The door knob turned…..

I can’t remember how old I was when my mother told me this story , I am pretty sure I was an adult,  but I will never forget it.  Every so often she would tell me little bits and pieces about her life growing up in Los Angeles.  My mom’s dad died when she was 2. (more about that in this blog post Picture from a funeral) Mom told me that her mother raised her as best she could and my mother idolized her, but when I heard these stories…sometimes I wondered.  In this particular story, mom said that in about 1928, when she was about 12,  she and her mother lived in an apartment in downtown Los Angeles . In looking at census records, I believe that apartment was at 811 S. Union Ave.  I found some pictures in my grandmother’s photo album that show it, and believe it or not,  it is still there although it doesn’t look the same.

811 S. Union, in 1929, my mother Louise in the middle, my grandmother Elma on the right. Must have been a Halloween dress up?
My mother Louise Ledger in 1930 at 811 S. Union Ave.
811 So. Union today from Google Maps

My mother told me that she had come home from school and was doing her homework at the table when she saw the door knob to the apartment front door begin to turn. Her mother Elma and her girlfriend Amy were in the bathroom at the time. My mom ran to the bathroom and banged on the door and told her mother “Help, someone is trying to get into the apartment” and my grandmother just told her to ” stop imagining things!” Mom said that it was a man out in the hallway and he kept saying “open the door.” My mother was terrified. She told me that her mother did not come out of the bathroom and and she had to sit in the chair and listen to the doorknob go back and forth, until finally, whoever it was went away.

How terrifying for a 12 year old girl!

My mom had many mental problems that I am sure stemmed from the things that happened to her as a child. And I remember this story well because as she told me, I saw her as the terrified girl sitting in the chair in that apartment.

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Resemblance

I was reading a blog post today that was about family members resembling each other, on a lovely blog I just discovered  https://talesofafamily.blog/    I belong to many Facebook genealogy groups and people are always posting pictures asking us to confirm what they think are uncanny resemblances – which for the most part I have trouble seeing.  I believe we see what we want to see most of the time and those pictures prove it to me.  Not to be a Debbie downer, but it just ain’t there people!

But it reminded me of my sister, Barb.  My sister and I don’t look much alike, my sister and brother did.  But that makes sense since they both had the same mother and father.  I learned that I have the same mother, but different father and that totally explained why I didn’t resemble either one!  In our zillions of pictures inherited from our parents are many of our Grandma May.  Grandma was dad’s (who will always be my dad because he loved and raised me) mother.  A feisty woman, Swedish immigrant, matron of a boarding house for many years, who had a hard life but lived to a nice old age of 88.  When I knew her she was married to her second husband, Grandpa Charlie, who treated her as a queen for 13+ years until she passed away in 1963.  I didn’t know her well, she died when I was 10 and had suffered from debilitating strokes in the few years prior to her death.  There was one great picture of grandma in her 70’s that my sister put up on her wall many years ago. The whole family used to laugh and tell my sister that we didn’t need to wonder what she would look like when she was older, she was that picture!  My middle son once was standing near the photo and I asked him if he knew who the lady in the picture was – without much hesitation he said “Auntie Barbie!”  and he was pretty surprised when I told him it was our grandmother, not his aunt/my sister.

Tell me what you think!

May Halldin 1950's 1Barbie and Richard Sept 2011

Blogging University

I set up my blog in 2015 while I was on my crazy DNA search for the man who was my biological father.  It seemed to be a way for me to process what was happening to me and my life.  I have just sort of dabbled with it since the beginning – sometimes going for a year without touching it.  I am never sure how much of my feelings and emotions to put out there.  If my family reads my posts will they think I am a weirdo (one of my 1950’s childhood taunts) or just being overly dramatic.   Actually, when I started this blog it was so that my children, or any descendants or relatives down the road would be able to find it and learn some things about our family that they might be interested in.  How I wish I could read a blog from one of my ancestors that would answer all those nagging questions I have.  Now I have realized that if I don’t write in the thing, how will anybody find it or be interested in what little I have written.  Therefore I decided to start doing more research into blogging and to try to make it interesting to a wider audience so I decided to join the WordPress Blogging University course.   Can’t hurt, can it?  Day one’s lesson is to set 3 goals for my blog – I am a terrible goal setter but I am going to do my best to complete this university!!!

