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

Veterans Day

US_Flag_BacklitNinety-five years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice was signed with Germany to cease fighting the Great War. One year later, on November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared that the day would be called Armistice Day, to honor those who fought in World War I. More than three decades later—after the “war to end war” gave way to World War II and to the Korean War—the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, and was intended as a day to honor all veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

In today’s post I’d like to honor all of my family members who served in defense of our country.

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You’re in good hands with Bill Prettyman

1967 ?- _____I’ll be away at a conference in Portland for the rest of the week and weekend, so I wanted to get one last post in before I left.

My grandfather, William “Bill” Prettyman spent much of his post-World-War-II career as an insurance salesman for Allstate Insurance. Here I present a number of newly scanned photos of him during his years at Allstate. The dates I present are approximate, so please feel free to correct any incorrectly assigned dates. In fact, I don’t know yet what year he began working for Allstate and when he left Allstate. I suspect I’ll find his retirement date in papers I’ve yet to go through, but if you know when he started for Allstate, please let me know.

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You’re in the Navy Now

WEPs cruise book photoAs I mentioned in my previous post (on my grandfather’s service on Kwajalein Island), my grandfather, William Eugene (“Bill”) Prettyman served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. In this post, I’ll present a few of the documents I’ve found so far concerning his military service. I’m trying to figure out when and where he served, so I’m gathering everything I can that can help answer that question.

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Bill Prettyman on Kwajalein atoll

1943 ?- Bill Prettyman in KwajaleinMy grandfather was a navigator for the U.S. Navy during World War II. From photos he sent back (probably to his future wife, Harriet Askew), it appears he spent some time in Micronesia, on the South Pacific island of Kwajalein. He never mentioned his time there to me, and I haven’t yet been able to find any other record of his being on Kwajalein besides these two photos.

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Those magnificent men in their flying machines

Danas painting - Version 2Another day, another bit of serendipity. This one comes via my newly met second cousin, once-removed, Dana. I don’t believe I’ve ever actually met her (yet), but my uncle mentioned my blog to her (thanks, Dan!) and our common interest in family history quickly became apparent.

Dana’s father and my grandfather were brothers. Dana saw my posts about my grandfather on a pony (next to her father on his bicycle), and my grandfather in his dog-powered cart, and they made her think of a photo she had of the Prettyman boys in their homemade airplane. She sent that photo along to me, along with a painting she did of the photo.

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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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