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Biography of James Henry Stahlman December 16, 1931 Ė January 21, 1972
James Henry Stahlman was born December 16, 1931, the fifth of twelve children of Paul Herbert and Marie Stahlman.
As a young lad, "Jim" attended the one room "Moser" schoolhouse in Perry Township. This was a one-way walk of about a mile and a half from his parentís house in the hollow. His brothers Lee, Bill and Terry and sister Oma Joy also attended the same school and enjoyed many walks back and forth to the school with Jim.
As a child he enjoyed playing baseball with his brothers and friends. Jim, as did all of his siblings, had chores to do for his parents such as milking and feeding the cows and working the fields. Once, while digging potatoes, Jim "spiked" himself in the side of his foot with the pitchfork. Jim and his brothers were also known to enjoy jumping out the back door of the barn into the field.
Jim was fond of eating his steak "rare" and used to cook them in the furnace, using a wire holder he made. He taught Darl this technique while he was living with his wifeís parents on their farm in Bell Township, and while he doesnít use a furnace, Darl, like Jim, acquired the taste for "rare" steaks.
Jim entered junior high school in the ninth grade in 1945, attending Punxsutawney Area Jr. High at the old Jefferson Street building. He graduated from that high school in 1949. Jim earned good grades through his years in school and was particularly proud of his work in drafting class, saving his drafting assignments and report cards.
Jimís yearbooks from his time in school are filled with complementary notes from his friends and teachers. Steve was pleased to find a note that Steveís father-in-law, Richard Butler, wrote in young Jimís yearbook in 1946 when Jim was a freshman. Richard wrote, "Best wishes to a little pest in Room E Ė Dick".
In high school Jim studied "Industrial Arts" and was a member of the Red Cross, Intramural and A.A. clubs. Jimís senior yearbook quote, quite appropriately, is "Bolder in deeds than words."
While in high school, he purchased his first car; a 1937 "Willys".
After graduation he worked for S & S Tire, then the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, starting out for them as a telegraph operator.
Jim dated only a few different girls before meeting his future wife Margaret. Jim once doubled dated with her, her sister Mary and his brother John.
Continuing in the tradition of his older brothers, Jim joined the service of his country by signing up with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Battery B, 229th Field Artillery Battalion, in February 1949. He did this while still a senior in school. Jim was also followed into service by all of his younger brothers.
Jims National Guard battalion was activated in 1950 at the start of the Korean Conflict. After receiving basic Army training at Camp Atterbury, in Indiana, then further training at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Jim was deployed with his unit to Germany, going overseas in November 1951.
While there he was involved with artillery training and also with reforestation work. On leave, he visited Paris and other European landmarks, taking many photos of his adventures. Jim returned to the United States in July 1952 as a sergeant first class.
Some of Jimís service buddies from that time were Carl Smith and Jack Mancuso.
Jim's brother Bill remembers, while he was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base he was polishing his shoes one Saturday morning while all alone in the barracks. He heard someone come in and he looked up, there was Jim!!!
Jim had driven all night from his base in Indiana to Ohio to visit with Bill. All Bill could think to say was "What are you doing here????" Ė quite the surprise visit!!
Jim wrote regularly to his family about his life in the service. One of his early letters, dated September 17, 1950 reads:
Dear Mother and All:
After discharge from active army service, Jim stayed in the National Guard until the mid sixties. While in the National Guard he rose to the rank of captain and was assigned the command of the unit in Punxsutawney.
While captain and commanding officer of the Punxsutawney National Guard Unit, Jim had the honor of commanding three of his younger brothers serving in the same unit under him; sergeants Darl and Terry Stahlman and PFC first class Thomas Stahlman.
He also played shortstop with his comrades in the guard for their softball team. Like his brothers he was quite a good fielder and batter.
He left the service of the National Guard just short of full retirement after much consideration about what hardships his wife and family would face if he were to be called to active duty in a foreign land.
Favorite cars and pastimes
Jim had a fondness for big classy cars; one special favorite was 1951 Mercury. He also liked to "collect" big í53 Ė 58 Buicks and through the years had quite a few of them. His brother Jerryís wife Nancy tells the tale of the time she helped Jim put a new convertible top on a black í55 Super Special.
Jim also acquired a "full dress" Indian motorcycle and rode it for a number of years. He had a small terrier that occasionally rode along on the gas tank with him. He sold it after he laid it down on the rough trail to his in-laws house in Bell Township, up the hill and in the woods behind the Weaver homestead. Jim also enjoyed working his father-in-laws farm for a number of years. And, once he moved to Fairview to his own house, he enjoyed remodeling and adding on to his own house.
Steve remembers the time he and his brother Michael were "caught" stuffing army worms down the fuel tank neck of Jims 1957 turquoise Crown Imperial and really got the only "tanning" that he can remember (except for the time he shorted out a new car battery that Jim had laying aroundÖjust too tempting for a young boy who shared his fathers interest in cars).
Jim was also a dreamer with ambition and personality who wanted to start his own enterprises. He once tried the travel trailer business with a friend, Jack Delmer of Saint Maryís, Pa, and even converted his own back yard in Fairview into a travel trailer sales lot. He also started a small stock purchase club with some friends from town. Neither venture was successful at the time, but he would keep on trying to make a better life for his family.
In addition to softball, Jim loved deer hunting. He bagged a nice six point in 1965, hunting that year with an index finger bandaged up like a banana due to an injury he did to it while mixing cement for his house (he was forcing the drum around and ran his fingers into the drive gears!!! Jim was proud of his hunting success that year, what with his injured finger and all. His youngest brother Tom took the time to mount Jimís hunting trophy for him that year.
