Volume XXVIII, No. 4, November 2011


Automobiles – Part 2, by Robert A. Weimer
Note: The first part of Robert Weimer’s recollections of automobiles was printed in the previous issue of the Newsletter (August 2011).

 Cars were so different then.  Automatic transmissions were a rarity.  General Motors had introduced its Hydromatic drive on the 1940 Oldsmobile and Chrysler followed with Fluid Drive on some1941 models.  But most cars and trucks had manual transmissions with a floor-mounted gear shift lever, often called a stick that extended up to your knees and ended with a ball shaped knob on top.  The usual shift pattern was like an H.  Reverse was at upper left, low gear was at lower left, second gear was at upper right, high gear was at lower right, and neutral was in the middle.  The gear stick moved over quite a bit of space and middle, front seat passengers were likely to have their knees bumped by that moving stick.  Grandpa’s 1941 Oldsmobile had a manual transmission but the gear shift lever had been moved to the steering column as it was on Uncle Al’s 1941 Pontiac.  Uncle Paul’s 1942 Chevy had a vacuum assisted gear selector on the steering column that required only a small movement to shift gears.

 Air conditioning did not exist then in cars.  You cranked a window down to get air moving through the car.  Better yet, both front doors had triangular window vents hinged at the top and bottom so they could be turned inward to send a blast of air into the car and directly onto the driver or front seat passenger as long as the car moved forward at a brisk speed.  A few cars even had adjustable window vents in the rear to increase the air flow through the car.

Front fenders were bolted to the sides of the motor compartment, extending out to cover the front wheels.  Rear fenders were attached on each side of the body to cover the rear wheels. Running boards stretched between the front and rear fenders on each side of the car.  It was common practice in the summer, when the side windows were rolled down and you wanted to go only a short distance down the street, to step up onto the running board and hold onto the door frame rather than open a door and get into the car.

 Head lamps and tail lights were mounted on the fenders.  Sealed beam headlamps had been introduced in 1940 and were used on the families’ 1941 and 1942 model cars while earlier models had replaceable bulbs at the back of the lamp assembly.  A single headlamp produced both high and low beams of light with switching between high and low done by pressing your left toe on the dimmer switch located on the car’s floor just to the left of the clutch pedal.

 Most bumpers were chrome plated steel strips bolted to brackets that held the bumpers some six inches in-front-of and behind the car’s body.  Chrome was used liberally, even lavishly, over nearly all cars.  There were the chrome grill and hood ornament, chrome trim around the windows and headlamps and edges of the running boards, chrome wheel covers, chrome door handles and side moldings, and often purely decorative chrome strips on the trunk lid.

 Gas and tire rationing that came with war time forced everyone to greatly curtail auto travel for personal use.  Dad and Mom tried to limit our regular auto use to two trips each week, one to church on Sunday and perhaps on to Grandpa and Grandma Weimer’s home afterwards and a second weekly trip down town to the grocery store and other shops.  That left enough gas from our allotment for an occasional trip to visit the Gamble farm seven miles northwest of town or to shop in Wabash or Fort Wayne.

 Grandpa Weimer’s canning factory provided him with a business ration so that gas was not a problem for operation of cars and trucks used for factory purposes.  This included visiting various farms around town to check on the growth of contracted sweet corn.   Gas rationing made it nearly impossible for many of the farm women who made up most of the cannery’s labor force to get to the factory so it was necessary for various family members to drive routes picking up workers in the morning and returning them to their homes in the evening.  Mom and Aunt Mabel, who usually drove these routes using their family cars, would stop at Lanky Johnson’s Mobile Station at the southeast corner of West Main Street and Wabash Road to get gas from the canning factory’s business ration which Grandpa kept with Lanky.  Many personal errands could be combined with such business trips leaving Grandpa’s personal gas allowance largely available for pleasure trips.

 All-in-all, I don’t remember gas rationing being such a hardship, but tires were another matter.  Tires were impossible to get and inner-tubes were patched again and again.  Uncle Paul tells about paying $200 for an old truck for the canning factory during the closing days of World War II.  The truck didn’t run—the engine was ruined—but it had four decent tires.  The tires were removed and put into use on the old Ford truck used at the canning factory.  That $200 truck was then junked.

