Charles O. Howe (1913-1987)
Written By Donald Howe
November 7, 1998
Based on personal interviews with Mrs. Dorothy Howe (wife), Son’s and Daughter and family relatives whose memories are included here in.
Charles’s life began on a somber note. His grandfather Orville Howe dying at practically the same time he came into the world. It was a Monday morning around 10:30 when his grandfather was crushed between two trolley cars, an act of courtesy costing him his life. This accident made headline news. It was featured on the front page of the March 14, Friday edition of the Cuyahoga Falls Reporter and several other newspapers of the time.
Charles was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio on Monday March 10, 1913 to Minor and Minnie Howe. Charles (Dad) was born at home. Both Minor and Minnie were well known in Cuyahoga Falls and Akron society circles. They lived at 329 Stow Street. The family consisted of a daughter Ruth and a son Ralph and of course Charles. Tragedy struck the family when Charles was about 2 years old. His mother Minnie (White) Howe died at Peoples Hospital in Akron, Ohio following an operation.
In an interview with Mrs. Dorothy Howe (Mom), Minnie was pregnant in the “tubes”, and after having fallen down a flight of stairs was rushed to People’s Hospital. The hospital had a poor reputation in those days and was sometimes referred to as the “Butcher Shop”. According to Mrs. Howe, no one wanted to go to this hospital so feared was its reputation. The hospital changed names over the years and so has its reputation. It is now one of the best medical facilities in town.
According to Mrs.Howe, Mrs.Thompson who lived next door to Charles sister Ruth in Cuyahoga Falls took care of him after his mother died. When Charles was about ten years old his father married Alice Squires. Minor Howe and Alice Squires had no children of their own. Alice however, had three daughters and a brother George.
As Charles was growing up he would deliver papers for the Akron Times Press and sold magazines on the corner of Front Street in the Falls. He sold every kind of magazines there was. Charles would stand on the street corner and call out aloud that he had newspapers and magazines for sale. This is how he put himself through school and how he paid for his clothing, bedding and any schoolbooks he needed. His new stepmother Alice virtually did nothing to help Charles while he was growing up. He basically had to support himself and take care of any personal needs.
Mrs. Howe recalls that when Charles was about 12 or 13 he would often go to his sister’s home for the holidays especially around Christmas time. Mrs. Howe says Charles never had much of a Christmas with his father. They never had a tree or decorations and such.
Charles attended Broad Street School for his 8 grades and graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High on Friday May 22, 1931. His graduating class was the largest class in the schools history. Of particular interest, according to the news article documenting this event, one hundred and four students graduated from Falls High that year. Rev. W.E.M Copeland, of the United Presbyterian Church, delivered the baccalaureate sermon Sunday afternoon May 17, in the high school auditorium. The class motto: Overcome Obstacles, Make Them Stepping Stones. The class flower: Yellow Tea Rose and the class colors: Blue and Tangerine.
When Charles was young man he was into exercising and bodybuilding. He was a boxer during this time and went by the name “Kid K-O”; he would often box at the Firestone Club. He also had other nicknames such as “Sammy” or “Red”. Charles had red hair hence the nickname “Red”. It was not uncommon for him to run from 329 Stow Street, Cuyahoga Falls where he lived to Monroe Falls to go swimming. Mrs. Howe recalls that someday’s Charles along with his sister Ruth and his brother Ralph would all go on a horse and buggy ride to his Uncle Charlie’s farm in Richfield, Ohio. It was about a half days journey just to get there and the rest of the day just to get back. One day Charles ran the entire distance to the farm when his Uncle Charlie sent for him. His Uncle was not in the best of health and called Charles to the farm. It was here that Charles was given the Family Tree. I really think Dad was hoping he would get the farm.
When Charles was about 18-19 he went to the 3-C’s camp. Mrs. Howe says he also belonged to an organization known as the “Blue Shirts”. They would go about helping anyone in need to find a home or a place to stay.
During Charles life there would be many people besides his wife who would play an important role in his life. One of these was Margaret (Grandma) France, then Margaret Poelking. Margaret came to know Charles when he was still a baby. Margaret grew up in the orphanage because her own mother had past way and her father was unable to care for her or her sisters and brothers.
