An American veteran of World War II and a German Jew whom he helped to rescue in Nazi-occupied Holland shared the stage at Granville Middle School (also in New Albany & Johnstown) yesterday to talk about their experiences and to preach the importance of tolerance. The presentation also gave students a chance to hear stories firsthand— an opportunity that is quickly fading away.
Don Jakeway, a U.S. paratrooper during the war, and Bert Jakobs, whose family had fled to Holland to avoid
persecution in Germany, only to be forced into hiding to avoid being sent to a concentration camp after the occupation, told of the Jakobs family’s ordeal and its liberation by American soldiers from Jakeway’s regiment in 1944.
Jakobs, 78, shared a room about the size of a two-car garage with four other people for more than two years while the German army controlled the country. His family ate the same meals every day: a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and potatoes and onions for lunch and dinner. They had to clean themselves with a washcloth from a basin, never brushing their teeth or changing their clothes during their confinement. But the emotional damage from missing much of his childhood was worse than the hardships in their hideout, he said. “I got married in 1956, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that I told my three children or wife about hiding,” Jakobs told the students. “I didn’t want to talk about it. It was like a prison sentence.”
Now living in Palm Desert, Calif., Jakobs said he would rather live in the present than the past, but as he got older, he realized the importance of sharing his story. That’s why he agreed to come to central Ohio after he was contacted a few weeks ago by Mark Easton, a New Albany resident who had met Jakeway through volunteer work with veterans.
Originally, Easton had wanted to bring together the two — who had never met — to celebrate Jakeway’s 89th birthday in January, but Jakobs said the two should use the opportunity to talk to schoolchildren about the importance of treating people as equals. “We need to create a world where people are tolerant and accept people for who they are,” Jakobs said. “To me, that’s more important than living for 25 months hiding in a room.” The two spoke in several area
schools, wrapping up with Granville yesterday before Jakobs flew home in the afternoon.
Jakeway, a Johnstown resident, knew of Jakobs because he had corresponded with Jakobs’ sister, Edith Jakobs, who was living in Israel. Jakeway was working on a book about his experiences as a paratrooper in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division during the war. The two wrote regularly from 1986 until she died last year, he said.
Meeting her brother at Port Columbus on Wednesday was an emotional moment, Jakeway said. Listening to Jakobs speak to school groups taught him a side of the war that he had not experienced as a soldier. “I never got a chance to meet this family,” Jakeway told students yesterday. “I never remembered the homes, the houses, because we were looking for people behind them, or in the trees or bushes. There was a lot of fighting going on.” He echoed Jakobs’ call for students to be tolerant of those unlike themselves, reminding them that the Jakobs family had never harmed the Nazis who persecuted them.
Eighth-grader Dayton Steffeny, 14, said he was amazed by Jakobs’ recovery from his ordeal, and he said he is grateful that the world has changed since the Holocaust. “I think people can be cruel at times, but I think the world has gotten a lot
better,” he said.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a teacher’s patience and guidance can be more valuable than gold!
The fundamentals of our childhood education at New Albany were the same as any other school of the time. Reading, writing, arithmetic … they’re a universal constant every child must learn. Playing sports afforded quite a few kids the opportunity to train their bodies as rigorously as they were training their minds however, the kids that weren’t that good at sports or simply weren’t interested in sports, had to find other disciplines to pursue.
I knew from the age of 6 that I wanted to become an artist. That’s all there was to it. There was never a doubt in my mind, but I had no idea how to go about attaining that goal. Wonderful art teachers like Marianne Ballenger and Jan Hale helped me find the beginnings of that path, although I fought them every step of the way.
I didn’t want to learn to draw train tracks and telephone poles vanishing in perspective! I didn’t care about some guy called Picasso that painted weird subjects and had a thing about blue! I didn’t want to draw from life! … I just wanted to draw superheroes! Bringing my mind and magic pencils to bear, Captain America and Batman were going to save the day and I was going to be the guy who drew them! That’s all that mattered … or so I thought at the time.
Thankfully the patience and insight of Mrs. Ballenger and Mrs. Hale outlasted my stubborn streak.Slowly but surely I began to appreciate what they were trying to tell me and found I could apply that knowledge to the things I thought were most important … even in my world of capes, tights and super powers. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? You’ve made up your mind and formulated your opinion and don’t want to hear any facts that might dissuade you from your quest!
