He descends from a family who came to America from the Palatine section in Southern Germany.
He remembers his family spoke German and Pennsylvania Dutch when he was a young man and he can speak the language.
Although one of his grandmothers was born in America, she spoke High German, which is different from Pennsylvania Dutch. Stoner thinks she picked up the High German because she was a maid for a wealthy family. She had six sons, who married women who spoke Pennsylvania Dutch, which she thought was below her level.
All through his childhood, Stoner was around people who spoke German or Dutch. When he attended church, ministers spoke in German. His family listened to a radio that was broadcast in German.
"I thought everyone talked that way until I went into the Army," he said. He thought that two soldiers from Alabama were speaking a foreign language. When he asked what country they were from, he was surprised because of their southern accent.
Stoner has always liked to read, but did not start writing until recent years. Because of his love for reading, he took his young daughters to the library regularly.
"I encouraged my daughters to read and both became teachers," he said.
He began writing his memoirs three years ago. "Growing up in the Depression" is the topic of a book about Stoner's life growing up in river towns. As a young man, he lived in Lemoyne, Pa., near the Susquehanna River, and later lived in Alabama near a smaller river.
He also lived where three railroads crossed - Reading, Cumberland Valley and Pennsylvania.
Growing up during the Great Depression, Stoner said his family survived with a garden and his father ran a soft drink business where he and the children worked. The drinks were bottled under the Stoner name, then later sold to the 7-Up franchise. Information about his work in the soft drink business and as he grew up and later in life will be included in the book.
The speaker talked about a document called "taufshein." It is a document that is given to a German child at birth and is similar to a birth certificate. The taufshein, which records the birth and marriage of a child is given to every German descendant, he said.
He told an amusing story about an uncle that ran a print shop and decided his wife had to be from Germany. He actually found two wives in Germany. After the first one died, he went back to find another one. Each was named Marie. The uncle always dressed in German attire including a vest, and hat, Stoner said.
One of his grandfathers, Adam Hyler was in the Pennsylvania Cavalry during the Civil War. A story passed down in the family retells that Hyler was working on a roof of a barn, when he decided to join the cavalry Aug. 1, 1861. He served his time, then re-enlisted.
Stoner recently found the barn on a farm which Hyler owned, and showed a photo of the barn and family dwelling.|5/18/05|***