Speck Ettinger Celebrates
93rd Birthday Today

Ed (Speck) Ettinger, (center, see photo below) retired Warsaw harness maker who is celebrating his 93rd birthday today, is shown displaying his album of old time photos to George Stephenson, left, and George Nye, county surveyor (Times Union Staff Photo)

Born in Coldwater, Mich., Sept 30, 1860, Ettinger came to Warsaw with his parents in 1862. His father, Flavius J. Ettinger was a harness maker. The youth, called Speck because of his profusion of freckles, attended West Ward and Center Ward schools through the ninth grade. He learned his father's trade which he followed from March, 1977, until March, 1949, a total of 72 years. His shop was located on North Buffalo street above the offices of Dr. W. A. Gasaway and Dr. Virgil McCleary. Speck kept a few of his favorite tools when he closed the shop. He is the last of a family of three boys and one girl.

In his interview with Speck, Nye questioned him particularly about boyhood memories concerning the Warsaw of 1870 and prepared the following account:

"Ed (Speck) Ettinger was born in 1860 in coldwater, Mich. The family came to Warsaw to live in 1862. Flavius J. Ettinger was a harness maker and Speck followed in his footsteps until a few years go when he retired. Speck was a boy about town in 1870.

"In these days Warsaw was a town of wooden buildings on the main streets, of gravelled streets and wooden sidewalks. A person coming uptown at night had to carry a lantern to see his way. Warsaw was a busy trading center supported largely by the lumber industr.

"News items of the day concerned the grading of South Buffalo street by Jim Milice, the town marshal; the passing thru of covered wagons bound for Minnesota territory, the catching afire of the tamarack swamp east of Detroit street, the building of a fence around the public square, how Gus Junk caught a 45 pound turtle and made 11 gallons of turtle soup for his friends, how Sinner Philpott caught a 24-pound pike in Center Lake and invited his friends in to help eat it, how Mike Fitzgerald, a track walker, was killed on the railroad east of town andhow an engineer saw Mike's ghost some nights later and stopped his train.

"It was the day when long haired J. N. Free, notoriously known as the Immortal J. N. would dorp off of the morning train and tour the uptown districts. He was, according to Gen. Reub Williams, the great "jiasticutis" or orator of of the age. When he lifted the veil at Empire Hall error hid her head as he assumed all the pressure and the dry bones of superstition would begin to quake and light would begin to break on the minds of the benighted because the immortal J. N. was suffering martydom for the great cause of truth.

"It was the day when Commodore Foote, one of the smallest of great men, paraded down our streets in a Lilliputian chariot, the day of picnics across Center lake, the day when Nate McConnell and Jake Thralls used to play the fiddle for shindigs, the days of dances at the Kirtley house, and the days when the Thespians, a local show troupe, put on "Nick of the Woods" and other plays at the new Wigwam.

"Speck remembers Harvey Beazel, Sam Hemphill, F. V. Peck, Matt Rittenhouse and all the other harness men who had shops in Warsaw. We all rejoice in his reaching his 93rd birthday and wish him many more." --George Nye.

The venerable harness maker resides with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Schade, 341 North Buffalo street. He has another daughter, Mrs. Vernon Romine, north of Mentone; two grandchildren, Mrs. Lowell Gant, of Greenfield, and John C. Schade, of Indianapolis, and a great-grand daughter, Debby Schade, 8 of Indianapolis. A son, Robert died a year ago.

Ettinger, who enjoys excellent health, was crowned king at the Golden Agers picnic at the city park Aug. 16. His family planned a quiet observance today as Mr. Schade has been ill with a heart ailment.

Warsaw Times Union, Wed. Sept. 30, 1953

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