Practically all of my first trips away from home were to visit relatives. My uncle Eugene was a doctor in Columbus, Ohio. He was my dad's oldest brother. His only child was a boy, Ivan, who was about 10 years older than I. The first trip out of Paulding that I have any recollection of was to visit them but I can recall absolutely nothing about how we made the trip or how we got back home. The only thing that remains in my mind is playing with some of Ivan's toys. We must have gone by train, as that was the only possible way the trip could have been made. There were no cars, no busses, no airplanes and it was too far for a horse and buggy.
Uncle Hiram, another of my father's brothers, worked all of his life at the Western Electric Company in Chicago, finishing and varnishing wooden telephone cabinets. Telephones were at first hung on the wall, the upper part containing the bell, the lower two dry batteries, with the mouthpiece projecting from a board in between. The receiver hung on a hook and was about six inches long. Uncle Hiram and Aunt Ida had no children. To supplement their income they had purchased a flat on Ogden Avenue and rented out rooms. It was in one of the roomer's beds that my dad and I slept when he took me to Chicago on a business trip. I was about 8 or 9. The roomer may have had bedbugs. At any rate something kept biting me all night.
Aunt Miney, Amanda was her real name, lived in Rockford, Ohio, a small town on the CN railroad 30 miles or so south of Paulding with her husband Luther Schultz, and four daughters, Bess, Ann, Hazel, and Helen. Helen, the youngest was 6 months older than I. I thought she was a pretty girl even tho she was cross-eyed and Bess, the oldest, was really beautiful. Uncle Luther and Aunt Miney had moved to Shane's Crossing - later renamed Rockford - after their marriage in Columbus where the Courtright family lived and her father, John Ezra Courtright, had followed her with the whole family. Thus my father grew up and finished high school in Rockford. I have a vivid recollection of our first trip to Rockford on the train, looking out the window of the coach and watching the fields and fences whirl in circles like pinwheels. The girls often visited us in the summer, usually two at a time, but there were older and more interested in the young fellows of Paulding than in our cousins.
I never visited Uncle George and his family in New Lexington, Ohio, a town near Lancaster, Ohio, a little south of Columbus, where Uncle George was a dentist but the came to see us once in Paulding when I was a sophomore in high school. Geraldine, his oldest daughter, was six months or so older than I and I was expected to take her around and show her the town but I wasn't about to let my friends see me walking with a strange girl. Geraldine also became a dentist and took over her father's office after he died. Uncle George saved all of the teeth he had extracted during his long practice and used them instead of stone in the cement sidewalk he had built around his office. He became bald, like my dad and Uncle Eugene (Uncle Hiram kept his hair) and wore a toupee, that is he wore it when he felt like it, which caused people to didn't know him very well to mistake him for someone else, or think he had a twin brother. George had two other daughters, Cleta and Catheryn and one son, John, now living in Maryland. George was a mason for 42 years but Aunt Minnie was a very strong Catholic and saw to it that her daughters did not marry the Protestant boys they wanted to until after she died. Catheryn never married. Geraldine was confined to a wheel chair the last few years of her life and died in a rest home near her home about 1980.
My Aunt Mable's husband, Russell's father was a rather fierce looking man with piercing eyes and heavy eyebrows. He wore his heavy mustache waxed to a point and I was afraid they would stick me if I got too close. My mother told me he was quite witty and an interesting raconteur. He taught Russell a lot of nonsense songs, which Russell then taught to the rest of us boys. This is one of them:
I had a hen and it was a good one.
I set it on a dozen eggs,
And when they hatched, four were blockheads
And the rest had wooden legs.
Uncle Jim alternated between working on Paulding, he was a common laborer, and in Cleveland. Sometimes Aunt Mable and Russell would join him in Cleveland but often she remained in Paulding, occupying a small house nearly opposite to our Lowenthaw house. My mother took Raymond and me to Cleveland once when Raymond was a baby, traveling from Latty on the Nickle Plate. Besides playing with Russell's toys in a room bare of furniture I remember being taken to a park where we watched a man with a long blacksnake whip and a pistol go into a big cage filled with lions and tigers, forcing them to do tricks that they were evidently reluctant to perform.
I was eight or nine and we were in the Lowenthaw house when a long distance call came from Cleveland for Aunt Mable. I was sent across the street to get here and Russell came along. Aunt Mable had no telephone. Aunt Mable picked up the receiver, listened a minute then both she and Russell started crying. "Daddy's dead" Russell said. I was told then that a beam had fallen on Uncle Jim's head and killed him but when I was in college, Arthur Neeley told me he had committed suicide. Aunt Mable outlived three other husbands and died in her nineties in Lakeland, Florida.
Aunt Ruth was the youngest of the Bashore children and I first remember her as a pretty teenager. She met Charles Ross who came thru Paulding as an encyclopedia salesman, married him and went to live in his home town of Decatur, Indiana, a town just south of Ft. Wayne. Uncle Charlie was a handsome man with a pleasing personality who smoked a pipe and always treated me as tho I was an adult. He was cut out to be a salesman. When my dad bought his monument business he hired Uncle Charlie to sell them. It wasn't long after that, however, that my father bought the elevator in Cecil, 6 miles north of Paulding, and Uncle Charlie got a job with two Paulding boys who had started a dry cleaning business on the south side of Chicago near Jackson Park. That is where he spent the rest of his life. Raymond and I became quite familiar with that part of Chicago when we would visit them during summer vacations. We especially enjoyed roaming around Jackson Park where the World Columbian Exposition had been held. The Field Museum was in one of the old Exposition buildings then and we could spend days there. Even then the old Exposition buildings were beginning to deteriorate, the plaster columns, made to resemble marble, were chipping off exposing the wood beneath. The museum is now housed in an immense stone building in Grant Park near the Loop.
Sometimes I accompanied Uncle Charlie on his rounds collecting or delivering suits and dresses with a Model T Ford truck. The area near Lake Michigan, south and east of Jackson Park was unpaved then and the streets were pure sand and it took careful driving not to get stuck. After I was in high school I was big enough to crank the motor for him. His job was hard enough without that as he often had to climb two or three flights of stairs. Eventually he was unable to take it and he died of a heart attack when he was quite young.
Aunt Ruth and Uncle Charlie had three boys, Bob, Carl, and Scott, the latter two with red hair. Bob was very handsome like his dad but he never married. He moved with his mother to Lakeland, Florida, while Aunt Mable was still living there. Aunt Ruth died in 1981 or 2 at 95 and Bob is still catching enough fish there, he says, to feed his alligator. Carl died some years before of cancer and Scott had an operation for cancer of the bowels but is still living in Kansas. He had some horrible experiences storming the islands of the Pacific with the Marines in World War II.