Dad Liked New Cars

pontiac orderMy father bought a 1937 Pontiac Coupe June 26, 1937.  I know because he kept the paperwork.  The shocking thing to me is that he traded in a 1936 Chevy (or Chrysler) sedan – it was just a year old!

He did get a good amount for trade-in so he paid only $230.45 cash for the new car.







pontiac invoice

And yet in 1938, he bought an Olds 6 and that I think was the car they drove from Detroit to California.

olds 6 order

Here’s one photo from that trip.  More photos are on an earlier post.  Do I have it identified correctly?

fec car nm 03-39 And then I think that having children and living through WWII brought an end to that extravagance.  But he loved getting a new car.

Frank’s Grave & Other Practical Jokes

I asked my brother, Tom Claycomb, to write this guest post.  Mostly because he’s older and actually remembers the incident and he’s a darn good writer.  Should have his own blog (hint, hint) for his stories and poetry.

In the early 1950’s my father’s grave suddenly appeared in our driveway.  It surprised all of us – especially my father.  He would have been about 36 or 37 years of age then and far too vibrant to be dead.  But it was a nicely constructed grave complete with a redwood marker that read, “Frank – Died 1885.”

tombstone in driveway

Two boots stuck out of the mound of dirt at the end opposite the tombstone and a bottled red geranium flower adorned about where his chest would be.  Too bad the grave was located right in the middle of the driveway and would have to be relocated if the family car was going to be parked in the usual spot.  Mom and Dad had been out that evening at a party of friends – probably playing canasta or charades and maybe indulging in a couple of vodka gimlets.  Arriving home, their car crested over the hill at the top of the long driveway and the headlights announced the new graveyard.  Did they whistle past the grave as they walked to our front door?  I don’t know – I was fast asleep and apparently had been all during the construction project.  I suppose I was the logical guardian of our home since my bedroom was located in the screened porch near the new grave.  My sisters Jean and Donna slept through it too – but their bedrooms were further away inside the house.  Our boxer dog Lindy apparently enjoyed the project, or the workers, and gave us no alert.

The crime scene investigation began the next morning.  Clearly someone had taken our wheelbarrow out of the shed and hauled several loads of dirt from our garden to build the grave.  The flower came from our porch – maybe my sisters should have heard it happen!  But the tombstone, or redwood board, was obviously real.  Does the real Frank now lie in an unmarked grave?  1885 was about the time that our local gold rush took place in and around the mountain town of Julian.  Maybe it came from the backcountry grave of an itinerant miner who was known only as “Frank.”  Or it could have belonged to a Luiseno Indian from the San Diego Mission who was given a Christian name – but only a first name?  The source of the grave marker has gone to the grave with the perpetrator.  But the perpetrator himself was fairly easy to identify.  Dad could immediately rule out all of the friends at that evening’s party.  That narrowed it down to just a few that might have motivation and a mindset for such an act.  Then, of those few, who most owed a payback to Dad?  That would be Hal Johnson.

Did Dad have this coming?  Oh yeah!  Did Dad’s mind work in the same conniving fashion as Hal’s?  You bet!  I know this because I was recruited by my father at the tender age of 10 or 11 in a couple of his escapades.  For example there was the 18 pound turkey that Dad sold to Hal.  We raised turkeys on the ranch in those days and dressed them to sell to neighbors and friends.  But Hal’s turkey order was filled with the carcass of one of my bantam chickens that was stuffed with lead weights.  We delivered the “turkey” in a closed box, collected Hal’s money, and were well on the way home before Hal inspected his purchase.

Then there was the rabbit episode.  I raised rabbits then too.  For those of you not familiar with the life cycle of domestic rabbits I will just say that the phrase, “Long in the tooth,” might have originated with them.  As they age, caged rabbits can develop front teeth that overlap from top to bottom and turn what was once a cuddly white fur ball into a fanged carnivorous looking attack rodent.  There wasn’t much of a market for geriatric rabbit meat so I was OK with Dad’s idea to “gift” two of them to Hal.  The delivery was done in the dead of night and the rabbits dropped into the small fenced back yard of Hal’s El Cajon home.  Our party line phone rang early the next morning with Hal demanding that Dad remove his critters because he sure wasn’t going to touch them.  Funny how Hal knew it was done by Dad.

1949 Buck Dad Hal

Merry Pranksters: Everett (Buck) Buckelew, Frank Claycomb, Hal Johnson

So yeah, Dad knew his grave had been planned and built by Hal Johnson.  Did Dad retaliate?  Probably.  Dad and Hal worked together at the same company.  Who knows what went on between them during working hours?  I inherited the grave marker when Dad really did die.  I built a replica grave, complete with a pair of my old cowboy boots, out by our fire pit.  Frank – Died 1885.  For parties I add a geranium in an old Log Cabin syrup bottle.  Hal would be proud.  Dad would probably just shake his head and begin scheming on how best to get me back.                             ~~~Tom Claycomb

Thanks, big brother!

