Monday, December 21, 2009

Francine and Maria Torrini

Twins Francine and Maria did everything together. Unlike other twins, who are outwardly identical, but have their own personality quirks, the girls were singular in every way. They had the same thoughts, liked the same things, ate the same food, and had the same friends. This wasn't a problem...until they discovered boys. If Francine met a boy she liked, Maria liked him as well. They only way they dealt with the issue was to end the relationship. In 1951 the Torrini's moved to Cleveland and the girls began their senior year in a new high school.
It was there they met Mark and John Armato, identical twins in every way. A double wedding took place December 22, 1953.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Private James Alcott's Wife And Her Sister

When James Alcott finished his service in the big war, he spent in three years in the military hospital in Antwerp, Belgium. His wife, Lillian, and her sister Maggie, though knowing he was alive and would be returning home eventually, didn't really know what to expect. Then the letter came; "Home sometime on August 18." At 6 a.m., the sisters went out on the porch. A fliver came down the road at 3:25, stopped in front of the house and Private James Alcott was home. His guide dog led him up the path to the total joy he couldn't see, but felt with all his being.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Marcus Chilton

Marcus wasn't really a green thumb kind of guy. However a cousin came visiting and brought a small potted plant. Marcus thanked her and as soon as she left, he put it out on the fronts steps, figuring it wouldn't last long. Well, it survived for a couple weeks and Marcus felt a bit guilty, so he gave it some water, and then actually went and picked up another plant, just to balance the front steps. Marcus then became known as the crazy plant guy, and he was proud of it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jack and Julia

Both on the gymnastics squad at Clinton HS, Jack and Julia first joined a traveling circus in 1933 and were billed as the Jumping J's. They worked up an act that culminated with Jack climbing a high stack of barrels, falling down and (almost) breaking his crown, and Jill (Julia) tumbling after. Over the next five years they worked in six different circuses and three carnivals. The big break came in 1938, when traveling was getting a bit much, and they were looking to settle down. While attached to a circus that was performing just outside of Chicago, Jack saw a handbill for a $1000 dollar prize dance marathon. The money they won financed the J&J Cafe. Good food, a circus like atmosphere, and a waiter who could juggle plates.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Harry Henderson

June and Arthur Henderson couldn't carry a tune, dance a step, or recite a line. Nevertheless, their son Harry was a showman from the day he was born. Shown here at age nine, Harry was ready to hit the boards of vaudeville, and with mama June initially at his side, he began a long and successful career that even included a brief stint in Hollywood. Eventually Harry opened a studio, and for thirty years gave instruction and inspiration to new generations of would be singers and dancers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Judith and Martin

Martin paid Judith 50 cents to switch their catches before taking this photo. Judith didn't care about the money or seemingly landing the smaller fish. She was out to land Martin and this was just one more way to reel him in. And she did.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

James "Jimmy" Ames

Jimmy Ames was teased throughout his school years because of his name. "James Ames, but always misses.", that was the constant taunt. And he did miss; classes, getting on the baseball and football teams, and friends. Jimmy didn't miss out on getting what he wanted though. He found it quite easy to lift whatever he wanted from the local five and dime, the candy store, and lockers of students who gave him a hard time.

Then he got his first car and was ready to move up to more lucrative pursuits, specifically the liquor store two towns over. Now no one calls him James Ames. For the next three years he is just number 4386, D Block. Note: this photo was taken three days before the bungled burglary. His father, Alton Ames, is number 1325, A Block.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Arthur Wilton

Arthur was a normal kid, liked to play with toys, run around the yard, hold his parent's hands, and was generally happy. Like most boys, however, as he reached his teen years, Arthur wanted nothing to do with his boyhood; it was time start acting like a man. So toys were replaced with hunting gear, and parents replaced with friends and girlfriends. Eventually Arthur found the right woman and popped the question. About one year later Arthur junior was born and Arthur senior started thinking about his own childhood again. He went back to the old house, where Betty and George Wilton still lived, and asked his mother for his old wagon. Betty sighed and said, "Arty, when you grew up, I didn't think you would ever want it, so I gave it to the Olson's for their boy Rob, and they moved away."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Muriel Chambers

Muriel's parents owned and ran the Shady Cove bungalow tourist rest stop. Twelve units, each with its own shower and fresh towels. Muriel supplied the towels, made the beds and gave directions to the (few) attractions in the area. She delighted in seeing the young families and honeymooners who usually spent one, and sometimes two nights at Shady Cove.

