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Another Member Story

"Tin Cup..."
Submitted by: Gene A. Hanselman
Chapter OH-D3

When my Grandpa, Fredrick, and his brother Horace, stepped onto U.S. Soil in 1898 they had few prized possessions from Germany. Dressed in one change of ragged clothes, no other family members and unable to speak English, they had finally reached the land of opportunity. After customs, the two brothers worked many jobs of long, tiring hours until they were able to save enough money to head west to Illinois and work the occupation they knew from their Homeland, Farming. Before embarking on the trek to the Midwest they bought a few incidentals they figured would come in handy on their journey. One of those small, but very significant items was a Tin Cup, shared by both men for many years in their new community and throughout my Grandpa's entire life.

The Cup was made sturdy, in one piece with the handle forged onto the bowl. It was coated with a substance like porcelain and had a cream colored main bowl with a black seamed handle and lip around the top. There were no markings or company name that made it, but at that time in history, who cared. Many different individuals drank from that Cup and not one got sick or died from sharing it.

In the twenties, my Grandpa married, started a family and moved to Virginia to "Share Farm". He took the Cup with him and it was used every day by family members, friends, neighbors and anyone wishing to quench their thirst at the old well pump. After years of working that farm and saving his money, he purchased a large farm in central Ohio and moved his wife, 3 sons, 2 daughters and all their possessions, including the Cup, to the Buckeye State.

The old Tin Cup would hang from a wire on the hand pump by the stone sidewalk leading to the house until the late fifties. At that time, the pump was updated with a spigot, as the house, barn and all out buildings were updated with running water and bathroom facilities. Concrete replaced the stone sidewalk and a 4 step stoop was added. Around that same era, my uncle erected a beautiful metal Gazebo around the hydrant and well platform. Flower boxes garnished the Gazebo and my two aunts nurtured the flowers, planted shrubs around the base and kept artifacts and antiques situated on the platform. The Tin Cup, in all it's radiant glory, hung by the pump on the Gazebo by a wire, as if to say "Come, Quench Your Thirst". Many stories and tall tails were told while relaxing there, Cup in hand.

I loved my Grandpa very, very much and he was my Hero. One Christmas in the mid sixties, I gave him a bright, shiny new stainless steel cup to replace the old one. The old Cup had seen better days. Many rust stains adorned the Cup where the porcelain type covering had chipped off during years of use. There was much discoloration on the bowl from hanging in the weather through all the bitter cold winters and steaming hot summers. The handle had worn from the wire hook which held it in place and a jingle could always be heard in the breeze. My aunt hit it with the mower while trimming around the Gazebo, which left strange markings around the lip. A few months later my gift of the pretty, new, stainless steel cup was still vacant from the spigot. I asked my Grandpa if he did not like my Christmas Gift. He took me outside and we sat down on the back steps, as we often did, while he told me this story. He loved the new cup and it was one of the greatest gifts he ever received, but the old Tin Cup had a whole lifetime of memories and remembrances that he never wanted to forget.

No royalty, famous people or political figures ever drank from the Cup, just ordinary, hard working, individuals that wanted or needed a drink of water. During the Depression era he butchered an old cow and invited neighbors, friends and townsfolk to his home for a Bar-B-Q feast, and they all drank water from that Cup. He used the Cup to give a drink of water to Grandma while she was in labor with all the children. Many a stranger stopped at his place on the main route and quenched their thirst while buying eggs, roast corn and other items from his garden and orchard. I shall never forget the lesson I learned that brisk Spring morning on the steps with my Grandpa. The Cup had character and was a timeless artifact and prized possession to him. It could not and would not be replaced.

Too many times we look at things as junk, worn out and useless. We should adjust our thinking to remember whatever the item, in it's day, may have been. However old, used or whatever condition it's in, it is precious to someone. That Tin Cup now sits on top of my water cooler in all It's Radiant Glory.

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