This week on Senior Voices, Jim Rodgers, who grew up in Belmont in the 1940s, recalled when the Moler’s Dairy was located on Smithville Road, back when the area was much more rural. He shared his memories of a perfect day and the unusual way he and his friends earned money for ice cream with Dayton Metro Library volunteer interviewer, Dana Kragick.
Jim Rogers: I guess a perfect day is when we were just out playing in the neighborhood doing whatever you wanted to with your buddies. Riding our bicycles and just messing around.
Moler’s at that time had a big place on Smithville road and their cornfields in that came back towards our area so we played in the cornfields and we played in Moler’s pastures and we had wars and whatever our imaginations were, you could do. Also we’d go up there and they had snakes--milk snakes to keep the rodents out of the barn.
Well, every once in a while one of those would escape and so we’d take it back up to the barn and the guy would give us a quarter. We’d run around the building and buy ice cream and at that time a quarter bought you a lot of ice cream for us kids. Every once in a while we would steal a snake and take him home and we’d put him in our shirt, and they were black snakes they wouldn’t hurt you, and then we’d wait until the middle of the afternoon and take the snake back up to the barn and get our quarter and get our ice cream.
We used to go out to the state farm in Mount Saint John and there was a creek there and they had mullberries you could pick and different things like that to eat. If you went further on out, there was a place, I think it’s called Apple Valley now I’m not sure but now it’s a neighborhood and they had apple farms and you could pick up any apple you wanted to as long as it was on the ground and eat it. As long as you didn’t pick ‘em off the trees they didn’t care then we’d walk on home, and come back.
Dana Kragick: What was Dayton like when you were younger?
Jim Rogers: Dayton was pretty nice. You could go almost anyplace you wanted to as a young kid and your grandparents, your parents didn’t worry about you, and today that’s not the case, but we used to go play and whether we showed up for lunch or not didn’t make any difference. Supper seemed to be the important thing that you showed up when your dad came home.
But I used to go see my grandparents. I’d get on the bus in Belmont, and that was DNX at that time which was Dayton-Xenia, and we’d jump on the bus you go downtown, get a penny transfer then go out to east Dayton and I’d go to the bottom of the hill and see my grandparents and then after I was there for a while I’d go to the top of the hill and see my other grandparents and I’d put my three cents in the bus... Well, the trolleys and the bus they had both at the time and then I could go on downtown, transfer back out and go back out to Belmont.
But sometimes my grandma would say “Oh it’s too late Jim why don’t you stay overnight?” So I stayed there overnight, then she’d take me home the next day.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer Zeb Reichert. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation.