African American life in Franklin focus of book

She signs her books “Eva Louise Polley, aka ‘Weesie.’ ”

The sharp, independent 86-year-old has lived in Franklin her entire life.

Her great-grandfather, Peyton Polley, came to Franklin in 1886 on a wagon train from Kansas. He came with his bride, Mary Catherine Peasley. Polley has written a book about her family’s experience titled, “African American Life in Franklin, Ohio.”

She presented a lecture and book signing at Franklin Library on April 18. Polley’s family home was at the corner of State Route 25 and Pennyroyal Road to the north. She graduated from Franklin High School in 1947.

“I was in high school during the war years,” Polley said. “I remember around 1943 all the students, grades 7-12, walked uptown to the theater to see ‘Hitler’s Children.’ ”

She was a member of The Civic League, and the cover of her book features Polley on the far right with two friends in the organization. She was active in Girl Scouts, even into adulthood. Polley was a member for 57 years, and registered as an adult. It was called Senior Scouts, and they did service projects and campouts. One of their service projects involved organizing an Easter Egg hunt for handicapped children.

A memorable part of the 160-page paperbound book reads: “I was not a competitive person, but often I needed to get my words out in a hurry for whatever reason. Too many times Mama told me that ‘My mouth ran faster than the clatter bone of a goose’s behind.’ ”

She’s remained single her entire life. The self-described “late bloomer” graduated from Miami-Oxford in 1972, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education. She did her student teaching at Jonathan Wright in Springboro, and taught social and life skills at Hopewell in Franklin for 28 years. She retired in 1991.

“The community was so wonderful when we opened our school. I’d be walking down the street, and a man would say to me, ‘Weesie, is there anything you’d like to have for your school?’ ” said Polley. “And I said, well it would really be nice to have Cuisenaire rods.”

These were little wooden blocks and rods that helped teach math for visual learning. Ten tiny blocks would make up one rod, and so on. Polley had a soft heart for the learning disabled, and thought of creative ways to teach core subjects.

After retirement, she volunteered as a tutor at Franklin Junior High for three years.

Never one to sit still, she volunteered at St. Paul Lutheran’s Second Time Around Shop for 12 years. She is still a member of the church.

She played around with the idea of writing a book for a long time, and got serious about it after she joined a writing group at the 741 Senior Center in 2012. Her library talk featured some of the old editions of books she has: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and The Standard Dictionary of Facts published in 1923.

Each book costs $15 by mail order: Eva Louise Polley, 13 Emerald Way, Franklin, 45005. All proceeds will be donated to the Franklin Area Community Services/Food Pantry.

“We were very excited to have her come and talk about her book,”said Franklin community relations librarian Dara Bradds. “She’s been a patron for a long time, and she’s just a wonderful, warm person.”

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