The Family Photo Album: Lincoln School, 1930-1931

Below is a photo of Lucia Arras’s second grade class at Lincoln School in Findlay, Ohio.  It was taken in early spring, 1931.

1930-31

Lucia is visible just over her teacher’s shoulder in the light-colored dress.

The boys are wearing the typical outfit of the day: dress shirt, sweater and tie, knickerbockers and long woolen socks.  It wasn’t until they were older that most boys would graduate to long pants.

Of particular interest are the shoes worn by two young men in the front row:

1930-31 shoes

Look familiar?  They’re early Converse athletic shoes!  Within the next year or so, the Chuck Taylor name was added to the badge visible on the inner ankle.

converse ad 1931
Marion Star (Marion, Ohio), 9 Sep 1931, p 6 col 7.

At the time, a pair of these shoes cost about $1.101.  A loaf of bread cost roughly 7 cents and a pound of cheese, 20 cents2.

Several other children in Lucia’s class are recognizable when compared with her 6th grade photo.

Jeanne Anne Athey:

jeanne anne athey 1941
Jeanne Anne Athey in the Findlay High School yearbook, Class of 1941

James Quinlan:

james quinlan 1941
James Quinlan in the Findlay High School yearbook, Class of 1941

Twins, Marian and Mildred Saller.

Marian:

mildred and marian saller 1941
Marian Saller in the Findlay High School yearbook, Class of 1941

Mildred:

mildred and marian saller 1941
Mildred Saller in the Findlay High School yearbook, Class of 1941

Oddly, when the Arras family sold their home on Joy Avenue to move to 519 W. Lincoln, it was the Saller family that moved in!  Lucia always remembered the neighbors there at Joy Avenue, George and Minnie Gayer, with great fondness.  It was they who gave her her first (and only) doll.


1 Evening Independent (Massillon, OH), p 1, col 2
2 Brazil Daily Times (Brazil, IN), p 6, col 1 & col 6.

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Stanley Robert Smith: Who Knew?

As much as I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, it seems unlikely that certain portions of the family were oblivious of Stanley’s actions leading up to his arrest for violations of the Dyer Act.

The barn on Park Street that Stanley and his cohorts used to store and work on their stolen vehicles was most likely on the property of his wife’s parents, the Foremans.  How else would the police have known to look there first?  The lot was not a particularly large one as the Foremans lived in town.

I’ve never removed and replaced a car’s engine before, but I would guess it is neither a quiet nor a clean job.  It is hard to imagine that no one in the family ever heard metallic clanging from the barn or saw people move cars and car parts in and out.

My own great-grandparents, Oliver Arras and Clara Viola Smith, also likely suspected that something was going on.  Suddenly, during the Great Depression, two of their college-aged sons had cars of their own.  From the stories told within the family, money was tight enough that meat was not often on the table during this time period.  A lot of our favorite family recipes–noodles and mashed potatoes, potato soup with rivels–have their source in the Arrases’ lean times.  My grandma would not eat milk gravy as an adult because her family had had to rely on it so many times when she was a child.

Even today, when these financial considerations don’t apply, I cannot imagine my children suddenly appearing with cars of their own.  I’d probably worry that they were selling drugs.

Perhaps, then, the question is not, “Did the family know?”, but “Why did they stay quiet?”

Maybe the money that Stanley and his nephew brought in was helping to support their families.  Both families had young children at home.

Perhaps they just couldn’t bring themselves to report their own relatives to the police.

What do you think?

 

The Family Photo Album: Lucia Arras and Friends

childhood friends

The photo above shows my grandmother, Lucia Arras (second row without a doll), and her little sister Jeanne (second row left) with several childhood friends.  For the longest time, we didn’t know who the other people were in this picture.  Then, several years ago, my mom posted it online and someone came forward with the missing information.

Not only that, but she had another photo taken the same day!

childhood friends 2

Going back to the original photo, the other girl in the second row, Mary Etta Waltermire, was my grandma’s neighbor across the street.  The three remaining children in the photo were Mary Etta’s cousins, who were visiting from Toledo, just under 50 miles away.  Josephine and Mary Lou are seated in the bottom row and George, of course, is clowning away at the top.  Isn’t he hilarious?!  Pulling faces in both pictures, like you’d expect of a boy that age.

The funniest part was finding out who else Mary Lou, George, and Josephine were related to.  Mary Etta was their cousin through their mother, Alma Irene Cessna.  Her sister, Gytanna Cessna, had married Orville Waltermire.

