Friday, August 2, 2013

Archive: Vic's Photos #4

Our family home on the Menominee River (late 1940’s)

Dear George,
This is the fourth in a series of cumulative archives of family photos which were taken by my dad in the 1940s and 50s.  These images previously appeared on a weekly basis in this blog’s righthand column under the label, “Vic’s Photos”.  The three earlier archives can be accessed by going to the righthand column, scrolling down to “Labels”, and clicking on “Archives”.  My father, V.A.L. Jr., documented our family’s world during our childhood years and beyond.  My brother Peter reprinted these images from Vic’s original negatives in the form of postcards, and his project is the source of most of the photos contained here.  The subjects include my parents Doris and Vic; my brothers Steven and Peter, my sister Vicki, and myself; my grandfathers V.A.L. Sr. and Guy Cramer; and various other family members and friends who will be identified as they appear.  Many valuable memories have been kept alive through Vic’s and Peter’s efforts.  

Three Brothers at YMCA Camp
This is me, my younger brother Steve, and our still younger brother Peter at YMCA camp near Green Bay, Wisconsin, about 1950.  I’d be sent off for a two-week stay each summer till I was thirteen or so.  I viewed going to camp with horror since the vast majority of my campmates were strangers, mainly from the Green Bay area.  My most vivid camp memories include: throwing frogs on the water on their bellies to paralyze them; weaving plastic lanyards; pulling wings off butterflies; the buddy system when swimming; scary ghost stores around the campfire; playing war games at night in the woods; participating in the camp Olympics; seeing how close we could throw our jack knives toward one another’s feet; and the most popular kid being somebody who later grew up to be president of the Green Bay Packers organization.

The Artistes
My parents and their friends were ingenious in thinking up collective projects and theme parties.  This is my dad, Vic; his good friend, Pat Steffke; and my Aunt Millie, posing at the “Art Contest”.  Millie, my Uncle Kent’s wife, was a southern belle from Georgia and a former Army nurse.  She had a marvelous disposition, full of laughter and generosity.  Pat was a local businessman who ran a dry cleaning establishment, then founded an insurance firm.  A World War II vet, he was one of my dad’s card-playing pals at Riverside Country Club.

Football Practice
Maybe 10 or 11, I’m ready to throw the football in our front yard at river house.  I was embarrassed about my braces at the time, hence my restrained, close-mouthed smile.  Playing football in the front yard and basketball in the driveway were among the most fun parts of our childhood lives.  

Steve and Snowman
This is my brother Steve in his early teens posing with an icy associate in our front yard at river house.  I’m sure Steve and I built the snowman, and our creations became larger and more fanciful the older we grew.  

Peter’s Birthday
Our parents were members of an extended adult social circle, and so we children were members of an associated kid social circle as well.  My brother Peter and sister Vicki were 8 years and 10 years younger than me respectively, so they had a different peer groups though often from the same families.  I think that this photo was taken at Peter’s 6th or 7th birthday party.  From the left: Mary Mars, Bruce Caley, Peter L., Vicki L., Sandy Smith, Kevin (Kiera) O’Hara, Jeanner Jacobsen, Suzy (Susan) Sawyer.  

Mother and Daughter
After three boys in a row, my parents were thrilled to have a girl as their youngest child.  I’d say our mom, Doris, was closer to our sister Vicki than to any of the boys.  We were jealous and teased Vicki, though we also adored her.  I always thought that their close mother-daughter bond had a big influence on Vicki’s growing up, and motherhood became an important part of her own young adult life.  

Steve’s Birthday with Friends
This was taken at my brother Steve’s ninth birthday.  His best friend Peter Johnson is to his right, Dooley Worth to his left, and Jeanne Worth (I think) to the far right.  Peter and Steve were lifelong best friends.  Decades later Peter’s wife said that Peter laughed harder when Steve came back to Menominee that at any other time of the year.  I can testify to that because I also laughed more when I got together with Steve in Menominee than any other time of the year.    

