As one of 18 children born to Llewellyn and Mary (Comfort) Eberhard, Nora Eberhard’s childhood days were filled with household chores, hand-me-down clothes, and long walks to a one-room schoolhouse from the family’s dairy farm. By the time she reached her 20s, the Great Depression had set in. Nora moved to nearby Westerville, Ohio, where she boarded with a local couple while working at the Kilgore Manufacturing Company. Her job was to insert rivets into Kilgore’s toy cap pistols. It gave her great satisfaction to see the finished toy pistols and know she had a part in making them.
Nora also enjoyed getting to know her co-workers. One of the girls on the Kilgore riveting line with her was Florence Ballenger. When Nora needed a new place to stay, Florence invited her to board with her family. Florence’s parents, Charles and Irene Ballenger, agreed to the plan.
Lloyd Ballenger, Florence’s brother, quickly took notice of his sister’s friend. Lloyd was working at a diner in downtown Westerville when they met, but started a new job at Reeb’s Restaurant on the east side of Columbus in 1933. His long hours at the restaurant left little time for meeting girls. He began courting Nora, taking her to house parties and going for drives in friends’ cars. Even though Westerville, “The Dry Capital of the World,” was the national headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League, the young couple still found ways to have fun.1
By early 1935, Nora and Lloyd decided to get married. There was only one problem. Nora’s mother, Mary, had gotten very upset by events at the wedding of one of her other daughters, swearing she never wanted to attend another wedding. There wasn’t enough money for a wedding, anyway. They quietly hatched a plan, telling only Florence and her boyfriend, Gordon Meeks.
Two weeks after her 25th birthday, on March 30, 1935, Nora did her dark hair up in tight curls and put on a new white dress. Lloyd donned his best suit and shiny black shoes. In the early morning hours, Gordon drove the foursome down the 3-C Highway in his Model A Ford to the state border at Cincinnati. They crossed over the Ohio River and into Boone County, Kentucky. At the parsonage of a Baptist church in Walton, Nora and Lloyd found a minister willing to marry them. With Florence and Gordon standing by, they said their vows. All their hard work melted away as they stood on the steps of the parsonage, beaming, for their first picture as husband and wife.
They registered their marriage at the courthouse later the same day:2
When they returned home, the newlyweds announced their marriage to their families and settled into an apartment that Lloyd had moved into earlier. A short notice appeared in the Westerville Public Opinion:
LLOYD R. BALLENGER AND
MISS EBERHARD MARRY
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ballenger of Westerville announce the marriage of their son, Lloyd, to Miss Nora Eberhard, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Eberhard of Center Village. The marriage took place Saturday, March 30, at Walton, Ky. Miss Florence Ballenger, sister of the groom, and Mr. Gordon Meeks of Columbus were the attendants. The couple are residing at 1186 E. Main St., Columbus.3
Fifty years later, in March 1985, Nora and Lloyd celebrated their golden anniversary surrounded by friends and family. In a way, it was the wedding they never had.
1. “Westerville, Ohio,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westerville,_Ohio: accessed 13 January 2014).
2. Boone County, Kentucky, marriage certificate no. 218 (1935), Lloyd R. Ballenger and Nora Belle Eberhard; Kenton County Clerk’s Office, Covington, Kentucky.
3. “Lloyd R. Ballenger and Miss Eberhard Marry,” Public Opinion (Westerville, Ohio), 4 April 1935, p. 2, col. 4.
© Copyright 2014 Shelley Bishop
This is the second in a new series, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks," coordinated by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.
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