However, as Muriel matured, it became clear the world was passing on by and she was standing still. Change came in the form of Arthur Marks, a salesman for John Deere. He was attending a farming convention and Shady Cove was convenient for his three day stay. Muriel and Arthur chatted a bit, and had dinner together on his last day of the convention. The convention was an annual affair, and for the next three years, Muriel and Arthur enjoyed each other's company, with Arthur actually getting his sales route changed to be able to see Muriel monthly. Mother and father died that third year, and Muriel inherited Shady Cove. Now she could never leave, but Arthur was tired of traveling and together they made the beds, supplied the towels and gave directions to the (few) attractions in the area.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charlotte Manners

Charlotte "Lotte" Manners was two years younger than her sister Vivian. Unlike some families, the younger daughter wasn't the darling; Vivian held that title and didn't let Charlotte forget it. Vivian married Charles Edgar and Charles was perfect, not like Eddie, Lotte's high school beau and husband of three years. Charles worked in the local bank, a real up and comer. Eddie worked for Marleton Auto repair. But Eddie loved Lotte with all his heart and for her 26th birthday, used all the money he had saved to buy Lotte a Roto-Broil 400, the newest and best Rotisserie/Oven available. Lotte took this picture and sent it to her sister. Vivian received it the very day her husband was arrested for bank fraud.

Here is a special bonus image of a Roto-Broil 400 in action. Interesting true note: The Roto-Broil was invented and sold by Leon Klinghoffer and family. Leon died in 1985, during the Achille Lauro incident, when he was pushed overboard in his wheelchair.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lillian Hanneman

Lillian was twelve when she wrote on the back of this photograph. "Grandma Gordat-Dad's real mother. She died when dad was only 3 years of age. She was very young when she died. She was my real grandma. I bet I would have liked her a whole lot." Lillian had a long life and saw all six grandchildren graduate college and start families.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Charlie Martin

Charlie Miller hadn't ever seen a real professional baseball game, though some traveling teams did occasionally play at Hinkel Stadium two towns over. However, on clear nights he could hear the Cubs at 670 AM on the Atwater Kent dial, beamed from the 50,000 watt powerhouse, WMAQ. Charlie's actual baseball playing was limited to his mom, Frances, pitching the ball, Charlie hitting the ball, and Rusty fetching the ball and returning it to the ball pail. His mother kept track of his hits and misses, just like a real manager. Such was life in rural Ohio. The closest thing to a happy ending came when Charlie, at age 24, got married to Gail, and they honeymooned at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The route to Elkhart Lake takes you right through Chicago, where they spent two nights, one at Wrigley Field, watching the Cubs beat the NY Giants.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lynn, Audrey, Marilyn and Jeanne

Lynn, Audrey, Marilyn and Jeanne were four of the real housewives of pilots in the newly formed Strategic Air Command, headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Military life was nothing new for Lynn, Marilyn, and Jeanne, but for Audrey, whose husband was just out of flight school, this was not an easy time. As much as the girls gave their support and swapped stories that all had happy endings, Audrey worried about the looming potential of the Korean conflict. Carl was smart, tough, and graduated with honors from flight school, but jet planes were still relatively new and untested. She needn't have worried though. Carl did two tours and came home from the second in time for the new arrival in the family. Lynn's husband was MIA, Audrey's husband became a commander, and Jeanne, who's husband was restationed shortly after this picture, finished his term and together they opened up a diner in Newark, Delaware.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lars Gilden

Lars Gilden, and indeed all of the farmers living and working around Poseyville, in southern Indiana, could sure use fifty dollars. 1931 wasn't a good year, and about the only thing to look forward to was the county fair because it got people from the neighboring towns and counties away from the land for three days. The flyer at Musselman's Feed and Grain was where Lars learned about the fifty dollar prize. "Unhitch Dobbin, hitch yourself up, and race your buggy to the fifty dollar first prize." For a full week Lars pulled his buggy up and down the road leading to the farm. It was fully loaded with his wife, Margaret, and his daughter, Stella. They spent the prize money on real curtains for the windows and a hat for Stella. The balance, $31.67, went in the rainy day jar.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gordie Marks

Gordon "Gordie" Marks wanted to become a photographer. He was intrigued by the latest gear, read all the photo magazines, and took his camera with him everywhere. His inspiration? You might think it was Weegee, the photojournalist whose stark images grabbed the pages of the New York papers. Perhaps it was one of the great WPA photographers who documented the great depression and left us with some of the most enduring images of the twentieth century. No, those weren't who drove Gordie, it was Flashgun Casey, Crime Photographer, whose radio show ran for some 400 episodes, featured his assistant Ann Williams, and their meeting place, the Blue Note jazz club. What more could a young man want. Unfortunately, the picture above was taken by his brother, the only one in the family who could take a picture that was in focus. Gordie eventually traded in his gear, and started down a new path after hearing his first episode of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Loretta Walker

