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Dayton Memories > FOCKE'S & SONS CO
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Sep 06, 2006
7:18 PM
Hello. I have acquired an old 50# LARD CAN with the name FOCKE'S & SONS CO, DAYTON OHIO.

The can is yellow and beige. I wondered if anyone could tell me when this company existed in Dayton and until what time. I have so far, come up with no information.

Thanks so much for the help.

Oct 19, 2006
12:18 AM

Focke Meat Packaging was a long-time Dayton business (slaughterhouse). Hope this helps.
Nov 03, 2006
6:42 PM
Hi my grandfather was Elmer Focke the last Treasurer of The Focke's and son's co. The company was founded about 1872 by his grandmother Bernadet. She ran the company with her sons, after she died the sons took over. William Focke Elmers father had nine children who all went into the business. The company closed about 1970 due to labor problems. Those lard bukets were laying around on the floor of the closed company for many years and some people came across them and sold them as waste paper baskets.The Focke family orginally came from Germany. Hope this answers your question. Ed
1 post
Jun 14, 2007
12:21 PM
It took me a while to get back here, but I just wanted to thank everyone for anwering my question regarding Focke's & Sons.

The lard can that I have was acquired when I purchased a storage unit. The unit contained many items from the entire life of an elderly woman who had passed on in the 1990's. There were items in the can dating back to the 1930's. I was hopeful that the can had likewise came from that era or before. Are there any books with photos or anything that could better identify the age of this can?

Again, I thank you in advance. I am enjoying the Dayton area history lessons.

Last Edited by on Jun 14, 2007 12:26 PM
2 posts
Oct 01, 2007
5:10 PM
Thank you for the reply. When will this work be published?
Focke from Texas
1 post
Oct 29, 2007
11:56 AM
I was doing some research and came across this website.. Just to let you guys know there are Focke's in Texas as well. In fact, I'm pretty sure all the Focke's which originally came from Germany came through Galveston, Texas.. Two brothers actually.. One of the brothers went north (Ohio area) and the other stayed in Texas. Anyways, just thought I would say hey to any other Focke's out there.. I don't think there' too many of us.