He was also a member of the local Moose, Elks and VFW posts at various times.
Jim and his wife Margaret were good friends with quite a number of people. In particular, they enjoyed the company of Matt and Lou Blouse, Art and "Pete" (Margaret) Kunsleman, and Jack and Betty Delmer. They often spent vacations and evenings in the company of these and other friends. Jim was particularly fond of trailer camping with the family and the Delmers at Parker Dam above Dubois on what weekends his work schedule would allow.
In the mid 60ís Jim also became interested in becoming a light plane pilot and followed up on that by taking flying classes and lessons. Jimís cousin, Herman Huber, who worked in Erie, Pa, with Jimís brother-in-law, George Smilo, at Bucyrus-Erie, also gave Jim some flying lessons. (Huber achieved some fame as the inventor of the "Huber" reversible fan for diesel engines). Jim was well on his way to being certified to be a light plane pilot and enjoyed flying over the county where he had an opportunity to view the scenery below.
Marriage and Family
Jim married Margaret Bernadette Lenoe on November 26, 1953. Margaret had moved to Punxsutawney from New York City in the early 50ís with her mother, Anna Mandato, her stepfather Gaetano "Tom" Mandato, sister Mary and brother Ed Lenoe.
Jimís brother, Bill, was his best man and Margaretís sister, Mary Lenoe, was the maid of honor at Jim and Margaretís wedding.
About the same time of his marriage, Jim converted to the Roman Catholic faith. Although his work schedule in later years was such that he could only occasionally attend services at the same time as his family, he made sure that his children were raised according to the tenets of that faith.
After their wedding, Jim and Margaret rented a small house up on Indiana Hill outside of Punxsutawney (where the Country Villa now stands) from a friend he worked with at the B & O Railroad.
Around 1956, Jim, Margaret, and children moved in with Margaretís parents at the Mandato farm in Bell Township and lived there until around 1957 when Jim then bought his own house in Fairview, on route 36 just out of Punxsutawney. Jim also moved his mother and father-in-law to his house in Fairview with him due to their age and the isolation of their farm.
In winter and spring it was almost impossible to get in and out of that Mandato farm in Bell Township. Steve remembers the time Jim got his pickup truck stuck in the drifts trying to get up to the house there. The truck was buried till after spring thaw. (That was when the winters were much worse then what we see now!!!).
Jimís children are Steve (b 1955), Michael (b 1956), Anne Marie (b 1957) and Francine Marie (b 1965). His grandchildren (who he never lived to see) now number 16 in total.
Jim enjoyed taking summer vacations every year with his wife and children, often going to visit with his wifeís brother and sister at the same time he toured the sights with his brood. Memorable trips for his children are the vacation to the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York City, an extended drive and stay into the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, several adventurous trips to Niagara Falls, and journeys to Massachusetts to visit with the Jerry Stahlman and Ed Lenoe clans.
After high school Jim worked for a while for S&S Tire in Punxsutawney. After leaving active military service, he was employed by the B&O Railroad in Punxsutawney as a dispatcher, eventually rising to the position of "chief dispatcher". He spent his remaining years working there, mostly on what was called "swing shift", one week working from 7 to 3, the next week from 3 to 11, the third week 11 to 7. The 4th week would start the cycle all over again. Jim was more fortunate then his older brother Bill, who also worked for the B&O RR, in the respect that he only occasionally had to report to work out of town in places like Mount Jewett. In those days there were no computers and Jim did all his dispatching of trains with morse code and ticker tape.
In the mid 60ís, Jim also drove school bus for the Punxsutawney Bus Company and had runs that took him to Vo-Tech and out route 36. Several of Steveís classmates rode the bus with Jim as driver and have told him that Jim was great with the kids and handling the bus runs.
Occasionally, Jim would also be called upon by the bus company to take overnight runs out of town to Ohio and other destinations, driving the Amish to see relatives and so forth.
At one time Jim tried to get a job with Johnny Cash driving his tour bus, but with no luck. He especially liked Cashís music, as well as that of Hank Williams and other country artists of the time and had an extensive record collection of country music. He, wife and children enjoyed seeing Mr. Cash perform several times in concert. In his early years Jim regularly purchased country western sheet music and later tried to teach himself to play the guitar. He and Margaret tried to instill the love of music in their children by giving each of them their try with professional music lessons.
In midsummer, 1971, Jim discovered an index finger sized lump that had developed almost overnight below his neck and left of his right shoulder. This lump was tested and found to be lymphatic cancer. Jim immediately was put on a course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. However, the cancer, which had originated in his pancreas, was too resistant, and continued to spread aggressively throughout his body.
Between the effects of the treatments and the spreading cancer, Jimís once vigorous and healthy condition deteriorated rapidly until he was a shell of his former self. Being in much pain and severely weakened, Jim died on January 21, 1972 at the Punxsutawney Hospital, surrounded in his last days and moments by his brothers, sisters and brother-in-law.
Jim was laid to eternal rest in the Catholic Cemetery in Punxsutawney, honored by a military funeral and mourned by all his family, relatives and his many friends. His body lies there in peace, next to his wife Margaret, who died in 1982, with his motherĖin-law, Anna, and father-in-law, Gaetano Mandato.
It has been just over thirty years since Jimís death, but he is still remembered, thought of regularly, and missed by his children, brothers and sisters.
This page's last was 10/24/08