April 1896 October 1962
A SHORT STORY OF THE WALTMAN FAMILY
The Waltman early ancestral name was Valentine and they lived in Spain many generations ago. They were politically minded and for some reason one of this family, a count, was exiled and settled in Southern Germany near Munich. He married a German girl and raised a family. His name in Germany was Voltman, meaning German woodsman. They later migrated to the new world of America and settled in Eastern Pennsylvania or Maryland. They became farmers but their lands were not so productive so after one or two generations of struggling with their lands, my great grandfather started westward and settled in the rich and fertile lands of Indiana. My great grandfather being the eldest son was still technically holding the title of count and since the death of my older brother 1William in 1952, I can now claim this title (so what).
BROWN COUNTY INDIANA
My great grandfather 2Waltman moved westward in the late 1700s or early 1800s and settled in Brown County Indiana. Choosing a small plot at the foot of a hill on Beanblossom Creek, about a half-mile south of the little town Beanblossom. It was a fertile area so he and great grandmother and my granddad, William Waltman,3 and one or two other brothers and sisters were hard at work building a large log house from the trees they were clearing on the land they were to use for their farm. Their house was south of the creek, but some of their land was on the other side so an extra large, high tree was selected to be a bridge across to the other side and into town. Cows, pigs, chickens and soon a pair of horses filled up the small plank bark with its haylofts above. Six children, four boys and two girls, all worked hard, from daylight till dusk, clearing the land, planting the crops and garden, sawing, digging, fencing, sewing, weaving, baking, cooking, making soap, getting maple syrup, gathering wild fruits and berries, hunting for game to eat. An apple orchard was started on the side of the big hill. They were hard workers and successful. As the family grew, the house was enlarged. The children grew up and married local sweethearts and settled on more nearby lands and started the building and clearing and farming processes all over again.
There are a lot of Waltmans now, in and near Brown County. Several reunions have been held over the years. I have a drawing of the family tree of the early Waltman family, and all of its various branches. It gives you a good idea of how a family spreads and multiplies. Rabbits dont seem to have anything on the Waltman's. While there are only three in the Chicago phone directory, think how the Smith and Jones family have multiplied. I called one of the Waltman's in the Chicago directory when I first came here and told him I was a Waltman just recently moved here and he said: so what -- I hung up.
HILL 56 BROWN COUNTY4
My grandfather married into the Zody5 family who were also very well off for those days, so they purchased the hill area just south of the old homestead, started an impressive home on one of the most prominent spots with a vast panoramic view of the valley to the north. The lights of Indianapolis on clear nights could be seen many miles to the north. They had logging crews clear the entire hill and it was planted in great varieties of apple orchards outside a small area for cattle feed and gardening space. Here they raised a family of five boys and three girls. My father, Walter Vorheese Waltman, was their oldest son went to school in the little red school house in Beanblossom, got a job in Edinburgh, a large town to the north; married a girl named Ida Schneider6, a recent immigrant from Germany, and they moved to Columbus, Indiana and took a job with the Government in the Post Office Department. Another brother, Ambrose7, married a nice plump girl Aunt Lo and opened up a thriving general store in Beanblossom, selling almost everything groceries, yard goods, drugs and many sundries. One of the girls moved back down to the old homestead to stay with great grandmother after her husband passed on. She was still active and I can recall my visits to her home when I was still a very small tot.
Abe Martins Lodge8 is nearby and I often stop there and roam around the old area lots of artists have settled just south of Beanblossom at and around 9Masterville. Its really an art center surely worth a visit to see the old-time settings still around covered bridges old log houses typical stores of the pioneer days and beautiful civic art center. I have a lot of friends and relatives still around.
About twenty years ago the area of the old original homestead and grandpas wonderful hilltop home and orchards were purchased by the State and now are part of the Brown County State Parks. The houses were demolished, but some of the stone foundations still shows at the edge of a stop and view parking area. I stopped there on one of my visits years ago and was looking around heres where the house was heres where the cistern was that I helped clean out I paused, there were some heavy planks right where I was looking several large stones holding the down. I tried to pick one up and it collapsed and clattered down into the old well. It was a dangerous drop for some tot to fall into, so I reported it. It is now filled up and a nice bush planted there.
