Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

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North Manchester

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Source: NMHS Newsletter Aug 1995

I Remember

by Merlin C. Finnell

During the time span of 1922 to 1930 there were many paths I took to earn money. By getting up at 4:30 a.m. and walking the two miles to W. Main St. via the Vandalia railroad tracks, I climbed aboard a cattle truck to go to the onion fields near Silver Lake. The truck was driven by Charley Ring and his son. Our workday was from 7 - 5 with time off for our brownbag lunch.
The owner of this project was Bill Wedrick and we all liked the straw boss, Jake Adams. For the uninitiated, weeding onions was done by crawling on your knees to extract those unwanted plants. For our efforts we were paid 10 cents per hour -- $7 to $9 per 6-day week. By the second summer I was proficient enough to earn 20 cents per hour.
A few times I went in early Spring to the College Woods and dug sassafrasroots, bundled them up into 5 cent packages and sold them for making tea -- a sure method to 'thin the blood' after the rigors of the past winter season. I never experienced any difficulty in selling all in a few stops.
During this time period Mother, Mid, Casey and I walked the four miles to the Albert Maurer strawberry path, east on road 114. We were paid l cent per quart for our efforts and usually took our earnings in strawberries for our own use.
As many kids did during those days, I attempted to sell Cloverine Salve --the goal in this was to 'win a pony'. I never sold enough for that prize and now wonder just what I would have done with a pony at 505 N. Sycamore St.! I also had a 'Grit' newspaper-magazine route for a short time.
When we lived in the Kohser house on N. Sycamore we raised popcorn -- Mother would pop it and I would take it over to the college and sell it at the baseball games -- 5 cents for a big bag and it sold out quickly.
During the '20s, there was still the Wabash County Fairgrounds where Peabody Memorial Home now stands. They had sulky harness racing and the full gamut of interesting things to do and see. You might remember that I was the red-headed, freckled-faced kid who worked at the 'Milk Bottle Toss" game. Even to this day I remember how shocked I was to see the woman owner of this game smoke cigarettes --when the crowd thinned out a little.

Source: NMHS Newsletter May 1996

by Merlin C. Finnell

From the News Journal, written for the 150th anniversary of North Manchester.

Near the Morris dime store (in North Manchester) there was for many years the A & P grocery which was operated by the Faurot family. When you entered to shop you were not confronted by shopping carts - you just got in line and waited your turn at the counter. The clerk learned of your wishes and went to the shelves to get the items. You took your own sacks and left. I particularly remember the A & P store - each time a bag of "Eight-o-Clock" coffee was sold the clerk punched a button and a bell, on the outside of the store rang so all would be aware of the popularity of this brand of coffee.

Another interesting business in this block was the L.P. Urschel & Son (Harold) department store. It was also known as the Urschel's Bargain Store. In it you could find men's and women's clothing, shoes, paint, and hardware of all kinds. When I first came to our town the drugstore on the north side of this street was the A.F. Sala Pharmacy. Shortly it became the J.B. Marks Drug Store and is still in the same family. In those days the soda fountain was just inside the door on the right. I fondly recall the tasty chocolate-marshmallow sundaes they served for only ten cents. Above this store was the office of Clevenger and King Real Estate and Insurance.

On the corner was the business known as Gresso's with the logo in all their advertising - "Our package under your neighbor's arm has been paid for." On the main floor you could look for men's and women's clothing and in the basement was a large grocery store. For many years this was managed by John Smeltzer who lived on Ninth Street. He later ran a small grocery outlet in his own home.

Across from Gresso's on the other corner, was Burdge's Stores. It had large rooms for school supplies, books, candies, gifts, stationery, "pure" drugs and drug sundries. It also dealt in china, glassware, pottery, wallpaper and paints. Directly behind this store was a small alleyway with many doors. At one visit some of us found a door open and went in to seek what mysteries lay behind it. After climbing a dark stairway we were confronted with a winding hallway - at one juncture of this we came upon a lifesize figure of a gray horse - we left in a hurry down some steps that led to the dental office of Dr. Glen Wright. Later we were to explore this area many times to introduce our new friends to this strange horse -- I have often wondered the 'how and the why' of this animal in an upper hall of our quiet town.

