Rena Fiedler grew up on her grandparent's farm, the Stanford House, near Boston, Ohio. Her grandfather's aunt, Ellen Stanford, passed the house along her nephew, Ernest Dickenson. Rena's parents, William Hatch and Fanny (Dickenson) Hatch, lived at the Stanford House until Rena was in gradeschool. On the Stanford property, Rena's grandfather had many livestock, corn, and other produce. Rena remembers details about the farm, as well as life in Peninsula c. 1930s forward. The Stanford House currently operates as a hostel in the National Park.
Fiedler, Rena (interviewee)
Conklin, Carolyn (interviewer)
Cuyahoga Valley Project
"Rena Fiedler Interview, 2011" (2011). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 518044.
Transcription sponsored by Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Rena Fiedler [00:00:00] Had been done and I just hated it, they just tore it up something terrible.
Carolyn Conklin [00:00:06] Arrye wanted me to tell you that she can make arrangements for you to make any other visits if you want.
Rena Fiedler [00:00:12] I called and Lisa, it was, that showed me around and there was another lady with her, but she was delightful and it was nice. I enjoyed it. I couldn't make the open house. So when I called I told them that I just couldn't make the open house. But I'd like to see it. So...
Carolyn Conklin [00:00:34] Okay. Well, I'm going to introduce myself, say today's date and ask you to introduce yourself.
Rena Fiedler [00:00:42] Okay.
Carolyn Conklin [00:00:43] My name is Carolyn Conklin. Today is June 29, 2011. And Ms. Fiedler, can you introduce yourself?
Rena Fiedler [00:00:50] Okay, I'm Rena Fiedler and June 29, 2011.
Carolyn Conklin [00:00:58] And when were you born?
Rena Fiedler [00:01:00] 1926.
Carolyn Conklin [00:01:02] And where were you born?
Rena Fiedler [00:01:03] Boston, Ohio.
Carolyn Conklin [00:01:10] Okay. Can you tell me how you're associated with the Valley? How did you come to be here?
Rena Fiedler [00:01:17] Well, I was born there... [laughs] And raised there. My grandparents ran the Stanford Farm, and my parents lived with them for a while. And I was just born there and raised there a good share of my life. Are you familiar with the cut stone gray house that sits? Oh, okay, because that's the home my parents built on Riverview Road. And I lived there, of course.
Carolyn Conklin [00:01:56] So was it your maternal or your paternal grandparents?
Rena Fiedler [00:02:00] It was my maternal.
Carolyn Conklin [00:02:03] And what can you tell me about the Stanford Farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:02:07] Well, Grandpa ran it and Grandma did just about everything in the whole world. I think, back and wonder how she ever did it. They had hired men, not always the same number, depending on what season they were in and what they were doing. And Grandpa was a farmer farmer. I mean, they lived because they farmed, but he farmed everything. He had cattle and horses and chickens and pigs and...
Carolyn Conklin [00:02:46] Do you remember what the layout of the farm, what it looked like?
Rena Fiedler [00:02:51] Oh, yeah, very similar to what it is now, except I don't know what they've done with the other land. He had fields across the canal, which would be west of the main house and all the fields west of the road, a lot of fields and also a sugarbush, if you know what is sugarbush is. That's where they make maple syrup. And he had a sugarbush on the east side and he originally was on a little farm farther down the road, which was his parents' farm. So when he started with the Stanford Farm, then he took... Also, he literally at one time had all the fields in the Valley there.
Carolyn Conklin [00:03:41] And how did your... When did your grandfather start the Stanford Farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:03:48] Mmm, I don't know. I really don't know. I knew nothing different. You know?
Carolyn Conklin [00:03:54] That wasn't his parents' farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:03:56] No, it was... I think his name was George and Ellen Stanford. And Ellen—and Auntie Ine, I called her, and they did, too—I think was my grandfather's mother's sister. So I think it was his aunt.
Carolyn Conklin [00:04:23] She was a Stanford?
Rena Fiedler [00:04:24] Yes, and he's the one that built the home, her husband. And when he died, that's when she wished that my grandfather would come. And so he encompassed with the land that he had from the little... What we called the little farm.
