Saturday, February 6, 2016
It is 1958 and this third grade class has finished decorating the little tree. It is a real pine tree and the school has bought them for each grade school classroom in order to decorate for the holiday. The town is Murray, Iowa and it has a school with one class of every age in their building. This group is being lead by Mrs. Selma Thompson.
They are all such young faces not knowing much about what their future will bring. Three of the boys will end up in the service, two in the army and one in the navy. Each one had a different destiny as one, Larry Gene, served in Japan, another, Bernard, was in Germany, and the third, Denny, was sent to fight in the Vietnam war. The one who served in Nam ended up with addictions that probably shortened his life. He has been gone now over 20 years. The other two guys are close friends of mine living in the area.
Gary and Fred are still farmers today living near their homes of their childhood. Anna lives in Florida and was a realtor with her husband. Phyllis married a minister and lived in the southern states most of her life. One other girl who was widowed young in her marriage still lives in the Murray area. My one cousin Carolyn worked and lived most of her life in the neighboring town becoming the business manager for the hospital. My other cousin Jim has lived most of his years now in Arizona being a teacher like me. He and I were the only two teachers in the bunch.
Wilmer moved away the next year and I have no idea where he is today. His brother married a first cousin of mine and I do keep track of his brother. Ann lives in Osceola. Mary Ann also lived in Osceola and was a hairdresser in her younger years. She later became the manager of the country club of the golf course in town. Mary Ann passed away just a few months ago. Patty in the photo married right out of high school and became a widow ten or so years later. She is remarried and lives elsewhere from the home town. Sandy married early and she is a great grandma now. She lives in the Ankeny area. On girl Barbara became a successful business person climbing to the be vice president of a company. She lives in Colorado and rarely returns to Iowa. She now promotes positive thinking and living seminars in her retired years.
In the photo is a guy, Larry, with a striped shirt and short sleeves. He is by a girl named Kathie who was a step cousin to him. Their grandparents married and made them seem a little like family. Kathie lives about 25 miles from where Larry lives and they never see each other. I don't understand why Larry's mother let him wear short sleeves shirt to school in the middle of winter.
The social structures of school seem to be a tradition that isn't as strong as it use to be. Students today move in and out of schools continually. The group in the photo above, 15 of them, graduated together all starting kindergarten together. Because country schools were closing our class had three or four more people added to the class who also graduated with this group.
I have stayed pretty distant from the past group for most of my years and the last ten years have reunited with a lot of them. It is interesting to return to see people who still carry their original personalities and yet have moved on to live lives so differently. We really don't know each other very well now but I guess the bond of our youth keeps us together. Our 50th anniversary from high school graduation will be in 2018. Some of the core group who still live in the area of the school are getting very excited. Me, not so much.........I hope we are all still around.
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Saturday, January 16, 2016
The two guys and my dad are in the backyard of their temporary home in Murray, Iowa. I was having some confusion about the time and ages of everyone here but I had not been born yet. Their squinting from the sun makes it hard to identify them but the one on the left is my brother Ron. He is 17 months older than my brother Rex on the right side. My understanding is that my dad, Jesse, was shipping out for Europe headed to Belgium. He was saying goodbye to his sons and my mom Zella. My mom was living with her mother Grandmother Brown. Dad's mom and dad also lived in the area on the opposite ends of a block.
My dad had been in the army for a few years but was stationed in Washington, D.C. He was able to be home when Rex was born but returned out east after the visit. I am sure now in this photo he was headed for the train station to again be on the coast to ship out. My oldest brother was a smaller guy than his older brother Rex so they do look to be closer in age.
Sitting in from of my Grandmothers Brown's house is Ron and Rex. My dad was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge at the time this photo was taken 1944.
When my dad went into the service, my mom and my two brothers lived there with grandma. My mom was returning to her home to live as she and dad had first lived in a small house right next to the train track. It all is a complicated story and by my simplifying it makes it confusing but when dad returned home the family of four lived here until they found a farm to rent and farm house to call home.
