March 2005

The Boy Scouts of America are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. As part of a troop project, Michael Marsh was asked to talk to someone about life in 1930. He chose to ask his Great Grandfather. Grandpa told his story to Aunt Gloria and together they composed this letter to Micheal.

Dear Michael;

In 1930 I was 11 years old. I had 6 brothers and two sisters. We lived in an old farm house in Allendale New Jersey.

Our farm house in Allendale

My father, we called him Pop, was an inspector for the Electric Bond and Share Company. He traveled state to state inspecting the quality of the cables. When we fell on hard times he raised chickens and sold the eggs for extra money.

Pop at work
San Francisco Worlds Fair in Background

Our mother was the back bone of the family. She cultivated and planted a garden. Having a garden was a necessity for us to live. What we didn't eat from the garden was preserved so we would have food for the winter. She also preserved apples, peaches, blueberries and blackberries from the trees and bushes that grew on our land. A neighbor would plow the fields with a horse drawn plow. Pop would pay him with chickens, eggs and vegetables. That was called "bartering".

My Mom and Pop with my Aunt Helen
in the garden

My Mom and Pop always found chores for us to do which we didn't like much at all. But it was part of growing up. It was my job to milk the cow.

My dad and our cow Betsey

We had cars, but mostly we walked to where we wanted to go. Every sunday Allendale's baseball team would play another town's baseball team. That was a real big event. I loved going to the games and watching the players. I was just a small kid at the time and I remember how big the ball players seemed to me. The games were free but they would 'pass the hat' and collect money for the players.

My brother Herb by our radio
in his cow boy suit

We didn't have Television or computers for entertainment like you do today. We had a radio powered by an old automobile battery. We listened to shows like Jack Benny, The Shadow, Green Hornet, Ma Perkins, 15 minute mysteries and Amous and Andy. That was my favorite!

We didn't have CD players either. We had a Victrolla. That is a record player that we would crank by hand to make the turn table go around. I loved marching around the parlor (that is what we call a living room today) to John Phillip Suzza's Marching Band.

We would 'take in' a matinee movie for 10 cents every chance we got. One time I only had 9 cents, but I still 'hoofed it' all the way to the movie theater hoping the ticket lady would let me in anyway. She did!

The water from Crestwood lake would run off into a pond we called the ol' swimming hole. In the summer my friends and I would walk a mile to go swimming. That was another big occasion for me. Sometimes the water was so polluted we couldn't swim in it.

But, there was a big privately owned lake near my house where we would sneak in and fish and swim. Once in awhile we got caught and chased off by the owner Mr. De Whitecauff but that didn't stop us from going back!

My third grade class

I went to Allendale Public School. Most of the time we would walk, but in inclement weather one of my older brothers would drive us. The janitor would ring the school bell to announce the beginning of school. When we heard that bell we knew we had only five minutes till he would ring a late bell. When we heard that we knew we were in trouble! Once I 'played hookie' from school and went fishing but I worried the whole time that I would get caught. That wasn't much fun at all and the last time I did that!

My 8th grade class

In school we were taught what they called 'the three R's': reading, writing and arithmetic! I know they all don't start with the letter R, but that's what they called them! They also taught European history, and geography.

But the one thing I did better than anyone else in school was clock watching! They had these big round 12 inch clocks without a second hand. Every minute the minute hand would move and would make a "click click" sound. I got so that I just knew when a minute was up and would look up at the exact time it clicked! My class mates were impressed but my teacher wasn't!

I remember a class project where we were collecting leaves and learning to identify them. An uncle brought me a eucalyptus leaf all the way from California! Boy oh boy! I was a real big shot that day for sure!

Fishing was my favorite pass time of all. But I also played soft ball, mumblely peg (that's played with a knife and very dangerous), dodge ball, tag, leap frog, hide and go seek and cowboys and indians. In eighth grade I played short stop on the school's baseball team.

Marbles was a big thing in my day! They were small round glass balls filled with many different colors. A larger one was called a 'shooter' Buying marbles was like buying jewelry! If you found a 'cat's eye' then you really had something! Some marbles weren't as clear as others, they were called 'croakies'. It was a big deal to own a bag of marbles. You were considered a big shot! You played to win marbles from your opponent. I was the best shot in the area. Someone sponsored a big marble tournament and I was chosen to represent my town!

Alice-Edith-Ruth Cole 1929
Your Great Grandmother is in the middle!

As a young girl your great grand mother played jacks, hop scotch, jump rope, and played with paper dolls. She also enjoyed going to movie shows and buying penny candy. Sometimes you could get more than one piece of candy for a penny! I remember her telling me when she was about four years old she would plunk her penny on the counter and tell the clerk, "I want some of deze, some of doze and some of dem!"

Dan Phair at age 19

My best friend was Dan Phair. His father was the first Boy Scout leader in Allendale. They would go on hikes and camping trips and all sorts of out door activities. I was asked to join the scouts but didn't. To this day I regret it. Boy Scouts were new back then, and girl scouts came much later.

Great Grandma and her grandmother Cole 1927
She would be your great great great Grandmother!

Your great grand mother was a Cub Scout Den mother and a Girl Scout leader in the 1950's. I remember helping my son make a race car for the Cub Scout Pine Wood Derby. It was a lot of fun and we won three years in a row!

We earned 'spending money' by trapping animals and selling their pelts and cutting lawns. We din't have power mowers back then, we had were push mowers. They were a real pain, they didn't cut the high grass, for that we used a sickle.

Me as a young man
on a fishing trip

As hard as things were back then, I still miss the good ol' days. Boy, how I miss them!


Your Great Grandfather (David) Klaschka

Background Music:
Grandpa (tell me about the good ol' days)
Recorded by The Judds

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