Thursday, November 6, 2014

Archive: Vic's Photos (#9)

Doris, Steve, and Dave at our house on the river

Dear George,
Every week I put one of my dad Vic L.’s photos of our family, friends, and hometown in this blog’s righthand column.  Because the individual photos get deleted at week’s end, I’ve brought them back here in a series of archives.  My brother Peter made most of these images available by creating a series of postcards from Vic’s photos, and a few have also come from family albums.  Earlier archives on this blog can be visited by clicking on “Archives” in the “Labels” section of the right-hand column.  There will be more to come in the future.

My maternal grandfather, Guy Cramer, was an insurance executive in Omaha and a veteran of the Spanish-American war.  He moved to Menominee in 1938 several years after my grandmother died and lived down the street from us at 9143 Ogden Avenue.  He built the house on the Menominee River as a summer cottage, and shortly after World War II it became our family home for the next two decades.  Guy died in 1942. 

My grandfather, V.A. Sr., emigrated to the U.S. from Sweden in his youth, worked for a short time as a logger in the U.P. woods, then went to pharmacy school and eventually became a successful druggist and businessman in the twin cities.  V.A. was a quiet, patient, loving man, a father of four, and a good grandpa.  By the time I worked at his Marinette drugstore he was retired, though he would occasionally fill in as the substitute pharmacist. 

This is my mom and myself shortly after my birth in summer 1937.  I know just about nothing about my infancy.  I should have asked my parents more.  My mother looks very happy in pictures like this one, though I always imagine that my parents were more nervous with their firstborn child than with my three siblings who were to follow. 

This is my early childhood best friend Sally F. and I engaged in a challenging project for two-year-olds in our living room.  Sally’s dressed up, though our activity looks messy, and it looks like she knows more than I about what we’re doing.  When my family moved from Ogden Avenue to Sheridan Road after my kindergarten year, Sally and I lost touch for the rest of our grade school years, but then we became close friends again in high school. Sometimes I see her at high school reunions, and it’s always a happy get-together. 

Here’s my sweet grandfather, V.A. Sr., and myself, probably when I was about four.  V.A. lived with us for a while at river house, building a cabin on the lot next door, and he was a regular visitor to our home after he moved to Pine Beach to live with his daughter Martha and son-in-law Ralph Buscher.  V.A. was a gentle, kind man, devoted to his family, loving to his grandchildren. 

This is Steve and I at our family Xmas tree (circa 1944), probably at our Sheridan Road house in Menominee during World War II.  My dad went through Naval officer training at the Great Lakes Naval Base near Chicago, then was stationed in the Pacific.  I would guess that he was home for the holidays to capture this shot of his two kids.  

This is my dad and my younger brother Steven, probably at our house on the Menominee River.  We spent a lot of our childhood playing outside in the yard, the river, and the woods, whether summer or winter.  

Menominee has serious Michigan winters, and sledding was one of our many outdoor activities.  The best sledding hill in town was at the Tourist Information Lodge next to the Interstate Bridge.  Living out on the river, though, we’d build our own sled ramp off the river bank and belly-flop onto it to slide dozens of yards out onto the ice.  Then we’d tow one another on our sleds across the river to Pig Island or downstream to Brewery Park. 

I’m going to guess this photo was taken in the late 1940’s which would place the participants in their 40’s, a peak time for socializing and fun for this group.  From the left, Doris L., Jean O’Hara, and Florence Caley.  In talking with childhood friends over the years, nobody has ever managed to create the camaraderie of this Menominee group of our parents and their friends. 

My grandfather, V.A. Sr., founded Rexall drugstores in downtown Menominee and Marinette, and my uncle Kent came to own and manage the Menominee store when V.A. retired.  Because it was just a half block away from our grade school, Steve and I ate lunch there daily and got to read all the new comic books.  

My sister Vicki was born in 1947, a year after our family moved out to our house on the Menominee River.  Here she is on the living room window seat with our Irish Setter family dog, Mike. 

These are my uncles Kent and Karl, identical twins, and Kent’s oldest son, Thor.  Kent was a pharmacist, and Karl was a sales rep for Kimberly Clark in Neenah-Menasha.  Despite their near-identical looks, Karl and Kent were very different in temperament: Karl, more jovial and outgoing; Kent, more serious and sometimes stern.  Kent was married with kids, and Karl was a bachelor (until he married when I was in college).  Our extended family would gather each Xmas at our house on the river (where this photo was taken), and it was a festive occasion. 

My aunt Martha was my father’s younger sister.  She was married to Ralph Buscher who helped run my grandfather’s Marinette drugstore. Martha and Ralph had two kids, Ann and John, who we still visit when we travel to the twin cities.  Martha was a librarian at the Stephenson Public Library in Marinette as well as the family genealogist.

