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Harold C. Amacher, Sr.


Harold C. was the last of the children born to John and Carrie Amacher. Harold was born on March 1, 1898, ten years after his sister Addie.

This picture is a postcard addressed to Mrs. Robert Huebner 3855 W 42nd St, Cleveland, Ohio and postmarked July 1912. The message reads "Dear Sister Here is Harolds picture with his love. Lovingly Brother Harold."

My father, Harold, Jr. recalls, "the first house I remember well was at 3504 W. 58th St. although my folks lived at several other addresses before they bought this place in 1927.

"The yard of this property was quite small. Our house faced West 58th but there was another family in another dwelling facing W. 59th St. on the same lot. In this section of town, this is not uncommon.

"With considerable help from my mother's relatives, especially her father, some extensive renovations were made to this little building. They dug out the basement and installed a coal furnace, they tore down the tiny front porch and replaced it with a bigger one that ran the full width of the house, and finished off the attic. They also added a kitchen with a pantry at the rear. This made the yard even smaller.

"My sister Caroline and my brother Richard were both born here. I remember that when Richard was born, Caroline was sent across the street to one neighbor, and I was sent to spend the day with the people next door.

"Soon after his marriage, Harold had started to work as a driver-salesman for the Jacob Laub Baking Company, a job he kept for twelve years. On many Saturdays during my boyhood, I went along as his helper on his bread route. We would get up in the middle of the night for a chilly 3 AM ride to the bakery at 43rd and Lorain, load my father's truck with bread and other baked goods, and be on our way by 5 AM. Hank also recalls helping his brother-in-law. At that time, the truck was horse-drawn, and Harold and Hank could take a nap between stops because the horse, Jeff, knew the route. Hank's efforts were always rewarded by a good breakfast.

"At first, I was thrilled with the adventure of it all and was very happy for the chance to earn 50 cents for all day. Sometimes, I had a special treat when Dad and I had a second breakfast in one of the restaurants where we delivered bread. "As I grew older, this job lost most of its appeal. When school was out, my preference was to be out playing, but my father had problems with his back and he needed a helper. Besides, to hire some other boy to help would have cost him five times as much as he was paying me.

Dad loved baseball and until he was well into his thirties (or developed back trouble), he played outfield for Laub's sandlot team. Two of his fingers were stiff from having been broken by baseballs.

I am glad I had the chance to spend some time with my father while he was still young and healthy. As he grew older, his luck and health turned sour, so my two brothers probably can't remember him as fondly as I can.

In 1935, the bakery drivers were organized by Teamster's Union Local No. 52. In June, the drivers struck two of Cleveland's bakeries. Without any hesitation, the owners of eighteen more bakeries, members of the "Baker's Club", voluntarily closed down their ovens and gave away the baked goods they had on hand before it could go stale.

In August the strike was settled after seven weeks; a fairly short strike for those early days after the Wagner Act was passed. The Teamsters won, and the drivers got their union, but my father, who may have been too outspoken during the organization, lost his job.

The next year, the Keystone Savings and Loan Co. foreclosed on the W. 58th St. mortgage. We had to move to a rented house at 2171 W. 83rd St. Again we were on a lot with two houses. Our house was in back of the landlady's house, and she kept a watchful eye on all of our comings and goings. We had a tiny basement that didn't have enough room for a furnace, so heating was provided by a coal stove in the living room. My brother Tommy was born in this house.

My father went through a series of short-term jobs. Perhaps he was blacklisted by the "Baker's Club". At one time or another during this period he worked for Kistlers, Peterson Nut Co., and Mrs. Wagner's Pies. My last summer vacation from high-school was spent in the back end of his Honey Girl Bread truck.

The family had weathered the Great Depression very nicely until the bakery strike, but now that the rest of the country was beginning to recover, it seemed that we were the only ones who were still poor.

In an effort to get out from under, my father borrowed $100 to get clear title to a lot on Omega Road in Bedford Township and began to build a small house. Throughout the summer of 1941, again with some help from my mother's relatives, he and my mother, and I, and my two brothers, and my sister drove from the West Side to Bedford several times a week to work on the house.

One story, no basement, no water or plumbing, no central heating, but we did get moved into it before winter. That was the winter that started with Pearl Harbor.

I was drafted in February 1943, so I missed most of the fun. Sometime during the war, the house on Omega Road was sold and the family moved to 7211 Elton Ave.

During the war, Harold went into the war factories. He worked in several shops and when the war ended, he was in the toolroom at Ohio Crankshaft.

When I returned from the service, I lived with my parents on Elton Ave while I started college.

But my father was not through with his construction projects yet. He bought a lot on Pettibone Road in Solon and we began to build another house.

First we built a chicken coop so my brothers and I would have a place to sleep while we built a garage. Next we built an outhouse. When the garage was finished, my mother and sister moved into it until the house was ready. The new house had a basement, a well, and a septic tank, -with indoor plumbing, of course.

After a few years, my father sold the house we built in Solon, and bought a run-down nursery on Miles Avenue. Later he exchanged it for a house on Beechwood Ave. Dad's health kept deteriorating steadily and he had a hard time maintaining steady employment. For a time he was janitor at a bank in Chagrin Falls. His last job was with Pesco on Miles Ave. He died June 22, 1956. He was 58 years old.

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Copyright 2000 Nancy McAdams
March 25, 2000
Last update September 6, 2000

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