Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you enjoy these nostalgic Christmas postcards.
Just a week ago I was hoping to find an old school photo. And today, here it is–the other Willshire first grade class photo. I was looking for the classroom photo of Mrs. Fisher’s first grade, 1958-59, to see what the other half of our class looked like all those years ago. Even after 57 …View full post
This is the tombstone of Eleanore Anna Magdalena Roehm, located in row 8 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed: Hier Ruhet Eleanore A. [?] M. Tochter von G.A. und G. Roehm Gest. Den 9 Oct. 1901 Alter 15 Y, 3 M, 26 D Translation: Here rests Eleanore A. …View full post
This is Willshire Public School, the school I attended my first eight years. Last week someone on Facebook posted an old photo of my second grade class. Mrs. Marcella Schroeder was our teacher during that 1959-60 school year. The photo, shown below, shows our whole class sitting at our desks in our classroom. Of course …View full post
This is the tombstone of George A. Roehm, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Schumm, Van Wert County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed: Hier ruhet Georg A. Roehm Gest. Den 30 Mai 1901 Alter 38 Y. 2 M. 17 T. ROEHM Translation: here rests Georg A. Roehm, Died 30 May 1901, age 38 …View full post
Books. I like books and I have quite a few. I enjoy reading non-fiction as well as fiction and I have a number of reference and how-to genealogy books. I recently saw a Barnes and Noble quiz on Facebook, “What’s Your Book Nerd Score?” Here are just a few items from that list that apply …View full post
This is the tombstone of Herbert Heffner, located in row 7 of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio. The marker is inscribed:
Feb. 26, 1894
Aug. 13, 1908
Walter Herbert Heffner was born in the family home in Black Creek Township, Mercer County, Ohio, on 26 February 1894 to Fredrick and Anna (Merkle) Heffner. He was baptized 11 March 1894, with his parents as his sponsors.  
He would have been confirmed at Zion in 1909, but an accident took his life a year earlier.
Herbert died 13 August 1908, at the age of 14 years, 5 months and 18 days. He was buried on the 16th. He was survived by his parents and seven siblings.
 “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” index and images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 21 December 2014), Walter H. Heffner, 26 February 1894; citing Births, Black Creek, Mercer, Ohio, Vol. 3, p.85, reference Roll 1 P85 R4, from FHL microfilm 914953.
 Birth and baptisms, Zion Lutheran Church, Chattanooga, Mercer County, Ohio.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Anna His Wife
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 Merkle 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. 
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; Marguerite, 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. 
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. 
Anna, 62, was living with son Roman in Liberty Township in 1930. Roman, 30, was a grocery merchant. 
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. 
Fred and Anna Heffner had the following children:
George “Rudolph” (1886-1957), married Nellie Deyo
Albert Conrad (1888-1945), married Ethel Olson
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 Cecile Hoblet
Verla Margaret (1902-1970), married William Curtis Roebuck
Vernon Hugo “Cy” (1905-1987), married Camella Bury
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 “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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.]
At the conclusion of the program the costumes are put away for another year and another Sunday School Christmas program.