“This certifies that Barbara Claycomb a pupil of the Public Schools of this county is especially commended for Punctual and Regular Attendance at School for a period of twenty days and is therefore entitled to receive this Award of Merit.”
In the year that Thelma Peterson was her teacher and Pearl E. Sewell was the county superintendent of schools in Wayne, Nebraska, Aunt Barb received this award September 1927 through April 1928.
The forms (N-200-H) were printed for Lincoln School Supply Company in Lincoln, Nebraska. Each featured a work of art. On the reverse the painting and the artist were described. Aunt Barb’s school was District #14 – a one-room school house with probably a dozen students.
My great-great-grandfather on my paternal grandmother’s side was Mark Fair. My brother found this ink and watercolor image of him done by R. H. Fair in 1945. I haven’t done enough work on the Fairs to bring them current, so I do not know who R. H. Fair is. My guess is he lived in the NE Nebraska area.
In 1940 my Aunt Barb received her BA in Education for Nebraska State Teachers’ College in Wayne, Nebraska. She save the announcement, the program and mimeograph pages of the Commencement Week program with instructions on how to dress for the ceremonies and how to behave during them.
Quite an exciting time for a 22 year old farm girl from Wayne. I’m not sure of the timeline, but I think she went to Chicago to attend a business college after this. As far as I know she never taught school. Oh, the questions I wish I had asked her.
This damaged photo is from a school in Sycamore, Illinois, about 1892. Some names can still be read. And I can see my grandfather, Amos Claycomb, in the second row, 4th from the right. Also on the photo, but not scanned: “Prof A. J. Blanchard” and “Anna Tepson” who might be the teachers.
This is how I see the names:
Third row from top left to right are
1. Ralph Horn
2. Ernest Husberg
4. Eddie Peterson
5. Bert Stroberg
6. Earl Van Galder
8. Mable Hix
9. Diana Harrington
10. Ruth Townsend
Bottom row left to right are
Roy Knights and Cecil Wyman…
Next to last row left to right are
___ Harmes; Max (Mary?) Librant; Bessie
… Hilda Anderson; ___; …Morris, Ethel Chatfield, Fran…
Fred Beckler, …Amos Claycomb [4th from right in 2nd row]
In 1924 my aunt Barb received this souvenir booklet from her teacher, Mayme Lindquist. It seems amazing that a teacher would give each student an eight page booklet tied with a green string. But at District 14 School in Wayne, Nebraska, there were only 5 grades with a total of 13 students, including my Uncle George.
Mom (Harriet Duncan Claycomb) tried to write to her sister, Barb, every day when Barb was not feeling well. From two of those letters I found this description of their childhood home, 619 DeKalb Ave, DeKalb, Illinois.
“…Let’s go back to 619 DeKalb Avenue for a drop in. The entrance to the open porch used to be on the front but when they glassed it in, they moved the steps to the driveway side. Inside the front door was a cold register where we put wet boots and galoshes. Was that register to just let in fresh air? Next to it was the Victrola. My favorite records were Stars and Stripes Forever, Beautiful Ohio, and Saxaphobia. Next was the stairway with a bannister I loved to slide down. Below that was the chest seat where we sat to put on boots—open the lid and there were rubbers, galoshes, and roller skates. Next was that gloomy dark closet under the stairs. Inside were card tables, carom board, golf clubs and tennis racquets. Across from the closet door were originally coat hooks like the ones in cloak rooms at school. They were removed when the phone was moved from the wall facing the kitchen to the hall wall opposite the closet.
I loved the sliding doors into the living room. Sometimes the music case stood just inside on the left—it held all the Sherwood Music course they bought for Helen to become a concert pianist I think. She did pretty well at that.
