Monday, March 31, 2014

Military Monday: Fearless Female Major Isabella Martin Henry, 1910-1994

My mother's college friend, Isabella Martin Henry, was born September 27, 1910, in Waco, Texas, the second of five children of Lawrence Seymour Henry Sr. and Anna Sloane Ingram.  Her father was a printer who owned the L.S. Henry Printing and Stationery Company in Waco. On August 22, 1942, 31-year-old Isabella, a stenographer with a life insurance company in Waco on the 1940 Census, enlisted in Dallas with the Women's Army Corps as an aviation cadet.  At that point she had a year of college, at the College of Industrial Arts in Denton, and was single with no dependents.  Her U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File shows that she later re-enlisted, July 28, 1949, after earning her bachelor's degree at the University of Texas in Austin, serving through December 31, 1960.  She retired January 1, 1961, at the rank of major in the U.S. Army.

Isabella passed away on February 20, 1994, and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Waco.  Her younger sister Mary Catherine Henry (1916-1998) donated Isabella’s papers to the TexasCollection at Baylor University in Waco in March 1995.  Baylor has placed a number of images of items in this collection online in Flickr as part of a set on women serving in the war effort.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Fearless Females Isabella Henry & Gerrie Guokas, ABT 1948, University of Texas at Austin

The photo above is of my mother and her friend Isabella Henry, probably taken somewhere on the University of Texas - Austin campus probably in early 1948 (as my mother graduated that spring).  Isabella was an older student attending college after World War II under the G. I. Bill.

More on Isabella in tomorrow's post.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past: Fearless Females Betty, Gerrie, and Elizabeth, December 1953

This photo is from my parents' trip to Chicago in December 1953, after they got engaged, so that my mother could meet my dad's family.  My paternal grandmother Elizabeth Florence Massmann Pape (1902-2000) is at the far right, and my mother Geraldine Margaret Guokas Pape is sitting next to her.  On the other side of my mom is my paternal aunt, Elizabeth "Betty" Marie Pape Streff.  One of her two oldest daughters, either Rosemary or Marianne, is leaning against her, and the other daughter is partially obscured on the far left of the picture.  My grandparents' dog Lucky is in the lower right corner.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Fearless Female Gerrie Guokas and Her Date to the Dance

Above left:  Mom and her date, Richard Owen "Dick" Cato, at the Ford House dance on December 18, 1945.  Dick was from Beaumont, Texas, and a member of the University of Texas at Austin tennis team.  He was also a member of Delta Sigma Pi, an international commerce and business administration fraternity. The photo above right is from page 553 of the 1946 Cactus, the University of Texas yearbook.  Former Texas Governor Miriam Amanda Ferguson, a family friend, also made an appearance at this dance.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Fearless Female Gwendolyn Imogene "Jean" Soward Metcalfe, 1924-2006

Jean Metcalfe's grave marker at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery - used with permission from Robert Sage via
The following is from an obituary posted in a message board:

Jean Metcalfe: "Lithe of form and fair of face, a loving heart with endearing grace!"

Gwendolyn Imogene (Soward) Metcalfe was born in Robstown, Texas on 25 August 1924, and departed this world on 19 January 2006. Throughout life her primary focus consistently was on being a recognizable Christian, a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great- grandmother. A devoted husband, four daughters (including a pair of twins) and eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter provided opportunities.

In Robstown, Jean was a Girl Scout, and Drum Majorette at Robstown High. She was baptized in the Robstown Baptist Church, and was married there in 1944 to Ensign Tom Brooks Metcalfe of Elgin, Texas, and the U. S. Naval Reserve (Amphibious Forces, Pacific). Her experience as secretary in a defense industry during war years was of immense help in organizing all of the offices which she subsequently managed.

"A foot more light, a step more true, Ne'er from the heath-flower dash'd the dew!"

Jean held undergraduate degrees in her profession of Home Economics from the University of Texas, and from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a Master's Degree in that field from Louisiana State University. In Lafayette, Louisiana, she served as Department Head for eighteen years at one of the largest high schools in the state. She was supervisor of student teacher training, and served on State Committees for curriculum development and for accreditation standards. She and her LSU thesis supervisor were awarded 'Best Paper' at a national meeting and later published work in a national journal. Jean was elected a member of Sigma Xi, the national society for research.

