1925 Mount Vernon Baseball Boys

This eager group of baseball boys was taken around 1925, probably somewhere on the north side of Mount Vernon. The only currently identified person in the picture is Roy L. Rockwell, the short boy in glasses gazing at the sky, just underneath the end of the bat.

MOUNT VERNON -- Summer vacation is over and school is back in session -- as much as it can be, anyway, in these days of pandemic.

But until times are easier, we can reflect on times that were. Maybe it was around this time of the year in 1925 when this joyful photograph was taken. It features a number of Mount Vernon schoolboys gathered to play baseball.

Not a lot is known about the picture. It was presented for display in the Knox Time collection of local images on Facebook by Marilyn (Rockwell) Parker, who knows the identity of one of the boys, because it's her father as a child: Just under the end of the bat being held by the tall boy is a shorter boy. He is wearing glasses and seems to be looking up into the sky. His name is Roy L. Rockwell, and he became familiar to Mount Vernon residents for many years as the proprietor of Rockwell Furniture in Mount Vernon.

Roy was the son of Robert and Emma Rockwell. According to the 1920 census, the Rockwells lived on Mansfield Road, near the intersection with Belmont Avenue, which would be near the northwest corner of Moundview Cemetery. Roy's father worked as a packer at a local flour mill.

If the picture was taken in 1925, Roy was 11 years old at the time. If he seems short for that age, his World War II draft card confirms that even as an adult, Roy never got over 5-foot-4.

In the early years of his adulthood, Roy worked at the Timken Roller Bearing Company. Later on, he opened an appliance store on Columbus Road in Mount Vernon, then concentrated on furniture when he moved his store to Harcourt Road in 1962.

After his 1972 retirement from the furniture business, Roy moved to Florida. But instead of taking it easy, he started a new career as a real estate agent, which he pursued until his real retirement, age the age of 88.

He then moved back to Ohio to be near family, and passed away at the age of 93 in 2007.

This photograph is almost certainly of a school activity, because of the boys' clothing. Nearly 100 years ago it was indeed a more formal time, but even then, boys getting together on Saturday for a pickup game of baseball would not have worn ties and blazers. These are surely school clothes.

What school it was for, and where the photo was taken are unknown, though the Rockwells' family home on the north side of town would make it likely it was somewhere in that vicinity.

The photo is also interesting because it is evidence of at least some degree of racial integration during a time when that was not the rule. The three African-American boys sit together, but they are in the group picture and they're not relegated to the back row. Were they allowed to fully participate as players?

We don't know, but their placement in the photo suggests it. Whatever tensions the community has known over the years, it's also worth knowing that there have been times when things ran a little more smoothly, too.

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