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Autobiography of Claud C. Crawford

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1964 to 1964
Location: Seville, Medina, Ohio, United States of Americamap
Surnames/tags: Crawford Reader
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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CLAUD C. CRAWFORD I, Claud C. Crawford was born Aug. 29 - 1890, the second son of Ella Foskett and Porter Worth Crawford, on the first farm, southwest of Seville, Ohio, on the road known as the Smithville Rd. There were 3 older sisters, Bessie, Amy and Anna; one older brother Jay and one younger brother, Porter, named for Father.

Before Father married, he had made enough money to buy a horse, which he traded for 80 acres of land in Paulding County, Ohio. This land was not yet cleared. He and his brother went out, over the winter season to do this and finished about twenty acres.

In the early spring they drove a large flock of sheep from Seville to this clearing, which would be around 75 or more miles. Father often told of the mosquitoes being so thick, that he couldn't even sight along the barrel of the gun. There were also bears and deers on the land at that time. He said he might have killed a deer but had what they called deer fright.

Back to Seville to get married and take his bride out to live. Poor Mother was so homesick; they only lasted out a year. They sold the land for $3.00 an acre.

The way the moving was accomplished was by canal and Mother often told of taking their one piece of furniture, which they called their safe. It is really a two door cupboard with two drawers at the top and we still have that first piece of furniture in our basement.

They came back to Seville where Dad taught school and ran the farm, where we all worked year after year.

My first recollection is of my older sister Bess coming home from Akron, Oh1o, where she taught school and of Amy coming from high school in Seville. Bess had taken care of me when I was a baby - she was l7 years older.

Our farm consisted of 27 acres, raising mostly garden produce, as tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn and tobacco, which was our main crop. We had a pair of horses and three cows.

Dad taught school in a one room building for 25 years going back his last year to teach the children of those he had taught in his first year.

We also had a cider mill and my first job was to do the chores while the others worked at the mill. As I got older I had to get up at 4:OO A.M. to go over and fire the boiler in the mill to get a good fire going. The building was by the railroad tracks and often tramps resorted there to sleep or steal, so my knees often trembled as I entered, but I was supposed to do the job.

For several years I didn't get a chance to go to school until after cider making time was over, which was usually after Thanksgiving day. As 1t was always two months late when I could go to school, it put me a year behind those of my own age. Our school was one building, containing all the grades and high school. I had a boy friend, my pal Ward Kindy, who was always with me. He even worked every summer on the farm, a very bright and talented boy with high grades all thru his college years. He always thought of things to do, so together we would plan on how to do them. We made telegraph Instruments, setting them up at home to see 1f they worked alright. Then we decided that school would be a good place to try them out. Our Professor thought a lot of us, but knowing of our many tricks had one of us on the front seat on one side of the room; the other on the back seat of opposite side. One Friday nite after school we left a basement window unlocked and on Sat. morning we took our wires, batteries and telegraph instruments with hammer and nalls to make holes in the floor for our wires. We set one instrument in each of our desks and wired them together. We were ready for Monday morning. I can still see the look on our Prof's face as I sat there motionless with book in hand, studying. My instrument was going clickety, clickety, click in my desk and he was looking all around for the source of that noise. Then Ward and I would alternate and the noise would be in another place. The Prof. soon caught on and ordered us to get those instruments out of our desks. Another time we took our cameras to school and hid them in our desks. When the Prof wasn't looking, we took his picture sitting at his desk. After we had a print we showed 1t to him and all he said was, "Do I really look that cross?" I really hate to recount some of our escapades but we were Just boys, curious and adventurous. As we worked together on the farm, we made our own tennis court, played together and played other teams as a pa1r, usually coming out the victors.

