Christmas 1943

Everyday until Christmas, I am going to try to post a picture from past family Christmas’ each day. 

Dorothy Christmas 1943

Mom Christmas Time 1943

This picture is dated on the back January 1, 1943.  My mom age 18 is sitting on the floor.  At first glance, I thought it was my grandmother.  But when blown up on the computer, I’m not so sure.  It could be my grandmother’s sister, Frances.  Notice the granny square afghan on sofa.  In yesterday’s picture there was a pillow with a granny square pillow case.  The tree sure lights up the corner. Our family tradition was always put the tree up the weekend before Christmas and take it down the day after New Years Day.  This was especially true with the live trees.  Once we went to artificial trees we may have put them up earlier, but still took them down right after New Years day. I can’t tell what she is holding in her hand.  I remember that table next to the tree being in that same spot forever.  Next to it is one of those ash trays on a pedestal.  You don’t see those around anymore.  On the wall near the ceiling it looks like it was stenciled, and the crown molding is something you don’t see very often anymore in new houses. For me it is interesting to see the changes made to my grandparents house over the years, although a lot stayed the same. 

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst

Lovingly to Helen

Frances Bowers Beck

Frances Bowers

This is my grandmother’s sister Frances.  She signed the picture “Lovingly To Helen Frank.”  In my last post, I posted a picture of my grandmother and she signed her picture, “Yours to a turn, H. B.”  I had a lot of discussion about the “Yours to a turn” part with many people.  At least Frances signed with something that I understand.  Now I am wondering if my grandmother and her sister exchanged pictures.  They were very close to each other and both pictures are from the same time period.   I like her outfit, and wonder if she made it as she was a wonderful seamstress.   Maybe her mother made the hat as she was milliner.

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst

Sisters all grown up!

Frances and Helen Bowers in 1918

Frances and Helen Bowers

In my last post I wrote about two little girls who happened to be sisters.  Well here they are all grown up now.  Frances on left at 18 and Helen (my grandmother) on right at 20.  They appear to be in some kind of park.  I must say those are some outfits!  They sure look happy in this photo.  Like I said in previous post they were close and always together.   Just their names and 1918 was written on the back of the picture.  

Helen B, W. Prettie and Frances Bowers

Helen Bowers, John Walter Prettie, Frances Bowers.

Here they are together again.  Helen is on the left, W. Prettie in the center, and Frances on the right.  As you can see in this picture Frances is taller and overall bigger than Helen.  I don’t know who the soldier is to them.  I don’t know if he was a boyfriend of one or just a friend.  The writing on the back of the picture says, “H. Bowers, W. Prettie, and Franky Bowers Sun Dec. 7, 1919.”  It hit me when I saw the date that little did they know that 22 years later the Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor on this day.  December 7, 1941 and it happened to be a Sunday too. 

I decided to search for W. Prettie and found a John W. Prettie on the 1920 census living at 2339 Racine Avenue in Chicago and the Bowers sisters are living at 2333 Racine Avenue.(1) As it turns out that they were neighbors and that is how they knew each other.  

“A Steamfitter by trade, John fought in France with the Canadian Expeditionary Force 1916-1918. He returned home to Chicago 1919. He was the son of John Adam Prettie and Mary Upton; his wife was Clara B. Jenkins (1900-?) whom I suspect is buried beside him.”(2)  John Walter Prettie was born 28 November 1898 in Canada.(3)  He passed away 20 February 1938 in Chicago and is buried at St. Joseph Cemetery in River Grove, Cook, Illinois. (4)  I am pretty sure that I have the same person as the W. Prettie in the picture.  He returned home in 1919, could this be his returning home picture?

I have looked at these photo’s many, many times but as I started scanning them and documenting them in the computer, I realized how much I missed before.  

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst



1. Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 24, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_335; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 1371>  Source Information: 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).

2. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.  Original data: Find A Grave. Find A Grave.


4. Ibid.




Frances and Helen Bowers 

This is the earliest picture I can find of my grandmother, Helen Bowers.  It was taken around 1904 when she was about 5 years old.  My grandmother is on the right and the one on the left is her sister Frances.   Frances was 14 months younger than Helen. Frances looks to be about the same size as Helen.  When they were fully grown Frances was the taller of the two.  Frances had lighter hair than Helen, and Helen had brown eyes whereas Frances had grey eyes.  Helen was the better cook of the two, however Frances was the better seamstress.  Frances was the tomboy and Helen was the little lady.  They remained close throughout their lives.  Frances passed away first on 13 July 1971, and Helen passed away 10 years later on 9 February 1981.  I love this picture of the two of them.  I loved them both and still miss them.