Carolyn Conklin [00:04:47] And you said he hired... Your grandfather hired men to live there?
Rena Fiedler [00:04:50] Yes, yes, and some of 'em lived there and some of them came and went either daily or monthly depending, and he had built a little log cabin just across the ravine where some stayed, and others stayed in the house. There was room for... Then they would use the back stairs to come into the kitchen.
Carolyn Conklin [00:05:15] Can you tell me what the house looked like?
Rena Fiedler [00:05:18] Oh, I should've brought pictures. No, that wouldn't help you. Sure, exactly. I mean, it's sort of similar to what it is, except the front porch was all stone and there was a big beautiful what they called mounting stone, which you mounted into your buggy or onto your horse. So it was a big stone and there were steps to get up and so you could get on whatever you were getting on. And the porch has been changed because it was all stone and there was a large stone wash basin type thing on the porch, and the hired men would wash up there before they came in for lunch and dinner and whatever.
Carolyn Conklin [00:06:13] And what were your grandparents' names?
Rena Fiedler [00:06:15] Dickinson, Ernest and Mary Dickinson.
Carolyn Conklin [00:06:22] Was your grandmother... Was she from the area?
Rena Fiedler [00:06:30] I think so, although she had lived in the east and her father, I know was a... I guess you'd call him a lumber man, so I'm not sure. But she must have been. Her grandpa would have never met her because I don't think he ever got out of the... I mean, really, he traveled later, but not as a kid.
Carolyn Conklin [00:07:03] And how many siblings did your mother have?
Rena Fiedler [00:07:06] Me.
Carolyn Conklin [00:07:08] A sibling, how many brothers and sisters?
Rena Fiedler [00:07:10] Oh, I'm sorry, she had a brother and a sister.
Carolyn Conklin [00:07:16] And did you actually live in the Stanford house?
Rena Fiedler [00:07:19] Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Carolyn Conklin [00:07:20] Okay, tell me about that.
Rena Fiedler [00:07:21] Oh, it was wonderful. [laughs] I had a grandma and grandpa that were out of this world and it was fabulous. I loved every minute of it. And I had all sorts of pets, of course. And Grandpa at one time got me a little riding horse, which was great. We just had great fun with that and it was wonderful.
Carolyn Conklin [00:07:48] Tell me some more about the horse.
Rena Fiedler [00:07:51] Horse was named Ginger and she was a small horse. I used an English saddle and we just rode all over everywhere. It was wonderful.
Carolyn Conklin [00:08:09] And what else did you do for fun when you were younger?
Rena Fiedler [00:08:14] That's a good question. I did things you've never heard of, but mumbly-peg or... Because I was alone a great deal of the time and I played with the animals and there was usually always a bunch of kittens or something to be playing with. And I made little houses for myself in the grape arbor. And lots of times I went with my grandpa in the field. He'd let me run a little bit. I was probably a pain. But he let me and I don't know, I was busy and happy all the time. It was fabulous.
Carolyn Conklin [00:08:57] Were there... What was special about being a kid in on a farm versus growing up somewhere else do you think?
Rena Fiedler [00:09:06] Oh, my. It was just all so good and everything that we had to eat was fabulous. We ate everything that was grown on the farm, raised on the farm, wonderful, wonderful food and just wonderful people. I mean, in my day and in the area I was from, I mean, there was no fear, none whatsoever of anything or anyone. That was... My grandma used to... There were hobos a great deal at one time on the railroad. And of course, the tracks were right there next to the canal or just over a little. And hobos would come and Grandma would fix a place for them to eat. And I'd sit right down and talk with 'em while they ate whatever they ate. [laughs] But she fed hobos just seemed like constantly and during the summer months.
Carolyn Conklin [00:10:14] So so tell me some more about your grandmother. What was she like?
