Though not a Warren native, Lilly Nutter (born in 1912) is nothing more than a small town-esque woman at heart. Throughout the interview, she continued to mention over and over how Warren citizens have the biggest hearts that she has ever known. Growing up the first five years of her life in the Chicago area, Nutter reminisced on simple pastimes that she and her siblings took part in around the neighborhood during the early 1900s.
“When my mother grew lettuce in her garden, my older sister and I would run down whenever it bloomed and picked off a leaf--one for each of us. Then, we would take some sugar, roll it up in the leaf, and suck on it. It was the sweetest thing; still to this day I love to eat lettuce with sugar.”
Since candy was a treat that children did not often receive in the household, Nutter prided herself in the simple delicacies she and her siblings would find around the house. One of her favorite memories was of when the Iceman would come to her home.
“My mother would take a small measurement out to him in his van. He would draw out the
allotment, take his chisel, and start hacking. Soon enough, the Iceman carried the carefully cut
ice into the house and placed it on top of the icebox. We kids used to love following him around, because if a sliver or two fell off, we would snatch it up and stick it in our mouths. It was the best treat!”
Ice being delivered daily was an example of how people survived without electricity. Nutter
disclosed how she could remember a man coming around the neighborhood at dusk to light the
street lamps with a match every night. Cars had not yet been invented, and the firefighters rode
around town with horses, dragging their life-saving carts behind them.
When Nutter attended school, she distinctly remembered the conditions that children learned
in were very different than today.
“The school was an old, one roomed house made of brick. There was no kindergarten;
children would attend school from first grade to eighth grade, learning all in one room. Since I
could learn fast, I went in as a first grader, but skipped up to third grade almost instantly. This
meant I graduated elementary school early and was enrolled in high school when I was twelve.
I was the only freshman who was that young.”
Even though Nutter dropped out of high school when she was sixteen because of family
reasons, she was still able to get a job as a corporate secretary. She did not travel to Warren
until she was married to her second husband, and bragged briefly about her time living with the locals.
“The land my husband owned was by the river. It was the first land that was commissioned in
the state of Indiana, and had been passed down by his family for generations. Every year in the
spring, the river would flood and cause trouble for us at the house, but there were always local
townspeople who came to help us in our time of need.”
Nutter continuously repeated, “Never have I experienced such kindness anywhere else.” It
seems that the impression of the town stays true to it’s motto: Small Town, Big Heart.
(Photo from https://www.chipublib.org/blogs/post/technology-that-changed-chicago-ice-continued.)