For today’s post, I’d like to share another home movie that my father Keith Black digitized and that I recently found on his computer.
This home movie is composed of footage shot between May 1968 (just before my sister was born) and the summer of 1970 (just after my sister began walking). It captures Michael Black, Jill Black, Keith Black, Polly Black, Vernon Black, Dorothy Black, Gary Black, Mala Gayer, Bill Prettyman, Harriet Prettyman, Dan Prettyman, Jerry Young, Sue Mawer, Bob Mawer, Jimmy Mawer, and others. The fashions—especially my paisley pants and Harriet’s bold print dress—are really something. Sideburns also feature prominently.
I’ve written up a guide to the scenes below, but please leave me comments about anything I missed or may have gotten wrong.
As I was making drinks for my wife and mother last night in our home tiki room that I named after my grandfather Bill Prettyman (“Prettyman’s Atoll”), my mother reminded me that the previous day (March 1) was Bill’s birthday. I’ve never been good with birthdays, but I can remember years, and so when she said that, I realized that March 1 was the 100th anniversary of Bill’s birthday on March 1, 1919. Had he lived, he would have turned 100 years old on Friday.
I feel like the 100th anniversary of his birth calls for a post, but as these posts usually take days to write and I only have a few hours before I return to the workaday world, I’ll see what I can do. I’d love to write a full biography of him, but given the short time I have, I will instead present a short sketch of the first twenty-five or so years of my grandfather’s life.
Most of my recent posts have been about people who lived centuries ago, so I thought it would be nice to focus on more recent history in today’s post.
Before he died nearly three years ago, my father—Keith Black—thoughtfully digitized several reels of 8mm home movies that he had found while going through his and his parents’ belongings a couple of years earlier.
I haven’t had the chance until very recently to see any of this video for myself, and now that I have seen it I want to share it with anyone who might be interested. I’ll share the others over the coming weeks. These home movies were shot between the late 1950s and the early 1970s.
Today’s video is entitled “Our Merry Christmas 1967 with Mikie.” I was surprised to see me called Mikie in the title, as family lore states that when I was less than six months old my great-grandfather Clyde Askew held me in his arms and declared “Don’t ever call him Mikie.”
Starring in the movie below are Michael Black, Polly (Prettyman) Black, Keith Black, Gary Black, and Gary’s girlfriend Sandra Sederberg. The first part of the film was shot on location at either our Haskell Avenue or Vesper Avenue house (let me know if you know which) in Van Nuys, and at Vernon and Dorothy (McMurry) Black’s Hamlin Street house, also in Van Nuys.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there, whether living or amongst the ancestors.
My own father, Keith V. Black, died a little over two years ago. I miss him sorely, but he left a lifetime of memories that will keep him forever alive in my heart and in the hearts of those who loved him. My dad was a complex person with several sides to his personality. He was always young at heart—in many ways, he was a teenager well into his seventies. He was an outdoorsman, an enthusiastic participant in the car culture of 1950s Van Nuys, an aspiring photographer, a businessman, an enthusiastic early adopter of technology (he computerized his business in 1978), a passionate fan of music of all genres, an artist, an avid learner, a solitary recluse, and an outgoing man who made friends wherever he went.
He was also a father who was terribly proud of his kids. We may not have always known just how proud he was of us, but as I’m going though his papers I’m learning just how much he defined himself as being the proud father of two children he loved more than we knew.
Here are a few shots that capture my dad doing what he loved more than almost anything else—being a dad. Continue reading →
Dan and Polly, this one’s for you. For those of you who are regular, long-time readers of my blog, you know I’ve got a sweet spot for Disneyland history. I’ve previously published two posts (this one and this one) on photos I found of my father, uncle, cousin, and grandparents visiting Disneyland on opening day on July 18, 1955. So you can imagine how happy I was when I stumbled upon some new photos of Disneyland in the 1950s.
This time, they’re photos taken (presumably by my mother) in July, 1959, just four years after Disneyland opened its doors to the world.
Unfortunately, my mother took photos as I did in my teens—careful to make sure none of those pesky family members got in frame lest the shot be ruined. Sigh. Teenagers. Amiright? Continue reading →
Imagine that you were born in a rural area to poor parents in the back room of your rented house. Your parents moved a lot, and they never told the county officials that you were born. So no birth certificate was ever registered. And then your dad leaves your family when you’re five years old, leaving your mom alone with you and two younger siblings. You’re upset about that and change your last name to that of the kind man who married your mother and stepped into the father role in your family. But for whatever reason, you and your family don’t make the adoption legal, nor do they inform the county or state officials of the name change. And then for unknown reasons, you decide to change your middle name, too, from the traditional Dutch Cornelius to the hip, modern “Curtis.” And again, no government agencies are informed. We’ve all been there, right?
This presents no problems for you for most of your life. You get your Social Security card, you enlist in the Army and serve in World War II, you pay your taxes, you work until your early 60s and you’re beginning to think about your retirement. And then you apply for your Social Security retirement benefits and discover that—poof—you have no proof that you are who you say you are.
Today’s post will be a short one to update you on my quest to join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or “Mayflower Society). In part two of this series, I mailed off my Preliminary Review Form for the California Mayflower Society and sent off requests for four certified birth certificates. I got a phone call on Tuesday from Thurston County, Washington, saying that two of those birth certificates were on their way, but I haven’t received them yet.
What I did receive just yesterday was the oldest of the four birth certificates that I’ve so far requested—from 1860. I thought this would be the hardest of the four to secure, yet I received it first. Without further ado, here it is: Continue reading →
This series of posts will provide a chronological overview of the life of my father, Keith Black (1942–2016), who passed away on March 8, 2016. My aim in this first installment is to give an overview of his first seven years, from his birth and early childhood in Washington state to his entering elementary school after his family moved to Santa Barbara, California.
If you have any stories to share about my father, whether privately or stories I could share publicly, I would be grateful. Please do so by leaving a comment below (comments stay private until I publish them).
I’d like to wish all of my family, old and new, near and far, a wonderful Easter and happiness throughout the Spring.
Because I couldn’t find any vintage Easter-related photos that I haven’t already used (I went a little overboard with last year’s Easter post), I’ll leave you with a few Easter photos of me, my sister Jill, my mother Polly, my father Keith, my uncle Gary, my grandmother Dorothy McMurry Black and my grandfather Vernon C. Black taken by by father at my grandparents’ home at 13846 Hamlin Street, in Van Nuys, California, on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1971.
Today’s post isn’t so much a post as it is a visual travelogue. While scanning hundreds of loose negatives that once belonged to my grandparents, I’ve found about 40 photos that appear to document two trips that Vernon Black and his sons Keith and Gary (and probably his wife Dorothy, too, although she doesn’t appear in any of the photos) made from California back to Vernon’s childhood home in Kansas.
For those of you who didn’t previously know about these trips, please enjoy the photos. For those of you who either went on the trip or were among those who hosted and/or visited with the Black family on their travels, please spill all you know about these trips in the comments section below. Whether you remember details of the trips, can recognize any of the Kansas relatives in the shots, or can help fill in the story of these trips, please share that information with the rest of us!