Category Archives: Hess Family

My winter clothing in the 1950’s and beyond

1950’s

Hess girls in snow suits on the back porch of Harbrooke 1956

photo on our back porch in Ann Arbor, MI -1956

Linda with Madalyn Klotz at the Rotunda

At the Christmas Rotunda in 1956. Linda Claire and family friend Madalyn Klotz

There was a photograph taken in 1956. A loving father had posed his 2 little girls who were wearing their full winter gear. The girls stand on the back porch of their home in Ann Arbor, MI. If you had been a passerby, I expect that you would have found the scene very endearing. Maybe you would have muttered, “how cute”. Maybe you would have just walked past with a new smile on your face. A father delighting in his sweet children was a good thing to witness.

My sister and I were the 2 little girls in the photo. She was 4 years old at that time and I was a toddler at the age of 2. The wonderment is that when I describe our outfits that were so overly heavy and bulky, that the carry away impression is still so stinkin’ cute.

Imagine, if you will, my sister is in a girl’s brown heavy weight woolen coat that reaches to just above the knees and flares at the bottom. It has 2 large pockets on the front of the coat and is closed with 3 big over sized buttons. Worn underneath this coat are a matching pair of woolen snow pants that are fitted with shoulder straps and a bib front. Her dress had to be shoved down inside of the snow pants.  The hat, which was part of the same coordinated set, was actually more of a tie-on wool bonnet with a big front brim and unbelievably thick straps. Once the hat was tied on under her chin, it was difficult to have room for a simple nod. But wait, there is also a muffler (now called a scarf) that also had to fit around the neck.  The outfit was completed by adding a pair of knit mittens tied to a string. The rubber boots in this ensemble made up their own story. You see, you wore your street shoes and had to pull on your boots over your shoes! How? There was a trick. That trick seems more like a tall tale than the truth.  You had to pull a plastic wonder bread bag over your shoes and then yank the boot until it fit over the shoes. Then you had to do  a strange boot dance as you hopped around trying to assure that the heel of your shoe was fully engaged inside of the boot.

In the photo, at 2 years old, I was wearing a more sensible one piece snowsuit. The snow suit must have been sold as a set, because the bonnet style winter hat (there was no hood) displayed all of the design elements from the silky snow suit. My boots were red. Were all girl’s boots red in the 50’s? Again, like all boots they had to be placed on over my shoes. To be exact, my lace up Buster Brown sturdy walking shoes.

In 1959, 3 years after the photo I just described, my father posed me once again in a winter scene for a photograph. I was 5 years old. I was smiling “to beat the band.” My delight was because my sister, neighbor friends, and I had just completed an architectural marvel. A nearly 10 foot long snow tunnel. You had to crawl through the tunnel on your belly, but somehow it was just wonderful. The fashions had already changed from 1956 to 1959. In the more recent of the photos, my waist length snow jacket has a hood. My hands are bare in the photo, but you can see that both pockets seem overstuffed with what I presume must have been my mittens. I must have proven myself able to keep track of my mittens, because there are no longer strings or clips attached to my sleeves. Oh…and the boots are still the brightest of bright red color.

Linda Claire by snow tunnel at Harbrooke

This photo is from 1959

1970’s

Linda Claire on skis

My photo from circa 1970 at our home in Ann Arbor, MI

Oh, how great were the winter weather looks from the 1970’s. In still another photo taken by my father, I was sporting the very popular winter faux fur puff ball hat with big pom-pom ties. Hard to understand now, but at the time that was a very fashionable look! During this time era, I was a skier. On the slopes, I also sported corduroy knickers worn with tall woolen socks. The knickers always had a fancy leather strap and metal buckle to keep them tight at the bottom which was just below knee level. A thick ski sweater was made from scratchy wool but kept you warm on the slopes. Frequently, you could wear your stirrup pants underneath the other clothing as an additional layer of warmth. The 70’s was also the first time that I remember wearing thermal long underwear.

I suppose the reason that I have so many photos of my winter garments was because my father loved being outdoors in all of the seasons. Every winter, he poured an ice rink in our backyard. Starting in my teens, we went to the ski slopes and we had always taken winter hikes through the quiet woods surrounding our home. My father pointed at the various trees and told us their names. We listened to the birds and knew who was “talking.”

