Oral history interview of Roy and Jo Moses October 1, 2004
K Today is October 1, 2004. This is an oral history interview with Josine Moses and Roy Moses, and she just said Thomas, so we’ll get into that in a second. We’ll start with Jo. Roy, you interject when you want. Your Welsh connection; tell me about it. Are you Welsh, Jo?
J I sure am, and proud of it. Very, very proud of my Welsh heritage.
J I don’t know. There’s just closeness. There’s just a good feeling a out the Welsh. I can’t really explain it, I’m just happy. I’m real proud of it, that’s all I can say.
K I interviewed Clyde this morning and that’s the one thing he pulled out, too, being proud of his heritage.
J I’m very proud of it.
K Now, let’s talk about your Welsh heritage. Let’s talk about your mother. We’ll go with your mother’s side. I always go with the female side first. Tell me about her family.
J My mother was one of nine children and her mother, by the way, was a Thomas and married a Williams, and they were a very close, musically knit family.
K Let’s go to your mother. What was her name?
J Margaret Williams Thomas.
K And she was one of nine?
J One of nine. She was the fourth oldest.
K What were their names? Do you remember?
J All of my uncle’s names? Yes. Christie was the oldest, David, Wilfred, Margaret, (which was Peg, my mother), Roberta, Iver, Irma, Irene. Roger, I forget my Uncle Roger. My goodness, let me start over. Christie, David, Wilfred, Margaret (Peg, my mother), Roberta, Roger, Irma, Iver, Irene and Ronald.
K There were ten?
J There were ten. I’m sorry. There were nine living that I only knew.
R Christie died.
J Christie died, I remember.
K The oldest?
J The oldest one. But, mother talked often about her sister, her little sister. She was, I think, two years old when she died. My grandpa, which was a wonderful man, I was so close to him, his name was Robert B. Everybody called him Uncle Rob, in our community, and her mother’s name was Elizabeth.
K Now, let me get the last names right. Elizabeth was a Williams, married a Thomas.
J No, Elizabeth was a Thomas and married a Williams. My mother was a Williams and married a Thomas. See? Kind of confusing, isn’t it? But, that’s the Welsh.
K Did they make an effort to marry Welsh?
J That’s all that was around here at the time, just Welsh people, and both of my mother’s grandparents were carpenters, and little Sardis Church was built by my mother’s grandfather.
K What was his name?
J You know, I don’t know. Williams is all I know. His last name was Williams.
K And he built Sardis. That’s nice. Can you go back any further?
J Unfortunately, no. I’ve never really gone into it. I just know that my mother’s side was just the Thomas’s. That’s all I know.
K Where are they buried?
J In the Hill Cemetery at Thurman.
K How many generations are buried there?
J Three? My grandfather and grandmother…
K Who were they?
J Grandpa Williams, mother’s father.
K What were their kids’ names?
J Robert and Elizabeth, and her parents, my mother’s grandparents, they’re named Dave Thomas and Jane, and they are buried in there. One son is buried in the Hill Cemetery.
K What about your father’s side?
J You want to know about my dad’s side, family names or anything?
K Yes, I’m trying to get all this (?). Hang on, with your mother, and then…
J I’m sorry.
K Oh, no! there’s so many Williams and Thomas’s, I’m just confused and I just want to get it strait. All right then. So, where are the others buried, we don’t know, if you go further back on your mother’s side?
J No, I don’t. I honestly don’t. I just know my grand grandparents and mother’s grandparents are buried in Hill Cemetery in Centerville, and my grandpa and my grandmother are, too; Mother’s mother and father.
K But you think they probably came over with the rest of them in the 1830 to 1850s?
J I’d say. I honestly don’t know. It’s something that I wish I had the will power to do, is to go back into the genealogy.
K I know. It takes a lot of time, doesn’t it?
R (to Jo) You don’t think they were in the 1818 group?
J No. They weren’t in the very earliest group. All I know is somebody on my grandpa’s side was buried at sea when they came over, but I don’t know for sure – I always thought it was his mother, but then Roy told me yesterday it couldn’t have been his mother because his grandpa was born over here.
R It wouldn’t have worked!
K No, it wouldn’t have worked! Who are you related to, on that side of the family, around here? On your mother’s side?
J Oh, gosh, I don’t know.
K I mean, you must have a lot of cousins, right?
J Yes, and different people will say, “Oh, we’re cousins, distant cousins,” but I can’t really pick out any one certain person.