 Gas rationing ended just as my chums and I were obtaining our driver’s licenses.  A favorite Sunday afternoon pastime for us new drivers was to obtain the use of the family car, gather up a load of friends and explore the country side.  I could usually use our family Chevy or borrow Grandpa’s Oldsmobile.  Occasionally I was able to borrow Uncle Paul’s Chevy, the newest model available to us.  I remember Tom Wetzel’s family had a 1941 De Soto with fluid drive.  Kurt Thoss’ family had a 1941 Studebaker Commander with overdrive and a hill holder. 

 That 1941 De Soto with fluid drive was the first car that any of us had driven with an automatic—more accurately semi-automatic—transmission.  You could use the clutch to manually shift between reverse and the forward low and high ranges; each range having a low and high gear.  The fluid coupling enabled you to start the engine without using the clutch and, once moving in a low gear, to shift to the high gear by momentarily letting up on the gas pedal.  If you weren’t in too much of a hurry, you could start moving slowly in the high range’s low gear and, once some speed had been obtained, shift to the high gear with the toe lift on the gas pedal, all without any use of the clutch.

 The Thoss family’s 1941 Studebaker also had some unusual features.  The overdrive was a fourth gear that greatly improved gas mileage at higher speeds.  It was engaged at speeds above 40 miles per hour by momentarily letting up on the gas pedal.  Even better was the hill holder that kept your car from rolling backwards when you started your car after stopping or parking it  while headed uphill.  The recommended procedure was to set the hand brake, start the engine if needed, and then release the hand brake as you let out the clutch and pressed the gas pedal to start the car moving uphill.  This often didn’t work too well; besides the difficulty of coordinating simultaneous movement of both feet and the right hand, the hand brake often would not release due to the downward pressure on the car’s brakes.

 An alternative was to press the brake pedal with your right foot as you started the engine.  But then your right foot was not free to press the gas pedal as you let out the clutch.  In practice you used only the inner edge of your right foot on the brake pedal and quickly slid your foot over onto the gas pedal as you let out the clutch, hoping to start moving forward before the car rolled too far backwards and you had to hit the brakes again.  The hill holder was the perfect solution.  When stopped on a hill, pressing down on the brake pedal set the hill holder that then kept the brakes applied as you moved your foot to the gas pedal.  Forward motion of the car automatically released the hill holder.

There were many other car models then in town that have since disappeared.  Schoolmate Scott Schmedel’s family drove a Packard.  There were several Nash cars in town, one of which I later owned.  One of the workers at Grandpa’s canning factory drove a 1937 La Salle.  But perhaps the strangest car was the Crosley driven by my high school science teacher, Liegh B. Freed, who was popular with all of us because of his great sense of humor.

 Powel Crosley, Jr. of Cincinnati began production in Richmond, Indiana in 1939 of the sub-compact, two-passenger convertible Crosley auto.  The 950 pound car had a two-cylinder air cooled engine with a four gallon gas tank mounted above the engine.  But that was enough; the Crosley could go 50 miles on a gallon of gas.

 I remember well the fall day in 1945 when I exited the high school building by the rear door as soon as classes were dismissed and saw the large crowd already gathered at the edge of the parking lot.  I hurried over to discover that several of the larger Junior and Senior boys had picked up Mr. Freed’s Crosley from his parking space and were carrying it to the edge of the school grounds.  There they carefully deposited it between a telephone pole and its supporting guy wire with the front bumper against the pole and the rear end only inches from the guy wire.   The crowd then spread out and we all looked like we were busy at something as we waited for the teachers to leave the building.

 Before long Mr. Freed and several other teachers came out and walked towards the parking lot.  Suddenly, Mr. Freed stopped, gestured toward his empty parking space, and entered into an animated conversation with his companions.  One of them turned and scanned the area, then stopped and pointed towards the Crosley at the edge of the street.  They hurried over and stood laughing around the car.  After further conversation with much head shaking, Mr. Freed looked around the considerable crowd that had gathered and spoke up.  “I seem to have a problem with my car.  Perhaps some of you here could help me solve it?”  Further conversation followed with several of the bigger boys; then a group of them surrounded the Crosley, picked it up and sat it in the street.  Mr. Freed settled into the car, started it, and with a wave to the watching crowd, drove off.

 The auto manufacturers anticipated the end of the war and the resumption of auto manufacturing. By mid 1945 they were advertising the wonderful new models and features that would soon be available when auto production resumed.  My chums and I poured over the colorful ads of the new models to come, memorizing the small details that would distinguish the new 1946 models from those of 1942.  There were small changes in the shape of the grill and the tail lights, changes and repositioning of the manufacturer’s mark and model name, differences in the chrome trim, but nothing of great significance.  However, the pent up demand for new autos was immense and all new car dealers had long waiting lists for every car that would became available.

