In 1909 when Aunt Irene was 45 she married a widower who lad lost three wives, an extremely fat man by the name of Reuben Gipe. He had several children by his other wives but all of them were grown up and married except a small boy Brooks' age, I believe, named after his father. Mr. Gipe had been the owner of the biggest general merchandise store in Paulding. It was on the west side of the square in the only three-story block in town and had two wooden lions in front. Not only was I fascinated by the lions but also by the wire baskets running on the trolleys along the ceiling from various counters to the cashier's desk perched on a high platform at the rear of the store. In the absence of cash registers at the counters the customer's money and the sales slop were placed in the basket and sent zinging across the ceiling to the cashier-bookkeeper who made change and entered the amount in the books, then sent the basket back to the clerk. Shortly before he married Aunt Irene, Gipe had lost the Paulding store and opened a smaller store in Grover Hill, a small town about 20 miles to the southeast, taking his lions with him.
Grandma Courtright's health had become so bad by 1909 that she was unable to get out of bed. The only way to get her to Grover Hill was by train. I was at school when the dray came to the house to take her, bed and all, to the depot but I arrived in time to see her put in the baggage car of the noon train going south. At Haviland, two stations farther, she was transferred to an eastbound train for the short trip to her final destination. That was the last time I saw her. When she died her body was taken to Lithopolis and buried next to her husband, my grandfather, whom I never knew as he died two years before I was born.
It was not long after Aunt Irene was married that Uncle Reuben bought one of the newfangled motor cars so he could make the trip to Paulding, where he still had business, at a faster pace. He never became a very good driver. I remember once being in the back seat with Aunt Irene when he tried to move the car into the shade of a tree in front of our house. Instead of looking ahead he was looking up into the tree branches and went bang- right into the tree trunk, putting a big dent in the radiator. Cars had to bumpers then. Jake Knoedler, the blacksmith on the corner, had to fix the leaky radiator before the Gipes could go home. All of us older children took turns spending a week or two at Aunt Irene's in the summer. Whenever Uncle Reuben came to Paulding on business he always came to our house for dinner whether it was dinnertime or not. It made a lot of extra work for my mother- he could eat as much as our whole family put together- but he was always welcome. When he died some years later Aunt Irene moved back to Paulding with her stepson and lived in a small house next to the Lowenthaw house. There was a rumor that Uncle Reuben committed suicide. I don't know how true it was.
Last modified on 14 June 2009 @ 10:13