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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Bicycles in the family

As I’m gearing up for my big Wadena, MN, family history trip next week, I’ll be scaling back on my blog posts. I won’t be writing posts of any substantial length until after I return home in a little over two weeks, but I’ll do what I can to post updates from the road.

Speaking of road, today’s post is a thematic one. As I’ve been scanning my family history photo collection, I’ve come across a number of photos of people with their bicycles. I’d like to share them with you. I’ll present them in chronological order, from oldest to most recent.
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Bill Prettyman and his dog-powered cart

Today’s post is about an artifact that tells a charming story about another artifact—one made by my great-grandfather, C. A. Prettyman, for his son (my grandfather), William Prettyman.

This will be a story about a business card. Rather, it’ll be about the stories that the business card tells. The business card is that of my great grandfather Charles Austin Prettyman (who went by the initials “C. A.”). The first story is about the life my great grandfather was leading during the time he was actively using this kind of business card. The second story is about a magical moment that happened about 15–20 years earlier. Continue reading

The drunk-driving triple homicide

While my grandfather, William Eugene Prettyman, was alive, he alluded on a few occasions to an accident he was in in which three people were killed.  To the best of my knowledge, he didn’t tell the full story to any of his family members, but he conveyed enough overlapping pieces to several family members that the skeleton of a confusing story slowly came into focus. Continue reading