William A. Widmayer

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

If Bill Widmayer were alive today and could look at this History of Manchester and the picture of the wooden Main Street bridge, he'd say, "Yes, I remember."

He had a keen mind and an excellent memory. On his 90th birthday, in November 1962, he recalled "Good Old Days."

"My, Oh my! There are many changes," he said. "There was an old wooden bridge across the Raisin River on Main Street and the wooden sidewalks.

The sound of people's feet clattering across that old bridge-nothing like it today. Along the hitching posts, where the horses would stand, the merchants spread cobble stones to keep the horses out of the mud and keep them from digging up the roadway with their hoofs. In the summer, the stones helped keep down the dust. Believe me, it used to get mighty dusty on Main Street with a good breeze a-blowing."

"There was a fellow, Joe Howard, who operated a sprinkling wagon. He'd go down back of the old Kimble building and fill up the tank and sprinkle the main streets. I remember that the storekeepers used to chip in 25¢ or 50¢ a week to have the area in front of their stores sprinkled.

"I remember when Fred Steinkohi (druggist) bought the first car. Maybe you don't think that created some interest. You know its a funny thing, but I never owned a car. Never had any desire to. I didn't even learn to drive. I did have a horse and buggy," Mr. Widmayer said.

He worked for his brother, Fred in the hardware store. He did the delivering for the store.

"Stoves were among the big items to be delivered. Lawn mowers became popular about 1890 and a little later. We used to marvel at them and it took about 10 years for the public to really become interested enough to buy them in quantity. The dry good stores sold mosquito netting for windows," Mr. Widmayer said. His nephew, Herbert Widmayer, operates the hardware store on West Main.

He remembered when the trains chugged in and out of town every hour and when the apple and tomato canning factory was in operation. There was no such thing as putting up apple sauce in small cans, always in gallon jars for restaurants and hotels.

In this year of 1967 there is only one man living here who worked in a store on Main street when Will Widmayer came from the farm home in Sharon to work for his brother in the hardware store. That man is Carl Wuerthner.

Frank Higgins and Jake Weinlander shipped celery grown in the muck land west of the village.