Put another candle on the birthday cake

For several of my growing up years, at about this time of year, my mother would recite her familiar words in anticipation of my birthday. “You where almost a witch baby …….” and I imagine she anticipated a thrill to run up my spine. But, more often than not I would wonder to myself, (almost out loud,) “I wonder what she means by telling me this?” And so the tone of our relationship can be found in this simple exchange. The conversation changed little over the years.

On my sweet sixteen birthday she organized an elaborate custom Halloween themed birthday party. The invites included all of my closest girlfriends from high school and a few of our boy friends. I remember the party games included passing an apple down a line of couples without hands and bobbing for apples. It was by all accounts one of the kindest things I can recall my mother doing for me. There are a few photos of my tenth birthday but none of the photos include me, the cake, or any of the other trimmings, just pictures of my girlfriend guests.

According to my father I should have been illegitimate and he cannot explain why I am not. My parents were married on December 28th. The date of the wedding was chosen by my father. It was the same wedding day of his beloved grandmother. His grandmother had raised him from infancy to the tender age of 10 years.

Within the first few weeks of this marriage I was conceived. Years later I doubted my legitimacy and sought my parent’s wedding certificate. Yep, I am legitimate, that little piece of paper proved it.

I was neither illegitimate or a “witch baby.” God planned it and so the tone of my relationship with Him can be found in this simple observation of the facts surrounding my birthday.

Today was a special day for me and I thank all of the people who made it possible. And thank you Lord for looking over me.  Continue reading

Wordless Wednesday: John Adam DeLawder, John Lurman DeLawder, Rosa Alice DeLawder

John A DeLawder, John Lurman DeLawder, Alice Rosa DeLawder (nee Glofetly)

from left to right: John Adam DeLawder, John Lurman DeLawder
Rosa Alice DeLawder  (nee Glotfelty)
most likely taken in Takoma Park, MD cira 1920

 

First Love: John and Frances

“Capital ‘D’-e” {pause} “Capital ‘L,’-a-w-d-e-r.” I can still hear my grandmother Frances spelling out her last name to persons unfamiliar with the surname. “DeLawder is two words, she said, always ending the spelling with this explanation. Frances clung to the name in honor of her beloved John and his family decades after his departure. 

In keeping with her Victorian upbringing, she remained faithful to her first love. I have said “John DeLawder lived a long and prosperous life after he died in 1924,” Frances never allowed his memory to fade. John was the epitome of the knight-in-shinning-armor; or, at least he morphed into this over the years. His thick dark hair, blue eyes, and chiseled features where not outdone by his unabashed tenderness and ambition.

top left: Rebecca Ruth (b. 1894), Martha May (b. 1897)
Kingsbury (b. 1892), and John Lurman (b. 1898.)

John Adam DeLawder and Rosa Alice Glotfelty married on September 3, 1889 in Deep Creek, Garret MD. John Lurman followed sisters Rebecca Ruth, Martha May, and brother  Kingsbury. The DeLawder family settled in nearby Washington DC, where John Adam worked in the government printing office.

Like the Davis family, the DeLawders where middle class Americans. Both heads of households held long-term government positions, Albert as a clerk for the Pension Department and John Adam DeLawder as Assistant Foreman in the Printing Office.

High school provided an outlet for Frances’ outgoing nature and enthusiasm. At home she was expected to be quiet and reserved. Her passion for life flourished in the public high school she attended. She received the praises and accolades of her instructors. At Business High School in Washington DC, she learned typewriting and stenography, she danced, played basketball, played tennis, and swam. Her undeniable charm made her a natural leader, being elected Vice President of the student body government. In her senior year she competed with the rifle team, and dabbled in the theater arts.

 

Washington Post, June 4 1914

Girls Rifle Team
Business High School 1914
Washington DC
(Frances is bottom row, left

In that same year the Davis family moved from 214 “A” St SE, Washington DC to Takoma Park MD, on the outskirts of the city. Frances’ determination to graduate entailed a daily commute on the street cars arriving home barely in time for the evening meal. Frances completed her public schooling in June 1914

Before graduation, Frances attracted the attention of a boy. He was a prize. George, Frances’ younger brother by two years, also liked John DeLawder very much and approved of the match. Mutual friends introduced them. John attended the McKinley Manual Training School across the street from Business High School in Congress Heights of Washington DC. From their first meeting, John was gallant, never engaging in degrading conversation about the “weaker sex.” Frances and John shared their lunch break, and so began a great love. 

Canoeing on the Potomac River, walks along the towpath, and secret passions was everything a girl could want in a boy. With John she was free from her distant father, who never tired of believing that Frances “should have been a boy” and her somber mother who believed that girls where “shedding their femininity.”