The O’Hara Family
This group looks like they are decked out for New Years Eve.  Mike and Jean O’Hara (left) and their kids were among our family’s closest friends.  Mike was a lawyer, an ex-marine, and a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court; Jean, a mom and homemaker.  Terry, in the fur coat, was the oldest child in the family.  Michael Dennis, next to her, was a year younger than my brother Steve.  Kevin (now Kiera) at the front left and my sister Vicki were the same age. Patrick Sean at the front right was the baby of the family. We had lots of fun times and got into occasional mischief at the river house and at the O’Hara’s home on Green Bay.  We had a running debate about whether the river or the bay was more desirable. I was always positive about the river, but now I’m not so sure.  

Cool Cats
This is my brother Steve with his good friend, Bob Picard.  I don’t know the story connected with this picture, except that Bob was the sort who might own a jazzy sports car and Steve was the sort to be riding around with him in it. High school classmates and close chums, Bob became a varsity football coach and principal at Marinette High, and he’d regularly get together with Steve and our family when we visited Menominee.  

Hot Air Balloon
My brother Peter sent me this photo as a mystery picture, and it is sort of a mystery.  It’s taken on the front lawn of our house on the Menominee River.  The readily visible participants (from the left) are my mom Doris, myself, my dad Vic, my sister Vicki, and family friend Jean Worth.  Our parents and their friends were always engaged in offbeat enterprises of one sort or another, and this one involved the launching of a hot air balloon.  I think it was at Jean Worth’s instigation.  My hazy recollection is that the balloon journey was only a limited success and it wound up crashing in the river. 

Young Golfers at Riverside
I’m the one on the bench, pouting, and my brother Steve is teeing up his ball for a drive on the first hole at the Riverside Country Club.  We took weekly lessons there, and many summer mornings we’d ride our bikes a mile up Riverside Boulevard to play golf.  Being four years Steve’s senior, I usually dominated the various sports competitions that we engaged in as kids.  However, by the time Steve reached 11 or 12 it was clear that he was going to be a far superior golfer (and he did become one of the best junior golfers in the Twin Cities).  I eventually responded to this unnatural development by retiring my golf clubs and taking up tennis.  

The Jacobsen Family
The Jacobsens were close family friends.  This is dad Jes, mom Nan, and oldest daughter Jeaner (who would later be joined by her sisters Mary Nell and Nancy).  Jes and Nan were friendly, warm, and generous.  Jes was a business executive in Menominee, and Nan was a speech pathologist and homemaker.  Because of job transfers, the family moved to Milwaukee, then to Colorado, and Nan returned to Menominee after Jes’s death in 1986.  The Jacobsen’s arranged several times for our family to have Green Bay Packers tickets during the Vince Lombardi era and graciously lent us their cottage on the Green Bay shore on many of our August family reunion visits.  It only took one Packer game for us to become enthusiastic fans of Bart Starr, Jerry Kramer, Paul Hornung, Max Mcgee, Carroll Dale, Jim Taylor, and a host of other gridiron heroes.  Vicki and I visited Nan at her bayshore cottage on all of our trips to Menominee, and we were very saddened when we learned of her death in 2009 at age 90.

Riding on the Carousel
Travelling carnivals were a highlight of Menominee’s summer season.  I remember riding the carrousel horses each time the carnival came to town, here at age 3 with my mother Doris joining me for the ride.  I was a timid kid, and I still recall the horses, continually bouncing up and down, as being a dangerous proposition.  Hence my mom’s protective outstretched arm.

Teen Horsewoman
My mother was an ardent horse rider in her youth and young adulthood. While she never succeeded in passing this along to her two oldest sons, she had more success encouraging Peter and Vicki to take horseback lessons.  Vicki looks very composed on her steed.  

Bill Caley’s Sculpture
When my parents’ good friend, Bill Caley, became interested in sculpture,  he enlisted Vicki as his subject for a bust.  Vickie wasn’t excited about being a model, but my parents were thrilled with the product, and it became a family heirloom.

