Miss Pearl Means Takes the Stage

The previous post on Pioneering Days at Antioch mentioned the colorful Pearl Means, and she was the sort of woman who demands more attention.

The Yellow Springs Heritage post on Pearl Means describes one incident where she claimed public attention when she took it upon herself to deal with a broken-down horse’s fate, but this was certainly not the only time she stepped into the spotlight, either literally or figuratively.

An article from the Ironton Register of 1889 makes note of the beginning of her theatrical career:

Ironton Register Thurs. Feb. 7, 1889 – MISS PEARL MEANS – The New York Sun makes public a fact that the young lady’s friends have known for some time, i.e., that Miss Pearl Means is studying for the stage. Miss Means is positive that she is not “stage struck” in the ordinary sense of the word, but adopts the stage as a method earning a livelihood. Before her parents were fully aware of her intentions she became a member of the Lyceum School of Acting, of which A. M. Palmer is the head, and Boucicault a professor. she has been placed upon the preferred list of pupils and has enlisted, by her earnestness, the interest and sympathy of such men as Lawrence Barrett and A. M. Palmer, and should she develop the requisite talent for success, will undoubtedly have every opportunity of proving it. She promises to be a very delightful “ingenue”, and the many friends of her family here will watch her career with deep interest. She kept her attendance at the school secret for awhile, fearing an unnecessary shock to her father, ex-Mayor Wm. Means, whose health is still precarious. The Sun says: “Two more society girls are ready for the stage. They show the extent to which the stage craze has gone among women in America since Mrs. Potter’s success. One of the young women has just been engaged by Mr. Frohman for the ‘Lord Chumley’ Company, and the other will probably join Mrs. Blaine’s company. Miss Means is the daughter of a former bank President in Cincinnati. She was very well known in society in the West. A series of misfortunes, culminating in her father’s financial ruin, finally led Miss Means to seek for a livelihood. The other society debutante is Miss Moynahan, who comes of the old Irish family of that name in Ottawa. Her fortune was left entirely in the hands of her father’s executors and was dissipated in less than three years. Both of the young women are in the class of society amateurs of which Miss Elsie DeWolfe is such a shining light.” – Com.-Gazette.

Miss Means goes upon the stage probably because she loves the dramatic art. Ever since she was a child she was fond of elocution. She has particularly a sweet voice and graceful manners, and is a most handsome and intelligent young lady. If the information above is true, we are sure she will carry to the stage the best and noblest ideas of the art. “

Because her father William Means was a prominent Cincinnati banker and one-time mayor, Pearl Means’ activities were frequently reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer, so in 1892 her professional theatrical introduction to the stage was noted in the issue of February 11, 1889:

The New York Graphic says: Dan Frohman has just given a position to a young lady quite well known as an amateur actress in this city and Cincinnati. She is Miss Pearl Means, daughter of William Means, of Cincinnati. Miss Means was educated at a well-known seminary, and kept the place merry with such excellent dramatic performances as it has not seen since she left. Her father failed lately, and since that time she determined to study for the stage. She applied to Mr. Frohman for a position, which application resulted in his giving her the part of “Jessie,” the ingenue role in “Lord Chumley.” She will play with the company in Williamsburg Opera House February 11th.

Cincinnati Enquirer, December 21, 1891:

Miss Means

(Philadelphia Ledger)

Miss Pearl Means, a very attractive member of the company that spent the week at the South Broad-street Theater (in “All the Comforts of Home”), is the daughter of a Cincinnati banker, whose failure threw her on her own resources, and by dint of her earnestness and intelligence has won a creditable place upon it. Miss Means was educated at Ogontz and during the week has enjoyed social attentions from many of her former school companions.

Cincinnati Enquirer, January 28, 1892:

Miss Pearl Means, the daughter of Ex-Mayor Wm. Means, will be in the city next week with “All the Comforts of Home.” She has developed into quite an actress.

But not all was starry-eyed praise, as this tidbit from the Enquirer’s issue of February 7, 1892 shows:

Heard a lady remark at the Grand one evening last week that Miss Pearl Means was not on the stage long enough to see her face or for any one to tell whether she could act or not.

One particular incident thrust her in the spotlight in quite a different way:

Cincinnati Enquirer, April 24, 1895

Says He Only Loaned an Umbrella To Miss Pearl Means


NEW YORK, April 23.—Actor “Jack” Hollis, who is suing for divorce, is indignant because his wife in her answer mentions Miss Pearl Means. He says it is a willful slander, instigated solely by malice and jealousy.

