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North Baltimore Area Historical Center has interesting New Exhibit

By Larry E. Slaughterbeck

The place I lived as a youngster has passed; the eighty acre family farms with the windmills, fence rows, livestock, alfalfa fields and the orange and green and white tractors have completely vanished. Today there is nothing but perfectly plowed farm fields and now there is hardly anyone around to remember…

On the opening day of pheasant season, our school would allow students to skip…. There’s no evidence that many NB residents recollect that this time ever existed. But it was a part of our landscape, as were hunters from all over the country and even world famous movie stars.

I recently had an article published in a national magazine, The Upland Almanac. It recalls the days when Wood County was known nationwide for having the highest concentration of pheasants in the United States.

Clark Gable, the “King of Hollywood”, John Wayne, Joe E. Brown and many more traveled here in past Novembers to hunt. Gable, in the Army Air Corps, befriended North Baltimore’s Pete Hawk, who was stationed with him at Fort George Wright in the state of Washington. Pete was an instructor in skeet shooting to teach B-17 tail-gunners skill to shoot at flying objects. When Pete received a list of students, and it had Gable’s name on it, he asked if this was the movie star.

The exhibit includes photographs of Clark Gable and Pete Hawk. The North Baltimore Area Historical Center is open on Tuesdays, 9am -12 pm and by appointment.

NBAHS Gable Display 1
Picture of the Clark Gable Pheasant Hunting Exhibit at the North Baltimore Area Historical Center.

 

Picture of the Clark Gable Pheasant Hunting Exhibit at the North Baltimore Area Historical Center.
Picture of the Clark Gable Pheasant Hunting Exhibit at the North Baltimore Area Historical Center.

Last Friday I was talking with Dennis Miller. He informed me that his father’s (Don) family was drawn to this area to hunt pheasants and fell in love with NB and later moved here. I will always remember that through Don’s adult life he hated to leave NB for any reason including insurance conventions and vacations. Dennis was kind enough to write the following journey that brought them to NB.

Letter from Den Miller:

“My grandfather Elwood Miller, one of my great uncles, Cecil Hasson would come to Henry Township in the mid-1940’s from Akron, Ohio to pheasant hunt. They stayed at the Fred Aller or Jack Dick farm on Freyman Road north of North Baltimore. (Note: Pete Hawk also lived on Freyman Road.)   I never asked how they knew where to stay, but, assumed since the area was popular for pheasant hunting, some of the area residents opened their home for visiting hunters.”

“ My grandfather liked the area so much he bought a house on West Broadway and moved his family, wife Wilda, and sons, Donald (17) and Charles (7) to town. Being that Grandpa Miller had been a welder at the Firestone tire plant in Akron, he partnered with Warren Luntz and opened a welding and small engine repair shop on North Main Street.   He and Grandma quickly made friends in the area including local business owners: Howard and Helen Goldner (Goldner’s Auto Repair) and Reed and Betsy Wetzel (Wetzel’s Sweetshop, a very popular teenager hangout.)”

4 thoughts on “North Baltimore Area Historical Center has interesting New Exhibit”

  1. Hi Jeff: In reference to Joe E. Brown in Larry’s article about pheasant hunting, I would add that Joe E. Brown lived in North Baltimore as a child. In his autobiography “Laughter Is a Wonderful Thing” (written with Ralph Hancock in 1956) he reports that “Before I was very old, my family had moved several times, first from Holgate to North Baltimore,Ohio, and then to Toledo, which I remember as the town of my early childhood.” (pages 3-4) Joe E. Brown was born on July 28, 1892 ( the same year as my father Ralph W. Wolfe) in Holgate. I am assuming he may have lived in North Baltimore from 1893 to 1896. I have a signed copy of his autobiography. Ralph Haven Wolfe

  2. This time of year, I tell friends about the days when the hunters came to NB for the pheasants. I remember going into M & R/Red’s restaurant with my folks when it was packed with hunters. I remember Davis Hardware with lots of hunting clothes and all the paraphanalia on display. it was a reassuring annual ritual. I keep that experience with pleasure and innocence. I haven’t been back in a long time, so maybe the environment wouldn’t support the pheasants-if they hadn’t been over hunted? I assume that’s what happened? Who knew about wildlife management back then. Those ideas I keep separately, with loss and pain.

    1. Karen, Thanks for letting us know that you do remember those November days. It was more than hunting-it was the days afield, the churches with their pot-luck dinners for hunters, Red’s Restaurant and Davis Hardware. The pheasants decline was mostly habitat, night mowing of the alfalfa fields, fertilizer pellets, return of predators (coyote) and the loss of the fence-rows, family farms. Larry

      1. 70 years ago I was 10, my brother gave me 3 shells and said go hunting after school with the shotgun, bring back some game.
        I went out the back door and through the quarry and shot a cock pheasant, went next along quarry road and shot a rabbit and missed one, then went home, and yes we ate rabbit and pheasant. memories

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