Saturday, January 27, 2018

Lynne O. Ramer's "Stories and Sagas" of Reedsville, Mifflin County 100 Years Ago

Between 1959 and 1971 my grandfather Lynne O. Ramer wrote hundreds of letters to his hometown newspaper which were published by Ben Meyers in his We Notice That column.

Lynne O. Ramer, age six
Today I am sharing Gramp's memories of a hundred years ago in which he recalls people and places in and around Reedsville, PA. I have added information about the people mentioned in the article wherever possible.
August 1, 1960

We Notice That
By Ben Meyers
The Heights       Phone 8-8430
‘Twont Be Yours Again
Hustle this moment to yourself and hold it close,
and warm it with your flesh.
But do not spoil the new and uncut cloth of time
Around yourself, enhancing you.
Turn it gently, fit it, give it shape
And do not overstrain the weave.
You want it perfect, strong, unmended, whole.
It won’t be yours again.

Dear Ben: No, it won’t be ours again, to recall the memories of those olden, golden days back in Mifflin County. So I’ll include a few more for the sake of your readers who like to linger in memory’s lane.

He has passed to his reward, but Hyman Cohen* often recalled the time when it was my privilege as Boy Scout counsel or to initiate him into the mysteries of frying eggs on a heated rock, then making them the basis for a grand outdoors meal.

Also he leaned how to mix water and flour and wrap it round a stick and bake his own bread. And eat it amid the glories and wonders which Mother Nature so lavishly furnished.

I still remember those days. Also how I used to attend Mr. Cohen’s theatre, the Embassy, also the Rialto, long ago in the silent movie days.

If Jimmy Mann* were here, he would recall all the series of boy’s books I borrowed from his library.  Also the pheasant-on-toast I once dined upon at his folks’ table. (Haven’t had any since either!) Jimmy’s books were the beginning of a liberal education for me: Rover Boys, Rocky Mountain Boys, Motorboat Boys, mentioning just a few.

Of course “Boozer” (Lester Charles) Bobb* of Valley St. and I used to hide the contraband books such as Jesse James, Liberty Boys of ’76, A-One Books of Hobo Life, etc., in the barn and read them where Nammie [pet name for his grandmother Rachel Barbara Reed Ramer] wouldn’t catch us. And we got them all from old “Al” Nale*, Civil War veteran, Milroy’s last member of the GAR.

If Jim Young, my Reedsville pal*, is around, tell him I remember his dad’s bakery with its luscious pastries. Also how I almost broke my hip, slamming into a tree on Young’s Hills and how his mother massaged my bruised hip. And was I ever embarrassed at the age of ten!

Frank Barr would remember the time when he advanced threateningly to the front of Reedsville seventh grade room where the teacher, Mr. Manwiller, was chasing his girl friend, Hazel Shupe*.
At the instant Frank arrived up front, with clenched fists, Charles Hilbish*, principal, stepped in. Now wasn’t that a tableau! And we were all so disappointed, for we thought it would be a feast of fists---Barr vs. Manwiller.  But it all vanished into nothing.
Lynne O. Ramer, left, in his first long pants at age 15
purchased by his Uncle Charles Smithers in 1919
Stories and Sagas

Stories and sagas about the Rev. A. H. Spangler*, Lutheran divine of Yeagertown-Reedsville-Alfarata in the first decades of the present century, are legion and probably growing in numbers.
Thus, like Lincoln, if Mr. Spangler lived all the events he is reputed to have experienced, he’d have to be living still. And in the memories of many former parishioners, he probably is.

It’s well known that he outlived two wives and was married to a third. His jovial companions oft queried, “When will you make it a home run,” that is, “outlive a third and a fourth wife?”

This story about the Rev. Mr. Spangler comes from Mrs. Maude Ramer*, 7 Linn St., Harrisburg.  [Editor’s note: LOR wrote “Lives in Drexel Hill, PA (1965)”]

It seems the clergyman and Harry W. Ramer*, first principal of the now absorbed Burnham High School, were very good friends. At one time Dr. Spangler was sick and his family doctor prescribed pills and whiskey. At some banquet which Harry attended Dr. Spangler spoke thus: “I am glad to be here. I have been sick, in fact, sick enough to die. If I had died it would have been too bad because Mrs. Spangler here (seated beside him) waited so long and wanted to make home rum.

“But now I have recovered due, I believe, to the fact that when the doctor inquired about my progress in taking the prescribed medicines, I was able to tell him, ‘Although I might be a day or two behind on the pills, I’m several days ahead on the whiskey!”

This apparently was said at a public gathering and is typical Spanglersque. I would not detract one whit or one iota from his revered memory, but thought you’d like to hear this bit of folklore.