K Who were the children? Do I know them, the children of…
R (to Jo) Which side are Kenny and Nancy on?
J Oh, Kenny and Nancy! Kenny Williams, in Jackson. I forgot, there’s Kenny and Myron. They were double cousins of Mother’s that live in Jackson what we see quite often. Really, there aren’t that many because Aunt Irene didn’t have any children, and Irma didn’t have any, but Uncle Roger’s three sons, Kenny (Ken), Gary, and Roger Dale, are very, very close. They’re more like little brothers than what they are cousins to me. In fact, Roger and Catherine have always been very close to me. And then Roberta’s two children, Dixie and Larry, that’s mother’s sister, from Lima Ohio, they’re very close. Dixie and Larry used to spend the summers down with Mother and Daddy and me, every summer. In fact, one year they didn’t even go back to Lima, they stayed with Mother and Daddy and went to school, and I’m happy to say that every time I see Dixie and Larry, they always say, “It’s the happiest time of my childhood, was living with Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steve.”
R Larry was down for my birthday party. When he went back through Centerville, he stopped in front of her mother and dad’s home, and he wanted to sit on the front porch like he’d don sixty-something years ago, so even though he didn’t know the people that lived there, the minister at Thurman Church, he went over and sat on the front porch for a couple of minutes, just out of nostalgia, where he had sat so many years ago. I don’t know what he would’ve told the preacher and his wife if they had come out.
J But, he was happy. It was something he got to do. In fact, Mother and Daddy and I took Dixie and Larry home one time, they’d been down for the summer for a few weeks, and we took them back home to Lima, which, at that time, was a four and a half hour trip from southern Ohio to northern Ohio, and we got up there and, of course, their mother was happy to see them but they weren’t too happy to see her because they said, “we’re going back with Aunt Peggy and Uncle Steve.” They turned around and came right back with us after we’d taken them home. So, they are the closest. And then I’ve got my Uncle David, which was a Methodist minister. Mother’s oldest brother, and his son, was an only child and Bob and I have been close, but not as close as Dixie and Larry, and Ken and R.D. And, like I said, Uncle Iver was a very special uncle. He was a bachelor, lived there with my grandpa in Thurman after her mother passed away. In fact, Mother was away teaching, her first year teaching, up around Lancaster, and her mother died and left all these children, all these younger sisters and brothers, so Mother gave up her teaching job and came home and lived with Grandpa to help take care of them, and of course, she’d always loved my daddy, I guess, from the stories that she’s told me. She said she’d hear Daddy’s car go on Oak Hill Pike and she’d run to the porch to look out, just to see his car go by, and they were very, very happily married. I had a wonderful childhood.
K Tell me about it.
J Oh, my, there were just always young people on out house. I was an only child, didn’t have sisters or brothers, but there was somebody always there. In fact, one year, one young man, he was a senior in high school and his family lived on a farm outside the village and they were moving. He came down and talked to Mother and Daddy, wanted to know if he could finish out his school year and stay with Mother and Daddy, which he did. Then, Dixie and Larry, like I said, they were here and lived with us part of the time. Another little girl my age, Jackie, was in the fourth grade and her mother passed away and her daddy was moving to Columbus, and she didn’t want to leave Centerville school, so, she told her dad, he said, “I know where I can stay if you’ll go down and talk to the,” so Jackie’s father came down and talked to my mother and dad. They kept Jackie that whole winter, and Dixie and Larry were there at the same time. Daddy always joked about his boys, Dick, Jo, and Jack; Dixie, Jackie and me. They had a basketball coach, a new teacher that came from Pennsylvania. Of course, he didn’t have a place to stay, so I went to my mother and dad and they kept him. then there was another teacher, coach, that stayed with Mother and Daddy two school years, and then Opal Miller Lloyd, when her first year of teaching – she said, she was an only child, her parents kind of hated to see her leave home, and they were from the southern end of Gallia County and they didn’t want her to drive to Centerville every day, it was too much of a drive, which, it wouldn’t have really been, but said, “the only person I trust our daughter with is Steve and Peg Thomas.” So, there’s Mother and Daddy again, and Opal stayed with them for eight years. She’d come on Monday mornings, go home on Wednesday evenings, and I always went home with her. We came back to school on Thursday morning and she’d go home again on Friday. There’ just always been somebody at out house, and young people after church group meetings on Sunday night, that Mother was advisor to, they would always come down home. There have always been people at my house when I was growing up.
