INTERVIEW WITH PAUL E. SARBER
A RESIDENT OF TROY, OHIO
October 7, 2010
A PRODUCT OF THE TROY HISTORICAL SOCIETY: Interviewed by Mike Robinson
Interviewer’s note: The following interview focuses primarily on Paul’s experiences growing up and later residing in Troy. For a full recitation of his Military Experiences during World War II, please refer to his 37-page narrative on file in the Local History Library, 100 West Main Street, Troy, Ohio 45373.
I was born in 1923- Thanksgiving day- in my grandmother’s house at 724 West Market Street in Troy, which is still standing. She had the house built and I was born at home as most kids were in the early 1920’s. I only weighed a little over four pounds and they didn’t think I was going to live. I really did have a sickly childhood with whooping cough and all the kids’ stuff. I did survive and I’ll be 87 next month.
My childhood was very transient within Troy, dictated by my father’s proximity to his work. I attended, at various times, Edwards, Kyle and Forest schools. Back then, not everybody owned their own homes; we rented, and then moved whenever my dad changed jobs. Most of his work was with the Montgomery printing company until 1930, when he lost his job due to the onset of the Great Depression; we always seemed to have enough to eat, but those were difficult years financially. We had no car, so I walked everywhere. Two cab companies operated from the public square: Hawley’s and Gillis Taxi companies. If you needed a ride, for ten cents they would be dispatched to your home and take you anywhere in Troy. I attended Edwards from the first grade to the fourth. I was in a play in the first grade, playing “Wee Willie Winkle”, wearing a nightgown; what I remember most was the vast size of the Edwards auditorium- I went on stage in the first act, got stage fright, and had to be replaced! Interviewer note: the Edwards auditorium was the largest in the city until construction of the Hobart Arena in 1950. Years later, I was in the auditorium as an adult and it THEN seemed so small!
One of my best friends when I attended Kyle school (age 11) was Pete Davies; he and I lived across the street from each other on Lincoln Avenue; we loved baseball- he was a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. His mother was a Welch woman and frequently talked about the Queen- years later while in the service, I was in England, the staging area for troops bound for Germany, and thought often about this woman from Wales. Both Pete
Davies and I were in Europe at the same time, but neither of us knew the other was there.
(Interviewer’s note: Pete Davies was later killed in the European theater in April of 1945.) I also went to school with Bill Hobart, who was six months younger than me. One of my best friends was George Cathcart, who later served on the draft board and inducted me into the army.
Childhood in Troy was fun as a boy- we spent a lot of time on the river, sold Troy newspapers on a stand downtown- the price was five cents and I kept two; sometimes I would walk around the square “hawking” them. Seemed like there was a kid on every
corner selling newspapers. Anyway, my grandfather was a horse trainer and I wanted to spend time with him; sometimes I’d even sleep in the horse stables, especially at the fairgrounds during fair season. Once I can remember at the Greenville county fair I had whooping cough- I wasn’t quarantined or anything- and an old black lady said to my grandmother-“I can cure him”. She went around the fairgrounds looking for a certain kind of beetle. She put several of these beetles in a Bull Durham sack, which I wore around my neck, and within a couple of days I was cured! We had different kinds of medicine in those days.
I can remember my Uncle Ben, who wore a straw hat and was a projectionist at the Jewel theater; he had a 1927 Dodge coup with a pistol-grip spotlight. I thought that was the finest car and I was determined to have one. Once in a while my uncle would sneak me into the Jewel- we didn’t have much money then. The Jewel offered ten-cent night Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, although I preferred Fridays and Saturdays when they were having serials. These were sound pictures; I can only remember going to one silent movie- that was at the Colonial theater, right next door to the Mayflower. I can also remember at the Mayflower when they made black people sit in the right rear rows.
They had a great pipe organ at the Mayflower. The guy that played it (Interviewer’s note: G. Edward Dollinger) in the early 1930’s, died young of blood poisoning. They also had games there; where I won fifty cents; when my ticket number was called, I stood up, they asked a question and I answered it. The question was, “does the moon have anything to do with the tides?” Fifty cents was big money for a kid back then. Later I went to work at Farmers Co-op dairy for twenty-five cents an hour. Later, Sanders bought out Farmers.
I remember the old days on the square, before high school. There were several “gambling emporiums” plus several restaurants and grocery stores; in fact, everything was downtown. On Saturday nights, everyone came down there, the farmers all came in; the square was completely parked full of cars. The boys would park and ogle the girls as they went by, All the stores were open until nine or ten at night. The five and dime was where Caroline’s is today (Murphy’s). Across the street, down from the bank, was the Famous Cheap Store which had everything- a fascinating place to visit. K’s hamburger shop opened about 1937; hamburgers were 5 cents apiece, six for a quarter- we kids would pool our money to get the cheaper price for six. They tasted about the same as today, except that the buns were better- Kerb’s bakery was just up the street and the buns were yellow- they must have put more eggs in them; they were delicious. Miller Brothers hardware was on Main where the Presbyterian Church is now- fabulous place to visit. They even made harnesses down in the basement. Several farmers sold produce off their wagons. Ice trucks delivered right to your icebox; later on we got a horse and made deliveries ourselves.
Horace Smith had a pool parlor where Ruby’s is now, right across from LaPiazza’s. In the summer, Smitty had a betting parlor in the back, you could play cards and bet on the horses; one guy would listen to the radio and he would call out the race results. In the front, they had a board with all the baseball games for the day- you could buy “tip
tickets” for a nickel with a chance to win five dollars. I was too young to play, but I’d say “I’m getting them for my dad”. He (Horace) must have like animals. He also owned Camp Troy (Interviewer’s note: located in and on the area of Arbogast auto dealerships)- there were also nefarious activities going on there, as well. I didn’t know much about Camp Troy as a kid but after I grew up and came back to Troy, that was the only place I could stay- there, the Lollis Hotel, or the cabins on north old U.S. 25, because there were no motels in Troy. Camp Troy had cabins in the back, a restaurant open 24 hours a day in the front, and “something” upstairs, I was never up there, but I heard “poker games” and such. The cabins in the back could be rented by the day, week, or “by the hour”.
The “Dog House” (Interviewer’s note: now an empty lot next to the Troy Daily News office), was one of my favorite haunts when I became of age; the building was split in half; a bar on one side and restaurant on the other. I usually ate breakfast there; cereal was ten cents a bowl with milk, or fifteen with “half and half”. Just before I went into the army, I’d go there and get a steak dinner and bottle of beer for $1.35. Since the place was also open twenty-four hours a day, people seemed to congregate there at all times. It was owned by two brothers named Charlie and Joe. There was a fire there in later years and it closed down and later torn down.
After the war, I worked in Wisconsin and California; while in California, I applied for a job in Guam and began work there in 1950. Constructing airfield and other buildings. I was superintendent of transportation and had 250 employees to manage. At various times during this period, I also worked in Japan and Okinawa. I was married in 1955 to Phyllis Jean Slough at the Trinity Episcopal Church. During our early marriage, my work took me to Shri Lanka, where our daughter Deborah was born. I continued with international work assignments. When Deborah was two years, old, I decided that my world travels were over and began seeking a job back in Troy, ending up joining Hobart Brothers, supervising some two hundred employees. I was forty-one years old at the time, and stayed with them until age sixty-two. I retired in 1986 but continued to do consulting with them, along with other companies. I have continued my consulting up to the present time.
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