Jean was an accomplished artist, and produced numerous oil paintings of a variety of subjects, received awards for displays and was commissioned to paint a landscape for display in the new City Hall in Lafayette. She crafted an exceptional nineteen-piece porcelain Creche. Through private study, Jean qualified herself in both herbal medicine and acupressure. She relieved the suffering of many, but never as paying clients, she did everything out of the goodness of her heart. Attesting to her generous and loving nature is her PHT ("pushing hubby through") Diploma from Georgia Tech, and her designation of Honorary Cajun by the Acadienne Historical Society.

Jean incorporated architecture and interior decorating into her professional life and along with her husband, and a consulting architect, she designed their final residence in Austin and its interior decoration. In words often spoken by her husband of 61+ years, "In every way, wonderful is the word for her! Above any of these, and all of them together, there was her ability to be a wonderful and loving wife and mother."

"Born to strive........a winner!..."

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Matrilineal Monday: Fearless Females Gerrie Guokas & Jean Metcalfe at Mount Bonnell, Autumn 1945

Mom's first roommate at the Ford House at the University of Texas in Austin was Jean Metcalfe.  Jean was married and her husband, Thomas "Tom" Brooks Metcalfe, was still serving in the Naval Reserve, but when the war ended in August 1945, he came home soon afterward, so Mom and Jean were not roommates for long.  Sometime during that time, however, they made a trip to Mount Bonnell, a famed lookout at (what was then at least) the highest elevation in Austin at 775 feet.  The view above is from the southern side of Mount Bonnell, looking south down Lake Austin. (Here's a similar view from October 2006:)

This photo of Mount Bonnell is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Even though they were no longer roommates, Mom remained friends with Jean and her husband.  On her way home from her trip to New York in 1950, she took a train from New York to Philadelphia (where she saw the Liberty Bell and the Army-Navy football game) and then on to Washington, DC.  From there she took a bus to Atlanta, as Jean and Brooks lived there while he worked on his doctorate and as a research assistant in chemical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.  From Atlanta, Mom took the bus on to New Orleans and then home to Houston.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Fearless Females of Ford House, 1945-6, Part 2

The picture at left is from page 439 of the 1946 Cactus, the yearbook for the University of Texas in Austin.  My mother had an 8x10 print of the same photograph shown here (posted a couple days ago), and on the back she'd identified most of the girls.  Today I'm going to write a little more about just what Ford House was.

The Ford House was a boarding house near the campus in the mid-1940s.  It is where my mother lived her first year at the University of Texas, 1945-46.  According to Mom, Mr. & Mrs. Neil Vincent (Ione Whitman) Ford purchased a house with some smaller houses around it on San Antonio Street between W. 24th and 26th in Austin to use as the boarding house.  Mom said it was behind a theater, which I have determined was the old Varsity Theater at 2402 Guadalupe.  The houses are long gone, but I think I can see the area (on Google Maps) where they used to be.

Mom lived in one of the smaller outbuildings (called an "annex" in the closeup from page 439 above).  She said her "room," shared with another girl, was actually a bunk bed on a screened-in porch.  The girls ate breakfast and dinner at the main residence, and often ate out at a Mexican restaurant on Sunday nights.

Below is a photo of my mother with most of her Annex Number One roommates.  On the top step are "Lulu" (Mary Louise Bell, from San Antonio), House Chairman [Marion] Gene Sollars [Taylor] (1926-1947, from Port Arthur; Mom says she died in childbirth), and Elaine Carlson of Pampa (1925-1979, in July 1946 she married Billy Wyatt Waters, 1924-2004).  On the bottom step are House Mother Ruth[e] Bastion (born 1926; from Port Arthur), "Pepper" (this could be Shirley Farrow or Norma Waldine Hansen of Galveston, born there November 23, 1926), Glenna D. Kimbrel of Corpus Christi (originally from Coffeyville, Kansas), and my mom.