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst

The Hawaii Years 1954 – 1955

Russell in Hawaii in 1954

This is a picture of my Uncle Russ when he was stationed in Hawaii at Hickam Field from February 1954 to October 1955.  He loved photography and was pretty good at it.  Most of his pictures from Hawaii were on slides.  I thought they were beautiful.  Unfortunately I do not have them.  In the 1980’s he was living in Arizona and and moved back to Illinois.  He left the slides with some friends who were suppose to send them, but never did.  So I am afraid they are lost forever now.  I remember he sent me a doll and a grass skirt from Hawaii.  In the picture he has the camera around his neck.  I love his crew cut and he wore his hair that way for many, many years after he was discharged from the Navy.

My son loves photography too and inherited some of his camera’s and lenses.  Below are a couple of more pictures from the Hawaii years.  In the one picture he has his camera in his hand.  Uncle Russ married three times and divorced three times.  He never had any children.  After the last marriage and divorce he said he was done and never married again.  He lived alone and became somewhat of a hermit in his old age.  Uncle Russ passed away on October 4, 2011 at the the age of 80 years, three months, and six days.  We all love and miss him.  RIP Uncle Russ!

The Navy Years

Uncle Russ in Navy 001

My Uncle Russ was 16 years old when I was born and oh how I loved and adored him!   When I was 5 years old he joined the Navy and the thought of him being gone for four years seemed like an eternity to me.  He was our mailman and I saw him everyday.  I would follow him down the street as he delivered mail to each house.  Before he left, he bought me a parakeet, and he sent me gifts from wherever he was stationed.  Of course, I saw him now and then when he had leave, but it was quite a change from seeing him everyday.  Here are a couple of pictures of my Uncle and me during those years.

Uncle Russ and me 1952
Uncle Russ and me 1952 at Great Lakes Naval Base
Uncle Russ and me 1952

Uncle Russ and me 1952 in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house

Notice my sailor suit and I am wearing Uncle Russ’ hat.


Uncle Russ and me on September 7, 1953

This was taken in my grandparent’s backyard and that is my mother in the background.


Uncle Russ, me, and Grandpa 1953

This was in front of my grandparents house and that is my grandfather in the doorway. The dress I had on was homemade by my Aunt Frances. The shoes I had on were loafers. I remember how much I wanted loafers, but I had narrow feet and it was hard to find a pair that did not fall off my feet. My mother must have taken me to every shoe store in town and surrounding towns until we found a pair that didn’t fall off my feet.

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst

Buster’s First Car

Russ and his first car 1936

Russ (Buster) and his first car

This is a picture of my Uncle Russ in 1936 with his first car.  Seeing this picture started me thinking about my uncle and his cars.  He loved convertibles and had several throughout his life.  His first convertible was the best.  It was a red and white 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner hardtop-convertible.  I remember the day, he bought it.  My father and I went to the dealership with him.   I don’t think he went in with the intention of buying it.  He just wanted to buy a car.  The salesman showed us this red and white hardtop-convertible.  When I saw it, I immediately wanted him to buy it.  We sat there for what seemed like an eternity to a 10 year old, while he thought it over.  I kept thinking what is the problem? Just buy it!  I don’t know how much time really past, but my father did say that it took him a long time to decide.  It was a very unique car and drew attention wherever you went.  I remember that you had to be on a flat even surface for the top to go up or down.  If it suddenly started to rain, you had to drive to a level spot to put the top up.  Sounds easy, but it wasn’t always easy to find a level spot.  The slightest incline and it would not go up.


From: Bristol Courier News, Bristal Pennsylvania, December20, 1956

I found this ad in the  I tried to find a picture of his car, but I couldn’t find one.  I can’t believe no one ever took a picture of it.  At the time everyone was into slides and unfortunately the slides were left in an attic in Arizona when my uncle moved.  So maybe that is why I have no photos of it.  For those who are too young to remember, I provided a link below.

1957 Ford hardtop convertable

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst

Family Pictures: Smoking

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything.  I have been busy with other things, and I’ve been scanning family pictures that I inherited from my mother and grandmother.  Since I ran dry on family stories, I’ve decided to post a picture and describe it or tell a story that may go with it.  Sometimes no words or few words.  After all a pictures worth a thousand words.  Right?  Here is the first of many.

Russell and Barbara 1940

This is my Uncle sitting on the steps with his cousin smoking candy cigarettes.  The house was in Aurora, Illinois.  My uncle became a life-long smoker.  I don’t know if the cigarettes killed him or not.  He died at the age of 80 from a multitude of problems, but Cancer was not one of them.  Of course maybe the smoking caused some of the other problems.  I had candy cigarettes as a kid too, but never became a smoker.  So I am not saying that candy cigarettes cause someone to start smoking.  It is clear to me from this picture, that they were obviously imitating the adults.

