I’m back from the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. Over 1,700 folks attended the three-day event. I met many readers of this column. Thank you for stopping by and saying hello!
As usual, I held individual photo consultations. This is one of my favorite part of going to conferences because I get to look at photos and chat face-to-face with their owners. I hear a lot of interesting family stories and see some amazing photos. This week, I’m sharing one of them with you:
Kris Robinson and her sister visited me at Jamboree to try to answer a question. They know the man in the middle of this picture is their father, Robert Robinson (born in 1917), but they wonder if one of the women could be his mother, whom the Robinson ladies never knew. This casual snapshot of three smiling people has a bit of a dark side.
Lola Cloos Robinson was born in 1894 in Illinois. Her father abandoned the family when she was young. By 16, she was on her own working as a domestic in Unity, Ill. Kris isn’t sure how her grandparents met, but they appear with their two boys in the 1920 Mason City, Iowa, census. One died at 4 years of age. In 1927, the family moved to California; they lived in Los Angeles and Huntington Park from 1928 to 1932, when they disappear from the city directories.
Robert Robinson never discussed his family history or mentioned any other relatives. He had an unhappy childhood. However, Kris’ mother told her that her father Robert had come home from school one day to find his mother gone. Lola had been institutionalized at a local hospital for unknown reasons. Kris is trying to gain access to those records.
Kris and her sister have spent a lot of time discovering the details of this woman’s life. Just recently, they learned that Lola had two aunts and two cousins living in Los Angeles in 1931 and that those individuals had children.
Could one of the women that linked arms with Robert be his mother? The clothing styles reflect the styles of the early 1930s especially the sailor collared shirt worn by the woman on the left; the women’s calf length skirts; Robert’s suit with the bold tie; and the sweater worn by the woman on the left. You can find similar outfits in Sears Catalogs of the period. This dates the photo to the early 1930s, when Robert was in his mid-teens.
This photo raises so many questions.
- It’s an amateur snapshot, probably part of a series of images. Who’s the photographer?
- Where’s the rest of the roll and who owns it?
- If Robert’s mother was institutionalized when he was young, when was she released? This information would help determine if onf of the women in the picture could be her.
- If one of the women is her, I vote for this woman. She’s older than the teen on Robert’s other arm. She’s also wearing lipstick, which young teens in the period generally didn’t wear.
I hope Kris and her sister can solve the information riddle surrounding this woman’s life. Perhaps someone will see this column and recognize Robert and the women in the photo. Anyone have the rest of the roll?