Anna Sarah Townsend Claycomb

The woman in the hammock is my great-grandmother, Anna Sarah Townsend Claycomb (1864-1892), wife of Frank Erwin Claycomb.  She is at a TB sanitarium in southern California, possibly Pasadena.  The year is about 1892.  I can’t prove it, but the family story is that the toddler is her youngest child, George Francis Claycomb, born 1889.  George becomes the father of the ‘Idaho Claycombs.’

Her residence was in Sycamore, illinois, but she made this trip to improve her health.  It wasn’t successful.

The photo is interesting because of the formal dress on people (family?) and the Asian care takers.  I’m glad they are included in the photograph.

Hollywood Nights

My parents, Frank and Harriet Claycomb, moved to Hollywood California in 1939 – in time for their first born child to have that glamorous birthplace.  I think this was an exciting time in my parents’ lives.  They were in their early 20s and Hollywood star power was at a peak.  The Wizard of Oz was released that year and Gone With the Wind in 1940.  Mom said she often saw big stars at local stores.  It was almost a small town atmosphere.

Dad was a salesman for Anaconda and often entertained customers at night clubs.  These are souvenir photos from two of those evenings.

Folder for Florentine Gardens.

(about 1942) L-R: __, Sally Chamberlain, Frank Claycomb, Harriet Claycomb, __, Blair Chamberlain, __, __.

On the reverse of the Florentine Gardens folder, it states one can write for additional copies from Hollywood Nite Club Photos – $1.00 each plus 10 cents for mailing.

February 1940. L-R: Frank Claycomb, Cele Snow, W. E. Sprackling, Harriet Claycomb, Herbert Hawks, Win Snow, Mrs. Hawks, E. A. Casey, Mrs. W. E. Sprackling.

Claycomb Farm House, Wayne, Nebraska

This is the residence at Cedarhurst, home of my grandparents, Ruth Bressler and Amos Claycomb in Wayne, Nebraska.  The photo was taken about 1920.  I think the car is their 1919 Cadillac.  I cannot identify the children or the horses, a failure I must admit.  Update:  the children on the horses L-R:  William von Seggern, Jr., John Claycomb, and Bill Mellor.
house horses carI wrote about the fate of this house here.

Harriet Duncan and Her In-Laws To Be

This is from one of Mom’s first visit to the Claycomb farm in Wayne, Nebraska, probably 1935 or so.
HDC and ClaycombsJohn Claycomb, Barbara Claycomb, Richard Claycomb, Harriet Duncan, Frank Claycomb, and George Claycomb.  Have to say, I just don’t recognize George – I put his name by elimination.

Teacher’s Souvenir 1924

EPSON MFP imageIn 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.




EPSON MFP imageThe other pages contained inspirational quotes and poetry.

District #14 School Wayne Nebraska

District #14 School, Wayne, Nebraska about 1950.  Corner E 21st & Centennial Road.

District #14 School, Wayne, Nebraska about 1950. Corner E 21st & Centennial Road.

wayne school deed titleIn 1882 John and Almeda Lake sold land for $25 to the School District #14 of Wayne, Nebraska.  Here is the deed that was entered by Enoch Hunter, a Wayne pioneer.

The school house was very close to the family farm.  It was demolished many years ago.
wayne school deedwayne school deed envAnd in case you would be interested in teaching at this school, here is an 1896 teacher’s contract – $28 a month to teach, keep the school house in good repair and provide fuel.
wayne school contractFor me the most important part – this is where my father, Frank Claycomb, started first grade in 1920.  His teacher was Mrs. Barlow.

University Admission Certificate

In 1905 my grandfather, Amos Townsend Claycomb, was accepted for entry at the University of Illinois, Urbana.  For this he received a certificate – with a gold seal!  Just for being accepted.  I think it’s nicer than my degree certificate.    ATC admin to UI

Harriet Duncan Claycomb 1914 – 2001

This is the eulogy we wrote for Mom’s memorial service in April 2001.  Today is her 100th birthday.

HDC with doll 1 abt 1917Harriet Lorraine Duncan was born December 2, 1914, in DeKalb, Illinois.  She had an older sister Helen and a younger sister Barbara.  Her parents were Roy and Albie Duncan and they provided the girls with a delightful childhood of picnics, church socials, ice skating parties and trips to Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.  Her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all lived within the DeKalb area and family gatherings and reunions were standard fare for holidays.  She continued this tradition throughout her life.  Her mother died when she was 12 and Harriet was raised by her grandmother until her father remarried.

Harriet Barb Helen Albie abt 1925a

Harriet, Barbara, Helen, and their mother, Albie Duncan.

hdc fran duffy with car

Harriet Duncan and best friend Fran Duffey, 1931.

High school was followed by two years at Northern Illinois State Teachers College – now known as Northern Illinois University.  A spirit of adventure and a taste for seeing other people and places was strong at this time.  She and several friends took road trips to Chicago, Wisconsin, Kentucky and far away New England.

harriet claycomb tx 03-39 dog durax

Harriet Claycomb on way to California 1939.

Her first job was in the office of the Central Illinois Power and Light Company and it was there that she met the young Frank Claycomb.  Harriet’s urban upbringing was in contrast to Frank’s farm background – but Cupid doesn’t make decisions based on logic and the two were married on April 11, 1936 in the DeKalb home of her father.  Frank’s career in the electrical industry took them to homes in St. Louis, Detroit, and then west to Beverly Hills and Pasadena.  Harriet admitted that she secretly cried when their 1938 Ford crossed the desert – wondering how she would survive in this obviously desolate country far from the lush green beauty of the Midwest.  In behavior that was her trademark, she looked for and soon found the beauty of our southern California and eagerly took short trips to our mountains and, yes, to the desert too.  Their first two children, Jeanie followed by Tom, were born in Hollywood Hospital.  Their third child, Donna, was born five years later in San Diego at Mercy Hospital.  All five of Harriet’s grandchildren are here today along with three of her five great-grandchildren.

