He was born in Oklahoma City on June 18, 1914.
Jack was an only child. He grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where his father was a lawyer for an oil company. His father must have traveled a lot for his job, because I have several photos of my grandpa as a child posing in front of courthouses.
Jack and his mother in front of a courthouse.
Jack and his father in front of a courthouse.
Jack, his mother (r), aunt (l) and grandmother (top) at a courthouse.
By the photos in my possession, it appears my grandpa had a good childhood.
He played sports...
Shorty on the right. YMCA Tumbling 1924
...and went to camp.
This is a photo of my grandpa in 1932. He went from Oklahoma to Los Angeles with his mom to visit his aunt and grandmother. The Olympics were going on in Los Angeles then and my grandpa told me how he found his way into the Coliseum to watch them. This photo came from that summer.
Los Angeles, 1932
As the Depression set in, Jack's parents' took a financial hit. I don't know if that played a factor in the early deaths of both of his parents. Jack lost his mother when he was 21 and lost his father when he was 23. Since he was an only child, he was pretty much alone. He had a grandmother and aunt in California, and another aunt elsewhere.
Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) in Stillwater
My grandparents got married in Duncan, Oklahoma in 1937. My grandma's family was also affected by the Depression. I think this may have been the motivation for them to move to Los Angeles, which they did shortly after marriage.
Jack and family built a house on 117th street in Los Angeles. The neighborhood is a little rough now, but back then it was filled with new families.
My grandpa owned and operated South Vermont Feed and Seed in the area surrounding the University of Southern California. At some point he left the store in preparation for World War II, but he was never drafted.
Now a man without a feed store, he moved the family to Pomona where he spent time as a chicken rancher and a realtor.
People who know my grandpa remember him at the proprietor of the Western Home & Auto in Rubidoux, California. He worked there until he retired and handed the store over to his sons. Some of my earliest memories are of that store.
My grandpa died May 28, 2001 while eating a bowl of blackberries he'd just picked out of his garden. After the initial shock, I decided that's the best way to go. We should all die that quickly, eating something we love.
Jack never talked about his parents. There is suspicion that his mother committed suicide (she died on Christmas Eve). His dad remarried 3 months later. I started researching them after he died. I wonder if he would have approved of my research abilities and uncovering some of the mystery of his parents. I doubt it, but I have no regrets.
So happy birthday, grandpa. I hope there are plenty of fresh blackberries where you are.
My dad, my son and my grandpa. Mother's Day 2001.