Joan Pool by Arushi Badola
Upon my arrival into Joan Pool’s home, my eyes adjust to the collection of photos on the walls each labeled by date, the welcoming living room, and the old booties of two children strategically placed on a large hutch. The framed silhouettes of family members and glass vases each hold a special place in Joan’s heart. Watching her smile as she recalls some of her fondest memories, transports me into her past. The sound of chimes signaling each passing hour becomes faint in my memory as I both absorb myself in the story of her life.
Joan Pool was born on December 5, 1929 in Canton, Ohio to Elleda Bell Strong and Dale R. Jefferson. In the early 1900s it was more common for babies to be born in homes rather than in hospitals. Taking her first breath in her grandmother’s house, Joan was able to feel the importance of family since birth. Joan had a pleasant childhood which she shared with her two sisters. After spending a few years in her hometown, her family moved to North Canton when she was eleven years old. The move was prompted by the promotion of Mr. Jefferson who, at the time, worked at Timken. North Canton also attracted the family because of its reputable school system. A developing town of about 3,000 residents, North Canton was home to a close-knit community.
Though she enjoyed her youth, Joan quickly discovered that school was not her forte. She remembers that in a class of seventy-eight students, one had to be mindful of his or her words as rumors spread as quickly as wildfires! In a place that left little of an impression on Joan, one teacher remained embedded in her memory. When Joan was six years old, she contracted pneumonia and had to miss six weeks of school as a result. Being the youngest in class already proved to be a disadvantage however, Joan’s first grade teacher went out of her way to assist the first-grader with her studies. History soon became Joan’s favorite subject even though remembering specific dates didn’t come naturally.
During high school, Joan followed the commercial path of studies and pursued her aspiration to become a florist. With the help of her well-connected uncle and a sum of money left in his will, she jump-started her career while still a junior in high school. While she was focusing on completing her last few years of school, one of her siblings had other pursuits in mind. Joan’s older sister was in the high school band and so was the young man she was trying to set her younger sister up with. Little did she know that Joan had already set her sights on him. Soon the two developed a relationship that blossomed into a marriage lasting nearly forty-four years. Before officially tying the knot, Joan’s husband, William Pool, dropped out of school and joined the army. The two married after he returned a year later in 1949, at his parents’ house.
As the couple’s lives took shape, the small town of North Canton changed with them. Plans were soon developed to build the North Canton Medical Center on a hill. Joan and her husband attended one of the meetings where these plans were proposed. The close-knit community of North Canton was curious and skeptical of erecting such an ambitious plan in the heart of its town. Change was not easily accepted. Following the completion of the North Canton Medical Center, the city’s size commenced to grow as people of different ethnic backgrounds began constructing their new lives from the ground up in the small town. While discussing several developments that took place in the city, Joan recalled that while in school, she lived between Canton and Massillon in a place called Genoa at the end of the street. During her time, Genoa was all farmland but over the years it transformed into the Perry High School one can see today.
The oldest individual Joan can recall is her maternal grandmother. A woman characterized as having striking red hair and a pleasant personna, Joan remembers her grandmother sitting quietly in a rocking chair. During the first World War, however, her grandmother had spent most of her time on her feet working at Timken while the nation’s men were overseas. Her husband worked as a carpenter and had dedicated several of his hours to developing railroads. The majority of Joan’s family lived in Canton however many had roots in Mineral City. Her father had grown up in Pennsylvania and he would often take his family to meet his brother, a father of seven children, who still resided in his hometown. Trips to Pennsylvania always excited Joan, as her cousins made every visit memorable. While taking a course in Lakewood to become a florist, Joan would drive back to her sister’s house on the weekends. Eventually, her younger sister moved out West to New Mexico with her husband. There, she became a teacher while harboring her love for horses. Joan’s older sister married a young man in Utah and became a nurse. After staying there for several years, she returned to Jackson with her five sons and one daughter. Since both of her sisters had left the state, the responsibility of taking care of the Jeffersons fell upon the shoulders of Joan. Her parents’ house still stands tall with a double garage on Lindy Lane in North Canton. Joan notes that though the house has remained intact, its surroundings have changed drastically. After the war, the country was faced with a massive building boom which trickled its way into every city- large and small. Soon Lindy Lane was transformed from a predominantly agrarian setting to a well-populated suburb. Joan’s father worked as the head of the forging shop in Timken and her mother was a homemaker. Though her father was a strong advocate for education, his own academic pursuits were halted after six weeks in college due to the passing of Joan’s grandfather. During this time, Joan’s father left college to take on the responsibility of caring for his family. At home, he began taking courses and educated himself in a small town in Pennsylvania.
