During the late 1940s, Justine Geiser was employed by the Whitaker Insurance Agency in Wooster. The company had just one other employee, bookkeeper Helen Heller.
"One day," Geiser recalled, "a salesman appeared and spoke to our boss, Francis Whitaker. After he left, Mr. W. came out of his office and carefully placed a silver colored holder containing a tall cylinder on a counter. He said, ‘You can get rid of the fountain pens and bottles of ink. This is the latest ... a ballpoint pen."
Whitaker demonstrated the pen, cautioning the women to always place the pen back in its holder when finished. It was not to be laid aside momentarily to do something else. When asked where the ink should go Whitaker replied ‘Not to worry, the ink is in the pen and will last a long, long time.’ Geiser said the pen cost $12 which she thought was extravagant since her weekly salary was $30.
"Helen and I shared the pen for several weeks," Geiser said, "and following instructions, it always stood like a sentinel on the counter. Alas, I came to work one morning and found the pen had leaked during the night and ink was slowly seeping all over the counter. What a mess. So it was back to the fountain pens and bottles of ink with no more mention of ballpoint pens!"
Whitaker Insurance Agency was located in the former First Federal building on the north side of East Liberty Street. Clyde Gault (father of the late Stanley Gault) had a two-room realty office next door. Both Whitaker and Gault were Methodists and Gault was treasurer of the church at that time.
"Every Monday morning," Geiser said, "Mr. Gault would appear at our door asking if anybody was using the adding machine. ‘No, Mr. Gault, come in,’ I would reply. He would head toward the adding machine with his hands full of offering envelopes and proceed to total up Sunday’s take on the slow ‘punch, punch, pull the handle’ machine. Afterward, he’d remain a while and we’d chat ... mostly about Stan who graduated from Wooster High School with me in 1943.
"Mr. Gault had a beautiful large roll top desk in his small office that took up most of the space. Many years later, Stan and his wife, Flo, hosted several open houses for our class reunions. At one event, Stan showed me his home office. Sure enough, there was the big desk. It had been Mr. G’s pride and joy and Stan was happy to have it."
Wooster University inaugurated its first class on Sept. 11, 1870.
Thought you should know.
Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-345-6419.