Saturday, February 23, 2013

Reunite These Soldiers With Their Families

Tom Brokaw called it "The Greatest Generation"  in his book about the generation that grew up during the Great Depression, and then as young men they fought for freedom during World War II with many dying far away from home in foreign lands.   This was the generation of my mother, Gloria Kennelly who graduated from Chicago's Providence high school in 1942.  Most of the young men were either in uniform or soon would be.  Young men and women of this age became friends and sweethearts quickly offering  promises to write hoping it would keep them connected to the lives they left.  They exchanged pictures . . . a visual rememberance of home while they prayed friends at home would remember them.

At the very back of  my mother's photograph album were several pages of photos of a few of these young men in uniform.  Some have names, some do not.  I have tried a few Ancestry searches in an attempt to locate remaining family members and have sent emails to individuals that listed men of the  same name and about the correct age.  So far, no responses.

So today, I want to share them with you.  Let's remember these heroes who left home and family when our country called.  I hope they made it back home safely . . . realistically, some did not.

Francis J. Carney

Corp.Francis J. Carney

Photo taken at Camp Elliot, San Diego, Calif. 1941. 
Enlisted Aug. 29, 1940.  Overseas 10 January 1942 to February 13 1943

I believe that this photo on the right is also of Francis J. Carney, and it was taken outside of my mother's home on Monroe St. in Chicago's Garfield Park neighborhood. Was he from her church, a neighborhood boy, or a young man she knew socially?  I'll never know. There is no name on the back so I have made this assumption of his identity by comparing their faces - enlarged through the wonder of digital editing software.


Robert S. Garthwaite, USN
There are several photos of Robert S. Garthwaite in my mother's album, usually they were just signed, "Red".  Did he have red hair, a ruddy complexion, or was there another reason for the nickname?  The black and white photos don't give us a clue, but in my mind's eye, he has red hair.  Luckily, one photo had his name on the back.

Paul Waywood
Paul Waywood
On the back of the photo, in my mother's handwriting, it says "Here's a picture of that Paul Waywood that I sent the Christmas box to."  There is no other information about him - no clue as to his military designation, rank or location.

James A. Blazek, pilot
 James Blazek

Back side of above photo

There is absolutely no information about James Blazek other than his name.  How did my mother know him?
Which brother is this?
John J. Tyrrell or Thomas Tyrrell

I have several photos of this young man and none of them identify him.  However in several of the photos, he is with my mother's best friend, Marilyne Tyrrell.  He and Marilyne look so much alike with identical smiles, it must be her brother.  But Marilyne had two brothers, John was four years older and Thomas was two.  Which brother is this?  One photo has a date of Feb. 1943 . . . but that was when it was developed, not taken.  You see,  1st Lt. John Tyrrell was killed in action January 9, 1943 at Guadalcanal. I don't know when he enlisted. Thomas enlisted in 1940, but mercifully survived the war.


With nothing but "Bob" to go by, I am afraid that he will remain forever unidentified.  Despite that, I wanted to include his photo and words in this post. "Dearest Gloria,  Well, you can't say you didn't ask for it.  Now suffer in silence.  Taken in Camp Henco, on the desert of New Mexico.  In the background are the tents we once used and though it was rough. It's home to us now.  Write soon,  Love, Bob

Philip Carpenter
a co-worker at the Herald American
Article from unknown newspaper. Scan of original in my possession.
These are the soldiers whose faces stare at me from my mother's album.  It is a reflection of the times she lived through.  While this may be a futile post, I feel better for this small remembrance of their service to our country. 

If you can reunite any of these photographs with their families, I would love it. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Girls of Chicago's Providence High School . . . What Became of Them?

Providence High School - Chicago
 My mother, Gloria Kennelly, graduated from Chicago's Providence High School in 1942.  During that time period, Providence was a Catholic high school for girls.  She lived in the Garfield Park neighborhood, and so it was just a few blocks away on the opposite side of the park.  I wonder if she walked around the park or through it?

View Larger Map

My previous post about the home the Kennelly family rented for many years caused me to drag out the large cardboard box of photos I discovered on my closet shelf last summer and sift through it once again.  I always get bogged down looking through family photos. Time stands still as I pull my glasses to the end of my nose, tilt my head down so I can peer over them, and bring the photos up to within five inches of my face hoping to see some small clue that is hidden in it.  Invariably, I start to compare, sort, stack, and categorize only to find that even with my many, many categories, there are photos that don't really fit anywhere . . . or, conversely, fit everywhere.  What should I do?  So I gather them together, and, in true Scarlett O'Hara fashion, plan to deal with them tomorrow.

Well, tomorrow arrived.  Once again, I started to sort and stack. One of my stacks I mentally labeled as Providence High School.  As I pulled pile after pile of photos out of the box, the Providence stack grew larger. Naturally, my mother had not labeled any of the photos with names.  My curiousity about these girls grew as I saw them posing and laughing in photo after photo.  I love a photo set.  It seems to tell more of a story than a single photo, and I have shared photo sets before on this blog.

