In an earlier post about my father and his family getting to see Disneyland on the day it opened to the public (July 18, 1955), I shared three photos I had just found that my grandparents took on that landmark visit. These photos may not seem like much (and, granted, they have their fair share of technical shortcomings), but they’re a rare treasure to those interested in the history of Disneyland. In what is certainly the biggest online collection of Disneyland photos (davelandweb.com/disneyland/), the photos I found merited their own special section of the website.
In the nine months since I wrote that post, I’ve kept my eyes open for more photos from that historic day. I felt confident that they didn’t go to the opening day of Disneyland and just take three photos. Last week, while visiting with my father in Washington state, he gave me several small stashes of black-and-white negatives. When I looked through them, I found the negative to one of the prints I had already seen. It was mixed in with photos of a circa 1953 trip to Kansas to visit relatives. The more I looked through the negatives, the more I realized that at some point, they had all been mixed up and then later incorrectly grouped with other negatives.
Sometime in the first ten days of October, 1944, a paragraph was written in The Daily Olympian about the World War II care package activities of my grandmother, Dorothy R. (McMurry) Black. She and my grandfather, Vernon C. Black, were married on December 18th, 1940, in Olympia, Washington, and by September, 1943, Vernon was in the Army, receiving basic training at Camp Abbot, a now-long-abandoned training facility near Bend, Oregon.
The short item was written by Alice Adams Watts and included in her “Here and There” column, a feature of the newspaper’s section, “Department for Women.” It’s just one paragraph, but it imparts a lot of insight into my grandparents’ relationship, my grandfather’s gastronomic preferences, my grandmother’s packing acumen, World War II food rationing, and more.
Towards the end of her life, my father’s mother, Dorothy Ruth McMurry Black, dropped a bombshell on me. She told me she had accidentally killed her first husband on their honeymoon. A first husband? Accidentally killed on their honeymoon? I was eager to learn more both of these revelations, but she was clearly very emotional about the incident, and I didn’t want to push her too hard.
Over the years, I managed to get her to tell me a few additional details about her first husband, but both he and the circumstances of his death were topics she did not like to talk about, and so the details remained largely unknown to me. Continue reading