I wanted to visit West Plains because my folks grew up there, my paternal grandfather and grandmother’s grave site is in the city cemetery, and there is a street named in honor of them.
no images were found
The public library was on our way into town so I decided to get directions to the cemetery as well as possibly find information on my family. I was ill prepared to do serious research since I had not planned to do anything other than visit the grave site and get photos of Hoglen Drive, however Norm noticed they had a genealogy room so I visited it.
There was an older gentleman volunteering in the room who confessed he knew very little about genealogy. He introduced himself as James D. and said he was happy to help me in any way he could. He recommended we start with the obituaries of my grandparents as he knew how to find that information.
We did find my grandfather’s obituary. James then suggested we look in the school annuals for my mother. While we were looking through them he told me he had not only taught at West Plains High School his entire career as an English teacher but also graduated from there. At about that point I saw a familiar face in the annual I was looking through and said, “That’s my Aunt Lovell!” He asked, “Lovell? What was her last name?” I told him it was James and he said, “I knew her!” He shared that he was not a friend but knew the family with whom she lived (it’s a long story on how Lovell came to live with another family so will not go into it here).
Lovell was the oldest sibling and they were missing the several years of annuals after her senior year so we didn’t find my mother. He told me that he had his annual at home from eight years after Lovell’s graduation. He was going to take a lunch break and agreed to meet me at the library again after lunch with his annual.
no images were found
While waiting I went to the cemetery and I found my grandparents grave site, took some photos and headed back to the library. James was waiting for me in the genealogy room with his 1943 annual. I looked through all the senior, junior, sophomore and freshman photos but didn’t find my mother. I was disheartened but continued to look through the annual for other relatives. I spotted my Aunt Babe (Virginia) in a Journalism class photo. Next to her I found my mother! I went back to the front of the annual to the list of graduating seniors. She was listed there. I thought it odd that she did not have a senior photo. Mr. D made copies of the page and my grandfather’s obituary. He was a big help making my visit to West Plains more fruitful than expected.
Both my parents have passed as well as all paternal and maternal aunts and uncles except for one paternal and one maternal aunt who live nearby me. I thought they would like to see current photos of their home town so the next day I traveled around West Plains taking pictures of significant buildings located at the town square, my grandfather’s last home and Hoglen Drive.
I’m home as I write this post. I visited my paternal aunt, Lois, a few days ago and shared photos and stories about the trip. When I told her about James D. Helping me she asked, “Jimmy D.?!?” After I confirmed it was him, she told me they were good buddies and had taught together for a few years at the West Plains Middle School. Amazing.
She also shed light on why my mother’s photo would not be in the annual. She told me, “Your mother and Aunt Babe skipped a lot their senior year so it’s not surprising she was not there on the photo day or the make up day!” Later I thought this would have been good Intel to have when I was caught skipping my senior year.
Since retiring this year, one of my plans is to begin researching my family tree. This was a good kick start and I have made significant headway talking with my Aunt Lois.