Recently I've been working on my church's 120th anniversary, and one of the things I came across, and included in our anniversary booklet, was a
memoir that a former member sent us 10 years ago, along with a scrapbook that his family had kept. Besides just being an invaluable history of our church at
that point in time, it's a very interesting look at growing up during the depression. That is why I've decided to share it here. The author is the son
of a former principal/teacher of our old school. Also of note, the Pastor Schumacher mentioned is my great-uncle. I hope you find it as interesting as I do!
Reflecting Back On
"My 'Redeemer' Life in The 30's"
by "Gene" Freudenburg
Born May 22, 1927
Arriving in Louisville from Paducah at the age of 2+ years, I began what was to be my dominant childhood experience. I can still recall a half-dozen "snapshot" memories of my life before coming to live on South 37th Street.
My parents arrived with my brother Ronald, 12 months, and me in November of '29. We were a day ahead of our moving van, so I remember that we stayed our first night at 603 S. 37th, with the Schumachers, across the alley from the teacherage at 605. I can still see my mother sitting in the Schumacher dining room holding Ronald on her lap.
My play-world was the parsonage backyard with Elsa and her little brother "Boopy." Also, the green yard north of them fronting a large wooden house in which the Drakes and the Neals lived (Raymond and Catherine) and where your Church now stands. And my own backyard and the school playground, and the school itself, the auditorium of which served also as the church at that time. My tricycle was permitted to go south on our front sidewalk to Del Park, then right to the end of the Redeemer property, Also, north on our front sidewalk to River Park, and turning right to the edge of the Drake-Neal house. We were not to cross any streets. We were never to enter a neighbor's house, even with an invitation. At home we were obliged to help with after-supper dishes. When our parents entertained guests in our home, we were not to be heard; seen, maybe, but preferably out of sight. Mealtimes and bedtimes were punctually observed, quiet, and uncontested. Any slowness to comply or even a hint of a non-verbal negative response would evoke a mild warning. It rarely went beyond that, but we all thrived in a beautifully controlled home environment. We loved to play games with Dad, who was lots of fun. Mom was much more predictable and liked to write letters, read, or visit with friends, in the rare times that she was not involved in housekeeping. Her close friend was Alma Ahlemeier. They saw "Gone With The Wind" together. Alma worked at Besendorf's shoe store. We were given a toy cricket when we bought a new pair of Blue Goose shoes. Alma was also our baby-sitter. (That meant she would arrive after we were already in bed asleep.) Dad, it seemed, had a meeting to attend almost every night. On Sunday afternoons, he would nap with our radio tuned to the NY Philharmonic under Walter Damrosch. Dad loved Bach, and was a pretty fair organist for a country boy who never saw a piano till he got to college. (He lost his right thumb in a farm accident years later, but would often still substitute on Sundays for the regular church organist.)
[The Redeemer Lutheran property from 37th St. c. early 1930s. The school/church is in the foreground (although the church auditorium is not shown), followed by the teacherage (where the Freudenburgs lived), the parish house (where the Schumachers lived), the lot where our present church would later be built, and River Park Drive.]
[The Fred Schumacher family, August, 1942. L to R, Rev. Fred, Elsa, Wilbur, Alberta "Tooty", Paul "Boopy", and Fred Jr.]
With the neighborhood children, we learned to play ball, jump rope, shoot marbles, fly kites, hopscotch, yo-yo, and scooter; we made things, collected things, and played "school" with real books. There was no kindergarten then, and I had the distinct impression that learning to read was a prerequisite to being permitted into First Grade.
In springtime came the street hawkers with fresh strawberries. I can still hear their musical "strawbwerry chant." Mom insisted on seeing the berries on the bottom of the box, and the man would dump the berries partially into his hand for her examination. The horse-drawn Donalson's Bakery wagon was another regular sight. Ice, milk, and Watkins products were also home-delivered. (We called the Watkins man the "Yah-sum Man" because of the way he said, "Yes, M'am.") Eggs and butter came to our us from a Lutheran farmer from Lanesville. He always wore overalls and came into our kitchen. Ice-cream came by our house in a two-wheeled cart pushed by a man chanting, "Ice cream, choc 'late-coated sticks!" We had homemade ice-cream at school and church picnics, ice cream and soda being very rare treats. (Single-dip cones were 5 cents; double, 10 cents. The dips were big, too!) In the twilight evenings of summer we played "Steal the Bacon," "Kick the Can," etc., while adults sat on their porches or strolled the neighborhood, stopping randomly to join a front porch conversation. Bedtime always came too early for us then. Outings in Louisville's parks were also special treats. Dad pitched horseshoes, and I eventually developed the skill in later years to give him some competition. The Men's club picnics in the schoolyard were always lots of fun, too! "Oertel's '92'" on ice for the men, coke and orange crush for the rest.