Amos Claycomb’s February 1909 Diary

atc 010209Monday, February 1, 1909
Took final exam in Astronomy this a.m.  Went up town for short time this p.m.   Read “The Red Mouse” tonight.

Tuesday, February 2, 1909
Staid around the house most all day and studied.

1909 jan may intro


Wednesday, February 3, 1909
Took final exam in History 14 (Constitutional His. of the U.S.) this a.m.  Played pool with Billie McKelvey for a while after dinner and then bowled a couple of games.  Tried eating again today for the first time since last Thurs. as I have a fair case of jaundice.

Thursday, February 4, 1909
Bowled a few games with some of the fellows at the Y.M.C.A. this a.m.   Played a couple of games of billiards up town this p.m.  Went to see the vaudeville at the “Walker” tonight.

atc 060209Friday, February 5, 1909
Played billiards all afternoon with Herbie Juul.

Saturday, February 6, 1909
Played billiards all afternoon with Art Morris and Herbie Juul.  Saw freshmen track meet between Chicago & Illinois tonight with George Beardsley.  Illinois won by score of 44 1/2 24 1/2.

Sunday, February 7, 1909
Called at A. Riley’s and Alta Swigart’s this p.m.  Helen Edwards is visiting at latter place.

Monday, February 8, 1909
Started classes again today for the second semester.  Fraternity meeting tonight.

Tuesday, February 9, 1909
Nothing doing today.

Wednesday, February 10, 1909
Down town for a while this p.m.  Took Helen J. to see basketball game between the varsity and Minnesota which the former won in last 30 seconds of play by score of 21-20.

Thursday, February 11, 1909
Bowled in first match game in the interfraternity league against the Phi Kaps tonight.  We won by score of 2403 – 2218.  Clemmons averaged 189; Beardsley 155, McKelvey 151; Kimbell 149 and myself 157.  Clemmons had high score – 217.

atc 120209Friday, February 12, 1909
Took A. Riley to our annual formal party tonight which was held at Illinois Hall.  Dance lasted till 4 a.m. but I didn’t get to bed until 8 a.m.   Staid up at Riley’s until some friends of hers left on an early train.

Saturday, February 13, 1909
Slept from 8 till 11:45 this a.m.  Went to see the vaudeville at the Walker with some of the fellows this p.m.  Took A. Riley to see basketball game with Chicago & Illinois tonight which former won by score 17 – 15 in a very exciting game.  Carl Watson, one of our fellows, made 13 out of the 15 points, and made 7 free throws without a miss.

Sunday, February 14, 1909
Called on Helen Edwards at Swigarts this p.m. and staid there for lunch.

Monday, February 15, 1909
Fraternity meeting tonight.  Has been snowing all day.

Tuesday, February 16, 1909
Snowed all last night and today.

Wednesday, February 17, 1909
Took Helen J. to see basketball game between the varsity and Purdue tonight.  Varsity won by score of 24-18 in a rather uninteresting game.

Thursday, February 18, 1909
Bowled in match fraternity game against the S.A.E.’s this p.m. which we won by score of 2224 -2209.  134 – 157 -155.  Staid home tonight.

Friday, February 19, 1909
Went up to Armory and watched the dancers at the Military Ball with Pope for a short time tonight.

Saturday, February 20, 1909
Bowled for a while this a.m. and then went to an eleven o’clock class.  Bowled and played billiards all the p.m.

Sunday, February 21, 1909
Had picture taken this a.m.  Staid home all the rest of the day.

Monday, February 22, 1909
Fraternity meeting tonight.  Went down to see the vaudeville at the “Walker” afterwards with Beardsley.

Tuesday, February 23, 1909
No excitement.

atc 260209Wednesday, February 24, 1909
Nothing doing.

Thursday, February 25, 1909
Bowled in match game this p.m.  Attended smoker given by Bro. DeWolf to the fraternity at his home tonight.

Friday, February 26, 1909
Everything quiet.

Saturday, February 27, 1909
Took special exam in Political Science I this a.m.  Bowled for a while this p.m. and then went up town.  Went to the “Walker” tonight with some of the fellows and then played billiards with McKee for a while.

Sunday, February 28, 1909
Went to the Baptist Church this a.m. with Beardsley.  Called on Lola M. this p.m.  Ate lunch at Riley’s.  Lorenz and Bess Judson there.


