Beyond my parents and teachers while growing up in Ft. Loramie, I probably learned more about life from my Uncle Bob, pictured above in both a 1946 & 2004 photo with my Dad, his older brother. Uncle Bob had just returned from the war at the time of the 1946 photo where he served in the Army as an infantryman. But in today’s Army, he would have been classified as a sniper, as he was the absolute best marksman since Davy Crocket. He loved the outdoors and was an avid hunter and fisherman. And I would classify him as an original environmentalist, because of his inordinate appreciation and respect for nature. Nothing ever was wasted around his farm, plus he could fix anything. His workshop was amazing. He had this innovative setup for precisely sighting-in his rifles. He could spot a groundhog from a 1/4 mile away and pick it off in one shot. Many a night I would be laying in bed and hear Uncle Bob’s dogs barking after treeing a coon in a nearby woods, then the single pop of Uncle Bob’s rifle, as he never missed! And when I was older, he would invite me along on the coon hunts - what a thrill. I also tagged along with him when he checked his muskrat traps and fished Lake Loramie. He made me promise to never divulge his best fishing holes and trapping sites. Squirrel hunting with Uncle Bob was a challenge, as you had to be totally quiet in the woods for hours waiting for a squirrel to scurry out of their nest to hunt hickory nuts, only to meet it's maker by eagle-eye Bob.
Bob was such a story teller, and he loved to “pull our leg” with with his tall yarns. For example, he incurred an injury during the war when a gun backfired on him and blew off the tip of his thumb. Who knows, maybe he even got a purple heart for the injury. But he would always tell us kids that an elderly neighbor who was a real curmudgeon by the name of Ben Olding purposefully ran over his thumb with his car. He also claimed that Ben Olding was flying any plane that ever flew over. Literally, thanks to Uncle Bob, Ben Olding got blamed for just about any unexplained phenomena that occurred when we were growing up.
Uncle Bob was a bachelor who lived with my grandmother on the farm pictured above that was across the road from our farm, both of which were the home farms of my grandfather and great-grandfather respectively. Along with a third brother who lived on another nearby farm, the three would work together, sharing equipment and helping each other out during planting and harvest times. I recall at Dad’s 80th birthday party when my brother, brother-in-law and I performed a funny skit about the three farmers at harvest time many years before. At another family get-together, a bat suddenly started flying around inside the hall where the event was being held, causing quite a stir. But Uncle Bob, undeterred, immediately went after the bat, catching it with his bare hands, released the bat outside and immediately sat back down to resume eating his meal without missing a beat - or washing his hands! As an outdoorsman and a bachelor, his personal hygiene was probably not the best! But that was about to change as indicated in the following story:
One Halloween, just after receiving my drivers license, I happened to drive by Uncle Bob’s place around dusk and noticed several people were toilet papering the trees around his house. Wanting to protect my favorite uncle, I snuck back and found their car hidden behind a shed, took the keys out of the ignition and put them under the front seat because that’s where Uncle Bob always put the keys for his car. As kids we would often listen to the radio in Uncle Bob’s car using those hidden keys, as Dad never had a radio installed in his cars. So eventually Uncle Bob arrived home and discovered the TP’ers sitting in their keyless car. First place he checked was under the seat and handed the perpetrators their keys. Unbeknownst to me, one of the culprits was somebody Uncle Bob had been dating, eventually to become engaged to and marry. Her name was Carolyn, about 20 years younger than Bob, but what a wonderful lady she was with a great sense of humor and a very memorable laugh, who eventually was somewhat able to “domesticate” Uncle Bob. Carolyn and I would kid each other for years about the TP job and the hidden car keys! I always blamed Ben Olding!
Uncle Bob’s farm was located near the terminus of the Loramie Creek, the northern most tributary of the Ohio River. As a result, Native Americans traveling between the Ohio River and Lake Erie had to portage their canoes from the Loramie Creek to the St. Mary’s River north of Minster. So there were lots of Indian artifacts to be found in that area, and Uncle Bob was a master at finding them. His secret was walking a newly plowed field just after a rainstorm once the sun came out. The shiny surfaces of the arrowheads cleaned by the rain would reflect the sun to make them easier to spot.
After Uncle Bob’s death in 2009, his collection of over 400 arrowheads was assessed by an archeologist, who discovered there were artifacts from all six prehistoric Ohio Native American paleological eras spanning over 10,000 years. His collection is now displayed in perpetuity at the Ft. Loramie elementary school as shown in the photo above. For more information about the collection and Uncle Bob, click on the following links: