Many Chillicothe stories that I have shared on this blog have been set at 24 S. Washington. From my 3rd to 11th grade we lived in this very small house near the viaduct. Then one day my dad came home with some good news. We had just bought a house over in Highview at 222 East Polk and it was located right across the street from Grandma and Grandpa Gardner.
I had helped Grandpa build his house years before out of used lumber. I asked Dad which house it was and he said it was George Ballinger's old place. I knew that house well, George was a good friend of mine growing up. He grew grapes in his backyard; and he would let us kids eat them anytime they were ripe. George used to carve beautiful walking canes; they were very detailed, well crafted, and painted. I still have one of his works today. As child, I sat and watched him carve for hours and he would tell me stories of his life. George rode his bike all over town even though he had a Model T Ford in his garage that ran very well. At his estate sale Mr. Allnutt (who owned the Windmor) bought his car and drove it home.
Back to the house, I remember telling dad that George's house was even older than ours; the one we rented for $35 a month at the time. He said we were going to tear it down and build a new one with the used lumber we saved from tearing down our buildings on South Washington when the state constructed the four-lane Hwy 65 that ran past our house.
There were many tales told around town about George's money being buried on his property; these stories kept us looking and digging for jars of money for some time. As we began demolition of this old house we did find a gold mine! As we started ripping out the walls ---all of a sudden bees were everywhere! They were in our hair and getting in our clothes. I think they thought we were bears after their honey. We ran and ran and didn't stop until we reached Grandpa's house across the street.
There were so many bees that we had to call a bee keeper to come and collect them. A week later we resumed tearing the house down. By the time we finished with the inner walls we found honey combs in every outer wall in the house. From the top to the bottom the old house was dripping honey! Five gallon bucket after five gallon bucket was removed until we were forced to throw some away. We never found the riches people talked about but we sure had honey for years.
The greatest riches of all was the friendship of George Ballinger and the stories he had told when he lived there. My mom and dad lived out their lives in the new house we built. After they were gone, I sold it for the same amount I gave for my work truck that I drive today. When I started into school they had to settle down in one place so I thought it only proper to call it my folk's "House on Wheels" because they loved to travel. I still go by this house once in awhile and look closely to see what has changed; and remember old times.