Ella Lorene Sullivan Andris
A few years ago, I asked my mother if she would write down the story of
her life. She said that she would try when she got a chance. A few weeks
later, I received this document in the mail. Also, I am indebted to her
for almost all of the details of the family of Abraham
Fickeisen and Margaret Mueller Fickeisen.
My Life, by Lorene Andris
First Airplane, Automobile, Radio, Electric Appliances, Life Then
When I saw my first airplane was in the latter part of 1918, November after
Armistice Day. Scotty, a war ace, brought his plane home to Marietta, and
he flew low over our house and landed in the field across from our house,
with the tail up in the air. He nose-dived it. Our chickens had never seen
an airplane. They all ran into the chicken house. My dad ran over into the
field to see if Scotty was alright and came back and said "Oh, he's
drunk. You can't hurt a drunk." The plane was crashed. It was a bi-plane.
1918. Old Durward Hoag's dad, Reno, had the first automobile that I ever
When I was 12 years old, Uncle Ed [Just a cousin once removed, her great
aunt Mag's boy] wrote us a letter and told us that he had build himself
a radio and to come out next Sunday. Also wrote Uncle Jake and Aunt Mary
and said they should also come out and bring us with them. He lived out
on Rt. 26 at a little village called Sitka. He turned on his battery operated
radio and the first thing that he got was a preacher that was talking. I
got excited and thought it was God talking. He took me out in the yard and
showed me the tower and antenna and explained to me about sound waves and
how that vioce could come into that [radio]. Still, in my childish mind
I thought it was God for a long time. [This was] summer,1925. We never owned
a radio until 1934.
We never owned an electric iron until 1930. We always had outside toilets
until dad died. We moved into a flat on 4th street. Cold water in the sink
and a pull-chain toilet. I just about wore out the toilet the first day
we moved in.
No electric lights until 1925. Always had oil lamps or gas lamps.
First electric toaster about 1937. Always had a little tin contraption that
set on the stove.
We never had a refrigerator until 1937; had an icebox. The ice man drove
a team of horses and delivered the ice. Jim Flowers, Vera Ulmer's grandpa
was the iceman. He always threw me a little piece of ice for free. A drip
pan caught the drippings [from the melting ice].
We had a rugged life.
Grandma always swept the wooden floor with lye water; made it shiny and
smooth. Grandma Noe made her living in West Virginia weaving rugs and being
a midwife. She had made a 9 x 12 rug woven in strips of rags and sown together.
That was our only rug. It was inn our front room, sitting room. We couldn't
afford screens. Grandma would go to the rummage sale and buy old lace curtains
and tack them on the windows so we wouldn't have flies on a hot summer day.
Never had an electric fan until 1935.
When I Became Aware of Prejudice
I never was aware that prejudice was a problem until I went to the new Junior
High School in 1926. I was in my science class. We sat three at a bench
and we shared the equipment, you know, the water faucet and the sink and
other things. There was this Braunly girl who was sitting with Bus Curtis,
who was a black boy, and the word got back to her father . He called the
teacher, Mr. Jones, (Wilbur) and said that he was to set his daughter with
white students. So Mr. Jones came back to me and said, "Lorene, I'm
going to have to move Braunley, and I wonder if you'd mind trading seats
"No, I don't mind."
"Now, that will mean that you will have to sit with Buster. But you
went to grade school with him, didn't you."
"Yes, I did. I don't mind sitting with Buster. We're friends."
"I didn't think you'd mind, because I could see that the two of you
talked to each other."
I never liked that Braunley girl after that. When I'd see her, I'd get a
In 1929 or 1930, the high school team was supposed to have a victory dinner
at The Will-Mar Parkersburg, below the Mason-Dixon line. They had the reservations
already made. The team walked in, and when the waiter saw Bus Curtis, he
said, "He can't eat here!"
Kelly Mike, who was a Syrian boy, said, "You mean to tell me that you've
got a winning football team here, and you're not going to let this man eat."
"We can't, we've got orders, and it's against the law."
So the whole football team turned around and followed Kelly Mike out of
the restaurant. They came back to Marietta and ate at the old Leader Restaurant.
I always treated the black folks the same as the white when we were in business.
I'll never forget back in the '60s, I was waiting on old Mrs. Carver. Some
old rednecked guy, Jess Beaver, pushed his way past her to the counter and
said, "Here, wait on me."
I said, "No, you wait your turn. I'm waiting on Mrs. Carver now and
when I'm finished with her I'll wait on you."
He left in a huff. Mrs. Carver said, "Mrs. Andris, you shouldn't have
"Your money is just as good as his money."
"Do you know why I shop here?" Mrs. Carver continued.
"I suppose it's because we've got good prices."
"No, it's because you treat us colored folks fairly."
The next day, Jess Beaver came back in the store and said, "You drive
a hard bargain. But I guess you were right."
How We Started the Store in 1963
I had been over to see Lil Warren; the doctor had sent her home to die of
cancer. She had an open incision [which was not] . . . healing. I knew she
had just a few days, and I was depressed about that. We also were very in
debt, and dad kept saying that we were going to go bankrupt. I was so worried.
I went in on the bed and I cried, and then I prayed. I asked the Lord to
help us. Dad was drinking, too, and wouldn't quit, even though I had asked
him several times. I said to God, "I'm going to leave it up to you."
