A broken eardrum kept Harold Geary out of the war. His friend, Ross Paswell, had been sent home after having been found unsuitable for naval service. They robbed the Wilson café in Ellwood City at gunpoint in January, 1945. The $50 that they took from the till lasted them four days, at the end of which they and their girlfriends were arrested. The women were given short sentences in the workhouse; the men were sent to the state penitentiary for six to twelve years.
Harold served his time without event and returned to Ellwood City, where he opened Geary’s Cycle Center and managed a motorcycle racing team that represented New Castle in state-wide competitions during the 1970s. He died in 1996, at the age of seventy-four.Sources: New Castle News (3 Feb 1945, “Arrests Solve Ellwood Case”, 7 Feb 1945, “Four Arrested In Café Robbery Are Given Sentences”; 29 March 1974, “Bike Business Booms”; 8 July 1975, “Local Cyclists Take Places”; 5 Aug 1975, “Local Cyclists Take Places”; 12 Aug 1975, “Geary’s Racers Win Trophies”); Beaver County Times, 14 Aug 1976, “House Of Moto Wins Cycle Competition At Bel Mesa Course”.
12 years for $50. Sounds astronomical nowadays.
I think he got out after six years – his partner in crime did, anyway. Still, harsh…
That scumb bag is my biological Grandfather, piece of retched ofal that he was. Left my grand mother to fend for herself, with my mother and uncle in tow. My Uncle went on and served honorably in the Marine Corp’s, and my Mother and father were married in 57, I came along in 60. My sister’s followed very shortly after. I too served in the Marine Corp’s honorably. My uncle is a very wonderfull uncle, and my brother and close friend.
Hi Joseph — thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear that Harold isn’t remembered kindly by his family, although I guess it isn’t surprising. I’m glad his kids have had good lives.
One thought, though. You say your mother was married in 57, so I guess she’d have been around 10 when Harold was sent to jail. Was that the age she was when Harold abandoned her and her mother and brother? If so, that might explain why he vanished from their lives — perhaps Harold’s wife didn’t tell the children that he’d been sent to jail, and told them simply that he’d run off. People often try to shield kids from the shame of having a father in jail.
I don’t know; I’m just speculating. I suppose it doesn’t matter in the long run, but I’d be interested to know what you think.
Thanks again for writing,
Hi. Mr Geary was my neighbor. My husband grew up in Hardyville. We knew him as a kindly older man. After his wife passed, we saw how he missed her terribly. My husband has fond memories of him and his cycle shop. He had told my husband about this robbery when he was a young man. He always advised my husband to stay out of trouble. People make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. I’m sorry his grandson feels this way about him. But there’s always 2 sides to every story. None of us are perfect, I’ve yet to meet any true saints. Sometimes life doesn’t make things easy and we as fallible humans fall short of our goals. Sometimes all you can do is pick yourself up and keep walking, keep trying. I hope his grandson finds peace and learns to accept that we’re all just unbearably human sometimes and sometimes we all fall short of what others expect of us. Thank you for the story.
Beautiful words, Joy. I couldn’t agree more.
Harold Geary was my biological grandfather. He was my mother’s father. My grandmother (whom he was married to) often told me stories of how he was physically abusive to her. She told me of the night she escaped with my mother and my uncle.
My mother spoke with him on a few occasions asking if he would like to know how many grandchildren and great grandchildren he had (at that time) and he said he didn’t want to know. Also, in the early ‘90’s my sister and husband went to his bike shop but he refused to speak to them. It could be he didn’t want to be reminded of his past.
Like you mentioned we all have made wrong decisions in our past. I don’t hold it against him. I would like to know if he had anymore children and if he had any siblings. If you had information you would like to share that would be greatly appreciated!
Nice blog thanks ffor posting