Scott Focke
Dallas, Texas
2 posts
Nov 13, 2007
6:11 PM
I hope to have the book published by Spring or summer 2008. It may be titled "Stories of my father former U.S. Congressman Edward Breen" or it may carry the title "Lucky Eddie" its up to my publisher, but I think thats what they are looking at as far as titles and I do know that the section on the Fockes was expanded to a few pages and several photos on the wife of Elmer Focke who had been a famous opera singer and broadway dancer before she married Elmer Focke in 1927.. Best to all Fockes in Texas and in Maine.. Ed B.
1 post
Dec 12, 2007
6:12 PM
Hello Ed Breen and the Focke's in Texas...Scott Focke! I think my brother Tom may have met you in Dallas a few years ago. And I think we met some of the Texas Focke's ( and Kansas Focke's at a reunion in Dayton back in about 1996?
Heard about the lard can today from my sister Reenie ( Focke) in Dayton. I am now in Virginia Beach and remember well the lard cans. My dad Frank Focke Jr. was a 4th generation meatpacker at the family plant. Fortunately for me they went out of business and I was able to pursue a career in TV News reporting ( much for fun for me!). In all seriousness it was VERY sad in the 70's when Wm.Focke Sons Meatpacking Co. closed.
Looking forward to your book Ed. I sure knew your father. He and uncle Elmer were great inspirations for me growing up. Class acts all the way.
I will check in here now and then and keep an eye on developments...
Over and out for now,
Joe Focke
Virginia Beach, Virginia
5 posts
Dec 19, 2007
6:35 AM
Hello Joe:
I do remember meeting you at a family reunion once or twice in my younger years. If I remember correctly you worked in Dayton for several years. If you remember and knew my grandfather Elmer you would be interested in my book, because some of the book spills over into the life of Elmer and his wife Marie. Marie was once a famous Broadway singer and dancer and was a dance partner of Fred Astair in the play "APPLE BLOSSOMS" Marie played the part of Polly. Several photos of Marie in costume appear in the book. If you would send me your address at my e-mail catbreen6@aol.com I will add your address to the list I will be sending my publisher in the Spring. If not the book will be sold through Barnes and Noble..Sincerely, Ed Breen
Mike C
23 posts
Jan 03, 2008
10:26 PM
All I can add is I miss that company in Dayton. My family use to buy their products all the time. I remember them and Sukers ( not sure the spelling) in West Dayton on Western Ave. I use to go over there and watch them slaughter the cows when they came in the slaughter house.
7 posts
Jan 12, 2008
3:04 PM
all of the Focke's of the mid 1800's were born on the hill just above the plant which in those days was known as "Taits"hill.It had once been a pay station for soliders of the Union army and in the 188o's and 1890's the Focke children use to find old coins there buried in the ground. In the very early days up until about 1900's they used St. Bernard dogs inside the factory to walk in a circle and grind the sausage. Horses were to large to fit inside so they used the St.Bernard dogs.All of the recipes for the sausages and cured meats were the orginal recipes brought over from Germany by the Focke family.
scott focke
1 post
Jan 21, 2008
12:20 PM
hi all my grand father Oscar Frederick Focke Sr. was one of the sons who was Teasurer of the zFocke Meatpacking Co. when I was a boy I used to go there alot. I also own many lard tins and one or two early paper lard buckets. also have bull rings from there and a copy of a news paper article about my Great Grandmother being women in business. Ed I think Iused to spend some time w/ your dad when he was mayor at his home off of Far hills where my geandparents lived and at the Dayton Bicyle Club. I have a lot of other info of past family members on my side of the family and my mother's Millerr side and her grandparents. and parent's who were part of Elder's now Elder berman. my great aunt saved letters from Germany and social news clips. My great Aunt Irean had created a family Focke tree and her daughter was thought to have it but we others can't seem to locate. can't wait to see book. thx rick
scott focke
2 posts
Jan 21, 2008
12:23 PM
I think I made a mistake I believe Oscar was the Secretary I will look in my arhives thx rick focke
scott focke
3 posts
Jan 21, 2008
12:39 PM
Hi all I used the wrong Authorship sorry Scott how do I change thx Rick Focke
8 posts
Jan 27, 2008
6:36 PM
Dear Scott..Those are a lot of nice memories that you have. Bernedett Focke your great grandmother and mine also I guess was created with being the first businesswoman of Dayton. You are right about that. If you are interested in the book there is some mention of the Fockes and some photos in the book of Marie Focke I believe four photos of her during her years on Broadway. If you would be so kind as to write to me at catbreen6@aol.com and give me your address I will put it in my file of addresses being sent to the publisher and they will send you a notice when the book comes out. I remember Oscar Focke. He was a very nice man and I have fond memories of him over at my grandparents home for birthday parties etc..I miss all of though people. They were all very kind and alot of fun to be with..Ed B.
1 post
Jun 07, 2008
9:10 AM
Hey Focke Family!
I am the daughter of Walter E. Focke, Jr. a/k/a Butch. Yes, I too have one of the lard cans and numerous pictures and memories of the packing house in Dayton. Our great-great grandmother was Bernadine, not Bernadette. She and our great-great grandfather came through the port in New Orleans when they arrrived in the United States....very well could have looped around through Texas on their way to Ohio. Bernadine is sited as one of the first business women in Dayton. Several years back when I was up there for a visit we went to Wright State University and there were pictures along with a tribute to her in a hallway in one of the buildings.
My dad passed away in 2000. My brothers, sister and I had always planned to get a tape recorder and have dad tell his stories about the plant and the family. We never did,so many of the stories are lost. Many are remembered -as they are by us all- but just can't be told the same way. Dad's youngest sister Billie lives out west. Maybe I can ask Aunt Billie to tell what she remembers.
One particular thing I remember about the packing house is being able to pull off a weiner from one of the bunches to eat as we walked through the coolers.
I went by the old plant during the Thanksgiving holidays when I went up to visit. It's still there! The building is divided into several different offices for different companies. There are even offices where the cattle and pig pens were!!!!!! Yikes!
I recognize Connie and Joe from the postings....hope you are well! My best to ALL of the Focke Family!!
Eileen Focke, Atlanta, GA
2 posts
Jun 07, 2008
9:20 AM
Almost forgot-in response to Scott Focke's posting about the family tree. My brother has it. It's a Focke Family album that Aunt Irene and Ollie worked on. One of my dad's older sisters, Alice, did the art work for the "tree". The album is covered in a calfskin.
Eileen Focke
Atlanta, GA

