Today's episode of Sepia Saturday: The Other Side of the Family
I've spent the last few weeks introducing my father's side of the family. Today I'm going to venture into the maternal end of the gene pool.
This is my maternal grandfather, Joseph Raymond Royer:
I'm not certain when the photo was taken, but he looks fairly young. He was born October 15, 1898 to Adam and Louise Diffenderfer Royer, and it's possible that this may be a graduation photo. He married my grandmother, Susie Elizabeth Kleckner, sometime around 1917 and their first child, my Uncle Dayton, was born in October 1918:
My mother, Helen, was born in 1922. I'm guessing that this photo of Dayton, my Aunt Bernice and my mother was taken in 1923:
Eventually, there were five Royer children in all:
Helen (b 1922), Robert (b 1924), Dayton (b 1918), Betty (b. 1926) and Bernice (b. 1920)
I never knew my grandfather. As you can tell from the clothing in the above photos, my grandparents were not poor. I have no idea what my grandfather did for a living, but his family was fairly well off. All that changed when the stock market crashed in 1929. From what I understand from other family members, my grandparents lost everything. Grandpa took to drinking and eventually abandoned his wife and five children in 1931. Rumor has it that he left town with another woman, but her conscience got the best of her and she returned. Grandpa supposedly traveled west to Chicago. My Uncle Dayton looked him up when he was in Chicago while in the navy during the war, but he couldn't bring himself to actually go see him. His anger and hurt was too great.
My grandmother never divorced her estranged husband. She struggled on alone, working hard to raise her five children during the Great Depression. Sadly, she passed away from cancer in 1972. I remember very little about her, except for her hands. They were thin and very bony, with thick blue veins running along the backs of them just under the surface of the skin. They were worker's hands, yet when they held mine they were cool and soft and gentle.
I have no idea when my grandfather may have died or if he ever found happiness again. His abandonment left many unanswered questions and affected lives in ways he undoubtedly never realized and most likely never cared about. My mother once told me that when she was a girl, she'd often go to the movies and sit through the end crawl, scanning the credits to see if her father's name was there, hoping that perhaps he'd left them to go to Hollywood and work in the movies. Unsurprisingly, his name was never listed.
I wonder if she ever really stopped looking.
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