K Tell me about your mother. What was she like?
J She was a sweetheart. She was a little stubborn Welshmen sometimes.
K Sounds familiar, hey Roy?
R These Welsh people.
J She was a wonderful lady. I respect my mother, and as I said, I’m very, very proud of the parents I had. They were so good to me and good to other people. She was just a little lady.
K She was aware of her Welsh heritage, right?
J Very much so.
K Tell me about her contributions to the Welsh community here.
J The church. She was very active, an organist.. in fact, she was twelve years old when she started being organist at Thurman Methodist Church.
R Her music and piano teaching were the biggest of her heritage, her contribution to the community. She probably had hundreds and hundreds of piano students over the years.
J She was a very pretty little lady. She took care of her brother, Iver, when he was quite ill and had surgery and he stayed with us, too. Grandpa and Iver stayed down with us at that time, during that winter. Like I said, she was very active. She was active in other organizations, active in things here at the University, at Rio Grande. At that time it was Rio Grande College.
K Did she have anything to do with the Eisteddfod here at Rio?
J Yes, she did. She was the official accompanist for that.
K Did you go to those?
J I didn’t, I was too little. I think I went. And my dad was the vice president of the Eisteddfod Association. But, Daddy was a funeral director and there were a lot of things that he just had to stay home and mother would get out and do.
K Was the Eisteddfod a big deal?
J At one time, yes. Of course, I don’t remember too much about it, but, yes, it was very. They had it here at the University and we’ve got some of the programs , and there were a lot of participants in the Eisteddfod.
K Was it local people, or did people come from somewhere else?
J Mostly local people, in the Jackson, Oak Hill, Gallipolis…
K Roughly when was that?
J Gosh, Kara, I don’t know. I’m getting old but I don’t know.
K Was it just singing?
J No, they had recitations, because I was looking at one of the booklets the other day, where Daddy – I was so proud of Daddy. I said, “Just think, my daddy was the vice president and my mother was one of the piano players. And her family, Uncle Roger and Uncle Iver and Uncle Ron and my grandpa did a lot of competition in the eisteddfod, and I might have, but, they were usually winners; they really were.
K And that’s something you’re very proud of.
J I surely am.
K Tell me about Uncle Roger. We’ll get to your father’s side in a minute, but let’s stick with your mother’s side.
J My Uncle Roger, he was a sweetheart. I loved him dearly.
R He liked to play jokes on people, too.
J Yes, he did.
R Should I tell about the one he pulled on me?
J Yes, tell this one.
R When we first started going together, Roger didn’t know me very well, he just knew that I was a student going to Rio Grande College. One Saturday, I needed a haircut. He was going to Oak Hill to the barber, so I jumped in the car and went with him, and on the way he pulled out a little piece of fruit. It’s a wild fruit called a persimmon, and it grows wild around here in the trees. Where I come from, I had never seen a persimmon before and knew nothing about it, but when they’re good and ripe it’s a very good, sweet tasting fruit. But, when they’re green, they have some chemical in them that will draw your mouth together. It will quickly annihilate your mouth. So, on the way to Oak Hill he pulled out a green persimmon and asked me if I’d like to take a bite. He said, “They’re good.” So, I took a big bite. He said, “Chew it up real well.” So, I did, and about two or three minutes later, my mouth began to disappear. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t spit, my throat began to tighten up a little bit. I though I was dying. I really got scared. He just sat there and smiled and it was probably half an hour later or more before my mouth started coming back. So, that’s the type of person he was. However, when he found out that I was going to marry his niece a few years later, he regretted doing that the rest of his life.
J He talked about it all the time. He said, “That was one of the worst things that I ever did to anybody.” Didn’t he? Uncle Roger was a great uncle, great brother, great father to his sons, great husband to his wife, and he and Mother were both very active in musical circles. Mother and Uncle Roger both taught music in the Oak Hill school system and Mother did all the accompanying at his programs and everything.
K Were they only Welsh programs, or just all musical programs?
J No, just school programs. You know, just typical school programs, and they could both really get music out of the youngsters, out of the children.
R Could I tell another little joke that really was on Roger?