Alma Irene Cessna’s husband was named Harold Clyde Benington.  His brother, Ralph Orlando Benington, who I’ve written about here, was my grandpa’s father.  Mary Lou, George and Josephine were Lucia’s future husband’s first cousins!

She would not meet their cousin, her husband, Clark, until high school.

I wonder whether Grandma and Grandpa ever recognized the connection!

Stanley Robert Smith: The Tipping Point?

Stanley had certainly made plenty of bad decisions in his first twenty-two years of life.  We’ve seen a number of documented instances of this over the last few weeks here on the blog.

This time, however, might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for parts of the Smith family.  Others might have been more closely tied to the situation than they would have liked to let on.

Though he apparently tried to cover for his co-conspirators during initial questioning, Stanley did not act alone.  Two younger men were arrested shortly after him, one of whom was his sister’s teenage son.1

Call in the Specialists

Stanley’s two young cohorts were probably quite necessary to the business.  Though Stanley had learned the ins and outs of selling on stolen cars from his cellmate at the penitentiary2, he was, in fact, a plumber by trade.3

Stanley’s nephew had grown up in his paternal grandfather’s garage in Jenera, 12 miles southwest of Findlay.  His father was also a mechanic for the National Refining Company4 and likely expected his sons to assist in repairs to the family’s car over the years.

The third young man, George C. Foster, had worked as a machinist in a garage.5

Without the specialist knowledge of these two, Stanley might not have been able to disassemble and rebuild the 15 cars they were ultimately accused of stealing.

The Chop Shop

It was initially suspected that Stanley was a fence in an auto theft ring operating out of Toledo.6 However, the newspaper articles about the subsequent investigation and trial never again mention these suspected ties.  Instead, Stanley is referred to as the “brains” of the operation.7

The three men stole most of the cars in Detroit8 and drove them home to a barn on Park Street in Findlay.  There, they dismantled the vehicles, removing identification numbers and replacing the engines with new ones they purchased.9

At this point in time, vehicle identification numbers (VIN) did not exist.  Instead, cars were identified by their engine number.

Simply installing a new engine provided Stanley with the ability to furnish a bill of sale.

Moving the Merchandise

The majority of the cars stolen were sold on to unsuspecting individuals in the area.10  The map below shows the location where each of these cars was found:

Findlay: Frank Barger, Glen A. Smith, Leo Friend, C. O. Smith, Theron Arras
Bairdstown: Ray Bell
Bluffton: Carson Marshall
Arcadia: T. J. Eisenhauer
North Baltimore: H. H. Pore

In addition, each of the three men kept one of the cars for himself.

Two of the vehicles had to be dumped.  While transporting a Ford coach from Detroit, Stanley began to suspect that he was being shadowed by police.  He abandoned the vehicle on state route 106 west of Findlay.11

The now-defunct state route 106 existed only from 1923 to 1937.  Its eastern terminus lay in Findlay and it ran roughly southwest to end near Gomer.  Route 106 was replaced by an extension to State Route 12.12

state route 12

The other abandoned car was not located until March 17th.  Stanley had confessed during questioning that it could be found in a quarry at the Turley farm south of Findlay.  The submerged vehicle was towed out by a local wrecking service. 13


1 “3 Turned Over to Federal Officers,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 16 Mar 1933, p 3 col 7.
2 “Youth Held Here is Seen ‘Fence’ in Car Theft Ring,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 11 Mar 1933, p 8 col 1.
3 Inmate Case Files, compiled 07/03/1895–06/06/1952. ARC ID: 571125. Records of the Bureau of Prisons, 1870–2009, Record Group 129. The National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.,  Record for Stanley Robert Smith.
4 R. L. Polk (comp.), R.L. Polk and Co.’s Findlay City Directory, 1933-34 (Columbus, Ohio: R. L. Polk & Co., 1933), p. 49, Oliver M Arras; digitized in “U.S. City Directories, 1821–1899,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Sep 2017), path Ohio > Findlay > 1933.
5 1930 U.S. Census, Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio, population schedule, ED 32-14, sheet 6B, dwelling 157, family 159, George C Foster, digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 September 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1820.
6 “Youth Held Here”
7  “Stolen Auto is Got From Quarry,” Findlay Morning Republican (Findlay, Ohio), 18 Mar 1933, p 14 col 3.
8  Ibid.
9 “Youth Held Here”
10 “Stolen Auto is Got From Quarry”.
11 “3 Turned Over to Federal Officers”.
12  “List of former state routes in Ohio (50–130),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_former_state_routes_in_Ohio_(50%E2%80%93130)&oldid=799792962 (accessed September 18, 2017).
13 “Stolen Auto is Got From Quarry”.