My Uncle Ralph helped run our family’s Marinette Rexall drugstore where we all worked in our youth.  He had a big heart and a good sense of humor, sang in a barber shop quartet, and, was a good father and family man.  Ralph always brought a lot of good spirit and fun to our family gatherings, and it was shocking when he passed away in his 40’s.   

I can’t make out the woman at the left, but the others are Jean O’Hara, Florence Caley, and my mom Doris L, apparently on an outing on Green Bay on either an O’Hara or a Caley boat. 

I got braces in about the fifth grade.  My orthodontist, Dr. Gilling, was located in Green Bay, 45 miles away, but he made trips to Menominee every few months and set up for the day at Dr. Mead’s office, our family dentist.  Two things that Dr. Gilling always said to me was that my mouth was like an artesian well and that I was very brave.  Having braces was unpleasant, especially when the dentist tightened them and when he attached strong rubber bands to pull them in various directions.  In this photo I look a little self-conscious, trying not to smile and hiding my teeth and their apparatus.  

From the left: Steve (b. 1941), Vicki (1947), Peter (1945), and me (1937), taken in our front yard at river house.  Because of our age distribution, Steve and I formed one cohort pair in our family, and Peter and Vicki were another.  We all got along reasonably well, though I bullied Steve too much, and Peter and Vicki regularly fought it out for dominance.  Nonetheless, we were close and loving friends and siblings, perhaps moreso in adulthood than as children.   

Here are my sister Vicki (about age 5) and my brother Peter (about age 7) at the front door of Menominee’s Washington Grade School about 1952.  Steve would have been in sixth grade then, and I was in high school.  All the kids in our family went to Washington Grade School, and we came away with a firm footing in the 3 R’s and a lot of memorable playground experiences.  When I go back to high school reunions, it’s my Washington grade school classmates with whom I tend to have the firmest bonds.   

When I was in ninth grade my father and another adult leader founded a troop of Air Scouts in Menominee.  It was a brand new advanced branch of the Boy Scouts, designed to be cutting edge and to provide an option to the Explorers and the Sea Scouts.  Our big event of the year was a trip to the O’Hare military air base in Chicago, where we camped out in our tents off the end of a runway.  Air scouts pictured from the left are Alan Pickl, Frank St. Peter, leader Vic L. (sitting), Jim Hazel, and perhaps Earl Malcolm at the right.  Because I’m the only participant not in the photo, I suspect I took the picture.  We had a fun time on our trip, and we enjoyed the Maxwell St. Flea Market in Chicago most of all.  A prostitute there made an offer to my father to do the whole troop for fifty dollars, but it was a violation of the Air Scout code of ethics and too expensive.   

Here’s my brother Steve, maybe 16 or 17, wrapping an Xmas present in our living room at our house on the Menominee River (circa 1957).  That’s our Hammond Chord Organ in the background which our parents purchased to enhance our musical skills and interest.  I still have the chord organ sitting in the room on which I’m currently typing on the computer, but it’s holding so much flea market stuff that it’s not accessible at the moment for playing.  

Here are my parents, Doris and Vic, and my brother Steve and sister-in-law Margie at their wedding on June 20, 1964, in Elmhurst, Illinois, Margie’s hometown.  We were all thrilled about the event.  

G-mail Comments
-Jennifer M (11-6): These old photos are great!
-Terry O-S (11-8-14): Hi David -  I thought perhaps I could help with the fourth woman in the boat photo but I can't recognize her either.  I think that is the Pookah,  the O'Hara boat, because of the outboard that seems to be moored to the stern.  One difference between your family and ours was that in yours only Vicki was born after the war while in ours both Kiera and Sean were post-war children. Perhaps for that reason, I think of our family as two cohorts even more than yours. I am eight years older than Kiera and ten older than Sean and I think of Michael and me and Kiera and Sean as almost two different families.  However, Michael and Kiera were very close as children and have remained so in their adult years. The other interesting thing about the O'Hara/Jacobsen clan is that only Michael and I were born before the war.  Beginning in 1946, a whole slew of cousins arrived: Tim O'Hara, Jeanne Jacobsen, Kiera, Nancy Jacobsen and John O'Hara all in the same year, then Sean, Brien O'Hara (I'm not sure which of them is older but neither one by much) and finally Nell Jacobsen. I was so much older that I was not much a part of the "cousins crew" but they all have very fond memories of their growing up years together. Once again, Michael bridged the gap much better than I and was often the "play organizer" for the younger kids. Kiera andJohn O'Hara are tentatively thinking that theymight get to Menominee next summer for their 50th high school class reunion.  I echo your sentiment that our parents and their friends had a circle of friends unlike anything I have encountered since.  Trust you and Katja are well.  Best

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