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 parenthesis by Lillian
Uncle Jim was James Everett Applegate, brother of my grandfather, John B, and Bill was his rascal son.
Uncle Jim, he was the one who had Bill – that was his boy. And that Bill – he was something else, he was a rough one. Him and Johnny used to go down when Johnny was real young yet and they’d go down on Broadway down in Cincinnati, down to the saloons down there, and Bill would pick a fight every time – the bully of the town, that’d remind you of Bill – and he was really something but Grandpa (John A), he’d crawl under a table and wait until the fight was over.
Bill would remind you of Wallace Beery – just as ornery as the dickens but you couldn’t help but love him.
Bill Applegate in one of his more peaceful moods
We lived beside him out at Tower Hill when Shirley (my sister) was born. He’d get on those crazy drunks and one night he had poor Goldie, that was his wife, hold the lamp while he chopped up the garden – poor thing starving, that’s all they had to eat was the garden. He chopped it all up in little pieces and then he took off and to get out of there he had to cross the railroad tracks. Well, Johnny and the other boys they got to wondering after awhile if he got across that railroad track ‘cause it was about time for the train to come through. They went up to the railroad track and there he was, he got tired, laid down, rested his head on the railroad tracks and was sound asleep just about five minutes before the train came through.
Bill’s wife, Goldie, she was a little on the strange side. She was mad at Bill. They had a little girl, Gertrude, and she got sick. Bill was out running around on her and she called for Bill to come home and he didn’t come and little Gertrude died. When she was put into the grave, a little piece of her dress got caught in the coffin and was waving and Goldie always said that was a bad omen. Right after that she had twins – she had little Paul and Pauline. She wouldn’t nurse Pauline and everyone said she let Pauline die just to get even with Bill for not coming home when little Gertrude was sick. Now, whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. (Or maybe the poor thing just didn’t have enough milk to keep both babies alive, my opinion.)
I remember one time Grandma-up-Dayton (my paternal grandmother) was sick in bed, about to have a miscarriage and Goldie yelled, “Get up, get up, there’s a snake under your bed!” and Grandma jumped out in the middle of the floor and she almost died. Goldie swore she was psychic and she could make tables move by just putting her hands on them.
John (B) had a cousin called Everett, I don’t know which one of the boys he belonged to, but he owned a piece of land down on Eggleston Avenue (downtown Cincinnati), right at the foot of Eggleston Avenue, right where the McDonald Bridge is – right along in there – he owned all that bottom land along there – and he traded it for a cow and a fiddle. And he was going away, I don’t know what for, but he had to go away and he told John that if he never came back the fiddle was his because John was the only one in the family who could play it – that wasn’t very well, but he could play it – and so Everett never came back and John kept his fiddle. And everybody in the family argued who that fiddle belonged to but John kept hold of it and just before he died on his deathbed he said, “I want my first grandchild to have the fiddle” and that was Lillian and that’s how she came to get the fiddle. (John B died on March 31, 1945, while their home was being devastated by a major flood. The fiddle was severely damaged in the flood, but I still have it in its case.)
My grandpa, John B. Applegate, ca 1944
In the next installment, which is the final one about the Applegates, Mother talks about some female members of the family as well as an in-law who was an expert fiddler and who had tried very hard to get Grandpa’s fiddle away from him. After that, she tells about her own family which was “not very exciting”.