Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan

Douglas Corrigan was one of those short-time residents of Norwood who went on to become famous. When he was thirteen, he lived here for a few weeks in 1920, at his step-mother's home, with his father and brother, while his mother was ill.


Douglas Corrigan worked as a mechanic on Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis with responsibility for the wing assembly and the installation of the gas tanks and instrument panel. Years later, Corrigan attempted his own succesful trip across the Atlantic. After a non-stop trip from California to New York, Corrigan flew east to Ireland. He said it was an accident caused by weather and a faulty compass. He had planned to fly back west to California. He lost his pilot's license for a couple of weeks, but was greeted with parades for months after his return by ship. It was said that the estimated one-million people attending the parade in New York was even larger than Lindbergh's. At this time he became known as "Wrong Way" Corrigan. He wrote an autobiography, THAT'S MY STORY and played himself in a movie, "THE FLYING IRISHMAN".


Douglas Corrigan was born Clyde Groce Corrigan in Galveston, Texas, on January 22, 1907. After the divorce of his parents, his mother starting calling him Douglas, the name, it was written, that he adopted as his legal name when he became an adult. The elder Corrigan had left the family in 1916, supposedly on a business trip, but really because he was in debt. Two years later, he wrote his wife telling her that he wasn't coming back. Soon after the divorce, he "married a fairly well-to-do spinster he had met in Norwood, Ohio." Douglas described her as being "about Dad's age, and quite stout, with high blood pressure."

After his parents divorced, Douglas lived in San Antonio, Texas, with his mother, brother Harry and sister Evelyn. By July, 1919, they had moved to Los Angeles, California. Around June, 1920, when the school year ended, Douglas' mother became ill. By the start of the next school year, the doctor had concluded she had cancer. Douglas didn't return to school at that time. The elder Evelyn decided that she wanted to live with her foster mother in Taretum, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. On the way, by train, the family stopped in Fulton, Kentucky, to visit her sister Ida Alverson. Ida convinced Douglas' mother to let the boys live with their father in Norwood while she was in the hospital.


Young Douglas wrote that his father came down to Fulton and brought him and Harry to Cincinnati by train. From there, he continued, they went "on out to Norwood, where his wife, May, owned a house." Douglas said that he and his brother couldn't call her "mother," so they called her Aunt May. He wrote that they "were only there a few weeks before Dad persuaded Aunt May to sell the house and move to New York City so that Dad could try to get some big financier interested in some of the inventions he had been working on for the past few years."

This indicates that Douglas may have lived in Norwood after the start of the school year in 1920 and attended a Norwood Public school for a short period. He would have been 13 years old. He said he was in the 9th grade while in New York — that same school year. He had jumped a grade previously at ages 10-11.


While living in New York, Aunt May provided the money, since the elder Corrigan was busy pushing his inventions instead of working. While living in New York for ten months, Douglas attended public school. At the end of the school year, June, 1921, Douglas' mother wrote saying she had recovered and wanted the boys back. They traveled to Pittsburgh, where they met their mother and sister. From there the four traveled by train back to Los Angles, by way of Chicago, Salt Lake City and Oakland California, where they visited Grandpa and Grandma Corrigan.


After his trip to Ireland, Corrigan, while visiting Cincinnati (Sunday, September 4, 1938) as part of his tour across America, remarked that he had lived in Norwood at one time (which agrees with his autobiography). An article in the Cincinnati Post the next day quotes Corrigan as saying that he was actually returning to his "old home town." He continued, "I lived in Norwood for two weeks in 1922." (Corrigan was probably tired, since the actual year was 1920.) The writer quipped, 'Admittedly weak in his sense of direction, Doug said he didn't remember the exact address.' Corrigan, in trying to give some sense of the location, said, "But I do remember the big brick school. To get to my house from there I went a couple of blocks out and then three blocks to the left."

The only school buildings nearby were the Catholic St. Matthews, and the public Sharpsburg Elementary and Norwood High School (now, the Middle School). St. Matthews was on the same block, Sharpsburg was the next block over, and the high school was several blocks away. Although the directions are not exactly right, the large brick high school was probably the one he remembered.

In the Enquirer's Monday article, it was written that he said he had lived in Greater Cincinnati, but his sense of direction about his former residence was somewhat hazy. "All I can remember," he said to the crowd at Luken Airport, "is that I lived in Norwood —and there was a big red school house five or six blocks away." The reporter said that Corrigan later explained that he lived in Norwood "about two or three weeks." A relative whose first name was May (he couldn't remember the last name) sold the house in which they lived and "we moved" to New York. (Actually, the lady had the same last name as he — Corrigan — since she was his father's second wife.)

The Times-Star newspaper's story that day stated that during his interview at Lunken Airport, Corrigan said he had lived in Norwood for about two weeks. His residence there, he said, was in the early 20's, and he was uncertain about the street address, but recalled that the house was near "a big red school."


A review of Norwood City Directories from that time gives a listing in 1919-20 for his father at 2341 Kenilworth Avenue. The directories before and after that time show no listings (which also agrees with his autobiography). The 1920 Census records Clyde S. Corrigan (Douglas' 48-year-old civil engineer father) and wife (probably the "Aunt May" mentioned in his autobiography) at that address. The rest of the family was living in Los Angeles: Evelyn G. Corrigan, 48 (listed as a widow?!), "manager of boarding house;" Douglas, 12; Harry G., 11; and Evelyn A., 8. The 1910 Census gives the following Texas information: Clyde S. Corrigan, 38, Civil Engineer; Evelyn G., 37; and Clyde G., 3; Harry G., 11 ? months.

SOURCES: 1910 and 1920 U. S. Census; 1919-20 and other Norwood City Directories; several Cincinnati newspapers, and "That's My Story," 1938, by Douglas Corrigan.