Who Were the “Melon Slicers?”

Before stock market transactions became highly mechanized, groups of friends and neighbors often banded together in investment clubs.

One such club in Yellow Springs was profiled in a Dayton Daily News article (date not included in clipping).


Melon Slicers Tackle Bulls, Bears; Rarely Pick Lemon

Daily News Staff Writer

“Hindsight is no sight at all when it comes to investing,” philosophized Blanche Bean of Snively Rd., Xenia.

She reminded herself of this truism every time she was tempted to steal a look at Texas Instruments during the hectic days it was topping 200.

Miss Bean and her 10-woman investment club had considered this stock when it sold for 35.

The Melon Slicers, as they optimistically called themselves, take such things in stride. They’re old hands at the ups and downs of the stock market by now.

SHOULD THEY agree to separate they would slice a melon that has grown to about $8,000 according to a recent reckoning.

Actual investment came to $6,540 at $10 a share.

The club came into being in September, 1956, at the suggestion of Rebekah Dunning and Jan Janis, both of Yellow Springs. It grew to 10 and acquired a constitution (at the suggestion of a broker).

But is may be the only club in the world that delayed taking any action until all members ad gone to school. The 10 Melon Slicers took a course in investing at night school in Yellow Springs. The course was presented by George Humm, head of the Dayton branch of Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith.

By February, 1957, the Melon Slicers were ready to write their first check.

Each member contributes $10 month or $100 a year.

“We wait until we have $300 or more before we buy a stock,” Miss Bean explained. “And we balance our stock.”

Miss Bean acts as agent for the group. Her job is to contact the broker and order the stock. Dividends are plowed back.

The constitution calls for no more than 10 members. Members can invest more than $10 a month. But no one can own more than 25 per cent of the stock.

Actually the monthly sum goes to buying a share in the Melon Slicers — for it operates like a private mutual fund.

WHAT DO the Melon Slicers buy?

“We have a wide range,” explained Miss Bean. “We’re interested primarily in growth.”

The portfolio, heavy on growth stocks contains electronics shares, a merchandising stock (that has doubled in value) a drug stock, oil, computer and a chemical-photo stock.

The members meet once a month over dinner or coffee and cake to discuss their choices. They do research, subscribe to advisory services, consult with friends and their broker. Their stakes range from three shares to 40 or 50.

Most members have little experience in business. And they regard their club as an education as well as a stake in the future.

THEY NEVER buy on margin.

“We’re not opposed to quick money,” explained Mrs. Jeannette Drake, warmly.

But buying on margin might call for a sudden decision. And it might be hard to get all members together.

Ruth Ricket and Mrs. Fressa Inman are associated with the admissions office at Antioch college. Mrs. Warren Drake is a homemaker. Mrs. Mildred Keenleyside, who gave3 the club its name is associated with Antioch. President Clara F. Zell works at Wright-Patterson Air Force base.

The women have a lot more in common than their stock.

One of their problems—getting down to business.

“I guess you could say our motivating force is profit,” admitted Miss Bean, an ex-English teacher. “But we are getting an education. I think everyone in America should own at least one share of stock.”

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Union Schoolhouse as a School

Union Schoolhouse

Former Union Schoolhouse

With the Union Schoolhouse building up for sale there has been increased interest in its history. Serendipitously, one of the miscellaneous newspaper clippings collected by Mary E. Morgan turned out to be one of a series written for the Yellow Springs News by late local historian Julie Overton on the history of the building. (The handwritten date is faint, but may be January 3, 1979 .)

Within the article is a mention of the sculpture “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” This piece is now on the walls of the Yellow Springs Community Library, and there was a previous blog post on it here.

It is unknown if “johnny johnstrike” was a strictly local term for the dangerous piece of playground equipment.

Previous posts with information about the Union Schoolhouse building can be found by using “union school” as the term in the search box.

Local History: School Days on Dayton Street

Continuing her historical biography of the Village Building on Dayton Street, local historian Julie Overton conducted interviews for this week’s chapter with Andy Benning, Catherine Dillon, Donna Fulton, Bob Grote and Howard Kahoe. Another chapter in this history will be published next week.

By Julie Overton

Interviews with several village residents have produced information both about  the physical facilities of the Union School building on Dayton Street and about activities that went on there during and after school hours.

Although the outside of the building has remained essentially the same since it was opened in 1873, the inside configurations have undergone several changes, some during the time the Dayton Street building was a full-time school. For instance, the original stairway was a double one, one section going up to the middle from the front area, the other section going up to the same point from the back door. Where the two stairs joined was a platform 12 feet wide; this platform area served as the central point for doors to classrooms, and to the upper hallway.