Goal 1 – To blog at least once a week.  Trying to be realistic – it might be more like every 2 weeks but I would like to reach the every week goal eventually.

Goal 2 – To learn as much about blogging as I can.  My focus is genealogy so I am starting to read other blogs from like-minded people.  I love reading other people’s genealogical searches and mystery solving so I am hoping by making mine interesting I can get more readers and subscribers.

Goal 3 – To gain more confidence in my writing ability.  I suffer from a severe lack of confidence sometimes, other times I am stuffed full of too much confidence.  I have had a rough couple of years dealing with my DNA and genealogical discoveries and I think I need to write about them to help me get back (or forward) to where I want to be.

There, I did it!  Now off to read more blog posts and see what I like or don’t like about them.  That should help me with my Blogging university class.

Picture from a funeral

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Photo taken at funeral of Leonard Ledger August 1918

Nowadays it seems sort of tacky to take pictures at a funeral – not that it isn’t done – but I have noticed that in the past it was a much more common thing to do.  I suppose it was a time when families were together and dressed up and seemed like a good time to have a family picture.  I am lucky enough to have my grandmother’s photo album. Thank goodness my mom’s uncle rescued it from our garage and returned it years later or it may have gone the way of most things in our house – tossed out.  This picture was taken at the funeral of my grandfather Leonard Ledger (Oct. 15, 1892-Aug. 3, 1918) At what was  called Hollywood Cemetery but is now Hollywood Forever. There are lots of famous people buried there, movie stars mostly. There are large crypts and fancy headstones but grandpa  is in an unmarked grave near the wall behind Paramount Studios.  I went to look for him in the 1990’s and the office had to pull out a very old map to show where he was.  Why he does not have a headstone is a real mystery.  He had family, In this picture is just one member of his family, his sister in law Grace Ledger, the rest are my grandmother’s Fairman family.  But he had 5 brothers and one sister, but no one put a headstone.

My grandmother was Elma Etta Fairman (Dec. 23, 1892 – Oct. 8, 1933) and she is sitting in the middle of the picture in the dark ankle high dress. At this point in 1918 Elma had been married to Leonard for 5 years and they had a daughter, my mother.  According to my mom, her mom Elma didn’t say too much about Leonard except that he wasn’t a very nice person. He supposedly pushed her down a flight of stairs when she was pregnant with another child.  He had grown up in Louisiana and he would cross the street if a black man was walking on his side, a sign of those times but still sad.   Leonard died of Tuberculosis. I believe his father had also died of the disease and perhaps one of his sisters.

Since he died way before I was born he has always just been a young man in some old pictures.  Here he is with my mother on Mt. Hollywood (where the Hollywood sign is now) in 1918.

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Leonard Ledger and daughter Etta Louise 

He had curly hair (my mom and I inherited that!) a broad flat nose (mom got that too) and he is almost always smiling in pictures.  I always have felt so sorry for him because he died so young.  My mother was put in an orphanage after he died, while her mother worked.  It affected her and her mental health for the rest of her life. My mother’s mother Elma carried on as best she could. I don’t know why family didn’t help my grandma with mom, I believe her mother did but she died in 1921.  My grandmother was living a different lifestyle in Los Angeles at the time.  She was gay.  She had a roommate named Amy and by looking at their pictures together they were very much in love. Things my mom told me confirmed what I had always suspected. I could care less,  you go grandma!  But mom was always embarrassed – I get it – again, the times they lived in.

So Leonard dying was sad, but it allowed Grandma to live the life she wanted until she died  in 1933 at the age of 41.  Elma also did not have a headstone until the 1980’s when my mom purchased one for it. But Leonard still rests, unnamed in that fancy cemetery. I have thought that one day I would honor him with one, just so he isn’t completely forgotten.

 

The Jones’s

I love this picture, don’t they all look so happy?  This was at the wedding of my cousin Dick (Albert Richard Jones) and his bride Carol Montgomery.  It was taken on June 22, 1953. My mother was very pregnant with me so maybe she decided to stay out of the photo!