 Dad’s name did not come up on the list for a new Chevy until the fall of 1947 when he purchased a 1948 two door Chevy sedan.  He kept the 1938 Chevy as a second car that now was sometimes available for me to drive to high school or later to Manchester College classes.

 It was in 1950 during my Junior Year at Manchester College that I acquired my first car.  It was a 1941 Nash that had belonged to the sister of Earl Garver, the Dean of Manchester College.  It was a small, four-door sedan in good shape but had a peculiar problem that I was never able to master or to keep fixed.  The gear shift lever on the steering column was more convenient then the floor mounted one in that 1938 Chevy.  But the mechanics of the shift mechanism left much to be desired.  Moving the gear shift lever moved a rod with a pin at the end that was supposed to engage loops on two bars connected to the transmission. The precise alignment required occasionally went awry when I shifted, leaving the gears unchanged or, even worse, in neutral.  This was quite disconcerting when it happened in traffic since the only remedy was to stop the car, open the hood and manually realign the pin.

 I graduated from Manchester College in the spring of 1952 and decided a different car was needed before I traveled on to the University of Michigan that fall.  I found a 1947 Studebaker Champion that summer, a great little car.  It was small, economical of gas and had many special features including overdrive and a brake hill-holder.  It also was the first post World War II car to have all new styling, rather than being a warmed-over 1942 model.  There were some fender dings and areas of faded paint that required use of body putty and careful sanding before I turned the car over to the local body shop for repainting.   It was with this looking-like-new, up-to-date little car that I drove out of town and ended my association with automobiles in North Manchester.       

 Beginnings of the Automobile Era

 Source: North Manchester Journal, January 14, 1892:
Steam Pleasure Carriages. For a number of years the idea has been in the air of substituting for horse power steam in road wagons. It has been argued that if the model steam country wagon could be invented, then all farm produce could be conveyed to market cheaply and more quickly than by horse power. Horses must be fed whether they are used or not; the steam wagon could rest securely in its shed when not in use, with no danger of its eating its own head off. In America the idea would not be at all practicable, owing to our wretched roads, but in France where the roads are firm and smooth as a city pavement the year around, the plan could be safely tried.

 A French count is, however, perfecting a steam wagon for a pleasure carriage. He has already succeeded in constructing one which will travel eighteen miles an hour and emits neither smoke nor steam. He rides about the streets of Paris in this unique vehicle, which is propelled by an instantaneous steam generator. The indications are that this mode of pleasure riding will become the fashion.

 It seems, however, to begin at the wrong end of the line. The steam carriage ought to be used for heavy hauling, and beautiful, high spirited horses for pleasure riding and driving. But the ideal carriage of all, the carriage and wagon of the future, both for city and country, will probably be the vehicle propelled by electricity. In any case, the fewer horses there are to be fed the more soil there will be on which to cultivate food for mankind.

Source: North Manchester Journal, June 12, 1902:
The First Automobile. Olinger & Warvel, the bicycle men of the city, are the first to tackle the automobile proposition here. Last week they purchased a three-wheeled runabout made by the Crescent Bicycle company and have been putting the machine to good use ever since. It is propelled by a gasoline motor and is essentially the same as the larger automobiles run by the same force as far as the motor power is concerned. We are informed that the boys have purchased this rig for the purpose of familiarizing themselves with the mechanism and operation of automobile engines for repair work. It is a neat little outfit and will no doubt give the boys considerable satisfaction and pleasure. One thing seems sure and that is the boys deserve the credit for having the “sand” to tackle a proposition of this kind.

Source: North Manchester Journal, July 13, 1905:
An automobile shod with iron tires passed through town Friday. It had one advantage over the rubber tire kind, for it did not need a horn or “tooter.” It made more noise than a traction engine, and seemed to ride about as easily.

Source: North Manchester Journal, July 27, 1905:
There were more strange automobiles in town Monday than had been here in a week before. There were all kinds from a little dinky red one about six feet long to a big grayhound as long as a locomotive and nearly as heavy.


