NARRATOR: Leona Holodnick
INTERVIEWER: Syd Holodnick
DATE: May 10, 1982

Syd: This is Syd Holodnick and we're seating here at 237 W. College, Oberlin, Ohio, the Holodnick house. I am interviewing my mother Leona Holodnick. Today's date is May 10, 1982. Mom will you start out by stating your full name, when you were born, where you born?
Leona: My name is Leona Theresa Holodnick. I am from Caseville, Michigan. I was born November 12, 1921. So I'm 60 years old.
Syd: Good. You're coming through fine. Would you tell us a little bit about your childhood?
Leona: I come from a family of three brothers and three sisters. My mother and dad were both born and raised in this area. My mother was born in Grindstone City, Michigan. My dad was born not too far from there, but I'm not quite sure the exact town - near Grindstone City.
Syd: What county is that in?
Leona: Huron County. Do you remember the fire of 1881. He was ten years old when that came around. He has told me many stories about how they survived the fire. They got down in a well pit. Then they were in the river quite awhile with straws in their mouth to give them a little air to breathe. I can remember him telling me that. I have one brother that is dead. (Clarence) The rest of them are all living. They all live fairly close. All in Michigan. We're all within a distance of maybe 60-70 miles anyway.
Syd: Let's go back to Grindstone City where your mother was from. What kind of things, would she have told you, might have been in her childhood or her life?
Leona: She came from a large family. Her own father was manager of the stone quarry there. Where they made the big grindstones. They were shipped to all different states. Mainly to New York, because he himself went to New York for awhile. But the rest of the family stayed here.
Syd: Now was he from the New York area?
Leona: He was from this area too. His ancestors were from Canada. The "Hebear" family - we call it Herbert, but in French it is "Hebear."
Syd: Did your mother speak French at all?
Leona: Oh, yes. Very fluently. In fact when my oldest brother was born, he couldn't speak a word of English when he went to school. They had to teach him English. All he spoke was French. My mother and dad spoke French all the time. Then when the rest of us came along they spoke English, because it was rather embarrassing at school.
Syd: Now was Hebert the oldest boy?
Leona: No Clarence is the oldest, then Bernice, then Pat, then Hebert, then Evelyn, John and myself.
Syd: So they spoke French. So when Uncle Clarence started school, of course you weren't born then, but do you remember any stories that might have been told of when he first started school?
Leona: That's is the only thing I can remember about Clarence when he first started was that he couldn't speak English. So after that, unless they didn't want us to understand anything they would speak in French, otherwise they spoke English after that.
Syd: What are some of the things that you remember about your childhood? Some of the things that might stand out? What kind of games would you play or what kind of things would you do around the home?
Leona: We use to do garden work, hoeing the beans. Basically life on the farm. The one thing I remember when I was a tiny girl was the old rooster getting me down and chewing at my ears.
Syd: I remember you telling us that story.
Leona: He just about killed me. My older brother Clarence grabbed him around his neck and that was the end of him. Made chicken and dumplings for supper. We often remarked about that, that rooster almost killed me. Syd: How big were you then? Leona: I was about 3 or 4.
Syd: He might have been about as tall as you.
Leona: Oh yes, he was a big rooster. He really was. Really as far as things that we did, we just played the usual games, hop scotch, tic tac toe, rummy.
Syd: How about any other group games. You mentioned hop scotch. What were some of the other type of group games that you might have played?
Leona: Aunti I Over. We'd throw the ball over the building and then the kids on the other side had to catch the ball. That's an old fashion game. Over the barn - it would be a real tall building. We had to throw it over the building on the other side and they would try and catch it. Then they would throw it back to you. That went on for hours. You were scored by the number of balls that you caught. I walked maybe three miles to grade school. Two and 1/2 miles to high school.
Syd: Where did you live at that time?
Leona: On the old home place. That was on Limmerick Road. That was in the old house before the house burned.
Syd: What township was that?
Leona: That was Chandler Township. I walked 3 miles to Chandler School. Syd: Where was the Chandler School located? That wasn't over on Filion Road?