I grew up loving winter. That makes me a sort of odd duck. After all, I mostly hear folks grumble and complain about the cold. I just bundle up and go out. Of course, I am very grateful that boots advanced to the point that no wonder bags need to used to put them on.

I hope you like winter too. I hope you see children playing in the snow and smile.

Gretchen Ream and Robert Hess – 1945

FEBRUARY 1945

Robert and Gretchen wedding announcement Feb. 1945

On 14 Feb 1945, Robert Hess proposed to Gretchen Ream. Gretchen was 19 years old. Robert was 20 years old. As the article above states, Robert was a V-12 trainee in the University of Michigan Engineering School. The date of Robert’s entry into active service had been 1 July 1943. Gretchen and Robert had met in 1943, so they actually waited to become engaged. In 1943, Robert’s residence was at 426 Hamilton Place, Ann Arbor, MI and Gretchen lived with her mother at 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor.

At the time of their engagement, our country was still involved in WWII which we had entered the war in December 1941 after Pearl Harbor. In 1945, Gretchen was a secretary for Economy Baler Co.

APRIL 1945

On 1 April 1945, Easter Sunday, the photo below was taken of Gretchen and Robert having fun with a bike and a wagon. It was one of Robert’s favorite photographs.

with text Gretchen and Bob Wagon Easter Parade 1945

On 10 April 1945, Gretchen’s brother Robert Ream received a Purple Heart after his leg injury.

On 13 Apr 1945, Gretchen and Robert attended the Slide Rule Ball at the Michigan Union. She saved her dance card, autographed by the entertainer Louis Prima and his band.

Senior Ball 1945 Robert and Gretchen Hess (1)

On 21 April 1945, Robert and his brother George Hess graduate from the University of Michigan with honors.

1945 Engineering

MAY 1945

10 May 1945 – this article is about Gretchen’s brother, Robert Ream who was receiving the Oak Cluster.

Robert Ream news article wounded twice

 

On 2 November 1945, Robert Hess was appointed an Ensign in the US Navy.

Midshipman Graduation

Robert Hess served as Junior Division officer, main engines division, on a heavy cruiser at sea and later as auxiliary Division officer on a pair of light escort carriers.

On 30 November 1945 and 8 December 1945, Helen Mayer (Gretchen’s Aunt) hosted bridal showers.

Bridal Shower

On 15 December 1945, Gretchen and Robert were wed.

Invitation to wedding of Robert and Gretchen 12.15.1945

Robert and Gretchen Hess Dec 1945 wedding cake

On 16 Dec 1945, Robert and Gretchen began their honeymoon. I am fairly sure that their residence was 719 Oakland Ave., Ann Arbor, MI (see 1947 Ann Arbor Directory below- note that in 1947 George and Ruth Hess lived at 1107 Oakland Ave.)

719 Oakland

 

Amelia and Grover Ream lived in California for approx. 3 years.

Grover and Amelia Ream 1915

My maternal grandmother was Amelia Grayer Ream and my maternal grandfather was Grover Cleveland Ream.

I was aware that my maternal grandparents had “visited” California, but it is only  recently that I realized my grandparents actually lived there for a period of time that was approx. 3 years long.

This blog showcases the materials that I have collected to show this “California” time frame of my grandparents life.

Grover and Amelia were married on 26 Sept 1912 in Ann Arbor, MI. The photo below indicates that after a honeymoon, they resided at 554 Elizabeth Street, Ann Arbor, MI.

Grayer Ream Wedding in AA news Sept. 27, 1912

It seems that they only stayed in Ann Arbor for a short while after their wedding.

The article below is from 11 November of 1913. It appeared in the Ann Arbor News as an announcement of the birth of twin boys. Our family was told the boys were named Richard and Robert.

The article reads: Twin boys were born November 7 to Mr. and Mrs. Grover Ream of Santa Clara, Cal. Mrs. Ream was formerly Miss Amelia Grayer of this city.

