When I opened up the little brown notebook to write about it yesterday, what should fall out but a newspaper clipping?! And that is perhaps the best place to begin exploring this little encyclopedia of family discoveries.
The news article—clipped so closely as to eliminate any clue as to publication or time frame—was brief. Judging from the content, it was from a Fort Meade, Florida, newspaper. The narrative explained that my maternal grandmother had decided to pay a visit to her childhood home.
Based on the clue of her return from Disney World, we can pin some parameters around the publication date. Disney World didn’t open until October, 1971. Since my grandmother most likely wouldn’t attempt such a trip from her home in Ohio without her husband, and since he died in 1988, we at least have a window of time for this report—wide, but a window.
My grandparents had traveled from Ohio to Florida for a vacation, but while there, that call to return home must have seemed all the easier for proximity. Though she hadn’t lived there since the 1920s, an entry in her little book confirmed that she had kept in touch with some childhood friends in Fort Meade.
It didn’t take long to learn what the “R. R.” stood for: Reuben R. Childers was listed in the 1920 census in his widowed mother’s household, along with his brother Pinson and other siblings. A 1935 Florida state census for Polk County showed newlyweds Reuben and what looks like “Aina P.” Childers still living in that same household. The 1945 state census shows the wife’s name morphing to “Ina P.” A transcription of state marriage records yields a wedding year of 1934 but maddeningly does not reveal that wife’s maiden name.
Whoever “Mrs. R. R. Childers” was, she maintained a friendship with my grandmother from childhood years, through geographic separation after the McClellan family moved out of town, and through adult years and across hundreds of miles. The little address book closed the gap.
Mrs. Jack Davis of Columbus, Ohio, visited Mrs. R. R. Childers here Monday, after visits to Disney World and to her brother, William McClellan, in Tampa.
Mrs. Davis is the former Ruby McClellan, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. R. C. McClellan. Dr. McClellan practiced dentistry here, and his daughter attended Fort Meade schools.
Mrs. Davis tried to find familiar landmarks, but found Fort Meade much changed since the family left here for Tampa in the 1920s. She did find the former home, now the Ed Heath home, and was happy to identify some part of her past.