David Kuhl and Abigail (Abby) Wheeler

Recorded May 25, 2008 Archived May 25, 2008 00:00 minutes
Audio not available

Interview ID: MBX003906


David Kuhl and Abby Wheeler talk about their family get-togethers and how everyone seems to truly enjoy themselves.

Subject Log / Time Code

There is a long-standing tradition that Santa Claus makes an appearance on Christmas Eve.
Everyone in the family has to “perform” to receive a gift from Santa.
In the past, family members have stood on their head, song Christmas carols, memorized poems, and much more.
David’s grandfather had a nervous breakdown during the Great Depression. He remained institutionalized for the rest of his life.
One infamous family story is when Dick shot Mary in the head with David’s BB gun. David’s dad clamped the BB gun shut afterwards.


  • David Kuhl
  • Abigail (Abby) Wheeler

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


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00:04 All right. My name is Abby wheeler. I'm 25 years old today is May 25th 2008 and we're at the Cincinnati Museum Center, and I'm here with my uncle.

00:21 My name is David cool and it's spelled k u h l and I'm Abby's Uncle I am 60 years old.

00:30 And that's my part of this sheet.

00:40 Well, if we're talking about family then Christmas and Christmas Eve are the is the biggest thing that I that for me that I think about and when I was growing up it was always at my grandma Christmas Eve when we all got together was at my grandma's house your mom's house and was it was it always at your mom's house. Most of my recollection of it was at my grandmother's house which was down and stay on the road and there was a fairly small house in my grandmother lived there with my Aunt Aunt Ruth.

01:24 And it was there from the very beginning that I can remember.

01:31 And they moved there in their mid-50s.

01:36 And it was a small Cape Cod house with an upstairs which gave us kids a lot of freedom because we were unsupervised upstairs.

01:46 Did they did your grandpa and your aunt Ruth's husband live there?

01:54 Aunt Ruth was divorced and she had two children and they sort occupied the upstairs and Ruth State downstairs in the my grandmother. My grandfather was in an institution.

02:14 From the Great Depression

02:20 Was the Santa always there the way that he is now our family is the only one I've ever heard of it has this sort of tradition of a santa always being there and probably not just the Santa be in there about you have to do some sort of a trick or some sort of Showmanship thing to get your gift.

02:55 Is there anything is there anything that stands out in your memory of crazier funny? You're just a memorable things that people did for Santa.

03:09 Well, there was a lot of standing on your head doing cartwheels in the nicer things playing instruments and others always been a lot of carols. Jingle Bells is a favorite.

03:29 I kind of your questions and this is going to go into the next one. But the uncle Mel did his that was probably the most memorable he acted like a rock star singing Mia Carol and he was shaking in his hair was flopping all around and if the time he was probably closed 80 some years old so she can get a picture of this sort of a small man bouncing around singing a Carol in the style of the rock star. That was probably the funniest for me to imagine because Uncle Mel I seemed very grumpy even made it even more out of character.

04:14 So you can eat there was always as far back as you can. Remember there was seen today New York City was have the same stack of presents and always everybody got a present. There was always everyone got something.

04:42 Did you think that it was really Santa questioning it is so kids do and

05:00 We noticed that we start looking at their shoes. And then later when Santa have gone away we look for those shoes on somebody in the group and then we figured out who it was who was it actually married into the family her husband was our oldest cousin relative.

05:40 And isn't promised.

05:42 And now her son Jonathan has been doing it for a long time. And now there's talk of the Next Generation taking over because they're talking about it being Dane. I'll be a good one to be a nice Jolly Santa to how old do you think you were when you started looking at the shoes?

06:19 Boy, that's a tough one. Probably six or seven spoil it for the younger kids.

06:26 No, I don't think so. I don't think so.

06:29 I'm not sure if other ones didn't end in there probably were a group of this that ranged in age over probably three maybe three years that were in that same. Yeah, we were talking about it.

06:48 Probably was already in Ronnie and dick, but I'm not sure was there any transition between

06:57 It going from your grandma's house to your mom's house. No. Well, yes, there was.

07:07 I believe that it went one or two years at Aunt Eleanor's house, which was fairly close actually between our two houses.

07:20 But I don't think it went anywhere else and then I went to my mom's house and it was there for a very long time maybe 25-30 years.

07:29 Is there anything have there been any big changes in the way that you remember Christmas Eve tradition stands on our way, but the only thing that I remember is being a big change was for a long time that aunts and uncles did not participate in receiving a gift in doing something for the exchange gifts among themselves, but they didn't.

08:02 And so there was a sort of a coup of sorts and my cousin said why don't you do it, too?

08:10 Put in that sort of what ended up and Uncle Mel doing the Rockstar things at 60 years old. There was no longer the kids.

08:34 Where is there was a dinner to at one time? There was a dinner where everybody brought a big sit down at a sit-down dinner basically and they stopped in because it got to be too much.

08:49 Snacks just snacks now.

08:52 Uncle dick I know there's a lot of paddle ball and Clark always plays instruments

09:03 I don't know. Is there any well that in the Raiders tell off jokes?

09:09 It was there anybody remember any other people that always said the same thing?

09:14 I always did the same thing.

09:19 Ronnie used to always stand on his head.

09:25 But now I don't.

09:28 No, I remember some of the things that I did I memorize the Night Before Christmas one time. I did play the trumpet. I also did yoyo tricks?

09:43 There were a couple other things to memorized and

09:52 Some people ask people to someone to marry them. Do you know I was thinking I'd be the most that might be the highlight, but I don't

10:02 Well, and thank actually did that was some people made an announcement. Yeah at that time.

10:12 Well, we always the 4th of when we spend a lot of holidays together 4th of July and Easter.

10:19 And Thanksgiving.

10:22 Any what else used to be the we've got together before you or involves the whole family would get together once a month every month and they would celebrate all the cousins birthday.

10:36 He's everywhere that month. We didn't get together twice in December. It was his Christmas and we didn't get together twice in November. It was just Thanksgiving, but we did get together every month.

10:51 Who how did the fireworks the love of fireworks?

11:01 Well, I think we were just pyromaniacs we of course when we were younger and couldn't afford a lot of them wait in every single one was coveted in every small little cracker. We would never think of setting off a thousand at a time because we take one and build a model airplane around it and then light the wick and toss it up in the air and watch it explode.

11:28 So we were very very thought of very creative ways of blowing things up. Where where

11:45 Before that I always remember Fourth of July being at my grandma's house to was that.

11:51 Yeah, I think so. I think it's always it was always there. I do. Remember it being one side and Amanda's.

12:05 I don't I don't I can't think of too many others. They try to switch places and at Christmas time. They would go to everybody's house.

12:14 Over the. Between Christmas and New Year's we would visit all the aunts and uncles houses.

12:24 I think I heard your mom talking about cakes birthday cakes cakes and some of the ones that I remember where the baseball field which isn't mean it's just a matter of buying a bunch of little baseball figurines and setting them up on the on a flat cake, but then she also made a castle on headlights and people of armor on them and there was a it was a real tall cake probably made the way you would make a wedding cake or something, but it looks like a castle and she also made a train and she and it had four cars or had an engine in a caboose and two other cars.

13:13 And there probably were some others, but I know those are the ones that I remember the most right now. She did make a lot of different things. She was always and she made animals and she'd make

13:28 To make rabbits and deers things like that too. And I think she has some tricks that she knew I somehow she probably cut pieces and did she work?

13:50 No her husband on go hard, but I was the only one at work and he worked at the same same place in a printing company for.

13:59 60 years. I worked with him there for a couple of Summers during my early years.

14:06 In college, I guess no it was probably I was doing my school.

14:14 Aunt Dorothy did all kinds of ceramic things together several of the ants your grandmother my mom and I

14:32 And Amanda

14:34 And I think Aunt Eleanor and Aunt Dorothy out all went to Ceramics and maybe even a truth.

14:40 Uncle Eric would be the only one I've had family who didn't I did he do instead when the girls I went to make working on it was always on the road like his son art building bowling alleys and he traveled almost every week during the week.

15:06 Were there any other I mean and she and receipt but she the only one that's stuck with it cuz I know sheet there's stuff all over the place with my brother your Uncle Tom also went in for a long time because he made a bunch of things.

15:26 I don't think Aunt Amanda stuck with it for a pretty long time to tell you when exactly they stopped.

15:34 I don't know.

15:41 Moving along. Yes.

15:45 I never met my your grandpa your maternal grandparents.

15:53 What do you remember how would you describe them?

15:57 I didn't know my grandfather very well. Like I said, he was in an institution. I had had a nervous breakdown when he during the Great Depression and his brother basically took over his business from him and that left my grandmother pretty much to fend for herself. She had had six children and she was living in her.

16:29 Her brother-in-law's apartment.

16:34 And he evicted her.

16:39 When Grandma was some

16:43 Pregnant with my mom is your grandmother and they went to court and somebody somebody else paid for the attorney. I forget who my mom said to.

17:00 Judge told her just to stay there.

17:05 Couldn't get ready. He's not going to affect you.

17:10 Since you didn't stay

17:13 Somaya grandma

17:16 Grub was racist by her mother.

17:20 Yes.

17:21 Yes, she was the youngest so really all the older there is a lot about it almost 15 years span of children. So even though mom was younger she had much older brother, sisters or brother was the closest to her.

17:42 Was there a lot of resentment towards your great-uncle?

17:50 Yeah, I think so. I think that I think there was hard feelings. Yeah.

17:56 I'm not hard who didn't talk about it and they made the most of things.

18:04 And I

18:06 Adapted very well know why people helped.

18:09 Did anyone ever visit? I mean did your grandma ever visit her husband or did she can come back?

18:20 You know, they didn't make a big deal out of it. And so I never really

18:26 Thought to ask him a lot of questions or talk to him that much we when we played we were kids we played it's kind of a shame that I didn't spend more time talking to him or acting interested grandma got all of us were such wonderful kids. She thought we could none of us could do anything wrong at all and I

18:52 I should probably spoil this to some degree, but she was always upbeat always friendly always. Oh, you're such a wonderful kids and

19:03 Is that

19:05 Is that one thing you remember specifically about your grandmother? What kind I think he's either stealing or hudepohl both Cincinnati beers. Of course, it would not be anything. But since 9.

19:30 Is there do you think that do you think that there's anything in particular special that you learned from her?

19:38 Bank of America near me

19:43 That's probably the ground.

19:47 Uncle are used to tell us that all the time I spent a lot of time with Uncle are close to his kids and and you know that I was close to the same age is dick was as close to the same age as Ron and so we did a lot of stuff together. We always did and Mom and Dad were probably more so because they are close to the same age. And I remember when I was born they well, I don't remember that part cuz I know that when I was born they lived in the same two family house each of them had an apartment and I'm over on elberon Avenue.

20:32 And I just barely remember that I was three of them removed.

20:39 My earliest recollection of that. I'm not a very interesting, but I do remember being in the in the back of it and playing with a car.

20:50 Honey on wall

20:53 Every car I had had two wheels had the move was nothing.

20:58 Do you know if you look across the family DC any personality traits or characteristics that you feel are similar that runs through they maybe came from your grandmother or grandfather?

21:16 I don't know. That's a good question and I can't give you I can't it's odd because other people see those traits that I don't.