 

1913 Nov 11 Twin Boys Ann Arbor News page 3

The article below was published in the Ann Arbor News on 19 August 1915. As you can see, Grover and Amelia have left California and on their way home to Ann Arbor because Amelia’s father is dying.

19 Aug 1915 Ann Arbor News page 3

My mother told me that the picture below was taken in California. It is a photo of her parents with an unknown man on the left side of the photo.

Amelia and Grover ream with unknown man in California

This timeline of facts suggests that Grover and Amelia moved to California shortly after their 1912 marriage and returned to Ann Arbor, MI in 1915.

26 Sep 1912 marriage in Ann Arbor MI

7 Nov 1913 birth of twin boys in Santa Clara, CA

3 Nov 1914 Voter registration records for Grover C. Ream in Santa Clara, CA

19 Aug 1915 Grover and Amelia return to Ann Arbor because her father is dying.

 

Other:

In this link from January of 1915, carpenters are told that things are looking brighter for jobs in Ann Arbor https://books.google.com/books?id=fxo2AQAAIAAJ&pg=RA2-PA26&lpg=RA2-PA26&dq=carpenters+union+512+of+ann+arbor,+mi&source=bl&ots=LTUsQheyDM&sig=Ha9RxOkg2jVOSnmOnG86tmOGsac&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij84nlvevLAhUHmoMKHSlGC2sQ6AEINDAG#v=onepage&q=carpenters%20union%20512%20of%20ann%20arbor%2C%20mi&f=false

 

47% German

47

Linda Claire in German mountain climber outfit 1959

I have done genealogy research long enough to realize that this passion of mine is viewed by some folks as quite boring. But, I have always had a preoccupation and interest in where I came from and who my ancestors were. I am born to be a story teller and so I wanted to know the stories of my own roots and my own family history. These stories showed me a pathway to the social and cultural history of my ancestors. They were stories that I memorized and retold.

At a very early age, I begged my mother to tell me the stories of our family. She related the stories of her childhood during the Great Depression and how her grandmother immigrated to America from Germany. OK, I decided, I am of a clear German heritage.

Well, this made sense. After all, all our Christmas cookies were from our German recipes … lebkuchen and springle’s are still my favorite. My Grandmother used German words for household items. Well, correction, I thought she was using all German words. For instance, when she wanted us to get our bumbershoots and we understood that to mean we were to bring our umbrellas, it turns out that the word bumbershoot is from the USA. The first known use of the word was not even until 1876.

One of our family favorite side dishes were German kniffles. Yes, that is a true variation of the word spatzen. Our family was Sud Deutsch. Southern Germany. So, there were some words common to that region that were not generally used elsewhere.

Ann Arbor was settled in part by a large German community. My family was a part of that settlement. Bethlehem Church, where we attended worship, continued sermons in German into the mid-60’s.

Our family sang together. I learned a special yodeling song from my mother. We often sang songs in German. On a family car ride we might sing,”Du, du, liegest mir am Herzen, du, du, liegest mir im Zinn”. At Christmas, our Ann Arbor church on 4th Avenue sang some German carols.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Growing up, it was not uncommon to be asked about my heritage. “German”, I would clearly state. “I am such a German girl”.

BUT…

BUT…

BUT…

wait for it. wait for it. wait for it.

This was literally less than a half truth.

Although my father loved to tell stories, they were really never about his family. I do remember that he had told us we had American patriots in our family. He said that my sisters and I qualified to be Daughters of the American Revolution. We never joined. I was incurious about his family stories because he seemed to be.

Fast forward, in 2016, I spit into a small container to send away to Ancestry.com for my DNA results. Also, by this time, I had done enough research to know what the results would say. During my entire childhood and early to mid adult years, I believed it to be true that I was of 100% German ancestry. Turns out this is actually only 47% true.

47% true? How did we disregard that other 53% of our heritage? That 53% that is represented by primarily English and some Irish roots. This was not represented in our family customs, diets, music, clothing, church, and more. I have now read many historical facts and stories about my English ancestors. You could say, that I am getting to know them.