He declares that Miss Means was never in his room alone, and that she only called when specially invited by Mrs. Hollis. He loaned her an umbrella one day, and she returned it the following day. He was home alone, and he says his wife returned a moment later, and seeing Miss Means, screamed until a policeman entered and took all hands to the station house. Mr. Hollis was subsequently discharged, and Mrs. Hollis was sent to the inebriate ward in Bellevue Hospital.

Cincinnati Enquirer, August 11, 1895


Every Allegation Made.

Testimony Favorable to Miss Pearl Means in the Hollis Case


NEW YORK, August 10.—Testimony in the action brought by John Beresford Hollis for an absolute divorce from Linna Valeria Hollis was filed in the Superior Court today. Harris, who is an actor, charges that his wife has been guilty of improper conduct with James Dunbar. Mrs. Hollis filed a counter suit against her husband, accusing him with intimacy with Miss Pearl A. Means, of Cincinnati.

Miss Means was an actress until the summer of 1891, when she left the stage to become a teacher of elocution in Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio. Her sister, Gertrude, is also a teacher in the college.

The testimony filed was favorable to Miss Means.

President Daniel Albright Long, of Antioch College, testified that he met Pearl A. Means in 1883, when she was a young and frolicsome schoolgirl. He said she had been a teacher at the college, with an excellent record for the past two years. He added: “I have always found her chaste, and in all her communications as pure as a vestal virgin.”

Miss Means testified that she frequently took lunch with Mrs. Hollis after she returned in May, 18[illegible], from the road with the All the Comforts of Home Company. She also said that in August and September, [illegible year], during which time Mrs. Hollis lays some of her charges in this city, she (Miss Means) was at her home in Yellow Springs.

She denied that she was the cause of a row at the Hollis house, at No. 254 Fourth avenue, July 2[illegible], 1892, which resulted in the arrest of Mr. and Mrs. Hollis.

Miss Means also denied the allegation that while she was ill in San Francisco the previous fall Hollis nursed her through her illness. She also denied the charge that she spent the night of May 18, 1892, at a hotel with Hollis.

As a dedicated early defender of animals (as witnessed by the horse incident), Pearl Means strode boldly onto the legal stage later in her life and used her theatrical training to good effect (at least in garnering publicity):

Cincinnati Enquirer, May 12, 1914

DRAMATIC Scene in Council Hall

When Miss Means Accuses Stockman of Being Heartless

And Declares His Cruelty Will Lead Him To Hell

I’ll Have Company,” Was Quick Reply—Exciting Tilt Over a Proposed Ordinance

Shaking her clenched hand in the face of Talton Embry, Miss Pearl Means, who was the originator of an ordinance to kill injured cattle as soon as they are received at the stock yards, told him that he had no heart or that it is as black as coal and that he is “absolutely devoid of any element of sympathy.” Miss Means is the daughter of former Mayor Means, of Cincinnati.

The veteran stock yards man replied: “I hate to insult a lady, but I fear that your present conduct must lead me to believe that you do not possess the instincts of a lady. I have a heart as big as you would have us believe you have. I have stood at the bedside of suffering, agonizing because I could bring no relief, and I have also repeatedly demonstrated my sympathy for the poor brute. We are willing to co-operate with your society, but this ordinance would deprive up of our property.

Another Hot SHOT.

I again say you have no heart,” interrupted Miss Means, “and your cruelty will lead you to hell.”

I guess I’ll have company,” rejoined Mr. Embry, as he proceeded to quit the scene.

Miss Means got the last word by calling after him: “You bet you will.”

This scene was enacted in the Council Chamber at the City Hall yesterday morning, following the meeting of the Committee on Law Contracts and Claims, which had under consideration the Means ordinance.

The ordinance was backed by the Hamilton County S.P.C.A.A. Committee representing that organization, as well as representatives of the Union Stock Yards, made statements before the committee as to the effects of the proposed law.

The society contended that cattle taken to the yards on Saturday night might frequently have among them some with broken bones. These, they claimed, are permitted to go without water or feed until they are slaughtered on Monday, and that in consequence they suffer greatly.

Stockmen’s Reply

Representatives of the stock yards, however, denied that the animals are treated inhumanely and asserted they do receive feed and water. They contended that it is impossible to secure butchers to slaughter on Sunday, and that in most instances it would mean a loss of approximately $40 to $50 a head if they are disposed of before the slaughter houses open on Monday. The stockmen asked that the ordinance be held up for a while to give them an opportunity to see if they cannot secure a butcher to kill the injured cattle on Sunday. It was stated that arrangements will also have to be made with the Health Department to secure an inspector to witness the killing. This arrangement satisfied everybody but Miss Means, who insisted that the ordinance be passed. The attorneys for the organization, however, told her that the stock yards people are willing to do everything that was demanded of them, but that they are stopped by conditions that no one can control.

