Mystery solved

September 29, 2013
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Children posing in front of the house at 765 Duncan Ave., Washington, are, front row, from left, Dick Gilson, Tom Painter, Jim Craig, Jeff Craig and Peggy Craig; back row, Bert Gilson, Jean Duncan, Bill Reese, Murray Hartman, Nelrose Reese and Bill Jinkens.
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Park Burroughs / Observer-Reporter
William W. Reese standd in front of his home at 765 Duncan Ave. in Washington Wednesday, about 75 years after the first photo was taken. Order a Print

William W. Reese was born in the house at 765 Duncan Ave., Washington, in 1924, and has lived there all his life. He can remember when the sidewalks were boardwalks and the thick maple tree in the front yard was not much more than a seedling.

And he can remember the day that a fellow named George Montgomery gathered a bunch of kids from the 700 and 800 blocks of Duncan Avenue and took their picture. “I don’t know why George took that picture,” Reese said, “but I think he might have been an amateur photographer, and he might have been trying out a new camera.”

Montgomery gave Reese a copy of the photo, taken around 1937.

“I opened up my paper Monday, and said, ‘What?! That’s me, and I have that same picture.’”

Fortunately, sometime many years ago, Reese wrote the names of all the children on the back of his copy of the photo.

He said that a few of those pictured who have moved away from the area may still be alive, but as far as he knows, he’s the only one who remained here who is living.

Reese is the boy wearing the hat with his nickname on it, made from white tape. “Our house was a meeting place for all the kids. We played ball in the side yard, and hide and seek.”

Although Reese and his wife, Ellen, who died in 2002, had planned to have a place of their own, they lived with his parents and cared for them until they passed away and remained there, where they raised their two daughters: Carol Lowery, who now lives in Illinois, and Lynn Bedillion of Washington. Reese was a member of the glass workers’ union and worked for Washington Mould and Kelly Industries before retiring in 1989.

Reese said that when he was growing up, the northern part of the city was mainly farmland.

“I used to catch grasshoppers in the field up there where all those new houses are.”

Not a great deal has changed physically in the 700 block of Duncan Avenue in all those years.

But what has changed has been witnessed by Reese from his front porch.

“I know everybody,” he said. “The front porch is a nice place to live, but people don’t do that much anymore. I’m the only one out here.”

And he was the only reader to correctly identify this week’s Mystery Photo.

Look for another Mystery Photo in next Monday’s Observer-Reporter.

Park Burroughs has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1972. He is the winner of numerous state and regional awards for feature, column and editorial writing. He is the author of two books, “Enter, With Torches: Recollections of a Grumpy Old Editor,” and "Washington County Murder and Mayhem." He retired in September 2012 but continues to contribute to the O-R’s news pages.

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