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Bud and Evelyn Ott

Shelly Chevailer

Bud and Evelyn Ott's hearts and lives belong here. Their family is an institution of Emmitsburg reaching back generations, and reaching forward. Their nine children have had (to date) 16 children, and those children have had (to date) seven children, with another on the way.

The girls still call Bud 'Daddy', and sons and daughters alike all still seek his counsel on any decision to be made. His authority over the family when they were young was unchallenged by youth; his authority over the family now grown is elected by insight. Insight into how hard he worked, the values he instilled, the deep love that drives him. 

In the early years he lived during the week in Baltimore, where the work was that fed and sheltered and clothed them, all the while steadily increasing the customer base closer to home, which resulted in him finally established the business in Westminster and brought him home every night.

Home was important to him, and his wife Evelyn kept it as he wished it to be kept-supper on the table when he walked through the door, house clean, kids cleaner. Until the kids began to add up, she worked at the shoe factory, too. Then she stayed home, and added more children.

They met at a dance in Barlow. Something about her just struck him, shined out over the rest of the girls present that night. Dressed with care without glare, she was pretty; her smile was pure glamour. Her mystery wrapped its charm around his heart and has held him in its magic for more than 50 years now. World War 11 separated them for three of those years.

Stationed first at Ft. Meade in Maryland, training for Anti-Aircraft Artillery duty took Bud on to Ft. Eustace in Virginia, Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, and Camp Rooker in New York before he was assigned two years in Europe, in "Patton's army." "Shot 'em out of the sky,' he explains.

They trained together, lived, ate, and bunked together, fought together, and, to Bud and Evelyn Ott on their Wedding Day E this day, stay together. The bonds of friendship forged by these soldiers during World War 11 still have the strength of new. Lifetime highlights recall Army reunions and cross-country visits that celebrated their survival of unuttered war memories. "Guys call all the time now, still," he says.

Travel highlights extend vastly beyond the hearths and bosoms of old buddies, how- ever. Pick a state, any state. Unless you chose Minnesota or Alaska, you're a winner. Bud's and Evelyn's toes have touched the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific, and all the islands of the Caribbean. They've been to Mexico, England, Germany, Vienna, Holland. A detailed museum-size picture, Of Vatican Square commemorates their sit to Rome for the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

They once packed six kids in the car for a Florida vacation. Leaving a restaurant one night of their trip, another couple also on their way out marveled to them at how well behaved the children were. Watching the family load into a car with Maryland tags, the man slowly shook his head and extended his hand to Bud. "I want to shake your hand,' he said. "I've never shaken hands with a millionaire before." The family roared with laughter, knowing they were as far from being millionaires as they were from Emmitsburg.

Bud retired from the Nusbaum and Ott home improvement company after 35 years. The 4000-square-foot shop in Westminster is owned now by eldest son Buddy Ott who maintains the quality standards of business learned from his dad. All the kids had a turn working for Dad. Their vivid and colorful history is painted, literally, on and in homes throughout this town. Twin daughters Cathy and Christy can remember painting the gold-leaf Roman numerals on the clock face of St. Joe's church. Bobby Ott remembers, at the age of three, painting the inside of his father's truck-windows and all.

The importance of hard work was always stressed to the Ott children. And saving. "It's not how much you make a year, it's how much you save,"' intones Bob, sternly mimicking his father's famous words. Sisters Christy and Susie cock their heads for a moment at the memory. "He did always say that, didn't he?" Susie similes.

An avid fisherman, Mr. Ott has spent many pleasurable hours perusing this retirement hobby. Golf was another interest. "But he's still always busy, always got to have his hands in something," Mrs. Ott says. "Her, too," he tells. "Quilting, making afghans, Bingo, cards, reading, flowers . . ."

Busy is an apt description of the Ott’s. In 1970 they established a second family business, the Ott House Restaurant. Bobby and Susie Ott co-manage this well-known gathering place now. It's demanding work, but that's second nature to all of them. "You never wanted Dad to catch you standing still; you always wanted to be busy doing something, and there sure was always something to do," remember Dave and Pat. But, they report, he's mellowed a bit. Now when Dad comes in the restaurant, it's a time for talking and visiting together.

The family is rich with memories. Mr. Ott can hardly talk for i laughing as he tells the story of Christy and Cathy playing outside on a sled when they were little (or was it the wagon?) One gave the other a push that sent her sister head over sled down the hill in the yard. The scared and screeching victim demanded, "Why for you upset me?!" to which the culprit answered, "Why for you get on?"

Mrs. Ott tells of a young Buddy's wide-eyed wonder at hearing the sudden song of locust on a drive one day. That likely occurred one of the dreaded Sunday Drives the Kids remember so well. "Every Sunday," Susie tells, "we never knew where we, going. Dad just drove. But we learned a lot on those drives." Christy nods. "He would take us to airports, power plants, lakes, parks. We realize now we saw a lot of life that way," she says.

Dad always drove those Sundays, for two reasons. It was the old school way for the man to be at the wheel; and Mrs. Ott didn't drive at all. The kids recall teaching Mom to drive. It was Rosie, the youngest daughter, who was finally victorious in the effort. Rosie's technique was to run along side the car giving instruction and encouragement. "My mother always said she gave all her nerve and courage to us kids. Well, I felt like I gave her some back that day. Her license was waiting at Dad's place at the supper table when he came home that night."

Their mother's spunk is spoken of often. Never, they insist, never did she miss putting three meals a day on the table unless she was in the hospital.. Didn't matter whether she was sick or tired or busy with sewing, marathon canning, or laundry. Dinner was mandatory and it was an open table. There was always enough for anyone who came along. "She worked as hard as Daddy," remarks Richie.

A 52 Game Chest is a particular Christmas memory. Santa knew how to stretch a shiny penny, and the kids recall fondly the fun of playing the endless games provided in that one gift throughout Christmas Day. Their father's, "H-h-h howdy, folks! is another favorite memory. And eating toast and cocoa. And going to Mass. The aroma of paint.... The sound of their dad's whistling.... VFW Easter Egg Hunts.... "

They are two of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet," says Susie. "They've always been there for us, and always will be, and we know that. We're a tight family. I don't know what else to tell you about them. We love them."

Do you know of an individual who helped shape Emmitsburg?
If so, send their story to us at: history@emmitsburg.net

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