As I open the mystery box of unidentified faces in unmarked photos, I sift through them in the hopes of finding someone I recognize.
Incredibly, looking much the same as the subject of yesterday’s post—“The End” of the Bean family line, Greg—there is a photo of a tall, thin man with dark, curly hair.
He is not Greg, though, but Greg’s father. If it weren’t for the generation that separated them, you would have thought they were twins. Take a look back to yesterday’s post and see for yourself.
There are actually two pictures that I can identify for sure—and a third that I wonder about (which I’ll share with you tomorrow). It’s eerie, looking into that face. I feel like I know the man—and yet, I never met him. His life, cut short, was over long before I could have made his acquaintance.
And yet, all my adult life, I’ve carried that feeling as if I knew him. It was all because I knew his son.
How many times have we talked about “knowing” someone, though, yet not really knowing them? Sometimes, we make that delineation between “knowing” someone and “knowing about” someone.
As I go through the genealogical record of Earle Raymond Bean, though, it turns out that, not only did I never actually know him, I don’t know much about him, either. Despite all the stories that have been shared with me over the years, I find that I don’t even have the date of his marriage, nor even the place of his birth. Because those dates are relatively recent, online scans of documents to assist me in this search are not available.
I do know that Earle Raymond Bean was born in 1926 in California, most likely in the county where his family had moved—Alameda County, east of San Francisco. He was born to Samuel and Maud Woodworth Bean.
It was Maud—or at least the Woodworth family—that Earle could thank for the unusual spelling of his first name. What his fellow childhood classmates and teachers didn’t realize was that, in his case, Earle was not a misspelled first name, but a family surname carried by several relatives in previous generations.
Earle, however, succumbed to modern convention and dropped the “e,” adding one more check-point to my research, whenever I sense a lack of progress.
Long after he was gone, though, his wife took care to tell me the finer points of that story. She—the former Marilyn Beverly Sowle—was a southern California girl. Technically, though, she was a SoCal transplant, having been born in Wisconsin to David and Olive Brague Sowle, who had decided to head to Los Angeles early in their marriage.
Funny how I can know all this detail about their lives—down to the last “e” in a name—and yet not know some pertinent details for the genealogical record.
While I feel so much like I know this man and his wife—Earle Raymond Bean and his intended, Marilyn Beverly Sowle—there is so much I don’t know about them.
While I can tell you when Earle Bean was born, I can’t even tell you where—though I can provide my guesses as to which town in northern California it might have been.
I can’t even tell you where the photo (top left) was taken—though I can tell you it was in jest over Earle’s height (if I remember correctly, he was six foot six inches tall) relative to Marilyn’s petite frame.
I can tell you Earle served in the United States Marine Corps, as close as you could get in Iwo Jima without being in that famous picture on that eventful day.
But I can’t really tell you much else about him. Except for one thing: when he died. I know it was December 11, 1955, because I’ve seen it on his headstone at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno when I went to say goodbye to his wife. After all those years apart, Marilyn could never find another to love, and once again was at his side.
Thanks for sharing your story of the Bean family. I find it very fascinating.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Deborah, for stopping by. Isn't it interesting how the stories of just plain average people can capture our attention? All people have a fascinating story--not just the rich and famous.Delete
Another great post! I really enjoy reading your blog!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much, Chris. I appreciate your stopping by and "chatting" for a while!Delete
I also feel as if I "know" certain ancestors simply because I've heard stories, I've looked at pictures, and I've located records - SOME records. I'm often sent onto Mr. Toad's Wild Ride imagining those other details I couldn't possibly know such as how they laughed, how they walked, whether they were irritable before their morning coffee. I have to stop myself.ReplyDelete
Wendy, I love how you put things: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is indeed a great way to portray that tendency!Delete
To add to that difficulty, some of those stories I've heard may have been owing to others' wild rides with their imagination, too.
Of course one could argue one never "really" knows another person - not even an intimate one.ReplyDelete
Its glimpses like that this that make me "want to know them" much better.
P.s., I love that first photo!ReplyDelete
Yes, that one is a favorite of mine, too. Their fun personalities really shone through on that one.Delete
What a great bunch of old photos..so sweet that she never remarried. Do you know the history of the picture/painting in the photograph? :)ReplyDelete
Funny thing about that picture...I've seen it for years, mostly at my sister-in-law's place, if I remember correctly, and then when her mom moved in with her, I somehow never realized it was Marilyn's rather than Judy's. In my mind, it was one of those typical '70s kinds of prints. I guess I just had it placed in the wrong time frame. It was weird seeing it for the first time in the context of that wedding photo!Delete
I really enjoy a box of new photos especially those I've never seen before. The challenge and thrill of identifying who is in the photos is half the fun!ReplyDelete
You are in good company when it comes to pursuing this kind of challenge! Here's hoping we find some connections between family names and these unidentified photos to come!Delete