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Jan. 2, 1909 Letart Falls Meigs County Ohio, USA
Aug. 5, 2002 Rock Springs Meigs County Ohio, USA
Ralph Russell Badgley was born on January 2, 1909 in a small, secluded house in the area of East Letart, Meigs County, Ohio. His Father was Raymond R. Badgley and his Mother was Martha Alena Donohue Badgley. Ralph was the eighth child of Raymond and Martha. His siblings were James Arthur, born in 1896, William Dennis, born 1897 and died in 1898, Harley Herschel, born 1899, Cecil, born and died in 1901, Ernest Cloist, born in 1903, Lenna Myrtle, born 1905 and Zella Virginia, born 1907.
Ralph's father died before Ralph was a year old. Martha was left to raise six children on her own. She got some help with the family from Raymond's brother Oscar Day Badgley who moved into the household right after Raymond's death. She was a hard worker and Ralph inherited this trait from her. The family ate what they could grow in the garden and purchase from the meager pay of hard labor working on the nearby farms. Martha also had chickens and sold eggs. She was known as the fastest strawberry picker in Letart. Their wages were something like a penny or nickel per box so she had to pick fast to earn enough to supplement their income.
Whenever Martha would cook a chicken to feed her family, Ralph being the youngest, got to eat what the other children didn't want. They got the legs, wings, and breasts. He got the gizzard and the neck. These became his favorite parts of a chicken dinner. Even in his old age, whenever there was a chicken dinner, these parts were reserved for him.
In 1917, Ralph's older brother Hershel, joined the Army and went off to fight the Huns. He served in the Army until 1919. Ralph often told how his Mother worried about Hershel and of the joyous occasion when he returned from the war.
Some of his favorite times as a child was when he was allowed to go "across the river" to visit Martha's family. He would row a boat across the Ohio River and spend time with his cousins roaming the hills around Letart, Cottageville and Jackson, West Virginia. As a youth, when time permitted, he loved to play the games of baseball and basketball. He became a very good athlete. Baseball was his game and his position was Catcher. He could hit the ball very well and soon earned the nickname "Buster" which stuck with him for his entire life. In his early adulthood, he formed a team called the Racine Bulldogs. He enlisted some pretty good players for his team including an ex-Cincinnati Reds player, whose name has been forgotten. This player urged Ralph to go to Cincinnati and try out for the Reds team. For some reason Ralph never went. Had he gone, he probably would have made that team. The Bulldogs used to travel to other towns to play their local teams. They would usually play on weekend afternoons and after the games would "pass the hat" among the spectators to gather enough money to cover their expenses. Some times they would stay overnight at the opposing players' houses and return the hospitality whenever a team came to Racine to play. Once, in a game at Belpre, Ohio, Ralph got to bat nine times and had nine hits. That's quite an accomplishment. He was a Cincinnati Reds fan all of his life.
Ralph and his brother Cloist were avid hunters and fishermen. When they were boys, they used to go fishing and whenever they caught a fish they would clean it and cook it over a fire right there for meal. They used to run a trot-line from the shore at Letart Falls to Letart Island. What they didn't keep to eat, they would sell. Ralph loved to go rabbit and squirrel hunting.
In the late 20's Ralph met, and fell in love with Dorothy Pearl Hysell from Pomeroy. Ralph's best friend was Julian "Noony" Hill and Noony's girlfriend was Inez Duffy. They used to "double-date." Ralph and Dorothy married on September 17th, 1931 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in a double-ceremony with Noony and Inez. Ralph and Dorothy had six children. Ruth Ann, born in 1932, Darrell Eudell, born in 1934, Bonnie Jeanne, born in 1937, Larry Ralph, born in 1939, Ina Karen, born in 1943 and Charles Stephen, born in 1948. All in Meigs County, Ohio
Ralph's formal education ended after the 8th grade, but he was a very intelligent person. He had an excellent command of reading and mathematics came natural to him. He could hold an intelligent conversation on just about any subject. Life itself was his teacher. He was a bookkeeper and a timekeeper for the WPA during the depression years. He learned farming and became one of the area's best farmers. He once owned a dairy farm and raised cabbage, tomatoes and vegetables for selling and canning. In the late forties and early fifties, he sharecropped tomatoes and cabbage for Bill Crow of Letart Falls and Thereon Johnson at Plants, Ohio. He also ran the dairy farm for Thereon. In 1956 he bought 8 acres of land in Tuppers Plains, Ohio and built a chicken house large enough to raise 6000 broilers at a time. He took a job with the State Highway Department and worked there full time while maintaining that chicken and truck farm. He injured his back while working for the State and had to give up his job there, but he kept the chicken farm until 1966 when he sold it and moved to Racine. He always had a big garden and made sure he had enough to share with all his children and their families. He had a reputation for the ability to grow anything. He once put an old stake into the ground beside a flower that Dorothy had planted. He did this so he would not run over the flower plant while mowing. The flower died, but the stake took root and grew into a tree.
