Saturday, March 7, 2015

This is my dad at age five.  Sitting next to him is his sister Louise who was born in 1918 the year this picture was taken.  Finding this picture has been one of the best treasurer’s I have found; and one of the biggest surprises I have experienced.  (Number one surprise is finding out our biological surname is WHERRETT, Dad's middle name and not the name TOMLINSON) 
I was in Salt Lake City a couple days before the Roots Tech 2015 Conference started just for the purpose to visit sites before I got to busy to do so.  On the Tuesday 10 March 2015 I went to the Church History Library which is different from the well-known Family History Library.   The Church History Library houses only LDS Records. To view any records, documents, pictures, books etc. the first thing you are required to do is listen to a video that’s about eight minutes long that explains what you can do and cannot do in handling any of the materials you send for.  Sitting at one of the many computers I put in the surname Hepworth and found one record that caught my attention.  It was indexed as “Lester Hepworth by author; Ethel Hepworth.” Lester is not a name that is used by any of my ancestors.  But, Ethel is the name of my grandmother.  After a long thought I finally decided I should “check it out.’   And what a wonderful surprise I almost passed up.
I wrote the information on a pink slip and handed it to the man behind the counter.  He said it would take about ten minutes and for me  to proceed through double door into the Reading Room.  Before going into the Reading Room you put all your stuff (purse, coat, etc.) in a locker and secure it.  The only thing you can take in the Reading Room is a notebook and pencil and ID.  (No ink pens)  Inside you show a  picture ID and if you do not have one they will take a picture of you.  Then you put on white gloves so not to soil whatever it is you ordered.  Finally, the small envelope arrived and I was told it was a photograph. Again I'm thinking who is Lester Hepworth.  I immediately looked inside the small yellow covering  before I even sat down at the table and was astonished. I recognized the dark beautiful boy as my father with his grandmother or Nana as we called her and his mother  Ethel Hepworth Tomlinson then Dad's sister Louise. On the back of the picture was written “Lester Hepworth and her daughter Ethel and her two children.”  Looking closer I could see the word Lester should be indexed as Sister Hepworth.  Now my question was where was this picture taken and how did it get in the Church History Library?  The next clue was the name of the place where they were living that was displayed on the building where they were living. ,Oxford Apartments. Then I remembered Dad writing in his life history of going to Santa Monica for five months two years in a row and he wrote about attending church there.  That’s it – a member of the ward came around taking pictures of the members of the Los Angeles ward/branch and the pictures were part of the History of that Ward then sent to the Church History Department.  Now my next question was; “How can I get a copy/” The answer was easy, It was out of copyright and had been uploaded to the Web site..
   When you type in Ethel Hepworth in the Search box the above  picture will appear.
The Church History Staff member corrected the index entry. 

This is what Dad wrote in "My Personal History" about going to California:

"My Mother had rheumatism for years just after I was born.  She went to several doctors without receiving much help.  Dr. Openshaw told her that Utah winters were too harsh for her.  So Mother, ‘Nana’, my Grandmother, Louise, (just a baby) and I, boarded a train for Los Angeles.  It took two days for the trip.  We were met at the depot by a real-estate salesman who had found a house for us to lease for about five months.  The house was in Santa Monica and was right on the oceanfront.  A broad cement sidewalk about fifty feet wide stretched from our front door to a sea wall some four feet higher.  Then below was the sandy beach of the Pacific Ocean.  Mostly the weather was warm.  Only on Sunday did I dress up.  The other days I lived in a swimming suit, and I learned to swim in the ocean.  I remember being sent on an errand to buy something on the Pier about one half mile down the sidewalk where some commercial stores were located.  It was the time of morning when it was just beginning to get really hot and I took my time stopping frequently to throw a stick of some other thing into the ocean below the sea wall.  I made my purchase and started back home but by this time the pavement was so hot that it burned the soles of my bare feet so I got off the sidewalk and walked in the ocean with the sack I had held high. 
On Sunday we had to get up quite early, get ready to go to Church, walk some three hundred yards to a huge wooden stairway just east of where we lived.  We had to climb the stairway, about one hundred steps to the top and when we got there we were in a little park with palm trees, flowers and some grass.  There were benches to sit on as we waited for the streetcar which took us several miles to the center of Los Angeles.  We got off of the street car in front of the two story building with some type of store on the ground floor, and the second floor occupied by the Knights of Columbus organization, a part of the Catholic Church.  This K.C. Hall was to serve as the only LDS meeting house in the entire Los Angeles area at that time.  We were one of the first to arrive and I remember that when the door to that meeting house was opened the smell of cigarette and cigar smoke rushed out to the hallway.  We had to sweep the floor, pick up beer bottles, wine bottles and whatever as the K. of C. had had a party there on Saturday Night.  But, we cleaned it up and by that time our LDS people had arrived and we had our meetings; Sunday school and Sacrament.  I am proud to know that I was a small part of the first congregation in Los Angeles. 

How grateful I am that Dad wrote about this experience in his life history.   Without It I would still be wondering how this picture came about.  A good testimony of how important it is to write my own life history or even about the events that took place in my life.   

Dad had quite a memory at such an early age.  What a contrast in his skin coloring to his mother and sister Louise.  I bet Grandmother more than once had to explain "He really is mine and not adopted."   Dad's father was dark complected and one of the reasons why I started searching the background of our ancestors.  Still no concrete reason.  I was told a 'Story' of where the dark skin  came from but, to this date it is just that, A Story not proven.  


Nancy said...

How exciting to find the photograph, Renée. And especially since your dad wrote about that time in his life. Congratulations on listening to the inspiration to look at the photo at the Church History LIbrary.


Hi Nancy,
Yes, always 'check it out' always look at the original source. Thanks for stopping by.