Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Archive: Vic's Photos (#10)

Vicki and Peter (circa 1948)

Dear George,
My dad, Vic L., was an excellent photographer.  In the early 2000’s my brother Peter transformed many of Vic’s family photos into postcards. Peter’s multi-year project is the source of most of the images below.  Each week I post a new selection of “Vic’s Photos” on this blog’s righthand column.  Because these individual photos don’t get saved, I’ve been reproducing batches of them in a series of archives.  This is No. 10.  An interested reader can locate earlier archives by clicking on “Archives” in the “Labels” section of the right-hand column and scrolling down.  There are lots of rich memories of our childhood and family and friends in Menominee.

My maternal grandfather Guy Cramer, a retired insurance executive, moved to Menominee from Omaha several years after his wife Nora died.  He lived up the street from us at 914 Ogden Avenue, and he also built a large summer cottage on a prime location on the Menominee River about a mile out of town.  The house was set in a grove of Norway pines.  This is an early photo, and the willow tree, evergreens, and birches that later graced the front lawn aren’t there yet.  Guy died in 1942.  Our family moved into the house in 1946 when my dad returned from the war, and we siblings spent our childhood and teenage years there.  While I sometimes felt separated from friends in town, our river house was, in many respects, an idyllic location in which to grow up.     

Here are my mom and dad, Doris and Vic, decked out in their winter finery outside our dining room window.  Because my dad was the family photographer, we have few pictures of Vic and Doris together.  This is a particularly pleasing one. 

Here’s my brother Steve, maybe a year old, with our mom.  Steve grew up to have an affectionate, joking connection with Doris.  As the firstborn, I was a lot more uptight as a young person, but Steve, the second born child, developed much more of our mother’s propensity for fun and good times.  His cheery nature served us all well.

Xmas was a big occasion in our household.  Here I’m about six which would mean we lived in town at our house on Sheridan Road.  While they weren’t extravagant, my parents always made sure that Santa delivered presents we would enjoy.  

Here’s my sister Vicki and myself in front of the family Xmas tree in December, 1947.  Vicki was born on February 24th of that year, so she’s about 10 months old.  I can’t remember very much about any of my siblings as infants, except that Vicki’s birth was a huge event in our family.  Given three older boys in a row, our parents were thrilled to have a baby girl.

This is Vicki’s first birthday.  I was ten years older than Vicki, so I probably thought she was cute, but not yet the sort of sibling with whom you could play Chinese checkers or have an acorn fight.  My most vivid memory of Vicki’s infancy has to do with a day that my mother decided I should help more with child care and gave me a diaper-changing task.  I was mortified, and when my mother turned her head, I ran out the dining room door and disappeared into the back yard.  I wandered around the property across the road for the rest of the day, and a large horse chased me across the field.  I thought it was better to be trampled to death by a horse than to change a baby’s diapers.  

Here are kids playing softball in our front yard in the winter.  I’m not certain, but my best guess is that Terry O’Hara is at bat, I’m pitching, and my brother Steve is waiting for his turn to hit.  Some favorite family trees are in the photo -- Norway pines at the left, birches on the riverbank, the large spruce in the center of the yard, and the willow tree,at the right, by far the best tree for climbing.  Our front yard was our sports stadium: baseball, football, golf, archery, rifle shooting, track and field, etc.  We played basketball in back of the house at the garage.  

Terry O’Hara is a regular reader of this blog, so she may be surprised to run across her portrait as a teenager.  The O’Hara’s were our closest family friends, and we’d get together regularly at their house on the Green Bay shore or at our house on the river.  Terry, the oldest kid in their family, was two years younger than me; Michael Dennis, a year younger than my brother Steve; Kiera, the same age as my sister Vicki; and Patrick Sean, the youngest of all the kids in the two families.  Terry was always full of energy and enthusiasm.  We did lots of swimming, boating, sports, hiking in the forest, fireplace fires, movie-going, trick-or-treating on Halloween, and childhood pranks.  

Dooley (left) and Ann were the daughters of Jean and Margaret Worth, close friends of my parents, and we all grew up together.  The Worths had a hunting camp at Cedar River which was a gathering place for adults and kids in this friendship group, and we had many enjoyable times at the camp and in the surrounding primeval forest.  

