This is my favorite picture of my paternal great-grandparents, taken on Christmas day, 1942. My great-grandfather, Charles Ballenger, looks happy and relaxed, and my great-grandmother, Irene (Clark) Ballenger, is beaming. I love the tinsel-draped tree, with its big electric bulbs and what appear to be Christmas greeting cards stuffed into the branches.
Charles Cleveland Ballenger was born July 15, 1882 in Delaware County, Ohio, and Irene Pearl Clark was born November 28, 1887 in Delaware County. They were married in Delaware County on December 12, 1906. I never knew Charles, who died January 7, 1953, in Columbus, Ohio, but I’m told I did occasionally visit my Great-Grandma Ballenger when I was very little. Irene (Clark) Ballenger died October 21, 1965, in Columbus. It’s strange—I have no memory of her, yet I can recognize her face in pictures. My sole memory is that the house she lived in had a little cast-iron wagon pulled by a horse, and when you rolled it along the little wheels moved. I think they used it as a doorstop. There was also a miniature cast iron stove with tiny pots and an oven door that opened and shut. I inherited that piece, probably because I was their only great-granddaughter at the time, and have it packed away in my basement. That’s a kid for you—to remember the toys better than the people!
This picture was taken the same Christmas day in 1942. That happy little guy in the center of all the activity is my father, who had recently turned three years old. Looks like he had a railroad cap on and had just received a wonderful gift—a child-size workbench with a tool belt and hammer. He must have gotten a tricycle, too. No wonder he was so happy! Charles is sitting by him, and I believe the man in the foreground with his back to the camera is my grandfather, Lloyd Ballenger. The woman in this picture is Charles’ sister, Cecil (Ballenger) Parker, my great-grand-aunt (1896-1993). My grandmother, Nora (Eberhard) Ballenger, must have been the one taking the picture. I bet she was delighted to see her little son enjoying his presents so much.
Isn’t it fun peeking into Christmas past with pictures like these?--Shelley
Surname Saturday: Ballenger Family