Copyright © 2019 Gail Grunst


Father’s Day: A Tribute to My Dad

img074 (2)

My Dad and me

My Dad, George Philip Manfroid, Jr. was born to George Manfroid and Helen Desens on 26 October 1919 in Forest Park, Illinois.  Dad grew up in Forest Park and Elmhurst, Illinois.  He went to York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.  He had a brother, Donald, 14 years younger than him.  He grew up during the depression and that made a great impression on him.  I remember the stories that my dad told me about the depression.  When I hear about the recent recession compared to the great depression on TV, I cringe because the recent recession is nothing like what my father described to me.  His father lost his business, then they lost their house, and they ate bananas for Sunday dinner.  There were no safety nets like there are today for the unemployed.  Because this made such an impact on my Father he decided that his children would not go without.  He went without lunch for weeks and saved his lunch money to buy me a doll for Christmas.  He made me a doll house with a hand saw (he didn’t have power tools at the time).   He gave me everything he possibly could.  Not only did he give me material things, he gave me his time, attention, advice, and love.  He gave me history lessons at the dinner table.  He loved history, and I learned about history and current events through dinner time discussions.  He had a great sense of humor.  Whenever my brother or I asked if he would buy us the latest toy or gadget, he would say, “Yes on the 42nd of July.”  Just in case they ever changed the calendar the 42nd had to land on the second Tuesday of the week.  In other words we were never going to get it.  He loved  gardening and painting the house.  He was always painting inside or outside.  He loved his baseball and the Cubs.   He was always there for me whenever I needed him.  If I just need to talk or if I needed a shoulder to cry on, he was there.  I loved him very much and I have no doubt about his love for me. 

img075 (2)

Dad walking me down the aisle

When I got married, he walked me down the aisle and gave me away.  He told my husband on our wedding day that if he (my husband) ever did anything to hurt me, he would have to answer to him (my father).  After we were married for several years, my father told some friends of ours that when their daughters grew up he hoped they found someone like my husband.  I picked a good man because I had a good father. 

My Dad worked hard and sometimes worked two jobs to make ends meet.  When I was born my dad was a bus driver.  He drove a bus for a suburban bus company, Leyden Motor Coach.  At first he worked nights and holidays, but as he gained seniority, he was able to work mostly days and had the major holidays off.  Sometimes he would take a charter on his day off.  He especially liked the ones to the ball games.  He would get off work from the bus company about 2:30pm, and go to his second job driving a mini bus for a nursery school, Jack and Jill, in Villa Park, Illinois.   He was with the bus company for 17 years when the company closed down.  My Dad then got a job with Burney Brothers Bakery driving a delivery truck.  He delivered to Jewel grocery stores in Chicago.   He also took overtime delivering wedding cakes on Saturdays.  After 17 years with Burney Brothers, they closed down too.  At 59 years old my father was without a job, no pension, and not old enough for Social Security.  He found a job doing maintenance work at the Wheaton Park District.  He worked there for the next five years.

We lived in an Apartment until 1953 when my parents bought their first house in Lombard (Villa Park was across the street).   We lived in that house until 1963 when they bought another house in Villa Park.   In 1968 they moved to a smaller house in Carol Stream, Illinois due to my father’s health issues.  My father lived in the Carol Stream home until his death.

In 1967, my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer.  He was given radiation treatments for six weeks.  The tumor was in his voice box, and he couldn’t talk very well.  The radiation shrank the tumor so he did get his voice back.  They wanted to remove the voice box to get rid of the cancer altogether, but my father said he would rather die than to be without his voice.  He lived 17 more years without a recurrence.  In late February or early March of 1984, we noticed my dad had slowed down.  He said he wasn’t feeling good, and my mother finally convinced him to see a doctor.  He went to the doctor and was sent him for some tests.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer. A few days later my dad was admitted to the hospital.  I went to see him and he had to cough a lot.  It was deep cough and it seemed that when he coughed he could not get his breath.  It was hard to watch.  My last visit with my father, I noticed he kept staring at me.  I thought to myself that he is studying me in case this is the last time he sees me.  When it was time to go, I said “Good-bye I hope you get better soon.”  He said, “Me too.”  We were holding hands and he did not want to let go and neither did I.  I planned to go back every day, but the next day I came down with a terrible cold that settled in my chest.  I did not go to visit him because I was afraid of giving him my cold.  I thought the last thing he needs is a cold.   The next day my mom called me to say that the doctor called her and told her to get to the hospital he was dying.  I couldn’t go because I had two small children at home.  My mother and brother were there with him at the end. My mom said he kept pulling the tubes out of his arms.  So I think he was ready to die. 

My dad passed away from Cancer on March 15, 1984 at 64 years, 4 months, and 18 days.  I wish I was there with my Dad at the end; however it is a comfort to know that my mother and brother were there for him.  He is loved and dearly missed by his children, grandchildren, family, and friends.  Happy Father’s Day to a great Dad!  If I could tell him one thing it would be this, “Dad, the Cubs finally did it and won the World Series in 2016!” 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week Father’s Day

Copyright©2016 Gail Grunst