Leona: Dunn Road. Remember where Gilberts are now. That's no longer there now. Ed Welsh bought the building and it is behind his house. He made it into a big shed. Remember the big school that's out behind Ed Welsh's house?
Syd: Yes. Leona: That was Chandler School. He bought it and made as machine shed out of it. You know, you go down Champagne Road {south] to the dead end. You make a right and it is about 1/2 mile down. There is no longer anything there now.
Syd: When did they move that? That must have been in the '50's. Was it?
Leona: At least 20 years ago. No it was after we moved back up from Croswell. But the school was not in working order then. They weren't using the school at all then. It had already been consolidated with Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port.
Syd: What year would you have started school?
Leona: Probably around 1927. My first experience of school is "heaven." [Mom is being fascious.] My best girlfriend pulled my hair. Everyday she pulled my hair. Dorothy O'Connor. That is the only thing I can remember about kindergarten is having her pull my hair.
Syd: Now was she in your class?
Leona: She was in my grade. And she was suppose to be my best girlfriend. She'd get me down and pull my hair.
Syd: What about as far as things that might have gone on either in class or during the school day?
Leona: Nothing too much. It was like a grade school and one teacher taught the whole eighth grade. So you each had your turn and you sat and you listen to the other people have their classes. I think you actually learned more that way, because you would hear your's plus everyone elses what they were learning and you caught on quicker. I think it was an advantage.
Syd: How many grades were in that school? Leona: Eight grades. There would be between 60-65 kids every year. Mr. Bergman was my first teacher.
Syd: Do you remember anything about him?
Leona: He never married. He remained single. He was real kind. He had his hands full. He stayed at the house right next. Which would be like a couple blocks away. It use to be Quinn's. He room and boarded there.
Syd: Where was he from?
Leona: I think originally from Massachusetts. Because I remember him going home for Christmas time. He taught there, in fact, he was my only teacher until Vera Bushey, Vera O'Connor then. When I was in the 7th grade then she was the teacher. I had her then for the 7th and 8th grade. Up until that time Mr. Bergman was my only teacher. Syd: What kinds of things did you study? What kinds of classes or subjects?
Leona: We had arithmetic, penmanship, reading, history, geography. Just like they have now, I suppose. Only maybe not in detail quite as much as - they were large classes. They weren't just little classes. Like I said, he had 60-65 all the time, at least. And he was the only teacher.
Syd: I guess what I'm thinking of, were there any classes taught then that aren't taught now?
Leona: I really don't think so. Maybe penmanship. Do they teach penmanship now? Or so called penmanship. I would say it is basically the same things. Maybe we didn't have art and that type of stuff.
Syd: Did you have Latin there?
Leona: That was in high school. For high school I went to Pinnebog. The high school is long gone, it burnt down.
Syd: Now did you walk to Pinnebog?
Leona: I walked to Pinnebog.
Syd: How far was that? Leona: Just about three miles - it was a good little jaunt.
Syd: Do you remember anything along the way that you would do or would you take short cuts?
Leona: Oh we would stop and pick the kids up as we would go along. By the time we got to school we had a whole army of kids going with us.
Syd: Who were some of the other kids that you might have walked with along the way?
Leona: Ellen and Ann Danlug. They were our next door neighbors. Atley Divine lived a little further down. Then the Knauses, the Tamblyn boys would meet us at the corner - the corner of Pinnebog and Limmerick Road. Then we would all head on into school. We walked it morning and night unless it was bad and then grandpa would come and get us.
Syd: What would he come in?
Leona: Oh, we had a car. We were one of the first ones to have a car around there.
Syd: What year did you get the car?
Leona: I don't remember. We always had a car since I can remember. We were one of the first ones in the county to get a car. So grandpa would come chugging with the car and pick us up if it was raining.
Syd: What kind of car was it?
Leona: An old Ford. Naturally it was a Ford. He always had a good car for a few years then he would trade it in and get another one. He was proud of his cars.
Syd: So you went to school in Pinnebog, for how many years?
Leona: Four years. When I graduated from Pinnebog I was Salutatorian of the class. Hazel Asher was Valedictorian. But there was only 9 students in the class. But there was still competition.
