Sunday, July 5

I Thee Wed Sunday: Cousin Vivian and Charles

(from left) Viola Arnsberger, newlyweds Vivian & Charles Keller,
Orrel Sack, and Ida Hanson at Ida's home,
Los Angeles, Calif - December 1940

Viola and Vivian were my dad's cousins. Viola was the only child of Daddy's Uncle Ed, and Vivian was the only child of Ed's sister, "Aunt Lulu".

Orrel was Ed and Lulu's brother Frank's wife. Ida was the wife of George Hanson, half-brother of Ed, Lulu, and Frank.

Is that clear as mud? Well, you now know more in those two paragraphs than I did for years after I began researching my dad's side of the tree.

George Hanson started a large chicken "ranch" back when Los Angeles wasn't much more than a farm town dotted with orange groves.

But I digress...

Cousin Vivian wasn't a "beauty" by any means, but she was a bubbly ray of sunshine wherever she went. Always smiling. Always. Never an unkind word about anyone. Just being around her made people feel good, she had that effect. Born in Pond Creek, Oklahoma, she grew up around Burdett, a tiny town west of Larned in Pawnee County, Kansas.

Charles Keller was a veterinarian who as a child had come from Clinton Co, Missouri to the Burdett area with his sisters and their widowed mother.

When Vivian and Charles married in December 1940, she was 29 and he was 68. As far as I know, she was his first and only wife. I seriously doubt the age gap made a difference. Charles was retired but still in good health; Vivian was an enthusiastic companion. The photo above was taken during their wedding trip to southern California.

In 1917, Charles built a house eight miles north of Burdett.

The perspective of childhood often makes one remember a not-so-big house as huge, but after looking at snapshots of "Vivian's house" from different angles again, it really was huge. H-U-G-E.

For starters, it had two parlors. And two sets of stairs, one from the front hall and one from the kitchen, which was bigger than most living rooms. Upstairs were three large bedrooms and a playroom that opened onto a "sleeping porch". And above all that, the attic. A real attic full of forgotten treasures, perfect for exploring on rainy afternoons.

Charles and Vivian loved road trips. Vivian had a lead foot. Loved to drive faster. When the infirmities of age finally caught up with Charles, he didn't deny her the freedom of the open road. Instead, he got her a Hudson. Hudsons were built like - if not from - tanks (or scrapped battleships).

Carol, Charles & Vivian's only child, and the Hudson.
September 1957

But looks are deceiving. That clunky green "tank" could go from -0- to 70 in seconds. Seat belts and car seats unknown and unnecessary. Centrifugal force plastered children to the back seat.

Vivian loved to take company to Dodge City. We'd pile into the Hudson, and because I wasn't big enough to see out the window without standing up, all I'd see until we got to Boot Hill was sky and the back of the front seat. Once Vivian put the pedal to the metal, standing was impossible. We went other places, of course, but Dodge was her favorite, and she somehow made each visit as exciting as the first.

Charles was a few months shy of 89 when he died in 1961. He and Vivian had been married 20 years. She was so full of life that everyone assumed she too would live as long, but sadly, that was not to be. A stroke felled her six years later, at 57.

Daughter Carol had married and moved away, and had no use for a huge house in the middle of nowhere. The couple who bought it didn't like the location either, and believe or not, moved it to their own land a few miles away!

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Nora Johnson said...

What an interesting family history you have! And what beautiful old family photos. You must have such wonderful memories to cherish!

A lovely post. Thank you for sharing it.

I look forward to returning to your lovely blog again soon!

xNora & Lola:)

PS Many thanks for the follower link - most flattering!

dustjacket attic said...

Wow what a history you have unearthed and photo's, really good read.xx

LondonGirl said...

A fantastic post. What happened to Carol after her mother died? Are you still in touch?

Duchess of Tea said...

Wow, very interesting. It just broke my heart that the house was moved, why do people do that? I fancy the name Viola and with your permission will name one of my ladies in waiting (headvases) Viola!!

JamaGenie said...

LG, Carol and I lost touch, and I'm not even sure she's still alive. Recently a friend located what we're sure is her eldest son's address and phone, but I haven't contacted him yet. It's on my To-Do list!

Duchess, by all means, do give the name Viola to one of the "ladies in waiting"!! There are many women named Violet (a childhood friend's mother, for instance), but not Viola. Uncle Ed and Aunt Katie weren't particularly musical (that I'm aware of), so I have no idea why they chose that name.

JamaGenie said...

Nora (and Lola!), having a mother who was a pack rat turned out to be a blessing (after we disposed of what truly was junk). Figuring out how the people in the old letters and photos were related was the fun part. Twenty-some years on, I'm still having "Aha!" moments.

dustjacket, I do love how you present all things lovely in your blog!