After World War I was over, Grandpa Sterling and my grandmother moved to Mercer for a while. They eventually moved back to good old Hydetown and their family.
Gramps went to work for the Oil City Derrick and started saving money to buy a house, as they lived in the Ridgway house for a while.
Finally he was able to buy a house two doors down from the Ridgway house that he really wanted. I believe the name of the man who lived there was Milton Bryant.
When Willis Ridgway died, he left grandma and grandpa a lot of land — all the land where Hasbrouck’s Sand and Gravel is now plus the plains on both sides of Route 408 going to Townville. So he built a couple of barns up behind the house and started buying cattle.
In 1937, he built a gas station right beside the house. The house took up a lot of the area where the old Sanitarium used to stand. Gramps sold one of his cows to buy his first load of gas for the station. He actually started the gas station for his oldest son, Junior.
Junior was still in school when Gramps started the gas station. He would work after school until closing time, which was 9 p.m.
Then in 1938, Junior graduated from Hydetown High School. Junior was now able to operate Junior’s Hydetown Esso Service Station full-time.
It was just what he was waiting for. He was so excited to enter the business world full-time and prove himself. Junior had a very outgoing and pleasant personality. He drew customers into his station like a magnet. Everyone liked Junior.
Gramps had the very first dollar he made when he opened the station hanging on a plaque over the cash register. He also hung a horseshoe over the front door for good luck.
On Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, 1939, the whole family was together for the meal. Gramps didn’t have to be to work at the Derrick until 4 p.m. Junior closed the station for a couple of hours in the afternoon so he could spend time with his family. He closed at 8 that night.
After Junior closed, he went over to the house and got cleaned up and told his mom he was going out with some friends for a little while.
Raymond McGregor picked Junior up, then they went and picked up Edna Southwick and Eugene Miller. Nobody knows where they were going.
They were about a mile north of the Erie/Crawford County line when Raymond went off the road. When he pulled back on the road he lost control of the car and hit a bus. This happened about 10:15 p.m. The car rolled over, ejecting all three passengers and catching on fire.
Raymond McGregor was pinned inside the car and burned to death.
Eugene Miller suffered a broken arm and broken clavicle and internal injuries. Edna Southwick was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken arm. Junior Sterling died in the ambulance on the way to Union City Hospital.
The police notified Gramps of Junior’s death at the Derrick that night.
Come on out. Pull up a bridge. We’ll sit a spell and swap some stories.
— Hydetown Baptist Church: Pastor Jeff Sterling. Sunday: 9:30 a.m., Sunday school; 11 a.m., Worship service. Wednesday, 6:15 p.m., Prayer Focus Group; 7. Bible study and prayer. All are welcome.
Sunday Sermon: “Strange Fire” Leviticus 10:1-3.
Hydetown area residents can tune their radios to 90.3 FM on Sunday to hear the entire Worship Service at 11 a.m. Folks are also invited to come to Hydetown, park their cars and hear the service live on their car radios. The service can be heard for up to three miles in every direction from the church.
— Hydetown United Methodist Church: Pastor Richard Foland. Sunday: 9:45 a.m., Worship service. Wednesday 3 - 5 p.m., Bible study.
A final word
Happy May Day! It’s The day halfway between Spring equinox and Summer solstice! “Bringing in the May!” It’s a great weekend for taking a walk outside to enjoy the blooming flowers. To really celebrate May Day you could gather bouquets of forsythia or other spring flowers. It would also be a great time to make “May Baskets” and deliver to a neighbor or nursing home. If flowers are not your thing, it may be a good weekend to go fishing as a family, plant turnips or celebrate the Kentucky Derby. Whatever you do, have a great weekend and don’t forget to go to church as a family tomorrow.
Jeff and Robin may be reached at (814) 775-0107 for anyone wanting to make positive contributions to this column. People submitting news and activities are asked to limit the news and activities to those of the Hydetown area.