Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mom's Birthday

I sometimes (OK, often) wish I'd had more time to talk with Mom, time with a list of questions and a pen and paper or with a video camera.  But then I remind myself that there never would have come a point when I'd have said, "OK, I've had enough time..."  I'd always want more.

What I do have is her photograph albums.  Some consist entirely of family photos and I know who almost all of those people are.  The few that are mysteries are likely to remain so.  Take these this photo (and an enhancement) of a rural setting, two people and an old car loaded down with watermelons.  I ask every new genealogical contact if they recognise these people, but not one person has as yet.   I tend to think they might be family members, but of course that is an assumption on my part.  

How old is this car?

Any idea who these people are?

I have loads of photos of Mom with friends - male and female - in the years before she met my dad.  I think I've figured out which one was her first husband and I know a couple of the ladies' names, but most are unlabeled.  I used to hear a lot about Verna Mae Tickell (her nickname was Tickle).  It was only later when I found her name in the high school year book in Shreveport that I could place how Mom knew her.

Verna Mae Tickell, taken Aug 1942, Shreveport

Of particular interest, I found a postcard from a young man who was a POW.  First Lt. Nicholas H. Cox, USAAF, wrote to mom in June 1943 on a German postcard labelled 'Kriegsgefangenenlager', which means Prisoner of War Camp, apparently.

Dear Kay:  I just received a letter from my sister Rennie, with your address.  I'd have written sooner but I forgot your new address.  Will you find out if you can what the Red Cross was inquiring about in their telegram about Mother's address.  Assure my family that I'm O.K. Say remember Vic Mature & Gene Tierney in that picture we seen, well I got a couple pictures of them out of a movie magazine.  Well, honey chile, hope I'll be home soon so I raise Cain in Okla. City.  Lots of love & a few Xs - Nick

I Googled his name and found that his plane - 'Bathtub Bessie / Big Eagle' was shot down on the 9th of October 1942, apparently by German fighter Ace 'Pips Priller'.  Mom kept a newspaper clipping about the POWs.  I've no idea which one is Nick.

I believe he went on to become a Colonel in the USAF and was stationed at Eglin AFB in Florida, where he joined the Yacht Club and his wife's name is in the society pages. What a life!  I've no idea if he is still alive.  I wonder if he would remember Mom?  Or that film they saw...The Shanghai Gesture...


vintagefrenchchic said...

You have some great memorabilia. I "saved" my father-in-law's WWII scrapbook from the trash. My MIL didn't want it because it was before they were married and he would never talk about the war. But there are some very interesting things in it and I have thought about donating it to our local museum.

Shelley said...

Thank goodness you saved it! It's amazing to me how people don't value historical things like this. At the fleamarket near my house people make a living selling things like this.

Carolyn said...

I agree, you have some wonderful memorabilia of your family! I really should talk to my Mum and Dad more about their younger years, we do talk a lot already and lots of their stories are family legend! but it is important and always fun of course, to learn more!

Shelley said...

Carolyn - I always love to hear how people met. I wish I knew more about Mom and Daddy's first marriages and what happened. I read somewhere that questions are 'Walk me through your first home that you remember.' and 'What is your earliest memory.' And of course it's important to write down and share things; your 'family legends' sound like that may be happening!

ilegirl said...

How intriguing!

I just finished reading a book about my great-Aunt (which I may blog about soon), and had the same sort of idea to interview my parents. My uncle was inspired by the book about his Aunt, and has started his own memoir.

Even with lots of photos and my parents still about, they do not always recall who was whom, and the context of certain shots is long forgotten as well.

Shelley said...

I have this idea in the back of my mind to do something bookish with Mom's letters and photos...