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‘I was serving my third generation of guests’

Fred Compton of Lebanon is an author, historian, speaker and teacher. CONTRIBUTED
Fred Compton of Lebanon is an author, historian, speaker and teacher. CONTRIBUTED

Former Golden Lamb employee collects history.

Lifelong Warren County resident Fred Compton has been sharing and collecting local history since he was a teenager. His life experiences include working at the iconic Golden Lamb for 35 years.

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As a well-respected author, speaker, teacher and Realtor, he also reflects upon his knowledge at Warren County Historical Society’s Lunch & Learn programs on a regular basis. Since 2001, he has served a Realtor/sales associate at Henkle Schueler Realtors.

Compton went to work at the Golden Lamb in 1966 and worked there throughout high school and college. After graduating from Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Fred returned to the Golden Lamb for a summer job, and he ended up working there for another 28 years, advancing to assistant general manager. From 1966 until 1973, when he graduated from college, he worked in various positions, including bus boy, working behind the front desk, tending bar and at the reservation desk.

Compton has authored two books Lebanon and The Golden Lamb: Tales from the Innside. He was also a contributor to a third book, Lebanon 1803 to 2003. He has appeared on C-Span and HGTV, and has been featured in USA Today. Fred has also served as a board member of the Warren County Historical Society and as a trustee of The Warren County Board of Realtors. He collects memorabilia from The Golden Lamb as well as cheap Chinese watches. He currently resides in Lebanon. We caught up with Fred to find out more about what motivates him to serve the community.

Q: Tell us about yourself?

A: I live in Lebanon. I was born and raised in Warren County. I spent my childhood in Mason. I moved to Lebanon in the early 1970s after I got out of college. I lived in Maineville for a while, and moved back to Lebanon about nine years ago. I've lived my entire life in the county. I have three children, two daughters and a son, and three grandsons. I work for a local real estate brokerage, Henkle Schueler. We are the oldest real estate broker in Warren County. They were founded in 1933. So, in effect, I moved down the street from where I had worked for 35 years (at the Golden Lamb).

Q: What do you like the most about being a Realtor?

A: You are not stuck to a 9-to-5 schedule, or to working five days a week. You're constantly interacting with people, helping to solve problems, looking for new business, and being involved in major decisions in people's lives. You try and give them the best advice you can. Anybody in sales will tell you, as a sales person, you don't sell anybody anything. You help people buy things, and you help people buy them by giving them the benefit of your knowledge, expertise and experience. Ultimately, the decision is up to them about what they are going to do. And, the fact that I've lived in the county all of my life, and lived in Lebanon all my life. There's so many questions that people will ask, if they're new and coming into the area. Questions about schools, and questions about traffic, how you get from here to there, and what's good and what's bad. The fact that I have years of knowledge about Warren County has helped me a lot.

Q: You worked at the Golden Lamb for 35 years, you’ve written several books, and you are a featured speaker at the Warren County Historical Society. Could you expand on your experience?

A: My entire family is from this area. I started at the Golden Lamb at age 15, making 85 cents an hour. I worked there throughout high school and college. I came back for what I thought would be a summer job and wound up staying another 28 years. When we talk about accomplishments, I think you have to center on the hotel, because I spent so much time there. The main thing that I remember are the Christmas celebrations that we did, and the bicentennial celebrations that we did. We were such a big part of downtown, and it still is. When I left there, I was serving my third generation of guests … . People would bring in their children and grandchildren, because they wanted them to experience the same traditions and things that they had done, like using more than one fork on the table, knowing how to order a meal in courses, and seeing the traditions that we had developed. Certainly, the book "The Golden Lamb: Tales From the Innside" was a great thing, too. And, those were stories that I collected over the years, that had never been told. It was not a history book, (but as the title suggests) it was a behind-the-scenes look of what we did to accomplish what people saw. I wrote "The Golden Lamb: Tales From the Innside" in 2009. (The historical society picked up "The Golden Lamb: Tales From the Innside," and they did another printing of it.)

Two years later, in 2011, I was approached about another book by Arcadia Publishing titled “Lebanon.” In 2003 when Lebanon had their bicentennial, the historical society published a coffee table book, “Lebanon 1803 to 2003,” and I did some of the writing for that book, as well. So, the writing, and being able to go out and talk about Lebanon and the Golden Lamb, and various other topics have been high points of my life. I love going out and talking to people. And, I love going out and telling stories about the hotel. Not only that but also any historical topics.

Q: What else do you like to do when you’re not working?

A: One of my hobbies is I collect Golden Lamb memorabilia. In fact, the topic last year at the Lunch & Learn was three centuries of the Golden Lamb. I have pre-20th-Century stuff. I have 1800s material from the Golden Lamb, which was named the Stubbs House. I started collecting in the early 1970s, or earlier than that. The first piece I picked up was in 1968.

Q: Working at the Golden Lamb for 35 years is quite an achievement. What do you see as your greatest contribution?

A: There were guests I would see once a week, and other guests I would see once a year, but they would always came back. That to me was a great thing. We developed a personal relationship with all of those families that regarded the Golden Lamb as their restaurant. The fact that it was such an important part of so many families lives, to me, is a great testament to the Golden Lamb and to what we did.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.