Syd: So you were a pretty good student then? Leona: Oh yes I enjoyed school. Math was my poor subject. But history and English I excelled in that and I enjoyed that.
Syd: Who were some of your teachers?
Leona: Laura Emery, which I think you had. She was one of your teachers.
Syd: Yes. Did she teach Latin then?
Leona: She taught Latin. She is the one who taught the Latin. In fact she made the remark to me that she would be able to teach three generations, me, my kids, and my grandchildren. But she didn't quite make it. I had Latin, geometry, chemistry, algebra, English, world history. Just the same as now. But our chemistry and our physics weren't quite the same. We had small labs. We didn't have extensive lab work, which they have now. But it sufficed. Then after I graduated I went on to nurses training.
Syd: Where was that now?
Leona: That was at Providence Hospital in Detroit. I was there for three years and eight months. Then I graduated from there. Syd: Now when you went there or when you were about to go there how did grandma and grandpa feel about that?
Leona: Grandma was for it, but grandpa was very against it. In fact both Pat and Evelyn had wanted to be a nurse and he wouldn't let them. He was much against it. He didn't think that was any vocation for girls. Well when I came around, maybe being the baby of the family I got my own way. Syd: You broke the way a little bit. Leona: I think they were more modernized by the time I came. He was more use to it.
Syd: You were there 3 1/2 years. Leona: Three years and 8 months. Syd: What kinds of things did you do there? What were some of your duties?
Leona: Worked hard, studied hard, and we played hard. We really enjoyed it. In fact I had some real good girlfriends and we use to go bowling. There was a bowling alley right next and a hamburger joint across the street, probably one of my best girlfriends married the guy who owned the hamburger joint and they moved to Bad Axe then.
Syd: Who was that?
Leona: Kathryn Wellock. Remember we use to stop there when we'd go home from Croswell? Then when we'd come up from Croswell we'd stop in Bad Axe. They had a hamburger place in Bad Axe after they got married. Then they moved up here.
Syd: For some reason I can remember the name, but I can't remember stopping in there.
Leona: We use to stop in there at first and then she had her family and we had our family. After while we just didn't stop too much more. But I see her occasionally. She still works in Bad Axe. Syd: Where does she work now? Leona: At the health center in Bad Axe. She's still nursing. She and I were real good friends in nurses training.
Syd: What other kind of things would you do? You talked about the hamburger place and bowling?
Leona: We always studied together. None of us had much money so we couldn't go out very often. Occasionally we would go to a show. We would go to Belle Isle. Aunt Pat would come and pick us up and take us over to Belle Isle. We would have "get- togethers."
Syd: Now Aunt Pat was living there too?
Leona: Yes, she was living in Detroit then. I don't think I would have ever made it if it wouldn't had been for Pat.
Syd: She pulled you through?
Leona: She pulled me through many a time. She'd come and get me on my day off, take me out.
Syd: Was she married at that time?
Leona: Yes, she was married. Her two older boys were married by then. I was in nurses training when they got married. Then Patsy, Kathy - Kathy came along much later. They were the only two at home when I was there. Syd: I don't know much about them at all. Leona: They were either in the service or they were married. I think maybe Guy might have been married and Bud was in the service at the time.
Syd: Was Guy younger then Bud?
Leona: Yes. Syd: I remember they were in the service. Leona: I can't think of anything else that we did that was too exciting. There wasn't too many exciting things to do.
Syd: What was going on in Detroit at that time?
Leona: The riots over at Belle Isle. I was in on the riot deal. They brought a lot of people to the hospital. That was the first riot.
Syd: Was that a racial riot? Leona: It was a racial riot. That was like in 1944 or 1946. Sometime around that era, because I graduated in 1946 and it was just before that.
Syd: The riot actually took place on Belle Isle?
Leona: Right on Belle Isle. Which was kind of like an amusement park type thing.
Syd: But people didn't really live there. It wasn't people who lived there that were rioting?
Leona: No - people who were visiting between the blacks and the whites. They really had a bad riot that first one. After that it sort of settled down. Then they had another bad riot, but I wasn't there for the second one.
Syd: When was that?