This did not satisfy her, and when the meeting adjourned, she renewed the argument with Mr. Embry.


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Pioneering Days at Antioch – Part 1

Front cover

In addition to The Story of Glen Helen, Lucy Griscom Morgan, wife of Arthur Morgan, was the author of several other slim volumes published by the Antioch Press (still in existence as publisher of The Antioch Review).

Pioneering Days at Antioch is a 24-page booklet full of vivid details about the early tenure of the Morgans at Antioch, and touches on issues that concern us today – utilities, housing, the financial health of Antioch, etc.




This first section refers to one of the more memorable characters in Yellow Springs, Pearl Means (who would be a wonderful topic for either a biography or novelization).  A picture of Pearl and another take on her can be found here.



In 1915 a Dayton friend took me on a long drive to Spring Valley and Springfield. On the way she pointed down what I later knew as Center College Street to “an old college named Antioch.” In 1919 Arthur came home one day saying, “Arthur Hauck said today that I had been made a trustee of Antioch College, I never heard of it, did thee?” Remembering that drive, I could tell him where it was. The following Sunday we drove over to look at it and his remark that we both remember was, “It looks dead enough to do anything I want with.” It was hinted to him later that he was put on the board at the request of the American Unitarian Association, which had a residual interest in the small endowment, to protect their interests in the final liquidation which then seemed imminent.

Arthur and I had been dreaming for years of an educational institution which would combine practical work and cultural studies. In 1919 jobs were plentiful and the discouraged old board of trustees had no hopeful plan at all, so it was comparatively easy to get them willing to let him try his own.

Arthur’s first idea had been to find some suitable person to be the new president (his own college training had lasted only a few weeks), and for a year he hunted for such a person, but in 1920 the trustees, partly the old board and partly new members, asked him to take the position. He agreed to do so, using the year of 1920-21 to prepare for the new regime. He needed younger trustees, largely a new faculty, new faculty houses, renovated college buildings, a new student body—and funds.

The old college buildings were sturdy but of the 1850 vintage. North and South Halls had sixteen chimneys each, two by three feet in cross-section, from the ground up—one chimney for every two rooms. Old-time students told of how “trustworthy boys” supplied the girls’ rooms with firewood. The old oak floors and the oak lath and timbers in the partitions were seared by many fires that had got started from the stoves. Only the fire resistance of oak timber had preserved the buildings.

Toilet facilities were very primitive. There was an outbuilding for South Hall, but for the girls’ hall the original builders had provided an original plan. On the middle of the south side there can still be seen one door on every floor, which now seem to open out into space. When we took over, they opened onto narrow passageways which led to a five-sided building—four besides the entrance, one side for each floor of the dormitory—a tremendous privy. The bricks from it were used as fill to make North College and President Streets passable. Before that, Xenia Avenue and Dayton Street were the only ones in town safe for an auto in wet weather.

The village had no water supply. Luckily, Arthur knew the Ohio Conservancy Act which he himself had helped write for the flood protection work at Dayton, and knew that an almost identical law had been re-enacted for water supply districts. Under this the Yellow Spring (along with the Glen) could be appropriated as a source of water for a water system. Those of us who lived there then will never forget the deposits of iron and lime left daily by Yellow Spring water in all our sinks and basins, but it was wonderful to have running water. Primarily it was even more important in preventing the Glen being sold as an amusement park, as we found had been planned.

The scarcity of houses was then, as always, acute. The Nashes camped out temporarily in North Hall. As soon as we knew we were to live in Yellow Springs, I began to agitate to get a house on what was then called the “Means Lawn.” it had been the home of Judge Mills, who gave the original land for the college, but long ago he had sold to Mr. Means, who by 1921 was a ninety-year-old invalid. The property was then in the name of his son-in-law, W. A. Julian, of Cincinnati. We were told by everyone that many people had tried in vain to buy it. One day in the summer of 1921, while we were still living at Englewood Dam, Arthur had a phone call from Cincinnati, saying that we could have the sixteen acres if we would pay cash. Arthur called me from Dayton to ask about our finances. Luckily by using all our bank account and getting a mortgage for the rest, we were able to close the bargain. Next day, Julian said he preferred to keep it himself, but we had it and could start planning faculty houses. Louis Grandgent, who had recently graduated in architecture from Harvard, and had specialized in colonial houses, was added to the faculty, and our building program started, using college endowment funds for the college faculty homes, while we financed our own. As jobs had already become scarce, some college boys worked on the houses. For some years afterward I would frequently hear some boy at a party remark, “I helped carry the bathtub up in this house,” etc., etc.

