Throughout the history of automobiles in this country, the plethora of car photographs may have led some to believe this was just the focus of the male of the species. Not so. The women—at least in the Bean family—liked to have their picture taken with their favorite vehicle, too.
Dressed for the occasion, two women and an unidentified man pose in front of their car in an undisclosed location. Why is that location undisclosed? Heaven knows—although if either Bill or his sister Leona would have thought to tag the back of the snapshot, I’d be telling you about it today.
Wherever this photo was taken, I can only suppose the man might be Bill Bean. The woman next to him might be his sister Leona. Or not. And I have no clue who the thin lady completing the trio might be.
The café they are standing in front of has a southwestern feel, but I can’t say for sure. All I can figure from the photo is that it is three doors down from the post office. Which post office, I don’t know.
I take to the usual genealogy websites to see if I can find anything on Martha Darneal. Unfortunately, while there are several Darnells and Darnalls, there are precious few Darneals listed with the first name Martha. I do find some entries in city directories for Bakersfield, California—explaining the dry and barren look of the land—in the mid 1950s. Some of the entries mention that her husband’s name is Earl.
Eventually, I locate Martha’s data in the 1940 U.S. census. There she is, with husband Earl, son Robert and daughter Jerry—not in Bakersfield, but in Hobbs, New Mexico.
However, since the photograph was labeled for 1935, not 1940, I take a look at where the census handily lists Martha’s residence for that earlier date. In 1935, she was a resident of Fullerton in Orange County, California.
Another thing about Martha. The 1940 census shows her age as twenty. That means in 1935, she would have only been fifteen years of age.
The more I look at the details, the more I wonder if either the photograph was mislabeled, or this census entry is for the wrong person.
Thinking this Martha Darneal would be more likely a friend than a relative, I decide to set the whole mystery aside and let it simmer for another day’s attempt at resolution. Maybe sometime later, I’ll run across that name again, and I can then connect the dots.
However, knowing Leona and her independent ways, I kind of think this one’s her own.