21:27 I remember going on a ski trip one time and met these two people and we were talking and somehow I mentioned that somehow came up about arctic man, and they said you look just like him here just like you knew act the same as he does. I don't see that at all. But now I don't know. No, I don't say there's a it's a pretty diverse group you when we have all different types in our family a lot of people. I think it's pretty common.

22:07 And the family for people to work with their to last things with their hands.

22:15 And I also think everyone is pretty there's not a whole lot of real loud outspoken people. I don't think I think everyone kind of tends to be more more introverted.

22:26 I'd like our family get-togethers and I hear of other families that fight and have lots of people end up on the street and stuff like that and we never ever have things like that we never did.

22:38 I think

22:40 That our get-togethers are fairly intellectual compared to others and I think that I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

22:51 City show

22:55 You ever hear stories about that to your friends ever tell you that?

23:00 How they don't want to do it and how their people always get out of hand and don't talk to each other and

23:08 Yeah, and I never could relate to the I was liked it.

23:16 Oh, forget it.

23:21 Well, I can't remember I can remember there were some disagreements. I won't say there weren't disagreements in there.

23:28 I want to talk about this one, but there was one about over $200 or something like that that they wanted some of the ants wanted to give to my grandmother because she was she needed it for house and some other is where no we don't want who can can't do that can't do that one of the money back and

23:56 Well, this is kind of what I was thinking and maybe wouldn't ask but maybe I'll just say it and you'll have to say anything if you feel like you don't want to but there are people like their family members too kind of who I never knew.

24:13 And I don't know they just kind of disappeared or stop showing up or lost touch or whatever. Do you need?

24:21 Are you talking about already better. You need to give me some example cuz I'm not sure which one you're talking about. Yeah, there are a few.

24:31 I think

24:35 I think the one that is kind of bothered me the most for a long time was Donald damn.

24:43 Cuz he and I were pretty close and I enjoyed his company a lot and

24:48 And then he just seemed to move to Florida and disappear.

24:52 This is brother-in-law.

24:57 I don't think that was kind of odd.

25:02 I guess I just don't know how to deal with that one.

25:07 And hearing that he just died and not even knowing about it. It's even more surprising to me.

25:16 Do you think it was some kind of rebellion or did he just want to leave her?

25:24 I think it was his wife. I think she did not like

25:30 Damn hard, I think the family and the traditions and all those were things were things that she didn't maybe not just don't feel comfortable with

25:41 And I think that's true of a lot of people that come into our family and back to the Christmas traditions. And I think it's difficult for a lot of people to get out there and do that. I think that's kind of dumb and you were cutting out snowflakes the other the last couple years and

26:12 Why do people do I think it's kind of fun? But enjoy and are very intimidated by getting up in front of that group. You've been doing it all your life. So it's no big deal to you, but I guess

26:29 You know, it's been it's not so easy for some people who marry into that and we force them to do it when you were growing up. How did you how did you all the cousins look at your aunts and uncles were they always there all the time and they were like parents or were they did I mean, I mean, they always seem like aunts and uncles

26:57 Like Uncle Charlie your uncle. I was probably a little bit more like a father to his uncle art was very opinionated and he's let his opinions known. I mean, he was a big fella and he tall and wide and he was just a big guy.

27:25 We have a strong voice and go to when you too and he would start going on about something you just sort of sat there and listened every time a reason to argue didn't even want to try to contradict him or questioned him and he was very family-oriented. He'll always taught us that the family was the main thing. I was nothing stronger than your own family your bonds with other people. They said yes, he'll probably get married and girl, you know, that that'll be a strong bond to but no matter what happens. You always have your family.

28:03 And that'll always be your most important relationship. That's what he dies.

28:11 I need your medicine into our heads. He bought that farm because during the fifties there was a cold war going on and they were concerned about atomic bombs and things like that. And he always told us the family is supposed to meet at the farm which was way out in Indiana while you know, where it is, and there's nothing around it. So he figured that would be a safe place to go and there was water and we could get food there and

28:42 I think I think the his grandsons. I think they carry that onto what I remember about Uncle art. Is it he was giving out gumdrops?

