Donald A. Wheeler
Our father, Donald Arthur Wheeler, was born on August 19, 1921 in a duplex house (up and down) at 8 Prospect Street in Binghamton, New York. His father, Ralph Earl Wheeler, was working at the New York National Guard State Armory in Binghamton. His mother was Ruth Marie Caywood. Dad was the third of five children to Ralph and Ruth.
By 1927, when dad was about 6 years old, the family was living at 19 Franklin Street in the First Ward, one block south from Prospect Street. Dad’s grandparents, the Caywoods, lived down the street at 33 Franklin Street. He attended grammar school at the Oak Street school on the south-east corner of North and Oak Streets, the same school we attended as kids thirty years later.
When they were children my father and his brothers and sister and probably most of the kids in the neighborhood spent summers swimming in the Chenango River just at the end of Franklin Street. There was a bath-house on the river for changing clothes. After a couple of very bad floods in 1935 and 1936 a flood wall was built along Front Street.
Dad attended high school at Binghamton Central on Main street. I don't believe he graduated before enlisting in the National Guard in 1940. We have a record of his GED, taken years later, after he married our mother.
Dad enlisted with the 104th Field Artillery of the New York National Guard in 1940 when he was about 19 years old. He was in training when war was declared in 1941. He was sent to Hawaii in 1942 and later fought on Saipan and Okinawa. He was back in the States and discharged in 1946.
Mom and Dad were married twice. The first time was 26 September 1947 in Binghamton, New York. Dad was 26 years old, mom was 19. They were divorced on 23 May 1949. They married the second time a year later on 16 June 1950 in the town of Hoosick, Rensselaer county, New York. We didn't know about these facts while we were growing up. When I was in my late teen's our grandmother Harriet - mom's mother, we called her Kate - told me they had married twice. I think she wanted to get the secret out, but she didn't tell me more - for example why they divorced, or why they married again.After mom died in 2013 while my sisters were going through her house they found court records documenting the settlement of a paternity suit against our father. He was charged with fathering a child with another woman, out of wedlock, while divorced from our mother. The child was born in September 1950, 3 months after mom and dad re-married. Although the baby had been conceived while they were divorced, the news of this relationship would have been shocking to our mother. (She probably didn't know about this before they married again. Why would she have agreed to marry him otherwise?) Our father denied these charges but agreed to a 'compromise' settlement. The settlement directed him to make a lump sum payment to cover the expenses of the child's birth. The amount was a considerable sum for an unskilled working person in 1950.
This 60 year old secret and the fact that mom and dad had divorced and re-married - for, perhaps, other reasons - shed some light on the tumultuous relationship our mother and father had through their marriage.
In 1952 dad was working at Kroehler’s Furniture Manufacturing on Ely Street at the corner of East Catherine Street on the North side of Binghamton. The building was torn down and is now an empty lot. He and Joyce were living at 31 Medford Street on the Southside. I remember our mother telling me that this was an apartment they rented. The house is on a hill and she didn’t like having to start their car - a manual shift Plymouth coupe - on that hill. Dad told me that his work at Kroehler’s was as an upholsterer. We visited the factory once, long after he had left and I don’t remember why. I remember him showing me where he worked. He still had his small upholsterer’s hammer: a long, narrow hammer head with a magnetic end to hold the tacks. The handle was a red stained wood.
By 1957 dad was working at IBM in Endicott, New York. He and mom were living at 26 Franklin Street.
Donald A. Wheeler's Family
Donald Arthur Wheeler, born 19 August 1921, Binghamton, NY; died 28 November 1997. Find a Grave Married: Joyce Beulah Wood , (born 8 December, 1927), m. 26 September 1947.
Children: Donald Forrest Wheeler.
Renee Harriett Wheeler.
David Mark Wheeler.
Lorraine Joy Wheeler.
Donald's parents and siblings:
Father: Ralph Earl Wheeler, born 7 December, 1889.
Mother: Ruth Marie Caywood (born May 1894) 7 Oct. 1912,
Brothers and sister:
1. Frederick (Fritz) Wheeler, b about 1915 m. Ruth
2. Ralph Wheeler Jr., b about 1920.
3. Donald Arthur Wheeler, b 19 August 1921.
m. Joyce Wood
4. Dorothy Wheeler, b about July 1924.
m. Bud Brennan
5. Richard Wheeler, b about 1926.