R I rode to school with Roger. We took turns, actually, driving each week. We both taught at Oak Hill. One day we were coming home from school. Roger was driving and we were listening to the radio. Some news reporter out someplace in the mid-west started telling a story about a man who wrecked his car trying to miss a dog that was crossing the road, and Roger said, “Ha! Only a fool would wreck his car to try and miss a dog.” Half a mile down the road he jerked that wheel almost into the ditch; the car swerved a couple of times. He almost wrecked his car trying to miss a chicken. Right out here, from the woods where they lived.
J He had a mind of his own. He wouldn’t change his watch when we’d go from daylight savings time to eastern standard and so on and so forth. Roger would never change his watch, would he, Roy?
R He kept his watch eastern standard time, the whole time. That was that stubborn Welsh.
J We, for years and years, until his children, in fact, all the children, started getting older, had Thanksgiving dinner at Michael, Roger and Catherine’s, and they always had Christmas eve with all of us. And Mother and Roger in their music, they really worked well together.
R We always knew when Roger was coming up to the house or if he was walking around town. We always knew he was coming or walking someplace because he would whistle. He would whistle every time he was out someplace or out by himself, and he could whistle very well.
J Yes. He was a happy man, a good man. Like I said, Mother and Uncle Roger provided all the music for the Gymanfas.
K How long were they involved in the Gymanfas?
J You know, I can’t really – Roy and I were talking about that at home. I honestly don’t know how long, but it seemed like forever. But, prior to Uncle Roger and Mother taking over the music, my Uncle Elias – my dad’s sister Sadie was married to Elias Jones and they did all the music. Then, they retired, so to speak, because of ill health and so on. That’s when Mother and Uncle Roger took over. They could get music out of people.
K How did they do that?
R It was way over fifty years ago.
K I’ve heard stories about them and the thing that stands in my mind about your mother would be how her little hands would just be all over the keyboard.
J They were, and she did have little hands, and in the late years she had some arthritis in those fingers, and yet she could make the piano talk. She was a very good piano teacher, like Roy just mentioned. She had given hundreds of young people piano lessons and played at many, many weddings. But, Mother and Roger worked so well together.
K How was he, when he was up there, being the chorister?
J| Very vivacious. When he would direct a song he would get his fingers out spread and his hand up in the air and he would put it to them. What do you think? (to Roy)
R Well, he’d put his whole body and soul into it.
J I think they were very well respected musicians and people. I really do. I’m proud of my uncle and I’m proud of my mother.
K What about your dad?
J He was a sweetheart. He was loved by all of my girlfriends. His name was Steven, Steve Thomas.
K And you named one of your sons Steve?
J And one of our sons’, our oldest son, was named Steven. Our second son, by they way, I have to tell you about that before I go into Daddy. Steve was our oldest son. Then Roy and I had a second son, and we thought it was going to be a girl, because we had a girl’s name. It wasn’t a girl, so Roy said, “Well, Peg didn’t get a name sake. We’ll name him Thomas,” which pleased me to death, because it was my maiden name. And then when Rob was born, we just didn’t know for sure. It was our third son. We didn’t know for sure what to name him, then, finally, at the hospital, the said, “Jo, you’ve got to name your baby.”
R For three days Rob was called “it”. We referred to Rob as, “What will we name it?”
J Finally, they said, “you’ve got to name your baby.” I really wanted Robert, a Rob, after my grandpa Williams, but I hated to say anything to Roy because, after all, Stephen was after my dad, the Thomas was my maiden name, and I thought, I hate to take all of my family and Roy thoroughly agreed that Rob would be a great name. So, it ended up being Rob. Anyhow, those are our three sons.
R I do have one name after me.
J Thomas Allen, the middle one.
R My middle name is Allen.
J But, back to my dad, he was Steven Thomas and he was a very pleasant man. He was always laughing. He had some pretty bad health. He had a very bad heart condition.
K When was he born?
J He was sixteen years older than my mother.
K Was that – no, that might not have been unusual back then. Was that common or unusual?
J I don’t know. All I knew is my mother used to always talk about, “Oh, how I loved your daddy when I was a little girl.” Of course, he wasn’t my daddy then, and like I said a while ago, she would hear his car. He’d be going on the Oak Hill Pike. They lived right near the Oak Hill highway, as you go to Oak Hill, and she said she’d run to the front porch just to see his car go by. Sixteen years is a big difference, but they were very compatible. They were wonderful parents. They were a wonderful couple, and a very well respected couple. People really liked them. My dad, though, you wanted to know a little more about his family? Roy, you interject when you have anything to say. His father’s name was (Limuel? Lemuel?)
