From the Fortress of Solitude
I'm sitting in my rocker with feet up on the widow sill. The clock ticks away over my right shoulder reminding me how long I've spent in this chair today. This is today's third post for the Family History Blog! You know, this can become addictive. You get researching a line and you can't let it go until you get an answer, and most of the time you end up in some dark, dank back ally of history that ends with a brick wall and two or three beat up, metal trash cans minus their lids, oozing with trash and smells. That's when you walk up to the dead end, place your forehead against the weather worn bricks and start banging away until you remember its time for 30 Rock (or Modern Family. Both OK in my opinion).
My problem is that I'm interested in our 'Way Back' ancestors AND the ones within my memory. I'm surrounded with wicker cabinets full of old family photographs and documents that will eventually all be scanned and inserted into this blog, providing everyone in the family a complete history of who we are and where we came from. Some of you've written wondering how I have the patience to do this. Well, after spending the full day surrounded by scores and scores of ultra hyper 10 - 14 year olds on field trips to the Space Center and a staff of adolescents suffering from excessive hormonal output mixed with over inflated or deflated egos - the natural highs and lows of being a teenager, the quiet and piece of this chair and the window sill are a blessing. I type and unwind at the same time (until I hit that brick wall and then want to prove that you can rip a lap top in two like a telephone book - which I saw Jake do so I know it can be done. I mean if Jake can do it, well........ anyone can - Right?)
OK, enough said.
I found these pictures of Grandma Mattson (Violet Pierce) and her brother in one of Mom's neglected file folders. They are fading with age. Today they are digitized and locked into a state of preservation for your enjoyment. I used iPhoto to restore the images. What you see is the best I could do, so here goes.
We set our Way Back Machine to 1924/25. Rapid City South Dakota.
This is 7 year old Grandma Mattson (Violet Pierce) sitting outside her home in Rapid City. She lived there with her mother (Vesta) and her older brother Walter. They lived in a neighborhood called North Rapid. Remember from previous posts, Violet's parents divorced when she was about 3 years old. Her mother had no help (no government programs to help single mothers in those days) and had to raise the children on her own working as a waitress. Extreme poverty was the only way to describe their living conditions.
This is another picture taken at the same time. Seven year old Grandma is in a dance pose. Violet once told Luella she wanted to dance so badly that she use to walk into downtown Rapid and peer through the window of a dance studio to watch the young girls dance, then she'd go home and practice what she saw on her own. Of course, they couldn't afford dance lessons. Mother just commented on how thin Violet looks in these pictures.
Violet told Luella that she and Walter walked to downtown Rapid to watch the construction of the Hotel Alex Johnson pictured below on its opening day in 1927.
This is a picture of Violet's 8 year old brother Walter on his wagon in front of their home in 1924. Violet and Walter always referred to each other as Brother and Sister, never by their first names.
Doesn't it make you appreciate what you have when you see Grandma's living conditions as a child? It makes you think your kids are spoiled just a bit doesn't it when you look at everything you've given them and then consider the wagon you see our Great Uncle playing with might be his only toy.
Here is another picture of Great Uncle Walter. This picture was taken in 1925 when he was 9 years old. His coveralls are far to big, but you did what you had to do in those days.
And finally, the mystery photograph. Mom doesn't know who this is and of course, Grandma isn't here to tell us. This was taken on the same roll of film as the other pictures. It doesn't look like Great Grandma Vesta so it may be one of her friends or a relative. Another example of the importance of getting these pictures digitized and labeled correctly before we lose the only people that know who they are. The clock is ticking and there are so many pictures.