The old Horace Mann house, on the foundation of which the college library was later built, was still standing, but Mrs. Weston, who had tried living in it, warned me, “It is a woman-killer.” At any rate, it was needed as a college dormitory, so we started to build the Morgan house on the Lawn, and were fortunate in being able to buy a brand-new house on Davis Street (where Kate Gibbs lives now) as a temporary home. Until after Christmas that first year, we among the newcomers had the only house, and it became a center of social life. We had been s anxious for a home that we bought if over the telephone, “sight-unseen,” and moved in without any idea of its internal arrangement. Knowing George Drake, of whom we bought it, we felt entirely safe.

By autumn Mr. Means had died, and the college was legally entitled to that big house, but “Miss Pearl,” his daughter, always had some excuse for not moving out. To some people she would not even open the door, but to me she was always pleasant, though never ready to move. Finally Phil Nash went to see her. She said, “Do you know why I do not move?” He, “No.” She, “I have always wanted the experience of being evicted.” (She had been an actress.) He, “All right, we will oblige you.” (The arm of the law then was an elderly one-legged man.) Proceedings started; one load of furniture was taken out and, according to agreement with Mr. Julian, left in storage in Springfield. The movers went for the next load only to be met by Miss Pearl armed with a pistol, and she was said to be a very good shot. Phil Nash was sent for. She explained that this was not her idea of eviction. She wanted all her goods put on the sidewalk. So they obliged with that, and the first edition of the Springfield afternoon paper had a picture of her and her dogs and her furniture on the street. It was headed, “Senator Julian’s sister-in-law . . .” etc. She was settling an old grudge with him! Arthur phoned the paper and no further publicity was given to her whim. She moved, dogs and all, into the amusingly gingerbreaded little building, now torn down, called “Little Antioch,” triumphantly crowding out the former tenants.

An amusing sequel took place the following summer. Arthur and I strolled out in the moonlight one evening and were sitting on the front steps of the large Mills House. Around the corner stalked Miss Pearl and her three dogs. As if by stage directions two dogs joined us, one on each side, and she and “Billy Sunday,” her special pet, moved majestically out in front in the clear moonlight. There she dramatically orated, “One year ago tonight, my father was murdered in that house.” She went on to say who did it. The list included all the principal men of the village. The dogs crowded closer and closer to us, and they were not clean. We wondered how we had to get away. Finally I said, “Arthur, we had better go see if th y mother is all right.” The actress exclaimed, “Go—go at once—they may be murdering her,” and we went.

Back cover, showing additional titles by the Antioch Press


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Hints of a Speaker’s Program

Ann Armstrong-Ingoldsby, who has given lively presentations on historical underwear for both the Yellow Springs Historical Society and the Yellow Springs Library Association, has kindly donated to the Historical Society the transcription of some hand-written notes (as well as the notes themselves)  by her grandmother and several books, including the autographed copy of The Story of Glen Helen referred to in the notes. (The Story of Glen Helen has been covered in this blog in a series of posts: Chapter I     Chapter II     Chapter III     Chapter IVa     Chapter IVb.)

Bear in mind that these notes are reminders to the speaker who wrote them about what she wanted to cover, and the additional material she wanted to share (denoted by italics), so your imagination is needed to “fill in the blanks”.

Our thanks to Ann for sharing a precious bit of family history with the Historical Society.

Dec. 11, 2017

Notes from Inez Lovette Armstrong who grew up in Clifton, Ohio and went to Antioch. She taught school in a one room school off Rife Road, Clifton.

Inez married Orville Armstrong of George H. Armstrong of Clifton Mill, in 1915. She was a floral arranger, and [had] a beautiful garden in Fairfield, where a mill was and later became the Mill Pond Acres and is now a B&B.

She spoke to groups about floral arrangements, flowers, etc. and started the Garden Club in Fairborn.

Her son was George Armstrong and he was my father and they owned the grain elevator in Fairborn.

Wild Flowers is a Big Subject

50,000 flowering plants in the U.S.

Flowers of the glen- is a big subject since there are flowers blooming there all year.

Glen Helen comprises 1000 acres so a lot of flowers about 1/3 of this has been set aside as natural area allowed to develop by itself.

This natural area comprises the most familiar and most beautiful parts of the glen. No collecting of plants, animals or rocks is allowed (desc of River & Creek)

No other subject I have ever been asked to talk about, has brought back as many fond memories as this one has.

My high School days were spent at one end of this scenic place along the Little Miami River and my brief teaching career of 3 years and my college days were spent at the other end. May day walks and picnics into the glen when I was teaching and getting married my pupils took me to the Glen, Clifton School — gorge- falls stream and rocks, gathered wild flowers.

