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Posts Tagged ‘thomas fuller’

A Brief Social History of 20th Century America, As Told By Porches

February 27th, 2013 Sears Homes 3 comments

When you cut a tree down, you can learn a lot about local history by examining its exposed trunk. How many rings does it have? How old is the tree? During which years did the area experience a drought?

By studying America’s early architecture, you can learn a lot about life in that time period. For instance, in the early 1900s, why did the Victorian Manse fall from favor so fast? Why did the diminutive bungalow gain ground so fast?

What ignited The Bungalow Craze?

The germ theory.

In the late 1800s, about one in five children died before their 18th birthday. Parents were desperate to do anything to protect their children’s health. When it was discovered that “germs” were the culprit and that sanitation was the cure, people couldn’t get out of those big houses fast enough. It’s a fascinating topic, and to learn more about this one slice of American architectural history, click here.

Porches also tell a story about the social fabric in early 20th Century America.

In the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, we loved our front porches, and by design, they were intended to “woo and welcome the weary wanderer.”

Men, women and children passed many happy hours on the oversized front porch, and it was an open invitation for folks to drop by a “set a spell” (as we say in the south).

In pre-air conditioning days, the front porch also provided a welcome respite from the summer heat.

Last but not least, there were the salutary effects of fresh air. Primitive heating systems (usually fired by coal) had no filtration, and were probably partly to blame for the fact that so many children suffered from pulmonary diseases.

And there was a body of belief that fresh air was a cure for so many diseases. Being “cooped up” in an unevenly heated, often drafty old house was a recipe for disease, according to the prevailing thought of the day. In the early 1900s, a daily dose of fresh air was akin to today’s fascination with vitamins and herbal remedies.  (In the 1920s, “sleeping porches” became the rage for this very reason.)

And we were a society of walkers. Most communities were full of walkers, on their daily rounds. Without modern refrigeration, excursions to the butcher, the grocer, the baker and the general store were daily events.

And if you passed by The Thornton Home on Thornrose Avenue and saw Rose sitting in her wicker swing on the front porch, it was de rigueur to walk up to (but not on) the front steps and say hello. If Rosemary was in a fittin’ mood, she’d invite you to “set down for a bit and rest a spell.”

Front porches were a significant piece of our social construct in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

When houses got smaller, so did the front porch. By the 1910s, they were significantly downsized. And by 1920, a funny thing happened on the way to the wicker swing. The porch got moved to the side of the house. We still wanted to be part of the community, but we also wanted our privacy, and some alone time with our loved ones.

And in the 1950s, the porch moved again - to the back of the house. After making the commute back home from the foundry or the mill or the Skippy Peanut Butter Plant, we wanted to relax and put our feet up and enjoy our own little oasis in the back yard, away from the madding world. If someone wanted to drop by, they’d darn well better call first, and if they just showed up at the door, we could ignore them, and remain safely ensconced (and hidden) on the back of the house.

As I said, it’s a fascinating thumbnail sketch of American society.

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Aunties home

My great Aunt (Addie Hoyt) lived in this classic Victorian home, which was extensively remodeled (completely rebuilt) in 1895. Note the massive front porch, replete with three hammocks hanging from the porch posts. This photo as taken about 1899 or 1900.

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close up

Here's a close-up of those three hammocks. Very inviting!

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auntie poker

Front porches were very inviting - by design - and also became kind of an "outdoor den" and social center. Here is Addie (facing the camera) playing poker with an unidentified woman friend on the front porch of her home. She captioned this photo, "We have a real kitty for the kitty!"

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contemporary shows off porch

A contemporary view of Addie's home (2012). This photo really shows off those amazing porches. The second floor porches facing the street were sometimes known as "Parade Porches." This house has two second-floor porches. BTW, this house is now a famous Wisconsin landmark, and it's also a B&B. It's known as the Fargo Mansion Inn. Look below for a link to the site.

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1920sw

In 1957, my parents moved into this house at 515 Nansemond Street (Waterview) in Portsmouth, Virginia. It was built in 1924, and you can see the open porch is now on the side of the house. By the early 1920s, porches had migrated to the side, giving the homeowner a little privacy.

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side porch

My parents loved this house, and they captured a picture that really showcases the idea of the "private oasis" and the side porch. This house was in the suburbs (of the time), and not many people were likely to be walking down the street (compared to downtown districts), and yet we still wanted a bit of privacy from the world. Between the long awnings and the tall shrubs, it's hard to see much of anything on that porch, and that was probably by design.

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house house

Close-up of the side porch. In the late1950s, my mother stepped out to her beloved side porch one summer evening and saw a bat hanging upside down in the corner. The next week, a contractor was at the house, screening in Mother's porch. She dearly loved that screened-in porch and spent many happy hours there, looking out at the side yard.

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front porch shelter rain

By 1925, front porches were a place to stand for a moment, sheltered from the elements, while you dug out your house keys. Or in this case, pose for an Easter photo (1957). My brother Tommy stands on the left, with Rickey on the right.