We could hardly wait to attend "real-school" with the big kids. Our neighborhood boundaries widened as we grew older. We could cross streets and play "King sticks" in the "commons," until they disappeared when several English bungalows were built across from us. Solid brick, plastered walls, stone fireplaces, $2000! Whoa! Who could afford that, but the very rich!
Lingering smell-memories for me -- the freshly cut Christmas trees and pine boughs outside awaiting installation in the church auditorium. Exciting activity and good cheer, designs on the Bon-Ami windows, rehearsing for the Christmas program, the smells of fresh cookies in the oven, the songs of carolers, and, possibly, a night-time sled ride in the dimly lit streets.
My First-Grade teacher was Miss Margaret Lambertus. The first opening-day school activity was a convocation for "devotions" in the "singing room." Classmate Donald Lambertus and I were seated together, and for some reason started giggling. Afterward, upon returning to our assigned classroom seats, he and I were summoned to the front of our class, (left-most row beside the chalkboard wall), told to stand, in turn, on a chair provided, face our peers with bowed head and folded hands, demonstrating the proper reverence expected from us during future devotions. That was my first memory of "real school."
Otherwise, I was an apt pupil. I knew my "memory work," rarely missed a word on a spelling test. (Once as a 5th Grader, in a spelling bee, I spelled down the remaining survivor, an 8th Grader, with the word "alcohol" which he had missed. What a moment of triumph! ) Art consisted of drawing pictures copied from a book and making them look real. Irvin Messel, seated next to me in the 2nd Grade row, was an expert at drawing. His pictures looked so real to me. He was a very nice boy, too.
In April of '33, before I started First Grade, my brother Allen Paul was born during the dark of morning. My bedroom was on the 2nd floor, southeast corner, and my "single" bed was positioned against the wall in the southeast corner of the room. Bright sunlight was streaming through the east window when I was awakening and Dad walked in carrying Mom's clothes basket, setting it down on the floor beside my bed. In it was Allen, 11+ lbs! Mother had a mid-wife, an older lady (Noter?) whose name I cannot clearly recall. Mom stayed in bed for a few days.
[The Freudenburgs c.1935 - B: Erna and Victor; F: Ronnie, Allen, and Gene]
In the days that Mrs. Noter stayed on after Allen's birth, she performed various household chores. I got the bright idea that it would be great fun for me and Ron to grab a handful of wooden matches from the temporarily unguarded metal box hanging near the kitchen stove, and strike them on the sidewalk in our fenced backyard, which was adjacent to the school playground. Dad was at school calmly monitoring the children outdoors enjoying "recess," (also, our backyard activity) from his 2nd floor window position on the end of the hallway. By the time I noticed him, he was calmly walking away from the window, enjoying a final puff from his cigarette. After he had arrived home after school, he calmly escorted us down the basement, where the "woodshed" was located, and taught us a lesson we would not easily forget, calmly leaving us to meditate upon our misdeeds, which had suddenly lost all their former appeal.
In the early summer of that year, Ron and I participated in our first and only political demonstration, along with a bunch of other neighborhood children. FDR had gotten the NRA Act through congress, and we children were to parade around our neighborhood with our decorated tricycles, wagons, and scooters, sporting balloons and red-white-blue NRA placards. The parade route went east on Del Park to 35th Street, left to River Park Drive, and left back to 37th. When Ron lost a wheel on his pull-toy truck, he also lost his composure, crying all the way home. (That was not the reason the NRA Act was later declared unconstitutional, however.)
I remember where I was standing (a little south of the present church entrance) when a Louisville Times "Extra" published pictures and the story of the Hindenburg tragedy. Also, the day Wilbur Schumacher came screaming down the alley toward his house, just after losing some fingers to a "dare" game. (Some tree workers had just felled a tree, leaving some axes and tools unguarded on the site. The tree had accidentally demolished a nearby garage earlier.) Wilbur could play the cornet. His practice room was upstairs in the southwest corner room. He was also an accomplished athlete, distinguishing himself in football and basketball at Male High. I saw his picture was in the paper once, running with a football.