Last Edited by on Jul 05, 2009 5:39 PM
Steve K
4 posts
Jun 12, 2008
9:15 AM
Ed... nice to hear you got the book done.... I ran into you at Woodland Cemetery a year or two ago and you mentioned you were working on it. Seems to me we were over around Wilbur and Orville's graves.
14 posts
Jun 12, 2008
2:39 PM
Dear Steve,
It was great to hear from you. Yes I do remember meeting you at or around the graves of Wilbur and Orville. "Lucky Eddie Former U.S.Congressman Edward G.Breen" will be out in mid September by the Local history Co. of Pittsburgh Pa.That was great to hear from you. Hope you are doing well and have a great summer. Sincerely, Ed B.
Steve K
12 posts
Jun 14, 2008
1:06 PM
The "fifty years ago today" newspaper down at the Dayton library has a photo and death notice for Oscar Focke on the front page!
1 post
Jul 15, 2008
2:08 PM
Hi Focke Family
My Grandfater was Paul H. Focke the youngest son of Henry Focke. He came to Ponca City Ok in the mid 1920's and opened a grocery store called Focke and Son's. He had four children, Paul H. Bernard F., Rosemary T., and Stella M. We also attended a Focke reunion in Dayton in 1996 and enjoyed meeting many of our Focke family members. I would love to get in touch with any of the Focke family members. I love researching our family history.

Candy Bowlin
Sapulpa OK
2 posts
Jul 18, 2008
12:48 PM
Dear Ed

I would love to hear from you and gather more information on the Dayton side of the family. I know my great grandfather Henry was one of 3 brothers I beleive. I have a book that was done by a Charles Keene (I know the last name is correct not sure about the first name without looking.) Please contact me at kennyandcandyb@cox.net and I would be happy to give you what information I have.

Thanks so much. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Loretta Puncer
1 post
Aug 04, 2008
6:46 PM
Hi All, I just attend a Focke Family Reunion on Saturday in Dayton. My Grandmother, Agnes, was a Focke, Agnes Focke Schaefer. She was the daughter of Edward W. Focke and Della Shea. The reunion brought together her descendants and those of her siblings, Henry & Jack. I think we had about 50 people present, about 60 if you include all the little munchkins running around. My brother, Chris Schaefer, has been scanning photographs of the family for several years. He now has quite an extensive collection of photos and other print material related to the Focke Family.

I do remember my Grandmother talking about living in Texas as a young girl. I don't remember how she came to Dayton though.

My Dad, Mark Schaefer, Jr., has told me many stories about the Focke Family.

Susan and Dorothy Focke, Jack's daughters, just recalled on Saturday that their parents took them to the slaughter house as young kids to see them kill the cows. They were both horrified and said they didn't eat meat for weeks after the that!

Part of our reunion included a trip to tour the old Focke Homestead on Livingston Ave., in East Dayton. It is now a nursing home, unfortunately in receivership by the bank. The director was very gracious in allowing us to roam the original part of the house including a trip to the basement and attic. One of the front parlors is still partially intact... the fireplace with original tiles and mantel, the molding around the ceiling light and the windows are original. The staircase and banister are original and some of the oak woodwork in the entrance hall. The upstairs has been converted into offices. I thought it strange that everyone seemed to linger in the attic, maybe because it seemed to be the only part of the house that was still the same as when our ancestors lived there. Aunt Jane said that was where "Mom" used to hang the laundry to dry and where people lived for a while after the 1913 Dayton flood. I guess that Henry invited and allowed many people displaced by the flood to stay in his home for a time. The house was so full that people ended up in the attic.

It was great to find this blog. I'm sorry that I didn't find it before the reunion.

I live in Kettering, Ohio. I am an artist and own an art gallery, Gallery 510 Fine Art, downtown in the Oregon District. My email is Lpuncer @woh.rr.com.

