Royal Sigler was born March 31, 1902 on Walnut Street in Ashland.
Mr. Sigler described Orange Street as it was around 1915. Starting at Fourth Street was Milt Flahim, the crossing watchman for the Erie Railroad. He had an elevated platform at the Orange Street crossing which allowed him to look east and west for Erie trains.
On the east side of Orange Street, coming south, were three houses. Louis Fasig lived in one of them and manages a blacksmith shop at the rear of his lot. Next to these houses was a large frame shop. In the south room Mr. Quong had a hand laundry. Mr. Sigler’s father taught Mr. Quong to speak and understand some English. In return Mr. Quong gave him a jar of Chinese whiskey one year at Christmas.
Next to this building, at the rear of a house, was a livery stable. Across the alley was the Loyal Ash Grocery. It later became the Burris and Fasig Tire Service. Their slogan was, “Don’t swear. Call 110 Main Street.”
Next came Wall’s Studio, Hall and Stillway’s Hat and Art Shop, Jeff Hamilton’s lunchroom, Hasty’s meat market, the Postal Telegraph Office, and on the corner of Orange and Third was George A. Harmon’s fish market. Just around the corner on Third Street was the Central Hotel.
Coming south across Third Street was the People’s Grocery managed by Reed and Baum. In the next building was the Strafford Phonograph Company where phonographs were assembled from purchased parts. The Gault Brothers Cleaners came next. They had a barrel front of the store and a sign which read: “Jump in the barrel and have your pants pressed while you wait.” Following was Welty’s barbershop which was next to John Shank’s restaurant. Then came Ed L. Reaser’s show store.
Across Second Street was the Cornwall and Swartz shoe store. Next to that was the United Cigar Store on the corner of Main and Orange Streets.
Starting back at Fourth Street and coming south on the west side of Orange Street was the Christian Church, then Jim Gordon’s house. Next came the house where Mr. Sigler lived, and next to that was the Sloan house.
The Creekbaum building where the Ashland Press was located came after that. A small fish market was next to it. Then came the James E. Hunter Machine Shop. Next was the K & W Rubber Company which made Maxi tires out of fabric. These were used for tire liners. Then came the Bob Smilie and James P. Moore combination grocery and drug store. Not many groceries or drugs were sold there, but lots of penny candy. Most of the time it was open on Sunday mornings and a lot of money intended for the collection plate went to buy candy at this store.
On the southwest corner of Third Street was Firestone’s Cash Grocery. Then came Fred Flinn’s Music Store and Fred Flinn’s cigar store. Upstairs was Clem Curtis’ barber shop. Also, there was Cloyd Moneysmith’s cigar store where he made Third World cigars.
Coming on south was the Clark brothers restaurant and then the Times Gazette. The Post Office stood on the corner of Second and Orange. Later a shoe repair shop was there on that corner. Then came Stan Fasig’s barbershop. And finally came the wide wooden stairs that led up to the Masonic Temple. Last, but not least, was the First National Bank.
Across the street from the old (old) Post Office was the Adams and Wells Fargo Express Office.
The Strafford Phonograph Company men came to town and sold phonographs and stock. They assembled phonographs on Orange Street. They said they were going to build a factory on North Cottage Street. They laid a cornerstone, but they never built the factory. Also, at the same time the Ashland Tire Company was selling stock, as was the Ashland County Cooperative Grocery. But all three outfits went under.
There was once a Turkish Bath in the Reibel Block at the corner of Church and Second Streets. A Mr. Henderson had a barbershop there.
Mr. Sigler remembered as a boy collecting the coupons off chewing gum wrappers, four of them being equal to a penny. He took these to the Mecca poolroom where a colored fellow bought them.
Between Fourth Street and the L.A. & S. Railroad stood one building which housed the Moore Shoe Factory on Miller Street.
North of the Fourth Street school was a vacant lot where the circus and carnivals came. Mr. Sigler remembered as a boy carrying water for the circus elephants. He and the other boys carried water from Fourth Street back to the railroad track. In exchange for his work, he was given a free pass to the circus. But he had to give the circus men his cap, to insure that he would back to help tear down the bleachers. But he went back the next morning to find his cap tossed out with a lot of others.
The carnival used to come for a week. Carnival glass was prevalent and used as prizes for games. If a piece of it was chipped or cracked, it would be thrown away. Now, even chipped it is very valuable.
To the rear of the Fourth Street School was a house and a apple orchard. There was a wodden walk, made of planks, that went from Fourth Street to Miller Street. At recess, we would jump over a fence and get apples out of the orchard. The Faultless and F. E. Myers buildings were back there then. Edith Markley was Mr. Sigler’s teacher at the Fourth Street School.
Before Lincoln School was completed in 1911, we went to school in a house at the corner of Ninth Street and Orange. It was made into two rooms. A great big old stove was inside the front door. A class was on either side of a partition.
Ida L. Workman, principal at Lincoln School, lived on Cottage Street at the corner of Jamison Hill or Pleasant Street. She was very well versed on Indian artifacts. She would go west every year during summer vacation. She was great about putting on plays about Indians and dressing her students up like Indians.
Newt Workman, her brother, lived on Pleasant Street. He taught music and always carried an umbrella and wore overshoes.
