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"Looking at Carroll" by Jessie Gundy
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Put on an old pair of shoes
And we’ll walk down the alley
We might run into Sally
Or some of the gang we used to know
(These lyrics, as I remember them, were sung by an anonymous little girl every night of a week’s run of a Medicine Show performed in the Town Hall of Carroll, Ohio in 1946).
These are some memories of a boy who grew up as part of a special family at a special time in a special place. Okay, you know what makes them special. The family is my family, the time was my time and the place was my hometown. The family is the Kull/Ridgway family. The time period is 1935 to 1953. And the place is the small village of Carroll, Ohio.
Family - My grandfather Samuel Kull and later my father Willard Ridgway were proprietors of the Carroll Hardware store. My grandparents and parents participated in various church, school and other community activities. My oldest brother remembered Grandpa Kull giving a guest sermon one Sunday morning in the Methodist Church. My mother was valedictorian of her high school graduating class. Later she was active in her church class and the Women’s Society of Christian Service of the Methodist Church. She was Secretary/Treasurer of the church for a number of years. Both of my parents appeared in many amateur plays presented in the Town Hall and School Auditorium. My father was a member of the Carroll School Board and the charter president of the Carroll Lions Club, ultimately serving three years in that capacity. Our family was one of only a few families where the father, mother and all of their children graduated from Carroll High School. I think I was the only one of the Ridgway boys who had the distinction of being handed his high school diploma by his dad, who was a member of the School Board at the time. My older brothers and I were all active in school events. They and I delivered the Columbus Dispatch and the Ohio State Journal newspapers in Carroll over a period of twelve years.
Time – The years 1935 to 1953 were difficult years for many Americans. The country was coming out of the Great Depression only to be plunged into the Second World War followed by the Korean War. (These things hardly entered the mind of a young boy. That’s just the way things were.) These were difficult years for some in my family as well. Grandfather Kull was nearly deaf due to a genetic defect. Grandfather Ridgway was blind as a result of being thrown from a horse onto a brick pile. Aunt Herriot had two artificial legs due to having run in front of a streetcar in Columbus as a little girl. I grew up in the house where my Aunt Flossie had died of tuberculosis. (These things hardly entered the mind of a young boy. That’s just the way things were.)
Place – The place is the small town of Carroll, Ohio. However, place is a changing thing as a person grows up. Place is initially limited to home and family. As one becomes a little older place grows to include the nearby neighborhood. Eventually place grows to include the whole town and its immediate surroundings. And finally in the last stages of youth, place grows beyond the town.
And so, these memories are written with the background of my family, my age and my hometown. We’ll start with a tour of my house at 69 Market Street, then check out the nearby neighborhood and then proceed on an imaginary paper route around town.