The oldest brother, Ron, is sitting in back of the box and Rex is in the front. By the time they were in grade school I believe the two guys were the same size. Rex did outgrow my older brother. The photo is probably taken in the same town of Murray.
This is a photo of my Uncle Kenny standing in front of grandma's house. It was a big four by four styled house and had the corner wrapped around porch on it. Some day I am going to share the life of this house with all the photos of family that were taken outside around this house. Photos have been taken on all four sides of the house. Next door many family photos were also taken as they thought the Morrow's house was nicer looking with its fancy porch.
Both houses are still standing today but one would not be able to identify them. They were remodeled into totally different styled house. The two story house had the second floor removed and it was made into a ranch house with a cape cod flavor. On the whole block of Fourth St. only three houses are still standing. At the far opposite end of this block my other Grandmother Burgus lived and that house is still standing. The three houses between them have all been removed.
As the theme was a prompt showing two children who were orphaned by the sinking of the Titanic I expand the idea of what could have happened. My dad went to war and the chances of returning were low. He carried a radio with the scouting party that was searching and spying on enemy territory in front of the lines. He crossed the Remagen bridge when a breakthrough was created on enemy lines. There have been moments of thought that my dad could have instead not survived that time period in the war. Thousands of soldiers died from many countries just in that one very long battle. My brothers would have been still around today. The next two boys Dwight and myself could never have been.
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Saturday, January 9, 2016
The garden glass reflection ball can seem to be more like a sculpture when it is black and white. When it is seen in color the viewer would be far more distracted and not really appreciate the reflective shape.
Christmas baubles too, take on the special shapes of shine and glow. The shape of a sphere, no matter the size, seems to be magical.
A 1960s ashtray takes on a special look too, but in this case it is suppose to look like a bowling ball. It was my dad's ashtray which was too small for all the smoking that he did. Cigars really put out too much ash for this little guy.
The earth is illustrated in the old geography country school book. The book came from a country school near a farm where I lived in southern Iowa. My dad purchased a bunch of books from the closed school. The book was printed in the late 40s and I can imagine how fascinated a student in a country school would be when they first opened these pages. I remember my own state of awe when I first saw the book. A globe in the classroom would never have this much detail in color. I expect the artists had to use their imagination to illustrate it as no person had been off the surface of the earth until 20 or more years later. Photos taken of the earth must have been later than that. These two pages are the only color photos in the entire book.
I shared this painting of mine a few blogs back in the black and white version. I had many requests to see it in color and I do have spheres floating around in the painting.
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Saturday, January 2, 2016
Granger, Iowa, USA probably taken in the early 1900s. Most all of the buildings are gone now but a couple of them on the right side still stand. I think they turned them into bars.
Granger, Iowa is pictured here also with the first shot being being located at the top corner of this photo. If you were to look down the road that travels by the water tower that would be where that shot was taken. The taller building is in the above photo. I would date this photo as around 1950s. The school building is gone now and three different building programs have change that whole area. I taught in that old school building, top floor on the opposite side. That was in 1976 through 1990s. The room had a great view of all the farmland being worked in the area. It was a neat old building that used to be the full k through 12 building for the town. In 1969 Granger and Woodward merged as a school district.
You are now viewing the east side of Murray, Iowa on mainstret. The buildings are all empty now with no businesses in them. To the left down the street is a remodeled bank which is still open. The left building was a drug store with a soda fountain. I ate many chocolate sundaes on twirly seats. The opening is where the Agan's Barbershop stood. I find it interesting that they chose not to take down the brick part of the building. To the right was the hardware store.
My first cousin and her husband bought that store and ran it for many years. It then became a movie theater for a number of years, believe it or not. One more building sits to the right of this one that use to be a car repair shop and it was turned into a very successful cafe. On top of that building is an apartment and above that still stand a lookout, built by the town, to watch for Japanese bombers, during WW 2.