One day Margaret’s foster mother Mrs. Wensoleski who lived on 4th Street or near 4th Street went to see Charles’s mother Minnie Howe. They were good neighbors Mrs. Howe says. Margaret was then about 13 or 14 and became quite enamored with Charles’s mother Minnie Howe. Minnie held a strong resemblance to Margaret’s real mother. Margaret would often help take care of Charles when he was baby. During that time Margaret and Charles’s sister Ruth also went to school together. Needless to say Margaret and Ruth became good friends but that’s another story.
One summer Mrs. Howe went to Charles’s sisters home, now Ruth Grant for a week’s vacation, which is where she met Charles for the first time. Mrs. Howe was only about 14 then and became acquainted with Charles but did not officially date until she was about 17. On many occasions Charles would come to visit Margaret who had by then married Roland France. He would visit sometimes after being down at the welfare office. Charles would walk along the streetcar lines up to the Old House. During one of those visits Charles asked for Margaret and Roland France’s permission, as was the proper way in those days, to date their daughter Dorothy.
Dorothy and Charles would mostly go for walks when they were dating. Sometimes they would walk through Oak Wood Cemetery. Not suprisingly, all of Charles ancestors who came to Ohio are buried in the same cemetery. Once for a church picnic in 1936 they went swimming at Rex Lake with Dorothy’s sister Eileen France and a neighbor Lester Harlon. Lester Harlon was a good neighbor who lived up from the Old House. If Charles had enough money they would go to a picture show. Today we call them movies. They would either go to Lowes Theater, which is now the Civic Theater downtown, or they would go to the Strand Theater or the Colonial Theater. The first movie Dorothy saw with Charles was “Rosemarie”. It stared Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald. Dorothy and Charles dated for about a year and a half.
Before Charles asked Dorothy to marry him, he asked Margaret and Roland France for their permission. Oddly enough Margaret France, who had practically raised Charles was initially opposed to the marriage because Charles was non-Catholic. The details of that family discussion were summed up when Dorothy reminded her mother that she too had married a man who wasn’t Catholic. Sometime, during March of 1937, Charles asked Dorothy to marry him. They went to Fertells Jewelry Store to buy Dorothy’s rings. Fertells was located on Main Street and as Dorothy recalls they would later move to Exchange Street or Market Street.
Dorothy and Charles were married on April 17, 1937. Father Petros conducted the ceremony in St. Martha’s Rectory. They were married in the rectory because Charles was non-Catholic and you were not permitted to marry in the church unless you were both Catholic. Dorothy’s sister Eileen and brother Ronnie stood up for them. After they were married Dorothy and Charles spent a couple of weeks living with her mother and father Margaret and Roland France and then about the same amount of time living with Charles’s sister Ruth Grant. Finally they got an apartment on Dayton Street in Akron, Ohio. There were two rooms and it was furnished. Dorothy and Charles lived here for awhile until they moved to Burwinds Street and rented an apartment there and that’s were brother Dave was born.
A few years ago I asked all my brothers and sister to provide me with their favorite memories of Dad. Finally, I have taken the time to compile them. Here are their stories.
When the family lived on Fith Ave, in East Akron, I think I was in the 4th grade, Dad would load up the family in the car and off we would go to grandma’s house. Dad would go straight up 5th and would tease Mom about making the hill. Thats 5th Ave hill. Beginning at Arlington and 5th. Its a steep hill up past Hoban high, although Hoban didn’t exist back then. Mom would ask Dad not to do it but Dad would insist that we try.
Well us kids would get a kick out of it. I think Dad had and old Desota with fluid drive and as we approached the stop light at the intersection he would time the light so that he would get there when it was green and the race was on! Faster and faster we went and flew thru the intersection and headed up the hill. In all my memory of these events I can only remember getting to the top on one occasion, all the rest of the time we would get maybe 75% up and the ole bettsy just couldn’t go any further. Dad would put it in reverse and slowly back down the hill with mother complaining all the way back down.
Again, I was still just a young boy and Dad would always take us for a ride. One day Dad took us to the Akron Canton airport. Well it wasn’t an airport yet but the runway was built. Dad would swing around and stop at the end of the runway and again tease Mom and us kids about taking off. Well you guessed it. Down the runway we sped with Dad narrating the adventure and off we would go into the wild blue yonder. What and adventure.
As I and my younger brothers were growing up you would remember Dad cutting our hair down in the basement. He always gave us a “crew cut”, which was very short. Something I myself never liked! And how Dad like to take movies of us and the spot light he would use was so bright that it would almost blind you. I remember how we would all sit down at night and watch “home movies”. I recall it was something to look forward to watching those “home movies”, even the ones he had of the shop.