The principal’s office (that’s where you got all the paddling!) was located approximately where the police dispatch office is now housed. The basement was large, and had in addition to two large coal furnaces two other rooms which, although not apparently used very much during the school hours, were used by Yellow Springs groups at various times — the Girl Scouts met in one of those rooms during the late 1930’s, while the other room was used at least for a time as a “sculpting” room.

Accessories mentioned were items such as the coat hooks (not hangers), which were on one wall of each classroom; once all the coats had been hung, the movable blackboard was shifted to the space in front of the coats. There were special shelves for “brown-baggers” to keep their lunches until noon (this was also a chance for kids who didn’t bring a lunch to “borrow” from others).

There were no curtains or “decorations” but the building is recalled as being cheerful. The main exception to the “no decorations” was the sculpture of “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Donated apparently by the Class of 1922, the  large work of art was hung in the front hallway, and was the first thing to catch your eye as you entered. The fondly-remembered piece was taken down, in one piece, about 1951, but vandals apparently broke into the building later and broke several parts of it. There were plans to have it restored by Amos Mazzolini, but due to the latter’s death, the project was never started. “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” however, is still with us, although in storage; many would like to see it restored.

The plot of land on which the school building stood, some 200 by 300 feet in size, was also mentioned in several interviews I conducted with local people. The front yard was for a time graveled and equipped with the normal type of playground structures, such as swings, slides, monkey bars and sandpiles. The piece of equipment “credited” with the most injuries, however, was the “johnny johnstrike,” a sort of metal Maypole, with rings on the end of metal chains to swing around on and get thrown off of because of centrifugal force.

The back yard was remembered largely as the softball field, with home plate being just west of the back entrance. Also gracing the back yard until about 1930 were the two privies; these were the target of Halloween pranks, getting tipped over at least once (the pranksters got caught, but no one could prove anything!).

* * *

Memories of occurrences during school hours abounded during my interviews. Special things which came up during my conversations covered the gamut from the fascinating to the scary. One person remembered the thrill of getting a chance to run down the heavy metal fire escapes from the second floor during fire drills. Another remembered the scary feeling of having to use the newly-installed bathrooms in the basements, the latter a dark and gloomy place to be.

There were of course many teachers during the life of the Union School on Dayton Street, but some who were mentioned (not necessarily in any order) were Marion Oster (taught high school Latin), Harold Little teaching algebra, Mary Fralick presiding over geometry, and in the lower grades people such as Leah (Wolford) Menn, Theresa (Oster) Grote, Florence (Paxton) Gray, Mrs. Thompson, and Max Livingston.

The principals often did “double-duty,” serving as principal when needed, and generally teaching one of the grades. Helping out with the teaching load were students from Antioch College, although these students often taught for only three or four months at a time. Some names which are remembered as student teachers are “Slim” Dawson, Herb Shanks, Tony High, and Wally Edwards.

However, in all of my interviews, the name which came up most frequently was that of Catherine Dillon. She attended the school after attending the Confer school on Fairfield Pike at East Enon Road for the first eight years of her schooling; she went to high school in the Dayton Street building, attended what is now Wittenberg University for two years, went back to teach at the Confer school for four years, and then tried going to business school (she calls that the longest six months of her life!). She started teaching at the Dayton Street school in the fall of 1928, and stayed with the Yellow Springs school system as an elementary school teacher (with her heart with first graders) until she retired in 1963. Thirty-nine years of teaching in the Yellow Springs system must be a record of some kind!

* * *

The Dayton Street school building was finally closed as a teaching institution after Mills Lawn School was opened in 1951, since Bryan High School had already taken a large share of the pupil load. The building was used for about five years by the American Legion, about which I hope to tell you in next week’s column.

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1910s Cemetery Book — Pages 32 and 33

[Note: other pages in the Cemetery Book are indexed from the Blog Multi-Part Series tab above.]

Each of the two pages shows a quite distinctive handwriting style, indicating a change of recorder. The handwriting on page 32 is particularly challenging.

Another powder mill explosion fatality shows up amid the standard disease causes of death (Potts disease is a form of tuberculosis).

