Friday, July 1, 2011

Back to the Box

   In this box that came from James and Edna Stephens there are some old, old pictures. I have looked at these a few times in the last ten years, but this time I decided I would try to figure out who the people were.

    I had tossed this picture of these two dapper gentlemen aside time after time, not being able to recognize either of them, and there is absolutely nothing written on the back.

  Then I discovered this picture below and the guy on the left looks like the dapper guy on the right in the first photo, but this apparent military photo below has writing on the back, so guess what it says: "Bill Hagan and I. ......(??word??) 44-46" That didn't help much. And I have absolutely no idea who Bill Hagan is, probably someone who works with the writer. Most of these pictures either have nothing on the back, or the writer says "This is me." Or "Here is my wife," sometimes naming her, but he doesn't identify himself. Above is the actual writing, but what is that word between the "I" and the "44-46?" ...I have no Idea right now. Maybe it's the place?

  I kept studying the pictures and went on to discover some of somebody's brothers who were identified . This military picture below, actually had the subjects named. On the back it says "World War I. Reginald & Ronald Stephens. Dad's twin brothers." Then in someone else's handwriting it says "Stephens." "So Dad Stephens is their brother??? Now just who is Dad Stephens?" I thought.

   I stopped worrying about who's brother they were for  a few minutes and tried to look up the military records of Reginald and Ronald Stephens. Right off I made a hit on "Reginald Stephens." I found him on the "UK, Soldiers, Died in the Great War 1914-1919."    He died still in England. I haven't figured out how yet, but the 1918 flu had taken a great toll on British soldiers, and Reginald died August 26, 1918.

  Then I discovered  Albert Ronald Stephens also on the same list of United Kingdom soldiers who died in World War I.  Ronald was killed in action in Flanders, France October 1, 1915, so this picture had to have been taken before that. Both the brothers were dead by 1918, before America even got into the war!

   Then I tried to figure out which soldier was Reginald and which was Ronald. Without telling her anything, I asked Dorothy which one looked the older. She said, "The guy sitting." I thought so too, so I named the guy sitting Reginald, because I found him on a census with his parents and his  brother,  Ronald, but the census says that Ronald was two years younger, and the writer had said they were twins, so that didn't make sense. Later I found another census that had two sisters in the same family as twins. I guess the writer confused the twin sisters with the twin brothers.

   More of this detective story later..............  Maybe I'll tell you then who the dapper guy on the right in the top   photo is.

When You're A Kid

   When you're a kid, you don't think about the old people who you visit with your parents.  You go with your mom to your grandma's home and if there are no kids there you sit around and read comic books or watch the clock. At least that's what I did.

   Grandma Moody had a white digital clock. This was in the 1940's and 50's. Yes, a real digital clock, but it wasn't electronic. It must have had wheels that rolled around like the odometer on a car, at least an older car. It was often quiet at Grandma Moody's, especially  when no cousins came, so I'd sit and watch that clock turn. The seconds went by: 25..26..27..28, and I'd wait for the next wheel to click over onto the next minute, or the next hour.

   When there were cousins there, I'd run with them through the woods. Grandma Moody lived on Glatt Street in Eureka, California right across from Sequoia Park which is a redwood forest. There were huge redwoods there, and trails, and soggy creeks, and a duck pond, and even a zoo, and if you went far enough you'd come out on the other side where there was a playground and picnic area.
Uncle James Stephens on the left, my dad third from left.

  The picture on the right was from one of those family reunions at Sequoia Park, but I don't remember much, because I was running through the woods.

   The most fun just came from chasing cousins through the woods, or picking huckelberries, or climbing stumps. There were giant stumps  that must have been 15 feet across, and those stumps were hollowed out by time, so you could climb up on top, probably ten feet up and drop down into a stump. Sometimes it'd be hard to get back out, but the old first growth redwood (probably from the 1880's) was soft, so you could dig your toes and hands into it and scramble up.

   When I go back there now,  the forest seems so tame, so quiet, and so peaceful, but then .... it was exciting, sweaty, and full of fun, except when there were no cousins. If there were no cousins at Grandma Moody's I'd sit on the couch because the forest was dark and scary, especially after I saw the Wizard of OZ.

   So I don't remember the old people. I don't remember Edna or Jim Stephens, except from a few family reunions. Today it seems so sad that not many people are going to remember Aunt Edna or Uncle Jim.

   Jacque, my sister does remember them. She wrote this comment on facebook under my first picture of Edna:

Jacque Smith: "She and uncle Jimmy came to Eureka a few times. She was at my woman's   softball game when I sprained both ankles! They were fun."

Jacque gave me a large box of pictures from Edna and Jim Stephens. I decided to find out who the people were in the pictures. I didn't know any of them.