Mary Wright Fisk, born in 1907, grew up in Oberlin within the orbit of a large extended family which included grandparents, cousins, and aunts, in addition to her parents and brother. Her father, Clarence J. Wright, was a prominent businessman and civic leader; her mother, Nellie Parsons Wright, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin in 1903. Mary recalls some vivid childhood memories:
"My first memory when I was living at 17 North Pleasant Street was waiting impatiently at the door for the school bell to ring at Westervelt, a block away, where I attended first grade. I was so eager to go to school I would have gone before the teacher, Miss Brady, arrived. My mother insisted I wait for the school bell. Before the first grade I have a vague memory of going to a kindergarten class above my father's store. This was called Wright and Parsons on West College Street where the Carlyle Shop is now.
In 1914, when I was seven, we moved to 124 Woodland Avenue, which was a very friendly street with many children. All the houses had large gardens. A family called Yocums even had a barn and a cow. Later they took the cow to a house on North Main Street and Mr. Yocum would take all the neighborhood children who could fit into their open auto to milk the cow. They were the only car owners on the street at that time, so the ride was a big treat.
I remember particularly Oberlin during World War I. My father's eldest sister and her five children came to Oberlin while their father, a surgeon, was in France. They lived in a small double house on Woodland and brought with them a player piano. I loved to go there and my cousin, Bob, would clown and pretend that he was playing the different pieces. They seemed to have lots of classical and popular rolls. My aunt Maude's daughter, Elizabeth, was an excellent piano player who always played when the family got together to sing. Her father supplied her with all the popular music of the day.
In my childhood diary I included the fact that Miss Thomas was a 'peach of a teacher'. I remember I was the fairy queen in a spring play because I had the most hair. That hair was a great burden, as my mother had to braid it every day and it took a whole day to wash and dry it. Finally, when I was a sophomore in high school, my mother took me to a hairdresser at 21 North Cedar and she cut it off. I still mark it as one of the happiest days in my life."