Dec 19

Christmas Memories–Toys

What was under the Christmas tree for a good little girl back in the 1950s?

I believe I can answer that. I still have some of my old toys that I received as Christmas presents over 55 years ago. Yesterday I gathered them together and arranged them around the Christmas trees in our basement.

Karen's Toys from the 50s.

Karen’s toys from the 50s.

The whistling top is one of the first toys I can remember. It is a little rusty now but it still works fine. A chalkboard with the alphabet and numbers was also a gift years ago.

Whistling top, chalkboard, mop & broom toys.

Whistling top, chalkboard, mop & broom toys.

The clucking chicken was a pull toy. I showed it to Chloe a few weeks ago and she didn’t quite know what to make of it. One year I received a set of small metal luggage, shown to the left of the chicken.

Clucking chicken pull toy.

Clucking chicken pull toy.

I received the little metal stove for Christmas when we lived in the house across the road from where I grew up. That would have been before 1959. The stove has an electrical cord and the little oven really worked. It came with tiny cake pans and tiny packages of cake mix. What fun! The little iron sitting on the stove is also electric. I have a little ironing board, too, somewhere… I don’t remember using the iron so I don’t remember if it got very hot.

Toy electric stove.

Toy electric stove.

Can you imagine a small electric stove or an electric iron for a child today? Electricity with sharp metal corners to boot! We have rules and regulations against that sort of thing today. Somehow we survived those dangerous toys of the 50s. I received some other domestic toys, too–a small mop and broom.

In the back of the top photo, standing in my old doll buggy, is Betty the Beautiful Bride. One year I wanted a bride doll more than anything and I received Betty for Christmas. She was truly beautiful in her satin and lace gown. Her box describes the doll as Betty—the Beautiful Bride with the most exquisite bridal gown ever made! Soft all-rubber body; Washable rooted hair. Comb it! Brush it! Curl it! Complete with bridal bouquet, colorful wall plaque, Bing Crosby’s recording “Because.” Unbreakable from head to toe.2 ½ feet tall.

Except for her yellowed gown, Betty looks just like new because I was not allowed to play with her. She was always stored high in my closet, safe in her box.

Betty the Beautiful Bride

Betty the Beautiful Bride

I did play with my Saucy Walker doll, however. She was a walking doll who turned her head as she walked. She still looks good and is dressed in her original dress. I believe she may have had braids at one time–before I decided she would look better in a ponytail.

Saucy Walker doll.

Saucy Walker doll.

One of my very favorite toys was Matt Dillon on his horse. I loved horses when I was a child and I unsaddled and re-saddled that horse over and over. The pair is in good condition and Matt still has his hat and gun, like a good lawman should.

Matt Dillon on his horse.

Matt Dillon on his horse.

Over the years I received several other boy-type toys, which I no longer have. I remember getting a cap gun and holster and a remote control police car.

I received the pink doll cradle from my great-aunt Clara (Miller) Reef. Clara was my grandpa Miller’s sister and she lived down the road from us.

Cradle from great-aunt Clara.

Cradle from great-aunt Clara.

Grandma Schumm gave me the Monopoly game one year and the Bird Fun game was a gift from my parents. Bird Fun was a game I could play by myself. The idea was to put the correct bird head on the correct bird body. The names of all the birds were included, too. I enjoyed the simple game and I learned my birds from it. Perhaps that game sparked my interest in birds, which I still have today.

Bird Fun game.

Bird Fun game.

I ventured up to the attic to get a photo of my old doll house and barn. I still have most of the plastic furniture that came with the doll house. At one time I had a lot of animals and fencing to go with the barn, but those are long gone.

Metal doll house and barn.

Metal doll house and barn.

I probably have a few more old toys stashed around here. I know my old Viewmaster-type stereo viewer is still around here. Maybe it is stored away with my little ironing board.

Those were the good old days, with classic toys, where you could use your imagination.