Claycomb Townsend Family 1898

Claycomb family abt 1898

This family photograph was taken in 1898, most likely in Sycamore, Illinois.  Some of the identities I’m sure of.  We have a list of people written in shaky, old person handwriting, but done well after the time of the photo – there are several unknowns.  Even later, my father tried to link the names to the people, so we gained a few more.  And here we are 115 years after the fact, trying to put names on people.  This is the most common genealogical problem!

On the second image I have printed names.  I marked a few unknowns (children) with letters.

Claycomb family 1898 labelledHere’s my list:

Frank E. Claycomb family
This is my great grandfather (son-in-law of Eleanor Townsend).  His wife was deceased by this time.  His children:  Amos (my grandfather) – I’m sure of this identity (he has a distinctive look), but it wasn’t marked on previous lists.  Eleanor, Edward, and George.  I’m not sure of the George Claycomb (right side) label.  Then there is Louise who I have not found in this photo.  Update:  A = Louise Claycomb (Love).

Georgia Townsend Yates family
Georgia is the daughter of Eleanor Townsend.  Her husband John Yates is not present.  Her children (identified on the early list) are Dorothy, Marjorie and Margaret (twins – who can tell them apart?).  She also has a son, Oscar, born about 1896.  He could be one of the unidentified young people.

Frederick & Mary Boynton Townsend family
Frederick is the son of Eleanor Townsend.  Frederick and Mary’s children are Charles (b 1892) and Eleanor (b 1896).  Update:  B = Charles.  C = Eleanor.

Charles and Jennie Webster family
Jennie is the daughter of Eleanor Townsend.  Their children are Marion (female) (b 1887), Frederick (b 1888), and Pierce (b 1891).  Pierce was identified on the early list; I’ve guessed about Marion; and have no idea about Frederick.

On the upper right is Angeline Allen, who was identified as the pensioner maid (I would love to know the meaning of that).  In Amos Claycomb’s July 1902 diary he mentioned her death.  He wrote “At the home of William Young, Angeline died at the age of 75 years.  She was my old nurse and has lived most of the time with Grandma Townsend for the last forty years.  She died of a goiter which troubled her for a few months before her death.”  From this appears she was born about 1827.

Now for the old folks in the photo.  Daniel Pierce (1814-1902) is the father of Eleanor Pierce Townsend (1839-1904).  Her daughter Mary Townsend (later married Will Tapper) is identified in the early list.  And the very old woman holding the baby:  Not identified on early lists, but I’m guessing that this is Ann Denman Townsend (1809-1902).  This is very exciting to me because she is my great great great grandmother and what a treat to have a photo of her.  She lived in the area and I’m sure would be included at such an important family gathering.

I hope that someone can help with these identities – I’m quite open getting them right.


Friends 1936

3 couples

These folks were best friends – probably about 1936 or so.  My newly-wed parents are on the right – Harriet (Duncan) & Frank Claycomb.  In the center is Mom’s best friend growing up Fran (Duffey) with her husband Benny Westlake.  I do not know the couple on the left.  I like the look of these young people just starting out on their adult lives.

Amos Claycomb’s January 1909 Diary

1909 coverThe 1905 to 1908 diaries are not in the box that my father had, so we miss the early college years of Amos Claycomb and pick up in the last term of his senior year at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.  He lives in the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.  He was a loyal fraternity brother and attended reunions until just before his death in 1958.

In the diary he refers to his fraternity brothers by their surnames usually.  And for the women he knew, he used first name and last initial. 

Friday, January 1, 1909
Staid around home most of the a.m.  Played billiards this p.m.  Also this evening.

Saturday, January 2, 1909
Came into Chicago this a.m. with Eleanor.  Saw Elsie James in “The Fair Co-ed” at the Studebaker with her this p.m.  Came down to Champaign tonight with Conrad.

[Eleanor, Amos’ older sister, is 24 years old at this time.  Amos, the second child of Frank and Anna Claycomb, turns 23 this month.  His younger siblings are Louise, almost 22, George, almost 20, and Edward, 17  in March.

Sunday, January 3, 1909
Ate dinner down at the Beardsley Hotel with Conrad.  Staid around the house the rest of the time and read.

Monday, January 4, 1909
Warm and rainy all day.  Started going to classes again this a.m.  Called on Gert H. at the Theta house this p.m.  Fraternity meeting tonight.

Tuesday, January 5, 1909
Classes till 3.  Walked with Alta S. and then played Herbie Juul a couple of games of billiards.  Staid home tonight.  Temperature down to zero tonight.

Wednesday, January 6, 1909
Went up town for short time this p.m.

Thursday, January 7, 1909
Played bridge with Kimbell, Pope and Milk for a couple of hours before and after supper tonight.  Thermometer still down close to zero.

Friday, January 8, 1909
Joined the Y.M.C.A. here at the University this p.m. and bowled there for a while with Beardsley, Koontz and Morris.  Played bridge for a couple of hours after supper.

