My mother’s 100th birthday will be this November (Martha Evelyn Mount, born November 28, 1916, in Morrow, Ohio and passed away on July 31, 1991). When she was 72 in 1989, she made a taped recording of family stories for both sides of the family. In her honor, and still incredulous that she sat and dictated all of this into a tape recorder by herself, I’m going to post what she wrote along with pictures whenever possible. She had a rather rambling, random method and said whatever came to her mind at that moment, punctuated by hearty laughing. I’ll post the stories in the order she told them and will only edit the posts to keep out anything that might be offensive or embarrassing to other members of the family.
8/89 – Family Stories Tape by Martha Applegate
Transcribed 5/19/01 by Lillian – notes in blue by Lillian
Mother continues with her stories of the Applegate family, starting with my great-aunt Anne, John B’s sister; my father’s cousin, Almy; and the sister of my paternal grandmother, Lizzie.
Goldie, wife of Bill Applegate, and my great-aunt Lizzie
Note the black and white dog on the running board
Aunt Anne (sister of John B), she was another one. She would go into a store – she always took an umbrella with her and she would shoplift. She got caught two or three times and they had to send her away – I don’t know where they sent her. But they had to send her away so she wouldn’t be arrested. But we lived beside her down there on Gotham Place (Cincinnati’s East End) out there during the war when the kids were little. She had a great big old white dog and some way this white dog did something to the kid across the street from her – didn’t hurt him, just scared him – but every time she’d go down through there walking her white dog, that old man (the boy’s father) would sit on the porch and he’d say, “Oh, hello, Annie – how’s your white dog, how are you, Annie, how’s your white dog” and he kept that up and kept that up and was tormenting her and pretty soon she said to him, “White dog nothing, you SB, you come down here, I’ll show you a white dog, I’m tired of your hollering at me.” Well, he got scared of her, actually got scared of her, and he had her arrested and she come down to me, “Oh, Marthy, will you go to court with me?” – they all called me “Marthy” – and I said, “Yeah”, I said, “I’ll go to court with you” and so she got down there and she got up in front of the judge and he said, “Alright, just what did you say to this man?” And she said, “I told him you big-bellied son-of-a-bitch, you come down here and I’ll….” and he said, “How old are you?” and she said, “72” and he said, “Case dismissed!”
Aunt Anne, my mother, Grandma Helen
and the big white dog
And she used to sell bootleg beer all the time – in those days everybody made homebrew. They were all down there – she had a whole gang in her living room and Uncle Jim (James Everett) and all of them was there that day, too, a lot of other people – and every time somebody wanted a drink, she’d go in the bedroom and she’d come out with the drink. Uncle Jim was wondering where she was getting all this homebrew and he followed her in and she had it in her chamber – in her pot – and was dipping it out of there so nobody would find it – they always had to hide it. He tore the house up – he like to killed everybody that day.
Almy, she was one of the cousins, and she always drove a Model-T Ford – in those days not many women drove a car. You had to crank them and she always kept the crank on the seat beside of her and one day she had to come to a stop there as you turn on Wooster Pike going over towards Newtown there by the bridge and some man stepped up to her and said, “I’m going to rob you, I want your money”. She said, “Rob me nothing, you SB” and she took that crank and beat him over the head with it.
Her husband died and she remarried, married an old man, and she was 65 or so at that time, had already had a heart attack. She said all her life she always wanted a motorcycle. She got her a motorcycle with a side car and she put this old man in the side car and they went all the way down to Gatlinburg, down in the mountains. She said she couldn’t do it after she was dead – she had to do it while she was alive. If she wanted to fix the roof on her house, she’d tie a rope around her waist and tie a rope around the chimney and she’d fix the roof of her house.
One time when Grandma-up-Dayton (our term for our paternal grandmother who lived in Dayton, Ohio) was with that old Murphy, that old mean Murphy, Lizzie – that’s her sister (Elizabeth Illie) – and Almy (an Applegate cousin) was there visiting and somebody brought in a big basket of pretty tomatoes. Almy said, “I’ll fix that old Harry Murphy” and she put poison in the biggest tomato and put it right on top and Aunt Lizzie came along and said, “That old Harry Murphy ain’t going to get the biggest tomato this time, I’m going to get it” and she ate it and she like to died.
Aunt Lizzie, that’s Grandma-up-Dayton’s sister, was married to Sam Robbins – now there’s a character for you. Grandpa, John (B), said he remembered the first night they were married, Lizzie and Sam, they heard a knock on the door, they got up and there stood Aunt Lizzie at the door in a great big fur coat. Sam, all he ever done was coon hunt and fish and things, and he’d save and make furs and things like that and she had all his furs tucked up underneath that fur coat – she’d left him in the middle of the night.
Old Sam was a fiddle player and he made all his own fiddles. He’d go out in the woods and pick a certain tree he’d want, he’d make the wood part, all of it. He played fiddle all over – he played on the radio and everything. He walked everywhere he went – never rode anywhere – he always walked – he’d go to all the fiddling contests and all that. My brother and his wife (Ralph and Hazel Mount) said they remember going to his house back in prohibition days when everybody was selling homebrew and they’d have homebrew and baloney sandwiches and Sam would play the fiddle and they’d dance, but all he’d play was “Sally Lost her Petticoat Going to the Ball” and finally everybody’d get so darned mad hearing the same song over and over they’d finally leave.
END OF APPLEGATE INSTALLMENTS
Although John B. had been a drinker all of his life, he met his match when he married Helen Conover. She had already lost one husband in the 1918 flu epidemic, leaving her with three children. She remarried and had that husband desert her when she became pregnant, so when at the age of 55 she met John B, she was in no mood to put up with much out of husbands. Her strong will and strict rules about having no alcohol in the house, turned John B. into a sober man who rarely took a drink and then only if he could keep it secret from Grandma. They were together until he died at age 65 in 1945 and Grandma lived on to be 92 when she died in 1978.
My grandparents, John B and Helen Applegate, 1943
My paternal grandmother, Lillian, was the perfect apple-cheeked grandma when I was growing up, baking and gifting us with lovely store-bought clothes.
Grandma Lillian, ca 1942
In her later years, she married a Pawnee Indian Chief and moved to Pawnee, Oklahoma, where she died in 1968. She wrote on the back of this picture: “Lillian – from Grandma, Jan. 29, 1960 – headband was given to me in Pawnee, Oklahoma. I was adopted by the tribe.”
My father gave up his beloved horses to give my sister and me a stable, old-fashioned upbringing. He was a self-taught electrical engineer and built our first television set, one of the first in the Cincinnati area. In 1950, he went back to the horse business and was a respected harness horse driver and trainer until his death in 1978. He died of a heart attack after finishing second in a photo-finish in a race. The family said he died on the track where he would have wanted to be, but he would have wanted to win the race.
An earlier picture of a winning race for John A and Peter Horn,
the horse my father was driving when he died
This ends Mother’s portion of the tape about the Applegate side of the family and goes over now to her family – “not very exciting”, in her words. Mother gives a nice description, though, of life in small town Ohio in the 1900s, along with some stories about her ancestors.