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Albert Maywood Courtright II

Reminiscences of Maywood Courtright

The Boys In Our Gang

The house next to Neeley's to the north was owned by Gill Barnes, a Civil War veteran like my grandfather Bashore. It was a big, rambling house on a big lot and in the beginning was surrounded by a wrought iron fence. Gill owned the sawmill, the bottomlands along the creek in the south end of town where we kept our cow, besides much of the real estate down town, the Barnes' hotel, for example. His son, Greeley, on the few college graduates in Paulding, owned and operated the lumberyard next to the elevator where my father was bookkeeper for several years. Greeley's two older boys, Mahlon, Raymond's age, and Bob, two years younger were almost as close to us as the two Neeley boys. When we lived in the Johnson house Bob and Mahlon lived in the house across the street to the east, a big brick house with a slate roof which had been built, I believe, while we were living the "Dixie." Mahlon went into YMCA work and Bob became an agricultural expert. He was sent to Iran to help Iranian farmers after WWII and his wife wrote a book about their experiences. Mahlon settled in Indianapolis, may still be there.

Don price lived across the street from the Neeley's. He and Bob Barnes were Evalyn's age. Sam Price, Dan's father, and his brother Charlie were in the real estate business and built houses next to each other in Straw's field after our first house burned. Don is the only one of our gang who remained all of his life in Paulding, taking over his father's business plus insurance. He wrote the history of Paulding at the end of his life. He was struck down by cancer as was his oldest son. I saw him last when I went back to Paulding for my 50ieth high school reunion in 1966. Sam Price (we always called all adults by their first names when they were not close enough to hear us) had a voice that could be heard all over the south end of town and when he went out on the front porch and yelled "Don," Don didn't waste any time heading for home. On Sunday mornings in the summer San would sit in the swing on the porch and read the "funny" page. We didn't need to interrupt our croquet game across the street in Neeley's yard to catch every word, Mutt and Jeff, the Katzenjammer Kids, and Happy Hooligan.

Wayne Boice's father owned the town bakery on the west side of the square. The Boices lived in a brick house a block north of Greeley Barnes a little farther away than our other friends and Wayne was not as close to us in spirit either. He wasn't very strong and had trouble keeping up when we played strenuous games. He never learned to swim because he had started working at my dad's elevator in Cecil, when the creek and mill pond had flooded, he drowned trying to swim across the pond as the other boys were doing. He was probably 15 or 16 at the time. I was in Cecil when it happened and was not greatly affected when I learned of his death. It probably killed his mother, however, who was an enormous woman and not in very good health. Wayne's father died also a few years later leaving only Carl, Wayne's younger brother, who was one of Brook's best friends. We considered Brooks and Carl - his nickname was P.A. - little kids, too small to play with us.

The Tailors lived in a an old ramshackle wooden house just south of grandma Bashore's, the last house on the west side of Willhelm Street. It was unpainted and the yard was piled full of junk. There were several children in the family, Dewey named for Admiral Dewey probably, was our age (Raymond's age, I believe) and played with us regularly tho he also associated with the tough kids in town which none of the rest of us would do. Dewey was a happy-go-luck sort who never took anything seriously. I doubt if he finished the eighth grade in school. Tho Susan Tailor, his mother, was very good hearted, none of the other women in the neighborhood wanted to associate with her; her housekeeping was atrocious. Susan was always bringing my grandmother cookies and other things she had baked which grandma would put aside then feed to her chickens after Susan had returned home.

Frank Spriggs was a lawyer and lived across from us when we lived on South Cherry Street. He had two boys, Maurice the older one being several years older than I was and the younger, Paul whom we called "sleepy," about Evalyn's age, not too young to belong to our gang. Paul's uncle Jack was one of the town's well know characters. Jack Spriggs was a self-educated man who lived poetry and could quote Shakespeare, Milton and many other poets at length. He sold insurance and bought and sold diamonds to gain his living and always wore a diamond stickpin in his starched white shirtfront. Long after the style was out of date he could be seen stepping nimbly along the streets of the square in black swallowtail coat and top hat with a big wad of tobacco in his cheek. Often when Arthur and I would stop at his father's dental office on the way home from school we would find Jack standing at Dr. Neeley's side while he worked on the sidewalk below. I lost track of Paul after I left Paulding. I think he became a lawyer.

After Uncle Jim committed suicide in Cleveland aunt Mable, my mother's oldest sister, made her home in Paulding, earning her living by working as a secretary in the legal offices of Orin and Floyd Donart. She and my cousin Russell (he later changed his name to Frank) lived at my grandmother Bashore's and Russell was a member of our gang. He was a few months younger than I and in the same class in school. Russell had a very good mind but his father's death apparently gave him a caustic view of life and he could be downright cruel. He was reading Walter Scott novels at a time when the rest of us were still reading children's books and had learned a lot about Indian and cowboy life which he passed on to us, showing us how to make authentic bows and arrows and Sioux war bonnets out of turkey feathers, beads, string and copper wire. He was fascinated by firearms and war stories. He nearly blinded himself once when he dumped some black powder he bad emptied from shotgun shells into a bonfire. The flash fire burned off all of his eyebrows end eyelashes making him look so grotesque that I burst out laughing. It was no laughing matter to aunt Mable. Russell was drafted into the army right at the end of World War I so he didn't get into any of the fighting but be spent some time Europe with the Occupation Forces. After the war he made a career of the army, eventually retiring at an early age and living on his army pension near Greeley, Colorado. Aunt Mable told me he spent his time hunting and fishing and making furniture.