I also remember Dad taking us for a Sunday drive and when we got back home we would have ice cream and cake. Which I thought was a real treat! I can also remember helping Dad on many of his projects around the house. I learned a lot form him on those projects. Whether it was soldering copper pipe together or mixing up cement. Some of the projects I remember were fixing up the basement wall under the front porch, redoing the bathroom and the kitchen.
When I was old enough and was able to go to work with Dad at the shop, Dad taught me how to run the screw machines(Acmes and New Brittans). Dad taught me and a few of my brothers the screw machine trade. I never worked up in Cleveland, but I did work with Dad up in Macedonia until he retired. The saddest day and memory I have of Dad is the day he died.
Remember Christmas morning when we would all open up presents. Daddy was there taking movie pictures. He would tell us to look at the camera and wow! we couldn’t see it because of the bright lights. Did you ever see such lights. Four of them! I thought I would go blind looking at them. I also enjoyed the time he would set up the projector and show the movies he took.
I remember being in Children’s hospital at 16 years old the day before I was scheduled to have surgery on my back. Mom had left to go home and Dad stopped in on his way home from work. I was feeling alone and scared. Daddy held my hand and told me everything would be ok. He was right it was. I’ll always remember the Easter corsages that he got from Cottage Floral. He got Mom and me the most beautiful carmaleon corsages. The only problem was they didn’t match our Easter outfits. Mom and I knew it was the thought that counted, but we would giggle about the clash of color.
I have a Valentines day card that Dad sent me that I will always treasure. I remember an Easter Sunday that Dad asked me if I wanted to go driving. I had my temporary driving permit then and we went down to the Miracle Mart on Wilbeth Road and he let me practice driving the his car in the store parking lot. Finally, the day came and I got my drivers license. I know that he was very proud of my accomplishments.
And there are the times we would go and look for a Christmas tree. There were several different places we would go around town to try and find the perfect tree. I remember one Christmas when we went looking for Christmas trees, Dad wasn’t feeling so well and he let me drive the car home.
I remember once when Dad was working on the washing machine he drop a small wrench inside and I was the only one with small enough arms and hands to reach in and get it out. And Dad was a real fix-it man and on many occasions when I owned my own home, he helped make repairs. I could go on and on about so many other memories, but these are some of my most treasured memories.
Dorothy Ann Howe
My first memories of Dad were of sitting on his lap when I was about 4 or 5 years of age. I remember dad having to work late most evenings but he would always take a minute or two out for us to sit on his lap. He also used to cut our hair in the basement. I never liked those damn hair cuts, but what else could I do. In any event my older brothers got the same cuts, so I didn’t feel all that bad. I guess Mom and Dad felt we would looked like gentlemen, but I guess that was the time we lived in.
I can’t recall Dad ever missing church on Sundays, he always went. I guess thats why I still go. He taught me the lesson that we need God in our lives. As I grew older I had the great privilege to work with Dad at Delker up in Macedonia. I learned a lot from him, especially how to sharpen drill bits and form tools.
I was working with and brother Don at the shop one day. Dad was trying to cut a piece of stainless steel sheet metal to put on the front door of the shop. Even though he scribed a line the electric shears he was using kept moving off the line. He became so frustrated and mad he pulled out the shears and threw on the bench. And to my surprise and Don’s, he said I thinks it time for a King Dong, which was a snack cake of the times for lunches. We all started to laugh about the whole thing afterwards.
I realize Dad was laughing at himself. What a great gift he passed on to me. He was truly a proud and loving father.
I remember being very small about 5 or 6, and sitting in Dad’s lap after supper watching Star Trek. Perhaps thats why I enjoy watching Star Trek so much today. I also remember some Saturdays when Dad wasn’t working, we would go to the grocery store to get groceries and he would tell us to go and pick something out. A model, or baseball and he would buy it for us. I also remember the trips he took us on to Sea World.
Dad and I used to watch football together, especially the Ohio State vs. Michigan game with Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler. I vividly recall Dad saying “Woody, you just can’t beat Bo, Michigan is too damned good.” Man, that really frosted me! We also watched the Browns and Indians play.
I regret that I did not really know Dad very well, man-to-man. As I was the youngest of 11, he was already older, retired, and his health was not good by the time I became a man. I think about him often. On my desk I have a letter opener that my sister gave to me that belonged to Dad. I think of him every time I use it.