The Family Photo Album: Four Generations

arras 4 generations

The photo above depicts four generations of the Arras family of Hancock County, Ohio.

Johann Philipp Arras, known as Philip (1832-1913)
George Henry Arras, known as Henry (1862-1943)
Oliver Martin Arras (1889-1973)
Theron Henry Lamont Arras (1910-2003)

The genealogy bug seems to skip a generation in this family.

Theron was my great-uncle, brother of my grandmother, Lucia Arras.  He was an incredible genealogist, working with German researchers to trace the origin of all the families involved in the shipwreck of the “Famous Dove” (Brig James Beacham).  His work was published in the Palatine Immigrant of July 1988.

Theron’s grandfather, Henry Arras, was also interested in the family history, as I’ve mentioned before.  He worked with the Rev. John Gauss, pastor of Trinity church in Jenera, Ohio, to compile a history, the Familien Rekord, of the Arras family from Germany to Hancock County, Ohio.  I hope to include the Familien Rekord on the blog at a later date.

The original of this photo hangs in a large oval frame on my second floor landing, so you can see it as you come up the stairs.  Theron owned it until his passing.  Prior to that, it hung in the parlor of his parents’ home in Findlay, Ohio.

 

The Family Photo Album: Lucia Arras at Lincoln School, Findlay, 1928-1929

1928-29.JPG

This photo is of my grandmother, Lucia Marie Arras’s, class at Lincoln School in Findlay, Ohio.  It was taken in the spring of 1929.  Lucia is sitting just to the right (our right) of the teacher.

None of these children look particularly excited to be there.  There doesn’t appear to be any of the usual goofing off.  Not one child is looking elsewhere and laughing.  Perhaps the teacher was a stern one.

One of my favorite details is all the interesting patterned socks on the boys in the front row.  I wonder if they were purchased or if their mothers were such talented knitters.

It appears that a concrete block and a crate were used to prop up the first row bench.  A close-up of the crate reveals that it was from the Bourne-Fuller Company of Cleveland, Ohio.  Soon after this photo was taken, Bourne-Fuller would unite with two other companies, Central Alloy and Republic Iron and Steel, to become the third-largest steel company in the U.S.

bourne fuller and knee hole

Check out the boy on the left in the photo above.  Clearly, mothers in the 1920s also struggled to keep fabric over the knees of their sons!  My kids start back to school next week and this is what I expect to see at the end of most days.  The only thing missing is the grass stain.


Other photo posts from Lincoln School:
The Family Photo Album: Lucia Arras, 6th Grade Class Photo

The Family Photo Album: Lucia Arras, 6th Grade Class Photo

1934-35

This photo of my grandmother’s sixth grade class was taken at Lincoln school in Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio, in the spring of 1935.  The original school building was located (and still stands!) at 200 W. Lincoln Street, a mere two or three blocks from the Arras family’s home at 519 W. Lincoln.

Grandma, Lucia (Arras) Benington, would probably not thank me for pointing her out in this particular photograph.  She is, after all, the one person who blinked at the exact moment the picture was taken!

Lucia Arras 1934-35
Lucia Arras

I would just skip posting this photo, out of all the class photos in her collection, but there is something special about this one.  This is the only picture on the reverse of which she named every individual!  Thanks to her thoughtfulness, I can now (hopefully) identify most of the people in all the rest of the photos, with a little detective work.

1934-35 back

I imagine it might be a little difficult to read the writing from your computer screen, so here’s a transcription:

1st row–left to right: Jack Krout, Tommy Marshall, Glen Houes, Robert Brewer, Dick Cramar [Cramer]

2nd row–left to right: Betty Weitz, Dorthy [Dorothy] McCall, Marian Saller, Lucia Arras, Jean Taylor, Jane Bish, Virginia Rose, Maxine Sink, Ruth Cliner

3rd row–left to right: Donald Marvin, Betty Ex, Jeanne Anne Athey, Wayne Brewer, Tom Vosslor [Vossler], Mildred Saller, Arlene Strouse, Helena Oman, Rosalyn Rabkin

4th row–left to right: Robert Galnta, John Tabb, Mary Lou McFarland, Shirley Ann Quis, Mary Katherine Varner, Martha and Egen [Eugene] Cuningham [Cunningham], Bob Deyers, James Quinlan

Mrs Driesback


Other class photos from Lincoln School:
Lucia Arras: Lincoln School, Findlay, 1928-1929