bread and beverage for about 55 cents; a T-bone steak dinner was about a $1.35. At the time, only the high school had a cafeteria and all other students went home for lunch. Since my mother was working, she arranged for me to have lunch at Brumbaughs- they carried a tab for me and Mother paid the bill at the end of the week. The restaurant owners also watched what I ate so that I would avoid junk food. When I was fourteen, Brumbaughs hired me to wait tables. I continued there as a waitress until I was sixteen, after which time I worked at both Sanders Dairy (then behind the Mayflower Theater) and the Fashion Dress Shop on the Southwest corner of the square.

During these years, I spent a great deal of time at the Rec- a great place of entertainment for teenagers while I was growing up. It was run by a retired Baptist minister- “Pop” Dixon, who proved to be a wonderful father figure who kept a watchful eye on all the kids. We could go to the Rec and play ping-pong, pool, and there was a small dance floor. Also, the Rec had one of the first television sets in town; most of us did not have TV’s in our homes at that time. The Rec also had a snack bar and no, the music was not played constantly. But the record player was located in the snack bar and the person working the snack bar kept the records going when the people wanted to dance. The second floor was used for high school dances and adult square dance classes taught by an instructor from Dayton. I worked for the instructor by collecting money from the dance students and also assisted him when he needed a partner in teaching a dance step; that was a lot of fun.

My mother and I lived downtown until shortly after I graduated in 1953. Certainly the Public Square- when I was a child- was my playground; I knew every store on the square and most of the merchandise carried in each store. The big dime store (Murphy’s) was certainly interesting- it was where the Caroline is now; you could enter on South Market and exit on the southeast corner of the square.

My mother’s primary work was driving the Miami County bookmobile four days a week.

Two days a week she operated a cream station in the space below our apartment. The Cream Station was open on Wednesdays from 9:00AM until 5:00PM and on Saturdays from 9:00AM until 9:00PM. At that time the downtown stores were open until 9:00PM on Saturday and closed one afternoon during the week- I think it was Thursdays. The cream station was there for the farmers who wanted to sell their cream separately from the milk. The farmers would milk the cows, run the milk through a separator to separate the cream from the milk. Twice a week they could bring their milk cans of cream to the Cream Station where it would be tested for butterfat content and sold by the pound- the higher the butterfat content, the more they were paid for their cream. After testing it for butterfat, Mother would write a check to the farmer for his cream, then the cream was picked up at night and sold to a dairy in New Bremen. Acid was involved in the testing process, which led to my mother losing the feeling in her right thumb from not wearing rubber gloves. It was a messy, smelly job and the odor wafted its way into the hallway that led to the stairway to our apartment on days the cream station was operating.

In the spring, my mother would order baby chicks for the farmers, some of which were displayed in our front store window for passerbys to enjoy. It was essential that the baby

chicks be picked up the same day, as they needed care and freedom from the confinement of the boxes. During this time, the economy of Troy depended heavily on farming, as two large grain elevators and a feed store thrived in the city, causing farmers to travel to Troy frequently.

During my childhood, the present Hayner Center served as the public library, and as my mother drove the bookmobile, she was working there four days a week. Mother didn’t want me returning to the apartment immediately after school without supervision, so I went instead to the library and reported to the staff, who would know where I was and could keep an eye on me. After Mother’s workday was over, we would walk home together. I spent a lot of time in Hayner Center; it was actually my second home. I even took piano lessons there and as we had no piano in the apartment, I could use the library’s piano in the third-floor ballroom (then closed to the public) for practice and the teacher even came there to give my lessons. We had wonderful Christmas parties at Hayner for the library staff when I was a child- we would have a carry-in dinner and gift exchange and usually use Mary Jane Hayner’s bedroom on the second floor for the occasion- a fun evening. A lot of elegance for a little girl living in a rather shabby apartment downtown.

After high school, I did not go to college immediately but spent a year at home working- first at Val Hemm motors and later at Aero Products in Vandalia, until the following fall when I went off to Ohio State. I very much wanted to attend college, as the people I grew up with and whose values I embraced were gone. I attended OSU for two years; during that time I met my husband-to-be. We married and stayed in Columbus until he graduated and then lived first at Marion, Ohio for thirteen years, and then to Madison, Wisconsin for 23 years until retirement at which time we moved back to Troy in 1995.

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