Perhaps a rendition of “Shades of Gray,” one of their hit songs, would be an appropriate tribute to the one-and-only Peter Tork.
The sports editor of the Middletown, Ohio, Journal described him as a “fine basketball player and equally fine human being” who wanted his life story known “so that black youngsters of the city could look forward to the same kind of success” he had achieved. (1)
Editor Jerry Nardiello was referring to Don Barnette, a Middletown High “Middie” hoopster standout who, like many other African Americans, endured personal and systemic racial prejudice in this country yet broke many barriers along the way. (1)
Nardiello briefly described Barnette’s life in the introduction to the latter’s book, “Is My Skin My Only Sin -- Breaking the Color Barrier,” published in 2004.
At one point Barnette was a team member of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters exhibition basketball team.
“I have known Don (Barnette) from his early days as a basketball player,” Nardiello wrote.”I first saw him as a student athlete at (Middletown’s) McKinley Junior High. When he arrived at Middletown High he had all the attributes of an outstanding guard. He was one of the big reasons the 1952 team was able to win a state basketball championship…” (1)
In 2004 Barnette, by then an Oakland, California resident, returned to his high school alma mater to share his life story -- and advice -- with an audience of young Middies. “The Middletown Journal” covered his visit. (2)
Recalling his transition from high school to college, Robinson stated he had been offered “basketball scholarships to 18 colleges and universities.” But the rescinding of a scholarship from a school he planned to attend -- an action he blamed on race -- prompted Robinson to ask his young audience: “What do you do when you hit a snag?” (2)
He responded : “You’ve got to pick up your character. Get your character in gear,” advising his youthful audience to turn the “whys” into “hows.” (2)
For Robinson, the “why” became a “how” when the scholarship revocation led to his enrolling at Miami University. There, awarded one-eighth of a scholarship, he worked as a waiter, which allowed him to remain at the school. He received a full basketball scholarship the following year. (2)
According to the Journal article, Barnette played on Miami’s 1954-55 MAC championship team, graduated in 1956 with a degree in physical education and industrial arts, and served two years in the Navy. (2)
In the late 1950s Barnette achieved the kind of fame many dream of, but few experience. He became a member of the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters exhibition basketball team.
Barnette “played with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1958 to 1962, though he did briefly leave the team to teach physical education in Middletown City Schools,” the article reported. “His tenure was only a few months -- he left to rejoin the Globetrotters -- but he was the first black male to teach in the district.” (2)
Throughout his career Barnette taught school, was a business owner and a supervisor in the Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education. (1)
In his book he reflected on the “strong patriarch and matriarch of the family and my growing up under that umbrella. I know I could not have been successful without God. Having a strong belief in yourself is good, but with that trust in the Lord made things easier…
“Many times while walking with him and he with me, I thought sometimes I would not make it. I realized that he was carrying me when I could not take the next steps. I had learned wherever you go, go with God...”
(1) Don Barnette’s 2004 biography, “Is My Skin My Only Sin? -- Breaking the Color Barrier,” is available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
(2) “Middies Learn Lesson From Legend” written by Joseph Roberts, Middletown Journal, December 7, 2004.
Photo of Barnette with Middies basketball team and with ball are from the 1952 Middletown High School “Optimist” yearbook, available for viewing on MidPointe Library’s
Digital Archives :
http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org/digital/collection/Midpoint01/id/8192/rec/1 or in the Ohio Room at MidPointe’s Library’s Middletown location, 125 South Broad Street.
Book cover photo of Barnette is from “Is My Skin My Only Sin? -- Breaking the Color Barrier.” Published in 2004 by author Don Barnette. Available for checkout at MidPointe Library.
I thought a Library was supposed to be quiet!