My mother and father built a nice home on the northern outskirts of Columbus a large wheat field directly across the road is one of my earliest memories watching the steam thrasher at work and the neighboring farmers helping and their fabulous lunches and dinner parties of the thrashing season. One sometimes gets such complicated detailed memories of early childhood that it amazes me. A trip on the train to Madison10, Indiana down on the Ohio River the whole family three boys and one girl. Mary, my oldest sister, Bill, my older brother, myself and Wallace11, the baby. Mothers family had moved there and we had wonderful visits. We boys discovered a cave in the cliff along the river and exploring trip we secured candles and really went all in and nearly got lost in some inner chambers. We took many trips back to Brown County in a wagon with a spring seat up front, we kids in the back on straw and blankets a big lunch basket packed the night before. Up at dawn and an all day trip bouncing and banging along the rough roads. It was nighttime before we got through the 40 or 50 miles and completely exhausted, grandpa had a new Regina player, which we kept going practically all of the time. I now have an old antique similar to it at Woodstock. A new powerful telescope on a tripod we could actually see the smoke stacks of Indianapolis I now have the telescope at Woodstock too. A cellar full of barrels of cider and a secret cellar of fermented cider which we got into one day -and all got o good thrashing for grandma was quite hard of hearing and had a long tube hearing-aid. She was good at lip reading- we found out to our sorrow when we sore at her and got thrashed for that - thrashed for wetting in the feather bed and then the long treks back home.
Some of my earliest memories - the old hard-coal base burner stood in the living room mothers Saturday hot fresh bread and sugar sandwiches getting paddled for some prank in the wood shed the long trek out to the privy in the back yard down the board walk and under the grape arbor. Our white mice escaping and multiplying under the board walk trying to ride our first bicycle, which was dads old discarded one patching up the old tires helping dad split the kitchen firewood the weekly Saturday night bath and winter underwear change mother sitting in the evening knitting and sewing all our clothes. Mother and dad were quite religious so we were really washed and shined up for Sunday School. Our first short haircut the closed off and seldom used large from parlor a bedroom where we all slept until we boys got to smart-alecky. Mother and Dad in a double bed in the other one - we two older boys in a double bed with Mary across the foot and Wallace in a crib between the two beds a night pot which we all used spaces on the floor around it taking it out first thing in the morning to dump in the privy our weekly Saturday bath in one tub of hot age having precedence one of us always snuck in a -- Some one of us usually being spanked and put in a closet for awhile a big quarrel with a neighbor because of a stinking pig pen colored classmates in school getting stuck in a culvert under the road as we tried to crawl through it I have a scar on my left instep where I cut it on a bottle in the culvert going in a family group to pick wild berries to and climbing mulberry trees hitching a ride on a neighbors sleigh with out Xmas sled frosting our feet long black stockings, and mother always darning them hand me down clothes and their quick abuse my aunts collection of stereoscopic pictures was always a Sunday treat - always going to the store on Saturday when the folks paid their weekly grocery bill the grocer would give us kids all a bag of candy catching lightning bugs in a candy jar to see them glow in the dark. Crawling under the house helping dad with his garden in the back of the house. Mr. Heath, our neighbor across the road, took us all for rides in his double horse surrey.
I can remember ruffles on the front of my shirts school is one of the few things I remember very little about. Dad and mother finally took over the front parlor as their bedroom. A weekend camping and fishing trip slept in a tent with boughs for protection against dampness under our blankets we all god poison ivy, but I was a mess! Eyes swollen shut and applications of black powder from dads shotgun bullets and cream were used to sooth the itching and swelling.
BACK TO BROWN COUNTY
Dad finally decided to enter the Presbyterian Ministry he had to go to the seminary12 in Cincinnati for a year before he could be ordained what to do with mother and the family? He sold the house for cash Mother and Mary stayed with grandmother Schneider in Madison I was to stay with Uncle Ambrose and Aunt Lo - Bill and Wally with grandpa up on the hill at Beanblossom.
What an upheaval on our lives. Ambrose lived right across the street from his store - we all went to the school long seats and benches all classes in one room my first romance with a girl that wore glasses. I was famous for my bed-wetting, even had to sleep with Ambrose and Lo so they could wake me and make me use the potty. Years later I discovered why this bad habit had started. My bed was situated so my head was near a cold window, so this kept my feet too warm which induces wetting scientific fact.
We had many exciting experiences. I often went up on the hill for a weekend gathering berries, and apples in the canning season helping make soap. At the butchering season, hog grease ashes a big steaming iron pot some lye. Going down to the road with grandmother when we heard the huckster blowing his horn to buy salt, pepper, dress goods learning to ride horse back; a long trip on horse-back to Morgantown to get a pump handle I had broken by our heavy iron hoop. Helping grandpa weave a wire fence quite a trick, but I got real good at it and got a watch for helping. I was chosen to be lowered into the cistern to scrub it out we used rain water on the hill, too high up to keep a well going for all users. Culling and barreling apples in the fall. Going hunting with dad on some of his visits to carry his rabbits after they got too heavy he would tie them in a tree and them pick them up on our way back. Setting trap for rabbits and taking them down to the store to sell for a dime made our spending money that way bought my girlfriend a heart locket bracelet.
