Fond memories of the Lutz family

By on July 20, 2016
This photo of Benjamin Lutz was taken in 1942 in his Lititz butcher shop. In the Lutz Family Quintet photo, he’s the gentleman in the back. (Photo by Marjory Collins)

This photo of Benjamin Lutz was taken in 1942 in his Lititz
butcher shop. In the Lutz Family Quintet photo, he’s the gentleman in the back. (Photo by Marjory Collins)

 

Patricia Walter of Lebanon recently got in touch with the Record Express to submit the obituary of her sister, the late Nancy Jane Weber. In reading Nancy’s biography, it was discovered that both Nancy and Patricia are the granddaughters of Benjamin S. Lutz, a former co-owner of Lutz Central Market and butcher shop in Lititz. The Lutz clan was also famous for its musical endeavors, and as the owners of a public swimming pool.

In addition to cutting meat, Benjamin Lutz was a musician and composer of hymns and patriotic songs. When he was a little boy, he was a member of the Lutz Quintet, and as an adult, owned and operated the Lutz Pool near the corner of Front and Locust Streets.

The story of how the Lutz Quintet got started is this:

“All the children in the family, then, got one of the childhood diseases. Mumps, measles, I can’t remember which one, but they were quarantined for a month, as was standard procedure then,” Pat Walter said. “Grandpa went out and bought instruments for all of them, brought them home and taught them how to play. That kept them occupied for the month.”

 

The Lutz Family Quintet of Lititz made quite a musical name for itself in 1913. Pat Walter offered this description of this family photograph: “It’s also hanging in my hallway here in my home. The man is Benjamin Franklin (BF) Lutz, my grandfather. With one exception, they are his children: (left to right) Benjamin Vermont, my uncle, solo cornet, age 9; Ruth, the eldest of the family and only girl, who died at age 17 in the flu epidemic of 1917, first cornet, age 11; a cousin of the children and nephew of BF, Winfield Lutz Wilson, second cornet age 10; and John Henry, my father, baritone age 10.” (Photo from the Robert "Sketch" Mearig collection)

The Lutz Family Quintet of Lititz made quite a musical name for itself in 1913. Pat Walter offered this description of this family photograph: “It’s also hanging in my hallway here in my home. The man is Benjamin Franklin (BF) Lutz, my grandfather. With one exception, they are his children: (left to right) Benjamin Vermont, my uncle, solo cornet, age 9; Ruth, the eldest of the family and only girl, who died at age 17 in the flu epidemic of 1917, first cornet, age 11; a cousin of the children and nephew of BF, Winfield Lutz Wilson, second cornet age 10; and John Henry, my father, baritone age 10.” (Photo from the Robert “Sketch” Mearig collection)

 

Walter recalls these memories of her grandfather’s butcher shop:

“I worked in the store on Saturday mornings, sometimes Friday nights, from about eighth grade through high school,” she says. “I made the whopping salary of 40 cents an hour! I waited on customers, sliced lunch meat, made hamburger, and learned to cut pork chops, although I wasn’t very good at it. Most of my childhood, the family did their own butchering in their shop on Cedar Street which was on the edge of the creek flowing through there and across from the factory. At age six, I begged to come to the shop when they butchered. They killed a calf that day. I ran home crying, and never went back.

“There was a “hide” room in a barn in the back of the land where hides were stored in salt until the “hide man” came to pick them up,” said Walter. “There was also a corral in the back for animals held for a short time before butchering. Probably sometime in the late 40s, there was an article in the Lititz Record about a steer that got loose and jumped a then existing hedge behind McElroy’s Drug Store. I remember getting teased about that a school!”

Apparently, B.F. Lutz was infamous for being a slow driver.

“Others will attest, that he was the slowest driver around. His high speed was 25, even to Lancaster,” said Walter. “ When I was a freshman in high school, my best friend told me she was late for school that morning, because her father got behind Benny Lutz and couldn’t pass him! When I was old enough to drive, I drove Grandpa’s car with him as a passenger. His comment was ‘Take ‘er up to 40 and see how she goes!’ And, that’s an actual quote, too!”

 

The spring-fed pool, owned and operated by Ben Lutz near Front and Locusts streets, was a hot spot for local kids for many years. Woodstream, formerly known as the Animal Trap Factory, can be seen in the background of this photograph. (Photo by Ron Reedy)

The spring-fed pool, owned and operated by Ben Lutz near Front and Locusts streets, was a hot spot for local kids for many years. Woodstream, formerly known as the Animal Trap Factory, can be seen in the background of this photograph. (Photo supplied by Ron Reedy)

 

Patricia recalled this memory from her childhood at her grandfather’s pool:

“I was about four years old and there was some sort of celebration at the pool. There were games and there was a group of men, as I remember it, playing brass instruments for the celebration. It could have been the Moravian Trombone Choir because my father was playing in the group,” Patrician recalls. “The children in the pool were instructed to form a circle and move around that circle much like a cake walk. Prizes were to be awarded. The musicians would play, stopping abruptly and the person at a chosen spot would win whatever the prize was.

“When the water got too deep for me to walk in, I just kept holding hands of those beside me, and kicked my feet. I hadn’t learned how to swim at that point. You guessed it. The music stopped when I was in an area that was too deep for me to stand. Those beside me left go of my hands in the excitement. No one seemed to know that I was in distress, including my father who was concentrating on the outcome.

After a few times of bobbing up and calling for help, a young woman dove into the water from the side of the pool, and pulled me out. I guess I sputtered some, but I was back into the water later on. I knew at one point who the woman was, but I don’t remember now, 76 years later. I’m not sure how many people knew what had just happened. My father learned about it after I was pulled out of the water. It’s still a very vivid memory!”

According to Patricia, the pool closed in the mid-1940s.

“The pool was still going in 1940-45, and I could walk there from 128 Front Street a few blocks to the pool,” she says. “I remember it well. It was soon after that that it closed. I remember my parents saying that Grandpa didn’t make any money because if kids came that didn’t have any money to get in, he’d let them swim anyhow.”

Although the pool is long closed, music is still a longstanding tradition with the newest generations of the Lutz family.

“In my family alone, my eldest daughter is an elementary general music teacher in the Northern Lebanon School District. She followed the same “track” as I did. Both of us graduated from Lebanon Valley College, me in 1957 and she in 1985,” said Walter. “I taught most of my teaching career in the Lebanon School District. My son is a professional jazz vocalist that writes music, teaches and freelances out of New York City, working a good bit in Europe.

“Two other daughters didn’t make music a career, but both wanted colleges that had music departments and they were members of the concert choirs in their respective colleges. Those two are involved with church music in their areas — mostly singing with Praise Groups. My two oldest grandsons sing, play guitar and piano and would like to break into the ‘gig’ scene. They are both located in different cities in Florida. In another group of grandchildren, there are piano and guitar players, a cello player who sings, plays piano and writes her own music. And, the third family, with younger grandchildren have two beginning piano players with the third begging to begin — he’s six.

“You can see, my grandfather Benny really started something. My grandchildren are fifth generation musicians of varying degrees.”

Compiled by Melissa Hunnefield from information provided by Patricia Walter

One Comment

  1. Robert P. Lutz, Jr.

    July 21, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Ha! BF was definitely a slow driver as noted above…I vividly recall as a small child of less than 10 or so, grandfather driving me around Lititz at a snail’s pace, just him and me, to see the sights as well as numerous properties and vacant lots that he owned around town. I learned from grandfather at at early age that a few bucks could be readily made by investing in real estate… Thanks gramps! You remain my inspiration to this day. -Robert P. Lutz, Jr., grandson, Hayward, CA

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