Presently, historical society future is bright

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published June 25, 1995 in The Suburban Life, added June 16, 2018.

Chip Reuscher, 11, became interested in Madeira’s history when he took a class in Sellman School’s 30-day program. He thinks he may become a member of the Madeira Historical Society.

Doug Oppenheimer, president of the Madeira Historical Society, tries to attract new members to the society and frequently whishes for young members.

His wish may partially come true, for a truly young person has become interested in the historical society.

In May, Chip Reuscher, who is 11 years old and who just finished the fifth-grade at Sellman School, attended the historical society meeting as a guest.

Chip went to the meeting because he was researching Madeira history in Jeanne Gulick’s local history class in the 30-day program at Sellman School.  Oppenheimer had come to the school to talk to the class and had invited the class to attend a meeting.

Chip accepted the invitation and went.  He also took a thank you letter from the class and presented it to Doug.

Chip loved the meeting.

“It was very interesting,” he said.  “The program was all about Lincoln, where he went, and what he did.  I learned a lot, and it was fun.”

Chip’s enthusiasm about the meeting was indicative of the interest of all the students in Mrs. Gulick’s two fifth-grade and sixth-grade classes in local history.

At school, the kids would surround me in the halls and accost me on the stairs to ask questions.  “Do you know what used to be on the corner where the Shell station is now?” one would ask.

Or, “Do you know anything about the tornado in 1969?”  would come from another direction.

All the while they’d be taking notes and writing down my answers.  It was almost like being a witness in the O.J. trial.

Warren Joy of the historical society met with the class several times during the 30 days and drew up a plan for them for a walk through Madeira to see local history sites.

I went with the class as a guide on their first walk.  I admit to a bit of anxiety as to how I’d hold the attention of a group of rambunctious kids, free on the street on a school day.

I shouldn’t have worried.

They followed along like lambs, listening to my stories and most of them taking notes.  They were well prepared.  Mrs. Gulick had put together an itinerary of stops we’d make, complete with pictures.  They were given copies of this to consult.

We walked down Miami Avenue, checking out the old buildings still there and discussing the ones that are gone.

Because they’re still there for them to see, the students were interested most in the old traction line building (now Breitenbach Plumbing), the train station, and the Hosbrook and Muchmore houses.  They were interested in stories about the people who used to live there.

But they were also interested in where Kroger’s used to be, the old Camargo Theater, Dot and Mack’s, and other long-gone landmarks.

Melinda Reckers, a parent volunteer, has put together a booklet of the walk we took that day.  She wrote up the stories told and has used pictures of the places.  Some of the pictures came from my own collection and some from the historical society.

She envisions the time when local organizations will cooperate to restore some of these areas and put up plaques to make the walk official.  Then residents and visitors to Madeira could take the walk on their own.

It could happen.  Maybe.  If enough grownups had the spark and enthusiasm that these kids showed in their walk through Madeira classes.

Meanwhile, Doug Oppenheimer may get at least one new, young member for the historical society.

“I’m seriously thinking of becoming a member,” Chip Reuscher said.  “I like that kind of stuff.”