Known as “Hutch”, Reece Hutchings and his wife Polly, are longtime residents in Waynedale.
Hutch started out in the archery business in 1946 on Old Trail Road with Bob Capin. The partnership dissolved and Hutch became sole owner. Polly did the bookkeeping and minded the store. Their two daughters, Roberta and Pamela, were often in the store with their parents. Many times they would hide in the showcases and sleep. The business moved to Lower Huntington Road and then in 1981 to Bluffton Road where it remained until Hutch retired in 1999 (now H & H Shoe Repair).
While selling archery equipment he taught classes on that skill for many years. “I can’t go anywhere without someone knowing me. Many remember me not only from my business which was the largest in Fort Wayne at the time, but because I taught them.” Along with the classes, he formed a Junior Archery Club in Waynedale for youth ages 8 and up. The kids were charged a dollar a week but that money was put into a kitty. It paid all expenses for a summer camping trip to Grayling, Michigan. He has gone to bow hunts for 35 years. Polly always sends plenty of chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce along with them.
Hutch began a shoe repair shop and gradually stopped selling archery supplies. The business was named “Hutch’s Shoe Repair.” The atmosphere in the store was like an old-fashioned country store with people sitting around a pot-bellied stove. Hutch taught himself the art of making shoes. Hilliard Gates, a long-time sports broadcaster, was a regular customer and declared, “No one could make a pair that fit so well and were so comfortable.” Even after Hutch retired, Hilliard still went to him for shoes. Hutch made belts and purses. They also sold Indiana and Michigan fishing licenses and bait.
Hutch and Polly celebrated 57 years of marriage on July 9th of this year. He grew up in Sparta, TN. Polly grew up in Bristol, TN and knew Tennessee Ernie’s folks well. His sister is the one who introduced them to each other by having Polly write to him while he was in service. Less than a year later they were married in Florida.
Hutch was sent to the Panama Canal in 1941. This area had to be protected from Japan who wanted to gain access to our eastern shore. That was where he began shooting with bows and arrows.
During his term of service he was sent to Japan, then on to Weisban, Germany as part of the Occupation Air Lift. They lived on the base and Polly worked in the supply office. In 1951 he worked at Baer Field, then was sent to Sioux City, IA. Because of the Berlin Crisis in 1958, he went to France. On arrival back in Fort Wayne, a band was at the airport playing “Back Home Again in Indiana.” “Nothing else could have made us more welcome,” stated Hutch. He was glad to be away from France. “It was dirty there. 90% of the people lived in barns with the farm animals.” It was not sanitary and just the opposite of conditions in Japan.
Even though he is retired, he keeps busy. He showed me some of the leather work he is doing. He refinishes furniture, especially antiques. He was making stools from seven tall tomato cans that he binds together and then upholsters (oh yes, he does that too). These are to be gifts to his four grandchildren. They also have four great grandchildren.
He cooks, cleans, cans and freezes fruits and vegetables, bakes bread and goodies (I had a sample of the brownies) and makes jelly (47 jars this year). He takes wonderful care of Polly who is not in the best of health right now. The neighbor next door told me, “They are genuine Christian people and they’ve been such good friends and neighbors to me.”