Biography of Cal Skinner, Sr. – Part 3 – First House, Elected President of the Easton, Maryland, Town Council

Previous parts of this biography can be found below on McHenry County Blog. I am running them again because my father would have been 105 on June 8th, if he hadn’t been a smoker. (His mother lived to be 96.)

The night I was born, June 11, 1942, my father and his Methodist minister friend Charles (Charlie) Jarvis, who baptized all three kids and, having moved to Illinois to the first pastor the Oak Park Methodist Church, officiated at Dad’s funeral, sat on the porch of the Easton Memorial Hospital drinking beer.

His wife Eleanor was inside doing the heavy work.

It was the night of the first blackout. (During World War II communities prepared for air attacks by using shades to block light coming from their homes.)

Since I was conceived before Pearl Harbor, my father was not drafted. He also was working in what was considered an essential industry, agriculture. Those two factors, rather than his misset broken arm probably keep him out of harm’s way.

A local owner of property, Mrs. Hubbard died and her homes went up for auction to settle her estate. Dad was bidding on her home, which was at 212 S. Aurora Street. As I remember the story, he had $2,000.

The bid went higher.

Mr. Frank Shook, his boss at Tri-State Packers, offered to loan him $500 and, with that money, he bid $2,500 and bought his first house. (It had weathered wooden shingles then. I remember tossing what Mrs. Hubbard had stored in the attic out the window, which seemed very high up to someone in grade school. I got a lot of great old stamps, because she saved every letter.)

Shortly thereafter Mr. Shook retired and Dad became the Tri-State Packers’ Executive Secretary.

That must have been about the time Dad was spending a lot of time on Capitol Hill. As one of the closer trade associations.

The National Canners Association often called on him to appear before congressional committees during World War II. Dad always got cannery operators to testify, knowing that congressmen would rather hear from someone in the trenches than a hired gun.

The high-powered attorney the national association retained gave him some advice I have repeated many times:

“Cal, there are two kinds of lawyers. Those who tell you why you can’t do what you want to do and those who tell you how to do what you want to do.”

Dad and I preferred the latter.

Besides working at the trade association, Dad managed a cannery at least one summer.

He also worked his father’s farm when his father became incapacitated. You see him behind the mule.

As an up-and-comer in Easton, Dad was elected president of the Easton Rotary Club, which met in the Tidewater Inn. From the award for club excellence I found, it appears that must have been in 1944-45. (Plaques just don’t take the place of those hand-lettered awards, do they? Click to enlarge.)

His friend Walter Barnes, who ran a men’s store across from the courthouse, was Mayor of Easton. When a vacancy occurred as head of the legislative branch, the town council, Dad ran unopposed and won. (I remember walking with my mother when she voted at the fire house on the side street near the Avalon Theatre.)

= = = = =
More tomorrow.


Biography of Cal Skinner, Sr. – Part 3 – First House, Elected President of the Easton, Maryland, Town Council — 5 Comments

  1. Cal:

    Your dad was a very good man, I considered him a mentor and a friend, we could use people like him today.


  2. Jack Schaffer?

    The Jack Schaffer of the royal pension couple? (The highest paid state pensioner-couple in Illinois history!)

    Jack you should have been a Congressman.

    Manzullo was a moldy peach cobbler. A used up peach cobbler swept into the trash by Kinzinger.

  3. Very interesting thank you for sharing and for all you do Cal.

    You have helped so many.

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