After Christmas I’ll put my toys away again.

Dec 16

Tombstone Tuesday–Fred & Anna (Merkel) Heffner

Fred & Anna Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

Fred & Anna Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Fred and Anna (Merkle) Heffner, located in row 1 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

HEFFNER
Fred Heffner
1861-1918
Anna His Wife
1867-1935

Fredrick Heffner was born in Liberty Township on 19 February 1861, according to Zion Chatt’s records. He was the son of George and Sophia (Martin) Heffner. There is no record of his baptism at Zion Chatt but he was confirmed there on 14 April 1875 by Rev. Karl Christian Adam Jr.

Fredrick married Anna Merkel on 1 October 1885 at Zion Chatt.

Anna Merkle was born 13 December 1867 in Wapakoneta, Auglaize County, Ohio, the daughter of Joseph and Lucinda (Kantner) Merkle.

In 1900 Fredrick and Anna’s family consisted of Fredrick, 38; Anna, 28; Rudolph, 14; Ebert, 12; Emma, 10; Herbert, 6; Oscar, 4; and Roman, 10 months. Fredrick was employed as a saloon keeper. [1]

In 1910 Fredrick, 49, still worked as a bartender in a saloon and their household consisted of his wife Anna, 42, and five of their children: Albert, 22; Oscar, 13; Roman, 11; Margerite, 8; and Vernon, 4. Anna had given birth to 9 children and 7 were still living. Two of the children, Rudolph and Emma, had married by this time. Emma lived next door with her husband Jacob Bauer and their daughter Mildred. [2]

Fredrick Heffner died of a heart condition on 26 April 1918 at the age of 57 years, 9 months, and 7 days. He was buried on the 28th.

In 1920 widow Anna Heffner still resided in Liberty Township and lived with her two sons Roman, 20, and Vernon, 14. Anna, 52, was not employed but Roman worked in a store. [3]

Anna, 62, was living with son Roman in Liberty Township in 1930. Roman, 30, was a grocery merchant. [4]

Anna (Merkle) Heffner died of pneumonia in Chattanooga on 26 June 1935 at the age of 67 years, 6 months, and 13 days. She was buried on the 28th. [5]

Fred and Anna Heffner had the following children:

George “Rudolph” (1886-1957), married Nellie Deyo
Albert Conrad (1888-1945), married Ethel
Emma Elizabeth (1890-1938), married Jacob A. Bauer
Walter Herbert (1894-1908)
Friedrich Oscar “Brownie” (1896-1956), married Lillian Kinkley; married Dorothy Evelyn Patton
Maria Helena (1898-1898)
Roman Edward (1899-1937), married Cecil Hoblet
Verla Margaret (1902-1970), married William Curtis Roebuck
Vernon Hugo “Cy” (1905-1987), married Camella Bury

Vernon, Fred, Margaret, Anna (Merkle) Heffner, c1913, in Chattanooga. (photo courtesy of Doug Roebuck)

Vernon, Fred, Margaret, Anna (Merkle) Heffner, c1913, in Chattanooga. (photo courtesy of Doug Roebuck)

 

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 85, p.10A, dwelling 183, family 188, Fr Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 December 2014); from FHL microfilm 1241304, from NARA microfilm T623, roll. 1304.

[2] 1910 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 119, p.17A, dwelling 374, family 825, Tudrieck Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 December 2014); from FHL microfilm 1375227, from NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[3] 1920 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 140, p.3A, dwelling 44, family 44, Anna Heffuer; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 December 2014); from NARA microfilm T625, roll 1418.

[4] 1930 U.S. Census, Liberty, Mercer, Ohio, ED 20, p.10B, dwelling 254, family 254, Mrs. Anna Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 December 2014); from FHL microfilm 2341584, from NARA microfilm T626, roll 1850.

[5] “Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,: index and images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 14 December 2014), Anna Heffner, 26 June 1935; citing Liberty Township, Mercer, Ohio, reference fn 38780; FHL microfilm 2022521.

