In my quest to learn about my biological great-grandfather Zygonia Ray Shearer (who understandably went by the name “Ray”), I’ve written several posts over the past couple of years (see here, here, here, and here). Despite my investigative digging, I still know almost nothing about who Ray was as a person. Today’s post won’t shed much light on Ray, but it will help understand how his son—my grandfather, Vernon C. Black—dealt with the death of his father.
As I have a good amount of extra time on my hands on account of the mandatory shelter in place orders stemming from the coronavirus pandemic (I still have to work from home, but I save over two hours of commute time per day), I’ve decided to start digging through the family history letters and postcards I’ve digitized but not yet written up. There’s a goldmine of information in this correspondence.
Today’s post is about one of these initially overlooked letters—actually two letters. These letters are from just before Christmas 1937. Vernon was 21 years old and had apparently borrowed money from his mother to strike out on his own, traveling across the western U.S. to find work and his future. Shortly before he wrote these letters he landed a door-to-door magazine sales job that I’ll discuss in a later post.
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 →
For this Veteran’s Day post, I’ll be looking at an artifact that illuminates the early relationship between two veterans in my family—one who served during WWII, and one who was still two decades away from serving and was too young to understand the sacrifices his father and his family were making.
This post is about a wallet of loose photos that my grandfather, Vernon C. Black, carried with him during World War II to remind him of his family back home. My grandmother, Dorothy R. (McMurry) Black, took the photos, captioned them, and mailed them in letters she sent almost daily (most of which still survive and will undoubtedly be the topic of a series of blog posts in the future). She also cared for the wallet and photos for decades and thoughtfully left a note giving a brief history of the wallet.
This photo wallet was carried by Vernon Curtis Black with these pictures in it during WWII (carried in his right hip pocket.) —Dorothy R. Black
In a recent post, I shared photos from two trips to Kansas in the mid-1950s that my grandparents Vernon Black and Dorothy (McMurry) Black made with their kids, Keith and Gary. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing some photos I just discovered of a much earlier trip back to see Vernon’s family, a trip taken in 1941.
This morning I was going through an old photo album that my grandmother Dorothy (McMurry) Black put together in the early 1940s. I had quickly skimmed through it a few years back and made a mental note that it was a photo album of their wedding and of their newborn son Keith. When I went through it today, page by page, I discovered that, sandwiched between the pages devoted to those two events, there were several other “chapters,” each documenting an adventure of the newlywed couple.
One of these adventures was their cross-country road trip back to Kansas in May, 1941. They had been married for about five months, and this may have been the first time that Dorothy got to meet Vernon’s family. It was certainly the first time she saw where he had grown up.