Just before Christmas of 1937 a “score” of children had gathered at the Church of the Master in Steuben in the afternoon to practice for that evening’s school Christmas program. Very soon after arriving, some of the children fainted and others developed severe headaches. The school principal realized quickly what might be wrong and rushed everyone outside who could walk and carried the others into the open air.
The children were aimed back toward the elementary school across the road, but some fell by the wayside. Telephone calls for help were placed to Willard and the parents were notified. Two doctors responded and worked to revive the dozen or more youngsters who were unconscious. At 8 that night, one child still hadn’t revived, but was considered out of danger.
An investigation showed that open coke fires were kept burning in the basement of the church to dry out concrete which had been poured during a remodeling project. Fumes from these open fires had filled the building with toxic fumes. As we would presume, the coke fires were extinguished and the church was aired thoroughly.
An incident in Norwalk in 1902 caused a man to suffer major injuries, but he recovered from his injuries. An electrician named Charles Jones was at work in a high pole in front of the Avalon Hotel, which stood just west of Berry’s Restaurant on West Main Street. He completed his work and started to climb down.
An electric light wire was tied to one of the steps on the pole and close by was a “messenger wire,” which was grounded. As Jones stepped near the electric wire, he touched the messenger wire and completed a circuit through his body. He was shocked into insensibility and fell about thirty feet to the ground.
Luckily, there was a guy-wire attached to the pole which which he struck and which broke his fall. Despite this bit of luck, one arm and both legs were temporarily paralyzed, and he was badly bruised. But, Jones lived to tell about his serious accident.
A Norwalk woman wasn’t physically injured in an 1880 incident, but came close to being scammed out of $30 — not a small sum in those days. One April evening a man called at the home of Mrs. Seth Peak with a note from her son Seth, saying he owed the man $30 and would his mother please pay him.
Peak was suspicious form the onset, saying her son didn’t do business that way and that the note wasn’t his handwriting. She suggested they go to the store where her son worked, but “Mr. Fisher” said he didn’t have time and that he had a ticket on the next train leaving town. He walked away quickly toward the yards of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern near the present depot on North Prospect Street and the Peaks were bothered by him no more. The entire matter was an attempted scam, but Mrs. Peak was alert and prevented the loss of $30.
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REMEMBER: My “Just Like Old Times” books are on sale at New Directions Design, 20 W. Main St., in downtown Norwalk. These contain my earlier columns fully indexed and in permanent book form.
Henry Timman, an authority on Firelands history, resides in rural Norwalk.