Dad finally made it and got ordained and assigned to a church in Cincinnati Pilgrims Chapel up on Mt. Adams by the incline and viaduct the parsonage was nice, brick next to the church. Three bedrooms and an inside bathroom. We finally all got collected together and our furniture moved in and settled. A nice basement hot air furnace back yard and a good high steeple in the church to climb up in and get pigeon eggs. We threw stones down at the deacon one day and really got a good tanning with pops leather razor strap.
Built a house in the back yard out of the old piano box also a underground one. We even slept in it once overnight. My first air rifle from my earnings of my paper route 0n the second day I broke a neighbors window so it was taken away. We used to have gang fights with the Catholic kids from the Monastery across the valley marbles was a big deal at the school, and I had quite a collection. We used to go all the way from the Fountain Square to watch the score board on the Red Socks Rookwood pottery was nearby and I used to go there and watch the potters work. It intrigued me greatly and I first discovered my artistic interest in dimensional things instead of flat drawings. We were near Edens Park and spent a lot of time there, playing ball and tennis of a sort. My first memories of elaborate 4th of July fireworks as viewed from Mt. Adams. I started to draw a low now lying on my stomach on the floor I copied cartoons drew battleships and endless goofy things. We flew kites from a Spanish cannon up in Eden Park made a cigar box winding mechanism that was real good.
ST. IGNACE MICHIGAN
Dad was badly troubled with hay fever so he tried going north of the pollen belt to St. Ignace, Michigan. I clearly remember the long train rides up there with the lunch basket two days and a night. He was finally convinced that spending winters up there would permanently cure him so we moved again. First Presbyterian Church in St. Ignance.13 The parsonage was a block or so down the street. Another new school to get acquainted in a new gang of friends. We were all getting to an age where we were all getting into all sorts of trouble. Pool Hall gang bowling alley pin setting hanging around the drug store downtown Worked Saturdays at Winlelmans Department Store for girl money. I was rightfully accused of stealing, so I got fired and I can truthfully say I have never been dishonest since. Had my teeth fixed had tusks pulled two out to make room.
Five-cent movie house down town and regular theatre dishing through the ice in the winter ice sailing cutting ice for the ice house where it was stored in sawdust. Popcorn vending at the trains to summer tourists a trip to Mackinaw Island and Mackinaw City on the car ferry lots of fights in school and with the Methodist gang. Stole a horse and drove it so much it dropped dead. We used to out along the railroad track and pick blueberry 10cents a quart. Mother canned a lot too. We had blueberry pie and muffins all winter long. My first trip out hunting with a shotgun finally shot a prairie chicken. Snow house in backyard. First auto come out man next door had a Buick. Used to go out in country to Clydes to seep in haymow over night. We all had to take piano lessons. Mary was the only one that was any good. We all practiced church hymns and were rehearsed on how to act in church. A Christmas tree at church was a tremendous thing. Popcorn and cranberries on a string a tall stepladder to put on real candles to be lighted later what a fire hazard! Church suppers where everyone brought something we used to usher in church and help take up collections. We used to look under a loose felt bottom of the wooden plates, and often some change slipped under it. We had a nearby garden patch about an acre donated by one of the congregation we used to work hard planting and weeding it. We used to go hunting a lot and take long treks out the railroad to gather berries. A brickyard was started out a ways from home and I worked there one summer picking brick off the conveyor belt. We stayed in a bunkhouse.
Dad, being home all day, had a room upstairs for his study. I remember his reading aloud his next Sundays sermons in practice. Sister Mary sand n the choir we boys took turns as janitors of the church and rang the bell my first intercourse (of sorts) was in the church basement after Sunday School morning church some afternoon deal evening church. Wednesday meeting. We all had to go to every function. A revivalist came to church so we were all converted and had to march down front my first prayer dad had always said grace and at breakfast time read a chapter of the Bible everything got cold while this happened hot biscuits from a wood burning stove are good. Mother was a real good cook and used game, fish had our own churn and eggs garden vegetables so our grocery bills were really low. We made our own sour kraut in a barrel in the basement. Shelves with all sorts of canned fruits and vegetables. Ham hanging in the wood shed. We had a cine chicken yard and I really like chickens I could watch them lay eggs and go to roost etc. I finally was able to buy a .22 rifle and put a practice target on the side of the house. My first shot went right through to the kitchen and almost hit mother so this gun was taken away too.
