Robert T. Rhode

Robert T. Rhode
Robert T. Rhode

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spare Moments at My Folks' Farm 1

While I was in grade school, junior high, and high school, my parents often drove five miles north from Pine Village, Indiana, to shop in Oxford. My father dropped off my mother at Thelma’s Beauty Parlor where Mom received the tightest permanent on the planet. Thelma ran her business from a room in her home. To enter Thelma’s realm meant smelling the permanents being heated beneath the dryers that looked like astronauts’ helmets. Women, some of them delicately holding cigarettes, paged through magazines while sharing what my mother called “the best gossip.”

Oxford, Indiana: A Destination Away from the Farm

Having been born in the teens, my mother was in a generation of women that generally preferred curly hair to straight hair. As Mom’s hair was as straight as straight gets, she relied on “perms” to put her in the proper style. … and she wanted her hair curled closely to her scalp! Mom knew she could rely on Thelma every time.

My Father Posing with Chicks for Purina Ad

While Mom was in the beauty chair, my father and I were at Henderson Poultry to sell eggs. Dad and Mom had worked side by side to clean the eggs and to sand any imperfections from their shells. Henderson’s business was near the railroad track not far from the stable of the legendary Dan Patch, a famous pacer. (See my blog post on Dan Patch at Dad brought several crates of eggs to Henderson’s at any one time. After delivering the eggs, he and I might swing by the State Bank of Oxford with its polished woodwork gleaming in the sunshine that streamed through the front windows.

Items Used in My Father’s Chicken Business:
Hanging Scale Tested and Sealed by State of Indiana
Egg Weigher
Kitchen Scale

After Thelma had made Mom beautiful, Mom, Dad, and I might visit Messner and Sons Department Store, which was the quintessential clothing shop of an earlier time. I remember the shiny bronze cash register, the lightly creaking hardwood floors, and the ladder by which clerks could retrieve hard-to-reach items. Shirts and slacks were only two of many forms of merchandise on view around the room. I always felt proud to wear the clothes that my parents bought for me at Messner’s.

As a kid, I hoped that Mom and Dad might want something at Stam’s dime store, where I could walk up and down the narrow aisle and feast my eyes on the incense burners (which fascinated me) or the Christmas Nativity figurines. Occasionally, my joy knew no bounds when my parents bought me a kite or one of the balsa airplanes that snapped together.

A day in Oxford might conclude with the movie theater. Walt Disney animated films and Rogers and Hammerstein musicals were favorites, but, frequently, we watched Ma and Pa Kettle, as well as Francis the Talking Mule. If I were in good luck, my parents bought me a roll of NECCO Wafers or Life Savers. I held each wafer high enough to catch a little of the light from the screen so as to guess its color and flavor before nibbling on it.

Except for appointments at the doctor’s office or the dentist, trips to Oxford gave special meaning to the word “fun.”

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Patents of Pine Village, Rainsville, and Independence, Indiana 6 (Last Installment in This Series)

Within a span of only five years, John D. Stingle of Pine Village, Indiana, and Arthur J. Eberly, who lived near Independence, Indiana, received patents. Stingle was born on the 1st of October in 1846 and died on the 28th of March in 1936. He was buried in Oak Grove Mausoleum in nearby Benton County. Eberly was born on the 2nd of February in 1877 and died on the 15th of January in 1937. He was buried in Pine Village Cemetery. Stingle received his patent on the 10th of February in 1914 (even though he had applied as early as 1911), and Eberly received his patent on the 6th of May in 1919.

Patent for Staple-Holding Tool
By John D. Stingle of Pine Village, Indiana (1914)

Describing his innovation, Stingle said, “This invention relates to staple holders, its principal object being to provide a simple and compact tool of this type in which a staple can be easily placed, said staple, while in position, being held against spreading, while being driven into hard wood or the like. A further object is to provide means for so holding a staple as to prevent it from becoming displaced while engaging a wire being pushed, by means of the tool, into position on a post or the like. A further object is to provide a holder which can be easily released from the staple after said staple has been driven a predetermined distance into a post or the like.”

When I helped my father build wire fence, I struggled to hold the wire taut against the post while attempting to push the large staple’s points into the wood enough to hold it in place. Quite often, the staple fell into the weeds the moment I took my hand away. Whenever I did manage to coax the staple to cling to the wood, I had to keep holding the wire against the post while reaching for my hammer. The first blow usually sent the staple ricocheting into oblivion. Then I would repeat the stunt of begging a staple to grab the wood long enough for me to hammer it down. The next blow might cause the staple’s feet to spread apart, rendering it useless. Another staple would be delicately balanced over the wire. The third blow of the hammer usually was directed with deadly accuracy against my thumb. Given such painful memories, I say “Bravo!” to John D. Stingle, who thought of a tool that eliminated the problems associated with staples used in fencing. How I wish I had possessed one when I was growing up on the farm!

Patent for Binder Knife Attachment
By Arthur J. Eberly of Pine Village, Indiana (1919)

Describing his innovation, Eberly said, “This invention relates to a knife attachment for the kicker arm of a binder, one of its objects being to provide an arm with a knife blade which will cut the loose straw and vines, thereby to prevent them from wrapping around the shaft of the arm and interfering with the operation of the machine. … When the kicker arm is in operation the toothed edge of the blade will move against and sever any straw or vines in the path thereof and there will thus be no danger of the material wrapping around the shaft … .”

While my farm upbringing came too late for me to have firsthand experience with binders, I have had what I believe anyone would classify as ample experience with mowers that choke on vines wrapping around the blades. I wish that Eberly had lived later and that he had invented a knife of some kind to prevent what has happened all too often when, while mowing the lawn, I have inadvertently slipped among the raspberry vines along my creek.

The patents that I have covered in these blogs attest to a time of inventiveness that I find inspirational.