January 24, 2012:


"I am now the over-ripe age of 85 and aging, festering, and wrinkling, as we speak - so I rather doubt that t I'll ever set foot on a plane again . We haven't flown now for about 5 or 6 years. As my wife says: 'You're not the man you used to be --- and never was.' (That's what I say - usually.)


I remember a student of Miami University making a history of Darrtown and interviewing several people including Lawrence and typed it up, verbatim - as a court reporter would do it, and I think I USED to have a copy of it. Dale probably does too.


I'm not sure - anymore - if Lawrence put in everything that both of us knew - of the Darrtown history. He MAY not have mentioned that I took flying lessons , got a private license and flew my own light plane - in and out of Dad's lower field for about a year -during either 1948 or '49. I was 21 and had very poor judgement - but pulled it off many times and lived to tell about it !


Also - Clyde ("Punce") Wagonfield and I - at age 16 - made black gun powder and a wooden gun - with ALMOST tragic consequences . But lived to tell about THAT TOO.


Last night, Dale remembered me telling him about the time in the ' 30s, when a heavy truck BARELY made it across the Four Mile Creek bridge on route #177. It caved in behind him! PHEW! Close one, for sure!


So - are those little tidbits of any import to you? I may be able to conjure up other bits and pieces of history, if you are interested. I am not computer savvy, so I have to use snail mail. Sorry.


Les"


===============


February 2, 2012


"Yes, I guess I'm not doing TOO badly for an 85 year old. I still drive, go up and down stairs without any assistance, do the cooking, yard and garden work, and do a lot of 'pen-pal' ing with about 15 pen-pals around the country and one in Canada. Most people kick the bucket, by the time they hit 85 --- or BEFORE.


Yes, we had an RC Case- purchased in 1936, and then, by the time I left for the Army, the FIRST time in 1946 - Lawrence and Dad had taken over the farm and bought a Massey-Harris and then a Massey-Ferguson. And yes, George Long's farm DID adjoin ours to the west of us.


As I think I said in letter number one: I am not computer-savvy, but my wife is. She works with a company that handles Worker's Comp claims. She works out of an office upstairs and doesn't need to leave home to do it. I don 't mess around in her office, though. The woman is 11 years younger than I am, by the way, and loves to keep working, when she isn't going to Arthur Murray's dance studio for lessons and dances. I USED to dance - but my old feet hurt too much to do it anymore.


As to the Darrtown denizens you mentioned: I knew Dale Bufler, Charley, and Clyde "Punce" Wagonfield, - but, you mentioned "Eugene" Wagonfield. There was an older brother of Charley called, "Knute" - and I think his real first name was Eugene, but could be wrong.


I palled around with "Punce" the most. He was with me, the day we made the wooden gun that exploded and nearly knocked us into another world, when I was about 16 and he - about 15. He married Delores Uhl. He only went down a block and a half from home to get a wife and it took me 2,250 miles to find one that would have me. Ha, ha.


Yes, I knew Donald McVicker VERY WELL. We saw each other nearly every day, for several years. I think he was about 4 or maybe 5 years older than I was. We used to nail pieces of old wooden shutters together and call the mess an* airplane. Don was airplane-happy . It was the ONLY thing on his mind. Just before he went into the Army Air Corps, he was working (in their basement) on a full-sized glider. I remember the wing being almost finished, covered with muslin, etc. I think It just may have been operational - if the Army hadn't gotten him.


Don had enlisted in the C.P.T. at Miami University. (Civilian Pilot Training) The Navy had theirs, too - but Don chose the Army. He had hoped to be a pilot, but his eyesight wasn't up to par. You need GOOD depth perception and I think that was what sunk his boat, so to speak.


He ended up a gunner on a B-24 Liberator. Luther said that he had been informed by the War Department that the plane was missing in action on it's VERY FIRST MISSION. Don't know for sure. I guess nothing was ever found of the wreckage. May have gone down in the English Channel.


Don had two sisters: Mary Lou, 2 years older than I was - who married a man who later took over Luther's garage, I believe, and another sister - Jean.