Some Early Automobile Dealerships
 in North Manchester

Source: R. Ned Brooks and Donald L. Jefferson, Remembering North Manchester Indiana in the 1930s and 1940s (2009), pp. 84-87

Ford. Charles Olinger and Jonas W. Warvel had the first Ford dealership in town early in the twentieth century. They started as bicycle dealers on Main Street and then opened their Ford dealership in a 50-car capacity garage at 205-207 North Walnut Street. They sold to F.O. Weber, who operated Weber Auto Company selling Ford automobiles in about 1920. Ward Motor Co., owned by Fred Ward and James Hudson, was listed at the Walnut Street address in the 1924 phone book. Then Ward became the sole owner, later taking Kenton Priser as a partner. Ward sold to Art W. Pottenger, who operated Pottenger Ford and advertised in the Manchester College annual in 1929 through 1932. An October 20, 1932 News Journal article reported that Pottenger Ford was liquidating. Russell C. Kreamer advertised his new Ford dealership at 205 East Second Street in October 1933. In January of 1937, Minear Brothers Ford advertised as the new Ford Dealer. They advertised as Charles Minear & Son in 1946, but later it was Charles Minear. On March 29, 1948, Clifford Snyder bought the Ford dealership.

Chevrolet. In 1919, Knull Motor Company of Pierceton and South Whitley, owned by brothers Karl Knull and Franz Knull, built a new two-story garage with a ramp to the second floor. It was the biggest garage in Wabash County, measuring 78 by 156 feet. They sold Chevrolet trucks and cars. Harry E. Leedy purchased the dealership sometime before 1930 and continued to sell Chevrolets. In 1942, automobiles were no longer being manufactured and so Leedy Motor Company was closed on November 1, 1943. We don’t have the date that Jack Pinney started his dealership, but the first ad we found was on August 19, 1946. 1946 was the year that cars became available again after the war. Jack was still at his Second Street location in 1950, so he hadn’t moved to the suburbs yet. Jack Pinney Chevrolet, Inc. was a Chevrolet dealership for many years.

Buick. Hayes Motor Co. advertised Buick and Marquette in 1930 at 213 East Main Street. Then Hayes moved to 101-103 West Main Street in May of 1931, continuing to sell Buicks. They then moved to 201-203 East Second Street in the latter part of June 1934. Hayes continued to be the Buick dealer in town moving to a suburban location identified later in this section under their Pontiac dealership. We found a December 28, 1950, News Journal article that reported James Labas purchased Hayes Motor Company and would continue to sell Buicks and Pontiacs at the same location, which he did into the 1950s.

Oldsmobile. Jacob L. Bower sold Oldsmobiles in the west end of town as early as 1930. In April of 1935, Priser Auto Sales advertised New Oldsmobile at both the Walnut Street location and at their new address, 801 West Main Street. Elmer Fultz advertised Oldsmobile at his residence address of 505 East Third Street in May 1936. The next month, Fultz advertised his showroom at 111 North Walnut Street. Russell C. Kreamer advertised as a new Oldsmobile dealer in October of 1937. On March 3, 1941 Stukey Brothers advertised as the new Oldsmobile dealer, continuing to sell Willys. The Stukeys continued to run their dealership into the 1950s.

Dodge-Plymouth. Fultz Motor Sales had been advertising as Oldsmobile, then as Dodge-Plymouth in January 1937.

Plymouth-Desoto. In February of 1934, Kenton Priser leased the old Ford garage on Walnut Street to sell Plymouth-Desoto. He had been at 101 West Main Street for a short time while Hayes Motor Co. was also there. By April of 1937, Kenton Priser and Fred War were partners selling Plymouth-Desoto from their dealership at 801 West Main Street.

Pontiac. Brown Motor Company advertised the Pontiac “6” in early 1930. In April of 1931 Hathaway and Kreamer were appointed Pontiac Dealers. In January of 1932 Russell C. Kreamer advertised his Pontiac Dealership. Kreamer continued to advertise Pontiacs as late as September of 1933. In April 1938 Hayes Motor Company, Inc. advertised Pontiac, in addition to Buick, and they continued to sell Pontiacs until 1950. Their dealership was on Second Street across from the post office for a number of years but in December of 1947 they moved to the corner of Beckley and Fifth Streets. The 1953 City Directory gives an address of 413 North Beckley St. Jim Labas Motors purchased Hayes Motor Company, Inc. and continued to sell Buicks and Pontiacs well into the 1950s.

Studebaker. Lawrence Jefferson advertised Studebaker sales from his building at 101 West Main Street in December of 1935. In October of 1939 Glenn Rager advertised Studebaker sales at his residence, 508 North Walnut Street. Rager then opened a show room at 207 East Second Street.

