Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Amos Jacob Stahl

My Aunt Helen’s husband was named Amos Jacob Stahl .He was a hairy, roly-poly short statured man. Most people knew him and called him by his middle name; Jake. He was a very firm man and when he got upset, his voice would raise several octaves and bellow into an almost soprano squeak. It seems incongruous that I would say bellow and squeak together to describe his voice, but he did it. He could stand on the side porch of their home and yell for the kids to come home.
Helen and Jake’s house was a medium-sized, stone-cased home built on the side of a hill that overlooked the town of Indian Head. Their children would spread out playing with their friends. When it was time for the kids to come home, Jake would step out onto the porch and yell for them. No matter where the kids were, his voice was heard all over town and the kids would come running from where ever they were. The decibel level must have been surprisingly tremendous.

Jake made his living as a stone mason. His work was seasonal and it was hard to raise a large family with an interrupted way to make a salary. His work was limited to the amount of time that the weather conditions would allow him to ply his trade. Rain, snow, ice; all limited his ability to earn money.
Eventually he made the decision to move his family south. He made the right decision. The town he decided to settle was Orlando, Florida. This was before the Disney Corporation decided to establish his kingdom of Disneyworld. His skills were needed as Orlando bloomed and blossomed.

His skills were exceptional; bricks, cinder blocks, and stones all were the foundation for his art. He could cut, dress, and face the stones he needed for him to display his skills.
I remember a story that was told about his ability. One day when he and his crew were laying block for a basement, Jake noticed that some mortar had fallen out on the opposite side of the room. He lifted some mortar on the tip of his trowel and flicked it. The mortar hit the right spot and filled the gap.

He was a resourceful man. When we were younger and were visiting them at their home in Indian Head and eating. It was near the end of the meal and most of the food was gone. One of us wanted some more mashed potatoes but they were gone. Jake took a slice of bread, spread some gravy on it, and then cut it into bite sized pieces. Thus “gravy bites” became a part of my family’s vocabulary. Aunt Helen’s gravy was good even on bread.
He was a man who enjoyed his food. He loved to bar-b-cue and had his steaks cut to order, not buying over the counter. He did the grilling himself. I was stationed in Orlando at the Naval Training Center and would go to visit on some weekends. He would grill a huge platter of steaks for at least one meal and he loved his R. C. Cola.

Jake’s car of choice was the Oldsmobile. Every car that he ever owned was an Oldsmobile an as far as I know, it was the only brand of car that he ever drove. He liked them because they had room for his belly under the wheel. His belly was still large enough that the front of his pants had wear marks where the wheel rubbed the pants.
The only other vehicle that he would drive was his GMC pickup work truck and I think he drove a GMC was that Oldsmobile did not have a truck line.

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