‘Coon’ Roast Attracts 250

Despite icy roads, an estimated 250 people attended the 1940 annual wild game dinner at the DeVault Restaurant in Grove City.  The annual meal included roast coon, dressing and sweet potatoes.  The dinner was sponsored by local merchants and business owners.  Numerous out of town guests attended.  Raccoon, according to published accounts, tastes like a cross between dark turkey and roast beef.  It was once a popular holiday meal, especially with rural families.

Telephone service hasn’t always been as convenient as it is today.  In 1936, there were many complaints about the local phone service.  Back then, all calls had to be placed through an operator working with many different wires at a switchboard. 

According to an article in The Grove City Record, the switchboard system in Grove City was not what it should be.  Many residents voiced complaints that calls were put through to the wrong party or that the operator just wouldn’t answer a subscriber.  One merchant complained that an out of town customer tried several times to place an order but was told the merchant was out of town for the day.  At the time, telephone subscribers had to pay a special toll to talk with Columbus subscribers.  The newspaper article it was time for the village council to take action.

Auto Races at Beulah Park

Calcium chloride was sprayed on the dirt track at Beulah Park for the June 1930 automobile race.  The spray was intended to reduce the amount of dust created as the cars rounded the one-mile track.  The 100-mile Gasoline Derby, as it was called, attracted drivers from the Columbus area and from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.  

Source: The Grove City Record

Broadway Was Once Brick Road

Ohio Governor George White was the featured speaker Aug. 21, 1931 when Grove City dedicated Broadway’s new brick surface.  Sixty-five percent of property owners abutting Broadway petitioned the village council in 1929 to improve the road with brick.  Council enacted legislation June 7, 1930.

The old road was leveled and graded by the W. H. Ringwald Company of Chillicothe.  Water mains and the sewer lines were lowered as part of the project and sewage drainage tile was laid under the new road to prevent the road from being torn up at a later date.  Construction of the road began in April 1930.   A six-inch bed of concrete provided the base and sand, to the depth of three quarters of an inch, covered the concrete providing the base for brick; cost $114,877.66.  Many local residents were employed to work on the project.

Besides the parade, performances included a 58-piece Boy’s Industrial School band from Lancaster and a nationally recognized trapeze group.  Part of the day’s events also included a pajama revue for girls 12 and older, baby show, athletic events, bike races, chicken catching contest, tape dance performances, baseball game between Georgesville and Commercial Point, a demonstration by the River Ridge Polo team and prize drawings, to mention only a few of the day’s activities.  Seventy-six merchant prizes, from a block of salt to a gallon of fly spray, went to the winners.

Source: The Grove City Record

Events of 1945

It was Aug. 8, 1945 and the headlines in the Columbus Evening Dispatch read “Four Square Miles of Hiroshima Gone.”

While some were reading the latest news, other people were shopping the newspaper’s advertisements for bargains of the day such as a four-piece bedroom suit that included a vanity, chest, bed and vanity bench for only $89 at The Home Furniture Store.

Other advertising items in the newspaper included:

Worsteds suits for only $29.50 at the Union.

Tickets to the Roller-Derby for 35 cents at the Red Bird Stadium.

Opening of Captain Eddie at Loew’s Broad; A Thousand and One Nights with Phil Silvers at Loew’s Ohio; and Wonderman with Danny Kaye at the RKO Palace.

Soap saver for only 39 cents at Glick’s.

Tires for $13.95 at Montgomery Ward.

Indian lamb paw ladies’ coat at $149 at the C. C. Winans Co.

Women’s hats from $3 at Lazarus.

Shared Space At Museum

The Franklin County Genealogical and Historical Society moved into a designated space in the Grove City Visitor Center and Museum after completing negotiations with the Grove City Area Visitors and Convention Bureau in 2009. 

 Jayne Davis, president of the genealogical group, was excited with the prospect of moving to Grove City and working closely with the Bureau and the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society.

Southwest member Pamela Drone was instrumental in getting discussions started between the two organizations. Davis said the county organization voted Aug. 17 to actively pursue a lease with the VCB.

 The county organization previously met at the Harrison House, 570 W. Broad St., a house reputed to have been the headquarters for General William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812.  They moved into the Harrison House in June 1985.

 The group was first organized as the Franklin County Genealogical Society on May 26, 1970 when Dr. Helen Wikoff invited a few friends to her house who were interested in family research. Ms. Davis has also indicated the county organization will also help staff the new museum during the week.

Grove City Holiday Activities

In 1966, Broadway was illuminated with 87 electric candles mounted on utility poles.  The Grove City Record reported there were “enough candles to make Liberace look twice.”  (Anyone remember Liberace and his piano)?   The holiday decorations were put up by Gene Lambert, Norvill Sparks and Gilbert Shilts, all municipal employees.  

The Grove City Little League sponsored Santa home visits.  Mary Carl was the contact person for parents.  It was a fund-raising project for the organization.  The Grove City Welfare Council asked local residents to contribute to their effort to ensure every family had a joyful Christmas.  Jackson Township firemen were busy selling yule trees at the High Meadow Shopping Center.   Fire Chief Walter Haycook said proceeds from the sale would be used to purchase additional safety equipment.

