WILLIAM CARL HOSFELD - A HISTORY by Casper H. Hossfield
(NOTE: My father Casper wrote this in November 2002. He died just days after finishing it, on Nov. 26, 2002.)
Papa [William Carl Hossfield] was born in 1894 into the Zellner family. His mother died in childbirth so he was adopted into the Hosfeld family to be raised by a foster mother who had just lost a child in childbirth. Both families were German Lutheran families that belonged to St. Paul’s Lutheran church in Paterson, NJ. The adoption was done legally with adoption papers which Papa always kept. He was given the name William Carl Hosfeld and always called Will by the family and always also by Mama. His new mother, Anna, whose maiden name was Hoerber, later had two sons, Elmer and George.
All three sons were always treated the same. All three attended St Paul’s Lutheran School and all learned to read write and speak German as an important part of their education. All three boys were given music lessons. Elmer and George took piano lessons and Papa violin. All three graduated from St. Paul’s but George went on to a school where he learned typing. He was an excellent typist and entered speed typing contests where he was often a winner. As time went on he eventually won the international speed championship and held it off and on for many years. This got him a very good job with the Underwood company where he traveled around the country giving exhibitions at schools where the goal was to sell the school Underwoods. Elmer also went probably to the same school and later got a job with Banker’s Trust Company. He eventually worked himself up to be a vice president.
As far as I know my father went no farther than the Lutheran school. All he ever told me was he learned to be a boxer and fought in the Golden Gloves contests. He claimed to have fought and won 18 professional ring bouts. At this point he got his upper front teeth knocked out and his father made him quit boxing. Sometimes I sort of wondered about these boxing stories but one day he found an old ticket to one of his matches and it said right on it, Bill Hossfeld vs somebody or other. Also one day he sneezed and his upper partial plate came out so I no longer doubted the boxing stories.
All three Hosfeld boys married and had children. George had a son, George, and a daughter, Bernice.Elmer had a son, John, always called Jack, and named after his grandfather, John Casper Hossfeld, and a daughter, Catherine. These kids all grew up in Paterson and went to the Lutheran school.In 1931 when we moved to Paterson my uncles wanted to send me and my sisters to the Lutheran school and were willing to pay the tuition but Papa would not hear of it. He said all you learn there is religion. We went to School #8 and from there to Central High School. My cousins went to college and got good jobs. Uncle Elmer offered to send me to college too but I was not a good student and took seven years to get through high school so I didn’t think it made much sense for me to try to go to college.
Papa did keep in touch to some extent with the Zellners. Occasionally we visited his sister, Lena, who lived in Preakness NJ. Her husband was a guy named Russ Colombo who owned a riding academy in Preakness. They had a daughter Violette who was a bit older than me. There were other cousins by birth in the Paterson area that I ran into but I have forgotten their names. My cousin Jack married an Australian girl named Sylvia and they had children one of which was a boy named Robin. They also had a daughter named Brook who was very beautiful and won the title of Miss Massachusetts if I’m not mistaken. Cousin George had a son named George. Cousin Bernice married a guy named Vogt who had a locksmith shop in Paterson. They lived in Saddle River, NJ but after a divorce she moved to Charlestown, RI taking their son, Peter, with her. Cousin Catherine never married and lived all her life in the house on the corner of 17th Ave. and 31st Street where she was born.
Early memories of Hollywood: I was born in Rockville MD on 14 May 1918 as WWI was about to end. I was born on a farm that was known as the Ray Place. Papa had rented the farm and farmed it as a way of staying out of the war. Farmers were exempt from the draft. Even so, in the end they drafted farmers and papa had to go. He got as far as Fort Dix when I was born and that deferred him again until the war was over. He returned to the farm where Mama had stayed and farmed it for a while but when I was about three we moved to a house in Hollywood, MD that he bought from Mama’s brother, Uncle Julius, who lived there while he worked his way through what is now the University of Maryland. It was an agricultural school then and Uncle Julius worked in the chicken houses and earned a degree in electrical engineering. Upon graduating he got a job in the Alcoa aluminum plant in Niagra Falls, NY which used the old original hydro turbines on which they had replaced the AC generators with DC generators. They used the DC current in an electrolytic process to reduce aluminum ore to pure aluminum. My earliest memories are of moving to this house in Hollywood where Papa was a very good father to me. When I was little he took me with him to places like the gas station to get gas for his model T Car and truck and to the grocery store for food. When he came home from work he usually had to go to the spring to get two pails of water because our well went dry in the summer. He took me with him and showed me the trees and flowers and told me their names. He showed me crawfish and frogs in the spring. He showed me the north star and the big and little dippers. On hot summer nights after work he sometimes took me to the local swimming hole, The Forks, and taught me to swim. Those days he worked as a carpenter for a guy named Thompson. Sometimes mama packed lunches for me and he took me to work with him for the whole day and I played at the building site while he worked. Papa liked to go fishing with his buddy, Ivy Taylor, and often took me along. We would get up before dawn and drive to places on Chesapeake Bay like Solomon’s Island and Polks Creek where they rented a rowboat. He taught me how to clean fish and that if we took their life we should eat them. Later after we moved to Paterson he sometimes took me along deep sea fishing on the party boats out of Hoboken. I can’t imagine having a nicer father and I always loved him dearly.