Jack Sloan came in to the world early - very early from what he told me. His mother could easily hold him, and his little head could fit into a teacup. While I've located mention of births in newspapers, I never located one for my father. I honestly don't think he was expected to survive.
By the age of 18 months, Dad had had spinal meningitis. The fact he survived this in 1926 was amazing.
Dad joined the Army Air Corps right after graduating from high school in 1943. It was amazing he was able to pass the physical as he barely, by 1/2 an inch, made the height requirement. That was one of the aftereffects of having the spinal meningitis. During his time in service, Dad grew 4 inches and was 5'6 -1/2" at the end of his service. Dad left a book in which he detailed his experiences during WWII in the South Pacific as a nose-gunner in B-24s. More about that later.
He loved golf. In his early teens, Dad was a caddy at Valleywood Golf Club here in Swanton, Ohio. After joining as a member after the war, he became the president in the mid-1960s.
Dad was artistic. He loved to paint in oils and did some drawing with pen. One of his drawings from his high school years is on the wall in our home.
He was also a fantastic cook. Something that may have skipped a generation as my daughter is great - can put together anything and it's the best you've ever had. Two of my favorite recipes are his homemade tomato soup and his chili. I'm so glad I have his handwritten recipe cards. They are treasures.
Dad was also a writer. He just did it in his spare time and loved to put to paper his thoughts and memories of growing up in a small town during the 1930s. And I'm so very glad he did! So to honor him, here is some of his story.
"I'm going to write a little story for my granddaughter, Lindsay, nothing earth shattering, just some thoughts and events that have occurred in my sixty-six years, some good, some not so good and some indifferent. What it was like growing up in a different era, what you did as a child to have fun and yes, you could and did survive without TV and electronic games. Where you were allowed to use the family car, maybe once a month to go to a movie in Toledo, and then to the Polar Bear for a frozen custard and a hot dog. I'm getting too far ahead.
"I was the fourth and last of four sons. My oldest brother was Pearle, 14 years older; Kenneth, 10 years older, and Junior, 6 years older. Now, already you can see the trouble, right? When you have brothers that much older, you know they don't want the little kid tagging along..
"I always wore bibb [sic] overalls in the summer (my Mom [Kathryn Sloan] said I didn't have enough butt to hold up regular jeans) and my brothers had a favorite 'thing' they did with me. One would grab hold of me and lift me up to the clothes line post. Another brother unfastened my suspenders, hooked me over the clothes line post, leaving me dangling, kicking and yelling for Mom. She used to come right out and unhook me so I could get down, but I noticed later on in the summer, she didn't come out to get me down quite as fast.
My mother was the only woman that I can remember who would be out sweeping the front steps and sidewalk at 7:30 in the morning, with an apron, a fresh clean housedress and earrings. If cleanliness was next to Godliness, we were the Holiest family on West Garfield. I don't know of all the things that my brothers did to give her gray hair, but I'm sure I did my share. Like in the summertime the Street Department, which was Mr. Hollis, would come down our street to repair the cracks. This consisted of putting tar in the cracks and then sprinkling fine stone on the tar. Now, I always had to 'help' Mr. Hollis. He would pour the tar in the cracks and I always managed to get in the wet tar barefoot before he could get the stones on. I had it on both feet and on my legs. Mr. Hollis would look at me and say, 'Golly, gee, Jackie, your mother sure is gonna be mad at us.' I don't know how my mother always saw me coming in the house, 'cause she always met me at the back door and said, 'Get the coal oil can from the garage and clean all of that tar off. No dinner until you clean off every speck.' It was always the same...one vegetable brush, a tin can for the coal oil, an old washrag, a bar of Fels Naptha soap and an old towel."
There will be more next week of "In His Own Words."
Growing up, you never really know your mother, what she was like as a child, and then to share life when both of you are adults.
It was hard being 13 and having your mom pass away. It changed the way I was treated by my friends. They had never gone through anything like this in their lives, and I understood.
There were still cousins and friends who were there, and for that they will forever be remembered.
Dad struggled during the ensuing year. A widower at age 39 with a 13 year-old daughter. Thank goodness Grandma, "Mimi" and Grandpa, "Pipi" Sloan helped as well as Grandma Lou Beard.