Crosley. Bolinger Farm Equipment advertised the Crosley for the first time in November of 1949, in addition to his Hudson line.

Essex. Cecil Eiler advertised Essex in his building on West Main Street in June 1931.

Hudson. Cecil Eiler advertised Hudson sales at his West Main Street building in June of 1931. No further ads were found for Hudson until August 19, 1946 when Bolinger Farm Equipment advertised them and continued to do so into the 1950s.

Kaiser-Frazer. Arden Carter advertised his dealership on August 19, 1946 which would have been about the time that the first 1947 Kaisers and Frazers were available. He ran his dealership into the 1950s, selling only the Kaiser after the Frazer was dropped from the line.

Nash. Earll Motor Sales advertised Nash on May 5, 1940.

Oakland. In 1927, Paul Hathaway and Joe Urschel had an Oakland dealership. Brown Motor Company advertised the Oakland “8” as early as 1930. In April of 1931, Hathaway and Kramer were appointed Oakland Dealers. The Oakland Division of General Motors, which produced the first Pontiac car in 1926, was replaced by the Pontiac Division in 1932. The Oakland name disappeared in the early 1930s.

Terraplane. Cecil Eiler advertised Terraplane, in addition to his Hudson sales, for the first time in April of 1935. We found no further mention of the car, which is not surprising since it is one of the many car names that did not survive.

Willys. Stukey Brothers advertised as a new Willys Dealer in May of 1936 at 213 East Main Street and continued to sell them until World War II. In the December 26, 1949 News Journal, Arden Carter advertised Willys, in addition to his Hudson line.    



Editor: The February and May issues (2011) of the Newsletter included articles about A.F. Hunt and his memories of North Manchester. Charles Boebel recalled an Oak Leaves article that covered Hunt’s presentation at Manchester College in March 1947 (“Former Manchesterite Speaks in Final Lyceum Series Event”). Alan White also pointed out that the News-Journal then gave interesting details of Hunt’s first visit to our community since he departed after graduating in 1903 from the local high school. Excerpts from both articles are included here.

Oak Leaves, February 27, 1947: On Monday, March 3, Frazier Hunt, who formerly lived here in North Manchester, and who is now a noted war correspondent, author, and radio commentator, will speak in Manchester’s auditorium. This program will be the fourth and last of this year’s lyceum series. [Hunt’s lecture title was, “Must We Fight Russia?”]

Mr. Hunt, who has been war correspondent for two world wars, once penetrated Russia’s iron curtain just after the Russian revolution, at a time when no other correspondent had been able to report from Russia for six months. He not only managed to get into Russia, but he also did what was then considered to be impossible—he interviewed Lenin. For this and other unbelievable feats, Hunt has been called the world’s greatest interviewer. His word-photography has printed pictures of such people as Hitler, Mussolini, Gandhi, both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Lenin, and Chiang Kai-Shek.

During his colorful career, journalist Hunt has worked on the various staffs of the New York Sun, the Chicago Tribune, and the Cosmopolitan magazine, and he was once the European editor of Hearst’s International magazine. Hunt has written several books, and, as a personal friend of General Douglas MacArthur, he wrote “MacArthur and the War Against Japan,” which was published recently. Success has crowned Hunt during his many careers as a reporter, rancher, author, lecturer and popular radio commentator. His news broadcast and commentary may be heard regularly.

Some time before World War II, six-foot-four Frazier Hunt was visiting in Japan. The comparatively small Japanese has never seen so large a man, and many stopped in the streets to stare at him, muttering unintelligible native phrases. Finally Hunt stopped and asked his Japanese guide what the people were saying about him. The reply was, “You’re so big that the people are saying that you are a one-and-a-half man.”

Although Frazier was born in Rock Island, Illinois, he might well be called a Hoosier, for he spent his boyhood here in North Manchester. He lived at what is now 508 North Mill Street, in the house which still stands at that place, with his uncle, “Posey Mathews.” He attended the local high school and graduated from there with the class of 1903. He then entered Michigan Military Academy and later received his A.B. degree from the University of Illinois.

Upon graduation, Hunt went to Chicago, where he spent two years in newspaper and magazine work. One day, however, he read a magazine article called “Barbarous Mexico,” which interested him so he deserted the life of a copy editor and journeyed, with his bride, to Southern Mexico, where he leased 400 acres and became a sugar planter.