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Dexter Halldin, Carol Jones, Her mother Carol, Dick Jones and Vivian Jones

As with any picture, the stories of the people always interested me.  On the left is my dad, not biological, but that is a whole different story you can read on this blog.  Dexter Halldin, a sweeter guy you never could meet.  Only problem was he was an alcoholic.  He was able to hold on to a business, function successfully, and drink every darn day.  He lived to be 79 and I always say it was because he was “pickled” and therefore his body could last (he passed in 1995).

Carol was such a beauty, even in her later years she had such a poise and grace.  But she didn’t like our family.  Not sure if it was because of the drinking, or because we were loud and kinda nuts but Dick and Carol dropped out of our lives for many years until I found them when they were in their 70’s, living only about an hour from where my husband and I lived at the time.  Dick had been a pretty bad alcoholic himself until he quit in his 60’s and he was glad to be back with the family after I coaxed him into attending a family reunion.  Carol was always gracious to me when I saw her but very standoffish….oh well, I liked her.

The lady next to her is her mother, Carol.  I didn’t know her but I have inherited from Dick and Carol quite a few pictures and items from her mother’s life.  She was an accountant, a very smart woman, but according to family lore, a very controlling and manipulative one.

Cousin Dick, now he was a sweetie.  He shared with me so much during the few years we got to get to know each other.  He lived in the shadow of his older brother who was killed in WWII , see my blog page Cousin Bill  Their father, also Bill Jones, was so crestfallen when his son was killed I think he left a wound in Dick that never healed.  Dick told me once that he and his brother weren’t close, and he seemed to feel so guilty.  Dick and Carol would go on to have one son, they named him Bill.  But no grandchildren.  In fact their son Bill died in 2002, before they did. He had only one lung and something went wrong and he died in his sleep. He never married.  Dick became a successful real estate salesman.  Dick had been estranged from the entire Halldin family from after his dad died in 1967 until I found him in 1995 after my father died.  Dick was glad I looked him up and he shared so much with me, including all his letters home from WWII, along with the letters from his brother.  Dick started getting Alzheimer disease in the early 2000’s.  Carol took care of him but she died in 2007.  We had moved to Colorado in 2004 and hadn’t stayed in as good a touch as I should have so we only learned of Carol’s passing from a caregiver. Carol wanted to be sure Dick was taken care of and they picked a family friend who handled everything.  Dick was able to stay home with a live in caregiver until about 2012 and then he had to go to assisted living.  He passed in 2013.  Whenever we came to California we would visit him and Carol, and him and his caregiver after Carol died.  Even when he couldn’t remember who we were he was the sweetest guy ever.  I think he really felt bad about not staying in touch with the Halldin family over the years and I am glad we could share a few years with him. I inherited all of his pictures from our family and Carol’s family – I love looking through them.

And then Aunt Vivian.  What a lady!  She wasn’t Dick’s mother.  Dick’s mother was my dad Dexter’s sister Gertrude.  She had died when Dick was 7 years old of pneumonia – those were the days before antibiotics.  She was only 33 and my father was devastated, he was very close to his sister.. Vivian met Gertrude’s husband, my Uncle Bill, in 1945.  She was living in a little apartment behind my grandparents house and Bill lived in another apartment.  They hit it off right away and became a couple pretty quickly.  His son Bill had already died in the war and Dick was coming home soon from the Navy.  Vivian and Dick became so close that she legally adopted him so that he could be in charge of her affairs if anything happened to her.  Vivian was married to Uncle Bill until his death in 1967. She didn’t remarry until about 1983 when she married a good friend of her and Uncle Bill’s, unfortunately he passed away shortly thereafter.  She stayed in Southern California until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and it scared her so badly she moved to Las Vegas, and she was 88 years old!  Aunt Vivian lived to be 99 years old, passing in 2005.  I visited with Vivian a few times in Las Vegas and she was always so chipper and sweet.  She loved to gamble the nickel slots and we had a lot of laughs doing that!