29:00 He was quite a character. I remember all kind of stories.

29:12 Probably had a few too many drinks for a New Year's Eve Gathering that we had over. It was just my brother and I and his kids and his mother and father-in-law been sitting around.

29:29 Drinking what they'd call Cocktails or something else Akon to highballs. That's what they were in my balls and we were setting off firecrackers and we're just throwing them out in the front yard, and then he came out with a shotgun and it was right in front of the house and just buy a cough up in the air and the cops gaming.

29:57 It's pretty funny very memorable time.

30:03 Or the embarrassed

30:06 Yeah, he's in there Place didn't really do anything to him. But he was in the city. I mean

30:14 You said that Uncle and Aunt Thelma and your mom and dad were close what how many there were your

30:22 Your grandma had 6 kids.

30:26 Yeah, there were four sisters that Uncle art then your grandmother and aunt Dorothy and Amanda.

30:49 10 * that is what Aunt Amanda is going to be this year turning 100 29th of June 28th.

31:04 My aunt

31:08 Fright Night

31:24 It's been good.

31:28 I'm not trying to be uncomfortable, but I had a brother who my brother Tom and then Abby's mother Marty.

31:46 Alright, here's between us.

31:50 And

31:54 My brother dick and I

31:56 Pound around someone with the neighborhood kids and we did a lot of stuff together until I got into high school and then I start having outside friends and didn't do that much with him after that and then Tom who really was sick almost all his wife didn't do as much with us and he didn't drag him along because it was hard for him to walk in and then of course, my sister was eight years younger than me, and that was a pretty big age difference 10, and she was too so I wasn't really thinking of the stuff I was doing at 10. She couldn't do it when she was 2

32:42 I have a funny story about your mom. I don't know if you've heard this before maybe you have but when she was about 3, we drove to Virginia Beach. We went on a vacation every year dad always said we'd have to go on a vacation somewhere. Anyway, we went to Virginia Beach and through the Blue Ridge Mountains, is about 3 +.

33:09 She the whole time kept saying it's this is way too slow. This is taking way too long. Why don't you let me have a car I'll just walk ahead and then I'll wait for you and or she say okay. Okay, I won't walk ahead. I'll walk slow.

33:30 So you guys can keep up cuz she thought this was taking way too long and she could walk faster than the car.

33:39 Is granite we were going through mountains and I'm sure it wasn't real fast driving all the time. But we finally got there and dad let her out and we were at the beach and it was a Sandy street that went back to the apartment where we're going to stay and

33:57 When you get out of the car and started walking she got a little bit of the car and I like that kind of stuff, you know, then dad started moving and the car went right by her and her eyes got so big and she was what she couldn't believe I was actually going faster than she could walk. It was pretty funny.

34:22 I wonder if she remembers that.

34:26 I don't know. She was right. She's heard the story. I know that we stayed with my dad's and

34:43 Username, I'm forgetting I'm drawing a blank on that one. But anyway, we also went to Michigan and Big Bear Lake. That's where Rodger and I lost Uncle Arts outboard motor.

34:55 That's another story and we went to we went up to Mackinac Island that trip. We went to dad used to go to Lake Simcoe Canada all the time every summer with his aunt and

35:11 We went up there when you hear we went up to Wisconsin River one year and stayed in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. We went to the Chicago. We went another trip to Michigan and went to

35:25 Ludington and sand dunes and

35:35 You've seen him before it does exist.

35:42 I have heard something from stories like about her uncle dick shot Mary and head with BB gun. We are saying we don't have fights in my brother's shooting. His cousin was feeding. It just felt I think he just wanted to shoot something and he it was very intentional. He lay down on she was in the it was a clear shot between the living room in the one-bedroom and he laid down in the bedroom in a prone position with the gun held up. Like all you saw was, you know, the army guys do the Army the men that we played with and stuff and blow up.

