The 106-year-old grew up in one other South Bend | on information
SOUTH BEND – Henry Taylor remembers South Bend from the days when horse-drawn carriages were the norm, when “extra” issues of the newspaper had important news and electric cross-country trains to neighboring towns were a popular way of getting around.
His clear memories span more than a century.
At 106, Taylor’s eyesight has faded, but his mind has not.
Taylor, who now lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, lived and worked in South Bend for most of his life. He was a full-time employee of the South Bend Tribune for 37 years, primarily serving as the district manager for the sales department in the Niles area before retiring in 1969.
Taylor, who moves around with a hiker, returned to South Bend with a granddaughter, Karen Jones, last Saturday, May 24, to pay their respects at family graves in the Highland and Riverview cemeteries.
He also spoke of growing up in South Bend at a time when the city was a booming industrial center and the Studebaker car factory was a major employer.
His family moved to South Bend around 1910 after he was born in Fort Wayne in 1907 – a year that President Theodore Roosevelt was at the White House, Henry Ford was preparing for the debut of his Model T and the Chicago Cubs won the first back -to -back World Series title.
Taylor, the fifth of 12 children, said having a large household was not uncommon back then. “They liked to be busy,” he said of his parents. “They were of the old school, both born on farms.”
His father worked in various professions, including Studebaker Corp. During Taylor’s childhood, his family lived in houses on Sorin Street, then North Joseph and South Columbia Streets.
Taylor worked as a newsboy and sold the South Bend Tribune. He recalls that at major news events – including the end of World War I in 1918 – newspaper boys would go to neighborhoods and say “Extra! Extra! “To let people know that there is important news in the paper.
At that time there was a competing newspaper in town: the South Bend News-Times, which ceased publication in 1938. “They were just down the street,” he said, remembering the News-Times building that used to be on the southwest corner of Main Street and Colfax Avenue.
Taylor graduated from South Bend High School in 1926. (The name was changed to South Bend Central High School in the early 1930s after Riley High School was built.)
In the 1920s, Taylor bought his first car, a used Ford Model T, for $ 25 from a summer job at LaSalle Paper Co. The vehicle had a crank start. He remembers propping up the rear of the vehicle over the winter to make it easier to start the next morning.
After that first Ford, most of Taylor’s vehicles were humble Chevrolets. “But no Camaros. That’s too fancy, ”he said.
While in high school, Taylor left class at the end of the school day and headed down Colfax Avenue to his part-time job bundling newspapers at The Tribune’s mail room.
He recalls when downtown was a thriving area of retail stores and restaurants, including large department stores like the Ellsworth Department Store and George Wyman & Co.
Taylor remembers attending high school events, especially soccer games. High school basketball in the early 1920s wasn’t a big deal, he said, but everyone followed football.
Henry married Helen Ollmann in 1928. The newlyweds first lived in Mishawaka before buying a new house in 1810 on E. Donald St. in the southeast of the city. The land contract was $ 4,400.
Taylor recently visited his former home and remembered that in those early days the town’s pavement stopped half a block west with a dirt road in front of their home.
There were new homes in this part of town, but many of the lots stayed empty until a post-WWII housing boom, he said.
The couple had a son, Eugene, who died in infancy, and a daughter, Janice, who died in 2009.
Pointing to a huge maple tree in the courtyard east of his previous home, Taylor remembered a friend of a neighbor who planted it as a seedling in honor of Janice’s birth in 1938.
During his working years and until his retirement, Taylor was a member of the fraternal organization Odd Fellows, Masons and Elders in the Zion United Church of Christ.
After retiring, he and his wife spent several winters in Florida before she died. He later remarried, but after widowing a second time, Taylor continued to live alone in his house on Donald Street and work in his garden.
When macular degeneration affected his eyesight, he moved to Grand Rapids in the late 1990s to be around his adult grandchildren. He goes out to dinner with them about once a week.
Longevity seems to run in the family. Taylor’s father was 93 years old. And one sister was more than 100 years old.
Taylor now lives in an assisted living facility where he receives The Tribune in the mail. “That was one of the advantages when I retired. I still get the paper, ”he said. He reads it every day with a device that magnifies the guy.