He called his memories "Nostalgic ramblings for the reader but therapy for the writer"
The late Robert Kreider, who spent several of his growing up years in Bluffton, wrote this column in 2010 for the Bluffton Icon. It is reprinted here. Simply add 12 years his reference to 75 years ago, or think "1935."
At Christmas time boyhood images of a Bluffton of more than 75 years ago come surging out of my past. In my ripe old age, I savor these scraps of memory. Speaking of "ripe old age," how does one know when he or she has become "ripe"? Relax for this flow of nostalgia:
Both an afternoon and evening performance of the "Messiah" in the hip-roof College Barn. . . . viewing a crew from Hankish candy store cutting ice on the quarry next to the Bluffton Light Plant. . . . standing in awe, viewing those giant generators in the Light Plant. . . . outside breathing the foul sulfur aroma from the aeration pipes of the town's water system. . . .
Page Dairy pouring milky waste water into Riley Creek, contaminating the water for a mile down stream. . . . pawing through the village dump across from Harmon Field looking for wooden staves from touring cars which we could salvage to use as hockey sticks. . . .
the drama across the tracks on College Avenue of watching them saw boards and planks from giant oak logs in Ed Amstutz's saw mill. . . . the oval island of wooded wilderness beside Andy Hauenstein's handsome brick residence. . . . two doors south the Biederman house where we lived for a year, 1927-1928, and in the summer watched the drama of crews tearing up Main Street and laying it with new brick. . . .
Mose Steiner accumulating a mound of brick on his lot at the corner of Jackson and Kibler preparatory to building a handsome brick house (later the residence of the Urichs and today the Boehrs). . . . reading hunting and fishing magazines as I waited for Doc Ludwig to resole my only pair of shoes. . . . next door Bogart's Dodge dealership with a pump out front on Main Street. . . . seeing occasionally a horse and buggy tied up on Church Street alongside the Gratz Dry Goods store. . . .buying on sale at half price a catcher's mitt at Edgar Hauenstein's Corner Drug Store. . . . at Sidney's Rexall Drug Store buying each September a supply of school books. . . . at noon in the fall Mr. Huser of Steiner and Huser men's clothing coming to watch us play football on the grade school grounds. . . .
enjoying making the rounds at Winter Fair seeing the livestock exhibited in the three livery barns adjoining Cherry Street. . . . going to Hankish's candy store in wintertime to get a pint of fresh oysters dipped from a cooler setting outside in the cold. . . . buying for mother a pound of Hershey milk chocolate chipped by Mr. Hankish from a one foot cube.
. . . . ditto, at Ed Reichenbach's grocery chipping dates from a big block. . . . buying Christmas gifts at Shalley's ten cents store that adjoined Pudd Worthington's Star theater with its forbidden delights. . . . across the street next to a pool hall, getting a haircut for 25 cents (maybe 15 cents) in Dillman's barbershop. . . .
going to the Buckeye for a swim, stopping at the foundry by the Main Street bridge to watch a blacksmith pursue his fiery trade. . . . Saturday nights when downtown Bluffton bustled with crowds, lights, action. . . . and then village residents and characters. . .
On I could go: images of wilderness haunts in the Bluffton countryside. Nostalgic ramblings for the reader but therapy for the writer.