We went deer hunting one winter ispenning deep snow stayed at a regular lumber camp and slept in the bunks. Bill and I had shotguns with buckshot loads and had to set by the trails one came darting out of the woods near me and I wounded him in the neck Dad got him later with a rifle shot, but I got part of the credit. We stayed there about a week and the old lumberjacks got a bang out of Dad saying grace before the meal. These old boys way back in the woods stayed there all winter long - came down to St. Ignace in the spring with their winters pay and started living it up. There were lots of camp houses on the outskirts run by old Madam Lo Founce. She passed away and there was a big to do about a church funeral Dad finally went out to her place and held it. We boys were growing up fast and must have caused our parents a lot of grief my older sister Mary was not angel either. She dated all the boys and mother had a time keeping the check-in hour lots of necking on the front porch. Mary finally left for Cincinnati and took up nursing. Guy Porter followed her there a year later and they got married It didnt last long (Ill get the dates and facts from Mary). We boys began drinking on the sly but dad became suspicious and became deeply hurt began preaching against saloons and drinking made us all joint the Knights of King Arthur but to not much success. He became more serious and finally said we would have to move out of St. Ignace with its bad environment.
He finally decided to give up the ministry and joined forces with the Michigan Anti-Saloon League. He was to stationed in Bay City, Michigan so off we went. Dad had to get back to preaching and anti-salooning both after Michigan went dry. They bought a small farm near Mason, Michigan - Bill lived with them between marriages and I often went over to hunt pheasants. The farm was near the State Game Farm so there were plenty of strays. I borrowed a girl friends dog lassie cocker spaniel and took her over with me.
Dad was still very active and could tire us all out hunting. He loved it. Mother finally had a heart attack and after months of terrible suffering passed away. Dad was terribly lonely on the farm and after a year or so married one of his church helpers14 sold the farm and moved back to Grand Rapids. I visited him often and he came to Chicago now and then I dont believe he was ever happy Dad only preached once or twice a month, but his wife was younger and worked hard and helped things out.
Boxing the Piano was the biggest job, but we all got packed and while it was being freighted to Bay City, we went back to Beanblossom for a two-week visit. School was just starting when we got there at mid semester. I was elected Class President of the Freshman Class I felt indeed honored and still have friends from there Wesley Bloomshield whom I met in Paris years later I did very well in school and I think my wild oats were about over for a youngster too Dad was very good at raising money for the Anti-Saloon League. I can remember his fund raising sermons. I even dropped money in the plate myself. He was promoted to a district manager and had to move to Grand Rapids so off we went again after only one year in Bay City.
Grand Rapids was to become my home city my roots really took hold there. We had a nice home on Grand Avenue near the high school. I did very well in school started at the top of my class in art and became the school cartoonist, for the Helios our paper, but I got a better deal at Berkey and Gay Furniture Company, decorating Oriental tables. This was to influence my future more than I imagined at the time.
I was one of a group to start the Alfa Omego Chapter of a High School Fraternity. I was the first chapter president. I got Leo Jiranek in, Bob MacKenzie, Chet Blumston, Chuck Saunders and all my neighbors and pals. It was a big part of my life got a job up at a resort at Topanchee, Michigan (summer vacation* assistant clerk, buss boy, janitor and porter for the trains. Canoed at night with girl guests went fishing on my days off finally got tired of it and left for St. Ignace to finish out the summer. Got a job at the Dunham House there and waited table. Took trips to Mackinaw Island with old friends. Bad luck followed me there from Topanchee I had left them in the lurch, without notice, and many things were misplaced and missing. Durham stood by me so I finished out the season. I was a member of a debate team in school and I was elected to go to a national conference in St. Louis. Stopped in Chicago on my way then visited in Evanston with my canoe girl friend from Topanabee. They took me down to the train in an electric auto very plush Lake Shore Drive with all its mansions Her dad was on my side and gave me a lot of encouragement for more visits. It was unusually hot in St. Louis Four of us in a room we ordered ice for the bath water and tried to sleep in the tub. Wringing wet with sweat all the time.
I also went to Detroit to a fraternity convention getting to be a big shot. The chapter at Central High was having trouble with the principal as being undemocratic we were forced to turn it into a non-secret club, so we all lost interest. Played a lot of tennis on the school courts and was on the team, but never went out for football or track. Met Myla Smedley in school and started dating seriously. C. O.15 Smedley was a leading attorney in Grand Rapids had a Cadillac car and we often went on tours. Dyke16 and I washed and greased up the car before trips and always had to fix punctures there were lots of them in those days, a long process too. The Smedleys had a cottage17 down at Grand Haven on the lake (Poplar Lodge) and many summer weeks were spend down there back and forth on the inter-urban and then a side entrance trolley car out to the lake. Learned to sail here a canoe with side-boards. Myla and I spent lots of time in the canoe and on the beach and on the front porch necking. We were really serious and I didnt allow her to have dates with other guys. My artistic talent finally caught up with me and when Berkery and Guy Furniture came to the art class at school to select art students to work in their decorating department, Quinn and I were selected. I had it made. They were decorating Chinese cabinets and tables and had a China man as head designer. We did piece work and I became very adept fast. We worked after schools and Saturdays, and in a few weeks time I was making more than even full-time employees. This caused a lot of raucous in the department, but when Fred Hill, our neighbor on Grand Avenue and designer for Imperial Furniture Company heard about it he decided to hire me and start a decorating department at their plant. We soon had it organized and Fed and I came to Chicago to look for ideas. David Zork was starting up in Chicago then he was famous for Far East merchandise. We surveyed the Chicago market thoroughly we stayed at the Congress Hotel, drank my first martini saw my first burlesque show This was about 1912 or 12. My first survey it was great fun and stimulating this was the life - $100.00 a week for a kid in high school and trips to Chicago!!! And New York!!! Every six months. Tailor made suits refurnished my room at home Melchreno cigarettes took Myla out to the best places, surveys in New York (OH Boy) stayed at the Martinique stores shops night clubs theatres Broadway Times Square fancy restaurants Its a wonder as a young punk I kept my head on.
