Growing up in Ironton, Ohio in the 1920s and 30s was a challenge. Raymond’s father was a gifted carpenter and built the home in which Raymond and his two younger sisters were raised. However, Ironton was a city already in economic decline when the Great Depression struck. The safety net and programs of FDR’s New Deal were slow to reach Ironton. Raymond’s father had to move the family several times to find enough work to put food on the table.
Making the times more challenging was the flood of January 1937, when the waters of the Ohio River submerged most of Ironton. The first floor of Raymond’s house had 33 inches of water. The family lived on the second floor for several weeks. Raymond’s father built a rowboat that he used to get food and milk. The children climbed out a window onto the roof to warm up on sunny days. However, there were greater challenges still ahead.