John Charles Weaver (1884 – 1969) was my wife’s paternal grandfather. Fortunately, he left us with an autobiographical sketch, richly filled with family stories and genealogical information. Recently my wife re-read her grandfather’s story of his life. She had remembered him as a somewhat stern and aloof person. But that is not what comes through in his writing. “I wish I had know these aspects of him,” she mused. In order to preserve and share the multi-textured person that was John Charles Weaver, I am sharing his writing in 6 posts.
MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY JOHN CHARLES WEAVER (Part 1)
“That’s enough. Go to your seat. You should be ashamed of yourself,” came the commanding voice of Sister Mary Thomas from behind the screen where she was prompting. I was reluctant to be in the school’s yearly entertainment program. I didn’t mind being with a group, but this time I was expected to face the audience alone and speak my part. After much urging, I did manage to commit my part to memory and could deliver the lines for Sister privately.
Came the day for the presentation and my cue to speak. So there I stood with the American flag unfurled about me. I bravely announced, “Our Flag” as the title of my essay. Then I began, “Rally round the flag, boys. Give it to the breeze. That’s the banner we love on the land and seas.” That’s as far as I got. I was distracted by the antics of Ed Brady, the school’s problem pupil who was sitting on the window sill in the rear of the auditorium, and with his fingers was distorting his features into grotesque monkey shines. He caught my eye and I forgot my lines. Sister would prompt. I would repeat them, but after several repetitions Sister gave up, took the flag from me and sent me to my seat.
That was seventy years ago and I have no doubt that Sister Mary Thomas is looking down in disbelief as she sees her reluctant pupil doing an about-face and taking a prominent part in organizing, directing and acting in amateur dramatic presentations. Organized, directed and acted with the St. James Players and over a period of the years captured all the trophies offered for best all-around production. Organized, directed and acted in the Dayton Chapter Blackfriars Guild a unit in the National Organization a movement originated by Rev. Urban Nagle, O.P. and Rev. Gilbert Hartke, O.P. of Catholic University. They later became associated with the Catholic Theater Conference. Our work in Dayton, Ohio impressed Father Nagle and he gave me special mention in his book “Behind the Mask.”
The organization of the Dayton Blackfriars Guild was accomplished without the aid of a financial angel. Director or personnel received no monetary remuneration. From the above evidence of my dramatic activities you can well see why Sister Mary Thomas might be flabbergasted. The Guild is now in its twenty-seventh year of continuous operation. I dwelt with it first because I think it played an important role in my dealing with people of various temperaments, nationalities, age, and sex in my supervising capacities.
I am married, eighty-four years old. My wife is the same age. We had seven children, five living, and twenty-seven grandchildren. My wife is a good cook so I don’t have to worry about an ulcerated stomach.
My father was a carriage maker and he tried to guide me into the same channel but my heart was set on the electrical field. I eventually got a job with an electrical contracting firm wiring houses. I accepted an offer to work for the General Electric Company installing electrical equipment on traction cars. I accepted assignments in Niles, Ohio, then Lansing and Detroit, Michigan. The assignment was completed and I returned to Dayton. I obtained a fob with the Apple Electric Company making electric motors and generators for automobiles where after two years I became foreman. When the Apple Electric sold to Splitdorf Company of Newark, New Jersey I was asked to come along – moving expenses paid. I consented and moved to Newark. After one year I resigned and took a position with the Crocker Wheeler Company of Ampere, New Jersey. After about ten months I resigned to take a job with the Diehle Electric Company of Elizaberth, New Jersey. I was making these changes for the purpose of getting experience and jobs were to be had in most of the electrical plants in the East.
As an extra activity I sold I.C.S. Courses on a part – time basis. Upon the urgent request of my parents in Dayton I accepted an offer of a position in the experimental laboratories of the John O. Heinze Company of Springfield, Ohio which was close to my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. There, while on a visit through the plant, my former employer Mr. V. G. Apple, spotted my and it was not long until I was back in Dayton working in Mr. Apple’s experimental laboratories.
While working at the Apple Laboratories I prepared to enter the electrical contracting business with an Uncle who was an experienced electrician. WE eventually established the McFadden and Weaver Electrical Contractors Company and combined it with a hardware store. To cut down overhead, I sold Wearever Aluminum as a home demonstration salesman. Business disagreements led to a sell – out and we quit business.
I obtained a job with Delco Products, a division of General Motors, as foreman in the Armature Department. After two years I was promoted to general foreman of Armature and Stator building with over 350 employees. I remained at Delco for twenty-five years when I retired at age sixty-seven.
During my last year at Delco I equipped my garage to establish an electric motor repair shop, so I would have something to keep me busy after retirement. I operated my one-man repair shop for seventeen years. The limitations of advanced years caused me to heed competent advice and close shop.
My principle active sport was, until a few years ago, tennis. But I follow baseball, basketball, football and sports in general although because of my age I’ll settle for croquet as an active sport.
So now retired from retirement, I want something to which I can devote my time. I feel that with the experience I have had in a variety of occupations, I might have enough background material from which to glean some interesting episodes if I can put them in writing. I am not concerned primarily in financial returns, although it would be welcome. I just want to keep busy.