Leona: That would have been after 1946 - probably around 1948. A couple years after I graduated.
Syd: Well you took care of a lot of people who were injured?
Leona: Quite a bit injured in the riot. They brought them in by car loads full. It was really a mess. Then after I graduated I come home and I worked for awhile.
Syd: Where did you work?
Leona: I worked at Hubbard Hospital in Bad Axe for a little bit. Then I got married. After we were married we moved to Croswell and all you kids were born. Four of you children were born in Croswell. The other two were born up here.
Syd: Let me go back a minute. I'm trying to think - in 1946 when you graduated from nurses training, you worked for a couple years then?
Leona: No, I only worked for a couple of months. Then I was married.
Syd: Okay, how did you meet dad?
Leona: I met him on a blind date when I was second year in nurses training. Then I hadn't seen him. A couple of years went by before I saw him again.
Syd: How did you meet?
Leona: A girlfriend. Evelyn Whitney. I was home on vacation and Evelyn Whitney, her husband was a minister and she had brought a bunch of boy scouts up to the state park in Caseville and dad was helping him with the kids at the state park.
Syd: Dad was a counselor?
Leona: Dad was a counselor or scout master. He just loved to help John Adams. So Evelyn come over and said, "Would you like to go out." I said, "Sure, I'm home for a few days." That was the one date and then I didn't see him again for a couple of years.
Syd: So that was in 1946 when you first met him? Leona: No, 1944. Because I graduated in 1946 and we were married a couple months after I graduated.
Syd: Where were you married then?
Leona: Up at Hewleton at St. Felix Church. It was so stormy that day. Dad got stuck and he could hardly make it up here that night. That was one of the worst storms. That was the year that we had real bad storms.
Syd: Where was he coming from?
Leona: Armeda (sp).
Syd: That was south -
Leona: That was south, near Mt. Clemens. He had brought his landlady up with him and they had gotten stuck a couple miles and he had to practically carry her the last two miles to the house. It was so stormy.
Syd: So you didn't know if he was going to make it for the wedding or not?
Leona: Not really, but he made it. The next day wasn't much better, but the snowplows came through and plowed it out.
Syd: What was the date when you got married?
Leona: March 2, 1946.
Syd: So there was still some bad weather at that time of the year?
Leona: Oh yes, it was a real bad storm. So after that we went to .... he taught in Armeda, he finished that year. The next year he got a job at Croswell. We were in Croswell for four or five years? It must have been at least 4 or 5 years.
Syd: I was born there. Jack was born there.
Leona: You and Jack and Jim and Sue were all born in Croswell. It must have been at least 6-7 years. Then he got a job up at Kinde. And we moved back up home.
Syd: That's right. He got a job at Kinde.
Leona: After that he went from Kinde, to Kingston, to Elkton, Port Hope and then he went to Flint. That's about the extent of it. Syd: I'm thinking of Croswell. We were talking about Uncle Sid the other night.
Leona: Do you remember the swinging bridge in Croswell.
Syd: Yes, I dream about that still. Where is that?
Leona: It was across the Black River.
Syd: Was that back in behind our house?
Leona: It was maybe 2-3 blocks. Remember we'd get on the bridge and somebody at the end would swing the bridge and we'd almost go off. Now I don't think you can go on that bridge anymore, but it is still there. The bridge is still there. It is a historic landmark now.
Syd: I still remember and sometimes I -
Leona: You dream of being on that bridge and being swung back and forth?
Syd: Never real bad ones, but sometimes I remember.
Leona: Your Uncle Syd, he lived in Lexington then.
Syd: Which was close?
Leona: At first he lived in Croswell and that is when he used to come over to our house a lot and babysit for you kids. Take you out for a ride. He just loved to come. And then he met and fell in love with Thelma and they were married and then they lived in Lexington. After that we'd never get to see him too often much after we moved up here.
Syd: Didn't really go back that much?
Leona: We'd go back 2-3 times, maybe a summer. Then gradually - he didn't live too long after that. I can't just remember, maybe 10-12 years after we come up this way.
Syd: I thought he lived longer, but maybe not.
