Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Scraps from a Teenage Girl's Life

In addition to photographs and the odd baby's cup, I've also rescued a number of autograph albums and a few scrapbooks.  This little scrapbook was found in a local antique store about a year ago and I purchased it because it was obviously compiled by someone who lived in the area and it was full of newspaper clippings.  I figured the odds were pretty good that some of those clippings might mention things that would be of interest to my own family's history.

It was in poor condition, with crumbling pages.  On a few pages, whatever had been affixed there had been torn out.  Still, there were a lot of interesting items and the price was low, so I adopted another stray.

Texas Centennial 1836-1936
Scrap Book
The scrapbook itself dated the collection to the mid 1930s.  Its cover carried the picture of a Spanish mission and noted that it was a commemorative item issued for the Texas Centennial in 1936.  Inside the front cover, the owner is identified as Crystal Dawn Breeding and the notation of 1935-1936 is given.  From there, it is undoubtedly the scrapbook of a typical teenage girl.  I have one much like it in my closet that I kept throughout my high school years.  It leaves no doubt that Crystal was a student of Smithville High School.

There are invitations to and place card markers from various banquets.  One is a figure of a band member, marching along and with a tiny message held in the crook of the elbow:

Come dine with the Tigers
and drink to their cheer
For they are the boys
Who've had no fear
December 13, 1935
Crystal Dawn Breeding

One insert gives the information that the Smithville Tigers are the defending Regional (football) champions of 1934, having lost only one game that season to Lockhart.  The game program from the November 22,1935, game is a glimpse of the times, full of ads from local merchants and players names from locally prominent families.

Football Program, Cover

Football Program, Inside

Accompanying this program is a news article "Smithville Beats Bastrop 45-0" with a photograph of the Smithville Drill Team, of which Crystal Dawn Breeding was a member.  Numerous programs and news items are glued in commemorating the various games played by the Smithville Tigers during the 1935 season.

The program for the 1936 graduation on May 22, 1936, includes the class roster and program.

Graduation Program Cover
Graduation Program, Inside

Crystal had other interests in addition to supporting her home football team.  There are clippings of all kinds, including some about the current heart-throbs ("Watch Out Buddy (Rogers)!  It's Leap Year), political figures (a San Antonio man receives letter from the late King George V; President Roosevelt visits the Alamo), prominent citizens (Rudyard Kipling celebrates 70th birthday; the first car built by Henry Ford, completed in 1893, forty-three years ago), and current events (Dionne Quintuplets Snug as North Winter Closes In; tributes to Will Rogers who died in 1935).

Will Rogers Articles

Roosevelt's visit to the Alamo
There are also indications that Crystal had the normal teen-ager concerns about her looks: 

The Perfect Figure
And the normal teenager interest in British royalty with clippings about the death of King George the V and the new King Edward VIII and who fell in line for the throne behind him:

British Royalty Succession
Tucked in at the back of the scrapbook is a single photograph in a folding cover.  There is no identification, but I find myself speculating that this lovely young lady might be Crystal herself.  I am betting that there is someone out there who remembers Crystal and could let me know for sure.

Unknown Girl

I was able to pick up a bit of information for Crystal Dawn Breeding, thanks to fact that she ended her life using her birth name.  Ancestry gave me a rudimentary family tree for her, as well as providing a link to her gravestone on FindAGrave and pointing to a brief obituary from a local funeral home.

Crystal Dawn Breeding was born October 4, 1921, to parents Thomas James and Clara Inez (Watterson) Breeding.  All three are buried in the Watterson Community Cemetery near Red Rock.

A scan of newspaper archives brought up several news items mentioning Crystal and her parents, many of these items concerning local events where my Mobley and Lentz kinfolk were also in attendance.    And even though Crystal was using her birth name at the time of her death, there is a lengthy account of her marriage in Laredo on April 2, 1945, to 1st Lt. Robert E. Boone of Fort Worth, who had recently returned from two years service in the European Theater operations of World War II.  Both Crystal and her new husband had attended the University of Texas, which one can surmise is where they met.  The article includes extensive information about the wedding decorations and clothing of the members of the wedding party.

I immediately questioned why Crystal was using her birth name in later life, so I checked the divorce index for Texas but found nothing.  Searching for additional information for Robert Boone was inconclusive, as there were a lot of Robert Boones with military backgrounds.  I'll just have to keep wondering about that one.

But I did find some tantalizing information about Crystal that makes me hope that someone local can fill in some of the blanks.  In the wedding article it mentions that after she graduated from the University of Texas she went on to attend Columbia University in New York City, entering the Graduate School of Social Work in 1943.  At the time of her marriage she was employed in the Division of Child Welfare of the State Department of Public Welfare and had had assignments in both Laredo and Beaumont.  