Dec 12

Christmas Memories–The Sunday School Christmas Program

The children’s Christmas program is an annual event at our church. It is a time of pride for both parents and grandparents as they get to see their little ones dressed in their Christmas finery, nervously saying their “pieces” and singing in front of the congregation.

2013 Christmas Program at Zion Chatt.

2013 Christmas Program at Zion Chatt.

When I was a child our Christmas pageants were usually held on Sunday morning or Sunday evening. We had our rehearsal the Saturday before and afterward there was a big party in the church basement where we had a gift exchange and food. It was a lot of fun.

The first program that I remember participating in was held in our church basement. It may not have been the Christmas program but it was an event held during the holiday season, possibly a New Years Eve service. I was about five years old and I sang the 1950s hit song All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.

I was scared to death to sing in front of people and would never have gotten through that song had it not been for a beautiful pink and blue teddy bear that was propped on top of the upright piano. Our neighbor Cindy had put him up there. I somehow knew that he would be mine if I could just finish the song. So I focused on the teddy bear and somehow got through the song. Cindy gave him to me when it was over and “Smiley” was my cuddly companion for many years after that.

Memorizing and reciting a Christmas piece has always been a part of our Christmas programs. I was never good at memorizing and worried about saying my verse correctly. I don’t think most children are good at memorizing their pieces. The little ones get a lot of prompting from the Sunday School teachers and the older kids usually just read their parts.

Most Christmas programs include a live nativity (sans animals) and the children play the parts of Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds and the wise men. The role of Baby Jesus is usually played by a doll baby but sometimes a real baby is put in the manger if there is a newborn in the congregation.

I never had the major role of Mary in any of our programs. I was usually just in the background chorus. A few years ago my husband Joe and two other men played the roles of the Three Wise Men. [And, yes, I have heard all those “wise men” jokes but choose not to go there.] For his role Joe got to wear a fancy robe and crown and carry a gift for Baby Jesus. It was a proud moment for our family to have one of our very own cast as a major Nativity character.

Joe as a Wise Man, Christmas Program, c2008.

Joe as a Wise Man, Christmas Program, c2008.

Back in 1995 we had an outdoor live Nativity with real animals. Mary and Joseph were portrayed by Michelle Hamrick and Chad Reynolds. The Wise Men were Craig Ripley, Kevin Caffee, and J.R. Brigner. Sue Ann Reynolds was the angel and our son Jeff and Grant Ripley were shepherds. Note the live donkey and goat in the realistic Nativity scene below.

Live Nativity at Zion Chatt, 1995.

Live Nativity at Zion Chatt, 1995.

I guess I have always been a Nervous Nellie. When I was young I was nervous about my part in the Christmas program and years later, when our son Jeff was old enough, I worried about his part in the program. He was a spirited, independent and strong-willed little boy and we never knew what he would do in front of a crowd. It did not matter that the crowd was our church family. It was still a group of people watching—an audience. He had no shame as he rolled around on the floor or ran around the manger. Joe and I held our breath until the program was over. Why are the antics of little ones always more amusing when they are not your own children?

Jeff, about 7 months old.

Jeff, about 7 months old.

When all the characters of the Nativity are all in place the rest of the children usually sing Away In a Manger and Silent Night.

Last year members of the congregation were asked to participate by wearing an ugly sweater to the Christmas program, to go along with the program’s theme. Joe and I are good team players so we tried to comply with the request. I found a moderately ugly sweater selection but Joe found a very good example for himself among some of Jeff’s old clothes. When we got to church we noticed that no one else was wearing an ugly sweater. Not even the person who made the ugly sweater request. Everyone else was dressed in their normal Christmas finery. We looked a little odd. A few people even remarked to Joe about his unusual sweater choice. Did no one else get the memo? Was it some sort of crazy conspiracy to make the Bennetts look like they have no fashion sense? [Moral of the story: Be wary, very very wary of unusual Christmas program requests.]

