Photo by Chris Hahn
The Palace Cafe in Frazee is a popular place to hang out in Frazee.

By Delta Daggett

Guest Columnist

Every town has a local café with a group that meet for breakfast or coffee, to help solve town and political problems or discuss what the coaches or referees did wrong. I see them often in my travels.  Here in Venice, and many other Florida towns, there are groups that meet and are called ROMEOS,  Retired Old Men Eating Out.  I have a handful of friends that meet at the local Elks Club each Wednesday at 5PM for a couple of drinks, solve many political or professional sports teams problems, then head for something to eat, harass the waitress and home by 7:30 or so. 

Frazee has always had these, who might be called characters.  I call them personalities.   

There has always been a group of older men who sit on the building curb of the Baer Building watching people and cars go buy.  We kids would sometimes sit on the steps of the Skyview, located in the Baer  Building, and visit with friends. 

Back in the teens of the last century, a local farmer who lived at the edge of town, bought his first car.  He drove it downtown and parked in front of the Hoffman Hardware store in the Baer Building. While he was in the store, a mischievous group of younger men sitting on the building curb, lifted the rear of the car and blocked up the rear axle. The farmer came out of the store, cranked the engine to a start, got in to start off but car did not move, just spun the wheels.  He left the car and walked over to the Ford dealer to get a mechanic to find out what was wrong.  While he was gone, the boys put the car down on the street again.   When the two men returned from the dealer, the car worked perfectly. I do not know why but they returned it to the dealership.  So the car was lifted up on the blocks again.    Same story once again, back to the dealer. When the owner returned from the dealership the second time, the car was up on blocks for the third time and would not move.   The man took out his crank from the front of the car and after beating on the hood began walking home. The group of young men caught him and apologized for their actions.  I doubt if they were forgiven. I never did see him smile.

Ruff King was the local drayage hauler.  He used horses in the summer but a truck in the winter hauling in Frazee what ever had to be moved.  Freight was moved by rail, so he would haul the freight from the rail to businesses or stores.   He had a barrel of vinegar to unload at a store next to the original liquor store  downtown.   Seeking help, he went in and asked a couple of men to help set the barrel down on the sidewalk which they did. Wanting to thank them, they all went into the store and all three had a beer on Ruff.    While the beers were being consumed, two other men slipped out the side door and lifted the barrel back onto the wagon. When Ruff came out, he saw the barrel still in the wagon, so he returned to get help and then treat them again.  Once again, two slipped out to load the barrel on the wagon again.  When Ruff returned and saw the barrel on the wagon, he climbed up, pushed the barrel off which broke open and drove away.  I do not know who paid for the lost vinegar. 

Elmer “Tuffy” Trieglaff was a very large man with a strong personality.  I am told that once he was asked by a lady that “it was none of her business”, but she wondered just how much he weighed? He responded with, “you GD right that it is none of your business!”  He drove school bus and his students had better have caps, mittens, boots and good coats on when they entered the bus or you might not ride. 

Tuffy also had a gravel truck and worked summers on road construction.  One time I was coming up the Valley City hill with a load of cattle. I gained on the truck and when I passed by, Tuffy and I waved at each other. 

In his later years, he would sit in his parked car on the corner in front of the Baer Building and watch the world go by. If you would stop and visit with him through his open window, Tuffy always would have an opinion or a kind word. 

Lincoln and Jo Graham were neighbors.  Good people and good family with four kids,  Marietta, Karen, Eddie and Louis.  (Marietta is the mother of Ted and Ben Anderson.)  Link had a Cat, road grader, drag line, dump truck and a swayed homemade trailer for moving his equipment. He also had a large car that was made into a wrecker, probably the size of a ¾ ton pickup now.  I think it was a Pierce Arrow or Franklin from the late 20’s / early 30’s.  I remember it had wood wheels. I would dream about driving it. 

Link was good size with a quiet personality and was a city councilman.  He never appeared to be in a hurry but just sort of ambled when he walked.  Nor was he ever in a hurry to send his bill or get paid.   George King and I were talking one day about how slow it was to get a bill from Link.  He dug a basement for a new house that George built and the next year he met Link on the street.  George asked Link, “When will I get a bill for your work last year?”,   Link replied, “I just figured it out and it’s $99”. One of Link’s prompt calculations.

Frazee Fire Dept. had a good and prompt fireman, Frank “Cub” Baer,  who when he arrived at a fire, thought it his job was immediately climb on the roof and chop a hole in it.   One time there was a fire in our neighborhood.  The 46 Ford was the first truck there and it had a water pump and hose on the front of the truck.  Link had ambled over from his house and Cub, who was a very slight man, grabbed the hose and ran towards the fire, hollering for Link to turn on the water.  I thought they had the wrong person on the hose, but you could not deter Cub. He kept hollering for more pressure and pretty soon, the hose had Cub a couple of feet in the air swaying back and forth with the hose.  Link turned the pressure down and Cub came back to earth. The small fire quickly died.

Frank Jr. and I were good friends all through school.  Nobody could print as neat or quick as he.  One of those friends that died way too early. 

My stories are observations and experiences from the past of mine, or have been told to me years ago by people who laughed or giggled so hard when they told them, I do believe they actually happened.   Sometimes even snoose ran down their chins. The names were given me with the stories, but sometimes I do not use them as their descendants still live in the area.