Crystal died on July 3, 2011.  Her short obituary hints that Crystal Dawn Breeding led an interesting life, mentioning that she taught at several prestigious colleges and universities in the United States and in Australia.  At her death, she was dividing her time between her apartment overlooking Central Park in New York and the family home in Bastrop.  The short death notice in the Austin newspaper referred to her as a "retired professor".

But long before that, Crystal Dawn Breeding was a young girl attending Smithville High School, rooting for the Tigers Football Team, taking part in 4H and following the drama unfolding with the British monarchy.  I wonder if she guessed she had such an interesting life ahead of her.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Wee Cuppa of Unknown Origins

Sometimes you end up rescuing a family heirloom with absolutely no idea why you are doing it and then have no luck whatsoever at finding any back story about the item.  You end up giving a home to a piece that deserves closure but will most probably not get it.

About a month ago I went to an estate sale out in the country.  I was tempted on many fronts and had just about decided to bring home a Regulator wall clock, when I turned a corner and found myself looking at a silverware chest that contained a full basic set of an 1847 Wm. Rogers silver-plate pattern called "First Love".  It also had a dozen or so odds and ends of other patterns lumped in with it, but a quick check proved that there was a complete 8-place setting service, plus a child's fork and spoon, and some serving spoons.  

I don't need any more flatware.  I have too much as it is.  I have my fancy Old Country Roses flatware with the gold accents that I acquired a few years back to go with my Old Country Roses china.  I have Mother's Wm. Rogers Dubonnet stainless set with all the extra serving pieces.  I have my eBay completed (more than completed) set of Grypsholm that my Grandmother Wilcoxen started for me when I was in my teens.  I am working on completing (more than completing, of course) my cousin Amanda's set of Springtime, also started by our Grandmother but which had not progressed past the serving pieces and a few teaspoons.  Thanks to eBay, it too is now more than fully complete, with the exception of my needing to add a few salad forks to the mix.

So I absolutely do not need any more flatware.

I turned my back on the useful clock and brought home the chestful of First Love flatware.  I figured I could always turn it around on eBay or in the store booth if I decided I had made a mistake.

It turns out that First Love is a very collectible pattern.  There are sets on eBay similar to the one I brought home with asking prices more than double what I paid for mine.  The more I studied it, the better I liked it.  It has a nice, elegant pattern that is not too fussy or frilly or flowery, just the way I like things.  So, I started monitoring eBay with the idea of adding the serving pieces to my set.  Eventually.  Because this is silver-plate, the prices are relatively steep and I'm thinking I may just add a piece here and there when I'm cruising the vendors at the Round Top Antiques Fairs.  Gives me something specific to look for while I'm wandering around.  No rush.  If I need silverware, I have drawers full of it to use in the meantime.

The eBay feeds alerted me to the fact that not only did the company produce flatware in the First Love pattern, there are also big silver-plate platters and butter dishes and other assorted service pieces.  Well, those are way out of my price range, so probably not going to be adding any of those to my collection.

But, one day, along came a baby's silver cup with a First Love handle across the screen.  The dealer was selling it for dirt cheap because it was engraved.  I watched it for a few days and nobody seemed interested in bidding on a cup that carried an unknown name and date on its side. I finally said "oh, well" and put in a bid.  For a mere $.99 and shipping, the cup took up residence.

1847 Wm. Rogers First Love Flatware

First Love baby cup

Naturally, seeing as how I rescue other folks' ancestor photos all the time, I felt sure I could probably manage to find out something about the person whose name was engraved on the cup.  (That would make the purchase a little more justified in my mind.)

But, even with the full name of "Nancy Kay Knight" and a date of 4-10-51 to work with, I'm finding no data convincing enough to tie the cup to any particular person.  Of course this little girl would now be a grown lady of age 63, probably long married.  And finding people who are most probably still living is a lot more difficult than finding folks who died a century ago.

So, I'm posting this item in the hopes that someone out there knows who this particular Nancy Kay Knight is and, if interested in claiming her baby cup, will get in touch.

The little cup is such a pretty little thing that it reminded me that I have my own silver-plate baby cup that, I believe, was given to me by my Great aunt Fay Branton, who probably purchased it at Scarbroughs in downtown Austin where she worked for many years.  It has been tucked away for decades, but not forgotten.  Mine isn't engraved and the only identification on the bottom is "Community", which is a less desirable brand, but I am glad that I have it.

Mine, on the left, is in severe need of polishing.  And I haven't identified the pattern.  Yet.  Just what I needed, another project.  Thanks, Nancy Kay.