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 5)
As we lived on the banks of the Maumee River, I practically lived in the water of went fishing. At that time the Maumee was the most prolific fish producing river in the U.S. I could pick up a length of cord, tie it to a bent pin, dig a few worms, break off a limb from a willow tree for a pole and in no time have myself a string of sunfish, crappies and yellow bellies – enough for a meal before breakfast. Papa also strung a trot – line across the river with hooks tied onto it about two feet apart. We had a boat and every evening we would run the trot – line and pick off the fish.
I was also a pigeon fancier. In my pigeon coop I had an assortment of pigeons, white blowers, fantails and tumblers. But they multiplied so fast that my coop became too small. Then too, they attracted to many rats that they became a nuisance and I had to get rid of them. With the pigeons gone the rat epidemic subsided.
My almost daily playmate was a little Dutch boy named Oscar Haydord Harmon Anderson. We played marbles a lot and he would generally win. Then he would give me back the marbles he had won and we would start over again. In the winter months when the river would freeze over, it was skating and sled coasting. The river was about 200 feet below our backyard and we would coast from a point at our back-porch, down the hill, through an arbor of grapevines onto and across the river.
Five pennies was the price of admission to see one of our dramatic presentations. We would act out nursery stories; Jack and Jill; Little Miss Muffet, etc. with a red light tableau as a grand finale.
Then there was our dog who was my constant companion. He was a big dog, half Newfoundland and half St. Bernard, with a big spot of white on his breast. We named him “Nigger.” [Note: I was tempted to eliminate or mask the previous sentence because of its offensive language.] One day two men were crossing the field and saw me and my dog. They called me over and told me they could show me how to make my dog do tricks. I came over and as I held my hand on the neck of my dog they poured some liquid on his back. My dog gave a terrific yelp as he broke from me and it was days before I could get near him. It left a scar on his back and hair never grew on that spot.
Then there was the time when I passed out bills advertising a play at the local theater and I got a free ticket for the Saturday afternoon performance. It was the first time I had ever been in a theater and I was uncomfortable. The curtain came up and the play was on. Finally the villain appeared, fired a shot and somebody dropped over dead. It scared the liver out of me and there was a vacant seat – front row center on the aisle.
Then there was the time when I was a Drummer boy along with about twenty other boys. We were dressed in white shirtwaists and blue short pants – only mine had ruffles that embarrassed me to death. We beat our drums as we sang, “Drummer boy, drummer boy where are you going, rolling so gaily your bold rap-a-tan? I’m going to where my country my service is needing, rolling so gaily my bold rap-a-tan.”