Currently two members are going through the archives and organizing all the material there. The big items are pretty well categorized, but the little stuff – such as articles about people and places – are taking more time. One item uncovered recently was about Fairview’s “one-armed paper hanger.” Yep! And we all thought it was a joke!
The article was written by Joseph H. Reed, son of Rev. C. E. Reed of the Presbyterian Church. Joseph wrote about a job he found for himself as a teen growing up. He began his article this way:
Death had been postponed for nearly 80 years when it took Fairview resident
Edgar Teel on a sultry summer night in 1935. The doctor said it was tuberculosis, probably,
because Ed had had a bad cough for years. Maybe it was just that he was old and worn out,
and tired of fighting the odds against him. Being a one-armed paperhanger and house
painter, as Ed was, is not an easy life.
When Ed was 11 years old he was struck by a train and easily could have died then. His right arm and shoulder were severed as well as some damage done to his left hand. But he survived, and thanks to his common-sense, loving parents he did alright. Oh, and thanks to his own courage, determination and stubbornness. He just wouldn’t give up.
Despite his handicap Ed became an excellent woodworker. He mostly used tools of his own making, too complicated for most, because these tools had to fit his disabilities. Any tools he bought always seemed to be made for a right-handed man, which was another daily struggle.
As Ed’s abilities grew he added house painting to his resume (imagine climbing a ladder while holding your paint, brush and lunch bucket all with one hand).
He carried his coffee in a jar with a clamp lid because, well, it takes two hands to undo a screw-top.
Occasionally he needed help and Ed Asmus, the blacksmith, was always ready to do what he could. One thing he made for Ed Teel was a two-wheeled cart that held all the equipment he needed for a job.
Another job Ed tackled was hanging wallpaper. That’s when Joseph met Ed, for Ed admitted that he needed a bit of help, especially when hanging paper on the ceiling. Now, think about that, a one-armed man hanging paper on the ceiling. How busy can you get?
One of the houses he papered was the Presbyterian manse. Mrs. Reed commented on one strip Ed and Joseph applied, saying it was upside down. Ed insisted it wasn’t and there it remained, upside down for a good many years.
The hardest job Joseph could remember assisting with was papering the Mills family home. The ceilings were high and the stairways required 30-foot strips.
Joseph remembered Ed kindly. He also recalled that Ed was married to a fine woman named Maude for more than 50 years and they made their life together a loving one. She even urged him on when he decided to defy that old joke about the one-armed paper hanger. (Condensed from an article in the Erie Sunday Times, June 8, 1986.)