As to my flying days - I may have alluded to the fact - in my first letter, that I had a very odd kind of Military career. I was first drafted in the fall of 1946 and stationed in Japan during the winter of 1946- and 1947. Then - after discharge in late 1947, due to rheumatic fever, I was told by doctors to lie around and do NOTHING for a year and then report to the V.A. hospital for a check-up. I did, and so, my draft status was changed to 3-A. I figured that with a medical discharge - my Army days were history, but the North Koreans decided to throw me a curve and invaded South Korea in June of 1950, so I had to sell my milk route -- or rather MY FAMILY DID. The Army was in need of anyone with a pulse and a little prior training to man an M-1 Rifle on line, which, I did later, during the winter of 1951. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.


Rewind - back to 1948: I blew my G.I. Bill on a trade school in Illinois - to learn carpentry and cabinet making. I did that, during the day and worked the 2nd shift in a Thor washing machine factory nearby. After the carpentry course was finished, a man named Augentstein hired me and we built houses during the day and then in the late evening and on weekends, I took flight training.  


I started out on a J-3 Piper Cub. A very easy-to-fly airplane. Very forgiving kind of aircraft. Then, I graduated to a "side-by-side" Taylor craft, with wing tanks as well as a main tank. l ran out of funding on the G. I. Bill - as I was about to solo on a Stearman bi-plane that was used both as a primary trainer by the Army and for crop dusting, at that time. That was going from a plane with 85 h.p. - to one with a radial engine of 150 h.p. A whale of a difference!  


Then, I found an old, used, 1940 50 h.p.Taylorcraft - and bought it and flew it back to the South Dayton airport, where I had it tied down, as I worked during the week days, as a carpenter near Wright-Pat AF base.  


I talked Dad into letting a strip of the lower field, below the house, go into alfalfa, instead of all in corn - so he did. I used that narrow strip for a landing strip. I always had to come in over Mr. Long's barn, "slip" the plane down, so I could use ALL of the strip. I NEEDED ALL OF IT. ha ha  


"Slipping" means I turned the wheel to the left and hit the right rudder. You slide sideways to your left and lose altitude quickly, but maintain control of the aircraft. It had such a LONG glide angle that I couldn't do anything, but slip it in. I was in my early 20's and had very little common sense, as I look back on it. They said that George Long had a bet made that I was SURELY going to kill myself in that plane - SOONER OR LATER.  


But, finances made me sell it, after I'd owned it for only a year - but it was an EXCITING YEAR! - for sure!


Well, that's enough for this time. If you want me to embellish on any of the subjects I've covered today - just let me know in another letter. Take care.


Les"


===============


February 14, 2012


"I received your letter. Thanks. And, yes, it's OK with me if you create a page in your web site about my memories of Darrtown. I have nothing to hide.


As to your questions: No, I never attended any school in Darrtown. I went through the Collinsville Elementary School and in September of 1939 - Milford Township (school district) dissolved and a "line" was drawn across the township from north to south - back near the Cecil Phares farm - roughly a mile or so east of Darrtown. All kids EAST of the line went to Seven Mile junior and senior High Schools. On the west side, we went to Stewart High in Oxford.


Luther stories: Yes, Luther, like Dad, had a wry sense of humor. One day, a man from out-of-town came by Luther's garage in Darrtown and saw his 1928 Chevy sitting there, with the roof all torn and ragged and the man, apparently, wanted to buy and restore it. It was about 30 to 40 years old at the time. Anyway the man came into the garage and asked Luther who owned the 28 Chevy, and Luther said (with a straight face), 'Well! in 12 more payments, I'll own it.'


I guess the man didn't know WHAT to say.


Luther would drive the Chevy past our house each day - at never faster than about 20 mph, and the exhaust system was so bad it sounded like a jet plane.


I remember all of the people you listed in your letter, except for Jack Kane and Hap Davish.


Our farm was known as both the Kyger and the Lunceford farm. I have no recollection of who was the owner previous to our buying it. I don't think that I have any photos of the period of when I was living on the farm. If any are available, they would have to be in the possession of either Dale or his sister, Janet. When I moved out here to Southern California in 1957, I came with just the bare essentials. So a lot of my "stuff" was left with my brother and Marcella. I wasn't sure if I'd like it out here. I'd tried Florida a year earlier and was dissatisfied.


I have many memories of interactions with Luther and his family, including Donald and his younger sister Mary Lou. I would wander over to play monopoly for hours with Mary Lou - when I was about 8 or 9.


Then, in my teen years, I worked with Don - making and flying model airplanes. Lots of fun!


Even though I "knew" a lot of the people in Darrtown, I never did really "pal" around with, but maybe two or three. I'd say that 'Punce' (Clyde Jr.) Wagonfield was the one that I engaged with in some of our more outlandish projects - including the wooden gun.


