From the Fortress of Solitude
When dad was a young boy he and Grandma Elda took long 3 mile walks from Lead to Deadwood in the afternoons to visit their Williamson relatives. Some days they visited Walt and Francis. Other days it was Morris and Josie. Grandpa Charles picked them up when he got off work in Deadwood and drove them back to Lead at the end of the day.
One warm September afternoon in 1942 Elda checked dad out of first grade to take the walk.
"I remember that day," dad said. "I remember it because she checked me out of school. We walked the three miles to visit my Uncle Morris and Aunt Josie."
The picture above was taken that afternoon. Dad is pictured holding Joel Williamson, his first cousin and firstborn of Morris and Josie. Joel was six months old in this picture. Morris and Josie lived on William's Street in Deadwood.
"That house is still there today," Dad said. "Its about four or five houses south of our house on William's Street." (referring to the vacation home Dad, Kevin and I own in Deadwood).
"I remember something else that happened that very day," Dad said when I asked him about this picture. "They had a thermometer on their front porch. I though that if I bit on the red end of the thermometer it would force the mercury to go up." Dad, the ever curious, took the thermometer's bulb in his mouth and bit. The bulb broke and he had his first taste of mercury.
"Everyone panicked," Dad remembered. "They thought I was going to die."
Dad told me that Grandma Elda and Great Aunt Josie were the best of friends. When they got together they'd practice smoking while walking their young sons down Deadwood's main street.
"Everyone smoked in those days," Dad said.
On another visit Dad recalls they visited the Railroad Car Cafe in Deadwood. He and Grandma Elda sat down in a booth. Aunt Josie made an attempt but couldn't quite squeeze in. He said that Elda and Josie laughed about that experience for years afterwords.
Joel Williamson died of colon cancer in 1992. He was 50 years old.