As I get older, I often reflect on the people I have had the pleasure of meeting or knowing. Of course, there are always those moments when you meet someone that almost everyone would know, e.g., the President of the United States, or perhaps, even a celebrity. I remember my brush with fame as my family was boarding an airplane when I was 9 years old and immediately recognizing a big man in a front seat as Johnny Cash. I still have my boarding pass with his signature from that flight.
But there are often people in life that are not world famous or even necessarily ‘county-famous’ that you remember as being somebody who was special or impacted your life sometimes because of what they did, but often because of how they conducted themselves.
Herman’s parents were born in Prussia, an old empire which joined with other Germanic states in 1871 and created the country of Germany. Whether they disagreed with politics in the new country, sought out an opportunity for financial success, or just wanted a chance to live in freedom in the United States, as many immigrants did, August and Christina’s respective families immigrated in to America in 1887. Two years later, the couple married and settled in Monroe Township of Miami County, became citizens of the country and were able to purchase their own property. One of their 11 children was Herman “Tiny” Drewing, who was born in 1898 in Tipp City.
At some point, Tiny and my grandfather became fast friends. I remember on numerous occasions our families getting together. I don’t know what it was about Tiny, but I always admired him. Perhaps, it was his size (not small) and rugged looks that reminded me of my Uncle Thorbjorn Helsett, a large Norwegian man who was a hunting and park guide in British Columbia, Canada, or perhaps it was his firm, but gentle instruction he gave when trying to accomplish something. One knew he meant business, but he was not mean in trying to accomplish it.
Anyway, as I was growing up, Tiny became “Uncle Tiny.” It was not because of a marriage or anything. He and his dear wife “Aunt Emma” were close family friends and it seemed to be more suitable than “Mr. Drewing.”
In the 1940’s, Uncle Tiny was a deputy sheriff in Miami County. This was during the tenure of Sheriff Cecil Marshall. Later, he also served for some time as a Tipp City councilman and was a board member of the Maple Hill Cemetery Association for 50 years. I didn’t know any of this when I was growing up. Herman “Tiny” Drewing was just a large, strong man who consulted with my grandfather about various subjects on numerous occasions and spent a fair amount of time at the house visiting.
He would bring his cattle up to graze on the 4 acres my grandparents had before taking the small herd to market. My grandfather would often get a side of beef out of the deal.
One of my fondest memories was “the gathering.” Uncle Tiny owned a little over 150 acres off Ross Road in Bethel Township, complete with a barn and all the hay and straw bales a kid could play on. Once a year, probably late summer, Tiny and Emma would have their daughter Sally and her family, and other friends and family to the property for a corn roast. It was like a private county fair to us kids. Pony rides, playing in the hayloft, Frisbee and plenty of food like cheeseburgers (Tiny’s beef no doubt), salads, desserts and, of course, roasted corn. The corn was roasted right over an open fire with the husk still intact. Once you had your food, you would carefully peel back the husk, apply butter and, perhaps, a little salt and pepper, and then enjoy.
The setting was in a grove of trees, so it was never too hot, and it there was a passing of the occasional light shower, it hardly reached us because of the canopy of leaves.
Uncle Tiny was a good family friend, a hard worker, a family man, a businessman who cared about his community, and a gentleman. I always remember him treating people with respect.
I don’t know if Herman “Tiny” Drewing ever made any decisions on the Tipp City Council which impacted the community’s future, or did anything that changed the course of Tipp’s history. But I do know I am better for having known this man.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org