If you have visited the MidPointe Library Middletown lately, you surely noticed a number of construction projects underway - and they were generating more noise than one would usually find at a library! Recent projects have included:
- Removal of the exterior canopy.The MidPointe Library Middletown was built in the early 1980’s and some portions of the building haven’t received a facelift since then. The outdoor canopy had not only become unsightly with rust and decay, but housed failed electrical components built in for lighting. By removing the aging canopy, and updating the outdoor lighting, the entryway is brighter and more inviting as a result.
- Shelving changes. Existing shelving is being shortened to make materials more accessible and to brighten up the space. Note: this does not mean a decrease in the number of materials, as the highest shelves were not being used to store our collections anyway due to the extreme height.
- Study room glass removal.The remote and aging study rooms are receiving an upgrade! While old study rooms are being removed, new study rooms are being constructed near the Ohio Room. These new spaces will provide a quiet and more private area to work on a project or enjoy your library materials.
- Updated audio-visual shelving.As our blu-ray, DVD, and video game collections grow, we needed more shelving for these collections. To accomplish this, we are modifying the shelving for all our audio-visual collections, including music CDs.
- Where are the outlets?As part of the audio-visual shelving updates, we had to move some electrical outlets (i.e. power towers). We have added electrical nearby these spaces and have plans to add more seating with built-in electrical access in to the near furniture.
The hammers may soon be quieted, but MidPointe won’t stop evolving to address the changing needs of our patrons! We hope you enjoy these upgrades and plan a visit to the Library soon to see them in person.
To celebrate the addition of the Doris L. Page Collection* to MidPointe Library’s historical “Digital Archives” we proudly present....
A conversation with Trenton Historian Doris Page
Were you born in Trenton?
Yes, I was born on the family farm on Wayne-Madison Road.
Could you tell us about your family - parents, siblings, any other relatives?
My family came from Germany. On the voyage, the ship stopped at a port in England and one of the young boys became lost there. They were very anxious that the ship would depart before he was found. During the first World War my grandfather had to be careful when he went to town because of hostile feelings toward German people. There were thirteen boys and two girls in our family. My father worked at Armco Steel. Before that he was a streetcar conductor in Hamilton.
What was your childhood like?
We lived out in the farmland. My sister Hildegarde and I had two friends nearby, Gracey and Doris Jean. We had just a few visits during the summers. I remember that we had a Maypole in the yard and invited school friends over.
Could you tell us about the “Log Cabin” that you lived in and its location? Does it still exist? Is it actually a log cabin? How did you end up living there? How long did you live there? Could you share the history of the place?
The log cabin is on Hamilton Avenue in Trenton. It can be traced back to 1830. I researched and found the names of everyone who lived there. My grandfather purchased it in the 1930s to work on as a renovation project. I moved there in 1948 and lived there 72 years.
Were you married? Could you tell us about your spouse?
My first husband was a casualty in World War II. He died in a field hospital in Italy. The military returned him to the United States and he was buried in a military cemetery. Later we moved him to a cemetery nearby. Then I met Wesley Page. We were a blind date. He worked for the IRS in Middletown.
Could you tell us about any of your work experiences?
My first job was when I was a junior in high school. I accompanied a friend to an interview at a shoe store and they hired both of us. I was at the counter selling purses. My first day no one bought anything and I became worried so I had my sister come in and buy a purse. I went to business college in Hamilton and graduated. I worked for Edward J. Gardner and Ohio Casualty. When my first husband died I stopped work for a while. I visited my high school friend in Texas and had a job at a bank there as secretary to the president and executives. Then I came back to Hamilton and had a similar job at a bank there. It was fun because I got along with people and had many different assignments.
How did you get to work earlier in your life? (Roger Miller tipped us off on this one)
I went to work on the streetcar. The fare was only 5 cents!
When did you realize you had a liking/talent for writing and history?
I researched the history of the log cabin/house where I lived. Then I became involved in the Trenton Historical Society Museum and became the curator. Also I became interested in refinishing and re-caning old chairs and did many of them.
