The “Now” location (of the Oct. 3 edition of Now and Then) has been found, thanks to several people who contacted me about the location of the recently published old postcard identified as “Greetings from Lippincott, Ohio.” There was some concern expressed by a local postcard collector that this might be a generic photo card not really of the Lippincott area, as pretty scenes were sometimes used to promote a certain location, but not really a photo of that location. The “Now” photograph with this article was taken in October 2016 on a beautiful early fall day, sitting in the middle of Mad River looking south, in the western part of Salem Township, west of Valley Pike and not far from Lippincott Road.
A 95-year-old local farmer from the area recognized the old iron bridge crossing Mad River and drove us to the spot, down a neighbor’s private farm lane, in the middle of some freshly harvested fields, near where he lives. Since the land around the site is being used for crops, and both the riverbanks are densely lined with trees, a picture from afar, like the “Then” photo was not possible. The bridge is no longer functional as a bridge. What remains are a few pieces of iron girders sticking up out of the river and two large cement structures, one on both sides of the river that once supported the ornate bridge pictured in the old postcard. A cement base has been poured in the river to allow certain types of vehicles with large tires to safely cross over to the other side without sinking into the river basin. The cement cross over structure is not so deep that it impedes the water flowing down stream, yet it allows safe passage from one side of the river to the other, getting your feet wet but not stuck in mud.
This Champaign County native who took us to the remains of the old bridge has lived in the Lippincott area all his life. He married a girl in the neighborhood who was born the same year he was born. They married when they were 17 years old and would have celebrated 78 years of marriage, if she had not died this year. One of his first jobs off the family farm was de-tasseling corn plants in the production of seed corn for the nearby business enterprise, last known as Park Seed Farm. Richard McGuire worked his way up from a de-tassler of corn, to a crew chief of de-tasslers, to a regional salesman of seed corn. The farm business even developed their own hybrid seed varieties. The Park Seed Farm was along Valley Pike and near the railroad tracks that ran north and south through Salem Township which crosses and stops at the Lippincott Road. Its location made it convenient for transportation of their bags of seed corn to wide spread regions.
Ironically, Robert Park, an active member of the Champaign County Historical Society until his death, owned that business at one time. Little has been written down about the Park Seed Farm operation, even after many years of doing business in Champaign County and beyond. It seems that sometimes historians forget to tell their own stories. More people will be interviewed to record what they remember about the once successful business for another time.
Mr. McGuire also remembers one of the dirtiest jobs he ever had as a young man. Working for Kings General Store at Lippincott Station, he sorted coal into different piles, by grades of quality, after it was dumped off the train at the store site. He also remembers the store’s old type gasoline pump that put the gasoline in a jar for people to pour into their vehicles.
Mr. King, the store proprietor, was so fond of the new horseless modes of transportation, the automobile, that were becoming popular, that he built a garage beside the General Store from which to sell and service them. Model T’s had become all the rage and were made more affordable by their mass production techniques and means of delivered to his show room from the nearby train stop.
Many other items were recalled being sold in the Kings General Store at Lippincott Station. Immediately inside, to the left was the candy counter along with tobacco products, can goods and food. Other staples were stacked on the selves and there was a meat case along the back where custom cuts were available. Fresh eggs were brought in by the locals, who got 9 cents a dozen for them and no doubt that money was use to buy other merchandise in the store. On the east side, they displayed all types of hardware from the little items of nails and bolts and tools, to larger items such as horse collars and tack among the assortment. Of course there was a pot bellied stove in the center providing central heat and a big barrel full of pickles for sale. Mr. King also fixed radios and was an electrician in the 1930’s. A few are still around that have actually experience that type of mom and pop store or can remember seeing them in the old western movies. The old store has now been transformed into a modern day home and the old garage where Model T’s were sold appears to be a nicely kept two car garage with plenty of extra storage space.
Two other buildings were mentioned when talking about the whistle stop of Lippincott, or Lippincott Station, or just the area of Lippincott, (whatever you choose to call it.) Still standing is the grain elevator buildings, now used as an auction house. No longer existing is the old train lookout building that once stood beside the tracks to the south of the roadway.
Another recollection shared by McGuire was the recollection of the printed fabric feed sack bags that bulk products were sometimes put in for shipping. The women like to make dresses and aprons and shirts out of this fabric. It never failed, that the print bag a women would want would be at the bottom of the tall stack and require extra work to get to it for the customer (or maybe wife.) Another fond memory shared was sliding on the snow down the big hill in this area created by the ridges left by the glacier thousands of years ago that gives Champaign County its beautiful terrain. Take a look around you and enjoy the rolling hills covered with trees and the valleys of rich soil for crops. We live in an area of abundance, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.