I wonder . . . whatever happened to them?  World War II was raging, the only eligible men were under 16 or over 40, and rationing of consumer goods had just begun. But in the faces of these 18 year old girls all you see is excitement and expectation for the life in front of them.  What were their lives like?  Happy or heartbreaking?  Exciting or wasted?  Do they have children or grandchildren who would cherish a glimpse into their grandma's past?  Are there 1942 graduates still around who could identify them?  Will you help me?

I present the Girls of Providence circa 1942

Coming out the front doors of Providence - March 1942. 

Compare to the photo above to discover the photographer for this photo. My mother, Gloria Kennelly, on far left.

 Watch those skirts, girls!

Chicago is the windy city.  Forget the hair . . . they're all smiles!

Let's take a break.   What else can we do?  Gloria Kennelly front right in plaid skirt.

Do you get a feel for personalities from this set?  Who is shy and who is gregarious?

Is the salute a sign of the times or are they saying, "Goodbye high school.  Hello life"

 On another day outside of Providence

The photo says February 1942, but this is not February in Chicago!  Gloria Kennelly, back row, center right.

Gloria Kennelly back row left.  Can you help me identify her friends?

Will I ever be able to identify them . .  or even a few of them?  In 1969, Providence merged with the all male St. Mel's becoming a co-ed school.The current school - Providence-St. Mel's is located in the original Providence building.  I called the school and inquired about their records.  They directed me to the alumni association, but it turns out that this is considered a "lost" period due to water damaged records.  They also suggested that I might try the Sisters of Providence, but I am not exactly sure how to do that. Did they have yearbooks? . . . I haven't found any yet, but I have a search saved to ebay just in case.  I do have a copy of the commencement program with the name of each graduate, but that doesn't match them to the girls in my photos.  I think the Beatles have the perfect song for this:

The 1942 Providence Commencement Program
Click to enlarge and read names

Click to enlarge and read names
Update! A 1940 yearbook has been found, and I have identified many of the girls - to the best of my ability.  Read my latest post to see the yearbook photos alongside the faces of the girls above.  With many thanks to Tony!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Merry Christmas . . . to Me

Vera Bradley hard shell computer case
I have been terribly unfocused recently (more so than usual) flitting from one side of the family to the other and from one hobby to another with work sandwiched in between.  I can't help it.  I'm a baby boomer, and I want it all!

I have multiple posts titled and languishing because I know it will take some major time to put them all together.  Of course, it is exactly that hoped for organization that propelled me into blogging in the first place.  So, I will start with this very simple and very late post about my newest family history toy wonder.

Flip-Pal scanner
For Christmas, I received a check from my brother-in-law because he was at a loss for what to get me. It was a very generous check, and I knew exactly what I wanted . . . a Flip-Pal scanner!  Ever since last summer when I discovered the giant box of old photos on a top shelf in my closet I have dreamed of a Flip-Pal.  At the two genealogy conventions I attended, I would walk more slowly past their booth and watch as they demonstrated the marvelous stitching ability of this mighty mite.  On two previous research trips to Iowa, I lugged my full size scanner which had to be connected to my computer.  This was awkward and not without a few problems.

I placed my order but went with just the basic scanner . . . had to stay within my budget.  I knew I wanted a carrying case, but the one on the website seemed a bit wimpy and did not really provide protection.  Ah ha!  There was a new Vera Bradley shop at the outlet mall in Michigan City, and I was looking for an excuse to buy something.  I was sure they would have something I could use.  After all, Vera Bradley has a bag for everything. I looked up the dimensions for my new purchase and off I went. I entered the store and was greeted by a giant sign that told me there was an additional 30% off their already lowered prices.  I walked around and around looking at everything and opening anything that was remotely the right size.  Then, at the back of the store on a lower shelf was THE perfect case.  It was a hard shell case with a quilted cloth exterior, a zippered pocket on the side and a shoulder strap. It was my dream case.  Oh no, the size was just a bit too small for the dimensions listed on the website.   I decided to wait until my little gem arrived, hoping that the actual Flip-Pal would fit.  This turned out to be a good decision as my dream case was also the Perfect Case.  I added a matching small zippered case to hold the USB stick that comes with the scanner and clipped it to the handle. 

The case was created for a mini computer, but with the repositionable Velcro sticks that can be placed anywhere in the interior, it is perfect as you can see!  Best of all the cost was a mere $24.  I would suggest that Flip-Pal pair with Very Bradley to offer these perfect cases on their website.  Can I get a commission for suggesting this?   You can travel to your nearest Vera Bradley outlet, or order one from their website.  No guarantee that the price will be the same and the price varies by the pattern chosen.  I do realize that purple floral might not be a male Flip-Pal owners cup of tea.  Oh well . . . Merry Christmas to me!

Disclaimer:  I have not received ANY compensation from either Flip-Pal or Vera Bradley. . . shucks.    I doubt they even know I purchased their products. I am just a very satisfied and enthusiastic new owner of scanner and case.