K It was what?
J (Lemual?). That was his dad’s name; Lem. And his mother’s name was Anne, and she was a Jones. Her maiden name was Jones, and she was from Oak Hill, Ohio. The big C.M. Cemetery at Oak Hill was part of my daddy’s mother’s family’s property and they sold it to the cemetery.
K (adjusting camera) I’m just making it close up on you, Jo.
J Oh no! Don’t make it close up, please. (whispers something to Roy)
R I don’t mind. I’ve got s story to tell about your dad.
J Oh, dear. People are always telling me little stories about Daddy, something he did or said, and I know when Daddy passed away, Jim Lloyd, he had three other brothers and they lived out in the country, and they came into Centerville one day, on their way to Gallipolis for the stock sale, and they had a couple of pigs in the back of their car. Anyhow, the pigs got out in the village in Centerville and here were these four little Lloyd boys and their daddy chasing the pigs. Of course, my dad was a jokester, and he was a happy man, and he teased them after that, about the hogs getting out. “Your hogs are out.” Every time they would send him a letter when any of them were in the service they’d always end it with something about “your hogs are out.” Well, Daddy passed away and one of Jim’s brothers, Oney, came up to mother and said, “Peg, I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’ve go to say something right now,” and he looked at my dad in the casket and he said, “Your hogs are out, Steven.” He was just that kind of – people associated Daddy with fun things, nice things.
R He was also a jokester.
K I’m seeing a bit of a theme here, that people are jokesters.
R (to Jo) Have you said that he was a funeral director?
J Yes. Well, I just mentioned it. His father was, before him, too.
K We’ll come back to that, then, in a second.
R Before we were married, I helped him a little bit with the funeral business. I’d go with Peg out at all times of the night to pick up bodies, which I didn’t like very well, but one funeral I was helping Peg and her dad put this body in the casket. I helped him dress the body, it was a man, and we had him in the casket and I was down at the foot, adjusting his pant legs and his socks and his feet a little bit, and I didn’t see Steve, her dad, do this, but he reached down, put his hand underneath this man’s leg and as I was bent over, he pulled that leg up and that food came right up, almost hit me in the nose, and anywhere around a body like that I was very tense. I know that I jumped a foot or more off the floor, strait up, when that foot came up into my face. Steve just stood there and laughed and laughed.
J He was very respectful of death, though, but he did do little things like that. That’s one I won’t let him forget.
R Tell her what you got scolded about.
K Ooh, Jo got scolded about something?
J Yes. I was eating my lunch and they had a body, a person that had passed away. I took my lunch, my milk and whatever I was eating, into the embalming room, and, boy, I got chased out of there in no uncertain terms. The said, “You do NOT go in there with food. That person is somebody’s family. Remember, somebody’s family. I don’t want you doing things like that.” So, they were very respectful. I thought it was going to be great, going in when they needed company. I wasn’t very big, I don’t remember it, but I remember them telling about it.
K So, that was the family…
J It was the family business. His dad, before him, was the funeral director there.
J Well, I don’t remember too much about the game. I was more interested in knowing that Yogi Berra, the baseball catcher for the New York Yankees was sitting across the floor from me.
R That’s what she remembers about New York and Madison Square Garden.
J Yogi Berra. If you know anything about baseball…
R She didn’t even know I was playing.
J Yes, I did. I was excited. But, then I got to go and see them play in Philadelphia. We went on to Philadelphia. The first year I went with Maxine, one of the players’ wives. Clyde Evans’ cousin, in fact, Pat, and I saw all thirty-nine games that they played. We went to all the games. It was an exciting time, going to college at that time. Our team was doing so great and really making a name for the college and, as I said, I went into teaching…
K Well, I’ll interject you, so we’ve got it chronologically correct, and then we’ll come back to your lives after that. What was so special about the team?
R They won a lot.
K They were just good? Or you were just good?
J Second high point man to Bevo.