I just gave up in dispair.
It was 1963 when we had just come back from the country. Dad went down to
the grocery shop across the street from Lafayette and Pike to get some second
hand stuff for his Swap Shop. The woman was selling out the grocery store,
Haley West Wood. She said to dad, "Oh, Squee, why don't we just inventory
this place and I'll sell it to you at cost, including the beer license.
I want to sell this stuff and move to Florida." So dad came back to
me and told me about this.
"Hey, Red, do you know that we can buy Haley West's store for inventory
but we have to get it done by 4 o'clock. Do you think you could help me
I got my clothes on and we went down. I started to work frantically and
we finished by a quarter after four. Dad went to the lawyer's office the
next day to borrow the money. We were so in debt, but dad had such wonderful
credit that Edwin Strecker went along with him and loaned us $3200. I knew
this was an answer directly from my Lord to my prayers. I worked on Pike
while dad rebuilt the real estate office into a grocery store and got beer
At first we kept the store open seven days a week; took no day off. [I told
dad that since the Lord had helped us, we were not going to keep [the store
open] on Sunday. [But] dad said [we will] do it. We kept it open for three
Sundays. On the fourth Sunday came back, said "I guess you were right,
what little bit you make you can do without." So we always observed
the Sabbath after that. [Other days we stayed open from] 7 in morning til
7 at night.
Vignettes from my Mother other Times
We were upstairs with Vicki looking at the steerage trunk that Abraham Fickeisen
made to bring their stuff over on the sailing ship. Mom said that the knitting
equipment that was kept in there, the knitting needles were made of bone,
and that in the winter they knitted all the socks and other things that
they needed for the year. Then we asked her who made the drop leaf table.
She said, "Grandma told me a story about that. She said that her mother
and she were in the kitchen making jelly and Mutter said, "I need another
table." Fatter overheard this, and didn't say a word, just went out
and bought this table from a neighbor for a quarter."
An old German cradle poem:
Bache, bache ku-ha. Die Becker hat geruven.
Wer would gude Kuchen haben,
Der would haben sieben saven:
Butter und smaltch, eier und salz, milch und Maehl,
Und saffron mach die Kuchen Gael.
Bake, bake a cake, the baker says.
If you want a good cake,
You need seven ingredients:
Butter and [chicken] fat, eggs and salt, milk and flour
And saffron makes the cake yellow.
Uncle Tom and Aunt Rose Hawkins
In 1916, Frank had a drinking buddy, Tom Hawkins, who would bring Frank
home. They said they would love to have a little girl like me. Frank bought
a house next to Tom and "Aunt" Rose and lived there until 1919.
The Hawkins' got a chance to work as custodians at the County House. After
they moved, dad got disillusioned, sold his house, moved into Hawkins' house
and lived there until he died.
The Hawkins' offered to take Clara and her daughter, Lorene, and they went
to visit them for years. The day that Tom Hawkins died, March 6, 1945, was
the day Thomas Franklin Andris, Lorene's second son, was born. He was named
after Tom Hawkins and her father. On March 9, 1948, Lorene was in labor
with Vicki Clare, her daughter. Clara sent down to the second floor of Marietta
Memorial Hospital, where Rose Hawkins was ill, to tell her about Vicki's
birth. She died that night at midnight. Lorene loved Uncle Tom and Aunt
Rose, and they loved her. Vicki was almost called "Vicki Rose."
Tom and Rose never had any children.
Uncle Dan Fickeisen and his daughter, Lula Fickeisen
Uncle Dan Fickeisen was not so much of a carpenter as a woodworker. Jake
and John were carpenters and built houses. This one bed that Jake and Annie
slept in had a headboard that he [Dan] had decorated. Mom has a picture
that was a wedding present to Eva Noe, his sister, in 1872. She now has
a sail boat framed in it. The frame has leaves sticking out from it. Now
it's painted gold, but Dan had stained it with vegetables. It was red and
green. He made a four-legged flower pedestal for me after I was married.
Up stairs in the back bedroom, the night stand was made by Uncle Dan. Hall
tree in the cellar was made by Uncle Dan. [Jim: I now have the hall tree
in my front hall.]
Lula Fickeisen was a first cousin to Clara Noe Sullivan. She was Uncle Dan's
child. Her mother ran away while she still couldn't walk. Dan brought her
to Clara, but Clara refused. Eva, Clara's mother, said she couldn't take
her "because she wasn't living by herself." So Dan went to Anna
Fickeisen Biehl, and Anna took both Dan and Lula in. This was in 1915. In
three or four years, Lula left, "because she wanted to lay with every
boy." Henry Biehl, Anna's husband, died in 1925. In 1930, she left
Anna and came to live with Lorene and Clara, when she was 19. She left again
in 1926, "was eat up with [venereal disease]." She tried to kill
her father, Dan, in a drunken fight. She was committed to the State Hospital
at Athens, Ohio, left in 1947. She lived with anyone who would take her
in. She died in 1964. Dan continued to live with Anna until she was 95 years
old. Then Anna's son, Irvin and his wife Blanche came to care for Anna,
and they kicked Dan out. He went out to a vacated school house and made
a home. Eventually he lived with three old aged pensioners out at Whipple,
Ohio, where he died at age 88.