Tom, Harriet holding Donna, Jean.  1946 San Diego California

Tom, Harriet holding Donna, Jean. 1946 San Diego California

Another career move brought them to San Diego in 1945 and then in 1946 to a five-acre ranch in Eucalyptus Hills when the country life called again to Frank.  Lakeside in the late 40’s and early 50’s was rural and remote when compared to today.  Harriet, like most others then, washed clothes in a wringer washer and hung them to dry outside.  She learned to can fruit and vegetables grown in the garden, packaged meat from the chickens, turkeys, cattle and pigs raised on the ranch  – and at least once rendered the lard.  She made jams and jellies from figs, peaches and apricots.  The messiest to make and the best to eat was the pomegranate jelly.  OysterShe learned how to feed the animals, move the sprinklers, and even learned Spanish to speak with workers.  But the remoteness of Lakeside was lessened when Harriet got her first car – really a truck, a 1929 Studebaker that was named the Oyster.  It wasn’t suitable for any road trips to New England, but it found its way many times to Lakeside Union Grammar School, the Lakeside Theatre, Little League games, meetings for cub scouts, brownies, then boy scouts and girl scouts.  She once used the Oyster to haul a lamb to Mrs. Lyons Kindergarten class for ‘sharing period.’  Regular trips also went to Barker’s market, Watkin’s Bakery, Minchow’s service station and to the Presbyterian Church.

Once all the children were in school, Harriet went back to work part time.  She enjoyed her years as a secretary for the Mother Goose Association, the Rios Canyon School, and later with the SDSU Astronomy Department.   She occasionally sold Tupperware, Avon Mom's creativitycosmetics, and jewelry at parties held at customers’ homes.  Somehow she found time to paint, in oils and watercolors.  Not many of you knew that she wrote and published short stories and poetry – not unless you read “Modern Romance” magazines during the 50’s and recognized her pen name, “Harriet Lorraine.”  She joined Toastmistresses to learn public speaking.  Harriet volunteered for the PTA, the Grossmont Hospital Pink Ladies, and visited local convalescent homes to visit with patients.  Not surprisingly, when it came her time to live in an assisted living environment, the first thing she wanted to do was learn the names of all the residents.

She was a positive, enthusiastic person who was eager to travel and always open to learning.  In fact, she never stopped learning.  She took adult ed classes, computer classes; Elderhostel trips to study history, birds of prey and geology.  She studied to become a docent at the Natural History Museum in San Diego.  During her work with the Astronomy Department she volunteered for field trips and studied maps of the sky to learn the names of constellations.  She traveled much of the United States during her 86 years and especially enjoyed three weeks in Africa visiting Donna.  Harriet loved movies, plays, concerts and she read voraciously.  Many of you here today have traded books with her.  Perhaps the only thing she always wanted to do but didn’t get done was to learn to fly an airplane – something she wanted ever since seeing the barnstormers perform when she was young.

She was a mother who truly enjoyed doing things with her children.  Together they baked cookies, pies, cakes and candies.  Neighborhood children joined in taffy pulls.  She planned birthday parties with themes.  She encouraged numerous high school slumber parties in her home.  When the family camped in the Sierras, she cooked over a campfire.  She was willing to try anything the family wanted to do.  She went deep-sea fishing with Tom and caught a 20-pound yellowtail.  A brief try at horseback riding with Donna ended only after a broken collarbone.  She made certain her children’s education included plays, dance lessons and music lessons.  She was the family anchor for holiday gatherings.

card playing crews humphries heater

Harriet Claycomb, Thelma Humphries, Jim Humphries, Jean Crews, Jerry Crews. Lakeside, California.

Harriet and Frank often went square dancing with the Eickhoffs and Buckelews.  Harriet made the skirts and blouses she wore dancing.  She also crocheted afghans, key-chains, and potholders by the hundreds.  Harriet loved to swim and especially enjoyed the beach.  Harriet and Frank would travel with the Humphries on trips strictly limited to funds gathered from penny and nickel bets on their card games.  She played bridge, canasta, charades and a great game of  “Go” and “Hand and Foot.”  She often won, leading to her oft heard statement, “I was born lucky.”  If an event had door prizes – she would invariably win one.  She won the family’s first color TV set in a contest at a local grocery store.

sankas maybe 70s


Soon after moving to San Diego in 1946 Harriet was invited to join Sankas, a group of eight women who got together every month.  Sankas began as a bridge group, shifted to a sewing circle, and finally settled on having lunch together.  Harriet attended her last meeting with Sankas less than a month ago.  These close friends of 55 years have gathered for all the important times in each other’s lives.  Three of the four remaining Sankas are here today.

This was a woman who seemed to relish all phases of her life. She fondly remembered having candles on a Christmas tree, but was later thrilled to have her grandson help put up the strings of Christmas lights.  She remembered when talking movies first began but was still enjoying the TV broadcast of the Oscars the night she died.  As a young girl, she danced the Charleston but still felt the powerful beat of today’s music.  She traveled cross-country in a Model A Ford, then by passenger train, and then by jet plane.  When we began making rocket trips to the moon you could see a faraway look in her eyes.

Harriet was a friend to many.  She was a good neighbor well beyond the house next door.  She loved her family unconditionally.  She was compassionate and openhearted to all people, regardless of status.  Harriet Lorraine Duncan Claycomb probably was “born lucky.”  But those of us gathered here today know that we were lucky to have shared her time on earth.
Harriet with cats