21 December 2008


A woman from Minnesota has read my blog. And here I thought it was only my kids! The lady signs herself "Annie from Minnesota" and I trust she will not mind my mentioning her name here.

She has provided information which I could not have got otherwise. In particular, she was interested in my middle name, which is on the blog. Her daughter has married a man with that middle name - 'Thayer' - and she has been researching some Thayer genealogy. Thayer is my mother's maiden name - but then I haven't got to my mother's family yet!

Beause of Annie's information I now have a large amount of information about the history of some members both of Susan's and of my families.

In particular, there is a little information about my father's mother's second husband.

According to a U.S. Census report that Annie sent me, Lena was single in 1910, and lived - apparently with her father, mother, and two sisters, in Fresno, California. My father was born in 1914. So I presume Lena married Hans in the interim.

Now there is information about Porter, as well. At least she has sent information about a convincing Porter Eugene Turner - but in 1920 he is married to a woman named Clara, according to the census.

Well, if it is the same Porter, then there must have been a divorce, or a death, I suppose. I don't know how old my father was when his father left, nor how old when his mother re-married. But Porter is the only grandfather I remember.

Porter was, I believe, a remarkable man, though as a child I only remember him as a boring old person. He had served in the first World War - and then was an officer in the second (a Lieutenant Colonel, I believe). When I knew him, I suppose he was retired, but my father referred to him as a despatcher for a railway company - the Southern Pacific, I believe. A despatcher is a pretty high-up job, I believe. This is the person who monitors and manages the trips that the train makes - ensuring, amongst other things, that they do not collide with each other!

My memories are vague here. Perhaps Peter can correct the details for me. But I recall that Porter was sent - after the second world war? During? - both to India and to Jordan - oh, and to Ecuador, I am sure I recall - to help with their rail systems.

But my personal recollections centre around his automobile. For some reason I seem to remember that it had something called 'Fluid Drive'. Childhood memories are untrustworthy, but I have some confidence about this. The amazing thing about it was that it had no clutch. To shift gears you just moved a lever from one gear to another. I remember thinking that was just incredibly cool.

I also recall that he drove very slowly. He drove us, once or twice, to orange orchards that - apparently - he owned, somewhere around Bakersfield. I was used to my father's and mother's driving. I do not think they were speed demons - but when Porter drove, I thought we would never get anywhere!

"Grandpa Porter" was the only grandfather I ever knew. But certainly I had another. My mother's father was Joseph Herriot Thayer - but appears to have died when I was only three and a half years old.

No comments: