The Memories Within Us:

Vignettes from the Oberlin Oral History Project

These vignettes were prepared for and presented on July 17, 1994 for an Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization (O.H.I.O.) program at the Monroe House. Gratitude is given to O.H.I.O. for these materials.

The memories presented here encapsulate significant portions of Oberlin history -- the early years of the twentieth century when Oberlin still had a railroad, and grocery stores still offered delivery services; the years during World War I when a player piano offered great joy to a young girl; and the years of the Great Depression during which Oberlin businesses were struck hard, jobs were difficult to find, and people's relationships were strained and strengthened. Significantly, some of those who were interviewed also commented on race relations in Oberlin in the half century before the civil rights movement. These oral histories encompass happy childhoods, financial hard-times, as well as the prosperity of a small town -- and provide a strikingly personal continuum for Oberlin's history.

These eight vignettes can be viewed in an order which is more or less chronological:

Foster Bows (b. 1906)

He remembers early twentieth century commerce in Oberlin, as well as the railroads and the local taxi cabs.

Mildred Haines (b. 1899)

She speaks of playing around Morgan Street in the years before World War I -- the water-works hill and the reservoir -- and walking down the railroad track.

Mary Fisk (b. 1907)

She recalls Oberlin during World War I, an automobile ride, and a player piano.

MagdaleneJackson Cox (b. 1907)

She recalls attending high school in Oberlin in the 1920's and enjoying recitals given at Oberlin College.

Bob Thomas (b. 1904)

He remembers watching silent movies at the Family Theater on the north side of East College Street as an eight-year old boy; as well as the hard times of the Great Depression.

Maynard Gott (b. ~1906)

He recounts the closings of Oberlin banks in 1929, as well as the post-Depression presence of many railroaders in Oberlin.

Louis Ives (b. ~1893)

He accounts his working years at Tobin's, a drugstore at which he began working in 1908. Ives bought the store in 1944 or 1945 and continued working there until he "closed up" in 1968.

Harold Gibson (b. 1922)

He relates a brief portion of the history of Gibson's Food Mart and Grocery -- the Depression years as well as the post-World War II period.