My first piano teacher, after my mother, was Magdalene Mohr. She earned every bit of her 25 cents for each lesson. My place in church on Sundays was on a small chair next to Dad's organ bench, where I got my first organ lessons by watching him; his feet, mostly. Later on I inherited organ books from him, and have come to decide that he was a pretty fair organist for a country boy who had not begun his music studies at home on the farm. (Having returned to farming in '44, he suffered an accident which cost him his right thumb. Still he would substitute occasionally for the local church organist and did quite well.) He loved Bach and the great hymns of Luther. "Luther knew how to rightly divide Law from Gospel" he said. When I got to be a little older, I could be trusted to sit on the front church bench nearest the console, which sat on the auditorium floor at the foot of the "stage." I got the idea that whistling the tune would be a welcome variation from the customary singing of it. It did not go unnoticed, by Dad or those who "complimented" him after the service. Mother had some piano books of difficult Classical music, which I struggled with. There was a young prodigy, Bobby Below, in the congregation, who played well and showed great promise. A whiz destined for greatness!
My teacher in Grades 2-4 was Roy Lovekamp, who was greatly gifted musically. He boarded with us and played a lot on our piano all by ear, "popular" music. He never once practiced he just sat down and played, his long-fingered hands gliding easily above the keyboard. He also had a piano-accordion, which he also played well. Upon returning from Jacksonville after his Christmas vacation, he showed up with Vivian at our back door. It was cold. Roy was wearing an overcoat, hat, and gloves. They entered with excited, steamy breath and Roy, grinning from ear to ear, announced, "Well, we're married! Where's our room?" We were al1 overjoyed! Soon after, they found a place on River Park, just across from the Neal-Drake house.
Roy also led the ELCOR [Short for "Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer"] basketball team to many a victory. He scolded me once for "forgetting" my arithmetic assignment. One of the defining moments in my childhood memory was the Ohio River Flood of '37, in February, I believe. The school and the church were closed for about two months, and there was a long period of recovery after that.
Slushy snow covered the ground, and the river began to invade some houses on 44th Street. Dad went to take a look at the river and was quite shocked to see how the Ohio had grown! Late on a Thursday night he surveyed our basement and concluded that the water could never reach the first floor level; but, by the following morning we were all put to work (no school) carrying everything from the basement and first floor, upstairs to the bedrooms. There were only four items that remained on the first floor: the piano, the sofa, (which was set on top the piano) the kitchen stove, and the ice box. We finished moving upstairs by mid-morning. When Pastor Schumacher dropped in, he could not understand why Dad was taking such drastic action. "Where's your faith?" he asked. He saw it as a theological problem, but Dad was of a very practical bent, and acted on his reason, without losing his faith. Dad took him to the basement and pointed down into the floor drain to show him that the water was ready to back up into our basement. Dad then went over to the school and we worked at carrying the auditorium furniture to the upper level. With the help of other members, he removed the organ motor from its basement moorings and carried it to safety. He did not quite have the courage to ax the thick cable to the organ console so that it, too, could be high and dry.
Pastor had gone back home and succeeded in hammering a croquet ball into his basement drain so as to prevent the rising water from backing up into his basement, on the floor of which he had neat stacks of back issues of "Time" and "Life" magazines, and many issues of the newspaper. This measure of prevention would make it unnecessary to move anything to the second floor. If I am not mistaken, Mrs. Schumacher had already died. Eventually, of course, the croquet ball would succeed in keeping the water from draining away after all the other water had receded from around the house. Nor was there a market for soggy newspapers and magazines. Pastor was a good man and a fine theologian, but not well-versed in practical matters. He and Dad shared a garage on the teacherage property, and each had almost identical Model "A" Fords, circa '27. But Pastor's method of driving avoided the accelerator altogether. He would set the throttle to racing speed, put the car into high gear. From that mode the car would jump into action when the clutch pedal was released, and the car would stop its forward motion when the pedal was depressed. So his departure from the garage was usually accompanied by a lot of noise, and awkward jolts. On one occasion he mentioned to Dad how lucky Dad was by not having clutch problems with his "machine." (Pastor's term.)
