Here is a letter received from John Parkinson. Twas our decision to share it as its well worth a read.
June 29, 1993
To Whom It May Concern:
In answer to your request for old time stories or memories of Herrick, Ohio-Here Goes! I will use both sides of a page to conserve paper.
Herrick was my home in the early 1900's. My name was Ann Hotary. I am now 81 years of age. My parents, Joseph and Mary Hotary came to the U.S. from Europe in the late 1800's. My father was of German origin and my mother was Hungarian. They spoke each language fluently and eventually learned to speak English. My father, as were almost all arrivals at that time, was destined to become a miner, A far cry from his younger days as a captain in the German Army under Kaiser Wilhelm. My mother was from a very poor family and was employed as a nursemaid to the area rich people. In the U.S. after living in several mining towns among which was Robeyville near Adena, I was born there February 9, 1912. Later the family moved to Herrick, then a coal mining camp as they called such little towns near mines. There I spent my childhood days and I must say, very, happy days!
Dad worked first in the mine as a digger and finally became a tracklayer. Mom was the homemaker and had a very hard life with a total of 13 children of which, 7 survived. The survivors were John, Mary, Helen, Ann, Andy, Charles, and Steve. She had a reputation as an excellent midwife. (We had no doctors.) She was a good cook, baked many loaves of bread, made soup so good that the American Farmers would stop by for some of that "Hunky Soup."
Our house was the last one in a line on the hillside. Number 40. The front porch had one step up on the uphillside. The back of the house was very high (Steep Hill) leaving a large space underneath, which was just right for storing things. None of the yards had any grass on the steep part, only cinders. The level below had grass. There was the outside privy, the chicken coops, (we also had geese) the hay barn, and the cow barn for our Holstein cow, "Blackie." (over) We also had a nice vegetable garden. The soil was very fertile there. In season we had plenty of vegetables to eat, but we never did "can" any. Why? I don't know!
We children led the life of small town kids in a peaceful time. Not a care in the world. Our parents were good religious people and taught us the "right" way. If only the kids today could be taught the same way!!!
I have many, many, childhood memories. I will try to relate some as they come to mind, such as playing marbles, baseball, playing in the clear creek water with the crawfish, tadpoles and the fish too. Yes, you could see them all in that clear, clear, water. Not like today's polluted streams. We would climb trees, walk the railroad tracks, run all over the mountains, through the dark woods, pick blackberries, dewberries, chase the snakes away, invent all kinds of games and activities. Today's TV kids don't know what real fun is.
Some of the children I remember were Paul Halubek, The Alberts, Andy, Steve, and Billy, they had an older sister who lived in Akron. The Melchioris kids: Charlie, Andy, Johnny, Joe, Katy-Ann, Susie, Mary, Helen, Julie. The Krupinski's: Johnny, Sophia, Jennie, and many others whose names escape me. It was a long time ago.
We also had tragic times. Mr. Melchioris was killed in the mine before the last kid, Johnny was born. Mr. Krupinski was killed by a train as he went to pick up some of his kids returning on the train from a movie in Adena. Somehow he got on the wrong tracks and the train hit him. The train stopped and backed up to the scene. The kids got off and discovered their father's body. I never heard such screaming in my life!!
My father's brother, Andy, and his wife, Kate moved to Herrick from Cleveland. They were big city people. Why they moved to Herrick, I don't know. Their kids were Emma, Ethel, Catherine, Bridget, Eddie and Willie. My Uncle Andy could speak perfect English. Maybe that's why he did not care to work in the mine. So, he decided to be a moonshiner (during prohibition!) The sheriff was always after him. One time he was absent and Aunt Kate decided to go shopping in Adena leaving Eddie, Willie, Emma, Ethel, and me to care for Baby Willie who was in his cradle. When we saw the sheriff coming, one girl said, "There's a bottle of moonshine in the house! What to do with it?" So, I put it in the cradle with Willie. The Sheriff and his gang made an illegal entry and they searched everywhere. Except in the cradle where Willie was yelling his head off. They wanted no part of that. Money was very scarce. When the Ice Cream Wagon came by my mother would buy one scoop. (And the salesman would scrape if off flat) She would divide that one scoop with all of us kids. Couldn't afford a cone, that was a penny extra. Sometimes, after payday, she would go by train to Wheeling (The fare was .10cents) and return with a bag of candy. All the kinds in town were awaiting her return. Us kids never got much of that candy.
