Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eastwood family history

Some Eastwood family history, contributed by DeLyle Eastwood.
Dr. DeLyle Eastwood Myrick groupFamily-parents [photo credit]

Earl Vivian Eastwood, born in Kansas ~ 1895?, and Thelma Bernice Yelton of Butler Kentucky, born in Marietta, Ohio, 1898, met at Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. Earl majored in the (dead) languages, then got a Bachelor of Divinity from the College of the Bible, although he was never ordained. Earl also studied to be a concert pianist, played football and hurt his knee, and worked as a cowboy during vacations. As we know, he ended up as a journalist/editor. Transylvania was pro-Darwin, pro-evolution, so that Thelma had to work her way through as a librarian and chaperone because her father did not approve of Transylvania. In the Transy yearbook Thelma, a double major in psychology and philosophy, was described as follows: “Her ways are the ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Earl was described as “Behold, there is a lion in the streets.” Thelma’s sister Ardis and her brother Chestley Lee also attended Transy. Chestley became a well-known pediatric orthopedic surgeon who was later in Who’s Who in America.

Earl’s first job was as an editor in a small town in Kentucky, where he fought the KKK by writing editorials. A cross was burned in their front yard while Earl was out of town. They both hated the KKK , which ended up buying the newspaper to get rid of Earl’s editorials. Earl then got a newspaper job in Indianapolis, where Doug was born in 1924. Earl’s next job was on the Philadelphia Public Ledger, where he and Thelma both enjoyed the Pennsylvania Dutch country and its food. He eventually had a newspaper column under the name of Jonathan Dayton in which he referred to his children as Winken (Douglas, 1924), Blinken (Ellin, 1928) and Nod (DeLyle, 1932).

Doug was very precocious, reciting A.A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young and Winnie the Pooh at age one and a half. But trouble was coming. Doug was “sickly,” suffering from asthma and allergies. He came down with bacterial spinal meningitis with a 107 F fever and became deaf in one ear. His case was written up in medical journals as he was the first documented survivor before antibiotics were developed. Our parents were left terribly high medical bills.

Then more trouble: The Great Depression, the banks crashed. DeLyle’s birth was a Caesarian, and when she was six months old Thelma caught undulant fever (brucellosis) from eating unpasteurized ice cream, which lasted eight years until a cure was found. Earl’s bookish friends included Christopher Morley, author of Kitty Foyle, Hal Borland, Hal Boyle, and Don Marquis, author of Archie and Mehitabel. We always had over a thousand books, including complete sets of Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, the Encyclopedia Americana, plus always five newspapers.

Next we moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Earl was city editor of the Dayton Journal Herald. We stayed in Dayton until about 1944. I remember Doug being a member of the American Junior Rocket Society and having a bedroom full of model airplanes and boats. He subscribed to Astounding Science Fiction and read Sprague de Camp, Heinlein and Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and E.E Smith. He was a semi-finalist in the Westinghouse science contest, though his grades were not outstanding unless he was interested in the topic.

In the summers we went rowing and swimming at Atwood Lake in Indiana for two weeks, and Doug also went to Boy Scout camp which he seemed to enjoy. In the winters in Ohio in the 1940’s there were unusually bright displays of the Aurora Borealis, which we all enjoyed. We used to compete to get downstairs early Christmas mornings to open our stockings first. The last time I did it, when I thought Doug had lost interest, he set an alarm on the stairs and came sliding down the banister ahead of me. At Transy, he worked for a physics professor and talked the Navy recruiting station into giving him an aptitude test for radar operator. He scored so high they did not have him take the physical, which he would not have passed, being 4 F for several reasons.

When Mother hung up a blue star she recited The Spartan Mother’s Farewell to her Son.
“Return with your Shield or upon it.” The Navy was good for Doug’s health and he qualified for the G.I .Bill. He reached Guam and would have been on an aircraft carrier in
the second wave if it would have been necessary to invade Japan.

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