The Imperial line of tables was a great success and their business increased rapidly. We worked overtime had a big crew of decorators stripers and raisers. I did some special cabinets for Steward Foote, President of Imperial and also Fred Hill. One of my early designs I have here at Woodstock 45 years old. I guess you could call it an antique.
WORLD WAR I AND MARRIAGE
My romance with Myla was progressing. We graduated from high school. She went to a girls school in Georgetown Washington, D.C. I kept on with Imperial couldnt afford to quit and go to college. The war was upon us so I joined the Navy and was off a little to Detroit to be outfitted and checked in they discovered I had flat feet, so back home I went. This was fantastic I was ashamed and disillusioned a mixed up kid. Dad had been promoted again, we moved to Lansing the State Capital he was now head of the Michigan Anti-Saloon League and he was instrumental in having the State vote dry. I visited Myla in Washington. We decided we should get married. She quit school and went home I went to Philadelphia (I dont remember why) unless to help our country produce ships which we needed badly. I didnt like it there so went back to Grand Rapids and Myla and I were hastily married and went on a short honeymoon and then to Chicago Ellis Avenue apartment. Fred Hill got me a job with John A Colby where I took John Tappps place. He was on his honeymoon and I was to fill in for him temporarily Mabel Schamberg was one of the head decorators W. C. Owens another Hamilton I worked hard and did well went to night school to study decorating and furniture design Bill was born. The war was getting tough, my limited draft card irked me. I guess I was unhappy. I couldnt serve my country in time of need or as the draft board guy in Chicago said, when I went to see if there was anything I could do you guys get married have a baby and then discover how much work it is so, you get patriotic and want to join the services stay at home and keep the home fires burning.
There is plenty of single fellows One day I noticed in the paper the airforce wanted limited servicemen, who could draw maps from planes over enemy territory. At last, I got my papers straightened out and got in. Myla and Billy moved back to Grand Rapids and I was off to war. Grimms of Grand Rapids Imperial go my job at Colbys. I landed at a camp in Watertown, New York for a few months training and then to Rochester Eastman Kodak Plant to learn map making, from photos and by sketching. The Fairchild aerial camera was just being developed we had to take it apart and put it back together again in complete darkness learn film developing in the dark mix chemicals- develop film by feel tear edges and piece together large aerial maps. Deduct enemy troop information from these. We had French instructors and used real wartime aerial photos to work on. It was a pressure course and we had hard work. I excelled at it to put it modestly but I saw the need for this new branch of the service and before and after at finishing these courses a few ere selected for further training and officer-ship. We were sent to Cornell University just before leaving the big flu epidemic broke out and may of my buddies were carried out for burial. We used to lineup for shots, etc., and many would keel over in the lineup. At Cornell, life was different we were housed in the gymnasium had daily drill and actually flying trips (a few) getting near my final graduation and officer-ship. The war was getting better and no sooner had I become a Second Lieutenant of the Air Force, purchased a new uniform and bank, it was over. We had even been allotted to a ship for overseas travel done for, after all this pressure and study and real work. My biggest let down. Stupefied, Myla met me in Lansing at my folks home for a few days we talked everything over and looked to the future I couldnt bear to go back to Grand Rapids and Navy fiasco so a short visit there. We decided I would try to locate a job in Chicago located and set up an apartment. I went back to night school and finally decided on a job as designer for Valentine and Seaver instead of Kroehler Manufacturing company. Myla and I had conceived another baby when visiting in Lansing so it was decided she should stay in Grand Rapids until Chub was born. I worked hard at V. and S. side job as a lamp designer Decided to go into the Lamp business with my two brothers, Bill and Wallace. They came to Chicago and took jobs in lamp factories to try and learn the business. Wallace didnt like it, so dropped out then so did Bill just at the last moment cant blame them it was a long chance we would be pressed for cash so when Rutenberg saw our first samples, he like them so well he offered me a better salary than V. and S. so I took it. In a way, it was a foolish move, V. and S. were big and successful oversold I could be a partner some day. All that but the lamp business intrigued me (still does) so I went to work for Art Lamp Company on South Wabash Avenue. Designer, advertising manager and salesman. They were the biggest in the lamp business and my new designs were successful I became nationally famous. We started a national advertising campaign. They still use the emblem and tag for their lamp I designed Almco Lamps Walter d. Teague did borders for our ads Henry Hurst at McDonald was our Advertising Agency. Claud Wood was hired as our advertising manager we got out colored catalogues.