Then you realize they’re right and you haven’t paid enough attention … and that’s when the real learning process blossoms! The only place you can go from there is up, up and away!
These two talented art teachers may not have always understood my world or my artwork, but like my parents they were incredibly supportive and challenged me to surpass my previous efforts whenever possible! With this new confidence, I began to see the world in a whole new way … vivid colors, shades of gray, and shapes and textures found in Nature that I hadn’t seen before. I began to look for patterns and harmony in the most basic elements of architecture and landscape … the more I found the more I wanted!
To me, this is what great teaching is all about! Not changing young minds and talent, but challenging kids to find their greatest potential and to embrace it. To let it mold and shape them into something more dynamic than they could ever dream possible! I owe a world of gratitude to teachers like Marianne Ballenger and Jan Hale for my wake up call to the world of Art!
Dedicated teachers of this caliber started me on a journey I’ve enjoyed for over 30 years, and there’s really no end in sight! Because of their confidence in my work, I’m now illustrating children’s books … a dream I’ve had all my life! Check it out: cucciakidsbooks.com. Who knows what’s next? In the meantime, I think I’ll let my pencils guide the way!
You mentioned the Little League diamond and all at once a lot of memory cells fired in my brain. Hopefully, if Connie Carr is reading this, she will forgive my grammar mistakes. Spell check should catch most of my spelling errors. We moved to New Albany in 1973. Oldest son Jimmy was ready for T-ball in 1974 I believe. Middle son Andy followed him by 4 or 5 years, youngest son Scott followed Andy by another 4 or 5 years and daughter Debbie played softball starting a year after Scott. A sum total of about 16 or 17 years in New Albany Youth League sports. Must qualify the Joseph’s for some kind of award! HA!
I coached many of those years and was treasurer of the league for many years. My wife Judy and Donna Brown ran the little concession stand for many years. She remembers the rectangular pizzas (purchased frozen from Callie Cardules at the Dairy Creme) selling like hot cakes.
The league saved money for many years to buy a new ice machine. Coaches that stand out in my memory were Rod Putterbaugh, Mike Carr, Bill McKinney, Harold Phillips, Jerry Cherry, Jack Farley, Jim Sponagle, Herbie (“Don’t look at the ball- RUN”)Kellett, John Tinon, Robin Nye, and many others. Joe Morlan, of course, leaning on the outfield fence scouting for future Big League pitchers.
Many very treasured memories of small town New Albany. We love it here!!
I would like to add to some of the Coaches that helped get the New Albany Little League up and running:
Tom Kessee, Fred Shoemaker, Dexter Stevens, Mike Kowalski, Dave Mckinney, Chet Abshire, Bill Cowan, Hoel Harris, Gane Hatch, J B Bowe, Mr. Flowers, Jack Brooks, Mr. Seckerson, Mr. Elschlager, Johnny Bowman, Otto Lindenbolt, Pat Folie and others.
This year (2013) New Albany sports fans are enjoying another great football season as the Eagles are knee deep in play-off games and another chance to be State Champs. Not always was the case, 65-years ago a group of dedicated parents and students welded goal post, made a practice field and dressed the first team New Albany had in years. It was a brutal season as detailed by Brad Willson in this October 17, 1948 Columbus Sunday Dispatch Magazine article. Thank you to Sally Conrad for dropping off the article at Eagles, Dennis Keesee.
Six minutes left in the ball game and the score 74 to 0, Grove City. New Albany had managed one first down, with the aid of a penalty. For the afternoon’s effort, the boys from Plain Township School had a bruising 45 yard deficit. On the New Albany bench, the reserve “strength” consisted of a scanty huddle of 11 lonely substitutes. The youngster at the far end could’ve passed for a mascot, except for his white jersey with the red numbers and a shiny marked helmet which kept slipping down over his eager eyes. He’d weigh maybe 86, in complete grid gear and after drinking four double malts.
In a thin, changing 14 year old boys voice he piped, “C’mon fellows, we still got nearly six minutes!”
Nobody on the New Albany side of the field figured his appeal was hilariously optimistic. Football, as played on the frayed shoestring at New Albany, is no joke.
