Devitt~Landers Memories

Landers family

Nancy Landers and 5 of her children were tragically killed in an early morning house fire on September 26, 1969.  There are many newspaper articles about the fire and events that happened in the days after.  I find them difficult to read.  While the circumstances of their deaths are historical facts, I am choosing to leave the articles in archives for the next generations to discover.  I have included one article, for it tells of the blessings of having the Landers as neighbors.   Fire Victims’ Neighbor Holds Sad Memories

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"My grandmother came from a big family in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They owned a dairy farm that was sold for development in (I think) the 1940s. She always wore those cotton dresses with canvas shoes and white anklets. She rolled her own cigarettes with a little machine in the evening, while she drank a glass of beer. And she worked at a grocery store, owned by her brother, John, where people would call in their orders. Another brother, Willard, drove a station-wagon/van, that he used to deliver the groceries to customers.
 Harry grew up in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He was a pretty good baseball pitcher, when he was a young man, playing in the industrial leagues that were popular in those days of the 1920s and early 1930s. In his playing days, he was known as "Beano". He was a real outdoorsman, who loved to hunt and fish. My favorite childhood memories include time spent with him at his fishing cottage on Matson Lake, about an hour northwest of Grand Rapids. There was a hand-pump in the kitchen for water, a pot-bellied stove for chilly mornings and a big floor-model radio, and we'd listen to Detroit Tigers games in the evening.
 They both died of heart attacks in their 50s, within a year of each other. It seemed to me at the time that they'd lived long, full, lives."

~ Harry Landers
"When I was in junior high and high school, my mother had a job working at a record distribution business, called Record Wagon. A great benefit was that she was always bringing home 45-rpm records for me. One week, it'd be The Yardbirds' "Over, Under, Sideways, Down" and the next, it'd be some guy talking about all of the eerie similarities between the assassinations of John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy and Kennedy's secretary was named Lincoln. You get the picture.) Anyway, thanks to Nancy Landers, I had a pretty good collection of records.
 I got a job at Ricky's Dog House, when I was 15. It was a short walk from my house and I went in after work and cooked french fries and hot dogs. Their specialty was the foot-long dog. One winter's day, I went into the cooler, pulled out a case of foot-longs, and took them out the back door and buried them in a snow bank. After work, when it was dark, I dug them out and carried them home. I was pretty pleased with myself when I presented them to my mother. "Where did you get these?" "I took them from work." "You mean, you stole them?"
 I didn't really think of it as "stealing". I knew you wouldn't do it in front of your boss, but my sense was that people were "kind of" allowed to take some amount of stuff from their jobs. It was sort of a fringe benefit. So, I said: "But, you take records from your work all the time." Any growing anger from my mother was immediately replaced with the very worse kind of disappointment. "You think I steal those records? I pay for them. I've been buying them for you." Oh.
 I was instructed to bring the hot dogs back. Which I did. But, I buried them in the snow bank again and snuck them in the back door, the same way I took them out. Stealing from work is wrong."

~ Harry Landers 8-4-2016


John Elisha Apsey Sr Lineage