After three years in Mexico the Hunts migrated back to Illinois, where Mr. Hunt bought a small weekly newspaper. While he edited his newspaper, he wrote stories and articles on the side, and when Colliers magazine bought two of his articles, he immediately embarked for New York, got a job on the New York Sun, was sent to Europe as a war correspondent, and began the adventurous career which has earned for him the title of the “world’s greatest interviewer.”

News-Journal, March 6, 1947, “Frazier Hunt a Charming Visitor To Boyhood Town. Found Many Friends and Familiar Haunts Left 44 Years Ago”:

Frazier Hunt’s visit to North Manchester was more than just another lecture on his schedule of lyceum appearances. It represented also his first return in 44 years to the town where he spent ten boyhood years. He came to North Manchester when he was seven to live with an aunt and uncle and remained until he graduated from high school. He left to go to college and subsequent events took him entirely away from this part of the country so that for many years he had no occasion to return. As he explained it Monday evening, the ten happiest years of his life were spent as a boy in North Manchester and he had come to think of it as in a dream. As the years lengthened in number he even began to grow reluctant to return for fear the changes might spoil his pleasant memories.

However, he was met by two boyhood friends, Gorman Grossnickle and Mel Swank, and the three spent Monday afternoon looking over the town, visiting old haunts and recalling boyhood pranks. Mr. Hunt confesses that North Manchester still retains the beauty and charm of the small town of his dreams. Stopping at the home where he had lived, he found the barn still standing, and inside on one wall, painted with the irregular letters of a small boy, he discovered a sign, “Hunt Brothers, Painters.” The brother, Jasper, was two years older than Frazier, and is now dead.

Monday evening at the Sheller hotel a group of old friends and a few new ones gathered at a dinner for Mr. Hunt....Mr. Hunt was seated between two members of his high school class of ’03, Miss Strickler and Mrs. Sam Grossnickle, formerly Minnie John. …

The lecture Mr. Hunt gave at Manchester College was entirely informal and his statements were simply and plainly put in conversational tones. His subject was “Russia,” but it was necessary to give a full explanation of the present situation in Germany to understand the possibilities of Russia’s future plans for Europe. It has been only two weeks since Mr. Hunt returned from a tour of Germany, and his listeners were given first hand information about actual conditions. He concurred completely with Ex-President Hoover’s recommendations for the feeding and rehabilitation of Germany by the United States. The building of friendships in Europe is America’s best insurance for peace in the future. Failures on our part will throw more areas under Russian domination. The average Russian, declared Mr. Hunt, is bewildered by the anti-American propaganda coming from the ambition-minded men of the Kremlin. There are millions still in the Russian army and other millions who served and know that most of their equipment bore the “Made in America” label. It is hard for a Russian to believe the stories of American inefficiency when a Studebaker truck is pulling his load through the mud.

Following the talk Mr. Hunt answered all questions from the audience and would have continued as long as the audience wanted. His manner was gracious and pleasant to all whom he met. A group of old time friends returned with Mr. Hunt to the hotel and remained until 4:00 o’clock in the morning reminiscing.

Tuesday morning Mr. Hunt with Mr. Swank and Mr. Grossnickle again visited around town and among other places came to The News-Journal office which he expressed a desire to see because he had at one time published a small weekly in Illinois before he became well known for his writings. He was especially interested in the equipment and would have remained longer had there been more time before his train was due at Fort Wayne. He did take time to look at the 1903 files, that being the year he graduated from the local high school. There he found the graduation story, and the titles of the graduation addresses. And there he came across his own name on the program, “A.F. Hunt, ‘How to Deal with the Trusts’.” …

Mr. Hunt and his wife are now living at Newton, Buck County, Pennsylvania. He owns a 300 acre farm there on which his son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons are living. Most of his time is engaged in writing, and among other things he and his son are collaborating on a book.  