Rena Fiedler [00:10:18] Oh, she was wonderful. As I look back, she was more wonderful then, and I loved her to death. She just was so pleasant and everything. She did everything and everything for everybody. I don't know how she did it. I really don't. I look back and I think, oh, because everything was done the hard way. She got the water out of the cistern and dumped it in this vat, which was attached to the stove to heat it, or anything else she had to, and they had to cut wood for the stove in the kitchen. And all this was just done. And she served wonderful meals. Hired men loved to work there because it was, it was good.
Carolyn Conklin [00:11:11] And how about your grandfather?
Rena Fiedler [00:11:13] Oh, he was a delight, lots of fun, always kidding, always joking, and he was always betting me. I bet you a nickel this'll happen or this'll happen. I'll bet you a penny or... Betting me all the time. He'd make a bet out of anything. And then, of course, he always let me win, you know. [laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:11:40] Did you have any particular chores or responsibilities?
Rena Fiedler [00:11:44] Not really. I helped feed, but I don't say that I had to, but I did. I fed the animals and when Grandpa milked, the barn cats always got their saucer of milk. And I had a tin cup there and he'd fill my cup and I'd have milk with 'em when... [laughs] My milk their milk. And I did a few things. I'd feed the chickens or, you know, but no, not really. I would help Grandma, I thought. Now I think I probably was a pain [laughs], but I thought I was helping. They were delightful people, delightful people.
Carolyn Conklin [00:12:37] How long were you at the Stanford house?
Rena Fiedler [00:12:40] Well, I lived there until I started school and my parents had built this other home and moved out, of course, and then I kind of switched. I'd live with my parents when I was in school and then I'd go back there in the summer, and really it's only a mile or two. And of course, as I got older, the bicycle just ran up and down the road like crazy. I'd go all the time. So...
Carolyn Conklin [00:13:10] So both of your parents, they were living at the Stanford house, too, for a while?
Rena Fiedler [00:13:15] Yeah. When I was born, you know, yeah, and then they built... I think I was probably about three when they built their home. But then I wanted to stay with my grandparents. That was my home. So...
Carolyn Conklin [00:13:32] And where was the new house?
Rena Fiedler [00:13:35] It's on Riverview Road. Are you familiar with anything along Riverview?
Carolyn Conklin [00:13:41] A little bit.
Rena Fiedler [00:13:42] Okay.
Carolyn Conklin [00:13:44] In this area.
Rena Fiedler [00:13:45] There's a large... It's the only cut stone house that I know of even in the area. It sits up on a hill and it's on the west side going north and there is a pond in front of it and it's got a fence built around it.
Carolyn Conklin [00:14:05] I'll have to look for that.
Rena Fiedler [00:14:06] Yeah. Okay, let's see. Do you know where Stine Road is?
Carolyn Conklin [00:14:15] Actually, I have a map...
Rena Fiedler [00:14:15] Well, it's just not too far from Stine Road down, if you know where that is.
Carolyn Conklin [00:14:25] Let's see. Let me...
Rena Fiedler [00:14:25] Oh, I need my glasses, I think, to see this. Where are we? Brandywine, Station Road. Well, it's just not too far from there where Stine Road comes into Riverview. Brandywine Ski Resort, we'rre up from there. [long pause] Okay. Hmm. Before you go under the turnpike.
Carolyn Conklin [00:15:22] Okay. That's...
Rena Fiedler [00:15:23] And it's on the left side going north.
Carolyn Conklin [00:15:26] Okay.
Rena Fiedler [00:15:27] Because I guess you be going north, right?
Carolyn Conklin [00:15:30] I think so.
Rena Fiedler [00:15:30] [Laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:15:37] What was I going to ask? Oh, I guess tell me about your mother then.
Rena Fiedler [00:15:41] Oh, my mom was basically an artist. I mean, she just did beautiful, wonderful, not only paintings, but all sorts of things. I mean, she she did mosaic. She did leather work. She did carvings. She did... She just... And loved every minute of it and had a studio in her basement for a while that she taught at, and she was a religious person. So were my grandparents. And very involved in the community. Very much so. I mean, garden club and the church thing and the—what did they call 'em—Peninsula Players, they called 'em, the drama group. Now there's an empty barn up on 303 where they used to have shows and plays and things. And that is going towards Hudson. They're trying, from what I read, they're trying to get somebody in there or rent it or sell it or something.