R Well, the first year, but nobody kept track of how many point anyone else scored. It was always how many Bevo scored. In the first year I think he averaged over fifty points a game. One game he got 116 and another game he got 113. at a regular basketball game that’s something phenomenal, to be able to shoot that many times and make that many baskets. Of course, he had to get the ball, and if it wasn’t for four other guys on the team getting the ball to him he wouldn’t have made that many shots. There was about four or five other guys on that team that were very good basketball players, but there were unselfish enough to let him get the glory and that’s what made that team so phenomenal, and we became a national sports phenomenon. Next time you’re up home I want you to read something I got from a man who has written a book about the team and Bevo. He’s been writing this book for something like twenty or twenty-five years. Anyway, he’s finally getting it published and his name is Kyle (Kitterly?), and he sent me two pages from his book, very prettily framed, and one of these pages was describing Bevo’s playing and the other page described what effect and how this team did for Rio Grande, how it literally saved Rio Grande, financially. He also brought out something that I have never really thought about and I have never heard anyone else say much about, but he brought this out in his book. About the time that Bevo and the team started playing, basketball in this country was getting a very black eye. There were scandals going on about players and coaches betting on basketball games, and they would actually have players intentionally miss baskets in order to adjust the score so people could gamble on the team and make money.
J That wasn’t Rio Grande, though.
R It was becoming a national scandal, betting on basketball, and this author of this book brought out the fact that when Bevo and the Rio team started getting national recognition, people started forgetting about the betting on basketball, and they started thinking about this little country school, with about ninety something students, playing some of the biggest, strongest basketball teams in the nation, and beating some of them and coming very close to beating others, and it was all no betting, no illegal stuff, it was just pure, good basketball and we actually, according to this author, helped to put new life back in the sport of basketball, and there was never any more of this betting going on and he gave us credit for reviving the sort of basketball in the United States. I had never heard or thought anything about that aspect of what that team did.
K You must be very proud.
R In addition to financially saving Rio Grande College. That second year we would bring home money from the gates of where we played, as much as eight or ten thousand dollars at a time, and in those days that would be fifty to eighty thousand dollars in today’s money. So, we brought money in that paid the professors, paid the electric bills, and for several years afterwards…I give a lot of credit to the president that came a few years later, Dr. Christianson. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the name.
K I’ve heard the name.
R I give him a lot of credit for building on the reputation that we gave the college national reputation. He built on it, started getting money coming in, got Davis Hall built, and Allen Hall came along, the library came along, and it just mushroomed into what it is today.
J And now Dr. Dorsey is very supportive of what the team had done.
R At the time, though, we didn’t realize what we were doing. We were just having a ball. We got to fly to a lot of our games, and in those days very few athletic teams flew, unless you were a big, big college.
K Did you feel like superstars?
R We knew that we were something special, and then when – you’ve heard the name Don Allen, which was the husband of the lady that gave the Greer? After he died she remarried and her new name was Greer. But, her husband, then, was Don Allen. The time that we played here, he was the largest Chevrolet dealer east of the Mississippi. That’s what they said. We had played in Cincinnati, at the big Cincinnati gardens and Don Allen told our coach, “Take that team down to a big clothing store in Cincinnati,” and he bought every one of us a suite; a suite, shirt and tie. The suit was gray flannel and they all had pegged pants. You know what pegged pants are?
K You have told me before.
R You turn them up, like that. The suit was tailored that way. The tie that we got was a black knit tie. Now, when we dressed up to go away to games after that, we felt like stars, then.
K So, the whole community was behind you, too?
R Oh, yes. In those day, in the movie theaters, at the beginning of a movie there was always, in black and white, a little news bulletin-like thing. They called it Movie Tone News, and it would be maybe ten minutes long, because we didn’t have television and this would be a way that people who went to the movies once or twice a week could get some national and world news, and Rio Grande basketball team made that Movie Tone News. She even made it!
K Jo Moses?
J Yes, I did, because I was short, and they’d take me out of class to go to.
R These people came to Rio, and they wanted…
J The ‘Today Show’, in fact.
R They wanted to take some picture of Bevo and they wanted somebody short to get a contrast to make him look taller. So, they got her, because she was a little, short Welshman. They had a little segment on this Movie Tone News and a friend of hers, from Centerville, was in the army, in the Panama Canal Zone and he saw that Movie Tone News. The army always had movies. He recognized Jo. He got all excited and told all of his buddies that he knew that girl and nobody would believe him.
J I think he finally convinced them, but they showed the movie over and over again and he kept telling them that I was from where he lived – he lived on a farm outside the village. I got to be in one other segment where – in the cafeteria line when the guys would come in from practice. I was with Roy, but here are all these guys, you know. Another time I was in the library, trying to reach a book off the top shelf. Now, can you imagine that?
R We set that up.
J They had set it up, yes.
