Saturday, March 8, 2008

My Dad's Side of the Family

Last week my cousins Joe and Mike sent pics of old Udell’s Motel matchbooks for the blog. The motel is the reason my parents met. Before I get to that I wanted to do a little background on my family.

My grandfather’s dad was a prolific painter. He was deaf. My grandmother made sure we at least knew the alphabet in sign language. I have a few of his paintings. You can judge for yourself whether he was self-conscious about his disability by this 1934 painting he did. I don’t even know his first name. He signed his paintings R Udell.

My grandmother's dad died in a motor cycle accident in 1907.

I was told my grandfather went to th 1904 World's Fair when he was 5.

My grandmother’s brother Bill was a successful violinist and dancer. He’s pictured with his second wife Betty. He and both of his wives were billed as Mark and Marquette. He must have maintained a good relationship with his first wife because the 3 of them worked together for a while. I’ve seen great photos of them dancing on cruise ships in South America in the 30s. I believe he even used his dog in the act. I’ve seen a staged photo with him playing to the dog. My grandmother told me he had a Stradivarius. I wish I had these photos.

The newspaper clipping is about one of his dogs jumping into a geyser at Yellowstone. He jumped in but it was too late. The dog was dead and he had third degree burns on his legs. They had to cancel a tour of Greece. The doctors told him he would never dance again but my grandmother told me he wouldn’t accept this prognosis. He worked hard enough to regain complete use of his legs. Click on the clipping to read it.

My grandfather had a newspaper distribution route. He was hoping to pass it on to my father. It was the Post -Dispatch, I think, but they also had to deliver the free county paper. My father hated the job so much he would throw the county papers down a sewer. When it came time to retire my grandfather sold it so he could buy a motel. They looked at Lake of the Ozarks first but didn’t think it would ever take off as a resort area. Instead they were lured to Hardy Arkansas near an retirement community called Cherokee Village (Oh well).

My grandfather had a heart attack and died in 1962. They had given up the motel by then and moved to a house in St. Clair, MO. My brother and I were staying with them when it happened.

Years later, before my grandmother had a stroke and had to stay in a nursing facility, I used to visit her. She’d open a couple of beers and we’d talk. She told one story she said she hadn’t ever told anyone. Apparently she had a still born child before my dad. This was very personal for her and must have still hurt.

The collage shows my 12 year old grandmother with her mother Gigi, pronounced Gee Gee(hard Gs), and her brother Bill – My grandparents in 1922 – My grandmother’s dad Geo C. Mack – Bill and Betty – and Udell’s Motel.

All corrections are welcome. I’ll have more later, this is leading up to my parents’ meeting.


Anonymous said...

David, The story I heard was that our great grandfather lost his hearing in a street car accident. He married the girl that taught him sign language. She apparently was deaf from birth. Joe

Doggie said...

My mother thought he became deaf as a result of an illness when he was a baby. I like your story more.

dominic said...

i always LOVED that painting! so glad you scanned and posted it. could you email me a bigger file?