Thursday, September 8, 2011

Transcribed from Lenore Lytle’s typed account:

A year or two before her death in 1997 (which took all of us by surprise, as she intended, at minimum, to usher in the new millennium) Mom took the typewriter and spent several days clicking away.  We found this account when we sorted through.  I’ve posted some photos as her narrative goes along, and made a link to the Cleveland stockyards.

To anyone who might be interested in the background and events in the life of Lenore Caroline Rolf Lytle;

HENRY CHARLES ROLF                                                                        1868-1907
CAROLINE SCHACHT ROLF TROIKE                                         5-10-1871 – 10-2-1953
WALTER ERNST ROLF                                                             1-10-93 – 2-18-45

MELVIN ELMORE COX                                                             8-10-72  -  6-9-54
LENORE SMITH COX                                                                1873-1923
ELMORE COX                                                                          1892-1918
ETHEL LENORE COX ROLF                                                       1894-1989
HELEN LOUISE COX SHULTZ                                                    6-24-04 - 6-18-76

Children of Walter & Ethel
LENORE CAROLINE                                                                 2-4-18
HENRY MELVIN                                                                       12-16-23

Children of Elmore & Ruby Eberhard Cox Keller
EUGENE HOWARD                                                                  1-25-16
ELMORE THOMAS                                                                   5-1-18

Children of Raymond and Louise Shultz
MELVIN                                                                                   1923

My great grandparents lived in the Harvard Avenue area of Cleveland as did my paternal grandparents.  They owned and operated a grocery store.  Dad had a 6th grade education which, at that time, was deemed sufficient for a boy.   Grandad died in 1907 from a massive heart attack, and Dad went to work.  In 1908 Grandma married Louis Troike who had been born and raised in the Sandusky, Ohio area.

During Dad’s early teens, the family moved to 3891 West 20th Street off Denison Avenue.  Grandpa Troike had gotten a job in the stockyards.

Elmore & Mom were born on a farm in Austinburg, Ohio.  In the early 1900’s the family moved to 2404 Selzer Avenue.  Aunt Louise was born there.  Grandpa, along with his three brothers, Norval, Clarence & Pearl were painters and paperhangers.  Grandma took in borders.

Mom completed 9th grade and quit.  Algebra was enough math for her.  She worked downtown Cleveland at the May Company as a cashier.

Recreation was simple for the young people.  Tobogganing down the hill at the old Zoo, now known as Cleveland Metropolitan Park System, boating and ice skating in the same area.  The boys were happy to quit walking when motorcycles were made.

Grandma had a goiter and leakage of the heart as did her sisters.  Being in poor health, a lot of the work and responsibility fell on Mom’s shoulders resulting in a nervous breakdown at age 16.  When there were contagious diseases such as measles or scarlet fever, houses had a sign plastered on the door.  Anyone who worked stayed with relatives or neighbors.  Uncle Elmore was stricken with scarlet fever but survived.

Practical jokes are an age-old custom.  Mom told about the time she was upstairs cleaning, saw Elmore in the yard, yelled and spit.  Right in the eye!  Trapped!  Fortunately, he thought it funny and he didn’t retaliate.

In the summertime, clothes were washed in the back yard using a wash tub and a scrub board.  Same tub used on Saturday nights for baths.  No inside plumbing either for quite a while. Most of the washing fell on Mom’s shoulders.  Men boarders wore white shirts.  Elmore had been pestering Mom and when she heard footsteps in the side yard and whistling, she took the sopping wet shirt and threw it.  It wrapped around the unsuspecting face of Walter Rolf.  What an introduction to her future husband.
Ethel & Walter Rolf, 1915

They married August 6, 1915 in the Congregational Church.  They lived with his parents until February, 1918.  The worst flu epidemic of the country was in full sway.  Mom was in Lutheran hospital having me.  Dad was taking the only medicine available—whiskey, and was moving them into the Roshier Building on West 25th Street.  That was his introduction to Keston and Emma Brigham.  They were sharing the same elevator.  Emma became a life-long friend.

