Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Quest Continues

Street scene in St. Louis, c. 1915

I've been spending the last few days going through what seem to be endless archives of photos of Indianapolis, St. Louis, and parts of California that were important sites in my family's and ancestors' history.

The street scene above, for example would have been familiar to my mother's biological father the year before he died. The location is about two miles from where he was killed in 1916.

Union Traction Building in Indianapolis, c. 1910
Periodically after 1900, my mother's biological father worked as streetcar conductor in Indianapolis, and he would have been very familiar with this building and the streetcars that connected the various parts of Indianapolis and the outlying communities. As far as I've been able to find out, he left Indianapolis for St. Louis in 1912 or 1913.

Knights of Pythias Building, Indianapolis, c. 1910

I doubt my mother's biological father was a Pythian, but her stepfather became a member in Indianapolis. It was through his Pythian connections, I'm pretty sure, that he was able to find work in California when he and my mother and her mother left Indianapolis forever in 1917. Her stepfather started as a mechanic for a garage in Santa Maria and worked his way up to garage manager by 1930. He would hire another Pythian in that year to be the service manager for the garage. That man's brother-in-law, hired at the same time, would become my mother's first husband and my sister's father.

U-Auto-Stop, Willits, CA c. 1931

This was the service station and auto-court my mother's stepfather purchased sometime after 1930 and ran in Willits, CA, until 1939, when he sold it and he and my mother's mother moved to Reno where claimed to be a "mining engineer." Something tells me that the "mine" was a fraud, but I don't know.

These are just some of the photos I've been sorting through. Most of the sites where these people were living and working from about 1900 to 1940 or so are long gone. But the rail yard in St. Louis at the end of St. Louis Avenue is still there.

Wabash Rail Yard at the end of St. Louis Ave, St. Louis, MO, c. 2012 via the Google
[I added a bunch of pictures and links but apparently didn't save them. Oh well! Here are some others....]

These are some additional pictures I've found that give me a better idea of the environment members of my family and some of my relations came from:

Both my mother's mother and her mother worked as telephone operators for the Fletcher American National Bank from 1910 or earlier to 1915 or 1916. This picture isn't them... so far as I know:

I wonder who's watching me....
"Number pluh-leeze" c. 1912
Fletcher American National Bank, c. 1915. They had other buildings in Indianapolis as well, but this is likely to be the place where they worked:

Note the street car. At various times in his life, my mother's father worked as a street car conductor, and as I was going through a bunch of Indianapolis street car pictures, I found this one:

Among other things, what's interesting about this picture is the location, E. Michigan Street and N. Emerson Avenue, the line's termination point. According to the story where I found the picture, the E. Michigan Street line was completed to N. Emerson Avenue in 1911. The E. Michigan line ran half a block from where my mother's relations -- including her mother and grandmother, her brother and a cousin -- were living in 1910 and where my mother would live after she was born in 1911. Lawrence, my mother's biological father, was working as a streetcar conductor in 1911. Wouldn't it be something if one of the men in the picture is her father? If the picture was taken in 1915, as stated in the story, it couldn't be him as he was then in St. Louis, but if it were taken any time between 1910 and 1913, it could be.

Progress Laundry c. 1911
This is a picture of the Progress Laundry that opened in 1910. One of my mother's aunts was working as a laundress in 1910, at a laundry not at home (so unlike Mildred Pierce's mother, she didn't take in other people's washing). I don't know that she worked at the Progress Laundry -- there were a number of laundries in Indianapolis at the time -- but it wouldn't surprise me.

A saloon:

Wm Brommer Saloon c. 1909
Looks like they cleaned it up and cleaned the customers out for the picture. I don't know that Lawrence frequented the Brommer Saloon, but he probably visited it -- and a number of others -- while carousing around the town.

The drug store Lawrence was alleged to have burgled in 1912 was owned by a fellow named Ferdinand A. Mueller, who soon thereafter went on to other pursuits:

Mr. Mueller's drug store on E. Washington Street is no longer there. Pretty much nothing is there anymore but parking lots. But Mr. Mueller told the the police and newspapers that so far as he knew, nothing was taken from his store in the infamous burglary.

Saturday Evening Post, published in Indianapolis, December 18, 1915.

Dreher's 1916 Simplex Guide and Map of Indianapolis -- detailing streetcar lines, how to get where you want to go, and showing views of the city.

Afterwhiles, by James Whitcomb Riley. My mother had several copies of this. I didn't know why. Now I do. She also had some other Riley books. Lawrence's middle name was... Riley.

A Hoosier Romance, by James Whitcomb Riley. 1910.

Sooty, gritty, grimy Indianapolis in the movies, c. 1916.

The Golden State, the Sunset, and the California all were "Limiteds" that passed through the orange groves of Southern California back in the day. Looks like the picture dates from before 1920.
And so, they arrive. My mother, her mother, and her stepfather arrived in California in 1917, perhaps in June, perhaps in October. They took the route to Santa Ana where Leo and Edna were wed, then they headed up the coast to Santa Maria where they stayed at least until sometime in the 1930s (haven't quite sorted out the year they left, but it was after 1930.) The postcard is part of the collection of a Canadian fellow named David who has been posting them on his blog since 2009. Many of his cards are simply charming.

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