Goodbye Grandma Prettyman

My dear, sweet grandmother, Harriet Eva (Askew) Prettyman, passed away at 9:00 pm tonight, December 14, 2017. It was not unexpected, as she was 95 and had a rough last few years, but her loss leaves an empty hole in the hearts of all those who knew and loved her.

I’ll share more of her life story and our memories of her in the coming days and weeks, but for now I just wanted to share a few photos of her as part of my way of saying goodbye. Continue reading

Wadena H.S. 1941 yearbook

Detail of HarrietMy grandmother, Harriet (Askew) Prettyman, attended Wadena, MN, public schools from kindergarten through her high school graduation. While organizing some of her old photos, I came across her Wadena High School yearbook from 1941. She had apparently taken it with her to her 40th high school reunion, as there are photos and other materials from that reunion, and she had written “deceased” next to the yearbook photos of all of her class members who had passed away. Other than that and some scotch tape to fasten several of the photos, the yearbook appears to be in pretty much the same condition that it was in when she first received it.

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Gert Askew and daughters in S.F. Chinatown

1945 Chinese Skyroom p1Whew. I like to write a post or two per week, but it’s been a busy several weeks since my last post. My time has been stretched really thin over these past weeks, primarily between travel, family, a bad cold, and writing a $500k NSF grant. I’ll do my best to get back on the family history blogging rails. Towards that end, I’ll see if I can get a few posts written this weekend to get some momentum built up again.

For my first post today, I present this charming souvenir photo I found recently while continuing to organize my grandmother’s photos.

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Color photo from ca. 1942

1942 Minicolor print front v2I’ve recently seen a few color photos from World War II, but I thought that must have been a rare, expensive, and exceptional technology. Today I found a small (2¼ by 3¼ inch) color photo of my grandmother, Harriet (Askew) Prettyman, from around 1942.

The photo is of Harriet (on the right) and an unidentified woman (perhaps Valborg Marie “Vollie” Berdahl) with an unidentified man (perhaps Harriet’s half-uncle and Vollie’s future husband, William Leighton “Bill” Askew) between them, sitting on a sandy beach. The women are are barefoot and are wearing two-piece swimsuits, and the man is wearing trunks, a white t-shirt, sandals, and has a towel over his neck. The two women are each holding a slice of watermelon. There’s a bottle of what is presumably tanning oil next to Harriet’s feet, and a pair of sunglasses to the left of the other woman. Continue reading

Livin’ large at Lake Merritt

2013-01-20-002My grandfather, William (“Bill”) E. Prettyman, and my grandmother, Harriet E. Askew, may have known of each other before they each separately left their shared small home town of Wadena, Minnesota, but they didn’t truly meet until their paths crossed in Oakland, California.

My grandmother came out to the San Francisco Bay area around 1941, when she was 19 years old. She came out with her sister Mary and Mary’s husband Howie, as Howie was looking for better work, and Mary was excited to go west, but didn’t want to go without someone in the family to go with her. Harriet thought the idea of California sounded great, so she agreed to go with Mary and Howie.

At some point in 1944 or shortly before, Harriet’s half-uncle Bill Askew (who was only four years older than Harriet, so he probably felt more like a cousin) was on shore leave while his ship was docked in the San Francisco Bay. He wanted to pay a visit to Harriet and her parents—his half-brother, Clyde, and his wife Gert (who by now had moved out to Oakland as well)—and he took along a fellow Wadena native he knew, Bill Prettyman. The two hit it off, and saw each other whenever he was able to get leave.

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