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1977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989

SAMMY CROFT...MAN ABOUT TOWN
November 8, 1984


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PIX #1 - Samuel F. Croft

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Today's article is a continuation of conversation which Al Bryan, Bob Harley and I had when we reunited some time ago.

When Bob Harley was growing up in Fostoria, before he went away to Ohio State University, he lived at 215 E. High St. His parents were mr. and Mrs. Harry Harley. His father worked for "Uncle Sam" as a mail carrier and was well-known in town.

There were many other folks who lived in the same area and were well-known about town too. bob's keen memory enabled him to name then in rapid succession, remembering some special characteristics about some of them.

At 201 E. High St. was Samuel Preston Croft. "Man about town" would be a good way to describe Sammy as he was generally regerred to.

I never knew what he did before settling Fostoria so I inquired of a Fostorian who knew him and was told he came from Chicago, where he was an electrician, or for the city's transit system.

Sammy had a big city way about him, with an accent that told he was English. He was born in London, England, Oct. 8, 1878. He could carry on an interesting conversation, which made him a super salesman.

Every so often, Sammy could be seen boarding a B&O passenger train for Chicago...or arriving in Fostoria after being there. He always carried good-looking luggage and dressed nattily. It was common conversation that Sammy took part in "engineering" some business deals, which earned him commissions to finance his lifestyle.

In his earlier life, Sammy must have had sufficient money to invest in collectibles, such as peices of jade, coral, jewelry, books, etc. Diposition of such items in later life probably provided funds for the necessities of him and his wife in their later years.

During those later years of Sammy's life, he often came in The Review where I was working at the time, peddling some of his book collection. Upton Sinclair was one of the popular writers of that and an earlier period, and Sammy had many of his books. Sammy's story was always "I need a few extra dollard, and you can have these for $1 each". I was one of his customers on several occasions. I am told Sammy was not a "boozer" so that habit was not his reason for selling books.

SAMMY'S OFFICE BARE EXCEPT FOR MAILBOX

My "informant" told me that Sammy had an office on the second floor of the building no longer standing on North Main Street above the Gerlinger Bakery. Having been invited to his office often, my friend finally went there, only to find that the only object there was Sammy's mailbox.

Fortunately, I guess, Croft's wife died before him. She was a neat, well- appearing lady, who had probably experienced better days and suffered some from Sammy's lack of providing.

As this part of the story was told to me one day, Sammy experienced a "verbal beating" from a Fostorian who came out on the short end of one of Sammy's business deals. The next day Sammy was found dead in his room at the Davis Hotel on East Center Street, which was located diagonally across from the Daily Review.

DIED AT AGE 70 CEREBRAL HEMORRHAGE

Dr. W.H. Benner, Seneca County coroner, said death was caused by a cerebral hemmorrhage. He was 70 at time of death, June 18, 1949. He had resided in Fostoria for about 20 years. There were no known survivors. The Rev. Perry Blankenship of the Trinity Episcopal Church officated at the services. Burial was in Fountain Cemetery, according to the records, but I could not find a headstone in the area where it should have been.

Perhaps the "tongue lashing" was too much along with his financial struggle. Or, perhaps it was just Sammy's time to exit.

Even though Sammy's been gone for 35 years he is not forgotten as this story proves.

OTHER HARLEY NEIGHBORS RECALLED

Capt. R.O. Nichols lived at 121 E. High. He worked for Ohio Power and was the father of three daughters, Dolly, Vanda and Ruth...all well-known here; the latter is now Mrs. Samuel Sollars, 430 Colonial Dr.

Perry J. bigham, attorney lived at 125. Mrs. Pat Marchion, a Bigham daughter resided at 336 W. North. Earl Fundom, contractor, resided at 127; Harley Pence at 120; L.Q. Kiser at 126.

At one time, Ray D. Kleinhen, father of Robert lived at 201, where Croft once resided. Kleinhen was a real estate broker with his father.

The Charles Turner family lived at 225. They had a grocery on North Main, back of The Fostoria Times. The Turners had two sons, Bob and Carl...both popular with the younger set...who hung out at the YMCA.

ALWAYS COALYARD

Where Basehore Coal & Builders Supplies is now, there was a coal yard previously. Once it was Sutiff & Co., and at another time Souder Coal & Supply Co. Perhaps still later it was Gromal Coal Yard. Back then Les Basehore lived at 222 E. High.

Other well-known residents in that area were: Dr. Earl Overhold, father of Palmer. They lived at 300. Harry J. Losey, businessman, resided at 220. Abe Peter lived at 207. He was associated with Peter Clothing Co. and operated a shoe store.

Karl Ghaster was associated with his father S.L. in the outdoor advertising business, located on East Fremont and Sandusky streets. Karl lived at 219.

Harlo Keyes worked at the Eaton Drug Store and resided at 220 at one time.

B.M. Altweis, another well-known person, resided at 302 and also at 308 at one time. Altweis was listed as a cabinetmaker in one directory, but readers will recall that he was also associated with Seneca Lumber and Home Window Co. Fred M. Lauck resided at 219 and had a drapery business on West Tiffin Street, where Smoky's Bar was later. J.W. Dixon, superintendent at Fostoria Times, resided at 227; E.J. Knepper, foreman for Fostoria, Fremont Interurban resided at 230; J.A. Wallace, barber, resided at 308; H.W. Christensen, draftsman at Allen Motor Car, resided at 301.

Al Bryan, Bob Harley and this author had a great time talking about people and goings-on about town.

High was a good street and still is!

NOTE: Readers will note that some residential house numbers were duplicated. The reason: they were taken from directories fro different dates.

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