My Grandfather grew up near Chatham, Ohio in the days before every family owned a car. Once a week or so the family would hitch-up a buggy and drive it to town for food and supplies. He often told the story about what happened on one of those trips to town. It was winter and the ground was covered with snow. They loaded the whole family in the sleigh.
As usual, they followed the river for a about a mile and crossed at the bridge. The river was frozen-over so on the way home they took the short route over the ice. It was a serious mistake. Crossing the water the ice caved in. My great grandmother was thrown from the sleigh. She was holding baby Orville and he fell from her arms into the fast-running water.
My Grandpa was about ten at the time. His brother Elmer was twelve. They were able to make their way to safety on the bank. The parents stayed in the ice-clotted river trying desperately to save baby Orville. He was in the water along with all the contents of the sleigh.
What happened next would live in Grandpa’s memory for the rest of his life. His little brother Orville, the baby of the family was rescued alive from the water.
The part of the story my Grandpa loved to tell was what happened there on the bank of the river while Orville was bobbing in the icy water. His brother Elmer’s concern was that the new groceries were thrown into the water and they were being carried downstream. Elmer, seeing the gravity of the situation began to call out instructions from the bank. Grandpa remembered his exact words sixty years later. He was shouting; “Save the Post Toasties. Hey, somebody, save the Post Toasties.” I asked Grandpa if anyone did. He said he didn’t remember that.
Orville’s icy plunge happened over seventy-five years ago. Elmer died before I was born and this little incident is about all I know of him. I’m sure he lived to regret his misplaced priorities. Buggies and sleighs have been replaced by automobiles and hundreds of other brands of cereal have captured the enthusiasm of children now but scrambled values are still a common problem. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. Since Elmer was only twelve at the time we can forgive him for being more concerned about a box of cereal than a baby, but once we’re old enough to know better. We should no longer value things over people, profit over principle and time over eternity. We shouldn’t waste our time worrying about things that don’t matter or working overtime for things we will sell at a garage sale in a year or two.
As for Orville, he lived to an old age and died in 1989. I hear his wife Audrey had a mean ground hog recipe too, but that is another story. Around nearby Utica, Ohio for years if you needed a man to fix a car no one else could fix you took it to Orville Pierpont. He could usually dope it out. I remember him for his trout pond. He would take you out back and throw rabbit food in and the trout would churn the water. Nonetheless Orville lived to marry, raise a family, and earn an honest living doing something helpful. All that and a wife who knew how to fix ground hog. He lived a good life.