17 August 2012

A. A. Johnson and the Prize Fighter

This letter of commendation was found among the records of Marie Johnson Evans. It pertains to Alfred Armfield (A.A) Johnson's employment on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.

THE QUESTION:  Which "Champion Prize Fighter of the World" was at the train depot at Wall Lake "the other morning" before April 3, 1915?

(Emboss Stamp) Church of Christ
W. Dow Crewdson

Missouri Valley Iowa
Apr. 3rd, 1915

My Dear Sir: -
          I am coming to you with this message in reference to an employee on the C.N.W.R.R.
          No doubt you receive many complaints about the men on the road being neglected: people are apt to look at the mistakes of employees, but so oft fail to notice the faithfulness of those men. I do not believe that a word of praise is out of order when it is deserving.
          I was at the depot the other morning when the Wall Lake branch was getting ready to leave, the brakeman on that train is the man of whom I speak. I do not even know his name. There was something that he wanted to do very badly. And would not have discouraged any one or any thing if he had done what he so earnestly desired to do. But instead of going to do so he stood at his post of duty and when he was through helping people on the train it was to [sic] late to do what he wanted to do. Of course he was paid to do his work,
but it was only to walk across the platform and see the champion prize fighter of the world. And many a man would have let people help themselves and would have gone. A little thing I know, but he who is faithful in the little things is sure to be in the large things. And I feel that just a little praise is due this man even tho I do not know who he is, only by sight. 
           I am,
           Yours Fraternally,
           W. Dow Crewdson


Chicago & North Western Railway Co.
Superintendent's Office
Bone, Ia. May 5th, 1915  (Boone?)

Rev. W. Dow Crewdson,
Missouri Valley, Iowa.

Dear Sir:-
           We are in receipt of your favor of April 3rd commending the faithfulness of one of our passenger brakemen on the Wall Lake run.
            It is indeed gratifying to receive a letter of this kind and we wish to thank you heartily for the words of praise which you have written. This man we take it is an employe on the Sioux City Division and we take pleasure in referring the letter to Superintendent E. B. McClure of Sioux City under whose jurisdiction he is working.
             Yours truly,
             Cy- EBMcClure

In checking with Wikipedia, the "Champion Prize Fighter of the World" was Jack Johnson during the period, until he lost a fight to Jess Willard on April 5 in Havana.  Thinking of travel times and methods, is it plausible that he would have been in Wall Lake just a few days before his fight. 

On April 5, 1915, Johnson lost his title to Jess Willard, a working cowboy from Kansas who started boxing when he was twenty-seven years old. With a crowd of 25,000 at Oriental Park Racetrack in Havana, Cuba, Johnson was knocked out in the 26th round of the scheduled 45 round fight. Johnson, although having won almost every round, began to tire after the 20th round, and was visibly hurt by heavy body punches from Willard in rounds preceding the 26th round knockout.

Was he speaking of a different Champion Prize Fighter of the World?

25 October 2011

Betty Dinkel Johnson, August 10, 1926 - October 25, 2011

Friends, I wanted to let you know that my Mom passed away this morning at the age of 85. She told me that she never expected to live to be 85. Life in the nursing home wasn't much fun. She was ready for the next step, whatever that would be. She drifted away quietly in her sleep. A daughter couldn't ask for more.

Mom had a wicked sense of humor. She worked very hard throughout her life, even during the Beaver Cleaver years when other moms made cupcakes and served as Room Mother. She called me bossy (!) and I told her I learned that lesson very well.

Les, her husband and my dad, passed on in 1984 when she was just 58. Their family grew to include children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They loved her. Her brothers and sister, nieces and nephews loved her. And her heart made room for dozens of friendships that spanned decades.

I know that my friends will write notes of condolences and prayers, because that is what caring and compassionate people do. But will you please do me a favor instead?

Just send me a *kiss or a ()hug so I know you read this. And then, IMMEDIATELY call someone special and tell them that you love them. Don't email. Don't post. Call. Tell 'em Betty told you to call. That will be her legacy. Waves of love.

Our last words to each other were "I love you." That will carry me through the lonely times. I want you to hear those words from someone you love. And the easiest way to encourage someone to say it is to say it first.

Betty Dinkel Johnson
August 10, 1926 to October 25, 2011
Rest in Peace

05 June 2011

This Is the Face of My Genealogy

Here are two of my favorite photos.

This is Otto Dinkel and Helena (Lena) Winter, my maternal grandparents.

This next photo represents one of my "Aha!" moments. The younger man is my father (Lester Johnson's) graduation photo and the guy with the awesome beard is my dad's great-grandfather Isaac Armfield. Look at their similar appearance. The acorn didn't fall too far from this particular tree, did it?

This is being posted in response to the GeneaBloggers post on June 5. The genealogical blogging community rose en masse to protest LA Weekly's publication of an offensive illustration accompanying an otherwise very nice announcement about Jamboree. After editors received an astounding number of complaints from around the country, they replaced the photo with a graphic of the Jamboree app within hours.

Thank you to everyone for your support.

28 August 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Albert Winter

Here's my offering for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. I cheated (errrr, applied a little creativity) and found a super slideshow capability at imageloop.com.

Albert Winter was my great-grandfather (my mother's maternal grandfather). This family is my mystery family, for purposes that will be come clear in just a moment.

Your pictures and fotos in a slideshow on MySpace, eBay, Facebook or your website!view all pictures of this slideshow

If the embed doesn't work, you can also see it here:


16 December 2009

Dad's Last White Christmas

We grew up with the story of Holiday Inn, the 1942 movie starring Dad's two favorite performers, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. The legend was that Dad and his friend Wayne, who had been living in California, grew homesick after hearing the song and hitchhiked back to Sioux City in time to celebrate Christmas in the north. "You just knew when you saw his pipe on top of the piano that they were going to get back together."

Whatever that meant. (We found out years later when the magic of cable television brought Holiday Inn right to our living room.)

There's so much more to the story, but that's for another post.

I want to fast-forward to the Dad's last Christmas in 1983. My daughter Libby's third-grade class performed White Christmas for their school Christmas program. They not only sang but also learned sign language for the lyrics. Mom, Dad and I sat there on short chairs in the auditorium.

In honor of fM's holiday carol blog, and in Dad's memory:

The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.

There's never been such a day
in Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it's December the twenty-fourth,—
And I am longing to be up North—

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.

Irving Berlin

09 December 2009

Christmas with the "Good" Santa at Younkers

I'm still trying to figure out what I was wearing.

19 September 2009

A Festival of Postcards

Here's my submission for the Blog Carnival: A Festival of Postcards.

This is one of my favorite post cards. This is a "Happy New Year" card from Denmark. The coins are embossed with gold.

We found this in a trunk in my grandmother, Bessie Mabel Mathena Johnson's, basement when she died 12 Aug 1976. The trunk held the belongings of Alfred Amfield Johnson's first wife, Minnie (Wilhelmina Christina) Rose. Alfred and Minnie were married on 2 Feb 1912 and Minnie died 3 June 1912.

This post card, and the translation from Danish, led me to identify Minnie's family and filled in some of the questions about Minnie. Until we found the trunk, we did not know that Grandpa Johnson had been married before.


It just never came up.