1955 Interview With Amandus D. Moyer

Saturday, January 18, 1997
1955 Interview With Amandus D. Moyer

"I’m the last of the all-around men," observed Amandus D. Moyer, Gilbertsville, as he sat at a table in the combination kitchen and office at his home. The tall, square-built lumber dealer shook his graying head and recalled the half-dozen other occupations he has followed in his 62 years." I’ve been a jack of all trades and don’t mind saying so," he said. "It’s a lot more satisfying than being a narrow specialist." Although Moyer has been in his present business 17 years, he enjoyed being a truck mechanic most.

" I started a shop on my father’s farm in Berks County before World War I," he recalled. "Used to build trucks as well as repair them." He brought out a picture of a 1910 model that was of his design." Bought a Jackson automobile," he explained, "lengthened the frame and put in an Autocar rear end – that’s how I built that one."

Moyer went into the hauling business during the First World War. One of his jobs was hauling barrel staves from this area into Philadelphia." Of course we had no improved roads then, and you either were driving in mud or dust," he remarked. He held up a photograph of himself and his wife, Alice in a pre-World War I open car.

" That’s a Dile roadster," he revealed. "It was made in Reading. Sold for about $500 and had a three-speed selective transmission. The tires are motorcycle tires – if you got more than 2000 miles out of the old-time tires you were a hero." The roadster was easier to handle in the mud than a truck. "If it got stuck I’d just lift up the back end and swing it around to more solid ground," Moyer explained.

When area farmers saw him coming in his horseless carriage, they would leap from their wagons and hold their horses until the car had passed, Moyer said. The car had a top speed of 45 miles an hour when the mud wasn’t too deep.

With his mechanical experience, Moyer went to work in the 1920’s for the Boyertown Casket company. He took care of the company’s 15 trucks for 17 years." I did some welding too," he said. "That’s another of my trades."

Moyer also counts the handling of explosives, painting, cementing, farming and blacksmithing among his skills.

" When I was a boy on the farm we had nothing but horses for power," he explained. "It was handy to know how to shoe them."

Moyer has his present lumber business in the rear of his home. He’s been burned out twice for a total loss of $14,000. The first time he wasn’t insured. During World War II, he worked for the Jacobs Aircraft Engine company for 19 months.

" But it was too specialized," he recalled. "It wasn’t the right place for an all-around man." Moyer has lived at his present home in Gilbertsville 32 years. He recalls that the winters were more severe in this area years ago.

"I remember years when the roads were blocked with snow from December until spring thawing," he said. "Ice on the ponds would get as thick as 18 inches." He recalled a string of icehouses along the Perkiomen creek. Ice was cut from the creek in blocks, stored and hauled out the next summer to be used in Philadelphia iceboxes.

Moyer and his wife have seven children, Grace, Boyertown; Pearl, wife of Warren Renninger, Congo; Francis, New Berlinville; Donald, Congo; Paul, Oley; Leroy, New Hanover; and Howard, Douglassville. Paul, Leroy and Howard all served in the US Army. Howard served both in Europe and the Pacific in World War II. Moyer was born in Pike Township, Berks County, and attended Brumbach’s "little red schoolhouse" at Oley. His wife is a native of Rockland, Berks county.

Moyer’s son, Francis, is associated with him in the lumber business.


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