[] Fishing and the Bayou
[] Making Ice Cream[] Awaiting Milk Delivery

WE DID IT – EPISODE 101 of HdG Stories Is Available!

John Noble MentzerIn May of this year Noble Mentzer enthusiastically agreed to be my guinea pig for my first live interview for HdG Stories. I was so nervous. I’d been putting this project off for over a year. But Noble was so much fun that he made it easy. What a great first interview. Well over two hours and lots of chuckles along the way!

In today’s inaugural episode of HdG Stories, I’m a lot excited… but even more nervous. The original audio was edited, transcribed, then this excerpt was created. This is a time-consuming project, but it’s also fun! I’ve determined that each 1-1/2 to 2 hour interview takes about 2 days to create the audios, transcripts, and blog posts. So if my goal is to schedule at least two interviews a week, I’ll be busy! I’ll soon be adding the weekly audios to iTunes, which means I need cover art, etc. I also have to figure out how to use Libsyn (which also stores the audio so it’s not all sitting on my website) and they get them on sites like iTunes!

I have so much to learn and a long list of things I wish were done better NOW. But if you never get it out there, somehow it just won’t get done. At 71, there’s definitely no time like the present to get started! I don’t want to lose another interview opportunity either!

Fall Sunrise in Havre de Grace

In this Episode 001 with John Noble, he talks about his childhood, enjoying the water – hunting, fishing and swimming. He also mentions the two town dumps. Yes, it’ll make sense when you hear it. Then he shares the work and joy of the family making home-made ice cream and the fun of having fresh milk delivered on a cold day! There’s so much more in the full length interview.

There’s plenty of room for improvement on this website (a variety of little glitches driving me crazy) and in the editing of the audio interviews. It’s a massive learning curve. Next I will be learning how to use a mail auto-responder so that when you sign-up, you’ll receive a notice of new interviews available online. Then I will be working on how to submit the audios to Libsyn and getting them on iTunes. I should have a facebook page for HdG Stories coming soon.

I’ve completed a dozen interviews since May with many more scheduled and planned. Plus, keep in mind this episode is 15 minutes out of a two-hour interview. My goal is a weekly excerpt of about 15 minutes in length. I’ll keep you posted. Thank you everyone. And especially, I thank Noble for being willing to be my first interview! We have lots more to offer in the coming months.

Please take the time to peruse the website. I’ve made an audio from an interview with the late Jane Jacksteit, originally created for my “Lockhouse to Lighthouse” publication many years ago.  Be sure to let me know if you like this concept. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen and peruse the site. Til next week … Enjoy!


signature - Ellie

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John Noble Mentzer

interviewed May 10, 2016  (excerpts from full length audio)

I was born in Elkton MD on November 3, 1927. My dad worked for the Standard Oil Esso Co. They established a plant in Havre de Grace. He was sent to Havre de Grace to be the foreman of the plant. That was in November. I think it was February that we moved – my mother and I – to Havre de Grace. And you know Ellie, I remember that day very clearly because I helped my dad carry the chest up to the second floor of the house.

And if you believe that, I’ll tell you another story. I’ve told that story a thousand times in the community!

(much laughter)

I grew up with a family of seven. I was sixth of seven. It was the depression years. And life was not easy with one salary taking care of nine people with mother and dad. So dad had the ability to work with his hands as much and more than he did with his mind. So he developed a garden. We dug the garden and planted it. We learned then how to sustain ourselves during the depression years when food was a shortage and so on.

(What’s your earliest memory as a child?)

I guess I was about five years old. We were living down on Water Street across from the Esso plant. And one of the doctors that we knew in town, Dr. Steiner, came to visit us. He had a black bag in his hand and he walked in and went into the house. We stood out on the porch waiting for him to visit with my mother who was apparently ill. Now I’m five years old so I didn’t know what was going on. After a short while I heard the baby crying. He delivered a baby. And you know, it was for several years that I thought that when a doctor came to your house with a black bag, there was going to be a baby. My youngest brother was born at home.

(Does the house still exist?) Yes, mmm huh, 606 Water Street.

I remember horse drawn milk trucks and horse drawn garbage collectors who picked u the refuse. They had two dumps in town at the time.

