For a number of years now the Courtright family, which is scattered all across the United States, has kept in touch through a Round Robin letter system. As each family unit receives the batch of letters in the prescribed order, its previous letter is removed, a new one is written and added to the pack which is then sent on to the next family on the list.
In one of these letters in 1992, Connie (Constance Marie Courtright Willard) suggested that it would be nice if we could all get together and have a family reunion sometime. Others expressed an interest in this idea. I received the packet of letters shortly before my friend Lucile Fonda and I were about to take off for a motor tour across the country during which we planned to visit as many of our relatives as possible. So, during this trip, I talked with everyone I saw about the idea of a reunion and came to the conclusion that there was enough interest to make it worth while to pursue the idea.
The result was that the reunion took place at the Signature Inn in Peoria, Illinois, on August 28 - 30, 1993 and was attended by a total of 35 descendants of our parents, Albert Maywood and Grace Bashore Courtright, as well as Lucile (who is an honorary member of the family) and her sister Jean and niece Denise and grandniece who lives just across the Illinois River in nearby Morton, Illinois.
Everyone seemed to have good time renewing acquaintances from the past and making new ones with cousins, nieces, and nephews who had never met before. Many contributed to the occasion by bringing photo albums and other memorabilia from their past to share with the others. One of the most interesting of these was a notebook containing the typewritten "Reminiscences of Maywood Courtright" with watercolor illustrations of places such as our houses in Paulding, Ohio where my generation was born and grew up. There was not time, during the brief reunion, for everyone to read this document and I determined that it should be duplicated and made available to all who were interested. Actually, it was Lucile who persuaded Alan (Maywood's son, who had brought the notebook) to let us bring it home to Silver Spring, Maryland, where she knew of a copy shop name Alphagraphics which charges only three cents a page. A few days after she gave the copy job to Alphagraphics, she was informed that their big copy machine had broken down and they could not finish the job until they received a replacement part. The wait continued for weeks and months with no results. Finally, it became apparent that the trouble was not with the machine but with the financial status of the proprietors. Eventually, a new owner took over the franchise and in April 1994 the job was done. Thankfully, the price was still only 3 cents a page. I got the color pages duplicated at a nearby Staples outlet for 79 cents a copy.
While waiting for the copy job to be done, I had a chance to read the Reminiscences and found it to be fascinating. Maywood was the first child in the family where I was the seventh and last, so there was a twelve year difference in our ages. As a result, I never had a chance to get to know him very well while we still lived in Paulding, Ohio. I was only ten years old when we moved to Peoria, Illinois in 1921; and before that, Maywood had graduated from Paulding High School and gone to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to work for General Electric. So he was not around much while I was growing up and becoming aware of things.
Nevertheless, I have memories of many of the same things that Maywood mentions about our life in Paulding. I was born in the house on Cherry Street and was five when we moved to 220 S. Williams Street, the Johnson house, which was the first one that I remember living in. I visited there during our trip West in 1992 and found it quite changed -- that wrap-around front porch is gone, the white siding has been replaced with brown shingles, the upstairs is now apparently a separate apartment with an entrance on the right, and the red barn is gone.
I, like Maywood, spent a lot of time at Grandma Bashore's house where the brick street pavement ended, and in Straw's woods across the road from Aunt Martha's house. Grandma's house is still neatly painted white but the large catalpa tree in the front where I used to climb is gone. Aunt Martha's (Marthy's as Maywood reminds me) house is now occupied by a man who raises horses and Straw's field, between the Straw and Bashore houses is now his pasture with a neat wooden fence painted dark brown.
I am surprised Maywood did not mention the hill we used for sledding. Hills are rare in that part of Ohio where the landscape is mostly flat as a pancake. But just around the corner from Grandma's house there was a fairly steep hill, 30 or 40 feet down from the road level to creek level. At the bottom was a bayou, and inlet from Flat Rock Creek, where the water froze in the winter. When it snowed we used this hill for sledding. We used to run to the top of the slope and belly-flop onto our sleds to get momentum to propel us as far as possible across the bayou. The new owner of the property has filled the bayou and made a grassy area in its place and had dumped debris and dirt over the hillside, apparently to increase the size of the area at road level.
Maywood was not an expert typist. His pages are full of strikeovers and xxxxxxxx's and cross-outs, and, being very frugal, he tended to use his ribbons until they barely put ink on the paper; and, of course he used both sides of the paper. Whenever he replaced his ribbon with a new one, the dark type of the new ribbon tended to overpower the light type on the other side of the page, making the light type difficult to read. For example, page 17 was almost illegible and I took the liberty of re-typing that page before I had the copies made.
His pagination was off on a number of pages. He finished on page 279, but I discovered that there really were only 239. when he finished page 213, he turned the paper over and numbered the other side 614. He discovered his error at page 621 (which was really 221) but when he made the correction on the back, instead of making it 222, somehow he settled on 262, skipping 40 numbers, and continued the sequence to the end.
The "Reminiscences" stop rather abruptly in 1951 without any explanation. It seems obvious that he planned to continue but, for some reason, was unable to do so. I would have expected him to continue to cover the period of his life up to the time of his retirement in 1962 when he started to write a diary, making further reminiscences unnecessary. but since he did not do so, I suspect that his health, perhaps even his death, caused him to stop. According to his diary, he had his first heart attack in 1962 while trying to spend a winter on the southern coast of Spain. He was bothered by heart problems for the rest of his life. His last entry in the diary was dated May 11, 1984, in which he recorded another brief hospital stay with chest pains. He died on June 16, 1984.
May 4, 1994
Last modified on 14 June 2009 @ 13:39