We studied botany and my book with wild flowers from the gorge

Can’t find

We would go down at noon and go so far we had to run to get back. I can remember being so hot & panting from climbing the steep steps to get on to the road & get back to school on time. We did this often as different flowers came out. Our school classes were smaller than now and the girls of the class would pair off except where the path was too narrow and what fun we would have- go back laden with flowers. Ever since I’ve been asked to talk on this, my mind keeps going back to these trips and particularly one of the girls. A very beautiful girl named Frances and often my companion. 2 years older than I but very ideal. I often helped her with her school work, but I thought if I could exchange places with her I would. She died young, every time I think back, I think of this poem. And then I think of this sad poem etc. written for some other occasion that expresses so many ( ) the facts.

And now the Glen Helen and the college itself.

Whatever you think or have heard of the beatniks and free thiinkers of the present Antioch College and much of it is true Antioch has had many brilliant people. It has accomplish[ed] many things in the past and its beautiful Glen Helen is one of the prettiest places in all Ohio and if you haven’t walked its trails you have really missed something.

When Arthur Morgan became president and he and Mrs. Morgan were keenly aware of the beautiful valley and wanted to preserve it adjacent to that lay to the college and they succeeded in getting the people to buy in small portions.

Mrs. Armstrong and Mrs. Orl Price developed a small area and called it the dingle (about 1920) and then Hugh Taylor Birch to take it and a larger portion – 920 acres of field, forest and stream.

This he deeded to the college and with an endowment of $500,000 to be called Glen Helen a memorial to his daughter.

He had been a student at Antioch 60 years before and had to quit has last year to go to work in Chicago – came back & graduated after 60 years. I met Hugh Taylor Birch in Ft. Lauderdale Florida in 1941. He had turned all his business over to a law firm. A trustee of Antioch college & I took the female members of the lawyers family down to visit there. He was living in a big house on the ocean with a Scotch housekeeper and a cook. He had never married again.

He built a causeway over to the house later the college got that.

We found him with a plaid shirt on and out digging swamp palms from his back yard. He was then 93. When he found out that I had gone to Antioch and that I had connection with George Black who had been president of Antioch he autographed this book and gave it to me.

Actual autograph

Well the college & Mrs. Birch would make a whole book by itself.

Get Back on the trail- Wild Flowers.

I decided the other day to go back over at least part of it and see what wild flowers were still there.

Some how the steps over at the Gorge and the path to steamboat rock seemed so much steeper than they used to be and many of the wild flowers have been totally destroyed.

Too many people picked them as we did before we learned better.

Talus trail ( ) and has never been cultivated. They ( )crowded and will just disappear if they have a week for an existence, most of them grown in shady moist soil and hot sun will kill many of them and if picked kill the whole plant.

Interest in 500,000 – 21,000 pay salary of Dr. Hunt – 2 full time employees.

Mr. Birch died in 1913 lived in Chicago till (died)

He never remarried. Helen was married in 1919 died in 1925

( )

Nature alone teaches you the existence of a supreme being and the firmament showeth his hand ( )

More named trees in Glen Helen than the whole continent of Europe – If you haven’t visited the Glen- You have missed one of the most beautiful if not the most in all Ohio.

Glen Helen association for $5.00 yr tours for 30 cents with a naturalist.

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1902 Map (Southeast)

Today is shown the final section of the 1902 map of Yellow Springs (previous sections were shown here and here), in which Antioch College is clearly marked.

The southernmost half of the map is made up of large parcels, of which only a few of the owners’ names are still familiar.

One of these forgotten names, J. W. Pultz, belongs to a farmer who moved to Yellow Springs from West Viriginia and was married to Bertie Bailey. What brought him to Yellow Springs?

Another, Ella Hand, lived her whole 84 years in Yellow Springs and was apparently a cousin to the Taylor family, and the only traces of her life recorded so far located have been a few notices of real estate transactions. What was her full story?

And what were the stories of  Effie Stephenson, John W. Harper, David Splann, Geo. B Grindle, Orr B. Good?

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From the Antioch Bookplate Archives – 1980s part 11

Another group demonstrating the widely differing interests that the Antioch Publishing Company tried to accommodate in bookplate designs.

The success of the “Footprints” poem as a bookplate led to trying other inspirational poems to be included in both the general and Christian market catalogs. Although they were modestly successful, “Footprints” still held pride of place.

Antioch bookplate B-151


Antioch bookplate B-149

B-149 by Robert Vavra

Antioch bookplate B-192

B-192 Beatrix Potter

Antioch bookplate B-218

B-218 RobotMan

Antioch bookplate B-219


Antioch bookplate B-232


Antioch bookplate B-229


Antioch bookplate B-230


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Once a Downtown Yellow Springs Institution

Another Yellow Springs News clipping from those collected by Mary E. Morgan, for which the date of the issue was not noted (although it had to have been after 1973, given the reference to New Burlington).

