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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Picture from a funeral

Fairmans at Leonard Ledger Funeral.jpg

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.

 

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.

 

Finding Family

Elma (Fairman) Ledger

My maternal grandmother Elma Etta Fairman

Last year I was looking through some old pictures. I am very lucky in that most of the pictures my grandmother Elma left are in an album and many of the names are written below the pictures so I have at least a clue as to who is in the picture.  Only problem is that grandma died in 1933 and any pictures she didn’t place in the album have no identification on them.  My mom saved lots of pictures but wasn’t the best at writing on the older ones and sometimes I come across names that I don’t recognize.  Since mom did not stay in contact with her mother’s side of the family much – in fact hardly at all because I never met ANY of them while I was growing up – I am pretty clueless as to what happened to them all.

 

 

 

 

dennisSo I come across this adorable picture of a little boy on a horse.  His last name is Fairman so I know he is somehow related but how?  My curiosity got me all stirred up and thanks to Ancestry.com and Facebook and some detective work on my part, I discovered the long lost children of my mom’s Uncle Fred!

 

 

 

Fred Fairman

Fred Fairman

This is a whole branch of the family I always wondered about.  Mom had only told me that she had an Uncle Fred -she didn’t know what happened to him but she knew that he had a lot of children – that’s it….I asked her once, don’t you wonder where they are…I don’t think she answered me.. mom was funny about family, she seemed to not want to think about her childhood or stay in touch with either side, but that is another story for another blog post someday.

 

I was lucky enough to be able to meet with Uncle Fred’s surviving children last January – we had a wonderful lunch and I felt so loved and accepted….They are such sweet people and I look forward to meeting up with them again next time I am down in Southern CA.

My new found Fairman Family

My new found Fairman Family