Leona: He maybe did. I was thinking maybe, maybe it was 10 years ago, but I was thinking it was longer then that. It is hard to tell, time goes so fast anymore it is hard to keep track.
Syd: Do you remember what our address was of our house in Croswell?
Leona: It was on Mill Street.
Syd: Right down by the pickle factory.
Leona: Right down by Aunt Jane's pickle factory. "What a pickle!" That was the slogan. Do you remember?
Syd: We were trying to think of who were some of the neighbors there?
Leona: Jenny Kotsky. Do you remember the red-headed lady? She lived at the end. She and I were pretty good friends. But that's the only one I can think of. Syd: Now that area -
Leona: Do you remember Mr. & Mrs. Tony? They were the German people that lived a little ways down the street. They were the nicest people. She would make us Christmas bread and Easter bread. Syd: I can remember going down and munching cookies. She'd make apple streudle and she would have her whole table full of apple streudle. She was really a good cook.
Leona: They died in Croswell. I wanted to go last summer so badly. Steve and Cherie and I were going to go. We wanted to see the swing bridge again. Maybe we'll get a chance.
Syd: Nancy and I have talked about it. Stefan and Karl are a little young right now.
Leona: They really wouldn't remember it, but it would be nice. If you're up for a week or so this summer, maybe we can get a chance. It would only take a day.
Syd: Just drive down and back in a day. Leona: It isn't that far away.
Syd: You guys built the house?
Leona: We built it right from scratch.
Syd: What do you remember about that?
Leona: A lot of experiences. Dad on top of the house roofing at night with no light and down he came tumbling. It is a wonder he didn't break his neck. He landed almost on a cement block. He just missed it by a hair. We scrimped and saved for that house. We never did finish the upstairs.
Syd: The attic area. Now did we sleep up there when we were kids?
Leona: No.
Syd: I remember playing up there.
Leona: You played up there, but it was never was finished. You all sleep downstairs.
Syd: How big of house was that?
Leona: Three bedroom down and there would have been room for a couple bedrooms upstairs if we would have ever finished it.
Syd: Was that all solid block?
Leona: That was cinder block. That was a good solid house. We had a real big lot. That's is where we had the Hod Craft Products.
Syd: Hod Craft Products?
Leona: That's where your father made pellets for the pickle factory. Syd: That's where he sold those things. That's where dad gets his stories from the boys calling "pound-pound." Leona: You and Jack would go out and help him pound, like the pellets.
Syd: Now he had a saw mill too, didn't he?
Leona: He had a saw mill, but that kind of fiseled out. We bought a saw mill. He cut some of our own lumber for the house. But he always was going to make a business out of it, but it just never amounted to too much. Although we did save by having the saw mill and cutting our own lumber. So eventually we just sold the saw mill to someone else.
Syd: I think Uncle Carl bought the saw mill, didn't he?
Leona: I think he did. We pulled it up with the old truck. Then when we moved up here from Croswell he brought the old truck and we moved ourselves. The truck broke down a couple of times coming up.
Syd: I can remember loading everything up in the truck. Now do you remember in Croswell, what year did you build the house. Do you remember? Leona: It would have been about 1948 would have been about when we started.
Syd: Now I was born in 1948.
Leona: Right, because Jack was born in a little apartment. The first two years we moved about 3-4 times. You were born in the house. I would say like 1948.
Syd: I remember a tornado. Do you remember the tornado?
Leona: The tornado that went through and did a lot of damage in Port Huron, Jetto, a lot of people were killed. I remember we went down in the basement.
Syd: I remember you taking us down there.
Leona: We went down in the basement. We had the neighbor kids across the way. We had an old couch. We all huddled down there on the couch.
Syd: I remember going under the couch and chairs or whatever it was.
Leona: We had one tree in the front yard that went down.

MAY 10, 1982

Syd: We were talking about the tornado and our kids were saying that they did not want to do the tornado drill. I told them how I remember that tree. I walked out and saw that big tree and I would guess that tree was 3 foot across.
Leona: At least.
Syd: And how it just took that tree up and laid it down.