December 29, 1919 — John C. Sparrow — Myocarditis — Yellow Springs, Ohio
January 14, 1920 — [Belhelen?] Louise O’Brien — Bronchial Pneumonia — Yellow Springs, Ohio
January 21, 1920 — Gertrude Kelley — Decompensation of the heart — Springfield, Ohio
February 13, 1920 — Henry E. [Horney?] — Lobar pneumonia — Springfield, Ohio
February 17, 1920 — Anna Lytle — Chronic heart disease — Springfield, Ohio
February 18, 1920 — [H. M. Theodore Fry?] — Bronchial pneumonia — Clark County, Ohio
February 21, 1920 — Infant Bill [Conley?] — Stillborn — Yellow Springs, Ohio
February 23, 1920 — Henry Tate — Arteriosis — Yellow Springs, Ohio
February 25, 1920 — [Florence?] E. Mason — Pulmonary tuberculosis — Springfield, Ohio
March 11, 1920 — John Bowsser — Powder mill explosion — Goes @ Xenia Twp.
March 22, 1920 — [Ger?] Stewart — Apoplexy — Springfield, Ohio
March 27, 1920 — Elizabeth Anderson — Mitral [?] of Heart — Yellow Springs, Ohio
April 6, 1920 — Francis H. Confer — Lobar Pneumonia — Yellow Springs, Ohio

April 8, 1920 — Bertha L. Morris — Tuberculosis — Columbus, Ohio
April 16, 1920 — Frances R. Dolina — Cerebral Hemorrhage — Dayton, Ohio
April 16, 1920 — Nathanial H. Griffin — Aortic Insufficiency — Miami Twp., Ohio
April 26, 1920 —Mis Lulu Dunn — Pulmonary [Plethers?] — Dayton, Ohio
May 12, 1920 — John William Loe — Gastroenter[___?] — Yellow Springs, Ohio
May 12, 1920 — Martha Hines — [__?] Valvular Disease — Clark Co., Ohio
May 25, 1920 — Maxwell Henry [Kenning?] — Typhoid — Miami Twp. Ohio
June 16, 1920 — Thomas [Parker Brown?] — Potts Disease — Miami Twp., Ohio
June 26, 1920 — Wilbur A [Portman?] — Accident Gun — Springfield, Ohio
June 26, 1920 — Charles Fremont Mason — Cancer of skin —Springfield, Ohio
July 5, 1920 — [Canie R. Baker/] — Apoplexy — Greene Co., Xenia Twp.
August 2, 1920 — Geo M. Cox — Aortic Insufficiency — Yellow Springs, Ohio
August 2, 1920 —[___?] Shannon — [___________?] — Xenia Twp.

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Miss Susie Brown

This undated article from the [Dayton?] Daily News profiles someone who exemplified the spirit of “community”:

Miss Susie Grows Up With Her Village

Daily News Staff Writer

YELLOW SPRINGS—Anyone who knows Yellow Springs knows Miss Susie. She and her town grew up together.

Still living in the house she was born in 76 years ago, the venerable Miss Susie Brown has spent a lifetime working with and for her town and her people.

Appropriately, the nominating letter that led to her being named one of The Daily News’ Top Ten Women was written by the wife of the minister of the church where Miss Susie has been a member for 50 years.

In nominating her, Mrs. Pat Matthews of Yellow Springs said, “Miss Brown is my choice because I do not think a person has to have accomplished something in the field of education or in holding a very important position to be important to the community in the way of service.”

WITHIN THOSE 50 years with her church are some of Miss Susie’s fondest memories. “I’ve been a Sunday school teacher, superintendent, clerk, choir member and missionary society member,” she says with a grin “I’ve done everything but preach.”

“Oh yeah?” Mrs. Matthews laughs knowingly and nuges her with an elbow.

Miss Brown’s current project is taking charge of the Senior Citizens’ Thrift Shop—where she gives away as many articles as she sells.

Although paid only for halfdays, the unflagging Miss Brown puts in a 9 to 5 day, Monday through Friday, plus 9 to noon on Saturday. She single-handedly sees to the needs of more than 300 customers a week. Her concern for helping Antioch students in the shop even earned her the accolade of a song for the guitar, entitled “Miss Susie.,” written by one of “her boys.”

Through her efforts, clothing, furniture and books have been donated to needy families, the Salvation Army, the Delta ministry and the Mississippi project. At the same time, money raised through the shop has helped keep the Senior Citizens’ center op0en when austerity lost it its federal operating grant.

TWENTY-FIVE years before the desegregation became a household word, Susie Brown was active in the Yellow Springs Committee for Racial Equality, and today remains a member of the Nation Council of Negro Women, the Greene county NAACP and the board of diretors of the Greene county Community Action committee.

The seriousness behind these jobs however hasn’t lost her her sense of humor about her skin color: she delights in relating an incident that happened last year on a trip to Denmark, where Negroes are a rarity: “This little boy kept tugging at his mother’s hand and pointing at me. He told his mother, ‘Mommy! Mommy! Look, that lady stayed in the oven too long.’” She laughs at the memory.