I sat in the pews of Dr. Spangler’s church in Reedsville during 1913-15 and preached my very first sermon (a horrible thing, if I must say so) in the pulpits he once graced—Yeagertown and Alfarata.  That was back in 1925 when I was still a seminarian at Susquehanna University.

The time draweth nigh when a bus load of 50 PA Dutchmen invade the Motor City en route to the famed Wisconsin “Dells” from the Harrisburg-York-Hanover area. John L. Getz*, now of York’s Hannah-Penn Junior High School faculty, will be the leader. He’s my former fellow teacher-neighbor from Kane. A Michigander spots a Pennsylvanian for the latter always refers to his home state as PA.

     Lynne O. Ramer
     514 Gardenia Ave.,
     Royal Oak, Mich.

[Editor’s note: LOR wrote: “Dr. Spangler was once president of the “S.U.’s board” and “Lottie: I wrote this right after a trip ‘home.’ This is the last year I met you and Kep! (No! 1962!)” My grandfather often sent the articles to friends, who returned them. This clipping must have been forwarded it to Lottie to read.]

* Hyman Julius Cohen (b. 1878 in Lithuania, d. 1952) appears on the census with his wife Lena and their children Harold, Miriam, Wilton, Miles, Isabella, Solomon and Samuel. In 1910 and 1920 he owned a clothing store. In 1940 his occupation was listed as Real Estate. The 1930 census shows his son Harold D. was a theater manager. The City Directory of 1929 shows the family owned the Embassy Theater at 380 S. Main in Lewistown.

* Jimmy Mann appears in the records as James Hutchinson Mann (b. 1900) to Walter Mann and
Mary A. The 1920 Brown Twsp, Mifflin Co. Census shows Walter manufactured lumber. Lynne's grand-father Joseph S. Ramer had operated a saw mill. In 1930 James was an office clerk living with his uncle Percy G. Mann.

*Lester Charles Bobb (1895-1981)was Lynne's cousin, the son of his mother's sister Carrie Viola Ramer Bobb. After the death of Lynne's mother Esther Mae Ramer, he and "Boozer" were staying with their grandmother Barbara Rachel Reed Ramer when she died. Lynne then lived with his Aunt Carrie or Aunt Annie Ramer Smithers.

* Albert Weidman Nale (1844-1932) See more at Find A Grave here.

*The James Youngs I found, of which there are several generations by that name in a Reedsville
family, did not have an occupation of running a bakery on the census.

*The 1910 Brown Twsp, Armagh County, PA census shows Hazel Shupe/Shoop 9b 29015, d 1998) was the daughter of William P. Shupe and Edith G. She had siblings Andrew C., and Rebecca. William was an axe polisher in an axe factory. The 1920 census shows Hazel was a department store clerk.

*Charles Edgar Hilbush was a 1909 Bucknell University graduate from Northumberland. The 1910 Census in Northumberland shows him living at home, working with his father in real estate at age 25, with parents John and Melissa and siblings John and Sara. A WWII draft card show Charles, age 57, was the Sunbury County Superintendent.

*The Reverend Alexander Hamilton Spangler appears on the 1900 Derry Township Census with his wife Cynthia and their sons Thaddeus and Luther who both worked in the steel mill.
Find A Grave has his obituary of Feb. 21, 1924 published in the Lewistown Sentinel:

Rev. Spangler was born near Shanksville, a son of Daniel & Sophia (Myers) Spangler. After being educated in the local public schools he attended Wooster University in Ohio, graduating in 1873.
He began the study of law in New Bloomfield, Perry Co. and was admitted to the bar at Johnstown. In 1885 he entered Union Theological Seminary and graduated three years later. He served as pastor of the Lutheran congregations at New Bloomfield, Middleburg, Port Royal, Braddock, Yeagertown, Reedsville & Alfarata.

He was married to Cynthis Penrod in 1874. They had three sons, H. Kelly, L. Stoy & Thaddeus S., all of whom survive. [In 1920 the census shows his second wife Catherine.]

Rev. Spangler was vice president of the Saxton Coal Co., director of Saxton Vitrified Brick Co., Russell National Bank, Burnside YMCA (also 1st vice president), Gettysburg College Theological Seminary & Burnham Medicine Co., member of the board of trustees of Susquehanna University & Tressler Orphans' Home (president of the board), member of the State Democratic Committee, Masonic Lodge at Mifflintown and the Harrisburg Consistory, grand chaplain of the Masonic Order of Pennsylvania, etc.

*Harry Webster Ramer was a distant cousin of my grandfather. His wife and gramp's pen pal was Maude Shannon Ramer. Their son George Henry Ramer died in the Korean War.

*Teacher John Lewis Getz (1898-1970) appears on the 1930 Kane, PA Census and the York, PA 1940 Census with his family: wife Goldie and children John, Donald, and Richard.

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