Uptown dump which was right there where the Gilbert plant was (until recently) and the downtown dump at the foot of Congress Avenue. They would take the horse buggies down there and shovel it off into a pile. And we swam right close to it in those days.
All my life I swam in the river. Then when pools were introduced, I was getting to be a young man, went to pools and I started getting ear aches. But I never had a problem when I swam in the river.

(What was the waterfront like growing up?)

Log Pond, you’ve heard of the Log Pond. That was just a tragic looking thing. There was a ship there that was half sunk. And an old propeller stickin’ out of the water … it’s now at the Maritime Museum. The river front was not really organized at the time other than plants and fishermen and a few wharfs.

Logging was pretty much done at that time.


There were a lot of fishermen that had piers down there at that time. They’d go out with their nets and get all kinds of fish. Hunters was big then and they’d hunt ducks and geese.

Bayou was built and it became a place where the rich and famous would come to stay. They would come here and the old time hunters would be there guides and take them out. They had rooms at the Bayou and each room had a bathroom and running water. That was unbeknown at that time!

One of the guides that used to take them out and if he felt the hunters had bagged their limit for the day, he’d look to the west as most people on the river do. He’d say, “By God, Mr. Gimble, we’re gonna git a storm here before long. We better get on in.”
Then he’d go out to get his kill for the day. There were pickers in town that would pick their ducks for them. Then they’d have them to take back with them or they’d eat ‘em right there at the Bayou Hotel.

I remember in the late 30s – middle 30s – but late 30s, they had two nice railroad stations.

Freight train across from Green Street there and the other was up on Warren Street. I can remember seeing the large extended platform designed for holding the ducks. They hang their ducks with tags on ‘em with the name of the person to receive them. Mr. Brown in Wilminton, DE or Boston, MA.

(So it was more than just taking hunters out…)

Yes, it was an industry. People often thought because they were overshooting that they were destroying the amount of ducks and geese coming into the area, But it was never the shooting that did it. It was the encroachment of the communities up in the northern part of the states where the ducks and geese multiply, produce and nest and so on, which cut down the territory where they had a good place to be able to raise their young.

Development. Our country had developed. Then shortly after that they put a limit on the number of ducks and geese they could kill. I can remember going into one of the sheds – one of the main hunters right down there on Water Street where they had the kill for the day. They’d have ‘em hangin’ head down so they could drain the blood out. You could walk into a room and just see hundreds of ducks and geese lined up along the wall that some people had ordered and they were going to ship to.
(How did they ship them without them spoiling?)

That was the way of living in those days. We had no refrigeration in those days at all. We had ice trucks that brought ice to the houses. You’d get 25# blocks of ice. We had refrigerators and you’d put the ice in the refrigerator/ice boxes. That was the refrigeration of the day.

(Could they do that on a train?)

No. As long as it wasn’t too long, they could ship ‘em on the train. They want as far up as Boston. Hunting season was cooler, too. So they’d hold up for a while longer.


I remember making ice cream. Dad had a hand-cranked ice cream maker – 6 quarts. It was really big thing. It was entertainment. One – to have my mother make it. Two – we had to churn it. I was so young that they would put me on a stand to hold it down while they churned it.

The piece de resistance was to get the dasher. I’ve never seen anyone as conservative as my Mother when it came to food. She could get more off of that dasher before she handed it to us. It was packed in ice and salt – rock salt. I made ice cream up until a couple years ago. I gave my ice maker to Mark. Ice cream was never as good as it was then.
(I think your ingredients were richer.)


I remember when they delivered milk to us, milk in bottles. If it was a cold morning, it would freeze. It had a paper cap on it. Milk would freeze and it would send up a cream stick. Ooooo talk about good eating. We were glad to get bottles of milk.
That was daily, they delivered the milk. That cream stick as they called, that was the beginning of life! It was raw milk we were drinking now. It wasn’t pasteurized.

In the spring, the cows would get into the fresh garlic. They seemed to like garlic. It would make the milk taste of garlic.
If we came down and saw a half onion on the table in a saucer, we knew the milk tasted of garlic. Mother would tell us to take the onion and stick it up into our teeth for a moment. Pass it on for the next one. Hygiene was like it is nowadays. (laughter) We wouldn’t taste the garlic in the milk. It would neutralize the garlic. That was a big thing if we saw the onion on a saucer.

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