Last Edited by on Aug 04, 2008 6:49 PM
1 post
Aug 07, 2008
12:32 PM
This message is for the lady that purchased the Focke lard can at a storage unit. Would you be interested in selling the can? My name is Susan Focke Alexander and I collect the lard cans. It really means a lot to me to be able to get as many lard cans as possible, since Focke Packing has not been in business since 1973. We were part of the Focke reunion this past week-end at Indian Riffle Park in Kettering. Also the tour of the Focke Homestead on Livingston Ave. was a highlight for all that went. It is very important that the Focke family keep in touch with each other, we have a very special bond. LET'S KEEP THE FOCKE NAME ALIVE AND WELL!!!
16 posts
Aug 10, 2008
4:43 PM
There was an antique store in Lebanon, Ohio that about a year ago had a Focke lard can for sale. I don't recall what they wanted for it, but it seem that it was not a lot of money. All I remember is that the store is on the same side of the street as the Golden Lamb Inn, and was a block or two up from the Inn..Ed Breen
Peggy Gilbert
1 post
Sep 05, 2008
9:44 PM
43claddah, Hi Susan this is your cousin Peggy. I'm sure you remember my daughter Becky from Van Buren. I was so excited to find all this info on the Focke's. Couldn't believe it when I saw your name in here. I sure wish I had known about your family reunion, I wonder if there were any Shea's or possibly any Fiala's in attendance? I am anxiously awaiting the release of this book. Would love to hear from you!! Peggy
2 posts
Oct 06, 2008
2:29 PM
To Peggy Gilbert:

Was very surprised to see you had been on the Dayton History website. Sorry I haven't answered sooner, but I don't get on this website very often. Unfortunately there were no Shea's or Fiala's in attendance at the reunion.
I have been trying to get information on Richard Shea and Bridget Lally Shea on when they came from Ireland and what port of entry they entered (eg. Boston or New York). I know that my grandma Focke was born in Holyoke Mass. in 1883. It's very hard unless you want to subscribe to an genealogy site, which I don't want to, to get any info, but I'll keep trying. Keep in touch.

1 post
Oct 09, 2008
5:58 PM
Hello Ed,

It's a long story how I ended up on this web site, but I too remember the Focke brand in Dayton. My mother wouldn't buy any other....my grandmothers (all of them) were the same, except for an occasional visit to Miamisburg to get summer sausage.

When the family farm was sold in Centerville, I remember lots of Focke lard containers coming from the attic filled witn all sorts of Christmas ornaments and newspapers, etc.

WOW, it's been 38 years since Ms. Foor at Southdale. I hope life has favored you.


Jon Agne

17 posts
Nov 19, 2008
10:45 AM
JON Agnie, I remember you very well. It was a thrill to hear from you.Contact me at my e-mail catbreen6@aol.com, I would love to hear from you and catch up with old times. I have thought of you many times. I remember spending the night at your parents new home at that time on Morning Glory Dr. I think that was the street name anyways. How are your parents? Where do you live? Please contact me at the above e-mail I am at work right now and most go, but I will look for your e-mail..Best Ed
1 post
May 19, 2009
5:48 AM
It has been a long time since the last posting, but maybe some Focke is out there listening. I am from The Cincinnati Focke's and trying to trace the name back. As far as I have gotten is my grandfather August Focke (1880-1958). Does Augy=ust show up in anyone's research?
Thank you.
Dave Focke
18 posts
May 26, 2009
12:04 PM
Dear Dave,
all I have is a John William Focke born 1798 Furstenau, Germany and his son William John Focke. If you have further questions e-mail me at catbreen6@aol.com Sincerely, Ed
Steve K
59 posts
May 27, 2009
8:19 AM
Ed....did you get that Breen newspaper clipping I sent you a week or two ago?

Steve Koons
1 post
Jun 18, 2009
9:48 AM
I have owned a home at 624 Kenwood Ave., Dayton, OH the last 32 years. Someone told me that this home was once owned by Walter Focke. The house was built in 1919. I would be interested in knowing if this house was built for or ever owned by Walter or any other mwmber of the Focke family. Maybe Eileen could shed some light on this for me. I also own a small 8# pure lard can that I bought several years ago thinking that if the house was a Focke house the can would "feel at home". Any information would be greatly appreciated. My email is vgoodguy42@yahoo.com
Thank you, Vic Good
3 posts
Jul 05, 2009
5:32 PM
Hi Vic!
Yes, my dad's family lived at 624 Kenwood Avenue! I just spoke to my Aunt Billie who was the youngest of Walter and Marie's four children and she confirmed it. I remember going there when I was young to visit Grandma and Grandpa Focke. I remember the back stairs, the landing of the two stairways, the third floor, the bedroom at the back of the house was my dad's....I remember lots of things about the house!I have directed Aunt Billie to this message board and she will be contacting you directly.
I'm sure the lard can you purchased "feels at home"-because it is! So happy you posted your message!