Ethel & Lenore Rolf, 1918

When I was a little over a year old, they moved to Gifford Avenue on the West side of Cleveland.  Dad was working for a sewing machine company in the Harvard Avenue area.  Most of the time Dad walked to work because he didn’t have a nickel to ride the street car.  The motorcycle had been sold, because three couldn’t ride at the same time.  Mom said their main diet consisted of macaroni and tomatoes.

While living there I got my first scar.  Seems the boy from downstairs pulled over my highchair and we all went down the stairs.  Cut my upper lip only.  I guess I was a happy tot.  Mom dressed me in a lace curtain, her old shoes and I paraded up and down the street with a groom alongside.  Now that is history.  I know because my Mother “told me so.”

Lenore, by an itinerant photographer with travelling prop

Before I left Gifford Avenue, we got a collie dog.

When I was about four I became aware of Grandma Cox’s house on Selzer in a very dramatic way.  I had a handful of nails in my hand.  There was the nicest hidey-hole in the baseboard, so I stuck them in there.  The electricity shot across the room, the one fuse in the house blew.  I lived and had many happy times in that house.

I only remember my Grandmother as not being well and laying on the davenport in the living room and/or in bed.  When she died in the spring of 1923 I remember that she wore a grey dress and had an American flag stuck in her bosom.

Back to the history lesson.  Dad left the sewing machine job and went on the railroad as a fireman.  World War I was going strong and they needed help.  That lasted until the train derailed on the Howard Street overpass in Akron and pinned him between the boiler and the front of the cab. He then went to work for a jeweler by the name of Russell and learned the watch making trade.

By 1922 the jeweler was bankrupt. Dad had a hoard of leaded cut glass and decided that was enough of working for somebody else.  The war was over and men needed to be trained for jobs.  He went to the Cleveland Trust Bank on the corner of Broadview and West 25th street and after much discussion between the manager and Dad, he got the loan to buy the house at 4214 West 21st street in Old Brooklyn.  Again, I know this because “MMTMS”.

1923 was a momentous year.  I started kindergarten at Benjamin Franklin School.  I walked up 21st, down Valley Road to Creston.  Crossed a couple of streets until I reached Spring Road.  About those elementary years, I remember very little.  I must have been a good student, Mother never had to go the Principal.  I do remember in kindergarten of being very disappointed that there was no electric train under the Christmas tree.  Dad was a train buff and we always had an electric train.

Grandma Cox died in the spring, Grandpa married Marcia Enos in the Fall and along came my brother on December 16th.  I never knew Mom was pregnant until Grandma Troike came over to take care of me.  I was so excited I threw up all over the bathroom
Henry Rolf, 1925, W. 21st Street

When I was about 3, I needed a new winter coat and shoes.  There was little money, but Dad took me by the hand to see what he could buy with what he had.  As he rounded the corner of Selzer and 25th, he put his foot on something skittering along the sidewalk.  Nobody was in sight and when he picked it up he had $20.  I got my coat, a hat, a muff and shoes.  I loved that muff and carried it everywhere.  Of course, somewhere along the line I left it hanging on an outhouse door somewhere.

He opened a shop in the front bedroom and had two trainees.  For quite a while, I went to sleep with the ticking of clocks and chiming cuckoo clocks on the wall in the hall. 

Henry Rolf, mid 1930's
Junior High was in the same school.  I loved Geography.  By then we changed classes.  Also, French was introduced into the Junior High level.  Doris Sorge was my teacher.  I had her all through high school.  She was promoted to the high school when our class graduated.

Dad and Mom bought a cottage in Sheffield Lake near Lorain in the spring of 1929.  My cousins Jimmy and Tommy (Elmore’s boys) lived next door with their Grandmother, Mrs. Koestle.  Dad went to Cleveland every day and we went swimming, played cards, played cops and robbers with cap guns.  The new outhouses were the jails.  You got put in the front door and snaked out the clean out door.  Our outhouse had hollyhocks.

Rolf Family & cottage


  1. Interesting. I have been writing all the little stories I remember from my childrens' childhoods. It is my gift to them, but now I think maybe I should write "my story" to leave for them.

  2. A good idea, I think. Don't mention it, just do it for a surprise. I'm thrilled with all the little treasures I've come across.

  3. What a fabulous history to have. I have been trying to tell all the little stories from the past in my blog. One of these days I will have to print them out.
    Thanks for dropping in on thefeatherednest.