My Second Year – 1956 – 1957

I spent most of my second year in Cleveland Ohio. My mother and I lived with Nana and Buck (her mother and step-father if you’re just joining the story) and Mom worked as a laboratory technician in a research lab at the Cleveland Clinic.

February 2, 1957 - Steady on my Feet at 15 months.
February 2, 1957 – Steady on my Feet and  in love with myself at 15 months

You’ve probably heard the expression, “if you don’t love yourself, you can’t truly love anyone else.” Looks like I got a healthy dose of self-admiration at an early age. Nana must have encouraged it. She sent this picture to my husband with this note on the back: “my favorite – for you Rick.”

Nana, Buck and my mother were native Virginians. Buck was working in Cleveland because the machine company that he worked for as a tool and die maker sent him up there to help get the new plant up and running. He and Nana had known each other when they were growing up on the south side of Richmond, but Nana thought he was “too old” (he was four years her senior) and he spent most of his time playing baseball. They both married other people, had children and divorced in the late 1940s.

In May 1951, when Nana’s son Norwood was getting married to Frances, they went to South Carolina because the marriage age (for a woman to marry without her parents’ consent) was younger there than in Virginia. Even though Frances was marrying without her parents’ consent, she wasn’t about to take a trip out of town without a chaperone so Nana went along on the trip as her chaperone. I guess Buck had a car and offered to drive. (Apparently the need for an unmarried woman to have a chaperone doesn’t apply if the woman is of a certain age (Nana was 39 in May 1951) or if she’d been married before.)

It turns out the two couples actually had a joint wedding ceremony before a Justice of the Peace in South Carolina. Both Nana and Norwood have confirmed that she and Buck were not planning to get married on this trip when they left Richmond. On arriving in South Carolina, Nana and Frances had one hotel room and Norwood and Buck shared another. Since the wedding didn’t take place until late the next day, Buck realized they wouldn’t be able to make it back to Richmond that night, as they had originally planned. According to the story (independently verified by Nana, Buck, Norwood, Frances and my mother) Buck told Nana it was cheaper for him to buy a wedding license than to pay for another hotel room so they might as well get married. So that’s how my grandmother and her son, had a double wedding! (You can’t make this stuff up!)

That is just an aside to let you know that Nana and Buck were relative newlyweds (4 years) when they began raising me. When Buck got home from work on Friday nights he and Nana would celebrate the start of the weekend with a shot of bourbon. (According to my mother, they only drank on weekends.) They kept the bottle under the kitchen sink and I would go get it when Buck got home and join them in the Friday night ritual with water in my shot glass. Taking straight shots of bourbon with Nana on holidays (once my cousins and I were old enough) became a cherished family celebration.

Alice Louise Latham with her grandchildren 1956
Alice Louise Latham and grandchildren
                              1956

Speaking of cousins, on my mother’s side I had five and they were all boys. I was Nana’s only granddaughter. Aunt Kay and Uncle Torchy (you might as well get used to strange names if you’re going to read my family story) had Emmett S. Kerrick, Jr. (1951) and Andrew Stuart Kerrick (1952). Norwood and Frances had Norwood Powell, Jr. (1953), Tommy Powell (1955) and Mitchell Powell (1961).
Here’s a picture of Nana and her grandchildren. From left to right: Emmett, Tommy, Nana with me in her lap, Stuart and Puddin’ who was born on Nana’s birthday – September 20th in 1953. My cousin Puddin has always been Puddin (not Pudding) and when I ask Norwood and Frances (his parents) where the name came from – they’re not sure – he’s just always been Puddin. (Apparently my uncle Norwood was also called Puddin by the men he worked with but that doesn’t really explain how his son got the same nickname.)

From my Grandfather Kingsbury’s family letters I know my father was in the Navy for all of my second year, but on one of his leaves in March 1957 my parents and I visited Granddaddy Kingsbury (JBK) and his wife Kitty in Bloomington, Indiana.

February 1957
February 1957

JBK had just returned from his 17-month teaching assignment in Thailand. He recalls taking my mother and me around to the Department of Government and introducing us to faculty and students.

“Kathy made a great hit, particularly with two Thai girls who held her in their arms and didn’t want to let her go. Whenever we let her go she was out getting acquainted with the students. She has no fear of anyone or anything, and gives everyone that warm little smile.”

So by the time I turned two in October 1957, I’d spent most of my life in Cleveland Ohio but had taken at least one trip to Richmond VA and one trip to Bloomington IN. I don’t know that I would have described myself as fearless, but it seems to be a common assessment and it is certainly true that I do like meeting new people. I’ll close with JBK’s final observation of 18-month old me:

“Our granddaughter is just too good to be true, and I feel sure we have seen her at her best. She plays happily by herself and has never cried once. Her parents are doing a wonderful job raising her.”

In addition to capturing my life story in the next 58 days – I think I’ll add an adjective for each year and see if the adjective chain describes me now. So the word for my first year is contemplative (Grumps has such a negative connotation) and for year two – fearless.

The obligatory baby in the bath shot (my daughter had really curly hair at this age and I always thought it was from Rick)
The obligatory “baby in the bath” shot (my daughter had curly hair when she was this age and I always thought it was from my husband but perhaps she got a double dose of the curly hair gene!)

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