George L. Ball
Memories and Thoughts
Chapter 1

Birth of A Ball. The Balls First Bounce

I was born in Chicago, Illinois. I don't remember anything about that, although I must have lived in Elmhurst, Ill. for two years [George Ball III at 2 years]George III at 2 years (since my next younger sister was also born there) [for more info on Chicago]. We obviously moved around a bit. I know I lived in Louisville, KY [George Ball's Home in Louisville]Our Louisville Home (where my youngest sister was born) [for more info on Louisville ], a very short time (4 months) in Pass-A-Grille Beach (St. Petersburg Beach), Florida (where my one Grandmother lived) [ for more info on St. Pete Beach] and then Glenshaw, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) [for more info on Glenshaw].

I remember some about Glenshaw (probably more because I went back there to visit relatives). That's where I started school and continued on through the 4th grade. I have a vague recollection of Gas Rationing (a sticker on the car window)and canning of vegetables (W.W.II). I remember once waiting for the pressure cooker to blow up. It never did. [Sister Ann reminds me of the grapes we grew and canned. Occasionally they blew up. Our mother finally threw them away 27 years later when she moved from the farm.]

We walked about 3 miles to school (actually we walked home, Our Dad took us in the morning in the car). [Sister Ann thinks it was only 1 mile, but on a visit back I clocked it.] I remember coming home in the afternoon and listening to the radio (no TV then). We listened to Young Dr. Malone (I think that was the name), Superman, Tom Mix and Sky King (probably others but those are the ones I can remember listening to as we sat beside the console radio- close so we wouldn't miss a word). [Sister Ann reminded me of Captain Midnight and Tank Harrigan also.] A big thing back then was collecting the tops from cereal boxes and sending them in with $0.25 to get a special decoder ring, a walkie-talkie made from cardboard (a sophisticated can with a long string), a ring that you could blow into and get a siren effect, etc. At one point I discovered that if you sent in the money and not the cereal box top you still got the item (that saved eating a lot of cereal).

On Saturday mornings we went to the movies in Etna. There was always a series that each week ended in suspense that made you come back the next week. I well remember Superman and the time that he was about to be crushed in a machine manned by some evil character. Unfortunately, I don't remember how he got out, but I know he survived (at least until now, when he is going to be married- wonders never cease).

In those early days we visited our grandparents on the farm in Zelienople

[Ball Farm] [Ball Farm] [Ball Farm]. We called our grandparents Cowboy [G. L. Ball, Sr.] and Manny [Lillian Irene Price Ball] . Cowboy usually had a western hat on and I remember him having an office in a yellow brick building. The farm house was grand and had a player piano which we all liked to listen to- and pretend that we were playing it. There were Hereford beef cattle on the farm, polo ponies (looked like horses to me), and Shetland ponies. We enjoyed riding them. [Sister Ann says there were cowponies, one buckskin and a pinto (her favorite).] The farm had coal under it so there were places where strip mining had occurred and there were little lakes. There also were lots of Indian arrowheads. We fished some but I don't remember catching anything. Now and then we visited Auntie Mi who lived down the road. They also had ponies which my Uncle showed at the various fairs. The ponies usually pulled fancy wagons.

A highlight of going to the farm was stopping at Baldingers [Baldingers ca. 1990] . It was a country store along the way to the farm which had a restaurant in it. We usually had breakfast which consisted of fried mush. We put syrup on it. [Sister Ann remembers lunch. "They had the greatest homemade hickory smoked ham. I've never liked ham since then. It was the greatest."] I was never in to ham myself. The mush was the greatest and I never ran into it again until the Bob Evans restaurants came out. Now and then we ate at the Kaufman Hotel for our Sunday afternoon dinner.

Almost every year we visited my Grandmother (On my Mothers side) in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. At that time it was Pass-A-Grille Beach, the southernmost tip of St. Petersburg Beach. We called her

Nan Nan [Nan Nan -  Anne Oursler Ellsworth (Husband- Norman)](ca. 1947) . She lived one short block from the beach were we spent many a time jumping in to the surf [Florida]Family at St. Pete Beach . These visits continued for many years. Finally my Mother and Dad spent winters there so that Christmas was often in the warm weather.

