Wednesday, June 17, 2015

This Week Is for Mother--Day Three: Bernice Evangeline Grenfell (1902 - 1980)

As we've seen, by 1921 Bernice had survived the rigors of the Seventh Day Adventist boarding school several years before and was attending San Diego High. But an event had occurred in January of that year which changed the course of her life forever when her 72-year-old grandmother married Joseph H. Stanton, an 82-year-old retired butcher and Civil War veteran who had lost his wife a year earlier.*
[Grace Thomas Grenfell and 2nd husband Joseph H. Stanton, undated photo, from my personal collection]

The most immediate change happened when the family moved to Encanto, buying a bungalow at 879 69th Street.** Bernice now took the train downtown to school, via the San Diego and Arizona Railway which ran eight passenger-carrying trains a day. And more importantly, the move brought her into contact with "the Encanto crowd" which included a young electrician, Harold Delbert Currey, who lived just down the street.
[The house on 69th Street before the Stantons moved there, undated photo from the Currey family album in my personal collection.]
[The Curreys' house at 817, 69th Street, undated photo from my personal collection. Note the vacant land across the street.]
[Harold,wearing a dark shirt and with his arms around two girls, is on the right in the middle row. Bernice isn't in this photo from my personal collection.]

But Bernice had a problem--and his name was Joseph H. Stanton. She didn't like her new step-grandfather and he didn't like her either. Each resented the attention Grace gave to the other one.
[Bernice with her grandmother and step-grandfather, undated photo from my personal collection.]

Although her grandmother tried to persuade Bernice to accept the proposal of an "older man"*** she made her own choice, marrying Harold on May 1, 1922.****

[Photo from my private collection--note that Harold's mother was the person who took the photo, having accompanied them. Because part of the writing on the back was trimmed off when the picture was put in the photo album, it's not clear whether his father and one of his sisters went too.]

Although the newlyweds had considered property in other San Diego neighborhoods, I suppose it was inevitable that the lot they bought for their home together was at 6870 Brooklyn Avenue, just across the street from the Currey home place.
[Note that the house, although its address was on Brooklyn, faced east toward 69th Street and the Currey home place, photo from my personal collection.]

Bernice found that she had truly married a family, which will be proved in my next post.

(To be continued)

*There's no reason to believe that this union was other than a marriage of convenience. We have to remember that this was long before Meals on Wheels or grocery stores stocking pre-made meals. By joining their financial resources the couple would both benefit (and he wouldn't have to cook his own dinner).
**The house is still there.
***Mother never told me his name, but said that he was in his 30s.
****Her grandmother's comment on her decision was to say that although she liked Harold very much and had nothing against him (indeed she came to love him), "just look at his family." As an Englishwoman who had never owned property until she and her first husband immigrated to the United States and bought the farm in South Dakota that she still owned, she was very class conscious and considered marrying into the Currey family a step down.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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