Children, too, have had the benefit of Miss Susie’s guiding hands. She spent two years as house mother at the Ohio Girls Industrial school, and six years as house director at the West Side YWCA. Her varied career has also included the vice presidency of the Peoples Burial and Insurance Company of Jacksonville, Fla., and she was an editorial writer for the Florida edition of the Pittsburgh courier during a brief stay in the south.

But Yellow Springs called her back.

THE HOSPITALITY of the little frame house at 131 Marshall St. she shares with her sister, Myrtle, is well known throughout the village.

Its front door even wears a neatly lettered sign “Susie and Myrtle.”

The sisters have so many friends, in fact, an attempt this year to keep a table in the side yard for summer meals had to be abandoned, because, Myrtle shook a fond finger at her sister, everybody going by stopped to eat with us.”

Miss Susie just shrugged her shoulders and grinned.

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Tootle & Boom! Happened

The Historical Society’s program of fife music and the history of a Civil War cannon took place last Sunday. The weather cooperated, and the audience was appreciative.

Special thanks to all the generous folks who donated to the cannon restoration fund.

Photographs courtesy of Jean Payne.

The audience listens, but also gets a good view of some of the damage from aging on the cannon and its support

Members of the Camp Chase Fifes & Drums demonstrate the work of A. F. Hopkins

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Why They Came — Pages 46 – 49

(Previous entries herehere, hereherehereherehereherehere, here, and here)


The spires of Antioch are bright symbols of progress in education today. Undr Henderson’s and McGregor’s administrations, the student body and plant have grown. And the thoughts of Horace Mann were recently echoed in a vital speech by Samuel Gould: “The two parts of my thesis . . . are first, that the teaching profession is at least equal in importance to any other profession in the world, and second, that the liberal arts college has a vital function to perform in teacher preparation.”

President Gould is shown at right, dedicating the new Corry Hall. Kettering’s interest in Antioch has continued over the years. He is shown above right dedicating the Olive Kettering Library he gave to the college in 1955. The library is shown on the page opposite.


Antioch students, participating in the work-study program, work on co-op jobs in over thirty states and territories. Two are shown in representative jobs. Antioch’s various student workshops (an art class is shown above) constitute a stimulating phase of life on campus.


Fels Research Institute, second above, conducts research in human development. A typical “Fels child,” above left, is shown with records and data that apply to just one child. Samuel H. Fels is shown at top laying the cornerstone for the new building in 1947, with Algo Henderson and Dr. Lester Sontag, director of Fels.

The Charles F. Kettering Foundation, directed by Dr. Howard Tanner, is engaged in solar energy resesarch. Assistant Director Harry Knorr, with the Foundation since 1932, is at left.


While village and college theatricals go back to 1865, the Antioch Players were organized in 1923, developed under Basil Pillard after 1929, and Paul Treichler after 1934.

The Yellow Springs Summer Theatre, begun in 1936, joined the Antioch Players to form the Antioch Area Theatre in 1943, which pioneered many dramatic ideas in productions at the Opera House. The Area Theatre now performs in the Theatre Arts Building featuring flexible staging.

Shakespeare-under-the-Stars — a summer festival begun in 1952 — has attracted national recognition for having completed performances of all the Bard’s plays. Director Arthur Lithgow is shown at the left with Ellis Rabb, David Hooks, Jack Bittner, and Meredith Dallas.

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Program Reminder – Tootle & Boom!

This coming Sunday, August 6, at 2:00 pm in the Glen Forest Cemetery by the G.A.R. cannon –

  • The story of A. F. Hopkins, “National Fife Major” and responsible for the “American Veteran Fifer” collection.
  • Fife music performances by Tom Kuhn of Camp Chase Fifes and Drums
  • The story of the G.A.R. cannon
  • Short tour of grave sites of Civil War veterans in Glen Forest Cemetery

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Ancestry of the Bike Path

A beautiful summer day draws many to stroll, skate or cycle along the bike path running alongside Glen Helen, but few now remember what purpose it used to serve.

An clipping from the Xenia Gazette dated January 1, 1971 found among Mary E. Morgan’s collection of papers gives the history of the railroad which once ran along what is now the bike path.


‘Ribbons of Steel’ disappear from scene

Gazette City Editor

In an inglorious ending to one of the brighter chapters of Greene County’s history, the last material evidence of the Springfield Branch of the Penn Central railroad is being removed by salvage crews.