For those who never knew it, Dick & Tom’s was located where Sunrise Café now does business.

People of the Village

Dick & Babs and Dick & Toms

By Lois Sparks

On October 10th, the News featured a brief history of the legendary Dick and Tom’s — to my knowledge the only restaurant in Yellow Springs that has survived for more than 30 years virtually unchanged in menu, management and ambiance. Curious about the intrepid couple responsible for such consistency and longevity, I talked with the Bullens about their personal backgrounds, the business itself, the village, and the college.

* * *

Dick Bullen, born in 1922, grew up on his father’s farm near what was then New Burlington, Ohio (now beneath the waters of Caesar’s Creek reservoir). Although there was always enough to eat, the family of five was hard hit by the Depression, which for farmers began shortly after World War I and continued through the ’30’s. Dick recalls that he never owned a bicycle: “My brother bought a second hand bike for $5, and we all rode it — put five different sets of pedals on it.”

In 1939 Dick’s father bought a farm near Yellow Springs. Dick, having graduated from Spring Valley High School, went to work at the old Morris Bean foundry, then located on Corry Street at the edge of the Antioch campus. He met and courted a local girl, Barbara Figgins, and in June of 1942 they were married. Dick was just 20, Babs not yet 18.

Babs Bullen has lived in Yellow Springs all her life. Her father, Ralph Figgins, is a retired plumber who worked for many years on the maintenance staff at Antioch. Babs has four sisters and one brother, and all six of the Figgins kids graduated from Bryan High School. When Dick met Babs, she was a cheerleader, “and I guess that runs in the family,” says Babs, “because our daughter Judy (Bryan ’62) was a cheerleader, too.”

Immediately after his marriage in 1942, Dick joined the Army Air Force, in which he served until 1946. Although he remained in the United States and did not see combat in World War II, he nevertheless became a casualty, injuring his leg seriously enough in a football game to put him in the hospital for several months. On returning to Yellow Springs, Dick went back to work at the foundry, but the heavy lifting his job required aggravated his injured leg, and he began to cast about for an alternative.

“It all started when I was just kidding around with old Doc Erbaugh in the drug store,” Dick recalled. “I never had any idea of going into the restaurant business. What I wanted was to go to college, but by 1948 we already had three kids and there just wasn’t time or money for college.”

At that time, the space now occupied by Dick and Tom’s housed Brenner’s Meat Market, which was going out of business. Doc Erbaugh wanted to get rid of his soda fountain, and he suggested that Dick and his brother-in-law, Norm Thomas (“Tom”), move into the former meat market and start a restaurant there.

Somewhat to his own surprise, Dick agreed to give it a try, and on May 28, 1948, Dick and Tom’s opened for business.

Before they opened, only Norm Thomas had had any restaurant experience, and that was not extensive. For some time prior to the opening, Dick and Babs alternated working evenings at Erbaugh’s learnin g how to operate the soda fountain. During the day, Dick continued to work full time at Morris Bean, while Babs kept house and looked after the growing family.

“None of us had any money,” Dick said. “But we didn[t have to do any heavy borrowing, either. We just did all the work ourselves, and I don’t think we paid more than $500 for Erbaugh’s whole soda fountain, booths included. We cleaned the place up, and put plaster paint on the walls and ceiling — and that stuff was so good we[ve still got the original paint job.”

At first, Norm Thomas did most of the cooking, but “there’s not much to learning grill work,” says Dick, and soon the two men were sharing the task. During the first year, both Bullens and both Thomases worked from 6 a.m. until midnight, six days a week. At that time, their biggest competition was the old Glen Cafe, which stayed open until 1 a.m. and served beer, while Dick and Tom’s had to make it on food alone.

“We couldn’t have done it without the college students,” Dick said. “Especially the G.I.’s, who came back to school after the war. Norm and I were G.I.’s too, and the boys gave us their business.”

The operation has not changed much. For years, Dick and Tom’s served the “early bird” breakfast: bacon and eggs at a bargain price. The “wimpy” has been a staple from the beginning, as have home made meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, smoked sausage, and vegetable soup.

The Bullens have been sole owners and managers since about 1950, when Norm Thomas left to serve in the Korean War. He returned briefly to Dick and Tom’s, then bought the old 68 Grill, and now works at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The Bullens’ clientele has always been almost exclusively local, and 60% of it is college-connected. If Antioch collapses, so may Dick and Tom’s. In any event, Dick and Babs would like to sell the business and retire, within the next year or so. They enjoy the restaurant, they like their customers, but after 31 years they are understandably weary. They plan to stay in the area, since their parents (all four of them in their eighties) live here; and they would like to visit their six children and 10 grandchildren.