Last Edited by on Jul 05, 2009 5:44 PM
1 post
Dec 29, 2009
4:55 PM
I am a decendant of the Focke family as well and it is so neat to see this blog of history from fellow family relations. A cousin actually wrote a book on the Focke history and he lives out east. He sold all the books but was kind enough to send me everything on CD that he collected in order to publish the book. I actually have more than the book contained. My mother's mom was Margaret Focke and died six months after giving birth to my mom; her older sister ended up marrying my grandfather walter weber to keep the children from going to the Soldiers home. I know there were stories of their short time living at the Focke mansion on Livingston Avenue. I would love to get any pictures of the mansion that someone may have. Maybe no one blogs on this anymore, but if so, this is my input. Maybe I'll hear from someone - my email is cwilcox@woh.rr.com
1 post
Mar 05, 2010
7:05 AM
Runges & Fockes Finally Returning to Galveston!

It is unknown whether the Runges and Fockes have an aversion to reunions or to each other, but this group of descendants of old time Galvestonian mainstays are returning to their ancestral home in October of 2010 for a once in a lifetime event. Louis Runge, son of Henry Runge and a member of the Kaufmann-Runge firm, married Anita Focke in 1888, thus beginning the connection of these two long time Island families. Henry Runge and his nephew Julius Runge were bankers and businessmen in Indianola beginning in 1845 as immigrants from Germany and came to Galveston after the Civil War. Anita Focke was the daughter of John William ”Hans” Focke who was also well known in Galveston as a ship chandler and warehouseman, best known for his connection to a Stand century old building.

The old Kaufmann-Runge building in the Strand now houses Stewart Title. The Runge House at 1301 Avenue D was once the home of the president of UTMB and is now privately owned. Descendants of the five Runge children and the seven Focke children are still sprinkled in Galveston and the surrounding area. Beside the Runge and Focke names, BOI Galvestonians may recognize the names of such relatives as Boehme, Darst, Heye, Kelso, Krause, Loeffler, Mosle and Wray. Margaret Runge was a long time teacher in the local ISD and Lillie Runge was instrumental in the UTMB library from it’s inception until her death in 1990. Forrest Runge survived the Galveston Storm of 1900 and was chief yell leader at A & M in 1914. “Gig” Runge was a Galveston fixture his whole life.

The last Runge Reunion was held on the Island in 1992 and the last Focke Reunion was held there in 1985. There has never been a reunion of this magnitude of the two families to date, and over 150 people are expected. The clan will headquarter at the Tremont House and a genealogy room will be set up for the families to compare their respective family trees. The group will encompass all age groups and various site visits are planned to interest all. Choices during the four day event held on Columbus Day weekend include the Kaufmann-Runge Building, the Runge House, the Focke neighborhood in historic downtown, Ashton Villa, Bishop’s Palace, Elissa, Gaido’s, Galvez, Garten Verein, Jean Lafitte movie, Lone Star Flight Museum, Moody Gardens, Ocean Star, Railroad Museum, Seaport Museum, Seawolf Park and the Storm movie, as well as free lance clubbing, shopping and general sight seeing. On Monday some of the group may visit Runge Park on the mainland and/or travel to Runge, Texas.

Every attempt has been made to contact all members of the far flung group, but any relative who has not been contacted is encouraged to notify Jim Runge at rungini@hotmail.com for all the details and they will be warmly welcomed. The group hopes anyone with an interest in the family will feel free to make contact and/or visit the gathering at the Tremont on October 8, 9, 10, or 11, 2010. They would love to visit with any old Runge-Focke family friends.
1 post
May 30, 2010
7:36 AM
My name is Camille Thiel Downes.
My parents, Dr and Mrs John Thiel, purchased the FOCKE HOME @ 2626 Avenue O 1/2- Galveston in 1956. I was seven years old at the time we moved in. My parents remained in the home for the rest of their lives until the passed away in 2005. I bought the home from the estate and renovated it. I have added central air, removed carpet, refinished floors, updated the kitchen and baths, but at the same time tried to maintain the original look and feel of this grand old house. I would like to invite you to visit the John W. Focke home sometime during your reunion. I have the original blue prints framed and hanging in the hallway upstairs. I have been in contact with Jim Runge and Dr John Focke and hope to organize a time to offer, for your tour. I currently live in Middletown DE, but frequent the Galveston home often. I look forward to being a part of this exciting event.