Carolyn Conklin [00:16:59] So you said at the Stanford Farm, your grandfather had all sorts of livestock and animals.
Rena Fiedler [00:17:05] Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
Carolyn Conklin [00:17:07] Did he grow any corn or fruits?
Rena Fiedler [00:17:08] Oh, yes. Corn and wheat and and hay, and of course all sorts of stuff to feed the animals. But we also had an eating garden, which just was everything imaginable and lots of sweet corn. He planted a lot of sweet corn, but he planted corn for his animals too. So, I mean, there was a lot of that.
Carolyn Conklin [00:17:34] So did... Was your mother born in the house?
Rena Fiedler [00:17:38] No, no. She was... I don't know where she was born because I don't know where they lived when she was born.
Carolyn Conklin [00:17:47] Do you know about what age she was when they moved to that house?
Rena Fiedler [00:18:00] I think... I don't know. She was grown. I don't really know.
Carolyn Conklin [00:18:09] Was there a farming background that she knew about?
Rena Fiedler [00:18:14] Oh, yeah, that's what her father did. That was my grandpa. Her father farmed. And he also worked here and there. He worked on the canal. I guess horses pulled things up and down the canals at certain places and he drove those some. I mean, there were other things that he did when he was on the smaller farm, but he basically was a farmer.
Carolyn Conklin [00:18:48] And where was the smaller farm? I think you've said it but...
Rena Fiedler [00:18:50] Well, it's down Stanford Road, a little farther from the big house. We called it the little farm, and it's on the lefthand side. He sold some property to some people that have... There's two or three homes, maybe more than that, one, two or three, maybe four homes that was built on the west side of Stanford Road.
Carolyn Conklin [00:19:24] So...
Rena Fiedler [00:19:25] But he owned the property clear up to Brandywine, where Brandywine Road comes down.
Carolyn Conklin [00:19:32] And what did he farm at the smaller property?
Rena Fiedler [00:19:37] I would say everything because farmers lived because they farmed. They didn't pretty much have anything else.
Carolyn Conklin [00:19:49] And then how about your your father's side? How does he come in?
Rena Fiedler [00:19:53] Oh, I don't know how he comes in. He went to school there and they married fairly young. Well, he was 21, and his father and mother were from England. And I can't remember now where Grandma was born in England. Grandpa wasn't but he came here, and he was basically a cheese man, made cheese. I can remember as a little kid going to their house and their kitchen table was like a drop leaf that was up against the wall and there was always a big half round the cheese there with a cheese cloth over it. And you could always go up and have... I mean, we had cheese all the time, and I love cheese.
Carolyn Conklin [00:20:51] And they made it at the farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:20:54] No, no, at they're home... Or no, they had a place that they made it.
Carolyn Conklin [00:21:00] And is that the Point Farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:21:04] No, that's my husband's background.
Carolyn Conklin [00:21:08] Okay, we'll get to him soon. [laughs]
Rena Fiedler [00:21:10] I don't know much about him. [laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:21:13] So... Okay, and what was your... What was your father's name?
Rena Fiedler [00:21:20] Hatch, William Hatch, H-A-T-C-H. My mother's name was Fanny, F-A-N-N-Y.
Carolyn Conklin [00:21:36] So one of the things we were confused about was the relationship between the Dickinsons and the Stanfords, and so you think that was your grandfather's aunt?
Rena Fiedler [00:21:44] I think so.
Carolyn Conklin [00:21:46] Okay.
Rena Fiedler [00:21:46] I think so. And I'm saying that I think they would call her Ellen or Aunt Ellen. And I called her Auntie Ine. And of course, I was little and didn't talk well, but I always called her Auntie Ine until she died.
Carolyn Conklin [00:22:05] So what do you remember about the newer farm that you and your parents moved to after the Stanford Farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:22:15] We didn't move to a farm.
Carolyn Conklin [00:22:17] Oh, it was just a house?
Rena Fiedler [00:22:20] Just a house.
Carolyn Conklin [00:22:20] And what did your parents do for a living?