One of our hopes was that at noon, when Dad would take a nap, we could play tennis, even though the hoeing didn't get done. When Dad wakened he would come out in a hurry with his favorite saying, "A boy's a boy, two boys a half boy, and three boys no boy at all," for my younger brother was also supposed to work. Before the th of July, one year, we made an electric cannon by casting the barrel out of lead and mounting 1t on a block of wood. Over the touch hole of the cannon, we placed a no. 36 copper wire which would burn in two with three dry cell batteries. This would fire the cannon. On 4th of July morning we went to the square in Seville to fire it off. We'd load 1t to full capacity with powder and when 1t would go off 1t would fly at least twenty feet in the air, as we had about 30ft. of wire between cannon and batteries. The folks who came to watch thought it great to see something work with electricity. After about ten shots with powder, our lead barrel would blow a hole on the top side. We'd rush home;get a good fire going in the cook stove and recast our barrel. Once more we'd be in business.

One more craze we had was taking pictures. My father would ask 1f we would care to take a wagon load of sweet corn to Barberton, about 2O miles away, so we'd leave about 2:00 A.M. and arrive there about 8:00 A.M. At every grocery store, no matter what their offer, we'd leave sweet corn until sold out. Then we'd put the horse in the livery stable to rest, and off to Akron we would go, to buy camera supplies. We would try to save .50¢ for Dad. How he ever stood 1t, I'll never know. Our biggest problem in developing and printing pictures was running water. We did all our photographic work in a little closet 1in my bedroom, upstairs. There was a window out of my room on to the roof of the porch, so we thought 1f we could set a barrel or keg on top of this roof and bore a hole thru the side of the house for a rubber hose and another one for the drain, we could have our running water. We waited until Dad was gone one afternoon to put this keg, which happen• ed to be a 0 gal. beer keg, on the roof. We had 1t all fixed up when Dad arrived home. When he saw our new invention he said, "Boy8, there are somethings I can stand, but I can't stand a beer keg on my roof." That was the end of our running water,

George Frazier owned the first telephone system in Seville. His son Gene and I were good friends and 1t was thru him that I obtained Induction coils and a magneto, more things which contributed to my many experiments. We had a lazy horse, who always tried to get out of work. I thought a good shock treatment might help him, so to try out the experiment, I got my younger brother to turn the crank on the magneto while I held the wires on the side of the horse. The first shock made him Jump so high that he put his front feet in the manger. I thought this would work real good so I rigged up the wires on the crupper strap. That is the one which goes around the tail of the horse. Then I ran the wires under the seat of the spring wagon and was ready for Dad's next trio to the grist mill. As he started off with his usual effort to make old Dick go, I reached under the seat and gave the horse a good shock. I thought sure his hind feet were coming up over the dash board and I never saw Dad pull back and holler "Whoa, whoa," as he did, in all his driving. I figured the shock was too far back.

For my next experiment I made a belly band to give the shock in the middle part. This worked real good as I used this on the two horse cultivator. After the first shock, I could lead old Dick to the cultivator and he would stand and tremble until I unhitched him after working. Once I gave him a shock while cultivating and all four feet went straight up. He came down straddle of the tongue of the cultivator. You can imagine what a mess this made of the corn field we were working. I had to unhitch him, lay the tongue down and hitch the two horses up again. Poor Dick learned his lesson well and never shirked his work on the cultivator again. The school in Seville was then only second class, so on graduating from high school, I had to take another year in Medina in order to get my credits for entering Ohio State Univ. I graduated from Medina high school in 1910. While in Medina, I stayed with Judge F. O. Phillips and family. The Judge was a cousin of my mother. They had two daughters, Florence and Genieve and one son, Tom. I was supposed to work for my room and board, so the first night after school I hurried home to go to work, but Mrs. Phillips said, "You can stay and play with the boys but be home by 6:00 for dinner." That was the first t1me in my life, I had anything like that to happen.

