Family

Riding the Wave

Pop, my paternal grandfather, surfing in Hawaii, sometime in 1911. I have no idea if this is good surfing form. Probably not.

Before the world went mad in 1914, my grandfather as a young man, with change in his pocket, did some adventurous traveling. I’ve always loved this photo, because it’s the only one of him that indicates that he may have had a sense of fun and a less-than-serious side to him. We never knew him this way. He was always the staunch general to us.

I’ve let April slip by without feeding this blog because of reasons I don’t want to get into. I am now back on track.

Family

From Uniform to Tails

My father, Edwin Sharpe Bell, squiring an Idlewild debutante in the late 1940s or perhaps 1950.
My father, Edwin Sharpe Bell, squiring an Idlewild debutante in the late 1940s or perhaps 1950.

It definitely looks like an awkward moment for my father. He looks so very debonair on the outside, but inside he’s feeling like some sort of trussed up peacock. And he’s enduring it because as an eligible bachelor and newly minted member of The Idlewild Club here in Dallas, he’s required to play the part of an escort to the young ladies “coming out” that season.

Tonight the Dallas’ deb season officially begins with the Idlewild ball presenting a number of young women. I have no idea how many or who they are. For the last few years, there hasn’t been much publicity during the season. When I say “season”, I mean the traditional season that’s been an annual occurrence since 1884 before there was La Fiesta de las Seis Bandera and the Dallas Symphony’s presentation ball. The latter two are well covered in the local newspapers and blogs, but not Idlewild.

Family

For Veterans Day

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Journey’s End: A History of the 657 Engineer Topographic Battalion, March 1944 – November 1945 is a booklet we found while sorting through our parents’ estate before selling the family home. It’s not designed in the way you would expect a WWII booklet to be. It’s so jubilant, carefree, colorful, and chock-full of comic-book-like caricatures. Perhaps it’s meant to be a scrapbook of sorts for the members of this battalion. The forward does state, “May this book recall the best of memories.” Using a florid style to generally describe the duties of each of the groups within the 657th, it purposely avoids serious descriptions of what actually happened.

My father, as a member of this battalion, was assigned to the First Photomapping Platoon. You can find his picture on page 18 which is just three pages past the middle spread titled “Bulletin Board”. Look for 1st Lt. Edwin S. Bell, the handsome fellow prominently displayed solo on that page. His promotion had occurred on October 26, 1945, just prior to this booklet’s publication.

Family

Meet the Twins

Beulah at 20 weeks on the left and Brewster at 18 weeks on the right.
Beulah at 20 weeks on the left and Brewster at 18 weeks on the right.

These two joined our family at the first of January. Since losing Bubba, I had tried twice to adopt a frenchie, but was turned down both times. Why? I don’t know. I was encouraged to keep trying, but Bertha and I weren’t getting any younger. Filling out reams of paperwork for each dog and waiting up to two months for the rejection is not a positive experience. Besides, I am no masochist. So I looked up Bertha’s breeder, and lo and behold she had two litters ready to find families. Bingo!

Family

Spending Time with My Buddy Bubba

This photo of Bubba was taken on August 22, 2012.
This photo of Bubba was taken on August 22, 2012.

I am losing my little Bubba. After many excruciating tests, it has been determined that Bubba has an extremely aggressive form of cancer. Tomorrow we will meet with an oncologist to determine how to make him more comfortable. These last three weeks have been hell, and that includes my ten day vacation taken at the first of this month.

Back in June, I had started to notice his eyes weren’t looking quite right, but after numerous visits to the vet, all his blood work and such were excellent. Then the Thursday before I was to leave for my vacation (my first one in five years which was already very much paid for), Bubba suddenly became listless and lethargic. After rushing him to the vet, it was determined that his eyes were not moving or dilating, but again his blood tests were excellent. They suggested I take him to an ophthalmologist which I did the next day, and this doctor said that the problem did not stem from the eye and that I should take him to see a neurologist. But the neurologist would not answer my calls. Nor did they return them before I left on Monday. Shit!

They eventually caught up with me while I was in Newport, and I booked an appointment for him first thing the first morning after my return — Thursday, October 11. The news wasn’t good. Something was pressing under his brain and causing nerve damage. They did an MRI and kept him overnight, and then did a tummy sonogram. The MRI showed some deterioration in the bone under his brain. All these tests have failed to determine exactly what kind of cancer he has. The doctors suggested a biopsy, but this is risky and there’s a strong chance that it too will not be able to determine what this cancer is. I don’t want Bubba to go through any more drastic medical procedures. Even if they were able to determine what he has, the location of the cancer will prevent medication from treating it effectively.

If you’re wondering about my time in Newport… It was ok. Castle Hill Inn where I stayed was wonderful, a piece of paradise. Unfortunately, I was desperately sick the entire time with a nasty head and chest cold. The weather sucked and the fog horn boomed every 10 seconds for most of the time I was there. But I did manage to see all of the old Newport’s “cottages” from the Gilded Age. At a later date I will tell you about my GPS fiasco—multiple voices and multiple directions.

So please bear with me and understand that as long as I’m in this damage control phase, blogging will be sparse. I’d rather not blog about sad stuff, but I thought an explanation was needed for my lengthy absence.

Family

Miss Priss and Her Brother

Way back when we believed in Santa Claus.
Way back when we believed in Santa Claus.

Dressed up like dolls. If we don’t look ecstatic to see Santa, it’s because Win and I learned early on not to take him very seriously. Not once did he ever bring us what we had asked for. The usual presents for me were more hats, gloves, underwear, slippers, socks, and nightgowns. I know, I should be grateful. At least I wasn’t running around naked.

I’m pretty sure that number holder thing also served as an ashtray. Everybody smoked in those days, including Santa.

Family

The Idlewild Debutantes of 1951

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Dallas’ deb season officially begins this weekend. When I say the “season”, I mean the traditional season that’s been around since 1884 before there was La Fiesta de las Seis Bandera and the Dallas Symphony’s presentation ball. I don’t know how long the season was in my mother’s time, but during mine, 1975, it lasted for three months with up to two parties a day with the exception of Sundays and Mondays. It’s a very different story now with an abbreviated season and fewer parties during the week.

I find the photos of my mother’s era far more glamorous than what has been produced in the last thirty years — especially in the last ten years with the advent of the digital photo. Perhaps it’s because of the black and white format? Maybe it’s because we no longer have the same kind of poise and polish. Continue to see what I’m talking about.

Family

My Family’s Heroes

Brigadier General Frank F. Bell II, USAR, 1948 (my paternal grandfather, Pop)
Brigadier General Frank F. Bell II, USAR, 1948 (my paternal grandfather, Pop)

It’s Veterans Day, so instead of a shallow topic like upholstery, I’m honoring the men in my family who have enabled me to freely be who I am. Men who have left me an honorable legacy. Fortunately my grandfather Pop, who’s in the above picture, left us a wealth of information about our family history. And then my father in his final years hired a genealogist to bring the family history up to date. It’s now up to me, to continue the research and to then create and print the family history in a hardbound book. After spending the first four months of this year clearing out the old family home and bringing all the important papers and photos here to my house, I reached a saturation point. Eventually I will be editing, scanning, and filing all of the millions of photos, but only after I have had time to recover from the burnout.

FYI: If the copy reads stiff and tedious, it’s because I copied from various word files that the genealogist had created. The time involved pulling this post together was way more than I expected. Trunks and boxes were searched for missing photographs, then there was the scanning, then there was the composing, so if I were to have this up before Veterans Day came to an end, I had to forego perfection. Besides none of this generates any revenue.

We’ll start with my paternal grandfather.