Monday, March 24, 2014

The Owl Gang, by Ed Lachey

The owl gang was a group of young men in Fort Loramie, Ohio, who pretty much ran around together. They had common interest and they decided to build a meeting place, so they took it upon themselves to build a shack, a small building along the Miami-Erie Canal.

The first shack was probably about ten by ten, not too large, well built by these young men. So then with the help of some parents, I think mostly Edison Maurer, they decided to build a larger shack, about twelve by twenty-four; they had a cement floor and foundation and even had a drain which could be used when it was required to clean the floor. Also had a chimney which I think was mostly constructed by Jim Quinlin as he worked for Freytag’s as a helper.  The building was more than ample to just relax and have fun. It seems they had a pot belly stove to heat the shack in colder weather., each member had their own locker which housed some of their private belongings. Having been there many times myself it was more than ample for playing cards, frying fish, rabbits, and perhaps a pheasant or two, which I think was prepared on a camping stove, and perhaps having some form of liquid refreshments.

One of the rules was no women allowed.

Dues were collected from each member, and it was hard to crack the membership if you were not an original member, although many friends did come for the parties.The original members were Tom and Ralph Gaier, Rich Bollheimer, Paul Maurer, John Lachey, Don and Leo Wendeln, Fred Drees and Don Ruhenkamp

Ralph Gaier was President, and they had meetings such as how to make the mud alley easier to travel, so they decided to use cinders which were free for the hauling, and one fellow who wanted to become a member volunteered to use his father’s livestock truck to haul cinders. Not sure even after he did this if he qualified to be a member, as I say it was hard to crack the membership, but the cinders did help.

Members of this group also played High School basketball, until one night when going to the shack after basketball practice one of the member’s father’s auto, a 1930 Model A, was overloaded and became top heavy and rolled over on its side. All members escaped, but it happened at wrong time as the High School Basketball coach, think it was Mr. Westfall, did not like what he had seen, and dismissed the entire group from his team, did not make a winning season for him as he lost many good ball players.

This group of men all were productive citizens in their adult life and many could be considered role models for the younger folks. At this time May 2, 2013 all these fellows would be nearing the age of 80 years old. I am sure they could tell some really good stories. At this time I think the living members still remaining are Ralph Gaier, Rich Bollheimer, Paul Maurer and Fred Drees.

If you want to check out the old remnants of the old foundation, turn right at 3255 Schlater Rd. You would have to travel north once you reach the private alley, and go about 1000 feet north. The alley turns about 50 feet before the location of the foundation, some of which is still there.