Around the wall were built-in benches on two sides. They were oak and pretty and next to the bookcase. Kind of handy to take out a book and sit right there to see if it was readable. Then the big window facing Judd’s and then the piano. Mother had all the new songs and kept most of them in the bench along with a hymnal and 101 Best Songs. I remember Yes Sir That’s My Baby, The Song is Ended but the Melody Lingers On, Barney Google with his Goo Goo Googley Eyes, Dream Kisses, My Buddy, Just a Memory, Among My Souvenirs, and on and on. When we had company, sometimes Mother would play and Helen would sing Alice Blue Gown and she was darling. The sofa was opposite the piano and had a hot register between it and the dining room where we stood to dress many a chilly morning.
Inside the dining room on the left was the Morris chair, the radio with headphones and a window facing the street. There was a buffet under the high window, the sewing machine next and then the china closet. Why did we say ‘closet’? Or was it cupboard? Then the door to the pantry. When we had adult company, we three would make blanket beds on the floor by the door going to the kitchen—it was a lark. Our old dining room table was round like everybody’s but Florence got a bigger maple oblong one when she came.
Nothing unusual in the kitchen—stove, kitchen cabinet, wooden table and the sink. Outside on the landing to the basement was the icebox with the dishpan underneath. Then about four steps down to the back door.
How about going upstairs? We’ll take the back stairway and stop at the landing to look out the window. Who lives in Gunn’s house now? Is there still a big garden in back with asparagus and much more? On up to the hall and the linen closets facing us. Big drawers. I used to send for samples of anything there were coupons for in the magazines—had miniatures of everything from tea to mascara. Then I started sending for movie stars’ pictures. They always sent 9×12 glossies autographed. So I took up one of those big drawers in the hall. Don’t know what was in the other drawers but in the cupboards above were towels and sheets. Turning left was the big bedroom with the knotty pine furniture and the little alcove bedroom beside, and a tiny closet. It seems to me we changed room arrangements often so the only room with a name on it for me was across the hall “Grandma’s room.” I know I had a turn in each of the others. The closets in the two rooms on the attic door side had slant roofs and you couldn’t stand up where the slope went down.
Well, that was all very boring—let’s try the attic. Narrow stairs with the light switch on the left. Hot in summer, but nice in winter. On nasty days we often played up there. Boxes of books always fascinated me—I remember poring through “Everything a Man of 40 Should Know.” I doubt if I was much better informed after reading that. The front windows had flies in them. Boxes of treasure like a photo album with dozens of beautiful lacy valentines glued in. There was a black knit dress form, rather shapely. Over center towards Judd’s side were the chests of clothes. Fantastic old fashioned dress and hats and even a corset. We dressed up many a day in those clothes. Some days we planned plays that we would put on and charge 3 pins to get in. Guess there weren’t any stage stars among us because we fell flat. In the next corner towards the garage were “Grandma Oakland’s things”—hands off. The last corner had junk like an old fan, pans, and a chipped enamel table.
Well, my dears, that was a fizzle, so I’ll go outside. Across the front of the house was Bridal Wreath with Lilies of the Valley below. Remember the skinny strips of cement back to the garage for the wheels to try to stay on? There were lush peony bushes under the
window where the sewing machine was inside. The peonies were beautiful but usually were crawling with little black ants. From the front porch to the sidewalk was a hedge that had tiny tart leaves—I always put a leaf on my town and nibbled it.
Behind the garage were currant bushes against the fence, then two cherry trees, then garden bordered by rhubarb. We had a martin birdhouse in the center of the yard on a pole but I don’t remember any tenants for it. Sometimes we played croquet in the back yard.
This is the eulogy that was read at the services for Dad in 1999. He would have been 100 years old this year.
February 2, 1915 Frank Erwin Claycomb was born in Sycamore Illinois on the farm of his Grandfather, for whom he was named. His father Amos Townsend Claycomb had also been born in Illinois, but his mother Ruth Bressler Claycomb was from a small town in Nebraska. When Frank was 2 years old, the family moved to Wayne Nebraska where Frank’s maternal grandfather had homesteaded in the 1880’s. Here the family farmed raising corn, wheat and hay. Frank had an older brother John, 2 younger brothers, George and Richard, and a sister Barbara.
