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.
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.)”