May 2, 2017

F. R. and Ollie B. Billman's Home

This home is located just at the edge of town on Ohio Route 78.  The photo was taken in 1986.  To see more photos from Lewisville and Monroe County, click here to visit my Flickr album.

November 1, 2016

History of My Grandfather’s General Store

From the Monroe County Beacon newspaper
Title: "Century Old Store Changes Ownership"

"Billman's Store" in Lewisville, [OH], which has served that community under various ownerships for the past one hundred years, was recently purchased by George Radon, of near Woodsfield, from the more recent-years owner, F.R. Billman, and has taken charge.

The new proprietor has had considerable experience in the general merchandising field, having been employed with the Kroger and Bailey Companies in Cleveland for a number of years, and he plans to operate the widely-known general store on the self-serve basis and by courteous service and quality merchandise, he hopes to continue the tradition of this fine and ancient store.

A Mr. Packenburg owned and operated the store many years ago and later sold his business to Frank and Charles Oblinger, Clem Oblinger later purchasing Frank's share.

On August 18, 1907, Mr. Billman was employed by the Oblinger's and in 1910 bought a one-third interest, the store being known at that time as the Oblinger, (Marion) Robinson & Company.  Prior to purchasing an interest in the store, Mr. Billman worked in the oil fields for five years.  He is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. John H. Billman, of Lewisville.

In July, 1918, Mr. Robinson entered World War I, and Mr. Oblinger and Mr. Billman bought his interest in the store.  Mr. Oblinger died in December, 1920, and in January, 1921, Mr. Billman became sole owner.  Mr. Radon took possession June 1st.  He is a former Clevelander, coming here in 1943 and is a prosperous farmer in the Lewisville area.  Before coming to Monroe County he was Service Representative for Curtiss-Wright Corp. of Caldwell, New Jersey.  During World War II he served overseas as a Technical Representative.  His wife is the former Edith Faber, daughter of Amiel Faber and the late Mrs. Faber.  The Radon's have two sons: Robert, a student at The Ohio State University, Columbus; and Richard, at home.

Mrs. Billman, the retiring owner's wife, is the former O11ie B. Fisher daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Grant Fisher of Lewisville.  The Billman's have one daughter, Mrs. Frank (Grace) Stallings of Westerville, and one grandson, Robert Alan Stallings.

And with the passing of one era and the beginning of a new for the "Grand Old Store of Lewisville," the community's best wishes go to both the retiring and the new owner—F.R. Billman and George Radon&mdsh;for a long service that has been well done and a new that hopes to serve as in the past a modern setting.

[See my earlier blog post of December 31, 2013, "F. R. Billman's General Store."]

October 16, 2016

Stallings Family Tree

Grace L. Stallings write a 24-page outline of all the members of her extended family with dates of their births and deaths, the names of their spouses and when they were married, the names and dates of birth of their children, and so forth.  This image is only the first page.  To read the entire family tree, click here.

October 12, 2015

My Great Uncle, Fred M. Fisher

My grandmother, Ollie B. (Fisher) Billman's older brother (below).  After the war, he returned to Lewisville (Monroe County), Ohio, where he went back to work at the Monroe County Bank (now United Bank) in the county seat, Woodsfield, OH.  He would rise to become president of the bank.  Upon his death, we inherited his Chrysler with the push-button transmission in the dashboard.

(This photo was taken in 1918 while he was still stationed in France.)

The front (above) and back (below) of a military postcard mailed from France in 1919.

The Graf Waldersee (below), a German ocean liner commandeered from Germany at the end of World War I.

The Graf Waldersee was used by the United States to bring back troops from Europe after the war.  Fred Fisher was among the troops returning from France on the ship's final voyage in August 1919.

September 18, 2015

James A. Wright

"On December 13, 1927, James Arlington Wright was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio."
"His father worked for fifty years at a glass factory, and his mother left school at fourteen to work in a laundry; neither attended school beyond the eighth grade.  While in high school in 1943, Wright suffered a nervous breakdown and missed a year of school.  When he graduated in 1946, a year late, he joined the army and was stationed in Japan during the American occupation.  He then attended Kenyon College on the G.I. Bill and studied under John Crowe Ransom.  He graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1952, then married another Martins Ferry native, Liberty Kardules.  The two traveled to Austria, where, on a Fulbright Fellowship, Wright studied the works of Theodor Storm and Georg Trakl at the University of Vienna.  He returned to the U.S. and earned Master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Washington, studying with Theodore Roethke and Stanley Kunitz.  He went on to teach at the University of Minnesota, Macalester College, and New York City's Hunter College."

