Schmoodle, a Great Dane, spent the best years of his dog's life at Stop Eleven on The Elyria Line. He was a beige, cartoon Marmaduke with many of Marmaduke's human qualities. He had a long tail, pointed ears that went up and down according to his moods, and a huge mouth in a head that could rest easily on the dining room table. He laughed, cried, slept and snored loudly when he dreamed of chasing rabbits on our ten acre farm. He lived and ate with us and, supposedly, was Mother's and my protector during the week when the others were gone. Roy and his mother
Stop Eleven on The Elyria Line was on the south side of Lorain Road in what is now Fairview Park where the city's buildings, fire and police stations are now. After living in cramped quarters on Landon Street (West 98th), Dad had another "idee" (as he pronounced idea) and somehow scraped enough money together to buy land in the wilderness where the family of seven could raise their own produce and chickens, have fresh milk, and enjoy the country air. It got its name because it was one of the stops on the Interurban line that ran between Cleveland and Elyria, the only means of transportation other than a few cars, horses and walking.
Our house was far back from the road with a front yard of grass, weeds and a garden. There was a barn, a shed, a well and an outhouse. We had many chickens, a cow "Bessie," and a pony "Daisy". They were all Schmoodle's friends and played together, but the rabbits in the underbrush were his personal enemies to be chased but never caught; they knew by running fast and dodging abruptly to right or left, that Schmoodle was too clumsy to change direction. After every unsuccessful chase, he would return empty-mouthed, drooling, and soulful eyes, begging forgiveness for his failure as a hunting dog. I had a big, white Belgian Hare he never chased either knowing it was my pet, or because it didn't run. It just sat, ate, hopped and was petted, enjoying its privileged, protected life as one of the family.
Walther farm The last of five boys, I was too young to go to school. Art worked for "The Pennsy" in Cleveland and left early and came home late by Interurban as did Dad who worked for The Plain Dealer. Oll, after starting the furnace in Wooster School at Center Ridge and Wooster, helped Mr. Fehren make cement building-blocks across the street. Carl and Lou went to grammar school which left me, Mother and Schmoodle alone during the week. He was fun to play with and only once "protected" us when two hobos came down the yard and he went through the screen door after them. They disappeared to Lorain Road and Schmoodle came back, head high and eyes glistening, knowing he had saved us.
The house was big, larger than Bessie's and Daisy's barn where they, hay and a wagon were kept. A shed, smaller, was for odds and ends and an outhouse, a two-holer with its pleasant, earthy smell, flies and useful reading material was between them, relocated occasionally and guarded at Halloween. The Kitchen had a wood-and-coal-burning stove, and a pump furnished water from the well outside. There was no bathroom and baths were taken usually on Saturday nights in a tin bathtub. The only ones who shaved were Art and Dad, each using their own straight razor, brush, soap and heated cold water.
The dining room had an isinglass-windowed Franklin stove which kept a body warm on the side next to it. There was a table with extra leaves, a sofa and chairs and that was where we mostly lived; reading and playing cards, checkers and dominos by the light of kerosene lamps, and it was my job, which I hated, to clean the smoky shades, trim the wicks and fill the bowls. The living room, unheated with shades drawn, and seldom used, was hot in summer, cold in winter. We all slept upstairs, reached by a pull-up ladder.
The front yard to Lorain Road was not manicured as it is today. There were no Toros or Lawnboys and the grass and weeds were cut by sickle and scythe, kept short by Bessie and Daisy. A large garden provided corn, potatoes, squash, carrots, peas, wax and green beans, and leaf lettuce. Concord grapes, pumpkins and apples made the fillings of full, two-crusted pies. A mulberry tree lasted one season. The berries were delicious but the ever-present caterpillars sometimes got mixed with the berries in the pies.
Mother was a meat-and potato cook and we ate everything on our plates with no special diet-meals or worrying about calories. The chickens gave us fresh eggs and food. I liked the wings and legs best and was warned that if I didn't eat the neck or breast that someday I would either run or fly away. Schmoodle had the part that "went over the fence last", and even without Alpo or Kal Kan, he thrived and was never sick. But he was, as were Bessie and Daisy, unfilled sexually. With no animal playmates at Stop Eleven, they had no opportunities to know the joys or responsibilities of parenthood.
The field to the west was untilled and to the south were chestnut, hickory and black-walnut trees. A small stream in back was dammed so we could swim, skate and fish. One day, not knowing I was below, Irene Sweet threw a small stone which hit me on the head leaving a cut and me crying, so Mother poured burning peroxide on it making my hair red and me crying louder.
Bessie gave warm, foamy, unpasteurized, unhomogenized, rich in butterfat milk and when Art directed the nozzle to my tin cup and squeezed the faucet, it tasted nothing like present-day, so-called millk that comes in cartons from factories. Once a week, Mother phoned an order to Gilles's store in the red, brick building at the northwest end of the Lorain Avenue Bridge and Mr. Gilles delivered it by horse and wagon with free bones for soup and Schmoodle, and different-colored sugar bonbons for me.
Life at Stop Eleven was quiet during the week, but on weekends the company came late Saturday and left early Sunday afternoon after fishing, hunting and eating. They waited until they heard the Interurban's horn at Stop Twelve, and then rushed up the "hill" saying what a fine time they had had. The women gossiped and helped Mother and the men hunted rabbits with Schmoodle enjoying every minute. He could be sound asleep, and if someone said, "Let's get some rabbits," his tail would bump on the floor, his eyes would open, and after a yawn and a vigorous shake, he was ready to go. The rabbit fur made warm mittens, and after the shotgun pellets were removed, the rest was marinated in vinegar, onions, salt and pepper to make delicious hasenpfeffer.
Compared to present-day life, living at Stop Eleven may seem dull and unexciting, but it was not. True, there were no TVs, radios, stereos or movies, but there were no kidnappings, bombs, drugs, alcohol, spray paint or vandalism. If the boys got caught tipping over outhouses, they were excused because "boys will be boys", and girls back then never thought of doing such silly things. It was a family life, concentrating on reading, talking, eating and working together as a family. Doors were unlocked and those hobos chased away by Schmoodle would probably have been fed by Mother if they had made it to the house.
Whether Dad lost the farm for nonpayment of taxes, got tired of commuting six days a week, or had another "idee" perhaps to work for himself, is another mystery; but suddenly, we moved to Bonnieview Avenue, another wilderness in Lakewood with trees and fields in back and to the east. Our house was one of two on the west side and there were some on Clifton and Detroit. It was there we watched Halley's Comet in 1910 which, if the earth is still here can be seen again in 1986.
Stop Eleven is now built up with fine homes, offices and buildings. Our old house (still standing, improved and occupied) and stream are there with some of the same trees in the woods, but Bessie, Daisy and Schmoodle are gone. I miss them all; not Bessie or Daisy -- they were incidental; but Schmoodle was special. He was my pal, my playmate and, so he thought, my protector. I hope he lived to a ripe old age, met a female Great Dane and had many little Schmoodles. He deserved knowing the joys and responsibilities of parenthood after living his celibate life at Stop Eleven on The Elyria Line.