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Paul Whiteman Recalls Early Days in Bridgeport

By Richard S. Bailey

Paul and Ellenor Whiteman
Paul and Ellenor Whiteman today, at their home in Bridgeport. The pair have been married for 78 years. Photograph by Richard S. Bailey.


On September 16, 2005, hundreds of Bridgeport High School alumni and fans gathered to celebrate Fifty Years of Indian Football: 1955-2005. All of the decades of B.H.S. football were well-represented that memorable evening. Many exhibited their pride by wearing their old jerseys. Some reminisced with old locker-room tales while observing politely how time had changed their appearances.

As the undefeated 2005 Bridgeport Indians charged out onto the field, the fans in the bleachers cheered wildly. Then the public address announcer, Mr. "Gooch" Holbert, made this introduction: "And now, leading the 'parade of the decades' is the elder statesman of the Bridgeport High School alumni in attendance this evening, Mr. Paul M. Whiteman, Bridgeport Class of 1927. Let's give this 96-year-old gentleman a big round of applause!"

It was unclear how many people in attendance had ever heard of Mr. Whiteman. His life span extended well beyond the 50 years being celebrated that evening. Few knew how many detailed memories this gentleman held concerning the history and traditions of Bridgeport.

I arranged to meet with Mr. Whiteman to gather some of those memories. Our first interview took place on November 29, 2006, at the Whitemans’ residence. Paul and his wife, Ellenor, live in a modest, sturdily constructed home in Bridgeport that he built with his own hands. They had been childhood sweethearts, wed in Spencer in 1930. He and Ellenor welcomed me into their home with warm hospitality.

The elderly gentleman sat in his favorite recliner in the quaint living room. Examples of Ellenor's oil paintings adorned the walls. Above Paul’s head was a reverent wedding photo of his parents from 1902. A rather large, framed photo of Paul and his three brothers hung on the other side of the room. Paul points out, "That's Roy, me, Walter, and Harley." At that moment, the familiar sound of a train whistle blew along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks that slice through the middle of this Harrison County town.

Paul Whiteman's life had humble beginnings at a small community four miles northwest of Bridgeport, named Adamsville.

You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.