Rena Fiedler [00:22:22] My father owned an automobile agency.
Carolyn Conklin [00:22:26] And where was that?
Rena Fiedler [00:22:27] In Bedford, Ohio.
Carolyn Conklin [00:22:31] Did you ever visit there?
Rena Fiedler [00:22:32] Oh, yeah.
Carolyn Conklin [00:22:33] What was that like?
Rena Fiedler [00:22:39] Well... Small, they're not big like dealerships are today, and... But he had a Buick dealership.
Carolyn Conklin [00:22:53] And what was your father like?
Rena Fiedler [00:22:56] He was kind of quiet, but kind of nice. I mean, he was very pleasant. I never knew him just... Well, I never saw any temper, anger, or anything. He was very pleasant. My mother was a real fun lady. Lots of fun. [laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:23:19] And did you... Did you still have any pets or animals in your house?
Rena Fiedler [00:23:23] Yeah, I had a dog named Sparkle, a little miniature collie. She was adorable. She lived to be 16 years old. She was my love. [laughs]
Carolyn Conklin [00:23:42] Do you have any favorite memories of her?
Rena Fiedler [00:23:45] Oh, a lot of 'em. The one that tickles me the most... It seemed as I was dating different people and so forth and so forth, she seemed very reluctant to leave my side if they were there. And when I started going with my husband, she must have known because if we were talking or anything, she'd walk around me and around me, between he and I and around and around and around. And he had to work to make her like him. [laughs] He really had to work at it. She got so she tolerated him.
Carolyn Conklin [00:24:23] Did you have friends or did you play with any other kids in the area?
Rena Fiedler [00:24:29] There was one girl that lived up the hill from me and I used to play with her. Her name [was] Nancy, but they moved. There weren't too many kids, of course, as I got older and I got the bicycle going, saw a lot of kids, mostly from Boston, not from Peninsula.
Carolyn Conklin [00:24:56] Did you go to Boston a lot?
Rena Fiedler [00:24:58] Oh, yeah. Well, it was just down the street, you know, and there wasn't much there. [laughs] A couple of stores and a post office and...
Carolyn Conklin [00:25:09] So what did you do there when you went?
Rena Fiedler [00:25:15] Met my friends, got ice cream or bought candy or picked up the mail or this type of thing.
Carolyn Conklin [00:25:27] And how about school? What was school like?
Rena Fiedler [00:25:31] Well, school was good. I went to Boston High School, which is now Woodridge and consolidated with some others, and it was great. I originally started in this building on the corner of 303 and Riverview. I went one year there before the new school was built. And then I went up there, which is now, I think, a middle school or something, isn't it? I don't know. I don't know.
Carolyn Conklin [00:26:12] Did you enjoy school?
Rena Fiedler [00:26:14] Oh, yeah. It came pretty easy. Yeah.
Carolyn Conklin [00:26:19] Did you get there by bus?
Rena Fiedler [00:26:21] Yes, yes.
Carolyn Conklin [00:26:27] Did you have any favorite memories from being in school, whether it was elementary up through high school?
Rena Fiedler [00:26:33] Oh, I had a teacher in fifth and sixth grade that I was just mad about. She was a wonderful person, wonderful person. I liked her so much. In fact, I was ill and she tutored me. But what a sweetheart. You know, I think back to it and she was just absolutely great and... The principal and his wife moved fairly near to us and I used to babysit his children as I got older and... I don't know, it was good. There was thirteen in my class. How about that?
Carolyn Conklin [00:27:33] So when your family needed, I guess, produce or needed to buy something, did you go to a general store or did you buy from farmers nearby?
Rena Fiedler [00:27:44] As far as my parents were concerned, there was a Stuart and Stebbin store right down here in Peninsula, right near the railroad tracks there. And he would come in the morning and take your order or take my mom's order and then he'd bring it in the afternoon. Whatever she ordered and he would say, I have this today, I have this today, I have, you know, if there were extra good bananas or extra, you know, I'd say and so forth, as far as my grandparents were concerned, there was a little store, I think it's called Bootie's Store now, and it was a Bootie's Store then too, Booties owned it. And he could get bread and because Grandma didn't make bread all that often. And they had bread like crazy and coffee and sugar and, you know, things like that. Other than that, we ate what was on the farm and what grandma canned.