The next morning, we were awakened by periodic crashes of glass coming from our basement. A shelf full of empty canning jars floating off the shelf to join the jars already afloat from lower shelves. When I opened the inside door to our basement, I saw that the water had risen half-way up the stairs. We packed some suitcases and pillow cases with clothes, and, except Dad, walked east to the elevated L&N tracks with a few church neighbors, and followed the tracks south until reaching a point where cars were waiting to transport us to the "East End." Mother and we three boys were taken in by the Lange family, members of Pastor Eberhard's Concordia Lutheran Church. Dad knew Teacher Hischke there. We stayed with the Lange's for weeks! They were very kind to us and were displaced by our invasion almost as badly as we were. They had a son, who was no longer living at home, and apparently had left behind a few toys and games, which we found to be quite entertaining. I remember small planes overhead with loudspeakers barking instructions. One message was that "martial law" was in effect within certain flood boundaries, and that unauthorized people found in the restricted areas would be shot on sight. The radio in the house was "on" continuously delivering appeals to "Send a boat! Send a boat to...two adults and three children on porch roof at..." Dad was out there someplace helping with relief work, but we had no idea of his whereabouts until several weeks later when he showed up exhausted. Fortunately, he was not shot, as we had begun to suspect. The overhead plane also announced locations where diphtheria immunizations could be gotten free. There were three shots in the series, and, oh, how my arm ached for several days after each shot!
[Airial view of west Louisville looking east during the middle of the 1937 flood. Approx. location of Redeemer is circled.]
There were shortages of food, fuel, and electricity. So many municipal utilities, gas stations, warehouses, and grocery stores were under water, and not much truck traffic for resupply. We got word through the Lange's church that the Schumacher family had been put on a train and taken to Bedford, Indiana, to wait out the flood. Dad returned to Redeemer before anyone else, and was greatly disheartened by the huge mess he found there. Unlocked doors were swollen shut; slippery scum and ruined items were everywhere. Paved roads covered with urban flotsam. Lawns with ugly debris, and even rotting fish. The river had left its high-water mark on each house, and, on rough brick it was especially, if not impossible to remove. Some houses were no longer on their foundations, and he wondered whether their residents would return to rebuild. But Dad was on hand at 605 to hose out the first floor and all its muddy sediment while the water was still receding and wet. In the same way, he scrubbed the basement. Our piano had had water above the keyboard, and I remember being unable to depress a single key. The metal gas stove and the ice box were taken apart and scrubbed, and put back into service. The wallpaper and plaster were ruined, but the flooring of wide pine boards needed only to be sanded and refinished after thoroughly drying out. The church auditorium flooring was made of narrow oak tongue-and-groove. Most of the boards buckled up grotesquely with one of their ends bowed straight up in the air. What a sight, that strange oak forest! Of course, the organ console was completely ruined. But the chancel furniture, up on the "stage," could be salvaged with a lot of manual labor. I remember that the gold leaf had to be replaced around the edges of the white painted altar. At first the reconstruction appeared to be an insurmountable mountain of work. Dad's 605 became a community headquarters for the early returnees; he had some kind of camp stove and fuel for it. (Water for drinking had to be boiled.) The upstairs, remember, had usable beds, and some of the furniture made its way back downstairs while the cleanup began. Gradually the rest of the neighborhood began to return to their homes, and their front yards began to fill up with ruined pianos, couches, drapes, shades, rugs, antiques -- an incredible sight as far as one could see. Every other street looked the same as 37th Street. Initial shock gave way to hard work, help in the form of paper hangers, carpenters, plasterers, poured into the area. After Redeemer's basement was cleaned up, it became the neighborhood "store" for all the relief clothing that poured in from all over. Boxes upon boxes! People paid nothing for what they took away, and more clothing kept pouring in to replace whatever was taken by the community.
[The Redeemer auditorium after the 1937 flood.]
Redeemer's members worked feverishly, sharing their individual burdens and losses. That developed into a closeness akin to that of soldiers in combat. When it became obvious that a remarkable recovery was within sight, they held their first post-flood service (using a temporary altar and a small pump organ) in the church basement. It was a truly thankful celebration. Oh, yes; Mr. Lovekamp's accordion was a complete loss, and, the water in the pastor's basement did not recede on its own. But Mom's fruit jars were cleaned and put back onto their shelves, ready for summer canning.