There was another picture of Ford House girls in the 1946 Cactus.  The picture above was on page 333 with the caption, "Ford House Thanksgiving Dinner."  My mother had the picture below (apparently taken just before or after the one put in the yearbook), and, besides herself (back row, third from left, the second in a dark outfit), could identify Gene Sollars (second from left on the side of the table facing my mother's) and Glenna Kimbrel (the girl in the foreground).

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday's Faces from the Past: Fearless Females of Ford House, 1945-6

Members of Ford House at the University of Texas - Austin in 1945-46 (my mother, Geraldine Margaret Guokas Pape, is in the back/top/sixth row)

Front row:  Peggy McMahan, Billie L. Wimberly Smith, Mary (or Margaret "Margie") Varley, Margo Elzner, Jessie Mae Womack, Selma Sussman, Sonya Chicotsky, Toby Joy Aronoff, Margaret "Margie" (or Mary) Varley.

Second row:  Marcella Shroyer Kendall, Gene Sollars, Glenna Kimbrel, Rosalie "Rozie" Pryzant, Naomi Sussman, Shirley Grevsky, Ruth Kreisler, Nedra Durden.

Third row:  Fannie Pryzant, Judy Gerick, Betty Jane Posnick, Ida Heintz, Rita Beth Juran, Rosalie Paley, Frankie Jean Barnes, Eunice Mildred "Millie" Brooks.

Fourth row:  Thelma Moore, Mary Lou Miller, Maryetta Beffa, Mary Louise "Mary Lou" Bell, Ruthe Bastion, Mae Sampson, Marvinel Roten.

Fifth row:  Doris Oden, Mary Jean Boase, Wynona Bowler, Norma Hansen, Elaine Carlson, Gene Torbett, Ruth Ranville.

Sixth row:  Runnelle Loyd, Geraldine Guokas, Claire Richards, Mary Anna Benson, Jo Ann Lilly, Comfort Holt.

More about Ford House and these ladies in future posts.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Fearless Female Eva Louise Guokas Scott, 1907 - 1979

photo by Herb Clark via; used with permission
The marker in Section K, Lot S1/2 122, Grave 2, at historic Hollywood Cemetery in Houston, Texas, for my great aunt Eva Louise Guokas Scott.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Charles Guokas Sr. & Some of His Offspring, 1937

Above is a photo of my great-grandfather Charles (Kazimieras) Guokas Sr. (1863-1939) and some of his offspring.  From the left:
  • Sara Melzina Wolfe Guokas Archibald (1907-1997), my maternal grandmother;
  • Elizabeth "Lizzie" Wanda Guokas Johnson Sayers (1901-1980), Charles Sr.'s oldest daughter by his second wife, my great-grandmother Elizabeth (Elžbieta Benevičiūtė) Banevich (1875-1929);
  • Jesse Wayne Johnson Jr. (1920-2005), Lizzie's son by her first marriage;
  • Charles Guokas Sr.;
  • Eva Louise Guokas Scott (1907-1979), Charles Sr.'s youngest daughter;
  • Otis Henry Scott Sr. (1901-1990), Eva's husband;
  • Agnes "Aggie" Verna Guokas Payne (1905-1974), Charles Sr.'s middle daughter by my great-grandmother; and
  • Milton Clyde "Jack" Payne (1904-1991), Aggie's husband.
This picture was taken the same day as one I've previously posted of Charles' & Elizabeth's grandchildren.  The baby in that photograph was born in 1937, so I date this photo to then as well.

I haven't written about Eva yet, so I will do that now.

Eva Louise Guokas was born on July 27, 1907, in Texas, probably in Houston, and probably at the family's home at that time at 1314 Railroad.  On the 1910 and 1920 Censuses, the family is living at 1717 Shearn, to which they'd moved by 1908.

In the 1923 Houston City Directory, Otis Scott, a clerk with the Chamber of Commerce, is living just down the street at 1810 Shearn.  By 1925, Eva and Otis are married and living at 623 Redan, and Otis is an operator with Landram Multigraphing Co., according to the Houston City Directory.  Their son Otis Henry Jr. is born on August 30, and they are living at 1344 Oxford on that date.