The two boys I knew best were Arthur and Corydon Neeley. They were not only my first playmates, living in the house next to ours until I was six, but we roomed together when we were all in the U. of Michigan. They are the only boys of our group with whom I have kept in touch until today. Corydon was six months older and Arthur six months younger than I and Arthur and I were in the same class in school. I greatly admired their father, Dr. Neeley, who was one of the few erudite men in Paulding. It was at the Neeley's that I learned to appreciate the National Geographic. At the time Alexander Graham Bell was experimenting with flying machines in Nova Scotia, Dr. Neeley constructed a kite on the same principals and flew it in Straw's field. He became an expert on flowers raising roses, tulips, lilies, peonies and developing several varieties. He vas one of the first to import Philippine lilies for Easter and Corydon and Arthur were obliged to spend hours planting lily bulbs, or digging them up in the fall, while the rest of us boys were playing One cat in the Neeley's yard, the yard that had been the site of our burned down house. The Neeley's inherited all of the fruit trees my father had set out and none of us were bashful about helping ourselves to plums, apples, cherries, grapes or peaches when they were ripe.

Corydon was not the type who initiates things. He was shy and very stubborn. Arthur and I attempted to improve our speech after we began to realize the people of the farming community around us did not use the best English. Not Corydon; he delighted in bad grammar. Even after he went to college he would use such expressions as, "I knowed you wasn't comin'" not because he didn't know better; just to be contrary. He enjoyed listening to the old timers tell stories of the old times and picked up their speech habits and became a sort of philosopher himself. He got hold of an old hypodermic needle his father had discarded and went around injecting formaldehyde into every little animal he could find. Until I was 12 or 13 Raymond and I used to catch garter snakes in the millpond and carry them home in our pockets but after I watched a snake's convulsions when Corydon injected it with formaldehyde I was never again able to bring myself to touch a snake. When the Neeley's big old tomcat got to roaming around at night and yowling Corydon captured it, stuck its head down a drain tile, tied its back legs together and castrated it. He followed his father's profession and became a dentist, practicing for many years in Hillsdale, Michigan. He and his wife, Pauline, still live in Jonsewille near by.

Corydon's preference for bad grammar may have been a reaction to Arthur's efforts to improve himself. He was always polite and deferential to his teachers and other adults tho some of their foibles amused him. He liked to poke fun at old Gil Barnes, for example, who was always on the run trying to make another dollar, everybody said. He was likely to have a slight stammer when he got excited. I remember his rushing up to Gil Barnes and exclaiming, "Mr. Barnes, your p-p-p-p-p-pigs are out." He never let his tendency to stammer keep him from reciting in class, however, and he was a conscientious student, much more so than I was, seldom coming out to play in the evening until his home work was done.

Arthur and Bill Jackson were made co-editors or the school yearbook in our senior year and they took the job very seriously, even having it copyrighted. Lucile Schumaker, the superintendent's daughter was Arthur's girlfriend and he defied the whole senior class and the faculty when he insisted on dedicating the book to Lucile's father while everyone else wanted to dedicate it to our parents.

To avoid being caught by the draft after he finished high school Arthur got an appointment to the Naval Academy in Annapolis thru Judge Snook, a good friend of Dr. Neeley as they were both interested in peonies. Our classmate Bill Jackson had got an appointment the year before and eventually became a rear admiral but Arthur didn't like it at all and, as soon as the war was over in 1918 he resigned. He took a course for teachers for one year at Bowling Green College then taught in a country school near Paulding for a year, living at home and riding his bike out to his school. After that he went back to Bowling Green for another year then entered the U. of Michigan, where his brother was already a dental student. Corydon had been drafted into the army and been sent to Europe as part of the occupation forces. He came home as soon as his term was up and worked as a mail carrier in Paulding until he was ready to start studying for the Dentistry. He had been there (Ann Arbor) three years when Arthur and I joined him.

Arthur became a research chemist working first for one of the chemical companies in Niagara Falls, N.Y. I visited him there at the end of my senior year, going by boat from Detroit to Buffalo. It was in Buffalo that Arthur met his wife, Harriet. Arthur later became a research chemist for the Standard Oil of Indiana in a suburb of Chicago where I saw him occasionally, then worked for the same company in Salt Lake City, Utah. We stopped there to see them when we took our first trip west in 1933. He has retired but they still have their house and garden just outside of the City.

Table of Contents
The Saw Mill, Mill Pond and the Swimming Hole
Uncles, Aunts and Cousins

Last modified on 21 June 2009 @ 13:02