I have saved the best for last. This photo is a building that stood on main street three blocks away from where I live now. It looks like it was just finished in its construction in this photo. I like all the different architectural influences in the design. The banding design comes from Venice. The Roman arch of course come from Rome and there are dentil designs along the top and smaller ones in the middle. They are all designs from overses older classical buildings.
The Oddfellows, a mens lodge, probably built the building. They met at the top floor. On the main floor was a stage with opera house seats both main floor and with a balcony. It was said in the later years that a cafe was set up in the basement and served sandwiches all day. Of course the people in the United States tear everything down. The roof probably went bad and people who owned the building didn't have the money to replace it. Fire codes of the 1960's probably were probably not being met. It set empty for quite a while.
I moved to town in 1976. The building was torn down in 1975. What a big mistake for the city and for the history of Iowa. I never saw the building but saw the very rough parking lot that was created after it was gone. I find it difficult to find any info or more photos of the building on the net. I suppose it will take another generation of people from the town to start to send out the photos.
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Sunday, December 27, 2015
I am guessing that the year is 1957. My brother Dwight and I received a new train together from Santa Claus. My dad had a windup toy metal donkey. It had a tail that would spin making the donkey shake and move in circles. We were poor and it kind of shows. The old rocker in the foreground recovered with towels. The saggy couch in the back and a line up of old rockers on the right. The linoleum floors reminded me that the marbles rolled east to west when released. The house was an old house with no insulation and it sat on the top of a hill in southern Iowa. When the wind would blow the house would be cold through and through and sometimes frost would form on the wallpaper.
My dad had hair and it was dark. My mom had the same hair style most of her life. My older brother Dwight is behind my dad, barely showing. I am standing around watching my brother take the photo. A camera was a pretty fancy thing for our family at that time. This must of been the year my oldest brother Ron got a Brownie camera for Christmas. He would have been the one taking the photo, using up those expensive flashbulbs that would be like an explosion in a glass ball. I don't know where the one other brother would be during this time. The wooden shelving thing on the wall full of photos and salt and pepper shakers is in storage in my basement today. I really think this is the only Christmas shot that we ever took my whole life time.
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Saturday, November 14, 2015
It isn't ancient history but it has been quite a few years since we attended the Indianola Balloon Festival in Indianola, Iowa. The photo shown here shows the owners of the balloon blowing hot air into the balloon.
When younger I would see these balloons, usually just one, used to advertise for an event or for a company. It would be easily seen floating above Des Moines, Iowa with a banks name on its side.
The shaped of a balloon seems to be one of form following function. The patters of color add to the beauty of the shape but the uniform panels of cloth sewn together makes it into a soft sculpture.
In a balloon race they are to all take off from another location at the same time. They then land onto this location. Sometimes the wind currents takes a balloon hostage and the balloonists have to pass on by as they will miss the place altogether. The people in the basket take it with stride and wave as they float on by knowing that it is not a pure controlled science. I guess there must be an emergency field somewhere down the way, like a hay field that they can land onto.
At the end of the race the balloons maintain the inflation but stay anchored to the ground. Then in unison they all turn on their burners to cause the balloons to look like glowing candles.
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A painting that I did a few years back. It has a definite balloon problem.
Friday, October 23, 2015
My brother Rex shown above would practice his baritone horn in the upstairs bedroom with his window open. The neighbor lady who was a few miles away claimed she could hear him while she was out hanging out her laundry on the clothes line.
The uniform, which was purple and white, was fancy and each member was required to wear white dress pants. The moms of the members were required to sew a purple cloth band down the side of the pants. With white shoes and a barrel tube hat with a brim, they looked really great. They had ostrich feathers to stick into the top of the hat.
The practice times of the band when they were marching outside was at the same time as we had recess. Students would line up and follow the band as they marched. I am sure it looked like a good "Spanky and our Gang" type of movie with all those little urchins marching behind the high school band members. I think it funny now that no one bothered to makes us stop doing that. I would think the music instructor would have been out there but I guess the majorette was in charge of the band's practice. No teacher on duty either so it would have made for great chaos.
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