Due to a big mistake - by the publisher of the Encyclopedia Britannica, - the formula for making black gun powder (as used in the Civil War) was printed where any 16 year-old kid could get his hands on it, as I did. We went to one drug store for the sulfur and another for the potassium nitrate. The charcoal we made on our farm. So, we mixed up a batch and it went: "Pooooofff!" We were in business! So, now what to do?


We decided to make a wooden gun to use with the powder. We got a section of a tree limb- about 5 inches in diameter and about 14'' long and made a muzzle loader. We used newspaper for wadding and a little gravel for shot. It had a range of about 50 or 60 yards.


One day, it misfired and we attempted to clean it out, when it exploded and knocked us into the grass and apparently unconscious for a few seconds. Little Charley Lust (7 years-old) was watching us. When he saw us get knocked out, he went home in a dusty, tear-stained face and told his mother, 'Those boys down there killed themselves!' She 'FLEW' down there from where they lived on the hill a quarter mile east of us and asked us, 'What the ____ are you boys doing down there?'


We went out of the munitions business that day and left it to the professionals!


Punce's widow (Delores) as well as his two sons know all about our fool stunt. I met his grown sons one day in one of my trips back to Ohio.


Another time 'Punce,' Dale Bufler, and I scrounged up a LOT of used lumber and put together a shack down along Darr Creek. It took a lot of man-hours to build - but finally it was finished and we decided to camp out one night. Boy, it was spooky. Dark and quiet as a tomb!


Finally - about midnight - we heard a scratching on the door! What - or WHO could it be? We had no weapons to defend ourselves with! Finally, we worked up enough courage to open the door -- to find a shaggy, old, and very hungry dog. We let him in and fed him some of our food. We never went camping in the shack again. Don't know why? Ha, ha.


Another of my many stunts was when Junior Wills and I found out how to make a "spark-gap" transmitter. We made two of them and used Morse Code in communicating with each other in the evenings, after school. We found out later that the neighbors were wondering what caused the 'static' on their radios in the evenings - and it seemed to be in code!


We decided to quit before we got into REAL trouble. Ha, ha.


Well, there you have a few of my memories. I have dredged up about 20 more - but they won't be as detailed, I don't imagine.


So, if you are still interested, we can continue later. Take care,


Les"


===============


March 03, 2012


"Hello again Fred:


Meim gute Gott in Himmel! As my Grandma used to say! You asked a lot of questions! Hope I can conjure up enough to satisfy you.


In early 1950, Dad was kind enough to satisfy my desire to have my own milk route, after I had watched ''Shady" Reed pick up Dad's milk. He seemed to be the most satisfied and happy guy I'd ever seen, as he "flew" that milk truck in and out of our driveway in a blaze of glory every day!


So, Dad bought one from a man who's last name was Shaw. He lived over in Collinsville, I THINK. The route was small in volume, and was located straddling the Ohio/Indiana line from College Corner, south for about 15 miles. I remember I put on 230 miles EVERY DAY, going from Dad's farm, through the route, and on to Kroger Dairy, in Dayton. I only lasted about 9 months on that route 'till we had to sell it in December, 1950 because the Army was calling me back to active duty for the Korean War.


====


Charlie Lust and family lived in the house that used to belong to CLARENCE McVicker, which adjoined Luther McVickers property to the east.


Yes, I remember the Witherbys and the Bradburys, too, especially John who was VERY particular in how he did things. I remember, as a teenager — hauling in loads of wheat to be threshed. He made fun of how my loads looked. His was sculptured! The sides looked like he had used a wall or something to make them so straight and neat!


Also, for a time he lived in a house on Scott Road very close to Rt. #177, and would "fly" his 1933 Plymouth back and forth to the farm. His Dad (Harry) had a very distinctive voice that could be heard and understood for several hundred yards — even when he talked in a normal tone.


Yes, I remember Lois Ferst. Pretty girl. I would have liked to have dated her, but never got up enough nerve to ask her.


Just remembered: I bought the milk route from Charles R. Shaw. Maybe in a day or so I'll remember more about that. The old brain isn't what it used to be -- and never was! Ha, ha.


I can't really remember very much in the way of anecdotes concerning Luther. I know he had a dry sense of humor.