Loretta Walker worked as a secretary for Montgomery Dry Goods. Montgomery carried linens, clothing, shoes, hats, notions, and sewing supplies for retailers and end users. 18 traveling salesmen covered all the territory from Boston and New York to Chicago. One June morning Loretta said to her boss that she would also like to be in sales, and could really relate to the end buyers. Her boss smirked, "The traveling salesmen jokes and asides will doom you to failure as soon as you put your foot out the door." The answer was no. However, that night Loretta went into the warehouse, loaded her (trusting) brother's car with items of every type. Her boss thought she had quit, but three weeks later she returned with cash, orders from retailers and ideas for new items in the line. In two years time, four more women joined the sales force and Montgomery was hailed as a leader in furthering women in the workplace.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Martha Lewis

Martha Lewis had never won anything. She tried magazine contests, radio shows, Bingo, church raffles, and even punch cards at the local store. When she and her friends went to Atlantic City for the annual teacher's convention, Martha, a math teacher, had already calculated her chances of winning anything. Zero. Yet it would be fun she supposed to squirt the water at the ducks revolving around the big orange wheel. I've thrown away a quarter before, she thought, so why not now. Since I won't win anyway, I'll do it with my eyes closed. She named the prize Bright Eyes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Martin, it should be understood, didn't like to be called Marty. He was small for his age, but a very serious boy. Martin didn't say much, but one day, out of the blue, he said to his parents that he should like to play the violin. His mother asked why, his father scoffed, and his brothers laughed. His third performance with the New York Philharmonic garnered more praise than any other violinist of the time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Morgan Family

Michael Morgan announced to the family that since they had never been out of the country, it was time to take a trip. Henry thought about France, Irene and Colleen dreamed of Ireland, and Jimmy was up for anywhere Michael wanted to go. No one guessed Michael was going to buy a car and drive the family to Tijuana, Mexico. Colleen, who noted on the photo that they were in Tia Juana, had a wonderful time, as did all the family, except Irene, who drank water from a well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Coco" and Henry

Henry spent three months in France during the great war to end all wars. Coco had a small notions shop in Paris. During a two day leave, Henry went into Paris to buy his sister some genuine French perfume. Coco made several suggestions, Henry made his purchase, and asked Coco if she would have dinner with him. Henry and Coco, back in Malone, NY., went to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon, and Coco kept up her French with visits to nearby Montreal.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grandmother Pedersen

Grandmother Helga Pedersen knew how to raise the kids. She always gave them room to explore. Even though she had walked this sidewalk with five of them over the last 15 years, she let each one discover it anew, staying back far enough that it became their own big adventure. Lars, shown here, became a travel writer.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Louise Chambers

Louise read all she could find on how to know when you found your true love. Your heart is supposed to skip a beat, hers hadn't; your spine would tingle, you would feel faint, she didn't tingle or faint. All the other girls said it had happened to them, many times, and that in itself was confusing. "How did you know that daddy was your one true love?", she asked her mother. That summer mother's two word answer became clear. "Our eyes".

Friday, October 16, 2009

John and William Collins

John and William posed with mother Mildred Collins. "Pop" Collins took the picture. Pop said he never felt so proud. William, on the right, was killed in France. Pop never took another family photograph.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Frank, Annette, and Ann

Frank's mother told him, always look your best and you will be a success. Frank knew good advice when he heard it. He became one of the top salesmen in his firm. Annette went to Catholic schools from kindergarten through high school. She was about to start a new life in Saint Agnes convent when she met Anthony, one of the sharpest dressers she had ever seen. Annette and Anthony had four children.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Earl Jenkins

Earl Jenkins played football in high school and then went into the service, becoming a radio man on supply transport planes. When recalling his experiences for his friends, he sometimes forgot to remove the helmet before recounting his air corps days. Earl was happily married and his wife said he could always make her laugh.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sara Elmont

Sara was named captain of the basketball team and led them to the state high school finals. They won the silver cup, Sara graduated, began college and the war started. She began work as a welder while continuing school at night. Sara graduated after the war, and got a job as a Phys. Ed teacher. In her first year, the Montville High School girl's basketball team brought home the gold.