John A. McDowell was superintendent in those days. His house was located at the corner of Third Street and Cottage. Near his house was a building where supplies of school books were kept. Mr. Sigler remembered Ida L. Workman sending him down there with a two-wheeled cart to get new books and take some other books back. For him, that was a “nice job” because it got him out of school for a while.
Grace Frantz taught algebra, and she “taught.” Mr. Sigler remembered that she bought the music for an eighth grade orchestra. After school he would hurry home to get him drum and then go to practice.
Up above the United Cigar Store on Orange Street was a Moose Lodge. They had dancing there three nights a week: five cents a dance. Mr. Sigler played in a band there with “Squirt” (Marshal) DeVor on banjo, George Gault on sax, Herb Smith on piano, and Mr. Sigler on drums. He earned four dollars a night and twelve dollars a week, good money in those days.
A dance hall was out at Brookside Park then. It featured “park-plan” dancing. One night after playing out there, Mr. Sigler was having a sandwich at the Lincoln Highway Restaurant on Main Street. The fire bell rang on Second Street. He soon heard that the dance hall was on fire. The story was that someone had set it on fiver.
The Mecca Pool Room was located on the east corner of Main and Church Streets. Knee-High Chopsticks racked balls there. His real name was Michael Chester.
Knee-High Chopsticks was a great shadow-boxer. When Mr. Sigler belonged to Company E during World War I, the Company was called out to Akron to help with a disturbance in a coal mine. They were quartered in an armory. A boxing ring was set up. Bob Martin who was champion of the Expeditionary Forces was to fight someone from Akron. Before the fight, Knee-High said he’d give ten dollars to anybody he couldn’t whip boxing. “We all got together there a bucket of water and some towels. A great big guy from Akron came up to get in the ring with Knee-High. There were two strikes. One hit Knee-High and the other one Knee-High hit the floor. Then he didn’t have the ten dollars. We had to take up a collection quick!”
At Camp Perry Knee-High played the bugle. Mr. Sigler and the others were quartered in tents with wooden floors. One morning the bugle blew around four o’clock and woke everybody up. Capt. Chalmers was really angry and knew who had blown the bugle, but no one could find Knee-High. Finally he was discovered under some blankets in the First Sergeant’s tent. He claimed he had thought it was time to get up. He didn’t have a watch.
In the Opera House building was the Ashland Waterworks. P. F. Sharrick also had a jewelry store there.
There were first floor and balcony seats. But you had to go outside and up some outside stairs if you wanted a seat in “Nigger Heaven” or the “Peanut Gallery.” It was called the Peanut Gallery because you were asked before you went in if you had any peanuts. Usually you had some hidden. You threw the shells down below. All the women were big hats, so it didn’t make a lot of difference.
Freer’s Clothing Company and the Farmer’s bank were next door to the Opera House in what was known as the Freer Block.
Stock Companies would come to the Opera House and be there a week. Every night they put on a different show. They put out hand bills. Mr. Sigler remembers he would walk all over town passing out handbills so he could get in free to the show. When they put on “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” it was great to get a job leading the gods. He would take the big bloodhounds up and down Main Street. There was always a fight to get to do this. They were great big dogs. But they weren’t vicious.
The Grand Theater was on West Main near the Crowell Hotel. Next door was the Grand Ice Cream Parlor. After the show there was always a chain put across the entrance so that it was necessary for everyone to leave through the Ice Cream Parlor.
Two doors below (east) of what is now the Ashland Restaurant was the Princess Theater. It was later changed to the BandBox. It had a marquee in black and white squares over the sidewalk.
On down on East Main Street was the Colonial Theater. Mr. Sigler remembered carrying a banner for them up and down Main Street which read Vaudeville Tonight. For doing this, he got into the show free. The girls who played here also played at the Alvin Theater in Mansfield.
The Palace Theater was on the north side of East Main. It had a beautiful lobby with goldfish and it had upholstered seats, which was unusual for Ashland.
Later came the Rex Theater. It was a rough and tumble place which usually showed cowboy movies. It also was located on the north side of East Main.
The old Ashland Armory was located on West Main where the streetcar turned to go to Mansfield. It was a large one-story building. At the close of World War I Mr. Sigler used to go roller skating there, but the floor was like an “ocean wave” and skating there was difficult. In one corner was a great big organ which gave music for skating. The building was torn down in 1923. It was ready to fall down anyway.
Mr. Sigler used to play snare drum with the old Ashland Band. In those days there were lots of parades, on Decoration Day and the Fourth of July especially. Jake Heights was the leader. After the band members joined the Musicians Union they wore fancy uniforms and for the first time they got paid, but the band soon ceased to exist.
Ard Blackford first had his store and coalyard up on Orange Street next to the railroad track and next to Milt Flalin’s shanty. He would walk to Hayesville to teach Sunday School with his great big dog. He was a vegetarian. Smoke Allen’s restaurant was on Union Street right across from where Ard later had his coalyard. Ard had a hard time eating there as Smoke served meals based on meats.
Years ago, Mr. Sigler remembered, you bought all your groceries on credit. When you went in on Saturday night you pay your bill you always got a sack of candy. He worked for Central Delivery. They would deliver potatoes in 100 pound sacks to people’s houses. They would carry the potatoes down to the potato bin in the cellar, empty the sack, and they had strict orders to return the cloth sack to Firestone’s Grocery. 100 lbs. of potatoes was normal for a large family. Sometimes they would just put them beside the stove in the kitchen.