I guess I am somewhat sad that I can no longer ask my father the millions of questions I have. The good news is that as an adult I have started connecting with my first cousins. They have provided me with stories that my father’s brother (my uncle) knew about the family. The story that I like best is about my ancestors being captured by pirates. Clearly, that rates among my favorites.

Linda Claire Hess’ first grade 1960/61 school year.

0005 1st grade

Click, clack, click. My dark red buckle shoes made such a nice tapping as I walked .8 miles from our home on Harbrooke Avenue to Haisley Elementary School on Duncan Street in Ann Arbor, MI. I loved my brown cotton plaid dress with the stiff white collar. It tied at the back with a perfect bow. My pretty ankle socks were decorated with lace around the edges. My long blonde hair was arranged in pigtails that bobbed when I skipped. My bangs were cut very short, this was because my mother claimed my eyes looked bigger when you could see more of my face. I never understood how my eyes could be bigger, but I did try to open them extra wide every time she wanted to trim my bangs again. A neighbor, Mrs. Hodgson, had been very upsetting to me when she told me that I had an especially long neck. Good grief, what was I to do? Did I appear to others as a sort of swan-girl? Well, later in life, I am ever so happy to have a long neck, as it provides me with the best chance to have a chin. LOL.

I always walked next to my older sister Mary Ann on the way to school. We had a few walking safety rules. First and most important was NEVER to walk on the grass of “Crabby Appleton’s” yard. I have absolutely no idea of the actual name of the neighbor that spent her mornings policing her grass, but she certainly was feared by us. We slowed down as we approached her corner lot, held hands and made sure to keep our heads down as we walked past.

Our other safety rule was “Watch, Look, and Listen.” We carefully checked each corner for any sign of traffic before crossing. Also, we knew that any home with a big blue hand cut-out in a front window meant it was a home where a kind adult helper was available to assist us along our walk to and from school.

We had no lunch boxes because we would make the walk home at lunch time to eat in our own kitchen. My favorite lunches were any that were served in the Campbell Soup Kids bowls. I loved those chubby cheeked children smiling up at me.

It was the 1960/ 61 school year and I had already had the best of luck. My adored Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Reinke, was also going to be my 1st grade teacher. This was good fortune beyond belief. She had the kindest of natures, short red hair, some freckles kissing her cheeks, and hands always ready to pat me so gently on my shoulders. It was good to be with her. She also knew how to tell her right hand from her left hand and this was extremely important so that you would not make any mistakes when playing Hokey Pokey. “Put your right leg in and you shake it all about.” Funny that so many years later in life, I would see someone driving through town with a bumper sticker that asked, “What if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about?” I laughed at that suggestion but there was also some reality to the question!

I was already a top notch reader when I entered first grade. I loved the Dick and Jane readers. I could take the books home and read them proudly to my family. After school, our mother would sometimes take us to Slater’s Book Store up on State Street near the Nickels Arcade. It was there that I got my all time favorite book to read aloud. It was called “10 Apples Up On Top” by Dr. Seuss. It was hilarious when all the apples fell off the head of the main character.

During my first grade year, JFK became our 35th president. Our country was deeply in the midst of the Cold War. Part of my memory of that time were the Scholastic School Newspapers that showed us photos of Khrushchev. I memorized his face in case I ever came across him so that I would be careful to act in my own defense. I held my special stuffed animal “Magic Bear” closer at night as a self defense measure too. The Ann Arbor schools trained students in a plan called “duck and cover” drills. Remember, close your eyes so you don’t see the flash of the nuclear blast! And, it is best to cover your head not only with your hands but your books too.

I was a happy child. After school, I could play with my sisters and my neighbor friends. About this time my creative father built us an elaborate playhouse and he also made me a wooden elephant to ride. Well, actually, you had to pretend the elephant was in motion. I think we were also one of the few families that had a magic carpet. I took many an imaginary rides on the woven bamboo rug that had our last name “Hess” woven into the pattern. The rug had been a gift from a visiting faculty member, so it had come from across the ocean to my house. What luck and an obvious indicator that it was the genuine article.