[The Redeemer auditorium, February 14, 1938]
These remarkable people had been through a lot of losses and hard uncertainties together, had lost a lot of invaluable and irreplaceable items, but the bond of friendship they developed, and which exhibited itself in 1944 with this "Farewell" scrapbook, was but a symbol of that close friendship.
"Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love."
Other miscellaneous memories:
Elmer Gleitz operated a Texaco station, when the Texaco star was in a field of green, and the Regular and premium grades of gasoline were respectively called "Fire Chief" and "Sky Chief." He gave Ron and me red fireman's hats with the Texaco logo. Ed Wynn, of radio fame, was sponsored by Texaco, and the Wynn show started with the sound of a loud fire siren.
Herb Zabel operated a 'Gasoline Alley'-type car repair shop where Dad took his car for service. Dad sold his car during the toughest Depression time, and grot around on a bicycle. When I outgrew my tricycle, Dad took me to the Walter D. House bicycle store on 20th & South Broadway, and bought me a used 20" bicycle, which I was able to ride home behind him.
Willie Mader operated a dry-cleaning establishment. I remember selling Concordia Christmas cards through the school, for 25 cents per pack of ten cards and ten envelopes. When a student brought in the money for 5 packs, ($1.25) he/she would receive a 6th pack free. This one I sold to Willie Mader, who paid me with a brand new quarter, one with Washington on the front. The old "Eagle"-headed quarter was current circulation at the time.
Ralph Dupps had a model railroad laid out in his attic bedroom. It was absolutory fascinating to me and I wanted one of my own some day. The Dupps' lived on the north side of River Park Drive right on the west side of the elevated L&N tracks. He was a graduate of Male High and was a handsome sight in his Air Force uniform.
Leiriel (dyslecticlly spelled) Watson, a boy about my age, lived in the house next to the front entrance of Redeemer "Gymnasium" on Del Park. His backyard was across the fence from the schoolyard. It was Leiriel and his big white dog I had to negotiate with whenever my ball went over the playground fence. His mother was proud of the name she invented for her son.
"The Black Kat," a soda fountain on River Park Drive just west of the present church. Next to it, a "Piggly Wiggly" grocery, and across the street on the south side, "Neal's Barber Shop." Haircuts -- Adults: 50 cents Children 25 cents On Saturdays: Children 35 cents.
The spacious and wooded Shawnee Park, along the "Beautiful Ohio," home to so many baseball diamonds and Sunday afternoon activity, including horseshoe pitching. In winter snow, some hills for sledding. Next to Shawnee, Fontaine Ferry Amusement Park, with a Coney Island-type roller coaster and Lindy planes.
Cave Hill Cemetery, large enough to get lost in.
A cruise down the Ohio on the "Idlewild." (Today called The Belle of Louisville.)
Driving "uptown" with Dad, and coming to the busy intersection of 4th and Broadway, with Saturday traffic managed by a policeman. A stranger from the country, in an old "Model T," paying no attention to the traffic officer, was accosted and stopped in the middle of a left turn with a rebuking, "Where do you think you're going!?" The driver, wielding a large catalog through the open window with his outstretched left hand replied proudly, "To Sears and Roebuck!" (He was lost and obviously pleased that somebody cared enough to ask.) Incidentally, Sears was located on 10th and South Broadway.
The postman, mocking my German ancestry, called me "Schnickel-Fritz." He delivered mail twice a day, only once on Saturday. He would drop the mail into a box next to the front door, which was on the far right end of our front porch, and then ring the doorbell before walking away. When I decided one day to climb onto the porch railing to reach the doorbell, I fell down onto the sidewalk below. I still have the stitch scars on my forehead. But the Lord was gracious to me; I still have a healthy crop of hair to cover them.
Our little khaki green, slotted, iron banks, resembling a postal mail drop, into which we children could deposit our weekly 5 cent allowances. Dad sent me frequently to the store for a pack of cigarettes. Whatever pennies were in the change, I could also put into my bank. (18 cents for a pack of "Twenty Grands.") Gasoline prices fluctuated only by tenths of a cent. Today's 9/10th in a gas price is a relic of that practice. I could by a kite for 10 cents and a ball of kite string for a nickel. Once I had my kite almost out of sight. I didn't bring it down until the next day.