Lawrence worked for Luther when he was a-teenager, for a while. I do remember that Luther's work bench was piled HIGH with spare parts and JUNK, but he knew where EVERY LITTLE PIECE OF STUFF was located. Nobody else on EARTH could do it, as I recall! Ha, ha.


I ended up in California, well, blame that on two things: One: I got colds and sore throats a LOT during EVERY winter in that area, and Two: Mr. Millholland, my favorite High School teacher was raised on a citrus ranch in central Florida and he'd talk about it during classes. I would close my eyes and his voice would take me to the land of orange blossoms and palm trees. Then the bell would ring for change of classes, and,I'd be jerked back into reality! I'd look out at snow, and then I'd make a promise: "Someday, I would live with the citrus trees!" and, for 58 years, I HAVE! I tried Florida for six months, and didn't like it.


I found a home in Southern California. No more colds and sore throats out here. MUCH less humidity and so the winters don't bother me much. The citrus trees, including my orange tree, are in bloom at this moment. The fragrance is out of this world. The area smells like a perfume factory. I love it! Maybe, I'll remember to enclose a blossom to let you in on it - in case, you have never smelled them.


Now, for a few "mini-memories"-that, I promised:


> Darrtown kids ice skating on the pond and sled riding on the nearby hill.


> Don McVicker and I building a raft, using two 55 gallon steel barrels that we forgot to add water into for ballast and therefore, were unstable.


> Learning to swim "the hard way" in Four Mile creek by getting in over my head. It was swim or drown, and I swam, I guess.


> One winter, me and about 2 or 3 other kids were dropped off by the lady school bus driver on top of the hill south of Darrtown on (I think Darrtown Road.) The road was covered with ice, so we skated down and across the Four Mile creek bridge - and must have been doing 35 or 40 mph! We did that for about 3 days, until the county put down cinders!


> Pierce Wolf, who owned the acreage that later became a sub-division across Scott Road from our house. He lived in a very small one-room house.


> Dad - taking me up to Guy Dynes and talking him into cutting my hair, for a dime during the depression. He put an inch board on top of a 55 gallon steel barrel and did the job.


> George Long's school bus that he owned and drove when I was in Collinsville elementary school.


> Harry Teckman's Dodge trucks that were governed at 35 mph. And, THAT was the federal maximum speed limit through much of World War 2.


Buying stuff at Vic Wyckoff's general store - including penny candy and pints of ice cream - that I ate sitting under a tree nearby.


> Fox drives in the Milford Township area, which included dozens of men, shot guns, and dogs. I'm not sure if I ever took part in any.


> Hauling a calf or half-grown hog to the Cincinnati stock yards, in our 1928 Chevy 2 door sedan - to save costs of having Harry Teckman haul them.


> Dad's friend: Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Dees opening a small store across the road from Vic Wyckoff's store- and that later became owned by a Mr. Browning.


> Me - making a small boat out 1-inch thick boards and a sheet metal bottom. It may STILL be in the barn. We made paddles out of a couple pieces of inch board screwed onto a couple of broom handles. Worked OK.


> Punce Wagonfield and I taking turns trying to toss an automobile tire over the head of a yearling calf that was tethered to a stake in our front yard. The calf broke the chain one day and, as I tried to catch the animal on the gravel lane, I dived for it and lost one finger nail in the process. It took MONTHS to grow a new one! We quit the game, after that fiasco!


> Our VERY poor fencing and the cows getting out a regular basis. Running across corn rows to head them off in the corn field, and getting cut up pretty badly by dry corn leaves. When sweat got into the cuts, it made life very interesting.


> My self and a couple of buddies in Dad's 1932 Chrysler, when I was a Senior in High School. I'd drape my upper body out of the driver's window, like l was unconscious (as an in-coming car approached) and my buddy would peek over the dash and hold the steering wheel steady. Then, when the car passed, we all looked back to see him wander all over the road- as he, apparently, was looking back at us expecting to see a crash! (We were all a little crazy, I think.)


Well, that's about all I can think of at the moment. So take care!"


===============


March 12, 2012


"Hello Fred:


Thanks for returning my phone call. We had a very interesting conversation. Before I forget it, we mentioned Vic Wyckoff and his store: He,had a son (Eldon) I think, and a daughter for sure - Vera.


I made a rough sketch of our old farm for you to figure out how George Long's farm located next to ours.


