I was born on 15 December 1946, the second of three sons born to Lillian Edith Conley and Charles Aaron Jarvis. Melvin Charles Jarvis Merrick, my older brother, arrived previously on 29 March 1945. My younger brother, Kenneth Ray, came along on 10 November 1948. My very earliest memory is of lying in bed at night, being scared by ghosts in the closet at the end of my bed. I solved the problem by closing the closet door every night.
Monday, March 19, 2018
I was born on 15 December 1946, the second of three sons born to Lillian Edith Conley and Charles Aaron Jarvis. Melvin Charles Jarvis Merrick, my older brother, arrived previously on 29 March 1945. My younger brother, Kenneth Ray, came along on 10 November 1948. We were all born in Akron, Ohio.
My very earliest memory is of lying in bed at night, being scared by ghosts in the closet at the end of my bed. I solved the problem by closing the closet door every night.
(Gary with Aunt Peggy)
Probably my most memorable experience at Elm Drive in Akron occurred when Angelo, the older and not very pleasant neighborhood paper boy, threw a ball at me. I wasn’t hurt much at all, but I convinced myself that I was and that my pain justified profanity in reporting the incident to my mother. She did not agree that profanity was justified and promptly, and forcefully, washed my mouth out with soap. I became convinced that profanity is never justified.
It was fun to visit the old school with Ken when we returned to Akron in August 1990 for Mom’s funeral. We also visited Elm Drive. The house was gone, but it had recently been raining, and the corner was filled with a big puddle just like in the old days. We walked into the high school field behind the house. We used to cross the field to occasionally swim in the YMCA pool beyond. We even found the same hole in the fence that we climbed through many times to get into Blue Pond. We weren’t dressed for going under this time, so we didn’t. But, as kids, we spent a lot of time in that ‘forbidden’ swamp. We especially liked to cross over the old buildings debris and play on the swampy cottontail-filled island. None of us ever drowned, contrary to the warnings of our mothers. We did pick elderberries which Mom occasionally made into pies.
My other favorite relative was my father’s brother, Uncle Carroll. He would take us for rides in his car. He impressed me with his knowledge of which direction other cars were going to turn; I later learned about turn signals and turning lanes. On one occasion he took us to visit Grandma Jarvis (Bessie) in West Virginia. It was wonderful: the countryside; the steep West Virginia hills, especially in the morning fog; watching someone milk the cow; feeling free and outdoors; Grandma’s garden; and her scrumptious rhubarb pie. Grandma was plump - and also kind and loving. I have no memory of ever seeing her again, though when I was nineteen or twenty, we had some pleasant correspondence.
I never went to kindergarten. While we were still living in the attic across from Grandma Conley, my mother enrolled me in first grade, so I was a little younger than the other kids, not turning six until December. I loved my first grade teacher and was proud that she said I was a smart boy.