My Dad (George L., Jr.) [G. L. Ball, Jr.] and his two brothers Hiram P.[H. P. Ball] and Henry A.[H. A. Ball] were in business together with the Taylor family. The business was started by my Grandfather (George Sr.) and the father of Mr. Joseph M. Taylor [J. M. Taylor]Joseph M. Taylor and made industrial paints and varnishes. It was located on Route 8 in Glenshaw. Across the street was the Glenshaw Glass Company. for more info on the paint business see Ranbar. My most vivid recollection was visiting my fathers office at the plant and sitting at his desk. There was a big green mechanical calculator that chugged away (Marchant brand I believe) and hanging on the wall next to his desk under the window was a plaque. This plaque, which today hangs next to my desk [Ball Plaque] , reads:

For when the One Great Scorer

comes to write against your name

He writes- Not that you won or lost

- but how you played the game.

I only learned many years later that this plaque was a give-away item from the Company (but I'm not sure how it was done). I'm sure that my Dad lived by this saying and that is how he brought me up.

Uncles Hiram and Henry and their families also both lived in Glenshaw. Uncle Hiram lived in a house adjacent to ours- the back yards connected. Uncle Henry lived on the same street as Uncle Hiram but some distance away. Our families always got together, which because of the proximity didn't take very long to happen.

Where we lived was called Mount Royal Village. I well remember caroling around the streets of the Village at Christmas time. My Mother made lanterns which contained a candle. The lanterns hung on the end of a stick. We carried these around and sang Christmas carols. Of course the lanterns and sticks were painted white with my Dads paint. My early authorship started in the Village. I remember putting together a joke book. I think I must have made about 10 copies. These were really off-color jokes- the one I remember is: "Why did the chicken cross the road?" "For fowl reasons, of course." I went door-to-door selling them and must have made at least a dollar (a big deal back then).

One strong memory I still have of the Village is the street on the big hill that went from our street to the one Uncle Henry lived on. It was next to the Koehlers on the corner. At that time the "Big Boys" would ride fast down the hill on their bicycles until they got about half way down and then slam on their brakes. In doing so they would slide sideways for some distance making fantastic skid marks.

A rite of "Growing Up" seemed to be performing this stunt. I remember my first attempt on a little yellow bike (10 inch). My first mistake was starting down the hill, the second was going down on a bike that had no brakes- Not that the order of the stupidity was significant. Once started down the hill the only way I could stop was to put the bike on its side. This I did and my skin received the abrasions that were supposed to be taken up by the brake pads. I went home a bloody mess. As it turns out most of the pain was in the embarrassment of not having performed the stunt - it did not go unnoticed - and the scolding I got from my Mother for even trying it.

The worst part of this event was that I tried it again a few years later when I had a larger bike (14 inches?) which had brakes. I again figured that I had "grown up" and that I was ready for the stunt. This second time it was clear that the first and only mistake was starting down the hill on my bike. Having gained considerable speed I finally hit the brakes. This time I don't remember exactly where or how I came off the bike- but suffice it to say I ended up in exactly the same fashion as the first time- the only difference being the abrasions were on slightly tougher skin. Unfortunately the toughness still did not exceed that of the gravel on the street.

The biggest difference this second time was that I refused to take my bloody body home to be subjected to a second scolding from my Mother. This time I stopped at the Koehler's house and Mrs. Koehler helped clean my wounds, so at least I wasn't bloody when I got home. Probably the best thing about this second time is that I learned enough to NEVER try it again. I'm sure this stunted my advancement in to adulthood, but you can't have everything on the way to the top.

Chapter 2 The Balls Second Bounce ...Preview

At about age 10 we (my Mother, Dad and 3 sisters Ann, Helaine, and Sandy) moved to the farm in Valencia, Pennsylvania. This is where I remember most of my growing up years. My three sisters and I went to grade school in Cooperstown (Middlesex Twp) and High School in Mars [and that was in the days of Captain Video (Yes TV finally arrived, albeit black and white) - The Power Rangers would have no chance with Captain Video were he around today].

© 1996, 1997, 1998 George L. Ball

============== 02/15/97 - 01/06/98========================

Start Return to the Start of This Chapter

Next Go to Next Chapter

Text Menu Go to George's Memories Menu