Discoursing on the restaurant business in general, the Bullens are vehement in their conviction that “you can not do it unless you work.” Dick says: “If you have a small business like this in a small town like Yellow Springs, you can’t hire someone else to run it for you. I’ve seen restaurants come and go in this town, and they’ve failed because the owners have tried to do it the easy way. There is no easy way.”

Dick laughs. “I’ll tell you one thing. There’s a lot more to running a restaurant than putting on a cook’s hat and sitting behind the cash register. I started this place to get out of the foundry and off my feet. The funny thing is, I’ve been on my feet for almost 32. years.”

* This is the first in an occasional series of articles on village people by Lois Sparks, a career and vocational guidance counselor and former journalist who has lived in Yellow Springs for 15 years.

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How Did Your Garden Grow?

These photographs from the Howard Kahoe glass plate collection shared with Historical Society by Dave Huber are identified as being taken in the back yard of 616 Xenia Avenue when it was owned by the Bailey family.

The plantings have an almost architectural formality.

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A Curiousity in the 1902 Map of Yellow Springs (Northeast)

If you look at John Bryan’s large tract almost in the center of this map and let you eye wander a little up and left, you will notice a parcel of land labeled “Mary Schnorbus” Unlike Bryan, Grinnell and some of the other names on the map, “Schnorbus” (sometimes seen as “Snorbus”)  hasn’t made as much of an imprint on Yellow Springs history.

So who was Mary Schnorbus (sometimes seen as “Snorbus”)?

She was born Mary Woodall and married her first husband Joseph Douglas Sipe in Montgomery County on June 9 in 1880. Sipe was one of a large family born to the oldest resident of Bath Township, Noah Sipe (or Sype), for whom one of their four children was named, and who has an entry in Robinson’s History of Greene County. 

Joseph Douglas Sipe died  in 1889 at the age of 28 or 29, and Mary next was wed to Joseph Schnorbus with whom she had another son Joseph who died in childhood. Joseph Schnorbus outlived Mary who died October 19, 1938. Curiously, Joseph’s name and birthdate are on their double tombstone in Glen Forest cemetery, but no death date is given, so his fate is currently unknown.

Mary and Joseph were “hucksters” (which was not a pejorative term at the time) and faced a couple of dramatic legal moments from their business.

Trial 1 — Xenia Gazette 1895-12-21

A trial at Yellow Springs yesterday took place before Squire Drummond and excited the greatest interest. Jos. Snorbus, a huckster, and his wife had been arrested for the theft of thirty chickens from Mrs. Emma Bull. The chickens were on the Snorbus premises but on the trial they were found not guilty and it was shown they had nothing to do with the theft. Judge Dakin for the defendants and Attorney Chas. E. Adams for plaintiff.

Trial 2 — Dayton Daily News – 1919-04-11


XENIA, O., April 11.— Mrs. Mary Snorbus of Yellow Springs, was cleared of the charge of receiving stolen property by the verdict of the jury in probate court Thursday.

Mrs. Snorbus, who is about 60 years old, was charged with buying from three Yellow Springs high school boys, Harry Shingledecker, Clifford McCune and Clarence Shauer, 10 chickens which the boys confessed they stole from George McCullough the night of February 18.

Their retirement was noted in the Dayton Daily News of November 4, 1923:

‘2 O’Clock in the Morning’ But They Didn’t Dance The Whole Night Through

YELLOW SPRINGS, Nov. 3.—After 31 years on the Springfield market in the huckster’s trade, Joseph Snorbus and his wife, who live in Yellow Springs, will retire from the business on Thanksgiving day.

The Snorbuses will continue to sell flowers and vegetables in the Springfield municipal market, but poultry, butter and eggs, which they have supplied Springfield families for over 30 years, will no longer be sold there.

Joseph Snorbus is 66 and Mrs. Snorbus is in her 62nd year and they have decided that getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning three times a week, and driving through to Springfield in the cold winter months, must be a thing of the past.

Mrs. Snorbus has been in the huckster’s trade for 40 years. She started with her first husband, Douglas Sipe, and continued after she and Mr. Snorbus were married in 1891. They had only one child, who was an invalid, and died at the age of 12.

Since coming here their course has been smoother. They have built up a large trade in flowers and the poultry trade which has been their big specialty, has steadily increased. Last Thanksgiving they sold over three hundred dressed fowls on a single day. Mr. Snorbus created a ripple of amusement when he told several friends a few days ago that, of all the work he had done, he liked most to kill and dress fowls.