"Hi-Li," a fad involving a wooden paddle, with a small rubber ball tethered to the paddle with about a three-foot long rubber band. The idea was to bat the ball into the air repeatedly without missing the ball as it kept rebounding back to the paddle. My record was set at 2886. I must have been at it for 20 minutes or more.
Listening to our big radio with 'short wave' picking up some of Hitler's harangues. Or the Joe Louis fights. Or "The Lutheran Hour," with Dr. Walter A. Meier preaching.
Identifying the make and year of cars passing by our house.
When Coca-Cola in its characteristic 7-ounce bottle was our nation's most popular soda drink, selling for 5 cents, came Pepsi-Cola with this jingle, which I can still sing:
"Pepsi-Cola hits the spot,
Twelve full ounces, that's a lot!
Twice as much for a nickel, too!
Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you."
While so many of Redeemer's membership were "blue-collar" laborers, "Eddie" Beck worked downtown at prestigious L&N headquarters, and seemed a bit more prosperous than most. (But he experienced painful losses in the Flood along with most others.) He may have shown an interest in personal lifestyle fitness, health tonics, etc. -- I am not exactly certain. He was a major friend in Dad's circle of friends. One day Dad and a few of his cohorts instigated a "plot" against Eddie. (Under whose leadership I can only guess; Dad also told me few stories about some of his college pranks.) At church on a Sunday morning, each member of the plot would greet Eddie as usual, but comment on the order of, "Eddie, you sure don't look well. Are you feeling alright?" So after a half-dozen such encounters Eddie got a bit worried and decided to visit his doctor (perhaps it was Dr. Mahaffey, who had some boys in Dad's "big room") sometime during the ensuing week. After the doctor's exam, Eddie was declared to be in perfect health. On the following Sunday, he proudly reported to his friends how relieved he had been to learn that his doctor found nothing wrong with him. Of course, when he learned of the plot, he took it like a good sport, and his main annoyance seemed to center on the needless $5 cost of the doctor visit.
Dad's taking me along with him one night to the "Roller Derby" at the Fairgrounds. Louisville vs. New York. (The skaters were a single traveling troupe; it was always the Locals vs. NY.)
Until about the 4th Grade, I had always "parted" my hair to the sides when combing, just like my father, (although his thinned out rather quickly in the 30's.) Then I got the idea to begin combing my hair to the back, like my somewhat senior next-door neighbor, "Junior" Schumacher. He always seemed to have a comb with him, and could be observed combing it straight back. I do not recall any reaction of any kind to my grooming decision, but there must have been some. Unlike my father, I still have a full head of hair, and still comb it back to this day, but I notice that when it is left unattended for any length of time my hair tends to "part" itself to the sides naturally, (Is there a some kind of lesson to be learned here?) One afternoon Junior and I happened to be together just inside the north entrance of the school, the one used by the children to return from outdoor recess. Just inside the door was a ceiling light, protected by an inverted milk-glass lamp shade. Junior told me to close my eyes and listen. I then heard a loud "Hoych!"...followed by a loud expectoration, then a musical, "Ding!" (Junior may have been imitating a comic routine he had heard on the radio. ) The first two sounds were generated orally, but for the musical spittoon finale he had struck, with his ever-handy pocket comb, the reverberating glass shade.
If you are wondering, "What's the point?" I have related this incident only because I happen to remember it. The deeper question is, "Why did you select that incident to remember?"
Walter Fuelling, a boy a couple of grades ahead of me in school, lived west of us on. the north side of River Park Drive; Walter could ride his bike with no hands. He liked to entertain younger children by needling them. When kids needled back, he would respond, "Don't bug me," or "Aw, bite me." But he wouldn't ever get seriously angry, and he'd always come back, flaunting some new gadget that would get our attention. He had a paper route. I can't picture Walter when he was not on his bicycle. He always arrived and left on his bicycle, and we went to him. Like a comet, he appeared on the scene, and left the same way. He had a sister named Mildred.
Carl Hero, one of Dad's "challenges" in the "big room," a latchkey boy, a big kid, living in an upstairs apartment with his mother, (or maybe it was his grandmother.) He always had money to spend, and he used it to impress other children with treats. I don't know what his school problems were, (perhaps he didn't take his memory work seriously enough,) but he gave Dad trouble. On the playground, he was not interested in group games, like "Two Taps," but was continually clowning around for attention. He was so happy, it seemed, that no amount of serious remonstration could rob him of his care-free attitude. He could always attract a small crowd. I wonder what ever happened to him.