Ralph loved to travel. He and Dorothy took several "vacations" from their farm work to travel around the country with their friends Elson and Dorothy Spencer of Racine. One of his first cars was a Ford Model T and he said whenever he came to a steep hill, he would have to turn the car around and go up that hill in reverse. He said that the engine on that car had no fuel pump and the gasoline was gravity fed to the motor. The fuel tank was placed so that if you attempted to climb a steep hill forward, the engine would stall. In the 20's he once went on a trip to St. Louis with Noony and another fellow in an old Ford pickup. Ralph got very sick with Rheumatic Fever, and nearly died. He rode all the way back from St. Louis in the bed of that pickup. Back in those days, not all the roads were paved so you can imagine what a bumpy ride that was. He enjoyed the trips to Woodsfield, Ohio to visit his Daughter Bonnie, to Virginia to visit his son Larry and to New York when Karen lived there. He used to talk about those trips a lot. When his daughter Karen and her husband Tom moved to California, Ralph and Dorothy drove out there to visit them. Ralph took his first plane ride in 1990 when he and Dorothy, along with daughter Bonnie and her husband Brian, flew to Oregon to visit their son Larry and his wife Joyce. Larry's CIA job had taken him to Bend, Oregon. Ralph liked the flight so much; he did it again the next year. Their Grandson Darin Simpson, who worked for the airline, got them first class seats. It was one of the highlights of his life.
Besides baseball, fishing, hunting and sports, he loved music. He could play the harmonica and one of his best renditions was a tune called "Redwing." He enjoyed the "sing-a-longs" the family used to have when they would gather at his house. His son Steve would get out his guitar and the whole family would sing all kinds of songs. His favorite snack was bread and milk. His favorite color was blue; his favorite flower was the rose. Ralph's life had its share of tragedies and happy moments. He lost his Grandson Kevin at an early age and his oldest son Darrell at age 38. These two deaths affected him very much. When Kevin passed away, it was the first and one of the few times I have seen him cry. His personality was such that it was difficult for him to show emotion. However, I know he was very shaken by these events. Only in his later life was he able to really show his emotions and only then sparingly. He was proud of all the accomplishments of his children, especially of Larry and his graduating from college and his career with the Central Intelligence Agency. He dearly loved his children and grandchildren. .
Ralph was a dedicated Father, Husband and Christian. He was a hard worker who sometimes couldn't make himself quit. He would work from sunup to sundown. He was always fair in his dealings with others. He was funny and amicable at times and at times stern and unmoving. He was both generous and thrifty. He was always "there" for his children and grandchildren. He was revered by his wife. He was loved and cherished by his children and many people. He was well known and respected in his community and is greatly missed by all who knew him. Ralph departed this life on August 10, 2002.
The Lilied Pond In memory of my Father, Ralph Russell Badgley by C. Stephen Badgley
Somewhere there is a beautiful pond, fed by a slow moving stream. It lies among gently rolling hills who wear a dressing of orange colored leaves and fallen branches from the many trees who dropped them. The water is dark green, and at the shallow end, near the creek, there are water lilies growing profusely. Their pink and white blossoms permeate the air with a sweet fragrance carried by the soft breezes wafting over the water. Blue and green dragon flies dart and hover near the shoreline. The sound of their wings buzzing as they streak up and down the water's edge blends in with the croaking and grunting of numerous frogs. The stream makes a gurgling sound as its waters flow gently over the rocks in its bed and enters the pond. The hills behind me are ringing with the songs of many different kinds of birds. I hear the Robin's song, the Blue Jay's chatter, the tweeting of the sparrows, the cooing of the doves and in the distance, I believe I hear a quail calling for Bob White. A brilliant, red Cardinal is streaking down from the top of the hill and you can see traces of scarlet as it glides among the trees. An old black crow starts to caw somewhere up in the hills and is soon joined by a couple others as if trying to create a raspy group sing-a-long. Its funny, I say to myself, this noise, the air is filled with it, but it's so peaceful and relaxing. There's a swirl in the water as a bass attempts to snatch a struggling grasshopper from the surface. As I sit down in the thick, green grass along the edge of the pond, I gaze into the water and see many bluegill swimming around. A big one slowly rises from the depths and goes after a water spider that has stopped his gliding across the surface for a little too long. You can see the big bluegill eyeing the snack he is anticipating. His orange chest seems to expand as he flares his gills in and out. The water erupts as he suddenly makes a thrust upwards and attempts to inhale the spider. Too late, the spider escapes. The bluegill makes a sharp turn and heads back down towards the bottom of the pond. He looked so disappointed.
As I sit there taking in the beautiful sights, sounds and fragrances of this special place, I begin to wish I had a fishing pole to try my luck. But I am not allowed to fish here just yet. I haven't been given permission from the owner. I hear a familiar sound and as I look towards its source, I see my Dad. He's coming towards me from the other end of the pond. He's wearing his green work pants, and an old ragged gray sweatshirt. He has his brown work shoes on and sitting on his head is that familiar old Cincinnati Reds baseball cap. I can tell he hasn't shaved for a couple of days. In his left hand he's carrying his yellow Fenwick fishing rod with that silver Zebco 33 reel on it. He's gripping it and his big green and gray tackle box in the same hand. In his right hand he has a stringer from which is dangling the largest bass I have ever seen. He is grinning ear to ear as he walks towards me, struggling with his load, slipping and teetering a few times as he hurriedly makes his way to show me the monster fish he had just caught. As I begin to stand up to walk to meet him, I wake up.
I know this special place exists for I've been there several times in my dreams. Just my imagination you say? Wishful thinking? Too much pizza? I don't think so. I believe God showed me this place for a reason. I miss my Dad so much, but I take comfort in knowing I will someday be with him again, sharing the pleasures of a quiet afternoon when the fish are biting, the birds are singing, and troubles are nowhere to be found. There at that lilied pond.