"The poverty and human suffering Wright witnessed as a child profoundly influenced his writing, and he used his poetry as a mode to discuss his political and social concerns.  He modeled his work after Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, whose engagement with profound human issues and emotions he admired.  The subjects of Wright's earlier books, The Green Wall (winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets award, 1957) and Saint Judas (1959), include men and women who have lost love or have been marginalized from society for such reasons as poverty and sexual orientation, and they invite the reader to step in and experience the pain of their isolation.  Wright possessed the ability to reinvent his writing style at will, moving easily from stage to stage.  His earlier work adheres to conventional systems of meter and stanza, while his later work exhibits more open, looser forms, as with The Branch Will Not Break (1963).  James Wright was elected a fellow of the Academy of American Poets in 1971, and the following year his Collected Poems received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.  He died in New York City on March 25, 1980."  SOURCE:

July 23, 2015

Shaving Cream — the Prequel

My Grandfather, F. R. Billman of Lewisville, OH, actually used this shaving mug (his initials are on the bottom), shaving soap, and lathering brush.

June 12, 2015

My Mother’s Autobiography

Grace Latriena (Billman) Stallings
June 12, 1912 - October 23, 2001

"My father, Frank R. Billman [November 4, 1885–November 22, 1953], who had worked in oil fields before he married Ollie B. Fisher [February 19, 1889–November 21, 1965] on May 29, 1907."  (Below with grandson Bob standing in front.)

"Moved to Lewisville, Ohio, where Grace LaTriena Billman was born on June 12, 1912.

"I went to Lewisville School, which housed all grades.  They built on two large rooms school house in 1928 and a new Brick School (below) dedicated October 1930.

"Before they built the brick school house, the boys didn't have any place to play basketball.  There was a Tobacco Packing House (like a big barn) so they played in that.  Had no seats and used gas stoves to heat the place.

"The school, we would have a 'Social' on special dates.  The girls would bring a box of eats and at the end of social time, my cousin, John Billman (and my aunt Golda Straight) both said the boys would 'bid' for the boxes, then eat with the girls.

"I wasn't very tall, girls never wore jeans, slacks or shorts in those times.  Never had 'slumber' parties and I don't remember staying all night with my girls friends.  Had long hair until 1924.

"I liked 'playing house' with my dolls.  A neighbor lady, Tillie Winland, and I liked to go sleigh riding in winter, on a small bank near my grandparents Grant and Mary Fisher.

"Back in those days, there wasn't much Trick or Treat on Halloween.  I never went on one.  The big thing was the boys would upset [outdoor] toilets.  My Dad had ours fixed so they couldn't upset it, but the boys could have 'upset' him.

"In the fall, there was a farmer that lived near our home, that made molasses from sorghum that he had raised, which looked like a 'cane' like grass or broom corn.  Had a machine that had wheels and had to be pulled by a horse, round and round, to get juice from cane, for molasses.  The juice would go into a big oblong steel pan that was over fire.  It would cook until syrup stage.

"We kids that lived near, would hurry home from school to see if a pan was empty, if it was, we were allowed to lick the pan with our fingers.

"At Thanksgiving time my Grandparents, Mary and Grant Fisher, had that day to butcher the hog or hogs as Uncle Fred Fisher and my Dad had the day off from Bank and store.  Another man out in the country would come to help.  My Dad always shot the hogs.  After cut up, etc., my Dad would grind the meat to make sausages.

"Then, after everything was done, Dad had to clean the gun and I got to shot [sic] it. Only time I ever did that.

"In the summer for something to do, my folks along with two other families, Banders and Winlands, would go on picnics after church on Sunday.

"Some summer's [sic], my folks along with Uncle Fred and Aunt Rosa Fisher, would go spend the day with Sidney and Clara Whitmire and family.  Clara was a sister of Grandma Fisher.  Whitmire's lived in Chandlersville, Ohio.  We kids would ride the farm animals for some fun.

"Attended Methodist Protestant Church.  Once a year, they had revival service's [sic] for a week.  Had an extra minister to come to help with sermon's [sic].  After sermon, they would call those who wanted to know Jesus Christ better and confess their sins, to come forth to the altar.  (Like Billy Graham, 1994).  Some girls and I went to the altar.  I remember my father coming up to me after a while and prayed with me.

"At one class meeting, early in 1930, I attended was at a home that the girls had scarlatina several weeks before.  I was called to the telephone, which was my mother, saying I had company.  In so many days, I had a bad case of scarlet fever.  The doctor quarantine, placing the sign on the house by the door, to keep people from coming in to get the disease.  My mother wouldn't tell my Dad how bad I was.  He had to stay out, so he could be at the store.  One day he got a ladder, got on the porch roof, looked in and saw how sick I was.  Went back to the store, told the clerks they could do whatever had to be done, as he was coming in.  After I got over the disease, my mother washed my Dad's hair with lye soap.  She burned the carpet, curtains, and whatever she could burn.  Spraid [sic] with disinfection [sic], closed bedroom door for several days, later opened window's [sic] and left it [sic] way for a long time, with door closed.

