CLAYPOOL — Not many are still living who can remember — firsthand — what is was like to live during the Great Depression. But there is Don Shively, a longtime Claypool resident.
Born March 6, 1922, in Burket, he will turn 94 in less than a month. And still with a sharp mind and able to remember dates and facts.
When Shively, son of Ernest and Hazel Shively, was in fifth grade, the family moved to a farm about 4 miles west of Claypool. “We then kind of jumped around,” Don said. “It was tough to find work during the Depression. I don’t know how my mother fed us all. There were six kids,” noting they lived out of a garden.
Shively later graduated from Claypool High School in 1940. The school no longer exists and was absorbed into the Warsaw school system through consolidation.
After high school, he went to work for Power King in Warsaw, a maker of band saws and lathes near East Center Street. “I ran a lathe, milling machines and a drill press,” Shively said about his stint at Power King.
He was employed there about a year and a half and then was drafted into the U.S. Army Nov. 11, 1942, ironically Veterans Day. America was immersed in World War II. Shively was assigned to the Pacific Theater with the 81st Infantry Division in field artillery. “I surveyed the gun positions so the guns could fire on the Japanese troops,” he said.
Part of the occupation forces after the war, he did not return home until February 1946. At that time, he began working for the Standard Oil bulk plant in Claypool, located by the railroad tracks. He delivered gasoline, heater oil and motor oil in the surrounding area until the plant closed in August 1975.
Later he delivered school buses throughout the entire state of Indiana for about 20 years for Kerlin’s Bus Sales in Silver Lake. In between, he worked at other jobs, mostly part-time.
He has many fond memories of Claypool’s past, recalling it was a more active town then. “It was quite a lively little town at one time,” he recalled, especially Saturday evenings when free movies were shown. “You almost could not find room to walk around anywhere,” he added.
Don was married to Frances Neff Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day), 1944, in California. Don was on furlough from the Army at the time. He recalled Frances had to take a very long train ride to get to California from Indiana. And he made it back to the Army base with only a couple of hours left on his furlough.
The Shivelys had three sons: Dave, John and Tom. Frances passed away in 2015. Don still lives in the house they moved into in December 2000 on the west edge of Claypool. Previously they had lived in a home just across the road for nearly 50 years.
Don is an avid Chicago Cubs baseball fan. “I saw them play (in person) many times through the years,” he said, and still watches the Cubs on television. He also enjoys Warsaw Community High School basketball games.
Don and Frances became members of Claypool United Methodist Church in the 1940s prior to the current church being built. Don still attends church there.