“This is Peggy Barbour Straughen and I am on my way back to Ohio from a family reunion and I thought I would report some of my childhood memories of my grandparents. As I am speaking of this, I am now 60 years old. Let’s see…”
My grandmother grew up in south-central Pennsylvania, living for a time in Shippensburg but growing up mostly in Chambersburg. In 1997 she recorded a tape recounting memories from her childhood and transcribed it. These are some of Peggy’s memories in her own words.
Part IV: The Neighbors
Some of my most pleasant memories from Second St. concern the neighbors who were very significant people in my formulative years. They were Mrs. Irma Zug and Miss Amy Clippinger.
Miss Amy’s sister, Miss Lula, was a missionary with the United Brethren Church so the only time we got to see her was when she was home on leave. She was, first of all, a missionary in Sierra Leone, Africa, and later she became a teacher at the UB mission in Espanola, New Mexico. She always fascinated me because she would put her hair up in rag curlers and I had never seen rag curlers, in fact, I have never seen them since. I remember her walking in the garden and telling me about all the things she did in the mission field. She was an interesting person, but I did not see her very much.
Miss Amy was a cousin of Mrs. Zug’s. Miss Amy had had polio as a child. She was crippled and she wore black, knee high shoes that laced very tightly and she rented the front, upstairs room from Mrs. Zug all those years. It was a large room; you might call it kind of an efficiency, I guess, today. At the back was a twin bed that was separated by a screen from her sitting area. She had a sink; seems to me she might have had a hot plate, but she took her meals downstairs with Mrs. Zug, when she could do the stairs. They were very difficult for her. Of course she became more crippled as she got older.
Miss Amy was an absolutely fascinating person and trained me in many things. It is, thanks to her, that I have a stamp collection. Of course, I have not actively collected stamps for many years, but when I was growing up, she and I would send for stamps on approval from the Harris Stamp Co. Every time I would get some, I would run over to her, and we would get her stamp catalog out and look them up. She would show me all her duplicate books of stamps. She was the one who really got me involved in stamp collecting. After she died, she willed her collection to the American Bible Society.
The other meaningful thing she did was to help me in my religious development. Both Miss Amy and Mrs. Zug were very active in the UB church that I grew up in. Miss Amy, for a period probably while I was in Junior High, would have me come over every Sunday after lunch for a brief time, or sometime on Sunday, and tell her what I got out of the sermon. Boy, if you think that was not good training for listening to sermons! So eventually I had to start taking some notes, kind of making an outline so I would be sure to have something to tell her. I hated doing this, but it was great training.
Mrs. Zug owned the house. She had an interesting history. She had been married and she and her new husband, Lester, had planned to go to the mission field. So after their marriage, they were sent to England for language training and whatever else they needed to do prior to going to the field. On the boat trip across the Atlantic, he became sick and died. She returned to the States and at the time, her husband’s mother was living in the house beside us. We called this lady, ‘Mother Zug’ and she and Mrs. Zug lived in that house for many years. Eventually Mother Zug became ill and infirm and went to the Shook Home, just a couple blocks away. So then it was Mrs. Zug’s house. To help make ends meet, she would take in boarders. There were a couple upstairs bedrooms that she would let out. She would provide the evening meal.
It was an interesting house; she had this wonderful wisteria arbor in the back yard. It would smell so good and had such beautiful clumps of flowers hanging down. I loved that. She had a marvelous garden in the back and we would get some of the benefits from that garden.
Mrs. Zug was a very petite person,- probably, I know she was less than 5 feet tall, probably about 4’ 10” and walked in medium high heels with a very fast paced walk. She would go down to church (in the middle of the next block) frequently and you’d hear those little click, click-clicks as she would go by our house. She was a dynamo of energy. She carried on correspondence with missionaries all over the world-all the UB missionaries. Naturally the stamps went to Miss Amy and that was always interesting.
Mrs. Zug was a graduate of Lebanon Valley College in music and I suppose, subconsciously, that is one reason why I chose to go to Lebanon Valley. Both she and her husband had also been to seminary in Dayton, although I’m not sure he was a graduate; he could have been. And maybe that’s why I voiced my opinion about moving to Dayton when Bill gave me some choices about where we might live. I just knew, from sitting in Mrs. Zug’s house often and talking with her – she was an interesting person to talk to, that I felt like I belonged to Lebanon Valley and Dayton, that it was part of my heritage too.
Mrs. Zug had a piano in her parlor. Her parlor was the front room that faced out onto Second St.. Except to play the piano, I don’t think I ever saw her go into the parlor. She lived in the room that was right next door to the funeral home, kind of in the middle of the house. It was always kind of dark in there.
I remember going to her house for dinners occasionally around the dining room table and we always had Mrs. Zug and Miss Amy to our house for holiday meals, Christmas in particular. My sister grew up very close to Mrs. Zug. Mrs. Zug played at my wedding; I remember asking her if she would do that. I had asked Mrs. Zug to play for my wedding and she looked at me and her eyes got all moist, and she said “Do you really want me to play for your wedding?” and I said I certainly did. I am so glad I had her do that.