Joyce B. Wood
Joyce Wood was our mother. She was born to Harriet Rosevear Wood and Forrest Wood on December 8th, 1927. The family was living at 18 Mendlessohn Street in Binghamton, New York. Forrest and Harriet had moved to Binghamton from a farm in Boyd’s Mills, Wayne County, Pennsylvania only 3 or 4 years earlier and Joyce was probably the only child of the family born in Binghamton. Joyce was the youngest of five children. She had two sisters, Rhoda and Dorothy, and two brothers, Carl and Dorrance. Her father, Forrest, was working as an engineer, probably at the Binghamton Washing Machine Company on Clinton Street, about ½ mile away.
Before Joyce was five years old the family had moved out of Binghamton and by 1932 they owned property in the town of Kirkwood where Forrest had begun his own used automobiles and parts business. In 1933, before Joyce’s sixth birthday, they had purchased the house at 26 Franklin Street in Binghamton, where Joyce was to spend her childhood and raise her own family.
Joyce attended Grammar school at the Oak Street school on the corner of North Street and Oak Street in Binghamton. This is the same school we attended twenty-five years later. Her future husband and our father, Donald Wheeler, six years older than Joyce, also attended this same school. Joyce was also taking dance classes and learned how to tap dance, something she always loved. On occasion she would dance a few steps for us in the house when we were growing up. We have a photo of her taken during a performance when she was about 10 or 11 years old.
After Joyce graduated the sixth grade in 1940 she attended the East Junior High School on Robinson Street on the East side of Binghamton. This would have meant that the family no longer lived at Franklin Street and Joyce’s father, Forrest is not listed in the Binghamton City Directory for 1941. His brother, Effinger is, though, living on Broad Avenue, on the East side, and working in auto repair. This suggests that Effinger and Forrest worked together in the used automobile and parts business. Joyce spoke of living near “the Yard”, her father’s business, and learning how to drive on the tractor used to haul the cars and parts around the property. The family was probably living on Upper Court street at the time, just outside the Binghamton City limits, where Forrest had his business.
About this time Joyce had a strong romantic attraction to Joseph Lane, a boy a year older than her. The Lane family lived on MacDonald Avenue, in the First Ward, in 1940, less than ½ mile from Franklin Street. We have school books which she wrote his name on, covering the covers and flyleaves. Joyce would have known him from the neighborhood and also because her sister Dorothy was soon to marry Joseph’s older brother Fred. Joseph joined the Navy about 1942 and was killed in 1944 when the submarine he served on was sunk near Bataan in the Philippines.
By her own account, Joyce left school sometime in the 8th grade, when she was about fifteen years old. This would have been about 1942. She told me that she had enrolled in beauty school in Elmira, New York, studying to be a beautician. I assumed that this was after she left school, but I haven’t found any documents that verify this. There are several beauty schools listed in the Elmira City Directory during the mid-1940’s; Bailey’s School of Cosmetology at 326 East Water Street, Del Kader Beauty Culture School at 158 Fox Street, Dermal-Way Beauty School at 109 N. Main Street. Joyce did work as a beautician after we had grown.
By 1943 the family was living at 26 Franklin Street again. In 1944, before Joyce’s 16th birthday, her mother and father were living separately. I don’t know the details or the circumstances of this separation. Joyce was living with her mother at 26 Franklin Street and working as an inspector at the Drybak clothing manufacturing company at 67 Frederick Street.
In 1945, when Joyce was 17 years old, she was living on her own at 14 Lyon street and working at the Ansco Film company factory on Clinton street. Her father died in April of 1945. The next year she has moved back with her mother, both living in the house owned by Harriet at 31 Franklin Street. In 1947 they have moved back into 26 Franklin street, just 2 doors down and across the street. Joyce is still working at Ansco Film company. In September of that year Joyce married Donald Arthur Wheeler. Donald had returned from the war in 1946. He was 7 years older than Joyce, but had grown up on Franklin Street and the families knew each other. Donald and Joyce were divorced in May of 1949, twenty months later. The reasons for this divorce aren’t known but they re-married a year later in June of 1950.