The game ended at 74 – zero, but New Albany wasn’t glum.
“They’ll keep trying,” predicted coach Russ Salberg.”And they’ll get better.”
It’s tough to find a strong football squad in a school with only 50 boys.”In fact,” smiled Salberg, the young coach,” it’s tough to find a squad.”
But the boys and their parents were agreed that New Albany should try again. And “try” is something they know how to do at the intersection of Routes 62 and 161.
Before Russ, who looks like a high school senior himself, could start giving them plays there were other problems.
The boys built a partition for a locker room. The five showers didn’t work. The tract of ground between the cornfield and the playground had to be seeded, rolled and lined for a practice field. Somebody borrowed some 2 inch pipe and the players donned welders’ mask and came up with two goalpost. Lineman’s chains and down markers appeared from the school shops. Bravely the school went $1499.73 in debt for equipment and uniforms for the squad of 25. The same uniform served for practice and games. On the night before a game, the boys wash their jerseys to present a bright, if inexpert, front to the foe.
Stars and second-stringers (there are no third stringers) share the sweeping and cleaning of the locker rooms. Boys with the longest walk home or the heaviest list of farm chores usually are given first chance in the showers. Don Irvine, a tackle, Farms 125 acres. He milks eight Cows and feeds 25 hogs before it gets light. He’s lucky, though, because he has a car. Some of the boys bicycle or hike a couple of miles home after practice. Ray Morrow is another lineman who has cows to milk twice daily and faces a two-mile hike after practice. The coach knows about these things firsthand. He was a small-town boy and played four years at the Navarre, Ohio, High School, earning all-state mention his final season. Then he went to Bucknell to play some tackle and now keeps busy teaching math and science, coaching four sports and working on his degree at Ohio State. Of course he also takes care of the equipment and doubles as trainer. Superintendent S. J. Benedict is faculty manager, arranges schedules, hires officials, supervises tickets, plans and assigns the job of mimeographing programs and between times wonders whether they’ll be able to pay off that $1499.73 sent debt from their receipts.
Things should get better for the Plain Township school, with its 287 pupils and 12 teachers. Morgan” brute” Harlor, 5 feet tall, 95 pounds, substitute tailback, staggering under the weight of his shoulder pads, says,” wait till next year.”
More realistic, superintendent Benedict says, “at least we should have our own field.” This year New Albany played even its “home” games at opponent’s stadiums. The athletic boosters, a group of plain Township fans, have chipped in $1200 for a 4 acre piece of pasture adjoining the school. Right now New Albany’s forte is spirit and willingness. Football teams have been built on less.
In the spring of 2007 my daughter and I went to a Wittenberg university softball game with some friends. The center fielder hit a home run! Her mother jumped up, cheering for her daughter. I leaned over to my friend and said, \” I know that lady. She coached me in softball when I was a kid,\”. I was certain it was her. Crisco is what we called her, as in go Chis go- it became Crisco! So I had to introduce myself. Between games I went up to her, it went something like this… I have to ask and don\’t mean to creep you out, but aren\’t youChris Richards from New Albany? (FYI- aka Kathy to some). She wore a stunned expression of confirmation. Wanting to give her reference, I told her I was Jeanne Maynard, Keith Harig\’s sister (they were classmates) and she had coached me on the Red Barron\’s softball team the summer after she graduated. She had placed me too! She remembered I had long, white-blonde hair. She even said she had recently looked at pictures from that summer (-she later emailed the to me and they are posted on Facebook). How cool is this little reunion?! We chatted and later introduced our daughters. In the fall of 2008, our daughters became friends and teammates on that Wittenberg Tiger softball team. Chris, her husband Don, my husband Jim and I enjoyed watching our girls play together for two years. Thanks to Facebook we stay connected and Chris is fondly in my cell as Crisco.
By: Jeanne Maynard Amicon
A big thank you goes out to all the teams that participated in this years New Albany Invitational!
We had over 60 teams participate between B & C divisions – competing in 23 events per division.
A big thanks to the over 130 volunteers, coaches, and district staff for helping us pull off this event
successfully. We’re planning our 3rd annual Invitational for Feb. 2014… stay tuned!
February 24, 2013 By: avatke
Photo By: Dirk Stevens