The family moved around quite a bit the next 15 years.  According to Houston city directories and censuses:

  • In 1926, they are living with Eva's parents at 1717 Shearm, and Otis is a clerk.
  • In 1930, they are living at 1844 Columbia. Otis is a typist with an insurance company. His widowed mother Maggie lives with the family.
  • In 1932, their address is 3706 Reagan Ave. Otis is a printer with Great Southern Life Insurance Company.
  • In 1935, Otis has the same job, and they are still at 3706 Reagan Avenue.
  • In 1937, Otis is now assistant purchasing agent with Great Southern, and they live at 2702 Michaux.
  • In 1940, Eva and Otis Jr. are living at 1717 Shearn again.  Charles Sr. died the previous year and left the house to his youngest son, Roy Lee, who lives there with his wife.  Otis Sr. is not listed at this address, and I cannot find him on the 1940 Census.
  • In 1951, Otis is a salesman, and they are living at 934 La Monte.

934 La Monte was also their address on April 12, 1979, when Eva died from a heart attack.  She had three granddaughters and at least three great-grandchildren.  She is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Houston.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past: A Fearless Female, Mom's Cousin, Synchronized Swimmer Laura Lee Payne

The photo above is from a birthday party for my mother's first cousin, Laura Lee Payne, the daughter and only child of Milton Clyde "Jack" Payne (1904-1991) and Agnes Verna Guokas Payne (1905-1974). There appear to be three candles on the cake, so the photo was taken ABT 1940. Behind the birthday girl is her first cousin, my mother, Geraldine Margaret Guokas Pape, who is about 12 in this picture. Seated at front on the left is Laura Lee's other female cousin on her mother's side (at that point), my mother's sister, Jo Ann (Sister Jean Marie) Guokas, who is about ten here.

from page 8 of the August 19, 1953, Anniston [Alabama] Star
Mom had told me earlier that Laura Lee was interested in competitive swimming, but I did not learn until I had lunch recently with my parents and Sister Jean Marie that Laura Lee had participated in synchronized swimming.  They told me that she was a member of a team sponsored by the famous Shamrock [Hilton] Hotel in Houston.  The team was called the Corkettes, and Laura and other members of the team won a number of championships over the years.

I did a little research and found articles mentioning Laura on the team from August 1953 through July 1956.
from page 2 of the March 20, 1955, Dallas Morning News, "AAU Tank Meet Lures Big List"

A March 27, 1954, article in the Dallas Morning News stated that "Elizabeth Sunbarger and Laura Lee Payne of Houston won the duet title" at the Southwestern Women's A[mateur] A[thletic] U[nion] Swimming Tournament with a routine called "Play Ball."  Laura was second in the solo competition with a routine called "Senior Prom."

A year later, at the same competition, the Corkettes won solo, duet and team.  Elizabeth and Laura's routine this year was to the "Mexican Hat Dance," while the team (quartet), of which Laura was likely a member, won with "The Highlanders."  Laura was third to Elizabeth in solo competition with a routine called "Flame."  I thought this was particularly interesting because my mother says Laura's mother's nickname was "Flame" - they called their Aunt Aggie, Aunt Flame.

An August 9, 1955, article in the Niagara Falls Gazette about the Canadian-American International Synchronized Swim Meet being held then and there, said, "Laura Lee Payne...had a routine called the "Flame" and...placed third in the U. S. National Outdoor Championships two weeks ago."  She placed seventh in this competition, according to an August 15 article in the same paper.

That article also indicated that Laura and Elizabeth Sunbarger won the duet competition: "...there was no question either in the minds of the judges or spectators that the Texans were the top duo with their 'Ritual in Fantasy.'  Attractively costumed and swimming in all but perfect unison the duo went through a difficult routine with such smoothness that the result was almost a foregone conclusion as they left the water."  Laura also took second in the team competition:  "The Houston quartet of Hope Holcombe, Doris Payne, and Misses Payne and Sunbarger made a valiant attempt to carry the team as well as the duet crown back to Texas and failed by not too great a margin.  The four turned in a clever, well-staged display."