Saturday, January 9, 1909
Studied at the library for a little over an hour this a.m.   Saw “The Royal Chef” at the Illinois this p.m. with Burch, Pope and Fat Hazelwood.  Took Helen J. to see a basketball game between the varsity and Indiana after supper which former won by a score of 30-2.  Attended inter-fraternity smoker at the Armory after that.

Sunday, January 10, 1909
Meeting of the schedule committee on the bowling tournament at this house this a.m.  Called at Riley’s and Swigart’s this p.m.

Monday, January 11, 1909
Fraternity meeting tonight.

Tuesday, January 12, 1909
Bowling meeting at the Delta Epsilon house tonight, schedule and rules were drawn up.

Wednesday, January 13, 1909
Down town for a short time this p.m.  Took Helen J. to see “The Top of the World” at the Illinois this evening.

Thursday, January 14, 1909
Read “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” after supper tonight.

Friday, January 15, 1909
Bowled for about three hours in the Y.M.C.A. this p.m. and then studied for a while in the Univ. library.  Went down to the Crescent to a cheap show tonight with several of the fellows.

Saturday, January 16, 1909
Studied a little this a.m.  Went down to the Walker this p.m. with Art McKelvey and saw the “Flints” do some hypnotising stunts.  Went to basketball game tonight with Billy May and saw varsity defeated Wisconsin by a score of 28-19 in the fastest game I ever saw.  Watson, a Phi Delt, plays a forward on our team.

Sunday, January 17, 1909
Called on Ida M. and Alta S. this p.m.  Studied tonight.

Monday, January 18, 1909
Fraternity meeting tonight.  Went down to Walker for a vaudeville show with Beardsley afterwards.

Tuesday, January 19, 1909
Nothing doing today.  Got letter from home telling me of some land that father has bought for me down in Texas in the Panhandle.


This rather brief entry signals a major shift in his life. In Texas he met the woman he later married and that led to him living in Nebraska and that led to my father’s life and our heritage.

Wednesday, January 20, 1909
Nothing doing.  It has been fine sleighing now for about ten days which is about the record here for a while.
Temp just below freezing most of the time.

Thursday, January 21, 1909
Took Helen J. to see Otis Skinner in “The Honor of the Family” at the Illinois tonight.  Very good.  Played billiards with Pom Sinnock this afternoon for a short time.

Friday, January 22, 1909
Read most of the p.m. and played hearts tonight with Bill Watson, Ward and Polk.

Saturday, January 23, 1909
Played billiards this a.m. with Art Morris.  Bowled this p.m. with several of the fellows.  Played bridge tonight with Pope against May and Beardsley.  Temp over 70°  today.

billy may formal

Fraternity brother Billy May

Sunday, January 24, 1909
Called at Swigart’s and Riley’s this p.m. with Billy May.  Thermometer still up to 60°.

Monday, January 25, 1909
Classes all day.  Fraternity meeting tonight.

Tuesday, January 26, 1909
Nothing doing.  Took last astronomy constellation quiz tonight.  Got 100.

Wednesday, January 27, 1909
Classes till noon.  Studied all the p.m. and tonight.

Thursday, January 28, 1909
Took final exams in corporation finance (Econ. 10) and in political ethics (Phil. 9) this a.m.  Studied all the p.m. and tonight.

Friday, January 29, 1909
Took final exam in Econ 12 (The Labor Problem) this a.m.  Am twentythree today.  Heavy blizzard with snow all day.

Saturday, January 30, 1909
Took final exam in Pol. Science 8 (Law of Taxation) this a.m. and in accountancy this p.m.

Sunday, January 31, 1909
Staid around the house most of the time and studied.

Grandma Williams

Grandma Williams wasn’t a blood relative, but she became a friend to my parents when they lived in Pasadena, California in 1942.

I remember only one story about her that Mom told me when we were talking about psychic experiences.  Mom said that one night she woke up after seeing someone walk by the foot of the bed.  Dad awoke and asked what was wrong.  She told him, “It’s okay, it’s only Grandma Williams” and they went back to sleep.  They learned later that she had died that night.

grandma williams letter

I don’t know much about her.  She was Mrs. M G. Williams who may have had a daughter Mary and possibly sons, Gelen and Bennett.  These names are from a letter that she wrote to Mom in 1952 from Santa Rosa, California.  In Pasadena (1943) she lived at 454 Wordward Blvd.  I’ve dug through photos, but cannot find one with her name on it.

Something in me wants to make that friendship known, to keep it from ending, I guess, since I’m the only person in my family to know it existed.  So all I can do is put the information into the ethers of the internet.  Or depend on psychics to know about it!