Mike and I moved to Cedarville in 1968. We were married students going to Miami University. We moved home every summer to work for Mike’s dad at DeWine Seed Company.
Cedarville was a farming town and a college town. There were two grocery stores, a sewing shop, a little general store, a barber, hairdressers, and more. But most importantly, there was a hardware store. Cedarville Hardware was the hub of the town! The hardware store was run by the Luttenberger family. Anything you needed could be found at the hardware store. In those years, I did most of my Christmas shopping there — tricycles and toys for the kids. It’s where everyone in town congregated. It’s where all the news spread. If you needed a new washer, you told Fred and he would bring one out and install it that afternoon. And he was there to fix your appliances, too.
We really got to know Fred at the Greene County Fair in 1976. Mike was running for Greene County prosecutor so we got a tent at the fair. Our spot was a prime spot — on the main runway and right next to Cedarville Hardware’s tent. They sold appliances and other items there. We gave out plastic shopping bags and got to know people. Fred agreed to run our campaign.
We assembled an interesting group of people from around the county and planned our first ice cream social — a perfect event for the bicentennial year that would be fun for the whole family. Fred was in charge.
Over the years, Fred worked on every campaign and was in charge of every ice cream social. He knew everyone in town so he always knew who could help. You needed horse and wagons to bring the folks from the parking field? Fred knew that Guy Climer was your man. Music? Fred knew Joe Mullins. A magician? Fred knew Dave Williamson, a Cedarville native and now world-renowned magician, of course. He knew who would make the ice cream — Young’s, who had the flowers — the Waymires, and who had the wagons. He knew who the real workers were, where the talent was, and who had the stuff you could beg or borrow. Fred knew everyone. He was a real people person.
Fred had a real sense of adventure. He loved fishing and exploring. He and his son David went on a trip to Antarctica on a ship. He accompanied our family on a white water rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. And he was so moved by the children and the poverty when he went with us to visit the Becky DeWine School in Haiti.
Fred stopped by our home frequently to check the details of planning the social and always had time for a cup of coffee. Of course I liked to offer him food when he came by. One evening when he dropped by to tell us his plans, I looked in my fridge for something to make. I had a ball of dough and some apples so I made a very rustic apple pie. It looked and smelled delicious! We sat around and talked while it baked. As I cut the hot pie, I tasted a crumb. It was awful! I realized the little ball of dough in my fridge was play dough for the kids! It was full of salt! Fred never let me forget!
Fred was a pretty good cook and liked to make many things. One year he made us some salami for Christmas. I put the recipe in my cookbook. I just pulled the recipe out and think I’ll make some this year and give it to our friends for Christmas!
We lost our friend Fred last week. We will miss him so.
5 pounds raw, regular hamburger
4 tablespoons Morton’s Tender Quick Salt
2 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
Combine and knead 5 minutes. Cover and refrigerate. Knead each day for 5 minutes for 3 days. On the fourth day, knead 5 minutes and shape into 5 rolls. Place on rack in pan. Bake 4 to 4 1/2 hours at 175 degrees. After 3 hours, turn meat over and continue baking. Keep in refrigerator. Slice thin to serve.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.