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‘Cardinal Charlie’: Both of my grandfathers made grain drills

Published 12:20pm Thursday, July 14, 2011

‘I was glad to see where the SMC museum has restored an old Dowagiac grain drill.

gillI haven’t been out to see it yet, but when I do, I’m going to wonder if maybe my great-grandfather Henry Clarke or my adopted grandfather Wilbur Taplin could have possibly helped work on making this very machine (could be).

They both worked there and I have two old pictures of workers at the drill works.

One is a picture of 12 men. Seven were standing and five were seated in front.

In the five in front, the second from the right was great-grandpa Henry Clarke, with his long beard and his pipe in his mouth.

Next to him was Wilbur Taplin, my adopted grandfather.

The other picture was of a large group of workers. Eighty-seven, if I counted right.

There was a hound dog sitting amongst three men that sat in the front row.

Old Henry was in in this large picture, but I couldn’t pick out Wilbur Taplin.

And yes, old Henry had his pipe in his mouth.

In the picture of 12 men, four of them wore vests. In the big picture, everyone had a hat on, and the only pipe smoker seemed to be old Henry.

I’m amazed not to see any women, as a factory as big as the drill works, I would think there were girls in the office,

How many remember Sloan’s liniment? And remember those old black and white TVs? How it took a while to warm up before the picture came on.

Also, remember when our radios had dials, not push buttons, and it is true our telephone did the same.

Our doggone old TVs had the darn tubes burn out frequently. I remember calling my friend and neighbor Mike Bobik on a Christmas day when a tube blew out on our TV and would you believe he came over and put a new tube in our set?

I was trying to think back to what I used to pay for a new comic book. Was it five or 10 cents?

I do recall going down to the Hatfield Economy Drug Store where, once a month, and buying last month’s issue for just two cents, but the cover was missing.

I can remember when I went to Oak Street School in the 1930s, a lot of kids got something called “impetigo.” It caused large sores with scabs. Treatment was to soak the scabs off the sores and fill the sore with salve of hog lard mixed witgh powdered sulphur.

Also, in school we kids made pirate and pilgrim hats. Recently, in one of I and my child-bride wife’s discussions, she said I may not be the brightest candle on the candelabra, but I am right this time Mr. Gill. Do old people like myself find that “memories are like jewels?”’

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. E-mail him at

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