#14 -- Central Ohio Fair. Cobbler Matty Sultzer

Central Ohio District Fair

The only time I ever saw my father really angry was at our Fair. I call it our Fair as the grounds were just west of Newcomerstown, on what is now owned by the Kistler heirs. The Fair Association consisted of three counties - Guernsey, Coshocton, and Tuscarawas. It was known as the Central Ohio District Fair, commonly called by many people the C.O.D. Fair. There is one of the buildings still standing. I believe it was the Agricultural Hall.

I was about eight years old and this was to be a big day for me. As soon as Father had his chores finished we started to walk the two miles from our home to the grounds. Mother had given me a quarter to spend and that was a lot of money. The first thing I saw after we had entered was a queer contraption with a sign saying, "Pay ten cents and hear Thomas Edison's Phonograph play real music." It was oddly made, consisting of a large coil spring which, when wound tightly, provided the power for turning the shaft on which the wax cylinder was placed. There were six sets of earphones on either side of the machine and for a dime you were permitted to plug the phones in your ears and listen to a selection. I spent a dime of my money and that was the first canned music that I had ever heard.

After that we made the rounds to the various barns, looking at the fat cattle, sheep, and hogs; also the horse barn. Father was a great lover of horses, so not forgetting to stop at Warren Miller's stable to look over some of the horses he would race that afternoon.

It was time for dinner and we went to the dining hall to eat. As I recall the dinner, it was roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy with plenty of side dishes. Everything was lovely until Father forked into his mashed potatoes and came up with a piece of dish-cloth. That spoiled our dinner.

After an exciting afternoon of watching the races Father and I started to the wagon gate on our way home, where there were several so-called "hacks" carrying passengers to town. To describe a hack - it was commonly a spring wagon with seats along each side. The drivers were always in a hurry at this time in the evening, anxious to get to town, unload their passengers, and hurry back for another load.

Somehow I got lost from my father and the first thing I knew a drunken hack driver had hit me with the pole of his wagon, knocking me down. Luckily, the team and wagon passed over me and I was not hurt only frightened. I got up crying, holding on to my sack of ice-cream candy I was taking home to Mother and sister Anne. I started looking for my Father. Seeing the hack stopped a short distance ahead and a crowd gathering, I went there looking for Father. I got there just in time to see Father pull the driver from his seat to the ground and give him a real good thrashing. It was soon over. The driver climbed back to his seat and drove on at a much more sedate gait. That was the only time I ever saw my Dad really angry. We started on home but were soon hailed by a neighboring farmer who invited us to ride home with his family in his road wagon, which we gladly did.

Cobbler Matty Sultzer

I mentioned J. Peck's shoe store previously. In those days, each store had a shoe repairman, commonly called a "cobbler". Mr. Peck's cobbler was Matty Sultzer, whose shop was in the back of the shoe store. Father and I went to Matty's shop one cold winter day to have my boots half-soled. Father and I were sitting around the stove while Matty was putting a patch on a shoe with a new process called cementing, and I might say that the cement smelled to high heaven.

Tim Morris, a farmer, came in accompanied by his shepherd dog. Tim sat down, and the dog curled up close to the stove. Soon Matty uncorked his bottle of cement. Tim sniffed the air and looked at his dog. Soon he got up and, walking over to the door, opened it and called the dog. As the dog approached the door, Tim gave it a mighty kick in the rear and the dog landed in the street. Tim closed the door, walked back and sat down. Matty said to him, "Tim, what in the world made you kick that dog?" Tim replied, "My God, couldn't you smell him?"

Next week's story: George Beers and Grandfather Pilling. Stories are reprinted from a series is stories by former NCTnews contributor, D.B. Moore. The historic tales are from Moore's book, My Hometown, Gekelemukpechunk. The book is a collection of true stories that Moore recalled from growing up in Newcomerstown.