On a cold snowy night, the last night of 1957, we arrived in Germantown, Ohio. We’d driven all day from Kerrs Creek, Virginia. Kerrs Creek is nestled in the Shenandoah Valley at the foot of the House Mountains. It’s a beautiful place, and we hated to leave there.
I really don’t remember my emotions regarding the move, but I know that as long as Mother was going, I was going. I was confused a tad, Judy was staying, and I’m sure, at five and a half, I didn’t understand that.
The trip was a trek back then. Several mountains to cross, bad roads, the Interstate Highway System was in its infancy, semi-trucks pulling UP the mountains, snow, ice, rain, sleet, Zola and Alvah were ‘car-sick’, Charlie was sad he was leaving his friends, I had to ride the hump in the back seat all the way, Daddy was pulling a home-made trailer, and it was New Years Eve.
Not much was open.
My first memory of Germantwon is a blue light flashing in front of the Florentine Hotel that said “FISH”, and underneath the were the words “beer and wine”. Mother thought we had moved to hell. Al was sick all the way from Virginia to Ohio, and when we got to the home of the family who was putting us UP for the night, he had a fever and was in convulsions. Great way to start a new life in a new town in a new state and as far as I was concerned, on a new planet! I’m not sure I knew what planets were then, but it seemed we had moved so far away from home that we would never see it again.
The first people I met in Germantown were the Nunerys.
They are, in picture order, but not age order, Linda, Carol, Diann, and Susan.
Their mother and father, Marie and Dick, would remain my parents best friends for years. Of course, Mrs. Nunery and Daddy are gone now. Life changes aren’t always easy.
The move wasn’t easy, but it was made more pleasant by Mrs. Nunery, her beautiful home, and her hospitality. I remember tall spruce trees in front of the big white house on Market Street, a warm home, food on the table, her taking charge so Mother could take care of Al while Daddy and Mr. Nunery found a doctor.
Welcome to Germantown, right?
It was a warm welcome. Mrs. Nunery took charge, kept us all in line, made sure Mother was able to care for Al, and Daddy was able to concentrate on Mom. Her quiet, unassuming kindness made an impression on my tiny mind then, and haunts me today. She was ‘grace’ and kindness in everything.
I think three of the girls bunched UP in one room, Zola had a new BFF. Linda and Zola stayed in the front office where the pine trees scratched the windows giving it an eerie sensation – years later, Zola was in Linda’s wedding,
Charlie assured me that all would be well. The bed was soft, warm, and the paneling on the wall was made from pressed, polished wood chips, and was about the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. Mrs. Nunery had the most beautiful collection of cobalt blue glass, I think I caught the glass bug then and there. And I was quite sure we were at the Palace of Versailles.
Linda said that we all stood there looking at each other but when our dads shook hands we were all OK with it. It was like we’d know each other for a long time. Dads have that impact you know.
Susan said that her most vivid memory was that we were called by our full names, Zola Ruth, Paul David, and Alvah Stephen. Mother did that and does still today…well at least with me. I suppose it’s a Southern thing, but the girls picked UP on it and even today, at 60, I’m Paul David to most of my family and nearly everyone in Germantown!
They’re all great memories, they’re our memories, and they make us smile. Later on, when Judy came UP from Virginia, she would baby sit for the Nunery girls, and according to Carol, “…make the best popcorn ever!!”. Crisco, salt, and more salt.
Diann reminded me that we made cherry snow cones while we were there and everyone was a little overwhelmed by the mass of people.
Twelve people, one bathroom, a worried mom, a sick kid, and strangers in a strange land – thinking back, it renews your faith in humanity.
For four or five days, until our furniture arrived and we moved into the house on Farmersville Pike, this family housed us. Fed us. Entertained us. And welcomed us.
Do they make people like that now? I sadly, doubt it!
What I didn’t know, but was recently brought UP to date on, is that the friendship between Dad and Mr. Nunery started before we got to Germantown. Around July or August of 1957, when Mr. Nunnery was the chairman of the Pulpit Committee at FBC, Tom Calhoun, a local boy, called him about a pastor in Virginia who was considering a change. Mr. Nunnery called Dad. They talked for more than an hour, and they developed a friendship then. Mr. Nunery told Dad that FBC needed a new pastor, and Dad showed an interest, but made no commitment. Daddy was a prayerful man, as is Mr. Nunery. He had to talk to God about it. Dad came to Germantown, held a two week ‘revival’ meeting at FBC so that the folks there could get to know him. At the end of the two weeks, there were several people who were to be Baptized, and Dad was asked to stay through Sunday and do the honors. Following that meeting, the church held a business meeting and they voted to call Dad as the new Pastor. Dad wouldn’t go if it wasn’t a 100% vote…he loved a Landslide. Judy remembers Daddy praying at the dinner table and said in his prayer, “I’d rather be dead than out of the will of God.” A few seconds later, the phone rang, and it was Dick Nunery calling to tell Dad that the church had voted to call him. The church agreed to rent a home for us to live in, pay $400 in moving expenses, and pay Daddy $85 a week. When Mr. Nunery told Dad that the church wasn’t all that well off, Dad told him that God had always supplied his needs in Virginia, and he was sure He would do so in Germantown – if that’s the place He wanted him. The die was cast, we were to become Buckeyes!
Our family friendship has stayed strong. Mr. Nunery was our ‘insurance man’ for decades, and Floyd, one of the sons-in-law, was my Best Man!
Today we connect through Facebook; we’re all spread out: North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Florida – the two families are every where. A couple are even in Heaven.
But, we stay in touch, and we’re still good friends.
And we remember the four little girls who welcomed this band of gypsies into their home.
And, we’re grateful for them.