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house house

By the 1950s, porches had migrated to the back of the house. After a hard day at the office, we wanted our privacy and we didn't want to share our quiet time with strollers meandering down the street. There were new social rules. Visitors were by invitation only, and if someone decided to drop by (without calling ahead), we could hide safely in the back of the house. This house (my house) was built in 1962. The porch on the back is invisible from neighbors on either side. When built, this was a screened-in porch with a cement floor. In 1979, the windows were installed, and the 12x14' room became a sunporch. We purchased the home in 2012, and did a few more improvements to the room (some repairs and the installation wall-to-wall carpet). This is now the place where we spend 95% of our time.

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house house

Even before proper porches, people tended to congregate in the front of the "old home place." This is a soddie ("the first house") in Dighton, Kansas. It was made of sod - literally.

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To learn more about Addie, click here.

To stay at Addie’s home, click here.

To read more about Rose’s much-loved mid-century brick ranch, click here.

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One Year Ago Today…

June 10th, 2012 Sears Homes 3 comments

One year ago today (June 10th), I sat at my father’s bedside, held his 91-year-old hand in mine and told him, “I love you. I forgive you. And I release you.”

We were alone in that tiny room at the assisted living facility (my husband, my father and I), and yet we were in the company of “too many angels to count.”

It was a holy, spiritual moment that I will never forget.

As I said at his eulogy on June 20th, 2011, “my father came into this world surrounded by love, and 91 years later he stepped out of this world, again surrounded and embraced by love. It was a good ending.”

To read more about Thomas H. Fuller, click here.

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My father in 2003, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

My father in 2003, in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was 84 years old here.

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About 1977, shown with his twin brother, Ed.

About 1977, shown with his twin brother, Ed.

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My father shown here with his father, Edgar A. Fuller.

My father shown here with his father, Edgar A. Fuller. This picture was taken inside Edgar's home on 14th Street in Santa Monica (about 1977).

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Dog

Dad sits on the edge of Eddie's bed, trying not to upset the dog (about 1971).

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About 1964, my father

Mid-1960s, my father in Santa Monica, in front of his childhood home at 213 14th Street.

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My father loved California.

My father loved California. He's admiring the oranges in his parent's back yard.

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My father with this father.

My father with this father in 1966.

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Our family in 1966, enroute to California from Portsmouth, Virginia. My father purchased a new car for the trip, a 1957 Cadillac.

Our family in 1966, enroute to California from Portsmouth, Virginia. My father purchased a "new" car for the trip, a 1957 Cadillac. We made the 3,000-mile trek in seven days.

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About 1959

My father holding his newest offspring in Summer 1959. BTW, that's me in his lap and my brother Tom sitting beside us. The beautiful bed in the photo had been my father's bed since 1935. It was made in the 1890s and had been an Exhibition Piece at the 1894 World's Fair.

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Dad

My father was always very photogenic. I always had a very large forehead that caught the camera's glare (about 1960).

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Ed and Father, in 1956.

Ed and Father, in 1956. They lived in Shea Terrace (Portsmouth) at the time. Check out the 1953 Pontiac in the background.

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My father was a WW2 Army Veteran.

My father was a WW2 Army Veteran. This photo was the early 1940s.

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My father at age six.

My father at age six.

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In the mid-1990s, I visited my fathers home and a friend of his answered the door. As I stood on the stoop, she stared at me - slackjawed - and didnt move. Finally, I started to push past her while asking, Everything okay? She replied, I aint never seen a daughter who looked so much like her father.

In the mid-1990s, I visited my father's home and a friend of his answered the door. As I stood on the stoop, she stared at me - slackjawed - and didn't move. Finally, I started to push past her while asking, "Everything okay?" She replied, "I ain't never seen a daughter who looked so much like her father. You look just like him." A little disconcerting for a 30-something woman to be told she's the twin of her 70-something father. And yet, this photo of my father from 1922 really showcases that. This could have been a photo of me.

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Baby

My father and his twin brother in 1919. My grandmother captioned this photo with "Whenever Junior (right side) and Thomas (left) are together, Junior reaches out and takes Thomas' little hand." It was this photo that enabled me to forgive my father. Seeing his innate, God-given child-like innocence opened "the eyes of my eyes" and healed my heart.

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My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

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As I told my father in the last days of his life, he was not always part of my life, but I never stopped loving him.

And I never will.

To read more about “Innocence Rediscovered,” click here.

The Fargo Mansion: A Glimpse Into Another Time

July 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 5 comments

This 1890s photo album was discovered amongst my late father’s treasures and it’s filled with amazing photos.  At first, I had no idea who these people were, but after some digging, I learned these were photos my great Aunt Addie, sister of my great-grandmother. They’re beautiful photos with an amazing bit of detail.

To see a cluster of amazing photos from another time, scroll on down.

To learn more about Addie’s murder, click here.

Please leave a comment if you enjoy the photos!  Thanks to Brice Anderson for running up to Lake Mills, Wisconsin to snap a few photos of the old home place.  All color photos are courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in with her new husband, Enoch Fargo.  Enoch was 22 years older than Addie.