We cooked and heated with coal (naturally) when old man Arnold was too lazy to deliver our order, the kids had to pick up loose lumps from the tracks and the slate dump at the mine. We also had to carry water from the town pump for cooking and washing. Oh! That clothes job!! Included were dirty mining clothes, we rubbed and wrung the clothes by hand. Whoever heard of a washing machine?
We always had plenty of milk. "Blackie", our cow was very productive. We made butter in an up and down splash churn, The butter was then washed by hand in clear spring water until no milk showed. We kept it and other perishables in a niche cabinet in the hill under the house. It was cool. Mom was no dummy. She would boil the milk to pasteurize it. Wonder where she learned that? That was probably one reason we had few serious illnesses. OH! We had our share of mishaps. Stone bruises (Barefoot in summer) cuts, and scrapes. One time Steve put several pebbles in his nose. The secretions turned green before we knew. What a mess! (over) Brother Chuck chopped his knee with a hatchet and accidentally shot himself with a .22 rifle, Luckily only through the flesh of his arm. When mom discovered the wound she covered it with cobwebs. Strangely, that was very effective.
Being the youngest girl, I got all the hand-me-downs from the older kids. How I hated those high top button shoes (for cold weather.) I preferred rubber boots with felt liners, until the felt got wet of course. When small, I got all my hair clipped close. Andy wouldn't let his get cut unless I did, until one day mom said "She's a girl stop it!" I never got a real doll until I was 12 and then I had to give it to a girl who was visiting from Cleveland. Imagine doing that today! Mom would make rag dolls from flour sacks (dresses, too) and paint on faces. I thought they were wonderful. We "made do" with everything. Remember, no radio, no TV. no electricity. But we were happy! We wore "long johns" in winter. It was quite a feat to fold the legs for the long stockings to go on. Some kids never learned how to do it.
We had a one-room schoolhouse. 1st Grade through 8th grade. We had an excellent teacher. Her name was Clara Busby. Anyone remember? She was a little "chunky" and on slippery winter days the boys would have to pull and push her up the steep hill to the schoolhouse. One time she had a young assistant who was attacked by a black student (From our one black family.) She would not let go a firm grip on the assistant's hair. She had to be pried loose. I can't remember why she was so angry. There must have been a reason. We never had another similar incident.
When my oldest brother, John was old enough to go to work (but too young for the mine) he started as a helper in Bonnie Battista's Store. We also dealt with the Stergios' Brothers when they ran the store. (The only store) Much later John went to Detroit to work in the auto industry. There he bought Ford Touring Car and had it shipped to Herrick. What a dude with his new car!! All us kids got our first rides in it. It was about 1922, I think. Later in 1924, he bought a brand new home in Detroit. Then, in 1925, he had the family leave Herrick and live with him in Detroit.
That was a sad time for me. I loved Herrick and my friends. The big city was terrifying.
My Dad died in 1926. He had developed "Black Lung" from the mine, which led to heart problems. My adorable mother died in 1955 with pancreatic cancer. All my brother's had passed on. Andy, just last year. We three girls remain, Mary 86, Helen, 83, and me Ann, 81.
Recently, I (With my husband of 60 years, who is now 84) drove to Wheeling and Adena and to the Herrick site. The only thing identifiable was the creek and the Railroad Bridge. How sad! No town! Only trees. If only we could return to it as it was.
We did not have a camera in those days. So, no pictures.
A lady at the Bedway Coal Co., Office gave us some copies of the Herrick Valley Recycling and Disposal Facility NewsLetter. Which leads me to believe that surely someone remembers the old days and has pictures.
We have 12 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren who would appreciate any information of those days. I, too, would appreciate!