Carolyn Conklin [00:29:00] So back to your father's side, so did his his father, your grandfather on your father's side, did he work in a cheese factory or did you know which one or where that was?
Rena Fiedler [00:29:15] Well, I don't I don't know
Carolyn Conklin [00:29:17] that we are interested in getting information on the health of the cheese and dairy operation.
Rena Fiedler [00:29:22] Now, they lived in Peninsula. I mean, when I. I think they lived in. Oh, they lived in Aurora before that, I think. Now, why the change or why what? I don't know, I don't know.
Carolyn Conklin [00:29:49] Well, do you have any other favorite memories about what it was just like to grow up around here?
Rena Fiedler [00:29:56] Oh, it was nice. It was. I mean, when I when I see today what children have to be fearful of, I had no fear of anything or anyone anywhere. And on my bicycle, if anything were to happen, I knew somebody would help me. Same thing when I started driving. If something happened, the car or somebody stop and help me. No problem. So, I mean, it was delightful. Peninsula basically had a nucleus of Italian and Boston had a nucleus of Polish. Now, as a kid, the Polish people were much gentler and kinder. The Italians were rather loud and rough and gruff. I guess I can remember that. It was so distinct, you know.
Carolyn Conklin [00:31:03] So back to the Standford, what was kind of a typical day for your grandfather? I mean he had the hired man, but...
Rena Fiedler [00:31:11] Yeah.
Carolyn Conklin [00:31:11] What was he doing each day?
Rena Fiedler [00:31:12] Well, he'd get up in the morning. And, of course, the first thing you do is clean, clean the stables and feed your animals. And then whatever was doing, like if he was making hay or if he was cultivating a plot or whatever, he'd get the team of horses out and a couple of teams or maybe three teams because the hired men would do some two and then they everybody would come in for lunch. And I mean, lunch was like dinner, you know, it wasn't a sandwich or a soup and sandwich or pizza, and it was a meal. And then nighttime, I mean, they'd go right back to the fields, whatever had to be done at the time. And he took care many, many acres, many, many acres.
Carolyn Conklin [00:32:13] So how did he manage so much property?
Rena Fiedler [00:32:17] Well, just with the hired men and what he could do. And there... There was a man that he rented or a couple really that he rented the little farm, just the house to, and she sometimes when they were having threshers and this type of thing. So you're you're feeding like 10 and 12 men. She and my mother and I or whoever else would help get these meals on because you wouldn't get the table cleared before you'd have to start a meal for the dinner and when you got that many. So.
Carolyn Conklin [00:33:00] About how many people would, would be there for the...
Rena Fiedler [00:33:03] Oh, 10, probably. Now I'm counting the family too, you know.
Carolyn Conklin [00:33:12] What about during the winter? What was that like?
Rena Fiedler [00:33:16] Well, basically, you had to take care of your animals all the time, so you were cleaning the barn and taking care of them and so forth and cutting wood. You had to have wood because everything was wood. I mean, they burned wood in the stove in the kitchen. And of course, and for the house, that was a wood stove. And so there was lots to do as far... And of course, they usually butchered animals. And there was... He had a little smokehouse that he smoked hams and bacon and so on and so forth. So there was a lot of canning and that sort of thing. And I don't say winter winter, but fall and so forth.
Carolyn Conklin [00:34:12] And how did he, did he sell anything? Your grandfather?
Rena Fiedler [00:34:17] Occasionally he'd sell a horse maybe, or he bred one of his horses with a mule and he had a Jenny for a while and he sold her, and he'd sell a cow now and then. But I mean, he's buying at auctions at the same time, too, or selling a pig if somebody wanted to butcher a pig. And, but other than that, he didn't, he didn't sell produce or he didn't sell most everything in the fields were for the animals to keep them fed and comfortable and all that stuff.
Carolyn Conklin [00:35:09] So he did he have another job where he made all of his living from that?