North Manchester Historical Society
Highlights of 2011


Celebrated 10 years on Main Street

Burned mortgage, we own building completely

Established facilities management committee

New track lights in front windows

New furnace/air conditioner on first floor

New air conditioning unit in office area

Cleaned out two back rooms for exhibit space

Removed wire and pipes for scrap sale

Painted back middle room, removed wallpaper and structures

Painted exterior back and side doors and interior bathroom doors

Water cooler and toilet leaks repaired

Installed light in garage stairway

Held 3 work days to clean and paint – M College students, board, First Brethren Church


Exhibits and Collection

Developed and displayed exhibit on family photographs

Developed and displayed exhibit on Oppenheim family and store

Hosted 3 traveling exhibits:  family photos, maps and mapmakers, WWII photographer

Window displays on Peabody construction and fair grounds, Oppenheim family artifacts,

                local maps, NMHS photographs and cameras, veterans, Christmas

Constructed four display modules

Constructed additional free-standing display walls

Re-painted and reinforced shabby divider screens

Constructed 16 gender-neutral mannequins for use in exhibits and displays

Constructed carts for tables and folding chairs

Recorded 98 accessions (960 individual items)

                Have 550 additional items not yet processed

Installed movie screen

Constructed case for tree ring display

In process of restoring rare opera curtain

Improved labeling on some permanent exhibits


Thomas Marshall House

NM Rotary painted exterior

America in Bloom installed landscaping and fence

Installed water service

Updated furniture acquisition list, applied for grant to purchase furniture



Community Foundation/Wabash County grant awarded for construction of display cubicles

CFWC grant received for restoration of opera curtain

Grant and loan received for furnace and air conditioning upgrades

Grant application for furnace replacement in process

Final reports turned in for CFWC grants on fire extinguishers & exhibit display cubicles

Collection Assessment Program grant application in process

Indiana Humanities Council grant application for opera curtain programs in process



Functioned well during about 6 months of staff absences due to health concerns

Obtained new copier with lower overall costs

Participated in Indiana Historical Society (IHS) pilot museum assessment program

Participated in Funfest and Fall Harvest Festival

Reviewed dinner reservation procedures

Loaned items and traveling exhibit to Peabody Home for anniversary celebration

Attended IHS graphics design workshop

Attended regional IHS meetings for local historical organizations

Visited sister organizations in Columbia City, Warsaw, Rochester, Huntington,

Anderson, Delphi, Shelbyville (pioneer days) and James Whitcomb Riley house

New volunteers have been cultivated for projects such as programs and exhibits

Presentations made to Peabody for anniversary celebration, and to Rotary, Kiwanis and Shepherd’s Center

Met with Wabash County Museum staff to foster collaborative ventures

Hosted fabric conservator, reviewed collection management with her

Hosted meetings for Community Foundation of Wabash County (twice) and Rotary

Conducted tours for family and reunion groups



Another year of outstanding and varied dinner programs

Programs were well attended, with range of 82 to 150 attendees each month

Presented first annual Historic Preservation Month program with tours

Created “Behind the Scenes” Tour of Center for History

Developed program for visiting 2nd graders with MC elementary ed students

In process of revamping programs for visiting 3rd and 4th graders

In process of developing 10 to 12 programs in conjunction with opera curtain restoration

1938 film reviewed to increase identification of participants; in process of updating

Preliminary opera curtain work of conservator opened to public, HS and college students




Two more outstanding trips, to Mississippi River and Detroit

Trips full, feedback excellent


Newsletter and Website

4 attractive newsletters mailed on time

About 20,000 hits averaged to web site each month

Web activity recorded virtually every hour from all over the world

All newsletters to date are posted at web site (

Initiated Facebook and Twitter presence



Increased publicity in newspapers significantly this year

Revived weekly photo identification program in News Journal

Press releases for all dinner meetings, and posters for most

Press releases for special activities such as traveling exhibits and other programs

Developing a MC student internship in public relations for Center for History



Increased membership contributions by $2,675, added about 30 new members

Initiated reciprocal benefits program with local history museums

Joined national Time Travelers program


Fund Raising

Meeting last year’s annual fund amount as of this date

Collected $548 at dinners from collection basket and meal surcharge to cover

complimentary speaker dinners and stipends/mileage

Bake sale ($724) a little less than last year, but with fewer hours and baked items

Toy DeWitt car being created for purchase in gift shop

Commissioned copies of 1938 film:  sold about 13 copies

 Correction to the August 2011 issue of Newsletter: The lead article on the first page referred to the Oppenheim Exhibit and a photograph of “ladies lined up around the block waiting to purchase silk stockings after WWII shortages ended.” The author intended to highlight the popularity of “nylon stockings”. This correction was made in the article uploaded to the web site. The Oppenheim photograph and newspaper article have been  linked to the web site article. READ MORE.


NMHS Newsletter Editor--John Knarr, assisted by Bea Knarr