Memory of the several occasions when I found a penny, running home in great delight to hear it clink as I deposited it into my little iron "mailbox" bank. That made my day!
In later years Dad told me how the Redeemer Voters Assembly dealt with their workers' salaries as the exigencies of the Depression began to be felt. This occurred not long after our move to Louisvil1e, and before Dad had made his way into the hearts of the members. The pre-Depression monthly schedule had been: Pastor, $110, plus car and telephone expenses: Teacher, $100; Janitor, $70. (Part of the Teacher's workload included his being the secretary of the congregation.) It was obvious that salary cuts would have to be made, and so the pastor and the secretary were asked to leave the meeting room temporarily until a new schedule could be agreed upon. When the excused were invited to return they learned that the new schedule was to be: Pastor, $100; Teacher $70; Janitor, $60. Dad and a few of his friends were taken aback by the obvious inequity, and wondered how the Assembly had arrived at such a decision. He was told that the pastor had a bigger family and a sizeable amount of unpaid bills, such as "charged" items from Hohmann's Grocery. On the other hand, Dad, who always kept current by paying cash, did not have a telephone, had no outstanding debts, complained that he was being penalized for his good stewardship. Then after additional consideration, the Assembly decided to limit each monthly cut to $10, thereby restoring the Teacher's salary to $90. Even at that, Dad sold his car, made his way on a bicycle, just to stay current. I remember spending some time in the hospital, and he brought me about twenty pennies, which became my "toys" on the bed covers.
Dad's workload seemed to increase as he became, not only efficient, but indispensible. Being the school principal, he taught Grades 5-8 (the "big" room) but supervised the "2nd teacher" in Grades 1-4. He played the organ, directed the choir, taught Ladies' Bible class (at the same time between early and late services on Sunday morning when the pastor taught Men's Bible Class) and supervised the work of Mr. Drake, the janitor. The unified heating system, located below ground in the back yard of the teacherage and marked by a huge smokestack next to the alley, supplied heat to the church property to the south of us, to our teacherage home, and to the parsonage north of us, across the alley. So Dad spent a lot of time tending the coal stoker under our back yard, and would receive requests from both sides of the teacherage for turning up the heat. And there was no such thing at that time as "zone" thermostat controls. The teacherage had to be hot, in order for the parsonage to be comfortable. (Mrs. Schumacher was "sickly.") Some control was possible by turning off some of the radiators. Dad also served as handy Mr. Fixit, which was not one of Mr. Drake's aptitudes. When Mrs. Schumacher's heart condition worsened, pastor could no longer do all the work connected with the weekly "Parish Paper," so he would send the mimeograph stencils over to Dad, who would "run them off" every Saturday morning. I remember serving as "stuffer." The printer machine consisted of an ink-filled "drum," around which was a secured stencil (the typing on the stencil cut right through the stencil when the ribbon for printing was avoided) which allowed the ink to reach the paper only in those type-cut portions of the stencil. The drum was hand-operated, and each paper came through to a tray, and was still wet with the fresh ink. My job was to place a sheet above it a) to absorb the excess ink, and b) to prevent its contact with the next sheet coming through. The same sheets were used again and again, because, after a brief drying period, the stack had to be unstuffed, a skill I also learned. The "Parish Paper" contained news, announcements, and an outline of the sermon, always in two parts, (I. & II.) and was handed to churchgoers on Sunday mornings: 8 A.M. German; 9:30 Bible classes and Sunday school; 11 A.M. English. I'm not certain about those specifics, but remember Mr. Fred Wirth as my Sunday School teacher. During the week he operated his shoe repair shop. He was very articulate, well-read, a student of the Bib1e. Men's and ladies' Bible Classes met upstairs in pastor's "Confirmation" room and the "Singing Room" respectively. SS classes for Grades 3-8 were held in various corners on the auditorium floor, and Grades 1-2 were held somewhere in the basement. A bell announced the end of SS class.
Mr. and Mrs. Herman Husman, had become great friends of our family (they loved to play cards). Herman owned and operated some moving vans and warehouses. Herman employed a black man called "Big Hand," whom he found shot to death one morning.
