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BICYCLE IS RELIC OF LAMPLIGHTING ERA
Thursday October 9, 1986


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Pix #1 - This ancient bicycle was used by one of the DiCesares to travel all over Fostoria, to light gas lamps in use many years ago. Bicylce donated to Museum by Nick DiCesare of Tiffin.

Pix #2 - The only known available photo showing one of the gas lights used in Fostoria many years ago. See other reference in article.

Pix #3 - Angelo DiCesare on the bicycle he used to travel to Fostoria to light the lamps and extinguish them.

Pix #4 - Reading left to right: Francis (Frank) DiCesare, Mrs. Angelo (Angelina) DiCesare, Angelo DiCesare, her husband. Photo probably taken about the time Angelo brought his wife and brother to U.S. in 1923

Pix #5 - House at Perry and Fremont streets, where all the DiCesares lived at one time. Rex-Air Travel Agency now in the remodeled building.

Would you guess that the bicycle illustrated in today's article may perhaps be 75 years old...maybe older...and was used at a period in Fostoria's history when the streets were illuminated with gas lights?

I just happened to be at The Fostoria Historic Society Museum some weeks ago, when Nicholas DiCesare, a Tiffin relative of the local DiCesare family, brought the bike in and donated it as another relic of the past.

My eyes and ears perked up as DiCesare told who he was, and that it belonged to his father Francis (Frank) as he was better known, from the days when the two brothers Frank and Angelo covered Fostoria twice daily on bicycles, lighting and extinguishing the gas lights that illuminated the city's streets.

The use of the gas lights goes back to the horse and buggy days, and the only illustration I know to show what those gas lights looked like is the one accompanying photo, with N.E. George's horsedrawn wagon. The arrow in the photo points to the lamp.

Coincidentally, N.E. George was a well-known Fostoria businessman, and the horsedrawn wagon was undoubtedly snapped during a parade, judging by the way it is decorated. The man on the right in the photo is holding what appears to be a glass can, a relic of those glass-days in Fostoria, which Ray Coburn can recall vividly, having been identified with that era and that industry for many years.

DICESARE BROTHERS LIGHTED THE GAS LAMPS

A story like this one has so many interesting angles that I get sidetracked. Nick DiCesare, the donor of the old bicycle, was one of four children of Frank. He was the brother of Angelo, and it was those two brothers who lighted the lamps in our town, back then.

Angelo was born in Piageino, Italy, April 3, 1883, and migrated to the U.S. in 1900 at age 17. In 1923 he returned to Italy to wed Angelina Brunco. Upon returning to Fostoria they took up residence at the corner of Perry and Fremont Streets in a house which Angelo purchased from Mr. Botto, the builder of the structure, which still stands at Main and North Streets, the southeast corner.

To Angelo and his wife Angelina was born seven children, five of whom still survive, all well-known in Fostoria. Peter A., better known at Pete, the shoe repairman, and once a well known baseball player in town; Mary, Fannie, Julie and Loretta Groves. There are eight grandchildren: Joe-Pete Jr. and John DiCesare; also David, Linda, Lisa, Angela Groves and Tina Pine. Luigi and Julius two other children are deceased.

PARTIAL RELICS OF LIGHTS BACK OF REX-AIR

Angelo died in 1955 of a heart attack while raking in his backyeard. And, it is in that same location, where Angelo and his family lived for more than 40 years, that the only actual relics of the gas lights from that long ago era partly remain. Today, if readers go to that corner, back of Rex-Air Travel Agency, they will see the old lamp posts, minus the top portion which shows in the one photo with this article. The posts put there by Angelo were used by the family to anchor lines for drying clothes. It seems unusual that one of the complete lamps was never salvaged for posterity.

Angelo brought his brother Francis (Frank) to the U.S. and together they held the lamp-lighting jobs for many years. Frank's family consisted of Peter P. Nicholas, Angelo and Mrs. (Rosina) Fritz, all still living except Angelo. Nicholas (Nick) a Tiffin resident is the one who donated the aged bicycle to the Museum. The other bicycle used by the twosome lamp lighters is still in possession of the Fostoria DiCesare family. Francis (Frank) died in 1962.

LARGE DICESARE FAMILY LIVED AT PERRY AND FREMONT

At one period in time, both Angelo and his brother Francis, with all of both families, lived in the big frame house at Perry and Fremont Streets. At about that time the McLean Public Library had not yet been built. On the opposite side of the present library site there were houses and the Perry Street House Hotel, one of many in Fostoria, to accommodate the vast number of travelers to our town, and some permanent residents.

I recall very well as will other old-timers in town, the gas lamp lighting days. Talking with the DiCesare girls Mary, Fannie, Julie and Loretta, while gathering data for this article, they reminded me how Dick Murphy would follow the lamp lighters and pick up the spent matches.

GAS PLENTIFUL BACK THEN

Prior to the gas-lamp era, the main street of Fostoria was illuminated by the ample supply of raw gas which burned in a large open flame. George M. Gray remarked in an article one time about his memory of that era when he first came to Fostoria. He said gas burned night and day, due to its plentiful supply.

When gas became more scarce, and electricity came on the scene, Fostoria had its own generating plant at North and Wood Streets, where the Ohio Power office is now.

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