All the children attended Wayne High School; Frank graduated in 1931. He then went 2 years to Wayne State Teachers College.
In the mid-1930’s he moved back to Illinois and got a job with the Central Illinois Power & Light Company, beginning his career in the electrical industry. And more importantly to his children, this is where he met Harriet Duncan. They were married April 11, 1936, and celebrated their 63rd anniversary 3 weeks ago. At their wedding, Harriet’s sister Helen met Frank’s brother, John. A few years later Helen Duncan married John Claycomb.
Frank and Harriet lived in several cities when Frank worked for Anaconda Wire & Cable Company. They moved from St. Louis to Detroit to Hollywood and Pasadena. This was during World War II when it was patriotic to raise as much of your family food as possible. Frank built a chicken coop, stocked it with hens that provided eggs. He joined a neighborhood Victory Garden. On what was a vacant lot, they produced vegetables for the whole block. Even in the city, the man from Nebraska never forgot the farm.
He was asked to come to work for Pacific Wholesale Electric Company in downtown San Diego so they moved to North Park. When he had a chance to buy some acreage in Eucalyptus Hills, he jumped at the opportunity to work the land again. He not only continued to work downtown, which meant a very long commute in the days without freeways, but it meant more work when he got home from his job.
With the help of his family, he tended the trees – avocado, orange, lemon, grapefruit, apricot, walnut, plum, loquat, pomegranate and more. He cultivated a garden of corn, lettuce, tomatoes, grapes, squash, carrots and radishes. He raised turkeys, hens, pigs and helped his children care for their lambs, rabbits and horse. The children always had a list of chores to do, but they also had pets, fresh fruit, and room to roam in a great rural neighborhood. Frank and Harriet provided a house full of love, strong role models and a wonderful place for children to grow up.
In 1960 the family moved to a more suburban setting on Vista Camino – less than ½ acre. But this didn’t stop Frank from planting fruit trees and a garden. He moved violets from the farm in Nebraska to the yard in Lakeside. His garden flourished. Every year we had tomatoes, corn, several kinds of lettuce, squash, beets and whatever else caught his fancy. Because of his plantings, we will have apricots, boysenberries and asparagus for years to come.
Many years ago Frank lost the sight in one eye. He never complained. Then about 4 years ago he noticed more trouble with his sight. He was diagnosed with macular degeneration in what had been his ‘good’ eye. This curtailed his gardening, but he still tried to get the vegetables planted. His grandson, Dave, comes out every Thursday to help with the garden and learn from his grandfather.
Though not a formal student, Frank loved history. He enjoyed local history wherever he was. He never tired of hearing Doug McClain’s stories of old Lakeside or John Lynton’s Colorado homesteading stories of the land where Frank went hunting.
He cherished family history. He saved his father’s diaries and kept his own throughout his life. He told us stories of his aunts and uncles so that we felt as if we knew them well even though they lived in the midwest. He passed this love of family history to his children. Tom collects the photos and household treasures of the past; Donna keeps the letters, diaries and researches the genealogy. When she was still with us, Jeanie collected family stories and family recipes. She made copies of these booklets for all of us.
Frank even appreciated the history of the electrical industry in San Diego. He and Neville Baker gathered the old timers together giving them a chance to reminisce and a chance for the current members to meet their predecessors. The Old-Timers meetings have become a regular event in San Diego.
It was not easy for Frank to express his emotions. It was easier to plant the roses you see in front of the house on Vista Camino. These roses were picked in celebration of ordinary and extraordinary days. He sent roses when each of his five grandchildren was born. He brought one red rose to the memorial service for his daughter Jean who died in 1993. His garden and his yard were the expression of his feelings and creativity and will be with us for a long time. We will all remember his love, his laughter, his steadiness and his integrity.
I’m adding another blog called About 70 Years. I’m creating a space for the more personal writing: essay, opinion pieces, book reviews, memoir, maybe even some fiction and drawings. Check it out – thanks.