Three Wise Men, Christmas program, c2008.

Three Wise Men, Christmas program, c2008.

At the conclusion of the program the costumes are put away for another year and another Sunday School Christmas program.

Dec 09

Tombstone Tuesday–Rudolph & Nellie (Deyo) Heffner

Rudolph & Nellie (Deyo) Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

Rudolph & Nellie (Deyo) Heffner, Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Mercer County, Ohio. (2011 photo by Karen)

This is the tombstone of Rudolph and Nellie (Deyo) Heffner, located in row 9 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:

HEFFNER
Nellie
1885-1974
Rudolph
1886-1957

Christened Georg Rudolph Heffner, Rudolph was born 11 May 1886 in Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio, to Friedrich and Anna (Merkle) Heffner. According to Zion Chatt’s records his father was also born in Blackcreek Township and his mother was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio. He was baptized 6 June 1886, with his grandparents Georg and Sophie Heffner as sponsors.

Rudolph grew up in the Chatt area. In 1900, when he was 14, he lived with his family, Fr. [Friedrich], father, 38; Anna, mother, 28; and siblings Ebert, 12; Emma, 10; Herbert, 6; Oscar, 4; and Roman, 10 months. All were born in Ohio. His father Friedrich was a saloon keeper. [1]

Rudolph was confirmed at Zion Chatt on 31 March 1901 by Rev. R.V. Smith. [This surname was sometimes spelled Haeffner in some of the older church records.]

Rudolph Heffner married Nellie Deyo on 1 June 1907 in Adams County, Indiana. They were married by J.H. Stone. At the time of their marriage Rudolph was a farmer and lived in Chatt, likely with his parents. His father still worked in a saloon and his mother kept house. He signed his name as Rudy Heffner on his marriage license application. [2]

Nellie Deyo was born 5 October 1885 in Berne, Indiana, the daughter of William and Bettie (Biddle) Deyo. Nellie did housework at the time of their marriage. Her father was deceased and her mother was also a housekeeper. Nellie’s father was born in Ohio and her mother was born in Fleming County, Kentucky. [2]

In 1910 the Rudolph Heffner family lived on Leininger Pike in Blackcreek Township, where Rudolph farmed. In the household were Rudolph, Nellie, and son Luther R. [3]

In 1920 the Heffners were living in Liberty Township and in the household were Rudolph, 33, head; Ella, wife, 34, Luther, 11; Ruth, 7; and Lois, 10 months. All were born in Ohio except the mother Ella, who was born in Indiana. Rudolph’s occupation was given as a pumper in the oil field. [4]

In 1930 they lived in Chatt, where Rudolph still worked in the oil fields, then as an oil well driller. In the household were R.G., Nellie, Luther, Lois, Cleo, and Robert. [5]

In 1940 the family still resided in Chatt, living in the same house as they were in 1935. They owned their home and it was valued at $1500. The highest level of school that Rudolph attended was 8th grade and he worked as a mechanic in a garage at that time. Robert, age 16, was the only child still living at home. [6]

Rudolph Heffner died of a heart attack at 8 p.m. on 28 November 1957 in Decatur, Indiana. He was 71 years, 6 weeks, and 17 days old and was buried on 1 December. Survivors included his wife; sons Luther, Cleo, and Robert; a daughter Mrs. Morris Koch; a brother Vernon; a sister Mrs. Marguerite Roebuck; and 8 grandchildren.

Nellie Heffner died of pneumonia on 3 November 1974 at Shane Hill Nursing Home, near Rockford in Mercer County. She was 89 years old and was buried on the 6th. Survivors included her son Robert, Lima, and daughter Lois Koch, Rockford; 7 grandchildren; and 8 great-grandchildren. Rev. Ralph Hershberger was in charge of the service.

