GREENVILLE - Mary (Harney) Sparks came to Greenville Wednesday, visited the Lowell Thomas House on the Garst Museum grounds and left with a lot of memories.
Sparks and her family (parents and two sisters) had lived in that house when it was situated in Woodington. It was moved to Garst Museum in January 1986.
“I lived there from second grade until I was 21,” said Sparks, who now lives in Beavercreek.
That house was the birthplace of the famous newscaster on April 6, 1892.
Sparks and her entourage - niece Karen Kilbourn of New Carlisle, Kilbourn’s brother-in-law Craig Jenkinson of Greenville and Bob Sharp, family friend and the family’s accountant of 40 years - walked through the house, upstairs and downstairs.
“Those doors are the same,” she said, as the group walked from the living room into the dining room, where she signed a guest registry. “We had a stove in that corner.”
Their house in Woodington never had a bathroom, but it did have a basement, which was not moved with the house.
“The porch had a pump,” she said. “The kitchen had a pantry and a little table we all ate on. There was a wash basin in one corner and a stove in another. There used to be a cellar door there [in the corner of the dining room].”
What is now a window in the kitchen was a door when she lived there.
The dining room was used for company and I remember Mom having a Christmas party one year.
“I don’t know how she did it,” Sparks said. “I remember candles but I don’t know how many were there.”
While traipsing through the parlor area, she recalled how her grandfather, who lived with them at the time, died there and his casket was placed there for viewing.
The upstairs which ascended from the parlor area, she said, was the same as she remembers it.
While making her trip upstairs, she stopped and recalled how she would slide down the banister in her younger days. However, she declined to do it Wednesday. She is not sure it’s even the same banister.
The walls in those days had wallpaper on them, unlike paint as they do today.
“Mott Ganger had an old barn in the back of our house,” she said. “The lady at the post office out of the grocery would put our mail on a holder for the train to take. And, the train would drop off our mail.”
She remembers her mother beating rugs and the huckster man coming around with food.
“It was ordinary living.”
In the hamlet of Woodington at that time were a post office and grocery, an elevator and a church.
The difference in the exterior of the house now is that there used to be a mailbox and a couple of trees out front and it is more decorated today.
Sparks herself moved to Dayton after she left this area, becoming a hairstylist/beautician.
“I moved to Dayton in 1945 and got my beauty license in 1947 from Casa Beauty School.
Her parents were John and Sarah Loure Harney, and she had two sisters, Carol Jean Bogard and Patricia Newbauer, all of whom are deceased. Her husband, Ray, died this past January and her only child and daughter, Cynthia, died Dec. 30, 2012.
Mar and Ray met at a bowling alley, and went together for six months before they were married on May 1, 1954.
“It lasted 60 years,” she beamed.
“Ray was a master plumber,” Sharp said. “He taught a lot of backflow classes to schools and went to work for Clark County Health Department as a plumbing inspector. He retired last year and died in January.
Sparks was a hairdresser for eight years and, after she married, quit to raise her family.
Even though she lived in a famous house in Darke County, Sparks said she was too young to realize that Lowell Thomas was famous.
“I was too young to know,” said Sparks, who is now 88.
She attended the two-room Woodington School until eighth grade, then went to Jackson School, now Mississinawa Valley, graduating in 1945 from Jackson.
Others in the group on the tour were also graduates around here; Sharp in 1962, Jenkinson in 1968 and wife Bridget in 1974, all from Greenville, while Karen graduated with the class of 1976 from Arcanum. Karen said her brother, Mark Bogard, graduated in 1972 from Greenville.
Sparks has been wanting to make the trip to Greenville for quite some time after having read about the house being moved, but was unable to with illness and deaths in the family over the years.
“I’m glad I came,” she said. “It brings back a lot of memories.”
Before moving to the Thomas house, the Sparks lived on a farm on State Route 571 toward Union City.
“It was across from the stuck School,” she recalled. “I was born there.”
They then moved out of the Thomas house after 1947, when they moved into the Teegarden house, also in Woodington.