R Bevo just happened to walk by and he reached up very easily and got her a book.
J And I even had to take my shoes off behind the library table, to make me just a tad shorter. I had a pair of loafers and I’ll never forget that.
K When did you guys get married?
R 1955, June 25, and it rained.
K A good Welsh day, then.
J That’s right.
R It poured that morning and I had to go to Oak Hill. Everybody had forgotten to get ice for the reception.
J By the way, he got dressed over at Uncle Roger’s.
R So, I had to go to Oak Hill, in a pouring rain storm, to get ice.
K You’re not from around here, Roy, are you?
R No. I’m a flatlander. Where I come from the land is very flat, all farmland.
J Northern Ohio.
R I came down to these hills, now one leg is a little shorter than the other from walking on these hillsides.
K What was your first Welsh event, Roy? I don’t think you’d heard of Wales before, had you?
R To me, that was just England, or Great Britain. Of course, I know different now. I don’t think I really began to know much about Welsh, or Wales, until I started going to my first Gymanfa with Peg and Roger.
K How was that experience for you?
R That was a very unique experience. I knew that Peg was going to be playing and Roger was going to be leading the singing, and I had sung a lot in church, hymns, and I figured that I could sing right along with these Welsh people. So, Roger said that we would have our opening song, turned to I think it was probably something like Racchi turned to page so-and-so, and I figured I’ll be able to sing along with these Welsh people. I opened that little red and green book on Racchi and – “I can’t do this! How do you look at the music up here and the words down here?” I was utterly and completely lost. I couldn’t sing because I had to have the words and music right together before I could sing a note, so I don’t think I did much singing at all.
K Did they sing in Welsh?
R That was another – Roger didn’t sing much Welsh, but he would a verse now and then, or maybe he liked to sing the chorus of Calon Lan. Then, here I was trying to sing, music up here, words down here, and then Roger said, “And now we’re going to sing in Welsh.” Then I looked at those Welsh words and I think I closed the book. How do you even pronounce a word that’s made up of eight or ten consonants? I had had a lot of English. I had two years of Latin in high school, tow years of Spanish here at Rio, but then I looked at those Welsh words…
K But now you can do it.
R Now that I learned how to pronounce the double L and Ch on the end of a word. You’ve got to clear your throat very pronounce. F is the V, pronounced like a V.
J See, he’s learned. I haven’t.
R You were always thinking about boys instead of getting your lesson.
J I was not.
R In all the years that we went together I don’t ever remember seeing you study or even helping you study.
J Yes you did.
J With my history.
R I don’t remember.
J You don’t have a very good memory. He’s never said that before. He’s always said he never saw me go to the library, and I probably didn’t.
K Maybe Jo didn’t need to study, she’s just too smart anyway.
J Ha! Thank you, Kara.
K It’s alright, Jo. I’ve got your back. We’ll talk about both of you and your participation in Welsh events. When did the Cardigan Club start? It was originally the Cardiff Club, right?
J Yes. I don’t know. Mother and I were both past presidents.
R Probably in the eighties?
J Probably, yes.
K What kind of activities did you do back then?
R Baked a lot of Welsh cookies.
K Was it mostly women?
J It was all women at first, and then the men started going to the meetings with us. It was a big organization at one time. I think there were at least – I remember one night at one our meetings, when I was president, we had over fifty there. Of course, now so many people have passed on.
R They were almost always involved in the Bob Evans Farm Festival.
J It started out as the Welsh Heritage Weekend, at Bob Evans.
K What was that like?
R (to Jo) Not at the Farm Festival.
J No, I said it started out, though. The Welsh women and they called it the Welsh Heritage Weekend. That’s when it all started and then we kind of evolved. It was a very active organization. We had good programs.
K Like what?
J Singing. We didn’t have very many speakers. I’ll use one example. When I was president, Bob Ervin from Jackson- you know him, he plays the part of Abraham Lincoln – he came to our meeting one night. We had it at Centerville school. It’s no longer a school, but it’s a village building now. Nobody knew what the program was going to be that evening and Mother and I were hostesses besides being presidents. So, Roy stood back at the door and watched for Bob to come in the door, so we could tell all the people “Oh, we have a visitor coming tonight!” And because of being in the school we – he really gave a nice program. Something like that, it really got the people. What were some of them we had?
