German Settler Recalls Gay, Simple Life
Buffalo Times -December 7, 1938
(03.01.02) There probably were no lemon or orange trees, but those could have been thrown in for good measure. He's sure, when he remembers those smiling acres that the picturesoue names of the streets came from the fruit of the soil.
Mr. Abel. who is in his upper 70s,comes pretty near being the oldest native of "The Orchard" and sometimes he feels pretty sad as he looks back on the days of his boyhood and sees that almost all his old schoolmates and friends have left him. Most of the time, though, he feels mighty good about the world, and certainly he has had a most remarkable life.
Beats Ill Health
He was a machinist until the PanAmerican year, working a lot in copper and brass and enjoying very poor health. He thinks minute quantities of copper got into his system and threw his stomach oui of order. He hardly enjoyed 16 at all until Pan-American year, Then his father, who had been agent for insurance companies, died, and George decided to pick up the business.
He picked It up and walked off with It. He walked, Ilterally, out of his ill-health. He has been walking now for 37 years, and feels better as he approaches 80 than he did as he approached 40. Since his clients are scattered all over Buffalo, he walks eight, ten, a
dozen miles a day
If he has 'to go to Depew he will consent to take a bus, but never, never will he, ride in an automobile "There used to be a lot of neighborliness and friendliness among people," he says. "Eveybody was friendly and sociable in the old ,days, but now people hardly say hello to their next door neighbors; And I think it is the automobile' that did it. People get in their cars and go tearing away to some, other part of the town. It has filled the neighborliness of "The Orchards"
But Mr. Abel concedes great improvements have come since thedays when the houses were built in the farmlands. I remember when there wasn't a sign of a street through here," He said. "Just a mud slough, with the wooden sidewalk built up on stilts so you could get over the mud. Some places It was three or four feet above the ground and snow-I recall snowfalls that buried some of the little houses along Mulberry St. and folks had to dig a tunnel to get out."
Mr. Abel's father, a native of Hesse, Germany, built the house where George was born, at 150 Mulberry St. That house still stands, nearly 90 years old now, its door and window frames made bv hand, the bark still on the heavy joists. It was one of the first houses on Mulberry St., and opposite it thev built the towering stone pile of St. Boniface Church.
Helped, Build Church
George remembers that well), fothe helped build-it when he was 9 years old, by driving a horse at cents a week. The horse hauled a rope and by an arrangement of pulleys lofted a barrow-load of stone up to the tower where the ,masons could get it. He thought it a very good job and fine pay for ,a boy of nine.
In those boyhood days, there were few houses on either side of Mulberry St, between it and Main St. lay a great tract of open land where the circuses pitched their tents summers and where a fellow could carry water for the elephants. To the east, it was open country clear out to Pine Hill.
But he remembers well enough how the German Catholics came swarming in to Mulberry St. on Sunday mornings, to attend mass at St. Boniface, and how the litte saloon along the street were packed with family parties, enjoying their beer before and after worship.
Recalls 23 Saloons
From all directions they came to St. Boniface, sometimes in wagonloads, sometimes by horse-and-buggy, most often afoot. He disputes the estimate of the Schiesels that there were some 15 saloons allong, Mulberry St. He can call 23 by name and here are some that elude memory.
"Before these present church was built there was a small wooden church here," he says. "My father was one of the builders, and it was called St. John's. Once when they were, having a mission there the floor caved In. It's a good thing there wasn't a celler under it."
He smiles at recollections of his boyhood:
Being best man at a wedding in the Jammerthal (the stone quarry section that the Gerrnans called the Vale of Tears) when he was 16 and wearing a plug hat. There was a great moment in the wedding journey, when an axle broke down under the bride, and she had to ride with him, George, to her wedding. And then a two-day, house party with great merry making, with all the stone-cutters cutting in.
All Lived Happily
The merry times in winter, where practically no man had a job, all lived happily and nobody went hungry.
Hunting for squirrels Smith's Woodss, which stood where long lines of cars today stream along Humboldt Parkway.
Holden's Farm, which stood on the site of the great reservoir, which was on the site of the present stadium, and Holden farming it, and then in later years renting,it out by the acre to be farmed.
The Sunday raidss of the Irish from the First Ward, who came up the hill yelling and full of fight but were often were sent back licked by the Dutchmen.
Those Good Old Days
The surprise parties when neighbors would swarm in on the happy and,not-too-surpised guests the men chipping in to buy beer for the party, the women providing the supper.
The loads of stone from the Jammerthal, bound downtown that creaked and groaned over the cobble-stone steets, pushing the paving blocks out of Place and making the rough-riding that worked havoc with auto springs in later days.
"Those were good days, happy days," sighs mr. Abel. "Something has gone from the neighborhood that we used to have. It isn't the same anymore.
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