Sunday, July 3, 2011


It is always a surprise when someone in the family comes forth with a photograph that you have never seen before. The photo above is one that fits in this category. My cousin Shirlee uncovered it somewhere in her ephemera collection and sent me a copy of it.

The most interesting thing is that even though we know it is our family, both of us were hard put to identify everyone.

The children, from left to right (and with approximate ages) are me, my sister Ginnie Lou and my cousin Shirlee, who was Shirley then, just as I was Barbara. That being the case, I'd date it from 1941; I would have been 6 and the other two approximately 4. The location is Long Beach, California, where we kids grew up.

Shirlee wondered who the man was at the right; she thought it was Uncle Marvin. I had to break the news to her that it was her father, my Uncle Sam. I recognized him, but she didn't. We got a laugh out of that.

The three women in the photo are sisters. They are my mom, who is behind Ginnie Lou, my Aunt Marie, who is behind her daughter Shirley, and my Aunt Florence. The fact that Uncle Marvin is not in the picture makes me suppose that it was he who was the photographer. They lived in Kansas and obviously were out in California on vacation. They had no children until December of 1943, when my cousin Sharon was born.

Except for the fact that I knew my mother had to be in the picture, I would not have recognized her. I have several pictures of myself as a teenager that could have been a replication of her. When I was in college my mother and I won a contest for the mother and daughter who most looked alike. However, for the most part I was always thought to look like my dad, so go figure. Anyway, that lady was my mother, for sure! The two men on the left were my dad, who is behind me, and his best friend who always was in our lives and was called "Uncle Bill." His real name was Wilmer Augustus Funk, formerly Funck.

It took my cousin and me a few minutes to decide on who the remaining man was. We settled on Uncle Hugh, youngest brother of the three sisters. In 1941 he would have been 19 -- and he always had kind of a baby face, so we are quite sure our identification is correct.

Shirlee and I spent a lot of time discussing this picture. She said the ladies were wearing "swimming pajamas." I, being the older of the two of us, had never heard of swimming pajamas and couldn't find anything using Google that spoke of them...but I don't know everything. Maybe there were such things. And since Aunt Florence has a swimming cap on her head -- well, who knows.

And to make a story out of what you see, here's my try. Aunt Florence and Uncle Marvin came to California on vacation, and the family decided to go to the beach. It was much colder down at the beach than what they expected (accounting for why no other people are on the strand) but neither Uncle Sam, Uncle Hughie or Aunt Florence let that stop them from going in the water. After taking the obligatory picture to show the folks back in Wichita when they got home, Uncle Marvin put his camera away, told the family they'd send a copy of the picture when they got it developed, and everyone left the beach.

Within the year WWII would break out. Uncle Bill would go to the island of Peleliu, Uncle Marvin, a pharmacist by profession, would become a medic and go wherever he was needed, Uncle Hugh would fight in Sicily, and Uncle Sam would be in the Merchant Marines. My father was 4A, which was because of his age and the number of people depending on him for their survival (wife, two kids and a mother-in-law). But at the time of this picture, undoubtedly the summer of 1941, life was good.


Olga said...

That's neat--picture and story, both. My sister gave me a picture of our parents and a couple other people that neither one of us had ever seen before. A friend of her's who was related to one of the other people found it on the internet. Crazy.

Stacey said...

I love the old pictures and the "stories" that come with them.