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NATIVE SON RETURNS TO SEE TOWN
September 11, 1980


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Pix #1 - Warren N. Eckert

Warren N. Eckert, named in recent Potluck columns, born in Fostoria 71 years ago, but a resident of Tampa Fl., since he was 12, returned recently to see if the town was the way he remembered it.

"Some of it is, but some is vastly different. For Mrs. Eckert, who accompanied him, it was her first visit here, and Ecket's only one since his departure as a boy.

In correspondence with Eckert in past months, he mentioned many incidents and places around the town, and said he was anxious to check them out. Of course, he discovered that "The Time Building, on Times Square, was no longer there, even though Perry Street angled to the left from Main" as he recalled it.

One of the first placed he wanted to see was his boyhood home, at 159 Elm St., where the Charles L. Dodge family now lives. He was delighted to discover that it looked the same, porch and all, as it did 60 years ago, except for new siding, installed recently. "Even the old pump was still there", he said. Mr. Dodge invited the Eckert's in and graciously showed them around with Fostoria hospitality.

Eckert also wanted to see his grandfather Books house, still standing on Elm next to Superior Paint.

CEMETERY IMPORTANT

As might be expected, when people return to native haunts, the cemetery is usually on the list of places to go. In the case of the Eckerts that was true because two Eckert children who died infancy are buried there, a brother and sister, who was Warren's favorite. He was surprised to find the sister's grave did not have a marker, so during their stay in town, arrangements were made to one to be made and placed at her grave.

Eckert had remakred that he remembered the Water Works Tower and the reservoir close by, and wanted to have a look. Of course he found the tower no longer there, but remarked that "the reservoir looke just like I remembered it".

Lillian (Eckert) Emerine, a sister of Warren, married a relative of Andrew Emerine, the banker. They owned and lived on a farm before moving to Florida too, many years ago. We drove out there to take a look.

REMEMBERS MANY THINGS

Eckert remembers the three story stone First National Bank at the corner of Main and Center streets demilished many years ago. Only a memory remains for him. His grandfather, W.W. Brooks, had an office for his dray and storage business in the bank building.

We drove by the old Union Street School, where Eckert went to school, to let him see how it looks today, with two houses now occupying the side. The old school only remains as a memory for him.

Eckert inquired about all the glass factories which were here many years ago, and I told him when and why they left Fostoria. He remembered his father decorated some of the specialty glass items produced in one of the factories. His father was also at one time an english professor at the academy which Fostoria was fortunate to have. After the school burned, his father was a conductory on the TF&F electric line.

STAYED IN OLD HOTEL

Before travelling to Fostoria by Amtrak, Eckert had written me to make a reservation for them at either a hotel or motel...preferably a hotel, in the business distrit, to make it easier to see the town. That created a problem but then I remembered The Doeshire, where the Old Hotel was previously located, may have space for visitors. And that is where the Eckerts decided to stay.

Mr. Eckert remembered there was a hotel there when he lived here as a boy. He and his wife enjoyed being able to stay there, and appreciated the hospitality extended by the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Doe, and eating sometimes at their diner, next door, where they said the food was very good.

Another important phase of their visit in Fostoria was the time they spent at Kaubisch Memorial Library. They had hoped to trace some geology data while here, and with the assistance of Dan McGinnis and Pat Bowman, turned up more then they expected. Burial records at Fountain Cemetery also contributed to their collection of data.

ECKERT IS EVANGELIST

Readers will probably wonder...What does the man look like who left his hometown 60 years ago, and what had he been doing in Florida all the years since? The accompanying photo shows him, snapped just a few weeks ago by his wife, seated at the piano in their home. I asked him where he learned to play the piano. His reply, "from my mother who was a music teacher, being one, she really made me practice".

I must digress for a moment to say Eckert's family were Methodists in Fostoria, and he missed the old church at Main and Fremont.

In Florida, in 1920, when he was 12, during a Baptist church revival, Eckert accepted Christ, and soom became involved in Sunday School work. Later the Lord called me to preach, and I have been doing it ever since, he said.

I asked him where he got his training for the ministry. His reply... "I read and studied the Bible, and took some home-study courses, and depended on God to lead me in the work he called me for. A pastor, early in my career advised to preach the word and let the rest up to God".

"As an evangelist, I have preached in churches of all deniminations, and in later years my wife and I have spent time helping small churches to build or rebuild their congregations".

GOSPEL SINGING TEAM

The Eckerts have also served as a gospel music team, he playing the piano, and both singing. During their stay in Fostoria, they attended the Main Street Chapel and Fostoria Baptist Church, were Mrs. Eckert sang on one occasion.

Their ride on Amtrak was OK, the couple said, and they like trains, but back in the days when Fostoria had five railroads it would have been much simpler to get to Fostoria by train, with the many connections the five railroad lines provided. As it was, they travelled by train from Tampa to Philiadelphia, where they had a five-hour layover before departing for Lima, the only connection close to Fostoria via that route.

That's part of the story of a native son who wanted to return to the scenes of his boyhood again, and what he saw and said about it.

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