Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 1990
Riverside and Wednesday Night Band Concerts
By Dorothy Joseph
The street that runs along the west side of city hall may be South Market Street to you, but to me it is Riverside. My mother, Iva Hill Stauffer, and I spent much of our childhood on Riverside. My mother’s family moved to that area when she was eight or nine years old. After having lived in rental property in several areas of town, my grandfather bought half way down South Market Street, across from the river bend, and lived there until his death in 1911.
I was about the same age when my parents bought their first home on that street a block or so closer to the bridge. Since the area was not in the city limits, my mother’s family, my sister and I attended Chester School which was the consolidated township school. We had a choice of routes; either to Main Street through the business district, east, and then down Mill Street across the covered bridge to Chester or south and across the street now called Pony Creek Lane, up past the covered bridge and on to Chester. We usually went by way of Main Street, especially during cold months, and were lucky because we could stop to warm ourselves by the coal stove in our father’s tailor shop, located where Werking Studio is now.
Those of us that lived on Riverside had advantages over town people for refrigeration: we had flowing wells all along the street in almost every home. Many homes had the water piped to a convenient location, either on a porch or an enclosed area, such as a summer kitchen. A basin built for the water to run into had a drain attached high enough so several inches of water could stand. The constantly flowing water had a consistent temperature, and the food kept well.
At the south end of Riverside, Hank and Kate Lautzenhiser, Joan Koller’s grandparents, kept milk cows. Many families bought milk from them. They had a lovely walk-in basement that was used year-round as living quarters. At the east end as one came down a few steps through the doorway was a flowing well with a large cement basin that held cooled milk in our individual containers, picked up by neighbors each evening after milking time. I loved Kate, who continued selling milk long after Hank died.
She let us use the basement in the summertime to change our clothes so we could go swimming in Pony Creek. That was a great treat in hot weather. The upstairs of the house was used for company, and the bedrooms were on the second floor. I preferred the basement: it was cozy in the winter with a cookstove for heat and cool in the summer.
Across the street from our house was anchored a rowboat, used all summer long by the Stauffer children. It was first-come first-served as to the boat’s use. We were permitted to go as far north on the river as we wished, seldom farther north than the college. West, downriver, lay the dam. We could go as far west as the railroad bridge. Beyond that was out-of-bounds as the current could have swept the boat across the dam.
Riverside There were various forms of entertainment. After the evening meal was over and the dishes were done, my aunt and mother played music on the pump organ. One sang soprano, the other alto. They had learned to play “by ear.” Once when Grandfather came home from his office, he found neighbors sitting on the front steps, as well as others walking by, listening to the singing. He promised not to tell his daughters, who probably would have stopped singing every evening.
There were band concerts on Wednesday evenings. Mom did not know when they first started, though she remembers attending the concerts with her mother when she was about seven or eight years old. Grandmother belonged to the Rebekah Lodge, auxiliary to the Oddfellows of which my grandfather was a member. The meetings were held on the third floor of the building at 135 East Main Street. On the second floor was a lounge where children stayed. The windows looked down over Main Street at the foot of Walnut Street where the bandstand was erected each Wednesday.
The lighting was apparently provided by arc lights on each corner of Main, at Market, one above the bandstand at Walnut, and at Mill. There were no lights on Riverside until John Parmerlee place an oil lamp in front of his house. Later, after electricity came to Riverside, George Gaddis put a light high over his house, and it did shine over a rather large area.
Cars lined both sides of the street for those to shop or to watch and listen to the music. The stores stayed open to accommodate those who could not shop during the day. Some of the older people sat in their cars just to visit with neighbors and friends.
One of the band members, Charley Snider, lived on Riverside. He practiced during the summer with his door open. “Pappy” McFann (as Mom called him), a small, wiry man who had been a bandmaster in the Civil War, lived across the street. He often came over to Snider’s just to pester him and to tell him about his mistakes in playing. Mom said it was fun just to watch McFann go across the street.
Most people came into town to shop on Saturday evenings when the stores were open. When my father bought the tailor shop from Thurl Little, Orrel’s brother, mother and father kept the shop open. I would go to the movie just up the street from the shop, between Lockwood Hardware and the livery stable. Admission was a nickel. I gave my nickel to Carrie Lockwood at the ticket window and went into to see the thrilling Pearl White serials. There was always some type of cliff-hanging scene near the end of each episode of the series when a handsome hero always saved poor Pearl.
Rube Wilkins as well as the Symington brothers moved to Riverside when they retired from show business. Wilkins had been a clown. The Symingtons were probably in sideshows at circuses, as they were tiny. George Gaddis, mentioned above, who lived near the end of South Market Street with his wife, was an excellent carpenter who kept a shop in the back of his house. He taught the children to use hand tools. He also taught John Henry Wright to build model airplanes as flying was the one thing Wright wanted to do: he later became a commercial pilot.
We lived in other places besides Riverside, I have felt that Riverside was an important part of my mother’s life as well as my own.