According to Synchronized Swimming: An American History by Dawn Pawson Bean, as well as the USA Synchro team website, Laura and Corkettes teammate Elizabeth Sunbarger were the indoor junior duet national champions in 1955.  In 1954, Laura and Corkettes teammates Beth Browning, Carole Jacobs, and Martha Ann Kaufman were the outdoor team (quartet) junior national champions.

Carole Jacobs Lasof has a few pictures of the Corkettes from the 1950s on Pinterest, including the image to the left.  Carole is at the bottom in the dark shorts and polka-dotted white top; Laura Lee is to the right of her (to Carole's left), in the mostly-white suit with darker bodice and skirt.

Synchronized swimmers need a lot of strength and stamina.  Sometimes they start out as racers.  I also found mention of Laura competing unattached (unaffiliated with a team) in girls 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter freestyle races at a Texas Amateur Athletic Federation swim meet in San Antonio in July, 1951.  She placed 4th and 5th respectively.  The Houston Cork Club of the Shamrock Hilton also had swimmers at that meet, and it may have been shortly afterward that Laura joined them and took up synchronized swimming.  However, as late as July 1955, Laura was still racing, placing third in the 100 meter freestyle at the same Southwest AAU meet where she won the solo AND duet synchronized swimming competitions.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past: Fearless Females Millie, Marie, & Edith Wolfe, ABT 1917

This is a photograph of the three Wolfe girls:  my grandmother, Sara Melzina "Millie" Wolfe Guokas Archibald (1907-1997), her youngest sister Neva Marie Wolfe Ely (1912-1995), and her younger sister Edith Elizabeth Wolfe Smith Murff Brown Gould Knox (1910-2006).  Marie looks to be about age five here, so I think the photo was taken around 1917.  I've written about my grandmother and Aunt Edith before, so I will write a little about Aunt Marie.

Marie was born November 4, 1912, in Houston, Texas.  She was the youngest child of Louis Henry Wolfe and Addilee Tennessee Shelton Wolfe Harris.  The family had moved to Houston from Shreveport, Louisiana shortly before Marie was born.

Marie experienced the tough childhood of her older siblings, including abandonment by her mother when she was three; growing up in the home of her uncle, aunt, and cousins (1917-1921); and the death of her father in 1929 in an automobile accident when she was only 16.  On the 1930 Census, she is listed living in Pasadena, Texas, in the home of her mother and stepfather Charles B. Harris.  In the 1932 Houston City Directory, she is listed living at 1717 Shearn, the home of her sister Sara "Millie" Guokas and her family.

On September 9, 1933, Marie married Louis Walter Ely (1913-1980), who was just a few months younger than her.  At the time he was a caddy at Glenbrook Country Club, and he continued to be employed there through at least 1937. On the 1940 Census, his occupation is listed as a warehouse laborer for a chemical plant.  By 1942 (according to the Houston city directory), he became a fireman with the City of Houston.  By 1959 (again according to the Houston city directory), he had become a district fire chief, and the family had a home at 721 E. Fresa in Pasadena, Texas.  This was part of a piece of land owned by Louis' father, on which Louis and Marie built a house.

Marie and Louis had three children - a son, Louis Edward Ely (1935-2005), and two daughters, Barbara Ann and Edith Carole.  At the time of her death on March 3, 1995, Marie had eight grandchildren and at least ten great-grandchildren (17 by 2003) .  She is buried next to her husband in the Ely family plot at South Park Cemetery in Pearland, Texas.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Matrilineal Motivation Monday: Fearless Female Blogging Prompts

I am delighted that the awesome Thomas MacEntee, guru of Geneabloggers, asked me if he could use the picture of Breathless' aunt Ruby Clayton Moore Albillar from one of my posts to create a sidebar link on the website for Lisa Azlo's "Fearless Females" series of blog prompts for March, National Women's History Month.

I've done Fearless Female blog posts in the past, not necessarily following Lisa's prompts, but trying to focus on my female ancestors and kin during this month.  My blogging time has been limited of late, due to some family health issues and trying to deal with various papers and items I brought home to sort through after my 85-year-old parents moved six months ago (my guest room is packed to the brim!).  But I hope to use Lisa's prompts as a motivator this month, if only to dig through some of the multitude of photos of women I've scanned over the past year and post and write about them here.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.