What if you had an unexpected chance to hear your long-deceased grandmother’s voice again? That hypothetical question became very real for me in the last couple of weeks. I chose to do what I could to hear her voice, and the voices of several other deceased relatives and to do my best to share them with you.
My grandmother, Dorothy R. (McMurry) Black has been gone for over 23 years, and I haven’t heard her voice in that entire time. As far as I knew, there were no surviving home movies of her, and no surviving recorded interviews of her voice that I could watch or listen to. Her family films were silent vacation reels that appear to have focused on recording beautiful panoramas for the folks who weren’t there. The audio recordings were merely note-taking aids that were reused once they were transcribed. Or so I thought until this week.
If you’ve ever eaten fast-food fried chicken, you’ve probably heard of at least one case of a man who goes by the title “Colonel” despite not having served in a military branch that bestows that rank. (And we’re not talking about stolen valor, but a genuinely bestowed title—just not bestowed by the military.) Harland David Sanders was formally given the honorary title “Colonel Sanders” by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. His title is a legitimate example of the more than two century old tradition known as the Kentucky Colonel.
So when and why was Col. Joseph Askew given the title “Colonel?” I’ve never found evidence of Joseph ever having served in the military in either his native England or his adopted county of the United States. Of course, absence of evidence does not indicate conclusive evidence of absence, but it is still a strong indication that his title of “colonel” has a non-military explanation.
In talking with staff at Scottish Water (the folks who rescued these rare photos from the dumpster), I learned that Joseph Askew is the only worker they know of from the early days of the project who has descendants that know about his involvement with that project. And with the 160th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s dedication of the project coming up this October 16th, the folks at Scottish Water are excited about this newly found connection to Joseph Askew and want to write and/or publish a story about the Joseph Askew connection to the Glasgow Water Works.
Today’s post was inspired by my second cousin once removed, David Richard Askew. We’re both descendants of Wilfred L. Askew and his first wife Hattie S. (Eddy) Askew. He reached out last week to let me know how much he appreciates the work I share on this blog, especially with respect to our shared ancestors. We talked for nearly three hours about all things Askew, and he gave me several new leads (in the form of inherited family stories that I hadn’t heard), and made me realize that I’ve only scratched the surface of Joseph and Jane Askew’s story.
In today’s post, I’ll do a bit more scratching to see if I can reveal more information about Joseph and Jane and their family in the two decades prior to their migration to the United States.
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.
I was going through a box of photos my mother had saved from her childhood and early marriage years, and I came across this collection of photos from Lake Odell in 1962 and 1963. As Lake Odell brings back fond memories for many in the Askew, Prettyman, Flaten, and Montgomery families, I thought I’d share them with you.
Odell Summit Lodge was run by members of my family until it was accidentally burned down in November, 1971. It was owned by my grandmother Harriet (Askew) Prettyman’s two brothers and one of her brothers-in-law—Bob and Frank Askew and Howie Flaten. The three men and their spouses lived at the lake year-round and together with help from other family members, they ran a lodge, rented out cabins, ran a store, rented boats, and served up meals. Every summer, members of our extended family would travel up to help run the lodge in the busy season in exchange for a nearly free vacation.
I’m gradually accumulating enough info on the decade-long run of the Odell Summit Lodge to write a history of our period of its history, from its purchase by members of the Askew clan, to the building of a new lodge, to the accidental burning of both old and new lodges, to a last-ditch effort to rebuild the resort after it burned. But that’s too much for a lazy Sunday. For today, I’ll just present the photos from 1962 and 1963. 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 →
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 →