On Dec. 17, Santa made his annual visit by helicopter at the High Meadows Shopping Center on Hoover Road.  Two local merchants, Dave Hoodin of the A&W Drive Inn and Ken Relyea of Drustar Pharmacy spearheaded the effort to bring Santa back to town.   Also, on that date, the Grove City Jaycee Wives sponsored a Scholarship Fund dance at Oakhurst Country Club.

Special Holiday Programs

The third annual Christmas Carol Service was held at St. John’s Lutheran Church just a few days before the holiday season in 1927.  A large crowd from the community attended.  The junior choir was composed of 26 children dressed in white robes.  The adult choir was dressed in black robes with white collars.  Mrs. Emanuel Poppen was the organist.

A two-part cantata, composed of 15 voices, performed “The Vision Eternal” at the Grove City Methodist Episcopal Church on Christmas eve.  A large crowd attended and it was reported to have been one of the best performances ever seen locally.  Naomi Mounts, dressed in a black gown dotted with stars, introduced each character; P. H. Borror was the soloist.

Other holiday events include a Christmas program at the Pleasant Corners United Brethren Church and another program at the Briggsdale School.  In Harrisburg, Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Norris entertained family and friends; Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Borror had Christmas dinner with the Linebaugh family in the Concord community.

A Christmas dance, sponsored by the Girls’ Community Club, was held at the American Legion Hall in Grove City.   At total of 42 attended the event which also included card games and a gift exchange.  An orchestra performed for the event.   Also, 400 attended the play “Joe Guess Runs a Boarding House” at the Jackson Township High School sponsored by area farmers.

Christmas Gifts For Wives

Back in the 1930s, husbands were encouraged to purchase “utility” gifts for their wives instead of something personal.  Advertised specials included an RCA Victor Console radio for $49.95 that boasted it had metal tubes, the greatest tube advance in 28 years.  It was available at the newly opened Haines Electric Shop on Broadway which promoted Christmas gifts for the lady of the house.  One gift idea was the new Spiralator washing machine for only $1 weekly or a Kelvinator refrigerator for only 15 cents a day. 

Not to be left out, Westgate Electric Shop in Columbus advertised an Apex vacuum, especially designed for women, for only $39.95.  Grove City Farmers Exchange suggested husbands surprise their wife with a Kitchen Kit electric mixer; DeVoss Store in Harrisburg had another Christmas idea.  Don’t buy something for her to clean the floor, rent a Johnson Floor Polisher instead.

Holiday Traditions

In 1936, one of the big local holiday events was the Grove City Business Men’s Association minstrel show.  It was held Dec. 14 under the direction of Russ Darnell and held at the Jackson Township High School auditorium.   Proceeds from the sale of tickets benefited the high school band.  Darnell promised new songs and an ample side of wise-cracks.   That was also the year Richard Barbee of Pleasant Corners says he found a way to make his cows give more milk.  He installed a radio in his cow barn and reported the cows “really appreciate the music” and actually produced more milk.  Wonder if it was Christmas carols that did the trick?

First Motorized Vehicle

Campbell T. Chittenden, a Columbus businessman and hotelier, is regarded as the first Columbus resident to purchase a “horseless carriage” in Central Ohio.  That vehicle was delivered in September, 1899 from the Winton Motor Carriage Company in Cleveland.

Chittenden’s $1,000 vehicle was fueled by common stove gas and could reach a maximum speed of 18 mph.  Hugh Grant Jr. is believed to have owned the first motorized car in Grove City.

Perry Okey, a Columbus master machinist and inventor actually built the first motored vehicle in Central Ohio, according to papers from the late John R. Hooper of Grove City.

Okey introduced his automobile in Columbus in the summer of 1899, according to Okey’s handwritten notation on the back of a photograph.  His vehicle attracted a crowd of spectators on Fourth Street about 50 feet south of Long Street, the note read.  He “motored” around the county to much acclaim.  

After Okey introduced his prototype vehicle after five years work, he continued to make improvements until Jan. 13, 1900, according to Hooper’s records.  Little else is known about Okey’s automobile except that on Feb. 25, 1901 he formed the Okey Automobile Company at 7 Frank Street, Columbus to manufacture automobiles.  Internet searches have produced no additional information about the vehicle.

Hooper, who was president of Okey Manufacturing in the mid 1970’s recalled two other stories Perry frequently told.  The first was a trip to Washington, DC to pitch one of his inventions.  Many Columbus business leaders considered him a mechanical genius and encouraged his trip by writing letters of support to officials in the nation’s capital.

According to Hooper, Perry met with a Navy admiral described as a large, red headed man with a mutton chop whiskers.  The presentation was made during the Spanish American War and Okey was trying to sell his idea for a one-man submarine.

His plan met with much resistance and Okey was escorted out of the admiral’s office as “some kind of a nut”.  From that day, Perry had little use for anyone in government saying: “They are nothing but a bunch of pinheaded idiots.”

Another favorite story by Okey, as told by Hooper, involved an early ordinance in the City of Columbus dealing with automobiles and horse drawn vehicles. The ordinance dictated that anytime a motorized vehicle approached a wagon or buggy drawn by a team of horses, the automobile had to stop and the driver had to get our and lead the horses past the vehicle to prevent frightening the horses.

“Perry didn’t always observe this ordinance and Okey recalled there were some great run-always in those days,” Hooper said.