Clarence V. Eldridge Jr.

July 03, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART
  • Clarence Virts Eldridge Jr. and his wife, Joy Michael Eldridge, pose for this picture taken on their wedding day in 1943.
Submitted photo,

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs "A Life Remembered." Each story in this continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Clarence Virts Eldridge Jr., who died June 18 at the age of 88. His obituary appeared in the June 21 edition of The Herald-Mail.

With the world at war in 1943, Joy Michael and Clarence Virts Eldridge Jr. took a chance on love.

More than 67 years later, the couple still was charting life's sometimes bumpy course together. Only illness, it seemed, could tear them apart.

"We were so young back then," Joy said.

Shortly after that midwar wedding ceremony, C.V. left for Europe, destined to become part of the third-day wave of U.S. military to hit the shores at Normandy in 1944.

"I don't think we ever thought anything would happen to him," Joy said.


The pair started dating in 1939. Joy said she was sure from the start that C.V. was the man for her. It turned out she was right.

"C.V. used to joke a lot and he would surprise me with gifts all the time," she said. "He loved doing that."

On their 65th wedding anniversary in 2008, C.V. surprised Joy with the trip back to Gettysburg, Pa., where they were married. Daughter Julie Carbaugh said both were celebrated at the Gettysburg Hotel. In the case of the 2008 event, it was at the rebuilt hotel since the original had burned down.

Truly a couple in every sense of the word, the Eldridges' life was lived together, in good times and some challenging times. A number of years ago, C.V. stood by his wife as she battled her own health crisis and won. With the help of an experimental drug, Joy survived although she still has issues.

Born several years after her father's World War II service, Julie said she enjoyed having his undivided attention as the only child.

"I spent a lot of time laughing," Julie said. "Dad had a great sense of humor ... a wonderful wit."

As a child, C.V.'s earliest memories centered around the family business, The Eldridge Dairy. He often would follow his father to work, riding on a milk wagon with only a lantern between his legs to warm him on cold mornings, Julie said. He later earned $1 a week getting the milk bottles ready for the bottle washer.

"As a child, I had to learn to be quiet during the day because my dad was sleeping," Julie said.

When he grew up, C.V. became associated with his father in the business, serving as general manager until 1957. During those years, he oversaw the pasteurization and milk testing operations although he never fully let go of his home delivery skills.

"His customers all loved him," Julie said.

For the next two years, he was sales manager at Potomac Farm Dairy, Julie said. He owned and operated Joy Bread Distributors until his retirement in 1980 -- the last of three milkmen still providing home milk delivery in Washington County.

Living in Leitersburg then, C.V. enjoyed raising animals and collecting cars and trucks. C.V. also found time to amass a collection of milk bottles, Julie said.

It was in 1984 when Julie married Ken Carbaugh. It turned out to be the beginning of a strong friendship between Ken and C.V. in addition to an equally rich married life with Julie.

"I knew of the Eldridges before I knew Julie," Ken said. "C.V. always said he wanted me to marry Julie so he could spend time with me."

For many years, C.V. and Ken used to travel from Leitersburg to Berkeley Springs, W.Va., to load up with good spring water for home use, Ken said.

"Then, we would yard sale all the way home," Ken said.

During their talks in the car, Ken said he learned a lot about the history of Washington County from C.V. Ken said he knew many people from his years on the milk delivery route.

For Julie, the bottom line for her relationship with her father will be the happiness he gave her over the years.

Even though the business consumed a lot of C.V.'s time, he always would find a way to spend some time with his family.

"He'd take me to Ocean City and to Atlantic City," Julie said.

But she remembers he always would have to return home in a day or two because of the demands of the dairy.

"Dad was a man no one could ever forget," Julie said, and she would know.

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