Last Edited by on May 30, 2010 7:38 AM
4 posts
Jul 12, 2010
10:56 PM
Focke's (pronounced Fokies) slaughterhouse was nearly right across the street from Burger Iron on Springfield St., near the train tressel and Eastwood Park. It processed beef and pork from the stockyards three blocks west of it, I think. The Stockyard Inn marks the location, and they slaughtered livestock there too. Once, some steers escaped from Focke's and were running loose through the east end. My Grandma told me but I can't remember when that happened. I'm thinking '30s.

Last Edited by on Jul 13, 2010 8:54 AM
luv my dayton
131 posts
Sep 11, 2012
8:59 AM
Our family lived next door to their one daughter Anne and her husband Jim who had 4 of their own children. My sister Vicki became their baby sitter and even was taken on trips with them. Once in awhile I had to fill in when sis was busy. On one occassion the entire Focke family had a get together and needed someone to babysit the entire families children which were taken to grandmother and grandfathers mansion in Oakwood.Beautiful place and it was up on a hill ,surrounded by woods, with a beautiful snow falling. Don't know what ever happened to them all but they were wonderful neighbors with adorable children.
18 posts
Oct 30, 2014
12:57 AM
I lived in Dayton from 1947 until 1972. I lived at 556 Kenwood Ave and my family knew the Fockes well. My parents were Joe and Connie Varley and I am the oldest of 10 kids. Knew Butch and Billie well back in the 50's, and happy to hear Billie is still around. The entire family moved from Dayton in 1966 abut I returned and went to WSU, graduating in '72. Was back there for a day in July '14 and rode all over the old neighborhood, remembering the Focke's home at 624 Kenwood, where I delivered newspapers. Hello to Billie. I live in Scottsdale, AZ now, since 1987. Will be back in Dayton in June '15 for my 50th reunion at Chaminade. Billie, if you live in AZ, let me know via this page. Joe Varley jvarley@cox.net
joey m
265 posts
Oct 30, 2014
8:07 AM
Was probably the best meat packer in Dayton and maybe Ohio. My dad knew the Fockes very well and they were the main source for all our meat products. Dad had restaurants in the 40s, 50s 60s,& 70s mostly Italian. He swore by Fockes. My fond memories of the slaughter house was going there with dad to pick our order up when we ran short of product. Dad would go in the office to talk to the Focke's and place his order. While he was visiting Mr. Focke gave me the permission to go back into the plant and watch the men process the beef and hogs. I mostly remember the processing of the beef. They would bring the cows into a stall and the first guy would step up on a platform and take what looked like a 45 revolver and shoot the cow in the head. It would drop to the floor and would then be hoisted up and then bled, skinned and then totally processed. Nothing was wasted. I knowit sounds bad but it is part of the food chain. Here is one thing that I remember about their products and it was their ham. I was in the restaurant and catering business for 30yrs. andto this day I've never found a ham that comes close to theirs. "GREAT MEMORIES"
David C
1 post
Feb 15, 2015
9:23 AM
I am researching my grandmother's genealogy. Irene Davis worked at the plant for many years and retired from there, perhaps due to Focke's closing down. I was in the military during that time. I don't recall her specific job duties, but Grandma Davis talking about wearing a white lab coat ?? and going in and out of the coolers all day. I also recall that grandma cut her hand with a knife while working, so she may have been a meat trimmer. Does anyone know if the business records remain intact? I live in the Dayton area, Thx!
529 posts
Feb 15, 2015
12:44 PM
Welcome to Dayton History.
David C
21 posts
Feb 16, 2015
11:46 AM
Thx newsnot! Great find. I never realized how much I knew (and had forgotten) about Dayton.

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