Did someone in the community influence you to take up writing or the study of local history? If so, who and in what way?When I was writing many people helped. George Crout read drafts and helped edit. Carl Rupp knew the history of Woodsdale. And I remember Frank Flenner. He was a real character!
How do you conduct your research? Do you rely on previously written and/or oral histories? Do you interview residents? Do / Did you visit historic sites?
I learned to research when we were making applications for Chrisholm and other houses in Madison Township for the National Register of Historic Places.
How many books have you written?
Five, overall. Marie Johns and I wrote The Amish Mennonite Settlement in Butler County, Ohio in 1983. I was 62 years old. Miltonville’s Story was next in 1986. I wanted to document Miltonville because it was being absorbed by Trenton and would lose its identity. The next book was Where Was Busenbark? in 1991. “Woodsdale’s Story” was published in 1994. The Trenton Historical Society Museum needed funding and the proceeds from the book sales went to fund the museum. There was also “Trenton People, Trenton Places: 175 years” written with Marie Johns, JoAnn Howell, Robert McIntyre, and Myra Garrett. These books can be found at the MidPointe Library. Copies of The Amish Mennonite Settlement in Butler County, Ohio and Woodsdale’s Story are for sale at Chrisholm Historic Farmstead.
Overall, how would you describe your life in Trenton? Please share one of your fondest memories of Trenton or the surrounding area.
I have lived here all my life. I was growing up at my grandparents’ farm on Wayne-Madison Road when my father built a house in Trenton and the family moved into town. I became homesick for the farm, so my grandfather came with the horse and buggy and picked me up and took me out to the farm every day for a while.
* You can find the Doris L. Page Collection of historical works on MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives, accessible via our website
www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary > Digital Archives
Books written or co-written by Mrs. Page are available at MidPointe Library : .http://encore.middletownlibrary.org/iii/encore/search/C__Sdoris%20page__Orightresult__U?lang=eng&suite=def
Adam Wanter, MidPointe’s Digital and Special Collections Archivist (above left) and Roger Miller, Middletown Historian, (right), contributed to this article. MidPointe Library is grateful to Mrs. Page’s son, Gary Page, for his assistance in obtaining information for this article. We also thank Bryant Riley and Anne Jantzen for their contributions to the project.
The photo of the Trenton Historical Society and its sign (above) are from the organization’s Facebook page.
Celebrate Trenton, Ohio history and those who’ve helped bring it to life!
The Trenton Historical Society will honor Doris Page, Ed Keefe and JoAnn Howell Monday, March 11, during a dedication ceremony at the Trenton Historical Society Museum, 17 E. State Street. Plaques will be placed in the museum highlighting their years of service.
The ceremony will follow the group’s 7 p.m. meeting at the Trenton Mennonite Church Fellowship Hall, where Dr. Cameron Shriver will discuss “A Brief History of the Miami Nation.”
Memo to local history buffs:
Check the MidPointe Library Events calendar for our History/Genealogy Speaker Series and related programs!
Then start your research at the Ohio Room and adjoining Local History and Genealogy Gallery at our Middletown location! The one-of-a-kind Ohio Room is chock-full of yearbooks, city directories, local history books of all types and so much more. The adjacent History/Genealogy Gallery offers numerous items that can be checked out on your MidPointe Library card.
At MidPointe-Middletown you can also peruse microfilm reproductions of Middletown and Butler County, Ohio, newspapers dating from the 1800s to the present!
At your convenience take an online trip through time via our Digital Archives:
and our vast eLibrary (numerous Research Databases including newspaper archives) at www.midpointelibrary.org
At MidPointe Library history is alive and well!
TriviaTuesday: It was 51 years ago today, February 19, 1968, that “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” (initially “Misteroger’s Neighborhood”), featuring the beloved Fred Rogers, made its nationwide television debut in black-and-white. It eventually would become one of the most popular and revered programs on Public Broadcasting Service. Here’s today’s trivia question:
Which puppet on the show was named after Mister Rogers’s wife?
