John and Wanda Bacon leave Fayette house 2009.09.23

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

In November, 1944, John and Wanda Bacon moved into their house at 205 College St. in Fayette and there they stayed for nearly 65 years.j.w.bacon.jpg

According to U.S. Census statistics, one in six Americans moves to a new location every year, with an average of nearly 12 moves in a lifetime.

John, 89, and Wanda, 88, are far from average, but they did move earlier this month. After all those years on College Street, they now live in Bryan near their son and their grown grandchildren.

It was an odd day when the Bacons moved into their Fayette home, Wanda recalls. Three families were moving all at once.

“We were moving in the back door as the Frucheys were moving out the front door,” she said. “And the Frucheys were moving in the back door of their new house as the Clarks were moving out the front.”

John grew up on a farm outside of town and Wanda lived her entire life in the village. When they married in 1939, they moved into a home in what was known as Floppertown on the south edge of Fayette. Their house, Wanda said, stood about where the driveway leads into the new school.

They moved into town in 1944 and rented the College Street home for six months. They paid $12 a month, but John decided they might as well buy the place rather than give their cash away for rent.

“Don’t you know what we gave for that?” Wanda asked. “We paid $3,000.”

The house served them well, thanks to John’s abilities. He added a bathroom and a bedroom and updated the kitchen.

“He made it really comfortable,” Wanda said. “My goodness it was real handy. We had a lot of good times there. And I always had a beautiful flower garden.”

At her new home, Wanda has a rather small area for planting, but that’s her only complaint.

The Bacons’ family members traveled to Fayette frequently for visits, but it’s a lot more convenient now that they’re all in Bryan. It was especially trying when John or Wanda was ill.

“They’re all glad to see us come over,” Wanda said.

History

After the death of Vivien Ford, the Bacons’ house became known as the place to go for information about Fayette history. Through eight decades, they’ve witnessed a lot of local events.

The College Street home was built in the 1880s and frequently served as a rooming house for professors and teachers at the Fayette Normal University.

“I could go clear back into the 1930s and tell what used to go on around Fayette,” Wanda said.

The biggest change between then and now can be described in two words: Saturday night. Not only for Fayette, but for all small towns in the area, Saturday night was when the farming families came to town for shopping, visiting and entertainment.

“We used to have a great time on Saturday nights,” Wanda said. “We had four or five restaurants and four groceries and four doctors.”

And hardware, furniture, shoe repair—just about everything was available, but occasional trips out of town were taken, either to Toledo on the Teeter & Wobble railroad or farther northeast into Lenawee County on the New York Central.

“It used to be a real busy time in Fayette,” she said, with a canning factory, a pickle factory, a mill and much more.

She remembers playing near the turntable at the New York Central yard over by the stockyard, and watching Elmer Jeffers operating the Western Union equipment at the depot.

Those were much different times, although Wanda says the town hasn’t really changed that much overall.

And now the Bacons have moved on to Bryan and left their beloved home town behind. Moving day was an upsetting one, Wanda said, but they’re rapidly adjusting.

“It’s quite a change, but we enjoy where we are,” she said.

There’s just one more matter to take of.

“I want to move one little bush,” she said. “It’s a Persian lilac, pretty rare. If I get that, then I’ll be home.”

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