Her obituary was printed in The Dayton Herald on October 22, 1938:

YELLOW SPRINGS—Mrs. Mary E. Snorbus, 75, died at her home Wednesday after a short illness from heart disease. She is survived by her husband, Joseph Snorbus, and two children by a former marriage, Mrs. Myrtle Craig, of Springfield, and Noah Sipe, of Yellow Springs. Mrs. Snorbus was a native of this community and for years has been a grower of flowers and plants on a large scale. She conducted a flower stand at the Springfield market for 56 years. Funeral services were held Friday afternoon at the Littleton Brothers funeral home, with burial in Glen Forest cemetery.

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News of a False Alarm

Sometimes history is what did not happen…

Xenia Gazette, July 9, 1966

Officers There But Hell’s Angels Are Not

YELLOW SPRINGS — Police and sheriff deputies waited patiently here Friday morning for 400 members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club of California which were to arrive about 11:30 a.m. for a meeting, but the group did not show up.

Police had notified the sheriff’s department which sent its entire shift after a tip had been received that the notorious motorcycle club was to arrive. However, the meeting failed to materialize and the report apparently was a hoax.

Sheriff deputies remained on the scene only about 30 minutes, but kept in touch with Yellow Springs Police Chief James McKee.

According to police, a rumor had started on the Antioch College campus that the 400 members of the Hell’s Angels were to arrive for a 11:30 a.m. meeting.

It was to beheld on Livermore St. Someone on the college staff heard of the talk of the meeting and notified village policve. There was plenty of police officers and deputies on the scene, but no sign of Hell’s Angels.

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Two Startling Articles

The following two articles from the Xenia Gazette are startling for different reasons. The first has some startling descriptive details, and the second is a startling case of déja vu on topics of immigants.

Xenia Gazette, March 11, 1920

The picture above is John Bauser, who met death Wednesday morning when the charge house of the Aetna Explosives Company at Goes, blew up. The large picture shows all that remains of the charge house, in which the two men met their death. Below is Thomas Mehaffey, of Railroad street, this city, the other victim of the explosion.

The charge house blew up at 8:47 and was followed a few minutes afterward by the wheel mill, in what is called a “green” explosion. There were 300 or 400 kegs of powder, which had accumulated there from the night work, in the charge house with Bauser and Mehaffey. Ollie and “Red” Woods, outside the charge house, saw a fire near the end of a truck they were repairing and shouted a warning. “Red” Woods jumped into the old race nearby while Ollie Woods ran and was blown several feet, but uninjured.

Bauser and Mehaffey were found 120 feet from the mill caught in a bush. Mehaffey had his right leg blown off below the knee and both died instantly. A horse that was standing near the building was blown 250 feet over the race. All four steel shoes and the harness were torn to bits.

Bauser is survived by his wife and two sons, Floyd and Edgar. His funeral services will be held at his home in Yellow Springs at one o’clock Friday afternoon. Mehaffey leaves his wive and four children. The children are, Daisy 19, Alice 13, and G[____] 9, and one son, whose whereabouts is unknown. The family has resided here two years. The funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

Xenia Gazette, September 13, 1920


“The Japanese question is California’s now, but it will be yours soon,” declared Governor William Stevens of California, speaking to an audience at the Presbyterian church in Yellow Springs Sunday night.

“With the Japanese coming into this country rapidly through Mexico, the situation is becoming serious,” the governor declared. “They are not assimilated into the life of this country. They have their own merchants, their own banks, they do not even use American money when they can avoid doing so,” the governor continued. “Farming, is the chief business of the Japanese in California, and in this work, the women do as much as the men, carrying their infants into the field with them, and allowing them to remain in their basket while the mother works. The Japanese woman’s housekeeping is so simple that she is able to do the outside work without interfering with household duties.

Women have made politics clean in California according to Governor Stevens. The state has had universal suffrage for ten years.

“My wife and I go to the polls together and cast our votes,” said the governor.

The beauties and excellence of California as a state were extolled by the governor, who said that long with an ideal climate, everything can be raised in the state that is produced in any other state in the union.

Governor Stevens was elected in 1917, and is serving his second term as governor. He spoke of the dynamiting of the governor’s mansion a few years ago, when he and his family narrowly escaped death. Ten thousand dollars was required to repair the damage caused by the bombs the governor said. The executive was introduced by Congressman S. D. Fess.

Governor Stevens is a native of Eaton and spent several days there visiting scenes of his boyhood. He will be at the home of his sister, Mrs. C. C. Stephenson in Yellow Springs for several days before returning west.

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