Strange Arts & Visual Delights
A couple of years ago, I started spending time on family history work. I am interested not just in the discovery of names and dates, but in the stories. I am especially drawn to those who have been overlooked because they died young, leaving no children to remember them and document their lives.
An old friend, Martha, has always wondered about her mother’s first fiancé, Clyde Hawkins. Clyde was killed somewhere in the Pacific during World War 2. Though he was many thousands of miles away, Lula (Martha’s mother) knew instantly when Clyde had died. When my friend was a girl, her family used to visit Oma at Christmas to remember her lost son.
Recently she asked me to find out more about Clyde’s death; I had little to go on but the soldier’s name, his mother’s given name, Oma (probably a nickname) and married name, as well as the family name of Oma’s second husband, Parks.
Using Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, I was easily able to find an obituary for Clyde (the picture is from his obituary; the source of the obituary was not provided by the person who posted it on Ancestry). He was killed in Hollandia, New Guinea, on June 6 (the newspaper report) or June 11 (his headstone, as seen on Findagrave.com). Perhaps he was wounded on the 6th and died on 11th, but that is speculation. He would not have known that the invasion of Normandy had begun on June 6.
The newspaper story says only that Clyde died from the accidental discharge of a weapon. The family story is more tragic: the weapon that accidentally fired was being cleaned by Clyde’s best friend.
Lula thought her chances of marriage ended with Clyde’s death, but a few years later, on the county bus, she met Talmadge. Though he was 16 years older, had already been married, and had children not much younger than Lula, they fell in love, raised their own family, and had a successful married life.
Oma died in 1975, shortly after her 77th birthday. Talmadge died in his hundredth year, a few years after Lula. He was still two-finger typing letters on a blue Royal portable, still an astute reader of the newspapers.