Grandma Lou moved back to Swanton from Toledo. She lived across from the Methodist Church on Main Street. We sure had fun in that big old house! I spent a lot of time with my Grandma Lou. (You'll hear more about her life in a segment to come.)
Dad and I did the cleaning and dish washing. I did the laundry while Dad cooked. Even so, Mimi thought we needed help with the housework.
I remember Mimi coming to the house and was going to wash the windows in the kitchen. She reached under the kitchen sink, grabbed what she thought was window cleaner, and proceeded to spray white paint all over the window! She frantically got it cleaned before Dad and I arrived home. We never let her forget that one!
Grandma's sister, Lola Hable was there for us too. I was able to stay at her home during that summer of 1963. She had surgery earlier in the year, and I was able to help her around the house - washing dishes, vacuuming, folding clothes, and dusting. For that I got paid $20.00, quite a lot for that time.
Dad was a fantastic cook, so we didn't have hamburgers, that's for sure! I do remember one winter evening, we did go to Valleywood for dinner. After dinner, Dad asked what I'd like to do that night. I asked if the Toledo "Blades" (the local hockey team) was playing at home. They were, and off we went to a hockey game! What fun!
We were getting along okay. Then came the early part of 1964 and Dad had a few dates. I did a lot to discourage some of his dates. I was probably rude to those I didn't like.
But then, my Uncle Junior suggested Dad call this nice lady named Marjorie Stephens. Dad remembered meeting her as I had introduced them the previous year.
So, Dad had a date! Oh, how I liked Mrs. Stephens! So much so, that I had Dad ask her out to our home for dinner where I prepared a full turkey dinner: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable. I was really working it!
On Halloween, 1964, Dad and Marge were married. Yup. Halloween. It figures in this family to get married October 31st. Marge had a son from her first marriage, Bob, so I now had an older brother. I had so much fun saying, "My brother was an only child," to unsuspecting people.
Even though Dad has since passed away, Mom (yup, she's my Mom) and I still celebrate October 31st. Not in a sad way, but to celebrate the day she became my mom.
And just think, I introduced my parents!
Life was good.
Our family belonged to a golf course in Swanton and I enjoyed being out there playing golf, and as I got older, working in the dining room.
Then things changed. Mom wasn't feeling well. I was only about eight, so I really don't remember things all that well.
I just remember when I was maybe, 11 or 12, maybe even younger, hearing the dreaded word "cancer" and hearing my mom crying at night.
There were surgeries, chemo, and an early form of radiation, "radioactive isotopes" I remember.
I remember times when the only thing she wanted to eat was homemade tapioca pudding as nothing else tasted good at all.
There were times when she wanted to play golf, but couldn't because she didn't feel well. Then the time came when she couldn't ride in the golf cart because of being afraid the bumps and jarring would break her bones. By that time, what had been breast cancer had gone to her bones.
Mom and Dad celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary August 2, 1962. Mom had been in the hospital and so wanted to be home so Dad brought her home. I remember her on the sofa and Dad saying he needed to take her back as her lips and fingers were turning blue due to lack of oxygen. It was now in her lungs.
Mom lived two more months, dying October 2nd.
She was 34.
Miss you still, Mom.
"He's never coming home."
How could I know that as a small child? How could I know that he had taken his life on a cold January night on a back road near Swanton?
Grandma said he'd be home soon, he just had to go to Toledo to pick up some car parts.
He didn't come home. Ever.
His body was found the next morning. A note and gun lay next to him. He asked for forgiveness.
And he didn't come home again.
I wasn't allowed to go to the funeral home. It wasn't for little girls. But I remember a lot of people coming to the house over the next few days. Lots of people.
But not grandpa. He didn't come home again.
I had a dream about seeing him in a suit. I later found out that was the suit he had on when he was buried. I was asked how I knew since I was never at the funeral home. I think it may have been because I had seen a wonderful picture of my grandfather walking down the street in Toledo. They had street photographers back then. Maybe that was why.
I still remember him. That kind man who always sat at the left side of the kitchen table. He got me a doll for my birthday in 1954. You cranked it and it had a phonograph in it. It would walk and "talk."
It was the last birthday gift I received from my grandpa...because
Grandpa never came home again.
