The snow started falling lightly as we sat down to eat lunch at the Old Clifton Mill. Looking out the window we could see the water wheel churning water along the banks of the Little Miami River. My Mom was telling me about her and her three sisters and her brother playing along these banks when they were growing up. Now you can see some of the two and half million light strands lining the banks of the river, part of the "Legendary Christmas Light Display at Clifton Mill." We read the menu printed on the back of the Clifton Mill, a newspaper printed up telling the history of the Clifton Mill, "the largest remaining water powered grist mill in the United States", and the Village of Clifton, birthplace of Woody Hayes.
The trip my Mom and I had planned today was to visit the area they grew up and to get a feel for the area they used to know as home before they finally moved to Xenia, Ohio. I had known my Mom and her siblings had lived here for a few years growing up. My grandfather and his two brothers had also lived here for a few years when they were younger. They were about seven, five and three years old. My grandfather, Larry, was the eldest Bud was the second, and Frank was the youngest. At some point their parents had divorced and the three boys went to live with relatives. Their father worked hard to save money so he could take them and raise them. After some time their father took them and moved to a place on Larkin Road with some other relatives. They slept in the barn there. Their father would go out and pick up scraps and dump trash from the workers of the Three C Highway being built at the time. There was not much money to be made, but the workers knew about the boys living in the barn so they would take food and cardboard and hide them inside the barrels for them when their father would come and make pick ups. The cardboard they used to cover the cracks in between the wood walls of the barn to keep the snow from coming in on top of them while they slept. There were times when they would wake up with snow on the blankets and they would have to get up and shake it off. Eventually their father found a job working on the railroad, and he was able to move with the boys to Xenia, Ohio. Many years later after the boys were grown and gone he remarried a sister of his first wife and they lived out on a farm in Jamestown on Jamestown-Gunnersville Road.
We drove along Wilberforce-Clifton Road looking for Larkin Road. The barn was no longer there, but the little house that their relatives lived in was still on the corner lot next to a gully full of trees with snow covering them. You could see both roads right now, but in the spring and summer when the leaves cover the trees you wouldn't be able to see the main road. I tried to picture the barn standing behind the little house with no step under the front door. Today was the perfect day to get that feeling of trying to put myself in my grandfather's place. The snow was falling harder now, and I was trying to keep warm as I pictured them sleeping in the barn with the cardboard covering the walls to keep the snow and wind out so they could be a little warmer.
Written Jan. 26th 2001 by: Michelle Whitt