February 9, 1966
Written by Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
Everybody loves to get into the act of “Reminiscence”. The dinner at the National Guard Armory honoring Lt. Col. Sam B. Cooke was the nearest gathering of old friends to a class reunion we have had opportunity to write about for many dozen fortnights.
First we want to join those congratulating Captain Richard I. Hailey, Lt. Robert Holmes and Fred Webb who took care of the advance surprise arrangements. It was a big secret for 200 men to keep.
Following the handshaking, next came the “do you remember” stories, and Irontonians always have plenty of them to talk about. The most amusing were about the Greek mess sergeant, John Staikos, remembered by everybody when he operated the White Front restaurant on Center Street, now Edison’s Clothing.
When there’s a gathering of men who once wore a military uniform, the vet who tells the best stories is Judge James Collier, former National Guard Captain. Another judge who once was a National Guard captain was Ed Corn. A few of the old timers remember when Lt. Corn marched on Center Street in 1898, just after the Maine sank. Capt. Carmi A. Thompson, a young lawyer, led that parade. Lawyers lead other parades. It was Capt. Waite Russell who led the National Guard boys in 1917.
Lester Abele and George Kingery, both lieutenants, became lawyers after the war. I made notes so fast in my little book Saturday I couldn’t decipher them all when dessert was served. Capt. Charles Keyes, Regular Army retired, was the regiment heavyweight-boxing champion at the annual encampments at Camp Perry up on Lake Erie. He now lives at Adams and Fourth Streets. His late father, George Keyes, liveryman, was a lover of “Black Beauty” and race horses, and he lived on Spring Street as a neighbor to Col. Cooke when the boys played together before they served together in the Guards.
Capt. Franklin Hart, retired, was my interpreter at the banquet table when some of the speakers used the new Army slang invented since I was a buck private in ’18. Taps have sounded for Capt. Karl Hoertel and Capt. Russ Hewitt. Capt. Walter Kesterson, city auditor, is attached to regiment headquarters at Portsmouth and that completes the roll call of captains.
Several amusing stories were told about the look alikes, the Rye brothers, Herb and Hobart, twenty-year members of Company C. City motorists who have over-parked get the twins mixed up. Herb is the officer who rides the 3-wheel cycle checking meters. Bill Douglas, who looks after the publicity, tells us that May 30 this year will be the first time since V-Day that the Engineers will be missed in the Memorial Day Parade The regiment is scheduled to attend annual camp that week down in Virginia. Men of the National Guard have set a fine example in recognition for civic leadership, which should be followed in all lines of endeavor in Ironton.