In March of 1951 a legal settlement was made between Donald and another women at the Children’s Court of Broome County. The woman had named Donald as the father of a child born to her in September of 1950, only 3 months after they had re-married. Donald denied being the father, but a compromise was made with the woman and Donald agreed that he would pay a lump sum of $550.00 to cover “expenses in connection with the pregnancy, confinement and recovery” of the mother and for “the support and maintenance of the infant”. The child would have been conceived in December of 1949, seven months after Donald and Joyce were divorced and six months before they were married the second time.
It would be logical to assume that Joyce knew nothing of the relationship between Donald and the other woman, or of her pregnancy, before she agreed to marry him the second time, else why would she have agreed? The second marriage was made in the Town of Hoosick in Rensselaer, New York by a Justice of the Peace and witnessed by two local residents. Hoosick is over 160 miles from Binghamton, on the border of New Hampshire. Donald was a motorcycle enthusiast and Joyce told us they would take rides and trips together. She enjoyed riding on the back of his motorcycle. June is traditionally the month when the motorcycle rally is held at Laconia, New Hampshire and mom spoke of that rally. It is possible that they were going to or returning from the rally when they stopped to get married. In any case, the circumstances suggest that the second marriage was an impromptu event, probably done on the spur of the moment.
In 1952 Don and Joyce were living in an apartment on the south side of Binghamton at 31 Medford street. Don was working at Kroehler’s Furniture Manufacturing on Ely Street. Their first child, Donald Forrest, named for Don and for Joyce’s father, was born in June of 1952. Their second child, Renee, was born in 1954 and David, their third child, in 1955. In April of 1957 their last child, Lorraine, was born. That same year Joyce and her husband, Don, bought the house at 26 Franklin Street from her mother Harriet. Joyce and her family had already been living there since 1956, presumably renting from Harriet, who had moved to a trailer on Castle Creek Road. In April of 1957.
Joyce had flowers in the yard at 26 Franklin Street; roses that her mother Harriet had planted, peonies, hydrangeas. She also had a small vegetable garden where she grew string beans, chives, carrots, and tomatoes. She also always had animals in the house, especially cats and dogs. Her favorite was Lady, a collie-shepherd mix she got for the children as a puppy. She was close with her sisters Dorothy and Rhoda, who visited almost weekly, it seemed, and where she and Don took the family regularly. She was not as close to her brothers Carl and Dorrance, but she also visited her mother Harriet, who lived in a trailer on the property of Dorrance in Castle Creek.
Joyce was very active in the lives of her children. She became a Cub Scout Den mother for a group of boys that included her sons Don and David, as well as several neighborhood boys. She took her daughters to dance classes and kept them regularly enrolled in Sunday School at Christ Episcopal Church on Washington Street. The Church was important throughout Joyce’s life. The family attended services weekly and she participated in women’s groups. She was also an avid seamstress. She made clothes for her children and for herself.
Early in 1966 the family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. Joyce’s husband, Don, had been offered the opportunity to help IBM set up their facilities in the newly built Triangle Research Park. This was a promotion for Don, but the planning for the move and the move itself was extremely difficult for Joyce and very unsettling for the family and for their marriage. They had always had noisy, and sometimes physical, arguments, but these seemed to escalate and become more intense as the move got closer to reality. When they finally made the move the new house that they had built was not finished and for several weeks they had to live out of two rooms in a Holiday Inn motel on Route 1, north of Raleigh. Joyce never settled in Raleigh and the unsettledness and discomfort she felt was palpable. Arguments continued and finally, after only 10 months, the family moved back into the house at 26 Franklin Street in Binghamton, which Don and Joyce had not been able to sell.
Joyce’s children were the focus and the core of her life. The routines at 26 Franklin street revolved around the children, their schooling and their upbringing. Joyce loved the house and loved living in the First Ward, which she frequently remarked on. She had known many of the families on Franklin street as a child and who still lived there. That constancy provided a stability for her and for the children.
Joyce Wood's Family
Joyce Beulah Wood, born 8 December, 1927, m. 26 September 1947.
Married: Donald Arthur Wheeler, born 19 August 1921, Binghamton, NY; died 28 November 1997. Find a Grave
Children: Donald Forrest Wheeler,
Renee Harriett Wheeler,
David Mark Wheeler,
Lorraine Joy Wheeler,