So the happy faces of this picture may have held so much joy on that wedding day, but there was lots of heartache in the years to follow.  A family separated that had been so close. No real reason why that I know of – but there are so many secrets in my family – maybe I just don’t know the real reason.

A reluctant blogger

I haven’t written in a very long time, since October 2016.  I have felt very out of sorts since this whole finding out my bio father was not the man I thought he was.  It has been great getting to know my bio family – I love them all. I recently got to meet brother #3.  He is from our dad’s first marriage during WWII, he is a sweetie pie.  He and his wife drove their motor home down from Oregon and stayed a few days.  It was great getting to know him and his wife.  Here they are with me.  I have been embraced wholeheartedly by all 3 brothers and it warms my heart so much.

I have been to Southern California to see my younger half brothers about 4 times since I discovered them in 2016.  Our visits are always great!  But I struggle with my relationship with my sister that I grew up with, it has been very strained – So it has been a difficult couple of years.  I know she isn’t happy about my search for the truth, but it is what it is.  I am trying to come to a peaceful place in my mind, to be comfortable with my discovery and to just move on.  On that note, I have been working on my family genealogy quite a bit.  I use Ancestry.com – I just love the DNA matching, the ease of finding records and it’s all around ease of use.  I have found quite a few extended family members through them, and good old Facebook!  I got to spend a couple of days with my 2nd cousin and his wife, on my mother’s Fairman side, this past fall during their 50th anniversary weekend.  Meeting family always makes me feel so good.  I made them up a family tree on poster board with pictures, so that their family could see how we were all related.  They loved it.  Those small things that I can do to connect with people make me happy and I hope to keep the family history bug going through my interactions with the generations.

I am going to start blogging about the pictures and families in my vast bunch of very old pictures that I inherited from various family members.  I recently read a fantastic blog by Charles Moore Telling their story   and it reminded me of the pictures I have and how I really want to save them on-line to share the stories of the people who came before us.  Not everyone is identified in every picture I have but I do know the majority of them and I want to share their stories. Stay tuned.

 

DNA doesn’t lie!

I am sure you have heard the phrase “a watched pot never boils”.  Well, waiting for DNA test results to come back is pretty much like that.  I knew it could take up to 6 weeks but…still…I had come so far and now just wanted proof that I wasn’t mucking it all up again.  In the mean time I had a chance to go to the L.A. area for a few days and even though the results were not in, I asked my potential 1/2 brothers Scott and Bruce if they would like to meet up.  They were so sweet and were excited to meet me, even prior to the proof of the DNA test.  We pretty much all thought that the picture of my mom with their dad on the same bowling team sealed the deal.

I drove down to Southern CA and we planned a meet at Scott’s house. While I was driving to our meeting I have never been so nervous in all my life.  I was so afraid that I was getting all excited for nothing – what if Scott and Bruce weren’t my 1/2 brothers?   I had to remind myself to breathe…to relax…to just be me and let things play out and to stop worrying.  As I drove up to the house the first person I saw was Scott, standing in the doorway of his house…and all I could do was smile as I know that this is probably my brother and I couldn’t help but feel the love. Then I see Bruce, the elder of the two and the acceptance was written all over his face too….I felt like I had come home to family.  We had the nicest visit….Bruce had brought some old photos from the Perry family and we went through them and laughed and talked. It was such a good visit but also a little bitter sweet as I learned their sister Linda had passed away a couple of years ago and she was very interested in family history and had done lots of research and they were sure we would have hit it off.  Linda and I were the closest in age, she being just 2 years younger than me.

Scott’s roommate Donna had a sandwich spread fixed up for us and we ate, and laughed and talked a lot more.  I really felt good about this visit and so wished the DNA results would come in while I was in Southern Ca. that weekend, but I knew I would probably have to wait for awhile still.  It was funny that Scott kept asking me and texting me..”when will the results be in?”…he wanted to know for sure just like I did – we were like a couple of little kids!  I learned so much about the family during our visit and I promised Bruce and Scott that as soon as I knew the results I would be letting them know.

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Here we are at our first meeting, June 9, 2016.  Scott to the left of the picture and Bruce to the right. Continue Reading