I remember January 1955 so very well. Mom and I were at Grandma and Grandpa Beard's house for dinner. Dad was still working the third shift at LOF and dropped us off before heading to Rossford.
January in northwest Ohio was gloomy. It gets dark so early and just makes the evening drag on and on. It was dark, I remember that. I remember Grandma standing in the doorway from the living room to the kitchen. Mom and I were sitting on the sofa. Being 5, and hungry, I asked Grandma what time we were going to have dinner. She said we had to wait until Grandpa came home from Toledo. He had gone to Toledo to pick up parts for a car.
I remember, just as clear as day, saying to Grandma, "He's never coming home."
My grandfather committed suicide that night. He never came home.
Dad served in the Swanton Volunteer Fire Department in the 1950s. Our downstairs neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. John Eva, knew dad was on the fire department. Mr. Eva used a cane to help him walk. It also helped him awaken dad if he was sleeping following the night shift at LOF. Even though the fire whistle would blow, h
he'd take that cane and hit his ceiling (our floor) and kept it up until he heard dad move around in the apartment.
Dad always kept his gear for the fire department in the single closet in the bedroom. Remember that robe of mom's I mentioned? One time he just couldn't wake up. He'd grab mom's robe and look at it. Then he'd get the fire gear, look at that. And back to the robe. Finally, he woke up enough to grab his gear, get in it, and take off!
I was proud of dad being on the fire department. He got to ride on the fire truck! What little kid wouldn't like that? He also got to set off all the fireworks the evening of July 4th. I'd get so excited! Since we didn't live that far from the high school where they set off the fireworks, Mom and I would stay home and watch out the living room window. I'd get so excited! So much so, I threw up. Yuk. Not just once, but every doggone year. I still love fireworks, but thankfully for my family, I don't throw up anymore.
In 1955, we moved to a house on the Chicago Pike (now called Airport Highway) into a home we bought from my Grandma and Grandpa Beard, but not before tragedy struck our family.
In genealogical research, you go from the known to the unknown. I know me, so that is where I'll start.
I was born in 1949, the only child of Jack and Joanne (Beard) Sloan. Mom's first cousin, Joyce Koepfer, told of getting to the hospital before my parents. Dad got pulled over for having a headlight out on the car. Once the officer was told that Mom was in labor, he let them go with a warning.
Mom kept the "required" baby books of the time. One had all the prenatal information plus child development after birth by month, then by year. From these books, I've learned a lot. While Mom was in delivery, "Dad spent the intervening time by 'pacing, smoking, worrying'." and his "fellow sufferers were 'Grandma and Grandpa Beard'." Now dads are in the delivery room and the grandparents can be there too!
I arrived at 4:48 a.m. weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces and was 18.5 inches in length. Mom left the hospital on the 6th day. I was given a supplemental formula made with 3 ounces of Pet (evaporated) milk, 7 ounces of water, and 1 tablespoon Karo (syrup). Yeah, that sounds very nutritional. By the end of my first month of life, I was getting 2 ounces of water to 1 tablespoon Similac.
This baby book is so complete, and Mom really filled it out. I know how old I was when I laughed aloud, when I smiled, as sat alone.
At 4.5 months, I had an infection of my chest, throat, and right ear. I was admitted to the hospital where I remained for 11 days. Mom kept the receipts from the hospital where a semi-private room was billed at $8.50 per day. From looking at the receipts, I can determine I got "blood" at $55.00. All the items are in another book and cannot be removed with out damage, so I don't have the entire total for the stay.
Mom kept meticulous records as to my health. At the age of 23 months I had the 14 day measles, "complicated by weakened left ankle. Bandaged for a week, still a slight limp on second birthday." I remember Dad saying he had to carry me as I couldn't walk.
From age two through six, I had the chicken pox, 3-day (German) measles, and mumps. Isn't it wonderful that now our children can be vaccinated and not have to go through the diseases of the 1950s? In the summer of 1962, I had an emergency appendectomy. I remember being so mad that I couldn't watch 77 Sunset Strip and had to go to the hospital instead!
So much for the childhood illnesses. The first real memories were from the house on Lincoln Avenue.
From hookers, to crooks and kooks, there are many more in my family. Lots of fun, love, and adventure awaits!
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