John Lurman DeLawder (1898 – 1924)

John graduated from McKinley in 1916 where he had studied science. He aspired to be a bacteriologist. He found his way into the Bureau of Standards(the Federal Governments first physical science research laboratory),  where he was appointed apprentice later that same year. It may have been John’s abilities that landed him the position in the Bureau of Standards from instructors at his high school as implied by this note in a closed case FBI file. John understood higher education was the way up and applied himself to study with as much vigor as he worked.

John would spend his weekends with his sweetheart in rural Takoma Park and travel back to the city for weekdays. She mourned his absence those days but John could not be persuaded to marry before he could provide for a wife and eventual children.

The nation’s capital was abuzz with the talk of war as the United States failed to negotiate neutrality in the European conflict.  Young John may have viewed the war as an opportunity to advance his career. At the age of 19 years, John and close friend Francis “Fran” Clarke enlisted in the Army at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C as part of the National Guard.

He and Clarke where immediately sent to Long Island, NY for training at Camp Mills. They were assigned to the Medical Corps. The two friends departed for distant France soon after.

Copyright  ©amanoffamily.com 2012

edited by Donora Hillard

Wordless Wednesday: Will Rodgers State Park 1948

Will Rodgers Park, California

Will Rodgers State Park, California
circa 1949
looking towards the polo field

from my paternal grandmothers photo album (with her in the foreground)

Update: CIA library manuscript released

Personal circumstances have kept me from writing the last few months but that will soon be remedied.I have news that the CIA library has released my grandmothers unpublished (lost) manuscript and expect a copy of it soon. (Thank you Scott Hodes)How did it end up in the possession of the CIA?  I hope to answer that question.Since I have at least a partial copy of one version and a nearly full copy of the another version (seemed she re-typed the story at least twice,) it will be interesting to compare the two complete versions.

It is a grand idea to publish her work, (unpublished manuscript), at least on the internet. Then I could help to accomplish what she didn’t see in her life.

Rest in peace dear dear grandmother,
       your love did not return void.

Portrait sent to John DeLawder in WWI via special delivery a favor from Humes Houston Whittlesey, Lt Commander, USN

Copyright  ©amanoffamily.com 2012

P.S. The manuscript did arrive! Fortunately it is the first version she wrote. The CIA preserved her work. No indication how it ended up in the library but the manuscript is complete.

mystery man

Growing I heard stories of my grandfather Nicholas Dozenberg, confabulous stories about China and the pottery pieces that adorned the fireplace hearth. Far, far away places that I could only imagine. And that man.

I knew he was my mother’s father and had been married to my grandmother. There where “cousins,” in Santa Barbara California that had visited us but that was as much as I knew about his family. He must have had a family.

He must have been an interesting man for all of the grown up people to be talking about him. I heard from my grandmother that he spoke, “seven languages,” and that intrigued me more than anything. How could anyone speak that many languages?

right – Nicholas Dozenberg
HUAC Committe Hearings
secret testimony
Washington DC
May 21 1940

Why was my grandmother so intent on writing her story?

Why did my mother feel the deep loss of this man in her life?

Where was his family?

Where did he come from?

Who is a spy?

Who did he spy on?

Why was he a spy?

How could I know him better?

Would I ever know him?

Was he really a communist?

I grew up in a culture of hippies, free love and sunshine. A very different place then most of the rest of the world. My aunt listened to the Beattles and my favorite color was hot pink.

The information gap grew and turned into a lifetime pursuit of learning, understanding and appreciating the life of the mystery man

A Christian Heritage

Like tracing the outline of a shadow on the wall, so is recounting one’s family’s spiritual heritage. The sturdy Scot-Irish identity, grounded in Presbyterianism, was passed down generations to men who served in the capacity as missionaries, ministers, deacons and women who demonstrated courageous acts of charity.
Pastor was James Patterson Kerr
Boyds MD Presbyterian Church
c. 1955

Quakers took up the cause of racial equality generations before civil rights came to the forefront of social consciousness. Such was the legacy of Jonathan Lindley whose influence lived on in his great granddaughter and great-great granddaughter, faithful keepers of the light.

It is evident that charity began in the home of Henry Presley Thornton (1783-1865). When Clorinda Coffin married the oldest son Thomas Volney Thornton (1810-1845), a Presbyterian by faith, she was ex-communicated from her Quaker church and family. Sadly, their only child, Harriet, did not survive her first year. When Clorinda was widowed in her husband’s 38th year, it was her in-laws who provided shelter. Following their father’s example, the Thornton men were active in their community as church lay-leaders and financial supporters, to name a few; Edmund Braxton Thronton (1856-1929), Henry Clark Thornton (1852-1930) and George Abram Thornton (1821-1854).