HISTORY MYSTERY: Warren F. Moore Memories
At a casual Farewell Party for Warren F. Moore on September 5, 2014, at Pine Plains Cemetery, I finally meet the famous man. You would have seen him on the riding mower taking care of the grounds from 1986 until 2013. He went there to fill in for two weeks and stayed for 27 years. He finally retired from this job at the age of 94. At the get-together, he was telling stories of his years living in Clay, so a meeting was set up to get these stories written down.
Warren was born on October 20, 1919 at home on Route 31 to Warren J. Moore and Hilda Schamu Moore and a fee of $20.00 was charged for the doctor’s services. His father’s parents were Oran and Sarah Hamlin Moore who lived in Baldwinsville. His mother’s parents were Fred and Libby Sahm Schamu who also lived in Baldwinsville. He attended Lynnville School (District 5) on Grange Road ,which at that time was the old Route 31; then he went on to North Syracuse High School. After graduation, he worked on his father’s farm, which abutted Alan Gilmour’s property, so when he retired, Warren J. rented the farm land. They milked many of the 40 cows twice a day, the three of them – Warren, his father and his mother.
At the start of WWII, Warren signed up to serve and was notified by the Army that he was 1A. Six months later, he was told to report for his physical but then was given a 1B card and told not to report because he was farming and food was needed for the war effort. If he did sign up again, he would be fined. His father contracted with Weller’s Sauerkraut Factory, near the railroad tracks in Clay, for 1000 tons of cabbage for sauerkraut.
When Grandpa Oran died he was supposed to divide up his Farm on the corner of Morgan and Waterhouse Roads between Warren’s father and his Uncle Vance, but “Grandpa had already sold it. So Warren began driving heavy earth movers. He first drove a truck for Linde hauling liquid oxygen at 200 to 300 degrees below zero. Later, he was called a Heavy Equipment Operation Engineer by the union while working on the NYS Thruway, Routes 481, 690 and 81 and the Hancock Airport. They were extending the airbase and used cable operated earth movers and pay loaders.
Warren relates that he married Gladys Hauswirth on November 20, 1941 and they moved into a building that had been used in the tobacco industry. Later he built a small house on the corner of Maple Road and Route 31 after his father gave each son two acres of his farm. When asked how his parent’s met, Warren tells the story. His parents met at the Euclid because his father, Warren J., and Uncle Vance went to the Saturday night dances. Vance took Hilda and Warren J. went along. At the end of the evening, Vance asked Hilda if he could pick her up for next Saturday and she said, “No, but I would like to go with your brother, Warren!”
Warren continues by telling about when John Kisselburgh became pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in 1931, his brother Godfrey from Athens began visiting him and met Mary Hughson, whom he married. After moving to Clay, he worked at Crowell’s store on the south east side of Morgan Road. Warren asked him one day if he had learned anything that day and Godfrey said, “Yes, you better learn not to say anything about anybody, because they are all related!” Warren added that when he and Mary and Don Sotherden went to District 5 School, she would do Don’s Arithmetic. Don took over the mill and feed store near the railroad tracks after his father, Frank, passed away.
Everyone loved to hunt, fish and trap in those days. Warren and Bud Lepinske (former Town Historian), would trap muskrats along Mud Creek from the Oneida River all the way to the railroad tracks. One time they had 144, which they skinned right away because of their weight. The skins went to Fred Baxter for stretching and the hind quarters went to New York City restaurants where they were called “marsh rabbits.”
One story goes that late one night Ed and Fred Lepinske (Bud’s father and uncle), after a hunting trip, were coming up Route 31 to Maple Road near a clump of trees, when a hazy ghost came close to them and melted through a fence. And another: when Cal Bonstead owned the Clay Hotel, his wife had a bull dog that his friends loved to get drunk on hard cider. And lastly: Warren rigged his 37 Chevy with a coil to shock any thief that tried to steal his car if they even touched it. A dog using it as a fire hydrant got a big surprise!
When Warren retired in 1986, he found that Route 31 was too busy. (It had been rerouted to its present location.) So, he built the house he lived in to his final day’s two doors from his former house and it sat way back from what is now Grange Road. He loved to tell stories and was still doing so in 2014.
Dorothy Heller, Historian