Workmen are removing the rails and tis along the railroad right-of-way between Xenia and Yellow Springs in a mechanized rape of the handiwork of mid-19th century laborers.

The line’s demise mirrors the extent to which the railroad industry’s standing in the nation has fallen in the last century.

The rails now being dismantled are part of the system which was greeted by huzzahs when it brought the first train to Greene County in 1845.

The end has come quietly, almost unnoticed. No trains have run over the tracks since 1966. The line was officially abandoned by the Penn Central Transportation Co. in 1967.

For the nominal sum of $1, the city of Xenia acquired a portion of the railroad right-of-way, including the motorist-maddening rails in the northbound traffic lanes of Detroit St.

The city also has first option on purchase of part of the remaining right-of-way, from Weaver St. north to a point near State Route 235, but the railroad is salvating the rails from this section.

THE SPRINGFIELD Branch became part of the Penn Central system through a series of mergers, but originally was known as the Little Miami Railroad.

Authorized by an act of the Ohio General Assembly approved March 1, 1836, the Little Miami Railroad was chartered to construct and maintain a railroad from Cincinnati to Springfield.

Work began in 1837, but it was not until December, 1842, that the line was completed from Cincinnati to Milford, just a few miles northeast of the Queen City.

Completion of the line to Xenia in 1845 brought the first train into Greene County in August of that year.

Broadstone’s “History of Greene County” relates:

“The day in August, 1845, when the first train pulled into Xenia was a red-letter day in the history of Greene County, for with the coming of the railroad the growth of the county was stimulated in every direction.”

ALTHOUGH despised by motorists in later years, the location of the railroad’s right-of-way in Detroit St. was regarded as a coup for Detroit St. businessmen a century ago.

Broadstone again relates:

“ . . . a long and even violent argument ensued when the question arose as to which street of Xenia should have the honor of having the road on it. The argument narrowed down to the streets on either side of the public square. The taxpayers on the east side wanted the road, but they felt the company should pay something for the privilege of using their street.

Instrumental in the final decision was John Hivling, who had just completed a hotel known as the Hivling House at the southeast corner of Main and Detroit Sts., where the Parkmoor restaurant now is located.

Hivling led a group of Detroit St. citizens who offered to give the company a right-of-way in front of their properties.

ANOTHER reference by Broadstone to the railroad’s impact here:

“ . . . the year 1845 marks a turning point in the history of the town, for in that year the first railroad , the Little Miami reached the town. It is not difficult to imagine the enthusiasm of the people which followed the coming of the first train into town.

“Busines immediately became better, not only in the county seat, but over the entire county. The farmers now had a direct outlet for their grain and livestock, and no longer would they have to drive their livestock on foot to Cincinnati or Toledo. It also meant that manufacturing enterprises could find an outlet for their output, and manufactured goods bearing the stamp of Xenia began to find their way to outside markets.

“From 1845, therefore, Xenia has been in close communication with the outside world.”

Even the Greene County government shared in the prosperity that marked the railroad industry in the middle of the 19th century.

A record of county holdings in 1854 discloses county investments totaling $91,950 in railroad stocks and bonds.

Until divesting itself of the holdings, the county realized sufficient income from its railroad investments, paying many of its obligations in dividend revenue and using those same sources to build, in 1860, the county jail which remained in use until 1968.

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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives — 1980s part 1

The 1980s bookplates saw an increasing interest in licensed artists/properties, such as Julie Shearer (B-139), Eleanor Wasmuth (B-140 and B-142) and Boris Vallejo (B-141 “Golden Wings”) with the same designs being extended to other products, like bookmarks.

Antioch bookplate B-138


Antioch bookplate B-139


Antioch bookplate B-140


Antioch bookplate B-141


Antioch bookplate B-142


Antioch bookplate M-797


Antioch bookplate M-798


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TOOTLE & BOOM! – Historical Society Program August 6, 2017

The Yellow Springs Historical Society will explore the connection between a collection of fife music (still in use today) to which the Union soldiers marched and the Glen Forest Cemetery cannon in TOOTLE & BOOM!, a program on Sunday, August 6, at 2:00 pm at the site of the cannon in Glen Forest Cemetery. The program will combine a talk by Dave Neuhardt on Civil War era resident and fife music collector A. F. Hopkins with performances from the Hopkins collection by Tom Kuhn of Camp Chase Fifes and Drums, and the story of the G.A.R. cannon, followed by a short tour of grave sites of Civil War veterans.

For your comfort you are encouraged to wear walking shoes and bring a lawn chair, and in the case of rain the program (minus grave site tour) will be held in the Whitehall Farm barn.

The program is free and open to the public.

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