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Archive for the ‘Dad and his family’ Category

On 23 February 1931, my father’s uncle, Frank Anthony Klein, had some sort of possibly epileptic seizure and crashed his automobile into a tree. He died from his injuries, and his mother grieved deeply for him. She had already lost her oldest daughter and Frank was her only son.

A little over a year after that tragic event, his mother, Margarethe Wendel Klein, died of cancer, or so my father told me, in her home in Elmhurst, Illinois. I think these photos are of her grave at the cemetery because I don’t see her sitting next to her husband, my great-grandfather, Frank Klein. He is wearing glasses and has a mustache.

Here’s a close-up of the grave with its flowers.

The family is buried at Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst. Margarethe would have had a Catholic funeral service.

One twist (isn’t there always a twist or a mystery?): Margarethe’s death certificate says she died of Diabetic Coma. And that she had had Myocarditis for 10 years and Nephritis (institial) for 6 years. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall, and apparently it can be caused by a virus and may resolve. Interstitial nephritis is a kidney disorder. So she had diabetes. So did her daughter, my grandmother.

Why did my father think she died of cancer? He and his siblings and mother lived with his grandparents at the time, and he remembers his grandmother “lying in the library dying, while we played outside.”

Margarethe Wendel Klein

Helen, Marie, Elizabeth, Margarethe, Peter (SIL)

Frank Sr. on the ground with his grandkids

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

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When I was in an antique mall, I picked up a clown doll. I do have a doll collection, but this clown didn’t fit the collection. I had no idea why I wanted it.

I’m not afraid of clowns, although some of these recent clown news stories could unnerve me if I experienced them. But when I got in the car with my “new” doll, I looked at it and said to myself, “Why did I want you?”

A week later, I was going through some old photos (as you know I do that a lot) and discovered this photo of myself at age two with my grandmother, my cousin Michael, and a doll.

Although it’s not the exact doll, it’s pretty close–even with the same markings. The one I found has a younger, sweeter face, whereas the one in the photo has a more mature face.

Did I have some memory of this doll that made me buy the one at the antique mall? Or did the experience of the earlier clown prepare me for a sense of familiarity when I saw the one for sale?

Was that my cousin’s doll–or mine? And who bought it?

Photos can be a mystery years later, even when you’re in the picture!

This post was inspired by Mary Louise Eklund’s post on Wednesday last week.

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My great-grandmother, Margarethe Wendel Klein, born in 1869 in Budesheim, Hessen, Germany. She died in 1932 in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Is there a name for this sort of hat? Would you call this a suit? I’m not sure about the year, but I guess it to be in the 1920s.

I am going to take a little blogging break to recharge the brain batteries.

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Sunday is Father’s Day, and it will be the 2nd one without my father. If he were here he might like if I shared some photos from his time in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

These are all from a fishing trip he was able to make, probably to the Yukon, in Canada, when he was stationed in Colorado or Alaska. I chose these photos because of all the times I went fishing with my father when I was a kid. We would take the rowboat out on the lake and fish for perch and (often) sunfish. Not like these fish!

 

Here is his permit from September 1, 1949. Notice it says Dad is a resident of Colorado, but that was his army address–he was actually from Chicago. Was he really living in Colorado at the time–or was it Alaska? I say that because I know he was in Alaska from the stories he used to tell me.

Apparently he took time out to see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, too.

Fish experts: what kind of fish did Dad catch?

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My father’s mother used to love Christmas. She celebrated it on Christmas Eve, in the German tradition. Her favorite Christmas carol was “Silent Night,” also from the German tradition.

In this photo, Grandma sits with Aunt Marge.

And here Aunt Marge is with a silly young man. (Yup, that looks like Dad!)

 

In Chicago, she kept a traditional Christmas tree (yes, also the German tradition) that she decorated with glass ornaments (mainly made in, wait for it, Germany) and strands of tinsel. In this photo, I must be around five and stand between Grandma and my mother.

Look what I got from Grandma!

 

When I was still young, Grandma changed her tree to a silver aluminum that changed color when a light wheel shone different colors on the tree. She decorated it in all pink balls. That’s the tree I remember from her duplex in Michigan. I looked, but couldn’t find a photo of it.

Another German tradition Grandma continued was putting electric candles in the window. I wish you could see the candles in this pic, but they might have been in the kitchen window. This is the picture window in Grandma’s duplex. She has a wreath up, and the nativity scene with the gifts below. It looks as if she didn’t have a tree this year. Judging by this fabulous hair (Mom, you let me go out like this?!), I was in junior high.

I think she gave my parents at least some of her old ornaments.

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While I’m working on the 30/30 Poetry Project through Tupelo Press this month, I am not doing any work on the genealogy project!

But I found something yesterday that I wanted to share.

About 2 1/2 years ago, I mentioned that my father, and later my husband and I, owned Stanwoods Luggage and Leather in Kalamazoo.

These photos are from the 60s and 70s.

In that first post, I included this photo. There was a bell hanging from the front door so we could hear it open and close if we were in the back.

You see Why Shoe Works next door? Dad was the last owner of that business.

Every July the Downtown Kalamazoo Association would organize a sidewalk sale that most merchants would participate in. We always did, marking down items and putting them out in the heat for customers to pick over.

Here’s a photo of the sidewalk sale. I used to love working those for the excitement. Dad would stand out in front with a megaphone, addressing people across the wide main street. Our routine was broken, I was out of the confining store, and I could people watch as they rummaged through our merchandise.

Notice the round suitcases on the luggage display rack. Do you know what those are? Hatboxes!! We were still selling those in the 60s. Train cases, too. Those were boxlike suitcases where all your cosmetics and toiletries could stand upright. Today we use BAGGIES to carry our liquids. Yes, we’re definitely more civilized today.

Eventually we had T-shirts made with a new Stanwoods logo and wore the T-shirts on sidewalk days. That’s what I found yesterday! The last Stanwoods T-shirt.

Here’s a photo of the block of E. Michigan Avenue where Stanwoods existed.

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It’s been a month and a day since I’ve written on this blog.

One month ago today my father passed away. It seems both ages ago and as if it’s happening right now.

I am going to get back to work over here at The Family Kalamazoo, but I wanted you to know why I haven’t been writing any posts or reading your blogs.

My father has shown up several times on this blog, both as a subject and as one of my family detectives. You can imagine how much he will be missed.

He was buried at the Fort Custer National Cemetery after a ceremony with military honors. I wrote about his military experiences here:

Dad Writes about His Wartime Experiences

Korean War: Why Did It Take Dad So Long to Get to Korea?

Next Sunday will be Father’s Day here in the United States. It’s hard to believe he won’t be here for that day. I wrote blog posts for Dad for the past two Father’s Days here:

Happy Father’s Day to An American Veteran

Keeping Busy

The last post featured some of Dad’s yard art. For his funeral, we covered a large poster board with photos of some of the items he made through woodworking and metal scrap art.

 

Dad was always doing something, always involved, and always present in every moment.

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