A Move Not Made

I found an unused pack of business cards for Dad. Anaconda, Cincinnati, Ohio. Dad never transferred to the Cincinnati office.

He worked for Anaconda in St. Louis, transferred to Detroit, and again to Los Angeles. The family lived on Stanley Hills Drive in Hollywood in 1939 and during the Second World War. Not an easy time, but they liked the Southern California winters more than those in the Midwest.

Dad left Anaconda when they wanted to transfer him to Cincinnati. He took a job in San Diego with Pacific Wholesale Electric Company in 1945. I was born in San Diego rather than Ohio.

And that made all the difference? Who knows?

Friends: Jim Humphries

In the 1950s and 1960s Dad’s best friend was Jim Humphries.  Jim, his wife Thelma, Mom, and Dad spent a lot of time together – golfing, traveling, swimming, eating, and playing cards.  Dad and Jim would bet on anything.  Not serious addictive gambling, but nickel and dime gambling.  Maybe a quarter bet and one would pick a corner in the Friday Night Fights before they knew which boxer they had bet on.  And all the winnings from all the games went into a pot.  That pot paid for many of those dinners and vacations – but that’s another story.

Jim was handsome, charming, and funny.  His drink was a martini.  His dinner order in a restaurant was always NY steak and baked potato.

Dad was devastated when Jim died.  In a letter to my brother he wrote “This man had a real influence in my life and I believe all of you were influenced by him also… It was an unusual friendship Jim and I had – I don’t believe we ever shook hands – we didn’t need to…  Everybody should look for and find a friendship like our during your lifetime.”

On his calendar 7 August 1970, Dad noted “I lost a real, genuine friend today – Jim Humphries passed away this afternoon at McCain’s ranch near Jacumba.  It was his 8th heart attack – he had never really recovered from his 7th attack on Easter Sunday this year.  He was scheduled to go for tests at Sharp hospital on 8/18/70 to see about open heart surgery.  “Everybody that knew him and I mean everybody, will miss this man.”

Dad had many friends, but never one as close as Jim.

 

Doorstep Library

Mom (Harriet Claycomb) and her dear friend, Peg Prout, created the Doorstep Library in Detroit, Michigan, about 1937-38.

They carried books in the trunk of the car and delivered to patrons. Put 25 cents in the envelope inside the back cover and you could keep the book for a week.

This envelope is from “All This and Heaven Too” by Rachel Field, 1938.

Graduation Gift

My brother, Tom, provided much of this story including the photos. Our father, Frank Claycomb, liked owning and driving cars. He was born in 1915 and grew up in a small rural town in Nebraska, so cars were still a bit of a novelty.

1930 Ford brochure

His grandfather was a prominent man who bought a car for each of his grandchildren when they graduated from high school. Dad’s brother, John, had gotten one the year before when he graduated.

Dad fixated on that idea and researched, studied, and figured out just what car he wanted for his 1931 graduation. He spent the entire year pestering the auto dealers in Wayne, comparing the various possibilities and their prices. Either the Ford or the Chevy.

1931 Chevrolet brochure

1932 Chevrolet brochure.

1931. The Great Depression. When graduation day arrived Grandpa Bressler handed him an envelope which when opened yielded a five dollar bill. He had decided he could not afford to buy a car for the graduates. Dad was devastated. He said he was angry and hated his grandfather. Eventually he came to realize that this depression was real and actually impacted the family and him. Prior to this painful event he hadn’t realized what was taking place in the country.  He told this story until the end of his life.

Barbara Claycomb’s Photo Album

My aunt, Barbara Claycomb Davis, kept a photo album packed with dozens of photos from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s.  I decided to select photos to give you an idea of her life after high school through her years at business college in Chicago.

She was born in 1918 on a farm in Wayne,
Nebraska. After high school she went to the city for more schooling.  The farm girl made the adjustment well and had many friends there.

Not all the photos were identified or dated, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

The one thing I’ve learned about Barb is that even if the people aren’t named, the animals will be.

Grandma Ve (Evangeline Shattuck Claycomb) was Barb’s step-grandmother. Her house in Sycamore, Illinois is where my father was born.

This is a little speculation, based on what my mother told me. I believe Floyd Snodgrass was Barb’s first love. I don’t know what happened to them, but they stayed in touch for the rest of their lives.

Barb was always a horse person. It was one of our earliest bonds.

The farm at Wayne, Christmas 1941.

Barbara’s grandmother (Julia Fair Bressler) and her Aunt Dorothy Bressler.

Oh, finally Chicago, big city life, roommates and friends from college.

Sunbathing on the roof.

Montrose Beach 1941

Airplane July 12, 1941.
Printed in reverse.

Barb in dark dress (L).

Risque roommates!

Glea, one of her life-long best friends.

And when the Chicago girls came to Wayne to visit, the farm entertained them.

Travelers ready to see the world.

A trip to Los Angeles in 1943 to see Barb’s brother (my father) Frank’s family.

And a few pages for her brother George, stationed in Alaska during WWII.

 

Uncle John’s Letter 1920

A letter written to my father (Frank Claycomb) when he was 5 years old. From his Uncle John (Bressler).

June 11, 1920

Dear Frank:

Has your pony come yet? Tell your Daddy I have been by Mrs. Snyder’s several times, but have never been in. What do you do all the time?

I will send this letter to you by airplane to Omaha and then from there to Wayne on the train. With love, Uncle John.

Panguitch Lake 1966

As I remember the story:  Dad came back from a fishing trip with friends at Panguitch Lake, Utah, with a story about having seen a UFO.  He told it to the family right away, but I never heard it again.  My speculation:  someone teased him about this ‘outrageous’ claim and he was embarrassed.  He could be silenced by a threat of humiliation.  Really sad, because this could have been a fine story to tell the great-grandchildren.

Postcard Dad sent to his mother on this Panguitch trip.  July 1966.

The Reed Dance

It was 40 years ago this summer that I had the chance to be part of the Reed Dance in Swaziland (now Eswatini).  The best known part of the event is bare-breasted maidens dancing for the King.  The was not my part – I was in the fully-clad married women’s group that danced for the Queen Mother.  There were three of us non-Swazis who were invited to join in.  It was an honor and a wonderful day.