County Watch—Lay-fee-yette; Pete and Allen; fight songs; Gypsy Coeds; Aunt Martha’s

By Jim Nowlan
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The very fine promotional piece for the September 16-17 Stark County Fall Festival includes background on all our towns. The piece says Lafayette was named after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.

That is true, but only very indirectly. I called my favorite Lafayette historical buffs for the back story. Pete Hughes grew up in Lafayette and each year hosts high school reunion for alums and friends. Allen Andersen, of Galva, is the great-grandnephew of the founder of LaFayette, William (Wild Bill) Dunbar. Pete and Allen confirm the following.

William arrived in the 1830s. He fathered 13 children, I think it was. He and his wife named them after Revolutionary War heroes. So, son Washington Dunbar is Allen’s great grandfather.

William decided to name his town after another son, LaFayette, who went by the nickname “Lafe,” pronounced “Layfe.” And that is apparently why we to this day say “Lay-fee-yette,” rather than “Lah-fy-ette.”

There were efforts to be proper. Pete recalls that his high school English teacher Grace Hoadley, who taught there forever, always insisted on the proper pronunciation.

Pete says the town name properly. “You didn’t mess with Miss Hoadley,” he says.

Now you know. . .the rest of the story.

Pete also recently sent me the old fight songs for all the public high schools that ever were in Stark County. Younger readers (under 70) might get a kick (maybe not) out of knowing the words, so I have asked editor Lynne to run them this week or in subsequent weeks, on a space available basis.

I still recall singing at the top of my voice the old Toulon “Trojan Loyalty” fight song: “Come on you crashing Toulon Trojans. . . .”

The endearing story of Bradford’s Gypsy Coeds has legs. In the 1930s, these spirited, spunky local high school grads toured the country from coast to coast and into Canada each of eight summers, overflowing their, open 40-horse power, 1926 Model T Touring Car.

John Butte, of Dunlap, is a descendant of a Gypsy Coed and author of a popular book of the same name about the girls. John reports that the original, restored Model T, which the girls called The Silver Streak, will be featured September 8-10 at the “Old Car Festival” at the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield, MI.

John has even been asked to make a presentation about the girls and the car.

John reports: “The Old Car festival is not like your typical car show.  We get to drive around on the streets of Greenfield Village, rather than simply being parked in a spot for the whole weekend.”

Keep the spirit alive, John!

Aunt Martha’s Wellness Center in Toulon will host a presentation Oct. 8 from 10-11:30 a.m. in the Paramount Theater in Wyoming on hypertension, what it is, how it can affect you, and what you can do about it.

Dr. Mark Wiechert, full-time physician at Aunt Martha’s, will make the presentation. No charge.

I mention Aunt Martha’s from time to time to encourage readers to refer friends who may be uninsured or underinsured or on Medicaid to make use of the federally-supported clinic. Of course, persons with insurance may also utilize the clinic.

If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it. Simple as that. Nice to have a well-regarded doctor in the county fulltime.

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