Joan’s husband William Pool, followed a similar path as his father-in-law. Though unable to receive his high school degree, Pool paved his path to success on his own terms. William discovered his gift of drumming at a young age. By the time he was in his teens, he began performing in nightclubs- accompanied by his father of course. At one instance, he was approached by a man hoping to make a career out of William’s talent. However, the drummer found himself turning down the offer for was he was sent to Korea when he was sixteen or seventeen years old. After serving in Japan and Korea, William returned to his home country. Yet again, his talent was discovered by his comrades. They advised him to tryout for the national band in the army but he was satisfied with his work with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also believed that the army was no place to raise a family and so he soon returned home to Joan. In 1967, William was awarded a patent for developing a ladle spoon that could be used to take out hot metals. His design prevented the spoon from contaminating any mixtures and breaking off in the solution. Joan and William started their own family business shortly after their wedding with the birth of their four children: Steven, Cynthia, David, and Rebecca. Steven pursued higher education and successfully became a professor of business at Ashland College. Cynthia, the second-oldest, became a preschool teacher and continues to teach to this day. David became the co-owner of North Canton Tool company, a family business, along with his youngest sister Rebecca. All are happily married and have blessed Joan with eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Around the 1950s William Pool and his father-in-law began the North Canton Tool Company. The company’s primary focus was forging, grinding, and heat treating disks used in the rubber industry. The company’s early days can be traced back to William’s barn on Applegrove. Eventually, the company moved to Canton. To Joan’s disappointment, the name wasn’t changed to fit the new location. After five years of business, William and Joan bought the entire company from Mr. Jefferson. Together, the Pools ran the North Canton Tool Company successfully for several years up until the passing of William in 1993. Soon after, the company was handed down to David and Rebecca, with whom it still remains.
Joan revealed what it was like growing up during the Wall Street Crash which began in 1929. The unemployment rate was at a staggering twenty-five percent and nearly everyone was affected in some way by the Great Depression for nearly a decade. Fortunately, during her childhood, Joan never felt as if her family was struggling and remembers being shielded from much of the perils faced by families across the rest of the country. She explained that the news didn’t circulate very well back then and movies’ newsreels and newspapers served as the primary source of information. Perhaps after being inspired to take action at school, Joan and her neighborhood friends spent some of their time collecting anything and everything that had rubber on it to help the country during the war. Looking back on her sudden burst of patriotism, Joan admits her collection should truly have been labeled a small pile of rubber instead of a considerable donation! Every week her family bought saving stamps at ten cents a piece that went toward the war. After the second World War, Joan made fond memories of celebrating with her entire community in Canton. Hollywood commenced producing some of it greatest hits during this time: Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Bambi, and Old Yeller.
During the latter half of her life, Joan has become an avid traveler. She boasts having visited thirty-three countries over the course of her life. Egypt has perhaps captivated her the most with its grand pyramids and ancient scriptures. A close second are the Terracotta warriors found in China. Sometimes she has made these trips with her sister and her husband along with Hummels tours. Another memorable trip of hers was in Ireland. She was planned to go from Ireland to England just one day after Princess Diana was killed. When she arrived, her heart broke seeing thousands of flowers clustering the solemn streets of England. She has also visited Russia, Germany, and Zimbabwe to name a few more countries. In 2004, Joan tethered herself to a bridge in Australia! One place she wishes she could add to her list is Japan. Visiting sites with deep culture and history attract Joan the most. From each country she brings home handmade trinkets to add to her vast collection. Another collection she had started is taking pictures of unique trash cans. In each country she has an eye for spotting the most creative and outrageous designs so much so that she has two full albums flooded with pictures. Nowadays, she busies herself by traveling to art shows nearby, keeping up with the news, and watching Downton Abbey, Victoria, and Doc Martin. Every family Thanksgiving, Fourth of July celebration, and Christmas is celebrated at Joan’s where she prepares the food and a theme for her loved ones. After spending an afternoon with Joan, I have realized that family has been and continues to be the cornerstone of her life.