Vicki (left) and Kiera O’Hara were age-mates and grew up together as BFF’s.  Kiera was born on the Fourth of July and was nicknamed Firecracker.  Vicki got most of her religious exposure from going to church with Kiera and her family.  The girls went to the University of Michigan and were freshmen together during my last year of graduate school there. 

Here’s my teenage sister Vicki with the Popkey’s St. Bernard from across the road.  The Popkey family, which included four boys and a girl (Ross, Bill, John, Dan, and Dolly), moved to Riverside Boulevard in the early 1950s, and the younger boys would frequently bring their St. Bernard pet over to visit our house.  The dog's name was Manfred, after the dog in the Tom Terrific cartoon show.  He was the largest dog we’d ever seen. 

Here are my three siblings -- Vicki, Peter, and Steve -- somewhere in Menominee County in midwinter.  This is about as hilly as it gets near Menominee, and Vicki’s holding an aluminum disc for sledding.  Peter has the family BB gun, and Steve has a pistol for target shooting.  I'm going to guess that Steve is about 16, which would make it 1957.  I was away at college.    

This is my friend Bob A. and myself in the late 1950’s.  We’d bee high school classmates.  Bob was in college at one of Michigan’s state universities while Katja and I were students at Antioch.  Bob arranged for my dad to purchase a 1952 Buick from his uncle which I drove back and forth between Yellow Springs and Menominee, Philadelphia, New York, and even San Francisco.  We’re still good friends with Bob and his wife Lois, though we only get together every few years in Menominee. 

I’m opening a Christmas present in our living room, probably about my junior or senior year of high school.  Our family’s Hammond Chord Organ is in the background.  Vicki and I were the most interested in playing the chord organ, and Katja and I still have it in our second floor elevator room.  One of my dad’s oil paintings is on the wall. 

Here's our mom, Doris, with her four kids in front of the living room fireplace at our home.  From the left: myself (approx. 18 years old), Peter (10), Steve (14), and Vicki (8).  I think that's our new family television set.  I first saw television in Menominee at my friend Sally H's house as a ninth-grader.  Our family was just about the last in our entire circle of acquaintances to get this new-fangled gadget.  I remember sitting on the living room couch and watching Minneapolis Laker basketball games, starring George Mikan.  

Here are Marty and Jackie Burke, along with my dad and mom (at the right).  I’d guess they are off on a trip together.  The Burke’s oldest son Skipper was my best childhood chum, and we were all sad when their family moved from Menominee to Minneapolis when Skipper and I were in fifth or sixth grade.  

My father and his friends were members of the World War II generation.  He’s pictured here with Mike and Jean O’Hara and Pat Steffke.  Vic was in the Navy, Mike in the Marines, and Pat in the Army.  There was lots of joking by the veterans about which branch of the military was the most vital, but in truth they all had great respect for one another.  

This is my dad’s friend and law partner, Dick Sawyer, with one of his kids (Peter guessed it was their son Chip).  The Sawyer’s lived in a house on State Street, and we lived two blocks away on Sheridan Road.  Dick had a hunting camp in Menominee County, and I was invited to come along for a pre-dawn duck hunting expedition as a teenager. 

My sister Vicki looks pretty young to be smoking a cigarette, especially given that her anti-smoking dad is taking the picture.  I'm going to guess that she's a college student in her first year at the University of Michigan in 1965.  We all took up smoking as college students, if not before.  It was a destructive habit, but it seemed like everybody smoked in those days.  It took me twenty years to quit, my siblings even more.    

Uncle Kent was my dad’s younger brother (and a twin brother of Karl).  He was in the Army in World War II and participated in the invasion of France where he was awarded a Silver Medal.  Kent came back from the war and owned and operated my grandfather’s drugstore on Electric Square in Menominee, as well as serving as State Commander of the American Legion and an elected member of the Michigan House of Representatives.  Because I was a habitué of the drugstore’s comic book department, I had more frequent contact with Uncle Kent during my childhood than with any other member of our extended family.   

G-mail Comments
-Gayle C-L (1-28):  David,  Very Cool!   Great Photos and great emories..  Love all the photos and especially Love the photo of your mom and dad..
Thx for sharing.!!!  Hope your New Year is going well... And your family is well too..  Pl keep the letters to George coming..  Lots of love to all. G   :)

1 comment:

  1. I have an 11" x 14" framed print of that picture your Dad took of me. It has been a revelation to my children!