According to “The Good Neighbor -- The Life and Work of Fred Rogers” by Maxwell King, the puppet, Queen Sara, was “named for Rogers’s wife, whose full name is Sara Joanne Byrd Rogers…” Also known as Queen Sara Saturday, the character is “as reasonable and even-keeled as her husband (King Friday XIII) is not. She is thoughtful and caring in ways reminiscent of Rogers’s mother and his wife…”
In the above photo Queen Sara is the middle character on Mr. Rogers’s right. The photograph was made available on Google.
Look to MidPointe Library for all things Mister Rogers, including “The Good Neighbor - The LIfe and Work of Fred Rogers” by Maxwell King. Published in 2018 by Abrams Press.
Check out our extensive Mister Rogers collection including works for children and adults at :
Library cardholders can also access our vast eLibrary of books, magazines, TV shows, music and more via our website: https://www.midpointelibrary.org/
No library card? No problem! Sign up for a free card for you and your children today at any MidPointe location! :
Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and Liberty Center in Liberty Township.
Today’s “Throwback Thursday” blog celebrates local African-Americans whose work in the music field resonates to this day.
Thanks to a series of personality profiles that appeared in the Middletown Journal in the 1990s (*), we recall the names and photos of some of the groups and individuals who left their musical mark in the Middletown area and beyond.
While by no means a complete list of local talent through the years (and considering that members of musical groups change over time) our blog presents a look-back at African-American entertainers as they appeared in the Journal series.
Do you remember...
The Determinations vocal group which consisted of brothers Donald and Jerry Bryant, Harold “Happy” Henderson and Sam Johnson, who was added after he was “discovered singing in the shower at Middletown High School.” In time the group became “one of the top touring acts in America” and performed with luminaries such as the Temptations. At their last concert in 1979 in Louisville, Kentucky, they appeared with Little Anthony and the Imperials. “Girl Girl Girl,” their first record, was released in 1969.
Herbert ‘Rocket Jockey’ Mays
Herbert ‘Rocket Jockey’ Mays, “...one of the area’s top DJs in the early 1960s when he spun records at local radio station WPFB. Best known for his lively chatter and ad libs while playing the top soul, gospel and R&B tunes, he also played records at dances and various social functions...” At the time the Journal article was published Mays lived in Louisville.
The Myers Brothers
“The Myers Brothers” who “drove taxis during the week and, on the weekends, were well-known as the Myers Brothers Dance Band. They played in Cincinnati and Dayton and included John, Elhue (unsure of spelling), David, James, Cleophus, Clarence, Frizell and William (The Shoe Shine Doctor).”
Nationally-known comedian Nipsey Russell, who “lived on Yankee Road in the middle 1930s and attended South School until his family moved to Cincinnati. There he completed high school at Cincinnati Woodward and attended the University of Cincinnati…”
Pat Stewart Moore
Pat Stewart Moore, a former “Miss McKinley” at McKinley Junior High, who went on to lead an entertainer’s life of touring, much of it in Tokyo, Japan. She performed with celebrities and said her “greatest thrill was singing for a commercial with Olympic Gold Medalist Florence Griffith-Joyner.” She eventually returned to the Middletown area, where she shared her musical talents at church and helped lead a city youth choir.
Russell Warfield, a gymnastics standout at Franklin High School who became a “cast member in the original touring company of the Broadway musical, ‘CATS.’” He appeared in commercials, pursued a modeling career, and was a show coordinator. He traveled extensively around the world.
Share your musical memories of the artists mentioned above or other locals whose talents still strike a chord with you!
*Information for today’s blog is based on The Black History Month profiles that appeared in the Middletown Journal in the 1990s. The articles were prepared by the local NAACP, its President Louie Cox, Cheryl Wilson and Carlene Cox and can be accessed on microfilm at MidPointe’s Middletown location.
