Thursday, August 05, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Shirley Player's photo

As you know, Ol' Myrt here has been a busy bee of late, seeing to it that all of her old-timey family photos are in her DropBox folder, so that as she moves back and forth between computers, "it's in there!" like the Ragu.

Photo inscribed "Shirl on his last visit home."
I'd been looking everywhere for this picture, one of two I've ever seen of my paternal grandfather Shirley Player, born to Alma Oades & Mary Elizabeth [Wright] Player 4 Aug 1888 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Grampa Shirl died 15 March 1942, while my Dad was in medical school, nearly nine years before I was born.

My father told me he remembers his father manning a horse-drawn wagon carrying gravel for road building in Salt Lake City. At about age two or three, my dad got into his father's tool bag, and pulled out what he thought was a red cardboard candle with a long wick, and calmly walked towards his parents. Immediately his father jumped up and grabbed the dynamite from Dad's hands and scolded him never to get into his tools again.

My grandfather married Myrtle Eliza Weiser 5 June 1917 in Hailey, Blaine, Idaho. I don't know how they met, but I do remember Dad telling me that Gramma Myrtle was working as a home nurse for practically nothing up in Idaho after her graduation from St. Mark's Nursing School in Salt Lake City.

Shirley and his father Alma built a home at 720 West 4th North across the street from Alma's on Salt Lake City's west side. Dad is shown as 18 months old on the 1920 US federal census at that address with his parents and younger sister Beverly, who is 2 months old. In the mid-1980s, I drove by the home with Dad who said the house was the same, and shed out back was still there, though in his youth it seemed a gigantic barn compared to the little shed we were looking at.

Grampa Shirl moved his family to Seattle when Dad was eight. They show up in the 1930 US federal census at 206 West Garfield up on Queen Anne hill. By then my Uncle Jack had been born. Dad told me that the reason the family moved was that Gramma Myrtle didn't appreciate the close proximity of the Player side of the family in Salt Lake City. To resolve the problem, Myrtle got her family physician, and former heart throb, Dr. Oppenheimer, to tell Shirl that Myrtle's heart was having trouble in the high altitude, and that a move to sea level would be beneficial. Even my Uncle Jack didn't know that side of the story when we discussed it back in 2007 before dad died.

Grampa Shirl supported his family with his parking lot and gasoline service station on 7th at Union in what is now at prime downtown area of Seattle. Dad tells the story that frequently the bankers and politicians would interview Grampa Shirl privately, to get a "man on the street" view of how things were going. Just before the stock market crash with banks closing, one of the bankers warned Grampa, who phoned Gramma Myrtle and had her retrieve their money before the run on the banks took hold.

Here are three other pictures from Uncle Jack's collection showing views of the service station. They are no bigger than 2 inches by 3 inches each, but what a treasure for me!

Uncle Jack and his mother my Gramma Myrtle (Weiser) Player
at Player's Service Station
7th and Union, Seattle.
Circa 1930s.

Player's Service Station circa 1930s - original in possession of my Uncle Jack Player.
Uncle Jack and Dad, Glen S Player at their father's service station, Seattle, Washington.
Notice the last two pics have different lettering for the sign "Player's". Both Aunt Beverly and my Dad explain they designed the new signage, and many folks thought the "Y" looked more like a "V". Oh well.

I am so thankful my Uncle Jack shared these photos with me. At the time, Dad walked with a terrible limp, and Blanche was in a wheelchair. We had come to Jack's home in Lacey, Washington, with camera and scanner in tow, and I scanned as much as I could before Blanche was too tired to stay longer. That and three other visits with Uncle Jack are among my favorite memories of that difficult time caring for Dad and Blanche in their last months of life.

Hearing my Dad and Uncle Jack talk about the olden days meant the world to me.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.