They had a cow I was supposed to milk, but she went dry, so they sold her. They had about a dozen chickens but nor eggs, so they were sold. They also had a lively young colt which I would ride for exercise about once a week. This colt had never been broken to a harness for driving, so one Saturday morning the Judge ordered me to hitch him up in the breaking cart, as he intended to start the breaking process. I was holding the horse by the bridle as the Judge got into the cart and took the lines. As I let loose, the colt stood straight up on his hind feet - the Judge rolled off on the ground and when the horse came down he started to back up almost stepping on him. He got up and started for the house, shouting, "Put that colt back in the barn." By night the colt was sold, so one by one my Jobs disappeared. The Judge owned the electric plant which furnished power for the town and the street lights were all carbon lights, so I could go to the plant and get all the carbon I wanted. I made a carbon light of my own, which I put in my room. One night when Mrs. Phillips was having her missionary meeting, the wires which ran my light, shorted and all her guests were plunged in darkness. We had no fuses at the house and I can't say she was pleased with my foolishness. The boilers in this plant were fired by burning coal and they used about one carload a week. The man in charge at the plant paid some one $8.00 a load to unload the car. I begged him to allow me to unload one, but didn't want the Judge to know about 1t. I worked till noon and tried to wash up to go to the house for dinner but what I heard was, "How come your neck and back of ears is so black?" I had to tell them what I was doing and offered to do it for nothing, but they wouldn't have it that way, so I got my pay. However, one car was enough •( my poor hands were all blistered. Genieve came home from college each Friday nite and was always a help in both my school and social life during that year.

In the fall of 1910 I entered Ohio State Univ. where again Ward and I were together. While at school I first worked at a frat house waiting table and from there I went to work in a restaurant cleaning up tables to a short order cook. I also took care of furnaces at three different private homes, so rode my bike to these places. I had to earn my own way, so spent much time at jobs and not too much on my studies.

My course was in engineering and I made out for a year and a half, after which I worked at Case, Crane Eng. Co. in the drawing room. I also worked at the Kenear Eng. Co. and Jeffrey Manufacturing Co. In 191 when the war broke out, work was hard to find, so I went back home, where I worked for awhile, on shares, with my Dad and neighbors.

While at home on the farm, a new family moved to town, by the name of Reader. They had two daughters, Martha and Bessie and they all came to the Seville Baptist Church where we had always gone. This was in January of 1915.

Mr. Reader had come to Seville to help start the Union Chain Co. of which Walter Hay was president. I heard they were thinking of building a large plant, so one evening ventured to their home on pretense of selling some of our land which laid along the railroad track, and incidentally meeting those daughters. I didn't sell the land but later I did land one of the daughters, Bessie by name.

We went together that summer and in Aug. Jobs began to open up, so I went to work for Morgan Eng. Co. in Alliance, Oh1o. I worked there a few months when a better job opened in Barberton at the Chemical Eng. Co. so went to work there, driving back and forth from Seville in my old Studebaker with side curtains and no heat. Those were the days, On Sept. 9 - 1916 we were married by our Baptist pastor,

Rev. Knapp. We were married in Bess' home and only the family were with us. Mother Reader felt so bad not to have a large wedding but they had used much of their savings in coming to Seville for a very reduced salary, and Bess and I did not care, as nether one of us were fond of large weddings. We lived at the Reader home until we could get possession of a home which we had purchased in Wadsworth, Oh1o, for which we had paid the large sum of $2,100.00. In March 19l7 we moved to our home at 249 N. Lyman St.

In 1918 about Aug. I enlisted in the eng. corps of 209th Eng. at Camp Sheridan, Alabama. We had Just gotten a good start and were so happy when we had to break up housekeeping, I to go to camp and Bess back with her folks. There was an ad in the Akron paper for Engineers at Camp Forrest, Ga. I knew my time would soon come to be drafted, so I thought it would be better to enlist in engineering. We had three days in which to break up our home, store and sell some of our things and get ready to leave. All this was beyond my strength and the doctor ordered three days of rest before I could leave. Needless to say, Bess was about finished too and the leave taking so hard.

I arrived at Camp Forrest, Ga. about 9:00 A. M. with my heavy suit cases, containing clothes, drafting tools and books. The temperature was 105. There were four different camps in the National Forest there. I walked from 9:00 A. M. until 4:50 P. M. hunting the place where I was supposed to be.

