Anita Courtney pays tribute to her dad
The former Paw Paw homestead of Irvin and Zora Bailey was scheduled for demolition last fall. The home was located on the former Hollow Road, now called Orchard Lane, about three miles outside of Paw Paw. The family hadn't owned it for years and it was in a state of disrepair, said their daughter Anita Bailey Courtney.
Courtney asked the home's new owner Carl Hill if she and her family could say goodbye to her parents' home. She got a few pieces of wood and a door knob and piece of wallpaper from the room in which she was born as keepsakes.
Courtney also shared with Hill a story that she wrote called "Daddy's Dream" that paid tribute to her father's dream of building a home there when he was a young man. After Hill read her story and realized how much the old house meant to Courtney, he decided to restore the house and turn it into a chapel instead of tearing it down, she said.
Unfortunately, the Bailey homestead burned down in a February 21 electrical fire. The back end of the house and the chimney are still standing, said Courtney. All Courtney has left now are old photos and memories of her parents' home in its finer days.
Courtney's grandparents Elijah and Nancy Bailey had moved from Virginia to Paw Paw seeking employment and a place to live. Irvin Bailey was their second youngest child. Before he left for the service during World War I, a spot on the hillside near Paw Paw caught his eye. He decided that when he married he would build a home there for his family.
After the Army, he worked at the orchard and as a carpenter. He married and built a home at Woodrow along the highway. His land was taken by the state when they decided to build a new road. Bailey acquired some land where he had long dreamt of building a home. He built a five-room bungalow with a cellar with the help of A.V. Riley. Courtney was born in the house in 1933.
Courtney's father planted apple trees, peach trees and maple trees and cleared land
for a chicken house, a hog pen and a garden. The home had rose bushes, lilacs, snowball bushes and flowerbeds and brick walks.
Courtney recalled a smokehouse where they hung hams and a cellar full of apples, potatoes and canned goods from the garden. They had tame rabbits and cats and dogs. Baby chickens were sometimes kept in a box behind the kitchen stove until it was warm enough for them in the chicken house.
There was no running water. It was pulled up from the well in a long bucket, said Courtney. Until 1940, there was no electricity in the area so they used kerosene lamps. Courtney's dad made two swings for the front porch, which was a great place to be when it was hot, she said. The family also loved sitting in chairs under the shade of the maple trees.
"People had time then to enjoy those things," said Courtney.
Courtney recalled her childhood playhouse, climbing trees and playing games for hours outside with friends. Their big hill was a great place to sled ride. They also rode a wagon and a kiddie car down the hill, though it wasn't much fun pushing them back up the hill, she noted.
"We had great imagination. We didn't have TV or any of the things young people have today. It was a wonderful time to be living," said Courtney.
Courtney remembers the warmth and security of her parents' home.
"It was a good life for all of us. It was a lot of good memories," she said.
Courtney married Charlie Courtney in 1956 and moved to Great Cacapon. They now live in Berkeley Springs.
A great guy
Irvin Bailey worked for Consolidated Orchard and later for the tannery in Paw Paw. He passed away when he was 64 years old. Courtney said that her dad loved people and animals and was a father to everyone around.
"He was a special kind of guy. He worked hard and enjoyed life," she said.
"Her dad was a nice fellow, a good hunter and fisherman and a good Christian too," said Charlie Courtney.
Courtney read her story "Daddy's Dream" to members of the Paw Paw Senior Center this spring. The Courtneys are active members of the senior center.
Anita Bailey Courtney worked at Interwoven and the Consolidated Orchard Warehouse and also was a homemaker. Her husband worked for Compton's Trucking and also for the B & O Railroad as an operator and train dispatcher.
Anita Courtney enjoys scrapbooking, gardening, playing piano, sewing and getting together with friends. Charlie Courtney is a veteran and has been involved in the World War II monument committee. The Courtneys are the parents of Greenwood Elementary Principal Barbara Whisner.
Courtney's grandson Jim Whisner made her a birdhouse out of wood that was retrieved from the family homestead before it burned. The birdhouse is a miniature replica of her parents' home, complete with a front porch and latticework and all its details. Courtney will keep the birdhouse keepsake in a special place indoors.
While the Bailey homestead is gone now, the dream of Courtney's father's home on the hill still lives on in her heart.