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.

Johnston and Grant

S.E. Johnston started in the coal business about 1890.  The coal yard was located near the railroad track between Park Street and Grove City Pike.

He was formerly a school teacher and taught in Grove City and vicinity for five years. Seeing the opportunity for a business of his own, he began supplying coal to local residents.   The business grew and a few years later A.G. Grant entered into partnership with him and the grain business was added.

After the death of Grant, a son, Jesse R. Grant, took over his father’s interest. Later, added the lines of lumber, building material and supplies, were added to the business offering.

Source:  Lewis Garrison

Mayer Hardware Company

G. J. Mayer was a farmer several years before he came to Grove City in 1916 and entered the grocery business.   After two years, he expanded to include a hardware line and with that began to move away from selling groceries.

His store was located on Broadway and within a short time, he expanded his hardware business to include automobile accessories and the Oliver line of farm implements.  He also sold the Florence automatic oil stove to local consumers.

Source:  Lewis Garrison

Museum Opened In 2009

Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage cut the ribbon and officially opened the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum on Sept. 19, 2009.  The museum was decorated by Linda L. Hale, a society life member, for the Christmas holiday season.  There was a large display of toys from bygone years a display is called Memories of Holidays Past. 

The museum was open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and special late hours Dec. 4 during the Winter Lights event in the Town Center and during the Mistletoe Market and Grove City Holiday Home Tour Dec. 5. 

Bill White, who donated a pump organ to the museum, was there Saturday to play the organ for guests.  The Museum is on the home tour this year and tickets will be available in the building. 

Just a few of the items on display included a large selection of dolls including Snow White in original condition from 1937.  Others include puppets, marionettes, metal and cast-iron toy vehicles, bubble lights, children’s books, turn of the century clothing, hats and a glass exhibit. 

Decorations include holiday trees, large doll house with Christmas lights, holiday china and glassware and festive holiday theme music.

Milk, Ice Delivery Service

Edward and Otto Hensel were engaged in the trucking business hauling milk and supplying ice to homes.  Their business operated in the mid-1920s out of a building at Broadway and Grove City Road.

They collected milk for five different milk companies and two creameries in Columbus. They also handle ice in the area for the City Ice & Fuel Company.

Beside their building, where the Town Center gazebo is today, the Capital City Oil Company was building a new filling station offering gasoline and oil products.  Both Edward and Otto were stockholders in the oil company. Coupled with the business was a battery service that included the Willard, Cole and Exide brands.

Rolla W. White

Before Rolla W. White became a successful Grove City businessman, he spent 13 years as a salesman on the road for Green, Joyce and Company, a wholesaler based in Columbus. 

 When White decided to start in business for himself, he partnered in the retail field with T. J. Boyd.  After four years, White purchased Boyd’s interest and remained as the sole owner. White’s business was known for its large inventory consisting of general dry goods, shoes, rugs, linoleums, bed springs and mattresses. He was also stocked in men’s furnishings.

 In addition to his business, he served as the Grove City fire chief and was one of the charter members of the Masonic Lodge.

Farmers & Merchants Bank

The Farmers & Merchants Bank in the spring of 1903. Among its organizers were Joseph M. Briggs, founder of Briggsdale and Daniel Weygandt.

The bank was capitalized for $25,000 and on June 11, 1903 the name was changed to the First National Bank with Briggs serving as president; R.E. Shover, vice-president; and I. Shaffer, cashier.

The bank was located at the corner of Broadway and Columbus Street, on the side of the original plat of the village of Grove City. The building, which still stands, is a had residential rooms and the Citizen’s telephone exchange on the second floor.

The lower floor housed the bank; the directors’ room was in the rear.  Depositors money was kept in a steel lined vault with a heavy Mosler door. The vault contains a screw safe for the storage of monies and securities. The building was considered fire resistance and was burglar-proof.   Adjoining, and on the south side of the bank, was a single-story frame building used as the Bell and Citizen’s telephone exchange.

Heritage Celebration – 2014

The Encampment, first held in 2000, was replaced with the Heritage Celebration at Century Village in 2014.  The Encampment, started by Louie and Joan Eyerman, had focused for nearly a decade on Civil War and American Revolution reenactors.

When the event originally started it was a two-day activity but was later trimmed to a single day for better planning and management.

A popular part of the event was the hourly afternoon firing of a Civil War cannon.

The Heritage Celebration was first held June 6-7, 2014 from 10 a.m. beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing through 9 p.m.   The event showcased a wide variety of activities including making heritage crafts, music and cooking demonstrations.

 A “Buffalo Bill” reenactor was at the Heritage event to moderate some of the activities throughout the day.  A country music jam session was also held.