"Joy Unrestrained" - A New Home on the Heights
100 years ago, my grandfather wasn't just the happiest man in Cleveland. To hear him tell it, he was the happiest man on earth. Winning a new house the same week he becomes a father for the first time can do that for a man.
That's him in the front yard, pointing to the new bungalow he had just won as first prize in a local newspaper contest. He was grateful for his good fortune, but then again, they say luck is where preparedness and opportunity meet.
In June of 1912, Albert D. ("Bert") Wismar was a married 29-year old, and the proud father of a newborn baby girl. He worked as an accountant at the Struthers Furnace company in their downtown Cleveland offices. By all accounts, Wismar was a hard worker, and he and his wife Sadie tried to save all they could, with an eye toward eventually buying a home of their own.
Wismar had moved to Cleveland from the family farm near Bowling Green, Ohio. The small town of Custar was the location his grandfather had chosen to buy land when he came to America from Germany in 1866. Bert's dad Fred was a teenager when the family arrived from the old country to farm in Ohio, and Bert was the fifth of Fred's ten children.
Uphill Both Ways
Bert was the only one of Fred Wismar's kids to pursue higher education, and to do it he had to regularly bicycle the 80 miles from Custar to Tri-State University in Angola, Indiana for his teacher training. After working as a teacher in Wood County for a couple years, Bert came to the big city around the turn of the century, and took up accounting, eventually working his way into a lead accounting position with the furnace company.
The family shared a double house on Preston Rd. in East Cleveland, but the baby meant they needed more room, and the couple talked often of their dream house, maybe even one "on the Heights". In what spare time he did have, Wismar was an avid participant in contests of all sorts. He and an uncle in Detroit engaged in a friendly competition, taking each other on in ventures like the "booklovers' contest" sponsored that year by The Cleveland News.
Headline p.8 : NEW BABY WILL LIVE IN $6,000 BUNGALOW
Albert D. Wismar 90 Bender Ave., East Cleveland - Winner
A cooing babe and The News' $6,000 home, all in the course of a week, make the family of Albert D. Wismar, 90 Bender Ave., East Cleveland, winner of the first prize in the booklovers' contest, the happiest in the whole world.
Last Friday, almost on their fourth wedding anniversary, the couple were blessed with a healthy baby girl. As the young husband was about to start Wednesday for St. Anne's hospital to see the mother and babe he was notified that he had won the house and lot. Joy unrestrained fairly shone in the eyes and the whole being of the happy man.
"Oh, I -- I don't know what to say," said Wismar. He looked as if he had just awakened and found that a wonderful dream had come true. "I believe I am the happiest man on earth. I thought I was that last Friday when the baby came. Oh, how my wife and I have longed for a home all our own. Now we have it. But it doesn't seem as if it could be true."
Home Finds Deserving Owner
Had The News scoured the entire city for a deserving family, it could not have done better. Wismar, 29 1/2 years of age, is head accountant for the Struthers Furnace Company, Citizens building. Born in a small town in Wood county, he had not the advantage of a good schooling, but by hard energetic work made a school teacher of himself. After three years of teaching he came to Cleveland and took up accounting eight years ago. Four years later he married Sadie Watt, daughter of ex-Police Lieutenant William Watt of Cleveland. Since the wedding it has been steady conscientious work with Wismar. Every cent that could be spared was laid away. Their dream was a little home of their own. Many nights they sat and talked about it as something far off. Within a year or so they hoped to start payment on a lot somewhere on the Heights. Then came the booklovers' contest.
Work, Not Luck, Won
"I was lucky," said Wismar, simply.
It was not luck - far from it, his friends say. It was good, honest hard work, which he left only while sleeping. Wismar's training in accounting stood him in good stead, making him precise and neat. He looked at every picture from every angle and point of view. He sat up until late at night, then cut out the hard ones and stuck them up in his den, where he could always see them. During the day he carried them with him. He wrote the answers in shorthand and showed them to no one. He was doing it for his wife and the babe-to-be and he put his whole soul into it.
"Mrs. Wismar and I hoped we might win something- say the tenth or eleventh prize: possibly a lot or a Hupmobile," he said. "But when we found ourselves dreaming about the house a lot, we stopped quickly. We knew--or thought we knew--that that could never be but a dream. One day when we dreamed more than usual, we walked up through the Heights and looked at the house. I noticed a tennis court up the street a ways, and thought how nice it would be to live there."
Is a Double Victory
In winning this contest, Wismar gained a double victory. For several years he had pitted his wits in all sorts of games and contests against those of Albert A. Schueren, an uncle living at 750 Joseph Campus avenue, Detroit, Mich. Both entered this contest. Schuren missed 11 pictures, Wismar only two.
Now Wismar says he would not change places with any man on earth. "What haven't I now?," he said. "A happy wife, a child, a home all my own to live in and a chance to work for all. What else could a healthy man want? And the home came just at the right time. We are living downstairs in a double house and have only five rooms. The baby makes at least one more room necessary. Now we have all the room we want..
And the baby. Yes, the baby has been named Mary Elizabeth, and she is going to sleep with her father and mother in the new home the first night.