Now, to my notes I mentioned: Remember my telling you about Arlyn Unsicker and me getting spanked by Mr. (name omitted) in the 5th grade? Well, I had a "pen pal" that lives in Seven Mile, dredge up Bob Beiser, who was in either my grade at Collinsville, or a year behind me. We talked a time or two about his life, what he did for a living - and that he served in the Army at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and ran across Mr. (name omitted), who was by then - near the end of WW-2, a commissioned officer of some kind (small world).


I didn't have a lawyer in the 6th grade either -- when I REALLY needed one! My seat was midway from front to back, in the row next to the window. A boy in the front seat and another boy, WAY behind me, were rolling a soft ball back and forth during the class in session. I was unaware of the game, until I heard it hit the leg of my chair. I looked over to see - and was SEEN by Mr. (name omitted) who had taken over that year from Mr. (name omitted) - who had moved on.


Mr. (name omitted) had a very nervous "tic" and was intriguing to watch. I was ALWAYS a "people watcher," so - I'd watch him speak and count the "tics" etc. In my humble opinion, he was a nervous wreck!


He grabbed the kid in the front seat and ME by the hair of the head and smacked our heads together! I saw - not stars - but, one ball of fire float by! Something that I was INNOCENT of and something that now would have gotten him fired or reprimanded, but as I said- I had no lawyer! Ha, ha; how times CHANGE! NO school police then either!


Dad bought an RC Case tractor in either 1935 or '36. I managed to lay it on its side, one day coming up the hill from the lower field. Ha, ha; we got the team and wagon and righted it. No harm, no foul, and only a quart or two of gasoline lost!


I remember fishing for cat fish and blue gills in the pond. I also remember when I was about 9 or 10, when Lawrence and Dad used a ''slip-scraper" and one horse to clean mud out of the west side of the pond. It took a "he-man" and a little finesse on handling the handles or you might take a "header'' into the mud or water.


Dad bought our 1932' model Chrysler 4 door from Luther McVicker - sometime around the time I was in High School. I drove it to school a few times in my Senior year - even though gasoline was rationed.


I helped Dad build the barn in 1940. He had cottonwood and sycamore logs, from down near Four Mile creek on our farm, sawed into 2 x 8's and 1 inch boards to use, instead of buying more expensive lumber. I was scared to death, when we installed the sheet metal roofing. I don't like heights -- except in an airplane!


I listened to Jack Armstrong, the "All-American Boy" on radio, in the afternoons after school. One day the announcer said that for a dime and 2 Wheaties box tops, I could get a "Hike-o-meter" to figure out how many miles I walked. Jack and Capt. Fairfield used it to get out of a cave! OK, I finally got one! And…it didn't work. I walked for miles, all over the farm! Not the first -- OR THE LAST time I got swindled in my long lifetime!


I remember the Omar bread truck (red in color). One day he came by and knew I had no Mother - so he said, "Hi, kid, does your Dad want any white bread today?"


I said, "I don't care" (meaning: "OK by me").


Then, he asked, "Does he want any breakfast rolls?"


"I don't care."


"Well, then does he want any donuts or cakes or pies?"


"I don't care."


That did it! He angrily slammed the door to the truck and said: "Well, I don't CARE EITHER!"


I never said: "I don't care" to him, AGAIN! I watched him leave in a gigantic cloud of dust! Ha, ha. (Lesson·learned!)


I remember in WW-2, everything (it seemed) was rationed - including gasoline, tires, sugar, meat, and probably other stuff as well.


I remember putting "boots" in tires to cover holes in the tread.


I remember the 35 mph speed limit - nation-wide!


I remember as a small boy taking a "BIG DEAL" trip over to Clermont county to see Grandpa and Grandma Baumann and other family members - a 40 mile trip one way that took 2 solid hours in the 1921 model "T" Ford. We only did that about once per year. Something unusual - would happen - like the head lights malfunctioning or getting caught in a sudden rain storm and the engine flooding out! Always, something to keep your nerves on edge!


Well, Fred, I don't know how much of this new "stuff" you can use - but you are welcome to use what you can. So, I guess that's it for this time. I may need some incoming questions from you - in order to jog loose any new memories of long, long ago.


Bye for this time,


Lester"

Recollections of Lester Baumann

The following narrative was developed from a series of letters exchanged, in early 2012, between Lester Baumann and the darrtown.com webmaster. The exchange was initiated by a suggestion from Dale Bufler that it might be beneficial to ask Lester about his memories of Darrtown. As the saying goes, "The rest is history."