In late December 1945, Troy Lee Partin, from the remote and rugged mountains of southeastern Kentucky, returned from Europe, where he had served as a U.S. Army medic. He immediately caught a train to Carthage Texas, where he married Marie Westbrook on January 2, 1946. They had met and fell in love while he was stationed in Texas for basic training. They were soon on a train to Lima, Ohio, where Troy’s mother, Ida and his step-father, Glen Extine, had moved during the war to work in the defense plants. They had decided to stay in Lima, and Troy soon found work at the Lima Locomotive Plant.
At 2:44 pm, Thursday, November 14th, at St. Rita’s Hospital, their first son, Ronald Lee Partin, arrived, weighing in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces. The new family resided at 1012 S. Central Avenue. I spent my first four years in that apartment building.
My Uncle Bob Mason had also migrated to Ohio and had announced to his sister Ida Bell (my grandma) that he was now a converted Republican and would never vote for Truman. Upon hearing that I had been born, grandma immediately called her brother and announced, “I just had me another Democrat!” and slammed down the phone.
My very first memory was sitting on a chair at the kitchen table in a pair of shorts, looking out at our small back yard. There is a pile of sliced baloney wrapped in butcher paper on the table. I am in shorts and it is a warm day. I also remember being mesmerized by the old steam locomotives passing by our house. I recall a spanking for riding my tricycle down to the railroad tracks. I remember returning home after a snowstorm and seeing a huge snow bunny in our front yard. A family behind us, the Georges, ran a small grocery out the bottom floor of their house. A few years later their son was killed in Korea.
On June 27th, 1948, a second boy, Donald Lynn Partin, arrived at the house. More about him later.
Sometime while we lived on Central, I sent my mom to the hospital. Supposedly, I had turned on the gas knob on our kitchen stove. It was before pilot lights, so when mom struck a match and opened the oven door it flared. They rushed her to the hospital, and she came home with her arms bandaged. Fortunately, she sustained no permanent damage. Of course, I don’t remember any of this, but the adults all pinned it on me. So, I assume it is accurate.
In 1951, Mom & Dad bought a small trailer, and we moved to a trailer park near Grandma’s house. I do mean “trailer,” not “mobile home.” It was only 28 feet, with a small bedroom in the back, for Mom & Dad and a bigger room in the front, with a tiny kitchen, a table that folded down, and a fold-out couch that served an the kids’ bedroom. No bathroom.
I remember the trailer park washroom, reeking with an awful disinfectant aroma. We played in Hoover Park behind the trailer park, frequently with our nearby cousins, Jerry & Wayne Extine. I recall we had a dog, whose name is lost to me. Keeping him in a dog house next to the small trailer didn’t work out too well. Dad drove him out to some farm in the country to give him away. Everyone was surprised to see him waiting at our door the next morning.
I recall my dad coming home after drinking with some friends one night. Mom was pretty upset with him. [Her father was an alcoholic and left the family when she was two. Understandably, she had a zero tolerance for alcohol. More about that later.] I found his cap on the ground and threw it into the dog house. Don’t remember why. I don’t know if he ever found it, and I never shared this story with anyone!