Taggart’s Ten Decades
HUGHESVILLE – “Do good where you are today,” advises W. Wendle Taggart who will mark a century of life on May 23, 2010.
How his entrepreneurship, work ethic, people skills and spirit of volunteerism came about is revealed when one delves into his busy past.
The communities of Muncy and Hughesville were pertinent in his life. He was born at 304 South Washington Street spending 22 years in Muncy.
Chores of the times were weekly cleanings and filling oil lamps. Doing laundry was an all day chore which required heating water in large boilers before hanging the clothes outside.
Such essentials as ice, bread and milk were delivered to the door. Eggs, butter and rich cream were brought weekly by the Alfred Gardner family from Moreland Township, while Frank Cox peddled his fresh grown vegetables. “I was fascinated with coal deliveries by a horse drawn wagon and thought I might become a coal man,” Taggart said.
Periodically a “rag man” canvassed town gathering old cloths, scrap metal and such. Several hobos went door to door, some willing to do chores in exchange for food.
Fun time was sledding down Main to Water Streets when conditions were ideal. The river was an ice skating site, as was Taggart Pond on Pepper Street.
In the summer, youngsters swam in the river or at a deep hole in Glade Run near the present day Muncy Pool.
By 1916, his parents purchased the property at 301 South Main Street, “A wonderful place with electric lights, bathroom and furnace, but no telephone. Our first radio was purchased from Fry’s Hardware, a cabinet style Atwater-Kent on which the horrors of WWI were reported,” he said.
Neighbors on either side were the Woodruff and Douglas families, the latter from New Jersey who summered in Muncy. Directly across the street was Lloyds’ grocery store, and a car repair shop in the rear. Ruth Keyser, his future wife, clerked at the store where Taggart sometimes stoled a kiss across the counter.
“Our first car was a second-hand Model T touring car, the next was a Maxwell used for a trip to Michigan to visit relatives,” he said.
Taggart’s work ethic began budding when two summers were spent delivering Western Union telegrams. “During high school I had a daily paper route delivering The Williamsport Sun paying two dollars a month. A 4:15 p.m. train brought the papers from Williamsport to the East Penn Street station,” he said. Other jobs entailed lawn mowing, washing bottles at Muncy Bottling and operating a freight elevator at Sprout Waldron. For twenty five cents an hour he drove Miss Amy Musser around in her Model T Ford.
“My first four years of school were spent in the building now known as Penn Hall,” he said. Taggart’s advanced education led to Muncy Normal which served the county. No elevators, gym, lockers or cafeteria were available in the three-story building.
Before graduating from Muncy High School in 1928, he’d been a regular in the band and orchestra, and while there, the first football and basketball teams were organized.
Work took him to the drafting department at Sprout Waldron for a monthly wage of eighteen dollars. Later Taggart was accepted in a two-year trade training course with Westinghouse at East Pittsburgh.
“It was during the depression, and I spent ‘off weeks’ at home. Charles Sprout had been working for PP&L in Muncy before getting a state job. His leaving created a vacancy for which I successfully applied. This was fortunate as thousands were out of work and on relief. Starting at eighty dollars a month, this employment would carry me for nearly 40 years with a five year break,” Taggart said.
Married Sept 26, 1931 to Ruth Keyser, the Taggarts moved the next year to Second Street in Hughesville, then to 95 S. Main where an adjacent building became a PP&L payment station.
As the couple’s children, Lynette, Dan, Nancy and David arrived, they moved again, this time to 47 S. Broad Street.
In 1950 they purchased the property at 137 South Main Street. Built in 1864, the house was converted into rental apartments with Grandpa Keyser doing much of the work. In 1970 new apartments were built on the rear of the lot and later sold to son, David and wife, Kathy. “We bought it on a shoe string and look forward to it being in the hands of a third generation of Taggarts,” he said.
Affiliated with Hughesville Baptist Church, Taggart chaired three construction projects. He’s been very involved with numerous community organizations.
He and his wife traveled to 18 countries before becoming a widower in May 2000. He currently resides in Loyalsock Township at ‘The Meadows’ where he shares his upbeat attitude and helpfulness, doing good everyday according to his motto.