Parenthetically, I might add that two of the doors in this alley were exits for our two theaters, the Marshall and the Gem. It was rumored that at times certain young boys would stand outside those doors and when the first show was over they would walk in, backwards, to gain free admission. This was only hearsay so I can't vouch for its accuracy. On the site of the Marshall theater was a plaque noting the birth of Thomas R. Marshall in a house at that location. As you recall, Mr. Marshall was Vice-President of the United States while Woodrow Wilson was President. The house was long ago removed to the northwest corner of Walnut and Ninth Streets and was lived in for many years by the D. F. Priser family.

A few days ago our reporter happened in the tin shop of Noftzger and Son and were shown a partly finished galvanized iron cornice that John Lockwood is making for the new store room. Mr. Noftzger will begin erecting next month. The pattern is a very tasty one and will lay to land any other cornice in town.

Source: NMHS Newsletter Feb 1999

I Remember

By Merlin C. Finnell

>From the News Journal, 1986 written for the 150th anniversary of North Manchester

Will you wander down Main Street with me? Of course, we will visit it during the 1920s and '30s. Not much change at the corner of Mill and Main Street the Monument Company is still there in the



same location on the north side of the street. The Petry family lived in the apartment above Mother, Dad, Wendell, Eunice and Zelma. For a time I had a boyish crush on Eunice, but never got around to tell her about it. We affectionally called her the "Brickyard Blond"I belive she became Mrs. Rex Cook and was so known for many years.

Next door was the O. H. Bolinger & Co., dealers in hardware and farm implements. A few steps and you were at the E.P. Paul Funeral Director, Furniture and Ambulance Service the Pauls came to our town from Pyrmont in Carroll county, in the middle 20s and lived across from us on N. Sycamore. The family consisted of the parents and Thomas, Gladys, Galen and John. Johnny, later called "Hot" because of his basketball shooting ability, and I became friends. After school we sat on his front porch and studied history and drilled on the multiplication tables we were in the fifth grade at the time and our teacher, at the Central building, was Miss Carrie Bard, who lived on 3rd street with a Mrs. Sara Smith.

Back to Main Street J.W. Strauss & Son (Arden) took up the next few rooms. They dealt in ice, feed and coal and had the same number, 93, for both phones yes, at that time there were two such companies in our area: the Eel River and Rex. I now ponder just how two existed in such a small area. We kids were intrigued with the Strauss ice wagons in the hot summers at each stop we were able to salvage slivers of ice as the larger cakes were cut into proper sizes to satisfy the demand as shown on the yellow and black signs in the windows of customers. I remember a John Moser and later a friend, Bob Clark, who drove these wagons.

Next to the alley was one of the many grocery stories Wonderly & Reiff. Those were the days when you could order what you needed and free delivery was made from the store. Most had a credit privilege pay up each week. Close by was a dream store for kids The Morris 5 & 10 cent store. It even had a basement to explore and decide on the most satisfying way to spend a nickel. Our neighbor Marie Baker, clerked there after her graduation from high school.

Dan Sheller's Grocery and Bakery holds many memories for me. On Wednesdays during the Band Concerts and also on Saturday afternoons and evenings, I operated the popcorn machine out on the

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sidewalk in front of the store. From this we sold popcorn, ice-cold pop (my favorite was Nehi Grape in such tall bottles and only 5 cents) gum and candy bars. When I was a bit older both my brother, Casey, and I helped in the bakery. Charles Gilbert was the baker and we kept the oven fire going, cleaned pans and bowls and made the most of 'disposing' of all the goodies that were trimmed off the cakes before they were iced and we were paid for this.

The Band Concerts were just great. They were held from 8 to 9 p.m., but people from all over the area came early and stayed late. Many of the stores stayed open until 10:30, as they also did on Saturdays. While working the popcorn concession I could see all who came to town there was a constant stream of boys and girls passing by. The 'old folks' came early to park their cars on the main drag just to sit and visit with any who came along. It was so wonderful to be part of a small town.