Marguerite Mowrey Neal was born January 12, 1893 on Grant Street in Ashland. For many years she lived at 819 Center Street, on the north corner of Ferrell Avenue, in the house built by her father, H. A. Mowrey in 1906.
Mrs. Neal’s grandparents were Mr. And Mrs. John Ferrell. They lived for many years in what had been the Slocum farmhouse which stands on the south corner of Center Street and Ferrell Avenue. That farmhouse, according to Mrs. Neal, looks today much as it looked in the 1890’s. The interior of the house, however, has been altered.
Mrs. Neal recalled the apple orchard which was part of the Ferrell farm and which grew where Ferrell Avenue is today. Mrs. Neal also remembered the wooden sidewalks along Center Street. She would push her cousin in a cart along these sidewalks until they ran headlong into a gutter.
The apple orchard was cut down and Ferrell Avenue was laid out around 1906, the same year as Mrs. Neal’s father built the house on Center Street. A marking in the plaster of the Mowrey house confirms this building date. The Mowrey lot originally ran 300 feet back along Ferrell Avenue.
As a small child Mrs. Neal lived on Sandusky Street. It was then a dirt road and very dusty. The dust was “sky-high” at fair time. Mrs. Neal did not remember going to the fair, but the fairgrounds she remembered were out on Sandusky Street, approximately opposite of where Brookside Park is today.
While she still lived on Sandusky Street, Mrs. Neal went to the Opera House for the first time. She and her brother and a neighbor Guy Sears went to see “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” She remembered sitting in the balcony and the red velvet railing.
As a child Mrs. Neal was in many plays at the Opera House. When she was four, she had a part in a Japanese play. She was the smallest one in the cast and everyone in the audience yelled and applauded when she came across the stage for her curtain call. Her mother had to carry her home she was so tired.
Mrs. Neal attended the first kindergarten. Nora Hisey was the teacher. It was located in a church on Center Street across from Martha Bockley’s house. It was a private kindergarten.
Mrs. Neal remembered the day the Opera House burned. It happened in winter. Mrs. Neal heard the news as she was walking home from Pleasant Street School where she was in third or fourth grade. She was stunned to hear it.
Mrs. Neal’s Mowrey grandparents lived at ___ Pleasant Street in a house which still stands. Mrs. Neal as a baby lived here, too.
Mrs. Neal as a young girl looked forward to going to summer band concerts on Thursday nights at the Courthouse. She and her girl friends would dress up with their best hair ribbons. They would parade around the square, hoping to get a beau.
Marguerite Mowrey was honored to be a member of the Girls’ Dance Club. Her first meeting was held at Kate Myers’ house on the sun porch. In order to belong, you had to have been graduated from high school and you needed to “have someone pull for you.” The dances were held on the third floor of the Opera House. The girls prepared their own sandwiches and served punch. No liquor as ever served. Bill Mc Daniel was an especially “swell dancer” and Marguerite’s favorite partner at the time. Her friend Ruth Kellogg also belonged when she did.
H. A. Mowrey, Marguerite’s father, was a photographer and portrait artist. Marguerite recalled how busy he was every year at Christmas time, how he had to rush to get all the prints washed through the chemicals. Mr. Mowrey had his studio upstairs in the Sprengle Block on the north side of East Main. Located in the building at the same time was Flinn’s Music Store which sold pianos and victrolas. Br. Kinnaman’s office was then across the street. He delivered Marguerite. Where the old YMCA was on East Main Street stood an old house. Bill Wiley’s father lived there as a boy. The old gas works was at the end of East Main downtown across from Union Street.
Marguerite remembered when the Home Company had its opening. Just women were invited, so Marguerites’s younger brother was dressed up as a girl so he could go to the opening too.
Marguerite’s father was the seventh person in town to have an automobile. It was a Ford one-seater. Later he bought two seats to put in the back because he had two children to take along. Marguerite recalled driving to Cedar Point one time with her dad. They had to stop every so often to get water, and the horses always scared as they drove along. Her father’s next car was a Maxwell. In it they drove to Mullet Lake in Michigan. It took tow and a half days to get there over sand roads.
Marguerite recalled how she could look across Center Street and see the F. E. Myers house. At the time she was going to school, she remembered F. E. Myers coming out of the house in the mornings, lighting his cigar, then walking down Center Street to the Myers factory. She remembers him as being a “very handsome man.”