"A lady, Mrs. John Egger, organized a group of girls . . . in summer would have a picnic, I took piano and clarinet lessons from her.

"I didn't finish high school but went to work in my father's store (below with F. R. Billman standing in front).  So many funny things happened.  One lady brought some 'homemade' butter to sell along with some eggs.  This butter was so round and smooth, my father said it looked suspicious, so [he] took it back to the other room, cut it in half and found is was mashed potatoes, covered with the butter.  He put it back together, smooth[ed] the butter and told the lady he couldn’t take it.

"An elderly lady who lived a few houses from the store, her panties came off coming to the store.  Came in asked [the] clerk, Clayton English, for a paper bag.  She put the panties into [the] bag and next day brought the paper bag back.

"Clayton English dared me to eat some raw oyster, which I did, but no more of that.

"We had a glass showcase that held candy in glass dishes (think your mother and your aunt Carole Stallings) each have one.  People would tell you what kind and how much they wanted.

"At Christmas time Dad would order a 'big' oak barrel of what they called it then, 'hard tack' candy.  He wouldn't open that [sic] one he just received but the one he got the year before, said it would 'ripen' by not opening it for that long.

"We had a rack for 'big' boxes or cartons of cookies, put glass top on the, the customer would tell you how much and what kind they wanted.

"Oh yes, in those days, you sold 25# flour and 25# sugar which had to be stored in basement.  Just had 5 lbs on shelves upstairs.  In those days, as a clerk, you were back of the counter and the customer would tell you what they [sic] wanted.  Clerk would take it off the shelves.  They would pay for the groceries, etc., with what they brought in, like eggs, chicken, etc.  Two weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas was the time the farmers to bring [sic] in turkey's [sic].  There would be a truck from wholesale companies in Pittsburgh, Pa., to take them. We also took chicken's [sic] anytime, not too many, so town people would buy one now and then.

"Esther Miracle, Lillian Lubuagh, Mary Latta, Frank and Grace went to the Chicago World's Fair 1934.

"My father would go to Baltimore, MD, spring and fall, to a wholesale house to buy things for the store.  Mr. Bowersock, a clerk at the wholesale house, helped my father in buying and entertaining him.  One late summer my mother and I went with him that was in 1929.

"I taught a young girls' Sunday School class for a short time and was one of the several that played piano for Sunday School and Church.  My father was Supt. of Sunday School for over 36 years and Mother was a teacher for small boys and girls for over 20 years.

"In June 1939, I was appointed delegate to Conference.  That was when the Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant Churches, joined to one Methodist Protestant.  Mother and I went to Salina, Ohio, June 1939.  Then to North-East Ohio Conference in Lakeside, Ohio in two weeks.  They still hold Conferences in Lakeside.

"I was married on September 23, 1939 (to C. [Charles} Frank Stallings, left, in 1980), then my father was made delegate, his last conference was June 1952, as he passed away on November 22, 1953.  He was sent to Methodist Protestant Convention in Washington, D.C. May 12–15, 1931.  He was delegate from North East Conference in San Francisco, Calif., April 22–May 6, 1952, didn't get to attend because of heart.  Did get to North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Milwaukee, Wisc., July 1952 as delegate from North East Conference.  Mother got to go with him.  He was Secy. and Treas. of Cambridge District of North East Ohio Conference.

"My father had worked for Charles Oblinger from 1907, then had half interest after 1918 and bought the store after Mr. Oblinger died Dec. 10, 1920.  He sold store to Geo. Radon because of health who took over June 1, 1953.  The store burned down on Sept. 7, 1956, which was suspicious.  The store front came from Germany.

"Frank Reynolds and Ollie Belle Billman are buried in Friendship Burial Cemetery, Lewisville, OH, up a small hill from where they went to housekeeping, on State Route 145, which goes to Stafford, OH."

November 2, 2014

University of Evansville 1972

Another old photo reemerges.  This is from the University of Evansville Yearbook @1972.  I was in my first year as one of six members of the Department of Sociology at UE.  Professorial looking, huh.

November 1, 2014

George Santayana Reference

Most people know the following quotation from the philosopher George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  What few people know is the citation for this famous quote: "Reason in Common Sense," Volume 1, The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress, (5 Volumes), 1905–1906.

May 18, 2014

USC Commencement 2014

Sitting in Alumni Park at the 131st USC Commencement May 16, 2014.  On my right is Professor Emeritus of Political Science Michael Preston (hand on cap); on my left is Professor Emerita of Gerontology Phoebe Liebig (cardinal cap and gown).  In the background is the Von KleinSmid Center where I had several offices over the years.