Leona: Just cracked it like a toothpick. It did. Remember when we took a drive the next day and we went through Jitto around Port Huron? The tops were off of houses. The trees were down. I just can't remember how many people were killed that time, but there was a lot of them. It took an area about maybe a couple miles wide. It just went right through. It pays to have a drill.
Syd: That's how that little story came about.
Leona: Is that right.
Syd: But dad was teaching there at that time?
Leona: Yes he was teaching in Croswell. He taught shop. That's when he made you a little rocking horse or the big rocking horse. Syd: The big orange one. Leona: He taught shop. In fact he taught shop all the time he was in Croswell.
Syd: Now he also coached there, did he?
Leona: Yes, they had a pretty good team too that year.
Syd: What did he coach?
Leona: Basketball and football - both.
Syd: How big of school was it at that time? How many students would graduate?
Leona: It was a real big school. What is Lakers A - B? I would say it was about a class B school. Then after we left they built a new high school in between Croswell and Lexington. They called it Croslex.
Syd: Do you remember dad use to take us fishing down to the docks somewhere. Do you remember where he use to take us? We'd go smelt fishing. With Uncle Sid -
Leona: Down at Lexington with Uncle Sid and dad they would take you down there. Remember the time that they got a whole tub full of fish? Smelt. They brought them home and they cleaned fish till about 6:00 in the morning. All night long they cleaned fish. We didn't know what to do with them all.
Syd: I can remember catching a lot of smelt.
Leona: It was right off the dock in Lexington. We've never caught fish like that since. In fact we were talking about that just a couple of weeks ago, that the smelt were running up home. But they weren't running very much. Very few smelt this year. We remarked that we had a whole lot, washed tub full of smelt. We gave everybody a smelt.
Syd: I remember the big net that dad had. I think he made it or something and we tried using it later. It was a big net he made out of screen, 3/4" screen and using that. Taking that down and scooping them up and watching them flip into the big bucket. Were you with us at the time?
Leona: No, I probably was home with Sue and Jim. That was quite an experience. We'd clean fish and we'd clean fish so I couldn't clean any more fish.
Syd: So you bought the big old truck?
Leona: Dad bought a new motor for it. We packed all our belongings on the truck.
Syd: Made a number of trips?
Leona: Made two or three trips anyway with it. Then the last time the truck broke down, about half way there we had to get repairs before we could head on again. The truck still sets in the yard we never used it since, did we? Remember planting all the Christmas trees along the ditch.
Syd: Yes, I remember that. Started in the orchard. See I had been in kindergarten in Croswell. We moved up to Caseville -I'm trying to think about when that was.
Leona: You were born in 1948. About 1953 or so it would have been. So those trees would be 25 years old.
Syd: See some of those trees were planted later, but some of the earlier ones were planted within a couple of years.
Leona: We planted over 1,000 trees that first year. Then every year after that we put in a few hundred anyway.
Syd: A lot of work to start. Would you do it again if you had a chance?
Leona: I suppose I would, because I like the trees. It was a lot of work to put them in. We dug a furrow and laid them all down in the furrow and then dug another furrow and covered them up. Some of those trees are pretty good size now. The evergreens are big. In fact when they put the ditch through they took out some, but not too many. He was real careful. We were lucky to have that certain party dig the ditch, because he realized the value of the trees and any one else would have probably gone right through and taken them up, regardless. But he was real considerate.
Syd: Let's see, there was Jack, Syd, Jim and Sue all came up in Croswell.
Leona: Nancy and Steve were born in Caseville.
Syd: What were you doing then. I know dad was teaching.
Leona: I was working at the clinic in Elkton for Dr. Steinhart and Dr. Sorenson at first. Then when Dr. Sorenson left, Dr. Willits came. Then I worked for them until they disinvolved and then I went over to the Pigeon Clinic.
Syd: Did you ever work - I can remember you working somewhere -
Leona: I worked at the hospitals nights during that same period. Between the hospital and the clinic I worked full time.
Syd: So when you weren't working at the clinic you were working at the hospital.
Leona: I was working at the hospital nights. Every other weekend I would work nights at the hospital. Then a couple nights during the week, on the opposite week. Then when Dr. Willits left the hospital when he retired, then I left the clinic too.