Off on a Great Adventure
Menominee’s environs offered lots of outdoor activities, and camping was one of my favorite pastimes.  This photo is of Tom Caley, Peter Venema, myself, and my brother Steve at the beginning of an expedition.  Actually it was our most significant camping since we were taken across Green Bay in a family friend’s boat and deposited on the beach of Chambers Island, scheduled to be picked up several days later.  There may have been other human beings somewhere on the island, but we never saw any sign of them, and Chambers Island was as close to the rugged wilderness as we ever got.  We constructed a campsite with a firepit and a latrine in the midst of the untamed woods and told scary stories around the campfire.

The Buscher Family
My aunt Martha was the youngest of four children, her older siblings being Vic and twin brothers Kent and Karl.  She was married to Ralph Buscher, one of the two managers of our Marinette family drugstore, and their kids were our cousins Ann and John.  Martha, Ralph, and their family lived at Pine Beach, a former Chatauqua community outside Marinette.  My grandfather, VA Sr., lived there with the family in his older years.  Here are all the Buschers on the front lawn at River House.  

In the Silver Dollar Pool Room
When my parents bought their land at Birch Creek in the 1960’s it contained a compound of buildings including a log cabin house, a large barn, a two-car log garage, and several buildings used to store goods or house creatures (e.g., chickens).  One building, about 8 x 12’, was converted into the Silver Dollar Pool Room, and it became the site of innumerable late night contests among siblings.  Steven was more advanced than the rest of us in pool table skills, and it was a rare event that anybody could win a game against him, though we tried as hard as possible.  This is a picture of me in the thick of the competition. 

Uncle Kent at the Menominee Drug Store
My grandfather V.A. Sr. emigrated from Sweden and founded drugstores in the twin cities of Menominee, MI, and Marinette, WI, in the early part of the twentieth century.  When he retired, he gave the Menominee Drugstore to my Uncle Kent and the Marinette Drugstore to my dad.  Kent, a registered pharmacist, ran the Menominee drugstore throughout his career, as well as serving as the state chairman of the American Legion in Michigan and as an elected member of the Michigan House of Representatives.  My brother Steve and I had lunch at the drugstore every weekday during our grade school years, and Kent generously turned his office over to us for eating and reading the week’s new comic books.

The Safety Patrol
Washington Grade School had an adult crossing guard at the school’s largest intersection at Ogden Avenue, but sixth-graders manned the two crossings at the less busy street corners on the school’s south side.  The girls’ safety patrol handled one street crossing; the boys, the other; and all the sixth graders took their daily turns as crossing guards.  My brother Steven was the captain of the safety patrol in his sixth grade year in 1952, and one can see that he was enthusiastic about his responsibilities.  

Vicki’s Silver Tooth
Vicki’s preteen years were marred when Steve, playing caroms, made a wild and crazy shot and knocked out her front tooth with the tip of his pool cue.  The dentist temporarily replaced the broken tooth with a silver version, and, while we brothers claimed it looked cool, Vicki said it was about the worst thing that could ever happen to a young girl.  

The Cousins at Xmas (circa 1952)
Each Christmas our extended family would gather at our house on the Menominee River, and we would exchange presents and celebrate with our cousins.  From the left: my cousins Thor L. and Johnny Buscher, my brother Peter, me in the Santa suit holding Annie Buscher, and my siblings Steve and Vicki.  

* * *

G-Mail Comments
-Linda C (8-3): Great pictures, and memories I would suppose.  Your parents were brave to raise the children so close to the river! 
-Gayle C-L (8-2):  So Beautiful...  Thank you for the beautiful pictures....
Hope all is well.  I've been very busy w work... That's a good thing but difficult to enjoy the summer..  Lots of love.... G

1 comment:

  1. As the eldest in our respective families and each being separated from our siblings by an almost identical number of years, David's Menominee memories are also my childhood memories. It hardly seems possible that much of it was almost 3/4 of a century ago! Familiar as Vic's photos are, I don't think I had previously seen the particular O'Hara family photo that is included in this post. Thanks for the memories, Dave!