Rena Fiedler [00:35:13] Yeah, yeah, that was a good life. I mean, he made it a good life. Very pleasant man. Very fun. I think his daughter, my mother, took after him.
Carolyn Conklin [00:35:33] Did you have a favorite place on that farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:35:37] I had a bedroom that was beautiful and big. Oh my, loved that. And I loved to go up in the haymow. It smelled good and I'd play up there, and it was great because it was big and several levels. And I'd walk across the beams and oh, yeah, I enjoyed it.
Carolyn Conklin [00:36:08] Do you know anything about, I guess any other... You mentioned some of the stores, but any other local businesses that maybe aren't here anymore?
Rena Fiedler [00:36:19] Yeah, there was another store called Burkeating's, which I told you had a post office in it, but you had to go in to get your mail. And in there, he would have showcases of candy, like penny candy—you don't know penny candy, but there was plenty candy—and he would have a few little things in there, but basically he had some meat and I don't know, there was a few other things he carried, but very few. And the Bootie's Store carried, I told you, the flour and the sugar bread and so forth. Then there was a... It's still there, the large building just before you go across the bridge. The Cuyahoga River bridge going towards Bootie place, which I think is still active, there was a store called Zilinsky's and they had quite a few household things in there. I mean, you know, like bread and the household, general household things. And then there was Stuart and Stebbin's up here in Peninsula.
Carolyn Conklin [00:37:53] How about technology? When did you get electricity in your home?
Rena Fiedler [00:38:02] I don't know, let me think. I don't know. When I was real little, they didn't have electricity because I had a little coal oil lamp with a little chimney that I carried to bed, just as they did too. But it wasn't long.
Carolyn Conklin [00:38:29] Do you remember how that impacted your life?
Rena Fiedler [00:38:32] Oh, I'm sure it impacted theirs. It didn't mean a hula hoop to me. Honestly, I was having such a good time and I enjoyed being with them and didn't mean, you know, it was nice, but... A little kid, I don't know, doesn't... Big things don't bother them.
Carolyn Conklin [00:38:58] You mentioned babysitting. Did you have any other jobs, like part-time jobs growing up?
Rena Fiedler [00:39:04] No, no more than that.
Carolyn Conklin [00:39:09] And then how did you meet your husband?
Rena Fiedler [00:39:11] I met him at school.
Carolyn Conklin [00:39:14] He went to high school?
Rena Fiedler [00:39:16] Mhm. Mhm. Mhm.
Carolyn Conklin [00:39:18] And what do you know about his history?
Rena Fiedler [00:39:21] All I know is the farm you mentioned, Point Farm. That would be his... Now this would be on his mother's side and it... I think it would be his great-grandfather's farm because his mother... This was passed down and his mother lived there. But I don't know too much about it, frankly.
Carolyn Conklin [00:40:01] Do you know their last name?
Rena Fiedler [00:40:04] Fiedler.
Carolyn Conklin [00:40:04] They were Fiedlers? okay.
Rena Fiedler [00:40:06] Well, no, Point. Her name was Point.
Carolyn Conklin [00:40:08] Was Point. Okay.
Rena Fiedler [00:40:11] And then she married Fiedler. And his name was William and her name was Nellie.
Carolyn Conklin [00:40:25] Did you ever visit that farm?
Rena Fiedler [00:40:30] Uh-huh. They were long off, you know, that when I... They had a place, you know where Szalay's is? Next door to the Szalay's. Well, it's something now, something to do with the park now. Because they have open houses there and they have pictures. In fact, there's pictures of my husband and his sister in this house because that was their house. That's in Everett.
Carolyn Conklin [00:41:08] Do you know where his father's side came from?
Rena Fiedler [00:41:14] Had to be around here somewhere, I would think. I really don't know. I should have asked him before I left. If there's anything I...
Carolyn Conklin [00:41:31] How about the changes in the valley over time, and I know there's been more development, but can you speak a little bit about just what you've seen over time?