Rudolph G. and Nellie Heffner had the following children:
Luther Rudolph, (1908-1974), married Mary M. Hiles; married Florence Gunsett
Edna Ruth, (1912-1927)
Louise “Lois” Catherine, (1919-2007), married Morris Koch
Cleo Carl, (1921-1958)
Robert William, (1923-aft 2007), married Patricia

 

[1] 1900 U.S. Census, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, ED 85, p. 10A, dwelling 183, family 188, Fr Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 December 2014); from FHL microfilm 1241304, from NARA microfilm T623, roll 1304.

[2] “Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959,” index and images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 5 December 2014), Rudolph George Heffner and Nellie Deyo; citing Adams County Marriage License Applications, Vol 2, p. 273, county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 2,321,466.

[3] 1910 U.S. Census, Blackcreek Township, Mercer County, Ohio, ED 107, p1A, dwelling 3, family, Rudolph G. Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 December 2014); from FHL microfilm 1375227, from NARA microfilm T624, roll 1214.

[4] 1920 U.S. Census, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, ED 140, p.4A, dwelling 72, family 72, Rudolph Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com : accessed 29 November 2014); from NARA microfilm T625, roll 1418.

[5] 1930 U.S. Census, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, ED 20, p.10A, dwelling 231, family 231, R.G. Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 December 2014); from FHL microfilm 2341584, from NARA microfilm T626, roll 1850.

[6] 1940 U.S. Census, Liberty Township, Mercer County, Ohio, ED 54-22, house 272, p. 14A, Rudolph Heffner; digital image by subscription, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 December 2014); from NARA microfilm T627, roll 3114.

Dec 05

Christmas Memories–A Favorite Song

A couple days ago I attended my first Christmas party of this Christmas Season, hosted by the women’s group at St. John Lutheran Church, Hopewell. After a delicious meal we had the pleasure of hearing Ryan Hirschy sing Christmas carols and songs while Brad Byerly accompanied him on the piano. Their music put everyone in the Christmas spirit.

As Ryan sang Mary, Did You Know I thought about the first time I heard that song, back in the early 1990s. The first time I ever heard Mary, Did You Know was at a live concert, sung by one of its composers, Buddy Greene.

A friend had asked us if we would like to go to Fort Recovery to hear Buddy Greene, a Christian musician who is known for his harmonica playing. She and her husband had seen him perform several times and she knew that I liked harmonica music. Our son Jeff also went along and he was about 12 or 13 at the time. I would guess the year was about 1994.

I do not even remember where the event was held. I only remember that it was at a church in Fort Recovery. Chairs were set up in their fellowship hall where a small group had gathered that Friday night to hear some Gospel harmonica music. We had seats in the first or second row and we even got to meet Buddy Greene after the show.

Buddy Greene is quite talented and is a very good entertainer. In addition to the harmonica he played his guitar, sang, and talked. He had several harmonicas and played them like I had never heard a harmonica played before.

He played traditional harmonica numbers, such as Orange Blossom Special, as well as hymns, Gospel songs, and even a few classical pieces. I never thought of Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring as a harmonica number, but Buddy played it beautifully on his harmonica.

Toward the end of the evening he sang Mary, Did You Know, a song that he helped compose. That was the first time we had ever heard the song and it immediately became one of our favorite Christmas songs. Buddy explained that his friend Mark Lowry wrote the lyrics and asked him to compose a melody for it.

What a wonderful piece of music that has become a favorite Christmas song for many. I still get chills every time I hear it because the lyrics are so profound and meaningful.

"Mary, Did You Know" by Buddy Greene & Mark Lowry.

“Mary, Did You Know” by Buddy Greene & Mark Lowry.

The lyrics were written in 1984 and Buddy composed the music some time after. Mary, Did You Know was first recorded by Michael English in 1992 and has since been sung and recorded by many others.

So we got to hear it when it was a relatively new song and were privileged to hear it performed live by one of its composers.

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