Clinton Merle Spickerman at the Age of 74.
As told to Robert Johnessee

            Clinton had prepared a scrapbook complete with an ample supply of pictures about his life at time of birth until marriage.  This vignette contains articles gleaned from Clinton’s scrapbook about his life before marriage and the remainder is information from an oral interview with Clinton.

            On April 15, 1927,  I was born the larger of a set of twins.  (quoted from scrapbook).  In those years expectant mothers merely waited for the signs and the Doctor was called.  The spring season had been very wet, the dirt roads were nearly impassable, even by horse and buggy.  And rain was still coming down.  Since the roads were bad our neighbor went into town to bring back the Doctor.  My father stayed with my mother doing what he could, sterilizing water, checking the fires and looking after my older brother Floyd.  Our wait seemed an eternity, father paced the floor, and kept looking out the North window toward town. There was still no sign of the Doctor and our neighbor.  Then there was a knock at our door.  It was Mary Thode, our landlady, who came over to see if she could help.  We continued to wait, still no Doctor.

            We were not sure who should go first, my brother Carl kind of wanted to be the surprise, so I went first.  It was fun being first and pampered.  I’m not sure about my size but they said I would fit in a shoebox.  Then my brother Carl came, talk about a surprise.  Such goings on I’ll never forget.  My father’s name is Edgar Harold Spickerman and my mother’s name is Clara Mathilda (Smith) Spickerman.  As a little boy, I grew up in rural Bunker Hill with my brothers and sisters on a farm known as, “The Thode Farm.”

            Clinton’s ancestors were from Germany.  A very impressive picture of the family crest was included in the scrapbook.  The Crest included two lions, one on each side standing on a base on hind legs with the front two holding an acorn shape crest with a diamond shaped fob on the top of the acorn and the lower section in the acorn shape showed a Elk, heavy with antlers.

            I was born two and a half years before the great depression.  We wore fine clothes and were well off until the depression, then we were in the ranks of the poor.  As twins Carl and I were quite an attraction wherever we went.  Sometimes people would get us mixed up.  They would say, "Are you Carl or Clinton?"  Sometimes we played tricks on the people when they asked.  We liked to visit Grandpa and Grandma Spickerman on their farm near Brighton and play with baby animals when we were small.  We had two brothers; Floyd and Harold Lee, and two sisters, Mary Lou and Edna Mae.

            My mother, Clara Mathilda Smith, was born November 25, 1899, in rural Carlinville. She had a brother Frank, and two sisters, Katherine and Ruth.  Her parents were farmers and made their living that way.  She never mentioned attending high school.  She hired out as a domestic worker for the Mansholt family in rural Bunker Hill. My father was employed there as well and that’s where they met and later married.   She was very industrious with many talents, she could sew and cook well.  She always raised a large vegetable garden and helped do farm chores on the farm where we lived.  She lived to be nearly one hundred years old.

            My father, Edgar Harold Spickerman, was born to Earnest and Nellie (Jaynes) Spickerman.  His siblings were; Leonard, Dorothy, Frank, Earnest, Lester, Nellie, Ethel .and Henry, who died very young, about three or four years old.  They lived between Brighton and Woodburn on a farm.

            My father was called to war, but the war ended before he completed boot camp.  After he and mother were married they lived on a farm.  Dad was quite talented in farm related activities and did well.  He had a dairy herd, horses, pigs, sheep and chickens.  He had a milk route.  He  picked up milk from other farms nearby and delivered it to Bunker Hill to the Condensery.  He sold produce along the route and in Bunker Hill while there.  He would take orders from the older people along the way and pick it up while in town and bring it back to them.  He was a kind and very helpful man.  We had a simple but good life.

            When our family went to visit Grandpa and Grandma Spickerman we had a lot of fun playing on the farm with the small animals.  One thing stood out in my mind very well was that, when we went to visit, grandpa would go to the farmers market in Alton, Illinois and buy a whole stalk of bananas so we could all have a banana.

            Around 1924, my father was able to lease the “Mary Thode” farm.  There were two homes there.  One much larger than the other, we lived in the smaller of the two. However it was plenty large enough for our family.   Food was plentiful on the farm.  Dad and mom raised a lot of vegetables, fruits and strawberries along with a variety of animals and milk cows.   I remember one thing that was very different from most farms, the Holstein Cow and Horse painting on our barn doors, painted by Mary Thode’s brother from Chicago.  The pictures were quite a conversation item around the area.

            One evening as mother and Uncle Lester waited supper, and for dad to return from town where he had been working, an electrical short in our attic turned our house into flames.  We lost nearly everything we had.  It was a sad day for the Thode Farm.

            My brothers and sisters and I went to a little white one room school at the corner of Prairietown road and the Catholic Spring road, known as “The Burton School.”  The School had wooden floors, two large black boards, a piano, and a large coal or wood stove in back of the room.  We drank water from a well.  We had outside toilets equipped with the latest Sears and Montgomery catalogs.  There was a coal shed and some outside playground equipment.

            The school lunch program consisted of a small molasses pail.  It was equipped with a lid and bail to carry it with.  We had mother’s homemade bread and sausage, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  On special occasions, we had bought bread, lunchmeat wrapped in wax paper.  We would show off our lunches on those days.  I remember once, we went to the Zoo in St. Louis.  Our bus was a semi-enclosed farm truck.

            The families I remember going to school with us were; Hines, Rust, Schreiber, Wolf, Peacock. Knoche, Altevogt.  We walked about one and one half miles to school one way on good days.  On bad days Mrs. Altevogt would hitch old Minnie, their horse, to the buggy and take us along with her two children, Norman and Adrienne.  I remember two of my teachers were Miss Frieda Kierle and Mrs. Nellie Mize.

            Now as I leave my childhood, I see the world opening up for me.  I leave with no regrets.  I have many fond memories of my childhood.  I met and courted my wife Ethel (Partridge) Spickerman of Woodburn, and later we married and raised six children; the oldest first, Linda, Ronald, Clifford, Edgar, Penny and Roger.

            I worked at several jobs in my life to raise my family.  I was a truck driver for Wm. Goebel, I learned the electrician trade and worked for many people in and around Bunker Hill, plus several other cities.  I did a lot of work for Bunker Hill water and sewer departments.  I worked as a Laborer for Dieselhorst Construction Co., and laid a lot of sewer pipe and water pipe for the company.  Some of it was done in Bunker Hill.  I bought and sold guns, and all kind of silver and gold coins, when I operated a pawn shop.  I still buy and sell guns, also my wife and I raise and buy produce for resale.  We enjoy the fellowship with our many customers.

            As you can see Clinton, being one of  Bunker Hill's senior citizens has played a very active part in Bunker Hill's daily life throughout the many years and is still very active in business.  On good days you may see  “Clint” and “Ethel” in front of their home and business on East Warren St. visiting with customers or those just walking by.

            Something unique about part of the building where they make their home is that is was once a rubber factory.

Submitted by Robert F. Johnessee (author)