Looking at the photograph of Marie Schmidt and the other educators which was taken at her retirement dinner in the Heritage Room of the Student Union at Miami University, I noticed Mr. Paul Miller standing in the back row. That reminded me that Paul Miller started his teaching career at Darrtown High School. He rented the house [at 4391 Walnut Street], which was owned by Harry and Virginia Teckman. Later, Paul Miller became School Superintendent at Seven Mile, Ohio; after that, he also served as School Superintendent in Omaha, Nebraska and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Webmaster Note: Indeed, Dr. Paul Miller went from the streets of Darrtown to the national spotlight. As one example of his ascent to educational prominence, Paul Miller was quoted in the June 2, 1967 issue of Time magazine as the superintendent of Cincinnati schools.
During his time at Darrtown High School, Paul Miller coached the baseball team, which included some good ballplayers, including, among others, Warren Hansel, Leroy Brown, Tuffy Alford, and Knute Wagonfield. For years, Darrtown had a reputation for having good baseball teams, so the adults of the village were well aware that some fine hardball talent existed beyond the high school classrooms.
My uncle, Dick Bufler, told Coach Miller that he could assemble an adult team that would provide a challenge for the varsity team. And, so the game was scheduled. For his roster, Uncle Dick drew from the ranks of Darrtown grads, which included the likes of “Smokey” Alston, Cliff Alexander, Cecil Pierson, Ray Wiley, and Cliff Decker. The adults prevailed; big time. Although I don’t recall the final score, I do remember that Smokey hit a ball so far that it rolled across Main Street into Luther McVicker’s garage.
Webmaster Note: The high school baseball diamond sat in the northwest corner of the school yard; so Smokey’s home run traveled approximately 400 feet from home plate, over neighborhood buildings and trees, to its resting point at Luther’s.
As background information for another Paul Miller story, l’ll refer to when Clyde “Junior” Wagonfield and I were around ten years old. We created a little entertainment act, which involved me playing a guitar and “Junior” making a hand-held, wooden, “man on a paddle” dance to the music.
During that same time period, Paul Miller was active in the Darrtown Knights of Pythias lodge. Mr. Miller had seen us perform and occasionally he would ask Junior and me to entertain the K of P members; which we were willing to do, because we got a free meal out of it. When Paul became Superintendent at Seven Mile, he invited us there to perform our musical “act” for the Seven Mile lodge.
Some 12-14 years later, when I was a young teacher at Oxford Stewart, there was a meeting at Fairfield High School for all the teachers (and administrators) from across Butler County. Paul Miller, now superintendent of the Cincinnati Schools, was the featured speaker. When Dr. Miller arrived at the school, many of the school officials in attendance positioned themselves in the lobby to greet the guest speaker. Those greeting Dr. Miller included Butler County Superintendent, C.H. Williams, plus local school district administrators, D.Russell Lee, Bob Cropenbaker, Harold Wissman, Bob Bogan, and Maurice Ittel.
Since I was a teacher and not an administrator, I was not part of the greeting party. So, as Dr. Miller was being welcomed in the lobby, I headed to the restroom, which was located to the side of the lobby. And then, Dr. Miller spotted me. He called out to me and had me join him and the others. So, here I was, a young teacher standing among the county superintendents, as the Superintendent of the Cincinnati Schools announced that he remembered me as one of two kids who used to entertain the lodge members with our little song and dance routine.
“Cheesy” and Orin Brincefield
Cheesy Brincefield lived in a house directly across the street from the Hitching Post (it no longer exists). Cheesy was a musician; he played stringed instruments. It seems like many Darrtown residents played some kind of instrument.
Cheesy had a brother, Orin, who went out West to be a prospector. When he returned to Darrtown, he brought his prospecting tools and some ore. Occasionally, he would let us kids pick at the ore and sometimes we would see tiny gold specks in the samples.
Orin Brincefield had a hand in the Darrtown Purple Skunks baseball teams. We didn’t have the necessary equipment (bats and balls) and when Orin heard of our plight, he gave us a half-dollar and advised us to go door-to-door with a plea for donations. We collected $25, which was a lot for those times. We purchased equipment, shirts, and pants at Clark’s Sporting Goods in Hamilton.
We had a fluorescent light in our kitchen at home. I believe it was the first in town. Additionally noteable about that light is the fact that it was made in the barn at Kirk Mee’s place on the north end of town. Mr. Mee was an entrepreneur - he experimented with different things.
My uncle, Dick, had the first television in Darrtown. It consisted of a small picture tube (maybe eight inches in diameter) with many wires; all laid out on a table in Dick and Hazel’s front room. Ray Bufler, son of Dick and Hazel Bufler, and George Thome build the TV while attending an electronics school in Cincinnati. Thus, Ray and George built the first television in Darrtown’s history.
“Pulling” a Prank
On more than one occasion, we kids managed to tie a string to the rope that was used to ring the school bell at Darrtown High School. The string was long enough that we could hide along Schollenbarger Road and ring the bell. Vic Wyckoff, who was the School Board Treasurer, often came running to see what was going on and stop the ringing of the bell. As far as we know, Vic never learned who ‘pulled' this prank.
My uncle, Frank, was the sexton for the Darrtown Cemetery. To earn extra money, I occasionally helped him dig graves. Of course, after the burial of the deceased, the grave had to be closed.
One time, after we dug a grave, Uncle Frank explained that he needed to attend the funeral the next day and could not close the grave. So, he asked me to return the next day, meet the men from the burial company who would prepare the burial site. Then, after the funeral, when everyone left, I would close the grave.
I agreed; and so the next day, I walked from Darrtown out Schollenbarger Road to the cemetery to wait for the funeral company men. Just as I arrived at the cemetery, it began to rain. Then, it rained harder. So, I looked around for some protection from the downpour. We had covered the grave with a sheet of tin and it occurred to me that I could escape the rain by lifting the tin cover, jumping into the rectangular hole in the ground, and pulling the tin back over the top. Which, I promptly did. The rain on the tin made so much noise that I did not hear the funeral company truck when it arrived. Nor, did I hear the footsteps of the man who walked over to the grave site. When he lifted the tin cover from above my head, it was difficult to determine who was more startled! The moment was captured by his shouting, ‘Boy, what in the ___ are you doing down there?!'”
[End of interview]
Recollections of Dale Bufler
The following memories were gathered from an interview of Dale Bufler on February 5, 2008.