The first evening about 9:00 o'clock, the top sergeant came thru our barracks looking for a cook. No one offered and after he left, I told the men I had cooked when going to school but would rather starve than take a job at that again. I should have known better for someone reported to the top sargeant and I had orders to report next morning to the kitchen. We stayed at Camp Forrest for 6 weeks and then moved to Camp Sheridan, Near Montgomery in Alabama, There I also worked in the kitchen until after we went to rifle range. In some ways it was nice as you worked from :OO A. M. to 9:00 or 10:00 P.M. and then had 24 hours off. In the off period I could go into Montgomery to see my wife who had come down to be near me. Out at rifle range all the cooks were required to practice w1th the others. I was put clear at the end of our company.

Our captain was out in front giving instructions how to load and hold the rifle. I wasn't used to these instructions, so did not pay the best of attention. I loaded my rifle and laid down to take a good bead on my target. Out somewhere I heard someone say, "Load, aim, fire" and I fired. I looked around and said to the fellow next to me, "Why didn't you fire?" Looking up I saw our Captain running and jumping toward me, hollering, "Who fired that shot?" I said, "I did, Sir." I heard someone say load, aim, fire and I fired. He said, "If you were not a cook, you'd be on your way to the guard house," so I got out of that predicament and I had made my first bull's eye. After rifle range, I was moved to the topographical office where I was in charge of blue prints and checking the plane tables.

All of us had to take gas mask practice. I had a slight cold and fever and did not want to tell anyone, as that would mean the hospital. During this lecture, all had to stand at attention and I made out for at least thirty minutes, then fainted. In less than five minutes I was on my way to the hospital. It really was the flu which hit our armies so hard during that fateful year when many hundreds or thousands of our boys died. Bess had come to Montgomery to be near me and we were priveleged to be together a good bit. She had a nice large room in the home of Mrs. Rammage and her daughter, Ethel. Two other girls had come, one from Ohio and the other from Washington State. They all had their experiences with cockroaches and bed bugs, which didn't seem to bother the owners in the least. However the lady and daughter both were lovely to Bess and did many kind things for her.

During my Illness, Bess also took sick, I had called her each day and knew she would be worried not hearing from me, so one evening at dusk I borrowed a coat, as you dared not go into town without one, and watching the guards for a good opportunity to sneak out, made my way thru a hole in the shrubbery. I took a taxi into Montgomery and went to see Bess. When I entered her room she sad I looked like a ghost. I had indeed been sick, so I could stay only a few minutes to explain where I was and for her not to worry. To get back I thought a street car would do as well as a taxi, so when I landed at the hospital base, it took me a half hour to find that hole in the shrubbery, thru which I had escaped. When I finally landed back in bed, the nurse said, "Where have you been?" I told her I was visiting with the boys in the latrine and that seemed to satisfy her. While in camp, in order to warm my feet, I'd often resort to Sloan's linament, which proved quite an effective remedy. We were ready to be shipped out when the flu struck so seriously. Dey after day Bess watched a long procession of funerals, and we thanked God so much for restoring us both to health again. On Nov. llth the Armistice was signed and for awhile, in our Joy of the war being ended, we forgot all the broken, bleeding hearts and marred bodies of the wounded. We Just danced for Joy at knowing we would be together again and glad I did not have to go across the ocean. I received my honorable discharge Dec. 19 - 1918.

It didn't take me long to get back home to my beloved wife and to Mother & Dad. Mother had been so ill and I had only a month or so with her before she died. My younger brother had gone into the medical profession, so with all the children gone, Dad was left alone. He went to live with sister Amy where he remained until his death. Her daughter Eloween took loving care of Dad - she was a trained nurse and they did all they could to make him happy. Amy's home was the gathering place for all of us after Dad went there to live. Now Bess, Jay, Amy, Anna, and Port are all gone, I only remain of our immediate family and Bess alone of hers.

We are up to the year of 1964 and so thankful to still be together, happy in the love of one another, and in our own little home at l22 Westgate, Wadsworth.

We also own a little home in Davenport, Florida, where we spend the winters and are glad to escape the snow and ice of the north.


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