Thursday, June 11, 2009

When Ypsi Ran on Coal...as Late as 1962! Marsh & Son Coal Company Veteran Leaves a Comment!

Hey, did you catch the comment Ms. Metler kindly left on the Depot Town Mystery Photo post? It's a comment from someone who used to hang out, as a child, at the coal company that used to stand behind the Sidetrack! Wow! She said:

"The small light colored building facing River Street with the big silo looking things next to it, was Marsh & Son Coal company. My parents helped out when the owner's husband died. My father Elzie Patterson would go out to collect money from people who ordered coal but had not paid. I often rode along with him as I had not started school yet. This would have been in the late 1950's. I can remember driving out to farm houses located on Ellsworth Road west of Hewitt, it seemed like we drove forever. Everything was so spread out back then. My mom stayed in the office at the coal company answering the phone, taking orders, & keeping the books. On the days I did not ride with my dad I would stay with her in the very small office. I can remember passing the time coloring, doing puzzles & sorting buttons. My mom saved them from old worn out clothes which she would cut off and save. My job was to sort them by color into small jars, which later mom would re-use on some homemade item. I think my dad had hopes of somehow buying the business to run as our own family thing but of course that did not happened. Natural gas was the new thing. Susan (Patterson) Metler"

Talk about an evocative post! A quick directory check reveals that Marsh & Son Coal Company was in business as late as 1962 and possibly later! I'm definitely going to investigate it tomorrow at the Archives. Can you see the little white office in the picture that Ms. Metler refers to? What a great comment! Thank you, Ms. Metler! When I find more about Marsh & Son I'll post it, likely this weekend!

Some of those old farmhouses are still standing, here and there in the vicinity of Meijer. Maybe they were the ones Ms. Metler visited when she drove out with her dad to collect payments from coal delinquents!

5 comments :

Dusty D said...

I know I used a lot of exclamation points there, but I was so thrilled to hear from someone who has first-hand knowledge of the coal company. And such lovely and charming memories of coloring and sorting buttons. Really a treat to read and a privilege. Thank you Ms. M.!

Dusty D said...

Oh, and Ms. M., I think it's safe to say that the readers here would LOVE to hear more about the day-to-day operations of the coal company.

For example, I notice some chute-like spouts about 7 feet from the base of each silo. Would someone drive their truck under these spouts to have it filled with coal?

I know it probably seems like mundane old details to you, but to those ignorant of this business, it's completely fascinating and we'd love to hear whatever you'd care to share about it--and your recollections add to the historical record! Thanks again for your great comment!

Lisele said...

My dad worked for a coal company that switched to fuel oil in the 1960s. He was a salesman for Burkhardt Fuels, and once or twice, I got to ride around with him also. (This was in NJ.) I remember waiting for him different times and playing around silos just like these in the yard of the fuel company. By that time, it was the late 1960s and I don't think they were actively selling the coal anymore.

Anonymous said...

MY NAME IS KATHY PATTERSON GIBSON I WAS A TEENAGER WHEN MY PARENTS RAN THE COAL YARD. I REMEMBER THAT THE COAL DRIVERS WOULD ENTER THE COAL YARD AND LOAD THE COAL FROM THE CHUTES. THEN THEY WOULD PULL UP ON THE SCALES BESIDE THE OFFICE WHERE MY MOTHER WOULD WEIGH THEM.I WOULD STOPBY AFTER SCHOOL AND HANG OUT ,HELP ANSWER PHONES AND WATCH THE PEOPLE HEADING TO THE LOCAL BARS. AT THAT TIME DEPOT TOWN WAS NOT WHAT IT IS TODAY IT SEEMED TO HAVE A SEEDY AIR ABOUT. I REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A DIME STORE,ALSO THERE WAS A PLACE WITH A SODA COUNTER. I CAN STILL REMEMBER STOPPING IN FOR A COKE ON A HOT DAY

Dusty D said...

Dear Ms. Patterson: That is absolutely fascinating! What a privilege to hear the recollections of someone who actually ran the coal yard!

I've heard about Depot Town's former seediness. How different it is today, thanks to decades-long efforts by the property owners there.

Ms. Patterson, so you remember about what year you were referring to? If I have a year, I can probably look up that dime store and the soda counter in the city directories.

Thank you for so kindly visiting, and if you feel like it, I think everyone would love to hear more! I certainly would!