Rena Fiedler [00:41:42] Well, it's so different, so different. The Cuyahoga Valley park or the National Park really ruined a lot of things. They really... It kind of tickles me today because all they're talking about letting this natural farm. They tore off and ripped up and didn't want any of the farms. And now they think this is good. And it's kind of ironic to those of us that saw 'em try to get rid of them all, which they did. They got rid of a lot of them and there's... I think there's been probably, although I don't know of a great many homes that have been built here. I mean, the growth, I'm not aware of it. I don't see it. I mean, all the homes I'm aware of, I see on 303 or Riverview or Stine Road or I think... They've been there for a long time. So, you know, I don't see a great residential. Maybe there are, but I don't know where.
Carolyn Conklin [00:43:18] So after after you graduated from school or you got married, what were you doing and where did you live?
Rena Fiedler [00:43:25] Oh, well, first we lived in... Good question. I think it was still in Seven Hills, and then we moved and we lived in Bedford a long time and now we live in Brecksville.
Carolyn Conklin [00:43:48] And what did you both do?
Rena Fiedler [00:43:50] I didn't... I took care of my kids. My husband owned a dealership.
Carolyn Conklin [00:44:07] And how about the actual landscape? I mean, I've seen pictures and just there's so many more trees now. Could you speak to how the actual land itself has changed?
Rena Fiedler [00:44:22] No, because they ripped out an awful lot of big trees up on that one road, it was just criminal. All those pines just... I don't know what their thing was there, but they came in and ripped those... I haven't been up that road for a long time, so I can't tell you. I think Blue Hen Falls is up there. I guess trees have grown, I mean, of course they do, if they aren't old and taken down, you know, and there are areas that they've let grow up, which some is good and some is not so good, I think. I mean, some look trashy rather than, you know... Others look good.
Carolyn Conklin [00:45:22] How about the wildlife? How... Did you interact with, you know, any wildlife?
Rena Fiedler [00:45:28] Oh, yeah, I had a lot. I, yeah, I had a pet skunk once.
Carolyn Conklin [00:45:35] How did you manage to keep a skunk?
Rena Fiedler [00:45:38] I don't know. He liked me. I guess I got him... He is Nestor. Whatever skunks have got washed out, I guess. Till this little guy, I fed him with a bottle and so forth and he just didn't... He was good. That was an odd one though. I had a sheep and I had a lot of pets during my time with my grandparents. He bought me a sheep once because I was a little lamb when I was little. But the weird one was stinky.
Carolyn Conklin [00:46:24] Do you have any other memories or stories about living here?
Rena Fiedler [00:46:30] Mmm. It was good. It was good. I mean, and as I get older and see what things are happening, I think it was a real good, you know, you could... And you could walk on the street and if somebody stopped to pick you up to give you a ride, fine. You'd get in and ride, but you wouldn't dare. You're afraid to stop for a policeman now. It's sad, that part of it, really sad.
Carolyn Conklin [00:47:17] Make sure I got everything... Oh, one thing, do you know anything about the Merkle family? We're trying to find information on that.
Rena Fiedler [00:47:23] Merkle rings a bell to me, but I really can't recall.
Carolyn Conklin [00:47:27] I think they were just in... They had a dairy farm or something over near the Jaite area. So we...
Rena Fiedler [00:47:38] Really?
Carolyn Conklin [00:47:38] Even though we can't find any relatives, so, but I think it was late, it was like the '50s or some...
Rena Fiedler [00:47:46] Because I was going to say I don't remember any specific farm, like just a corn farmer, just a cattle farmer, just a dairy farmer. Just... I don't recall. In fact, Szalay's when they came in here. I think we're one of the first to do a lot with corn, because he... It got so that's all he planted, you know, and it always tickled me because people would say, oh, go to Szalay's and get the best produce. Well, he went to the market every morning and brought produce. All he sold was corn off here, but people thought they were getting fresh-grown stuff. And then, oh, we'd go out to the Szalay's and get... Wrong! [laughs] But they thought they were getting something special.
Carolyn Conklin [00:48:52] Well, do you have anything else to share?
Rena Fiedler [00:48:53] No, I don't think so. I think, whatever. Was that good enough?
Carolyn Conklin [00:48:59] Yeah, I think so!
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