My father also built a secret passageway in our home to use as a play spot. Everything was planned to bolster our creative natures. And speaking of nature, that is what my parents loved. We took many family walks gathering dried grasses and cattails.

My 65 year old self loved my 6 year old self. She was happy, she skipped, she played Hokey Pokey, rode on magic carpets, laughed at silly riddles, and loved her dolls, stuffed animals, sisters, parents and extended family and family friends. She was entertained by Chutes and Ladders, Leap-frog, Limbo lower, and singing in the car with her family…”You are my Sunshine.”

My Grandmother was magical. Her name was Amelia Grayer Ream.

Amelia Ream beautiful portrait pic with glasses

I had a magical Grandmother. I believe that she may have even been an angel .

Her name was Amelia Grayer Ream but I called her “Grandma Pet.” In 2012 I became a grandmother. I asked my family to let me also be called “Grandma Pet” it was my way to honor her.

Grandma was magical in nature, but this was not to say that her life was without a great deal of struggle, heartache, physical pain, and at one point a complete mental collapse. I think what made her magical was her response to these life challenges. She became more full of grace, she carried a smile on her lips and in her eyes, she laughed in a contagious manner. She knew her friends because she cared to listen to them. She clapped for us because of the delight we brought her. Her most beautiful attribute was her complete love for family. When I sat on her lap, it was as if I had entered a safe, cozy, spot where the eyes looking down at me reflected only admiration and joy. I still remember leaning into her soft body and being surrounded by her arms while I smiled back up at her hoping she could see my love for her. All these many years later, my memories of her are filled from my senses. I can see her, I can hear her and feel her touch. During my sleepovers with her, we would share a bed and ever so quietly as I snuggled close to her she would recite the 23rd Psalm in a way that still brings me comfort.

My sisters and I loved to watch the Lawrence Welk show on her black and white TV. The TV had a funny film laid on top of the screen. This film was blue at the top of the screen and  green at the bottom. This gave the rather lame impression that we were watching in color.

My grandmother’s body was full of rheumatoid arthritis. Because she could not dance along with the Lennon Sisters on the Lawrence Welk show, my sisters and I twirled and danced for her.  As a young child I heard people say that my Grandma was crippled. The only evidence I had of this was that she had to crawl up instead of walk up the stairs. Being a child, I did the best I could and just crawled with her turning my head to smile and encourage. I was rather proud to hear how she liked getting injections in her joints. I thought it must be very special to enjoy getting a shot.

When I arrived on the planet, my Grandmother Pet was already 68 years old. By this time, she had been a widow for 24 years. She had never remarried. She was still running her “tourist” house at 520 N. Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. She  lived on the main floor of this grand 3 story home. The 2 stories above her housed the rented rooms for the guests traveling through the city (mostly sales persons or folks associated with the University.) The basement level had a huge mangle for the sheets to be pressed for the guests.

Grandma Pet Amelia Ream Tourist Home on N. Main Street Ann Arbor

We always walked in the back door to visit Grandma. This would lead us straight into her kitchen. Again, I need to use the word magic. She could whip up everyone’s favorites in that kitchen on a short order notice. If I was there with my 2 sisters, she would make each of us our special meal. 3 girls and 3 menus! There was also a special jar in the kitchen. She called it the riddle jar. My Grandmother had to lead a very frugal life so she found inexpensive ways to entertain. She would find funny jokes in the newspaper and cut them out into little strips of paper that would be folded and added to the riddle jar. The very special treat that came with the riddle jar were Purple Cows for me and my sisters. In case you do not know, a purple cow was a float with vanilla ice cream on grape soda pop. My sisters and I were allowed to take turns pulling out a slip of paper from the jar and reading the jokes aloud. We laughed. Oh, how we laughed and laughed. I still thank her for making humor a part of our family treasure.

She was born in Ann Arbor, MI in September of 1885. She fell and love and married my grandfather Grover Cleveland Ream. He was a carpenter. Many of the fine sorority and fraternity houses in Ann Arbor were built by my grandfather. He also built the home on North Main Street.