**Photo of the Determinations from KramerPrints2017. Nipsey Russell photo from www.mycast.io.
Immerse yourself in music at MidPointe Library!
Find your favorite artist, group and more in MidPointe’s catalog. Or check out our vast collection of music, movies, TV shows and more via our e-Library. Both are available at
Love is in the air today, Valentine’s Day!
Look to MidPointe Library for all your love-ly needs, including the latest romance fiction and last-minute party, crafts and cooking ideas for all ages!
Check out our catalog at:
www.midpointelibrary.org > Catalog Search > Valentine’s Day, or directly at:
Library cardholders can also access our vast eLibrary of books, magazines, research databases, music, movies, TV shows, as well as our own Digital Archives (the source of the endearing Valentine that accompanies today’s blog).
Just go to www.midpointelibrary.org > eLibrary.
No library card? No problem! Sign up for your free card at any MidPointe location : Middletown, West Chester, Trenton, Monroe and our newest home on the second floor of Liberty Center in Liberty Township!
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!
The storied history of the Trenton, Ohio, area -- composed by the 98-year-old resident and author who experienced it firsthand -- is now available on MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives.
Today, with pride and gratitude, MidPointe premieres two titles from The Doris L. Page Collection, a digital assemblage of the works of the noted Trenton historian and lifelong resident.
They are “Miltonville’s Story” (1986) and “Where Was Busenbark?” (1991). Each appears in its entirety at: http://www.midpointedigitalarchives.org/digital/collection/p16488coll22. Both are full-text searchable.
With the blessing of Mrs. Page, more of her works will be added at a later date, said Adam Wanter, the MidPointe’s Digital and Special Collections Archivist. In the coming weeks MidPointe plans to highlight Mrs. Page and her illustrious career on this blog.
Many Trentonites know Mrs. Page as the lady who lived for decades in Trenton’s “Log Cabin/House” at 310 Hamilton Avenue.
The structure “can be traced back to 1830,” recalls Mrs. Page, who has also written or co-written other local history books. “I researched and found the names of everyone who lived there. My grandfather purchased it in the 1930s to work on as a renovation project. I moved there in 1948 and lived there 72 years.”
Learn more about Mrs. Page’s long, fascinating life in the following biography written by fellow local Historian Roger Miller:
Mrs. Doris L. Page has spent her lifetime as a resident and recorder of Trenton and its surrounding area’s history. Being 98 years old, she has seen much of it.
For 72 years she lived in a log house on Hamilton Avenue that she traced back to the original founder of Trenton – Michael Pearce and his 3000 acres of land. Mrs. Page feels that the house is special. People driving by would never know that it was a log cabin and that it sits on four acres with a barn that was built around 1809.
Her parents, Abe and Emma Young, met while riding the traction car to work in Middletown; her father worked at the American Rolling Mill Company (Armco) and her mother at the Sorg Paper Company.
Mrs. Page grew up in Trenton, first worked in a shoe store in Middletown, also riding the traction car. She then attended business school in Hamilton before obtaining a job there. Once she told me that she rode the “trolley” car each day to Hamilton to work and that the motorman knew her well enough to stop and wait for her if she was running late.
The Second World War was very hard on Mrs. Page. Her first husband was killed during that war. She later married Wesley L. Page. They had two children.
Her historical endeavors have been many and include spending 30 years as co-chairman of the Trenton Historical Society with JoAnn Howell. She has been a driving force for the saving of Chrisholm, now a MetroPark of Butler County, and the Mennonite heritage of the area. She has done extensive research that has led to the writing of or sharing the writing of five books, and many articles. The books, available at MidPointe Library, are:
With Marie Johns, “The Amish Mennonite Settlement in Butler County, Ohio”
“Where was Busenbark?”
With Marie Johns, JoAnn Howell, Robert D. McIntyre and Myra Garrett, “Trenton People, Trenton Places: 175 Years”