R One of the programs, I had collected from a lot of different people a couple hundred of the transparent slides that you use on a little carousel to show, and I got a machine from Oak hill that used two slide projectors, and the little machine would – one picture from one slide would fade out and a picture from the other projector would come in and it would just go back and forth. These were all picture of Wales, the countryside, slides that people had taken in Wales. I got some from Ed Jones and four or five different people. Then, I had Welsh music accompanying all that; Welsh choirs, soloists. It was probably about a forty-five minute program and they liked it so well, I gave one Sunday night at the Thurman Methodist Church and the church was packed.
J D. Merrill Davis made the statement at the time, he said, “That’s the best program that we’ve ever had,” and coming from D. Merrill that was a compliment. We had a lot of people there that evening. Mother was president that year, by the way.
K We only have ten minutes left on this tape. Is there anything else you want to add about the Welshness of this area, your Welshness, your involvement?
J I just want to end with the fact that I’m very proud of my Welsh heritage and I sure am glad that I have a converted Welshman for a husband. Right?
R I know there are other things that we’ll probably think of later that we would like to have added.
J I might add its nice knowing a Welshman like you, Kara. It’s been great…I’m going to cry.
K Don’t, because it’s not ending at Christmas, is it?
R Now that you’ve mentioned that, having the Welsh students up home through the years…
K Tell me about them, yes.
R Students of Evan Davis’ scholarship, that started it, then that led into some of the Welsh boys on the soccer team coming up and we’ve had hundreds of hours of enjoyment just sitting around the supper table, talking about Wales…
J Their lives in Wales.
R …how their young lives were in Wales compared to how young people’s lives are in this country. Some Welsh students speak a different language sometimes. I remember the first Welsh boy that came up, Hugh Evans, wanted to call his parents. He wanted to use our phone. This was very early in our relationship with him and I showed him how to use the phone, what number to dial, and he knew what number to dial to get international line, so once I knew that he had gotten through, I went into the living room. I didn’t want to eavesdrop on his phone conversation. As soon as someone answered in Wales – Welsh! I could’ve stood right there beside of him and I never would’ve known a word that he said. He talked to his parents completely in Welsh and at that time I don’t think we really knew that he talked that much Welsh, because we hadn’t heard him speak Welsh until that point, and it just was such a surprise that he just started rattling off in this language that looked like chicken scratch.
K Do you think it’s very important to have these students over?
J Oh, yes. We have enjoyed them. They young ladies that have been here and the young men. It’s just added a lot to our lives.
R It also gets us involved with some other international students, especially some of the Japanese students that attended Rio. We have some very pleasant memories of Japanese students. Very, very formal, completely different from the Welsh, which were more outgoing. The Japanese, you would sometimes not even know they were in the house. Very quiet, very formal, and one thing about the Japanese students, we never mentioned World War II. In fact, we don’t even thing that World War II was in their history books in their education because it was such an embarrassing war, the way it ended, to the Japanese people, that I don’t think young Japanese students really knew anything about World War II.
J To prove how much I appreciate our Welsh heritage, in my kitchen I have one part of the wall with a collection of love spoons that have been given to me by young Welsh people. I’ve got a Welsh flag. I’ve got a picture of the red dragon, a picture of a map of Wales. On the wall I have a plaque of a red dragon. You come through the back door you look directly at the red dragon with the word Wales. Cymru, is that it?
K What’s your house called?
J Oh! Our house is called Tyn Coed- “House in the Trees”. On the coffee table I have the Welsh national anthem that a good friend, Kara Lewis, gave us. I’ve got a Welsh love spoon necklace.
R She had a little plaque thing on the wall with a little saying that I’m sure you’ve heard many times. Years ago I’d read it and really not pay much attention to it, but over the years, especially the last fifteen or twenty years that we’ve been more involved with the Welsh, I really understand what that little Welsh saying means, the one that says, “To be Welsh is to be born privileged, not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but music in your blood and poetry in your soul.”
J I’m proud. I’m proud that he’s proud, of his heritage, too.
R And I knew now that Wales is a separate little, fiercely independent area in what is called England, or Great Britain, and they do not like the British crown very well.
J In the hall I have that plaque and I have the Lord’s Prayer in Welsh and a little red dragon.
R And some Welsh people like bean salad very well.
K Yes, I do.
J When are you coming up for the bean salad? Next week?
K Well, we’ll finish the interview there, on that note, reminding me I’m hungry. So, this is the end of the interview and I’d like to say think you both, very much.