Grandma Pet was 27 when she married. My grandparents had twin boys that died in infancy in 1913. They had another son in 1919 who also died as a 2 day old infant. Then they had my Uncle Bob and 8 years after that, my mother Gretchen was born. My Grandmother Pet was 40 years old when my mother was born. My Grandfather died at the age of 45. My mother was only 5 years old at the time of her father’s death. This was a sadness that would be a part of my mother’s life story because she was not old enough to have more that a couple of memories of her own father. The lesson we learned from her was to always treasure each moment we share with those we love.

My Grandmother was left alone as a single mother just as the Great Depression was beginning.

2 days after my birthday in 1965, my father woke me up very early in the morning. He hugged me and told me that Grandma Pet was now an angel. He told me she had died overnight and had gone to heaven. I was so heartbroken, but also I knew that she always had been an angel. I still love her with my whole heart. I also am honored to carry her namesake, “Grandma Pet.”

Joseph Francis Fenton (or Finton) 1761-1851. My 4th great grandfather.

Joseph Francis Fenton was my 4th great grandfather.

Here is how I relate:

I wanted to write about this ancestor partly because he has been so carefully researched by many other folk on Ancestry and they have shared valuable photos and other documents about Joseph. I wanted to pool all of these resources into one spot in order to share them easily with my family.

Joseph’s surname was Finton and this is how his first grave marker was inscribed, but later, when a new plaque was made the surname was changed to Fenton.

When Joseph Francis Finton was born on February 28, 1761, in Dutchess, New York, his father, William, was 29 and his mother, Mary George Fenton, was 29. He married Margaret Swegals in 1781 in New York. They had 11 children in 24 years. Joseph’s wife Margaret Swegals (my 4th great grandmother) died of measles on 30 March 1822.

Later, in 1825, he married Thankful Gillett and he had no children with this second wife.

He died on October 23, 1851, in Barrington, New York, at the impressive age of 90, and was buried in Penn Yan, New York.

He had a military background:

Source is DAR Lineage Book NSDAR Volume 166:1921


This is what is inscribed on a tablet:
Dedication of Joseph F. Finton Tablet in Penn Yan Cemetery, Nov. 27, 1934

Enlisted June 1778 for 3 years, under Capt. Craig, went recruiting for 3 months. Joined 3rd Pa. Regt. in the fall under Col. Craig (brother of Capt. Craig) Lt. Col. Wiliams & Major Biles.

He was in the assault and taking of Stoney Point in 1779, and in an engagement at Bargains Point, at the time of Arnold’s defection, soldier went to West Point and remained there some time. He was also in New Jersey a long time.

This photo of his tombstone also shows military associations:

Lived from 1761 to 1851


The burying ground of the Finton family was located on the family farm until most of the burials were removed to Lakeview Cemetery in Penn Yan, where they are today.

JOSEPH COMES TO BARRINGTON

The source (Page 145-148-The Fintons and Crosbys) gives us the following information about the farm.

“Joseph Finton was a revolutionary soldier, and came with his family into Barrington, (then Wayne) from New Jersey in the Spring of 1806, and settled on land in the northwest part of the town, which, for some unexplained reason, was not run into lots and numbered wih the original survey. There was enough of this land for about five lots, and it was marked on an early map as “very poor.” Mr. Finton chose this location rather than land more heavily timbered in Milo, because in the open, less wooded land, there seemed a prospect of sooner getting food for stock, which was an object of great importance to pioneer settler. The Bath road at that time was a crooked way through the woods, and Mr. Joseph S. Finton, who lives now on the spot where his after settled, thinks it was not opened as a highway till after the lake road. Their first school for that neighborhood, was in a log house, north of the Barrington line, near the present residence of Job. L. Babcock, on land long owned by Jonathan Bailey. The house was warmed by a hugh old fashioned fireplace, capable of holding almost a cord of wood. School was principally attended to in the winter; and Mr. Finton says that on all the pleasant days they had to stay at home and break flax. Cotton was not king then, and flax wrought by home industry, was the most important element for clothing the family.”

The photo below of the Fenton farm was as pictured after the 1851 death of Joseph.

Finton Farm 1876


The next photograph was not taken until 1925 (Joseph had died in 1851)

1926 photo of the Finton Farm