Myla and the boys moved over we had a nice apartment on the south side near 35th and Ellis a little park - some colored around there even then. I traveled in between sample time in Indiana, got some good experience to learn why the stores do or dont buy some of your designs. We decided to build a house in Oak Park many trips to watch its construction Bellforte Avenue near Austin and near the famous Frank Lloyd Wright Oak Park house.
I bought a Ford touring car soon after we moved out there too long a trek to work on the Oak Park El18. I had met Mark Piper while living on the South side and when Myla and the boys were over at Grand Haven for the summer, Mark and I went stepping Trianon; Edelweiss Gardens; The Barn; (where Ricardos is now). Prohibition came in so we drove around mixing alcohol and Green River weekends at the Dunes in pup-tents cooked our meals had a great time the sky was the limit (no sex though). The roaring 20s was our life lived it up. Myla was tied down with the two boys I was working hard and playing hard Radio was coming in Had one of the first Atwater Kent sets four turner knobs, but often got K.D.K.A. in Pittsburgh late at night. My old Ford touring car was at the curb no garage our dog often followed me half way down town, and would have to take back. I used to go over to Grand haven by night boat Friday nights for weekends otherwise, I was alone during the week all summer and the loyal neighbors reported to Myla when we guys had a real late boisterous girl party. We took trips to Milwaukee sitting on the top of the seats and steering with my feet. We would set the old Ford throttle for a slow pace and sit up there and amaze the passerby as we rode along home-made gin and Green River was a steady diet the Old Wilson Avenue district was a good, live, night time hangout. A dance hall out in the open at Wilson Avenue and the beach we all ate frequently in Chinese restaurants Sallys old waffle shop Lots of movies.
BOOM AND BUST
Myla and I started quarrelling over my staying out late nights. We were both thoughtless and critical, so after many months of haggling and poor judgement in our conduct we had to give it up. I packed my things one night and said Im moving to the Club for awhile. What club, you dont belong to any club? The Allerton Club, I said.
The Allerton quarters were too cramped for me (Connelly liked it though), so I moved on North Avenue and Halstead with Bob McKenzie, an old Grand Rapids friend and Buck Weaver. We all did art work of sorts. Buck did posters for Balaban and Katz Theatres of all the early silent pictures Bob did commercial art for a studio but his odd moments we consumed with building a home-grown radio and sat up half the night tuning in far off stations the wires and parts were endless and all over the place I was content with a little crystal set. Ted Stiffel was a radio bug too and the screwball cut off the end of his violin playing fingers so he could never play again. He seriously took to the lamp business then and should not regret it too much as he is the finest in the business now.
I left Myla the house and $200 monthly. I kept the old Ford touring car lawyers got in and medled everything up, as usual but I guess we were done for Myla sold the house and moved into a nearby apartment and finally back to the Smedley home in Grand Rapids. I moved into the Belmont Hotel with Ted Stiffel while all these personal misfortunes were falling, my business career changed rapidly too. A competition of Art Lamps Morris Kaplan Kaplan Lamp and Shade company made me an offer of $125 weekly pay Ruttenberg wouldnt let me go so gave me $150 to hold on awhile. The deal was touchy so I finally did go with Kaplan for $150. Lamps, lamps and more lamps. Stiffel and Bierbaum were factory men. Survey trips to New York twice a year and sometimes to Los Angeles. Living high on the hog again single lots of money, girls, home made gin the life of Riley. Decided I want to go abroad to study art in Paris. Made a deal with Kaplan to send back drawings every month and he to keep my salary up at half pay send Myla here share and the balance to me monthly in Paris. I was off after a little confusion over leaving the jurisdiction of the divorce court, etc., but I made it. Off on the Riviera and to the Latin Quarters for a year.
PARIS 1924 25
I departed with one suitcase. Ted Stiffel kept the rest of my clothes at the Belmont Apartment. A farewell party Bert Williams (not the Bert Williams of yachting fame) girls galore I was going tourist class the most wonderful trip yet I was to meet a new girl friend on the boat a sculptress from San Francisco on a scholarship trip Weselly Bloomshield from Bay City was to meet me in Paris. We had corresponded since high school days. Buck Weaver, an artist on a North Avenue Studio___________ was to meet me at 12:30 on a certain day at the Cafι de Paree. He was there Wes and I stayed at a small hotel in Place de Bodeon Paris of my dreams head become a reality sidewalk cafes French wines girls on the streets my friend acquaintance from the boat was on my tail a hectic few weeks before I finally succeeded in a studio located at 1 Rue Voageraud. An ex-girl artists studio that kept five cats the place was full of lice and I had to keep the sheet covered and lights out before I went to bed or they were all over it. They dont bite humans, but they looked and felt bad. I worked out my routine I joined the Ecole Des ___________- but was kicked out because my French was not good enough. Signed up at the Grande Chambier des Arts near the Dome Cafι very convenient two days a week I drew lamp designs for Kaplan and sent them off. Went through old books at the Louvre library shopped the stores for ideas got plenty and Kaplan was kept happy. Send a few small samples back from time to time spent lots of time with Bloomshield and Buck Weaver - made many new friends at the Dome artist hangout and not so old fashioned as the Left Bank.
I did very well at art school but really thought of taking art seriously for arts sake After designing for a good living I was convinced the starving artist of Paris was an example of what would happen to me. It was more like a working vacation I learned to really love Paris and still do after my two other visits since, and my old neighborhood and hangout are a wonderful memory. Paris seems to change less than any modern city one reason of course is their five-story building code limit walk upstairs or tiny open grille elevators still exist there. Sidewalk cafes are everywhere, and in the spring OO lala. You soon learn to drink wine with all your meals and cafι au lait something changes inside you after a few months back home and your off on whisky or martinis and black coffee. I never sketched much while in Paris My art classes and etchings took most of my art time I kept a scrap book and small sketch book of ideas and things I had seen 0 I had developed a talent for this type of note work on my surveys for lamps in New York and Chicago and the West Coast. This is one of my big assets in business today. I never even bothered with a camera in the old days. Buck Weaver and I wanted to see the ________ valley so we rented a couple of bicycles and off we went. By nightfall our legs were so tired and aching that our helpful land lady heated tubs of hot water for us to soak in we started out again the next day but took it easy. This was a beautiful trip the chateau country is scenic and shows the wonderful life the old French gentry had - Emma and I took the tour to Fountainblue it is hard to realize the fabulous life the kings and Napoleon led in those early day in many ways I maintain they had it better than we do today with our electricity, television, jets,19 etc. but the poor people of Paris didnt have it so good. The Poor People of Paris is still one of my favorite songs and a lump comes to my throat when I hear it. A side trip to the _____ valley to see the sights of World War I A trip down the Seine Valley right near where (Raymond) Lowey has his villa now, and then a trip to London with a long-haired acquaintance p Piccadilly Square with more street walkers than Paris London is full of antiquity too Parliament Buildings, the trip of the Themes finally we rented a couple of bicycles and were off to Shakespeare county the scenery is just like the post cards you could stop anywhere and just look at it all for hours my boyfriend got on my nerves so I cut out put my bag and my bicycle on the train and went back for a few more days in London . Their museums are really something the whispering well is astounding old masterpieces may centuries of antiques Roman or Chippendale the Crusaders, Grecian and Medieval arts the historical background of our whole world is brought together in these museums. The channel boat crossings are fun the boat train to Paris.
I saw a lot of my gal friend from the boat but she soon got discouraged and took off with an Italian Count on a tour they eventually got married - I saw her nude later divorced already did life work sketches at school and a friend of mine from Chicago gave me etching lessons in his studio on the left bank up near Momart I was pretty good at etching and did a lot of them even had a press. Did a lot of sightseeing and saw most of the sights of Paris. Its sure a wonderful place. I had breakfast every morning at the Dome met friends drank wine lunched and had dinner in native type restaurants. Strolled around a lot met a model at school and she stayed awhile with me at the studio got sick just before I was to go to the Riviera for the winter went to the American Hospital for about two weeks and finally got out a little better sublet my studio and off for the Riviera.
Buck Weaver had met an American girl from Chicago while I was sick and got married a fast job Chet went to Egypt with a tour and I was to meet him for Christmas. We stayed up on a beautiful hill with a view of the Alps. Mostly Americans here and we had a grand time got a case on one of the girls there but had to skip it I had a nice room with a balcony wonderful meals family style. We did a lot of sketching and I got a bag of oils and water colors on rainy days I would stay in my room and paint pictures from postcards. We took long walks in the evening and thoroughly enjoyed it all. It turned out to be the coldest winter of record at the Riviera, so________ and I decided to go further south. We had plans for a trip to Algeria and North Africa so we wound up our stay at the __________with a great party and off we went.
The boats for Algiers left from Marseilles so we trained up there and were lucky to get on a boat leaving that day. We met an Arabian official on the boat by sketching his picture. __________________ of a new order was under way. He was evidently a big shot and was met by a chauffeur and several guards. He insisted we stay with him a two-story hacienda with a large court in the center and rooms all around.
