The photo below was probably taken in January 1947 when the family gathered for the wedding of my father’s sister Martha to Lowell Long, my Uncle Ed’s best buddy from high school days. Lowell and Ed were living with my parents when Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States entered World War II. Two months later they both joined the Navy. Their enlistment period, which was four years, ended in early 1946, and both of them moved into the bedroom in our garage that my father built for them. Lowell was ‘Uncle Hoppy’ to me, the nickname given to him by his buddies because they thought he looked like the cowboy movie star, Hopalong Cassidy. He had a dry sense of humor I loved and was fun to have living with us.

I was eight years old in 1946, old enough to do some chores around the house, and Hoppy and Uncle Ed asked me if I would clean their bedroom for them each Saturday. They offered me fifty cents. I was eager for the money and accepted. I rather liked cleaning, and this job gave me the chance to snoop, which I also liked to do. It wasn’t long before I realized that Hoppy was in love with my Aunt Martha. He had written her name over and over on his books and papers. When their engagement was announced I wasn’t surprised. The following January he became my uncle for real.

Hoppy, Lowell, is the third man in the back row counting from the right side of the photo. Martha stands in front of him slightly to the left. She is the fourth woman from the right side of the picture. Uncle Ed sits in the front row next to my grandmother. My mother, Agnes (black dress), stands behind Grandpa. Dad stands behind her next to Lowell. The brothers and sisters have stars by their names. Missing from the photo is Stan, the second oldest, and his wife Ann.

 The Jacob C. & Helena Zimmerman Willems Family (January 1947)

 Willems family 1947

Alan Weaver;*John;*Nick; *Frank; *Jack; Lowell Long; Marlin Kliewer; Les Davis

 *Rosie, *Clara, Hilda, Delta, Velma, Agnes, *Martha, *Liz, *Mary, *Helen                                    (An unmarried sister is at each end. Wives stand in front of husbands)

 *Ed, Grandma, Grandpa, *Anna Jane

I love this photo. It shows the family in its prime, filled with life, eager, hopeful. This is how I remember them. This is the family that captured my imagination, the family I wanted to capture and put in a book.

 

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