One summer Mom took us three back to Nebraska for a vacation. (Dad stayed back to take a course at the University of Louisville.) We rode the L&N to St. Louis, where we had a layover. Mrs. Husman (who had moved to St. Louis by then) was at the station to meet us, escorting us to a nearby "Kafe or Safe, whatever you call it," she said, and she treated us to lunch. (It was a cafe.) Once inside she asked us children what we might like to drink. When she came to Allen, about three years old then, he said seriously, "I'll have a beer." Many years later, when I moved my family to Belleville, Illinois, we, with my mother, visited the Husmans in nearby Centralia. She recalled with obvious delight that story. Even after we moved from Belleville to Florida, and she had become a widow, she asked me to play a dedication concert on a new pipe organ which she had provided for her church. It was a great moment for me to connect with such a dear soul from the past.
Dad also served as AAL [Aid Association for Lutherans, a Lutheran insurance company, now called Thrivent] secretary for the church, and this later was to become a relief exit for him from the tension and heavy workload which helped him decide to resign. Everyone in the church was shocked to hear that he had submitted his resignation. The members had grown to love and respect him, and were well-satisfied with his job performance! He had often entertained them as "toastmaster" at the annual Palm Sunday evening Confirmation banquet, set up in the basement by the Men's Club and served by the Ladies' Aid.
Dad always had a funny and uncomplimentary story to tell about whoever he was introducing to speak. "Roastmaster" would have been a more appropriate title for him. I can't seem to recall a single one of those stories, but I clearly remember an occasion when Pastor Schumacher brought the house down with laughter. Perhaps it was the same night when his son Wilbur, Male High student, was part of the entertainment program for the evening. He came out dressed in cowboy togs and mounted an appropriately decorated sawhorse, and sang a song something on the order of "Don't Fence Me in" or "I'm An Old Cowhand." Anyhow, I remember that the refrain ended with, "Let me be free and let me Wahoo, Wahoo, WA-HOOOO!" The serious part of the evening came when Pastor addressed the Confirmands offering his congratulations and admonitions. Approaching a climax, he said in utmost sincerity, "...and there are times when it is absolutely essential to grab the bull by the tail, and look the situation squarely in the face... " Much to his surprise, the place erupted with laughter! He hadn't realized that you "grab the bull" only by its horns! I'm sure that this is the only portion of that address that the Confirmands ever regarded as memorable. It was customary too, that one of the Confirmands, chosen by the class (?) , was to respond with praise for their parents, teachers, and the pastor for their diligent instruction. (For some at that time, Confirmation would be the end of their formal education.) Not in the same year as the incident related above, my brother Ron was chosen to respond. Dad had prepared a short paragraph for him to learn, and despite nervousness, Ron did quite well, stumbling on only one little pronoun, thanking pastor for everything he had done 'to' (instead of 'for') the class . Dad laughed, and everybody but the pastor and Ron, also thought it was funny and started laughing uncontrollably.
Dad was also a somewhat restless person, and may have been bamboozled by AAL agent Fabel, who described to him an agent's compensation potential in a prime AAL territory like Columbus, Indiana, a place currently "open" and looking for an agent of Dad's caliber. There seems to have been mounted some effort by church members for Dad to change his mind, even with promises to relieve him of some of the more stressful portions of his work. But Dad had made up his mind to leave, citing health reasons. Even though I can still recall the evening of the farewell party (Paducah, Kentucky, October, 1929, when Mom and Dad were presented an "Ingraham" mantel clock, which is still in the family), I have absolutely no recollection of a farewell party in Louisville. Yet obviously there was a great one. I have endeavored to write down what I still remember of those classic, impressionable Depression years, and the sincere, caring, and generous people which shaped my early childhood. A good portion of this material came to me only after I began setting it down in writing. The scrapbook pictures, comments, and memorabilia helped me recall people, names, and incidents that had all but escaped memory. I also doubt that anyone still alive can appreciate the contents of this, book as much as I can, because I share so much of it with those who have gone to their eternal reward. But perhaps the book will inspire some pride in Redeemer folks of 1998 for the legacy it has inherited from its members of long ago, and be a reminder of God's blessings and faithfulness, despite the myriad of changes since that long-ago time.
This, then, concludes my Redeemer, Louisville, report, from 1929 through the 1937 Flood, after which our family moved to Columbus, Indiana, for one year; returning to Louisville the following year, somewhat disillusioned, and lived at 648 South 39th Street. May God continue to bless those who live and teach the Gospel of salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!