36:25 And she was laying on the floor in the living room and he just laid down took careful aim and got her right in the head. She was so surprised though. I don't think it hurt her at all. What he was my dad was very much concerned about safety every kind of safety and immediately the gun was ruined and he smashed the end of it so it could never fire another bullet in my dad. I mean, I'm sure my brother will I don't remember his exact punishment, but he still remembered he was punished. Yeah.

37:12 I was at the most angry you ever saw your dad.

37:16 Probably I probably ever did. He was probably only about seven or eight years old. It was my BB gun, and he had taken of him.

37:37 Batman then he shot him shot her.

37:41 And there was one time I think Ron told Clark the story when Clark was visiting around in California about how you were walking across the bridge and had bus. I don't know where you're going but I wasn't it wasn't me. It was already in Ronnie. They were on our way at our house and they were given bus fare to go from the east or the west side of town to the east side of town and they took their bus money. They hitchhiked instead and took their bus money to a place called Hertz confectionery was a front for a firecracker place in the back over in Northern, Kentucky. And so they got over to this place in Northern Kentucky. They spent their all their money on firecrackers, then they were going back and they got robbed of their firecrackers and then they had no way to get to so they had to hitchhike and I think somehow my mom found out or they made it.

38:41 Has to call or sometimes they called my mom and she came down and it was a big deal and you're so they were probably begging to not be told on.

39:02 Is there anything?

39:05 Kind of a just as a family evolves. Is there anything that you would wish for everyone?

39:20 I think God.

39:23 I think that I would like for the family tradition to keep going on. I guess I'm a big advocate for the family news of the family and being able to get together with family. I think it's very important.

39:39 Anything you want to ask me?

39:44 Didn't think so much of a risk interview question. I guess I'd like to know what you're going to do if you're going to be going back to

39:57 I don't know.

40:02 Probably

40:05 I like it there.

40:07 I don't blame you.

40:14 No, I guess just some of the things that I remember about you and playing volleyball with you and teaching your volleyball back when your mom to organize that together to your school and I bet that was fun. And I remember taking you skiing one time and we made a big mistake that we made a big mistake. We should have told you what was going to happen. And we did that differently with your sister and brother and they loved it. So I really felt bad that I got you off on the wrong start. You can picture this happening today as if it happened yesterday you got on those skis and no sooner that you get on the skis and you move forward a little you step forward and right in front of you was like a little indentation in the ground and those skis took off down that little indentation and the skis went forward and you didn't and you landed right on your behind.

41:14 You started crying and that was it.

41:17 And have no recollection of it.

41:23 I saw it when we took.

41:25 Emily and Clark I told him over and over you're going to fall you're going to fall you're going to fall just get up get going again, but you're going to fall you're going to fall. We didn't tell you anything that you got out there and I was just totally you had no idea what to expect. I feel sorry.

41:51 So

41:53 Yeah, I guess I'm telling you more than I'm asking you.

42:01 I don't know. I don't have too much sure. I have other stories anywhere else besides that you all went together, Uncle Charlie had a farm 2 to the east of Cincinnati and we went there once but we can't go there often.

42:21 Mainly just the houses.

42:27 What?

42:29 I know your dad did a lot of Handy. What do you remember?

42:34 About

42:36 What kind of things did your dad like doing like making?

42:41 He really like to do with work. I mean it was mainly woodwork you didn't get into metals or anything else, but he was real creative with his thought things through and did a good job of coming up with you need stuff the phase and tables and

43:00 Shelves and things like that all that stuff for church, right? Yeah. He made the potatoes that are like Moon shaped Half Men.

43:24 Say anything to each other I very much enjoyed it.

43:36 Hey, it's always are very often have told you before that. I like talking to you and I might still take her and I always do and always will.

43:47 You were when you were younger you were very very shy but you have turned into a wonderful person and

43:58 Like you a lot.