We sat on the floor and had a strange dinner served by many attendants. His may wives were all around, but ignored us after many drinks we were ushered to our room and slept on the floor on a beautiful stuffed mattress harem girls all around, but they didnt try their stuff on us. This evening was one of the most unusual experiences of my whole life. The next day we moved to a hotel downtown in Algiers. A tourist place, but very nice. Sketching tours every day. We hired native boys to keep the guards away as we were working. They spoke three or four languages French, English, Italian and Arabic. Smart youngsters. After a few days we were off again several plans but we could decide later.
On the train we met a group of American girls on their Christmas vacation from a convent near Paris. We had a lot of fun with them on the train and stooped here and there in Africa.
We took a boat to Sicily overnight in a hillside hotel.
A boat to Venice a stop in a downtown hotel sketching as we traveled around cab drivers were a lot of trouble as we spoke very little Italian.
A hillside motel before returning by train to Cannes and then on to Paris. I was to meet Emma on her spring vacation in Paris for a fond farewell we stayed in a hotel up near the old dome in separate rooms a real honeymoon in a way set a date for America in New York or Richmond, Virginia a year later.
Paris wasnt the same after I got back so I soon planned my trip back home.
Back on the Isle de France.
Moved into the Belmont with Ted, but we decided on an apartment. Moved into 628 Oakdale kitchenette apartment type in-a-door bed. We set up a cot in the dinette for me. A new life started. After a few months with Kaplans on 215 E. Ohio, I decided to free-lance. (I became the first Industrial Designer) Designed in wood, cast metal, wrought iron, glass, upholstered furniture, etc..
I worked at home mostly in lamps peddling them under my arm from a roll of drawings Art Lamps Crest Co., Rembrandt Rindsberger
The Family Tree drawn by Chauncey E. Waltman at a family reunion in 1946.
Chick at his design office in Chicago.
Chick with Irish Setter, Duke.
It appears Chick died before completing his memoirs. Typographical and grammatical errors preserved. Footnotes and photographs added by grandson, William H. Waltman.
1William L. Waltman was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 26, 1894.
2Thomas Waltman, Chicks great grandfather was born February 2, 1804 in Frederick Co. Maryland. He married Catherine Wolf, also of Frederick County in October 1828. They moved to Brown County, Indiana in the fall of 1837, settling in Georgetown. Georgetown later changed its name to Beanblossom.
3William M. Waltman, known by his friends as Yankee Bill, was born November 15, 1844 in Beanblossom. He married Mary E. Moser on November 16, 1865.
4Hill 56 was probably a survey designation. Later, Chick purchased a sizeable hill overlooking Bull Valley near Woodstock, Illinois. He named this property Hill 57.
5William M. Waltman married Mary E. Moser, the daughter of Calvin Moser and his second wife, Margaret Williams. Chicks aunt, Ruby E. Waltman, married Bert Zody.
6Ida Schneider was born in Madison, Indiana on December 13, 1868. She was the daughter of John Schneider, born in Germany, 1845. Idas mother was Marie Catherine Ochs, born 1842 in Madison, Indiana. Ida had a brother, Edward and a sister, Catherine.
7John Ambrose Waltman, Chicks uncle.
8Abe Martin was a local character of some fame. A cartoonist for the paper and noted humorist.
9Nashville, now an historic town just south of Beanblossom.
10Madison is the county seat of Jefferson County.
11Wallace W. Waltman, born July 2, 1898.
12Worked as a letter carrier for 12 years until 1905 when at the age of 39, he entered Lane Seminary, in Cincinnati, to prepare for the ministry.
13Preached in the Presbyterian Church in St. Ignace, MI until about 1913-14.
14Chicks family tree shows Walter marrying a woman named Florence. Florence Leon Hazel, born January 30, 1891, was previously married to George Lee Benjamin. They had two children; Maryella and James Lee Benjamin. Walter and Florence married in 1938, but never had children together. She died January 4, 1968 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
15Charles Osmer Smedley, born December 27, 1856 in Massillon, OH. Died February 27, 1926.
16Dike was the nickname of Harold Hinsdill Smedley, the brother of Myla. He was born June 30, 1868. Became the Mayor of North Muskegon and ultimately, State Representative. Served in the Air Corps as a pilot in WW - I. An avid fly fisherman, he authored several books on the subject. Died 1980.
17The cottage, located at 116 Poplar Trail about one mile south of the pier at Grand Haven, was built for Charles O. Smedley to satisfy a debt. Erected in 1899, it was left to Myla after her fathers death.
18The famous Chicago elevated electric trains, commonly called the L.
19The reference to jets would indicate that Chick wrote these memoirs somewhere between 1958 when the first Boeing 707 entered service and his death in 1962.
Submitted by: Bill Waltman