Mayme Myers, the oldest child of the F. E. Myers family, was Marguerite’s Sunday School teacher and her mother’s friend. Marguerite remembered attending Mayme’s wedding as a member of that Sunday School class. The class sat on the stairway of the F. E. Myers house curing the wedding. It was a very elaborate, beautiful stairway.
Marguerite recalled the day the Myers family brought back the body of Katherine Myers from Italy where she had died during a sight-seeing tour: “We kids were coming home from school. We saw the hearse coming off the train.”
Marguerite remembered Jay Myers as being a “high-flyer” who loved race horses and drank to much. He died young.
Marguerite Mowrey taught several years at Arthur Street School. Edith Markley also taught there at that time. Helen Smilie and Marjorie Myers were two of her students. Mr. Bud was the superintendent then.
At this time Marguerite wanted very much to go to Panama to teach. Colonel Urick, who was the “dude of Ashland,” tall, thin, and always “dressed to the nth degree,” had been to Panama and had “a string to pull.” The acceptance came in late August. Marguerite had hay fever so bad she couldn’t go to Cleveland for the physical. The job passed and Marguerite got married instead.
Another neighbor on Center Street was J. L. Clark. Marguerite remembered him as “a good-looking fellow” who sometimes rode his horse over the Mowrey lawn. Mrs. Clark belonged to marguerite’s card club and was “a great woman for jewelry.”
Fred Heltman, son of Hal Heltman of Center Street, was very musical and went to Cleveland to work. Marguerite recalled when he brought his sweetheart home on the train. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of her as they walked up Center Street.
McIlvain’s Pond was where Samaritan Avenue is now, up above the T. W. Miller house.
Marguerite recalled ice skating down Jail Hill and grabbing on to the pole at the bottom of the hill.
Kids in those days also would slide down Claremont Avenue in big bobs. The boys made the bobs.
Jimmy Dell used to drive a horse and buggy down Sandusky Street collecting trash.
Belle Osborn died in Texas in 1923 while on a trip. She left $5000 to the community to build a park. The land for Brookside Park was then purchased. Mrs. Neal recalled how her father like to shoot archery out at the park in the evenings during the 1920’s.
Marguerite Mowrey earned $40 a month teaching school. “Some of the men on the school board knew our family. They said Marguerite doesn’t need any more money.”
Marguerite in those days sent to Cleveland for material samples. Her mother and her aunt sewed for her because you didn’t buy clothes “ready-made” then. The girls in her class would always wonder what Miss Mowrey would wear that day. She recalled wearing high heeled shoes that laced up the front and lad a beautiful pair of spats (white spats). She had a long navy blue suit “that fit like a banana” and a pillbox hat, and an imitation bust.
Later on in life Mrs. Neal belonged to a card club which included Marie Patton, Alice Hess, Florence Koohl, Ann Ingmand, and Mrs. Garber. There were six women all together.
She would often be invited to join the John C. Myers party which went to the opera in Cleveland. This was always a very elegant affair. At Christmas time she would be invited to the Bar Harbor room of the John C. Myers house to view beautifully wrapped gifts which the family received from New York and many other places. After Christmas she got then to see the gifts, “things we didn’t see in Ashland”
As a child the Christmas holiday always included a trip to Cleveland on the interurban to see the huge Christmas tree at the sterling and Welch department store. It was “gorgeous, sky-high.”
On Sundays, after she sang in the Lutheran choir, the place to go was the Otter Hotel for Sunday dinner. When Marguerite was a little girl, Olive Williams played the organ at the Lutheran Church. She had something wrong with her back.
The Nat Strauss family used to live beside the Mowrey family on Sandusky Street. The Gray family lived on the other side.
Marguerite recalled Fred Bockley’s move house on West Main. Bess Were played the organ for the silent movies. One time when Clifford Neal came home on the train, he went into the movie house to tell Bess he was home. She stopped playing and walked out with him so they could get the crowd together to celebrate his homecoming.
When Clifford and Marguerite were married, Clifford, who liked jokes, didn’t want anyone to know. But Ruth Kellogg got word of it anyway. She turned off the fire on her stove (wives worked then) as she was baking a cherry pie and came to the church in her house-dress to see the wedding. Rev. Smith married her.