The Fargo Mansion in 1896, soon after my Great, Great Aunt Addie moved in with her new husband, Enoch Fargo. Enoch was 22 years older than Addie.

Addie in front of the Fargo Mansion.

Addie in front of the Fargo Mansion.

The fam

The fam sits on the front step of the Fargo Mansion. Addie is on the lower left, with Enoch seated above her. Elsie (born 1876) is on the upper right and Mattie (born 1884) is on the lower right. Elsie was a scant four years younger than her new step-mother, Addie.

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Contemporary photo of those same steps. The old steps have sunk into the ground a bit. For reasons I don't fully seem able to explain, this photo seems especially haunting. This photo is also courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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Addie should have taken her little traveling suit and bag and made a run for it. In 1901, Enoch shot Addie in the head as she lay sleeping in her bed.

Daughter Elsie beside the stone steps.

Daughter Elsie beside the stone steps.

Interior shots of the mansion. This is the music room.

The music room inside the Fargo Mansion. I believe this is Mattie (seated with book), Addie at the piano and Elsie standing (far right).

This is a shot from the foyer looking into the music room. If you look closely, youll see a guitar in the background.

This is a shot from the foyer looking into the music room. If you look closely, you'll see a guitar in the background.

Close-up

Addie was a beautiful young woman, but this is a not-so-beautiful chair. It has faces on the arms and back.

Addie in her wedding gown?

Addie in her wedding gown.

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My favorite photo of all.

My favorite photo of all. I love the detail and the beauty and the opulence. This was Addie in her bedroom - where she was shot by her not-so-loving husband.

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Close-up of the bed.

Happier times at the Fargo Mansion

Happier times at the Fargo Mansion

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Addie stands in a bower of flowers on the grounds of the Fargo Mansion.

The Fargo Mansion today (or yesterday, actually).

The Fargo Mansion today (or yesterday, actually). This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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Fargo Mansion in Lake Mills. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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This grandiose Victorian manse was built in 1881. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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View from the street. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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The porch of the Fargo Mansion. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

Mattie

Addie sits with someone (Elsie?) on the front porch of the house. The original fretwork and railings are still evident in the contemporary picture (above).

Maddie

Maddie (shown above) was Enoch's third wife. He married Maddie seven months after Addie Hoyt's death. If I were Maddie, I would have slept with one eye open. Maddie was said to be a frequent overnight guest at the Fargo Mansion.

Addie in front of the house

Addie standing in the home's side yard.

Tall tower

Tall tower of the Fargo Mansion. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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Porte Cochere on the Fargo Mansion. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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A view of the home's rear. This photo is courtesy of Brice Anderson (copyright 2011) and can not be reproduced or used without written permission.

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Addie, the papers dutifully recorded, died within 24 hours of her "sickness." In the end, it was lead poisoning that did in Addie, delivered via a revolver at close range.

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Addie Hoyt and Enoch Fargo on their wedding day, 1896.

To learn about my suspicions that Addie suffered from arsenic poisoning, click here.

To read about Addie’s death and hasty burial, click here.

If you’ve any information to share, please leave a comment below.

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Was Aunt Addie Poisoned With Arsenic?

July 9th, 2011 Sears Homes 12 comments

Was Addie poisoned by her husband, Enoch Fargo?

Her remains are in Milwaukee being autopsied, and we’ll soon know for sure.

My Favorite Father Story

June 18th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Several years ago, when my father was in his mid-80s, we visited an attorney and had some legal papers drawn up. Before signing the documents, the attorney talked about the need to confirm that my father was “of sound mind.”

My father was of sound mind, but he was a little deaf. Repeating the attorney’s question, I said (loudly and slowly), “Dad, he wants to know that you’re of sound mind.”

“Okay,” he replied. “What do you want me to do?”

“Spell ‘lugubrious,’” I said, and then paused before adding the challenge.

“Backwards.”

My father grinned from ear to ear. This was easy for him.

In less than three seconds, he rattled off the letters as if he was reading it from a paper.

“S-U-O-I-R-B-U-G-U-L.”

The attorney put his pen down for a moment and looked astonished.

“I’m quite sure I couldn’t spell that word forwards, and I know I couldn’t do it backwards. Heck, I’m not even sure what it means.”

My father was on a roll.

“Lugubrious,” he said purposefully, “Sad, dismal or mournful, sometimes to an exaggerated degree.”

My father, who helped fuel my love affair with words, had the most expansive vocabulary of anyone I’ve ever known. And in his 85th year, his vocabulary was so well established in his mind, he could rattle it off backwards and forwards. Literally.

My father in 1961 with my beloved mother.

My father in 1961 with my beloved mother.

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Eddie sits on the arm of the big old chair, while I have the coveted spot - my father's lap.


Click here to read a non-lugubrious story.

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“Where’s My Little Shoe?”

June 15th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Those last two weeks, when I knew that my father was getting close to the end, I’d visit him every morning and every evening. He was sleeping 22+ hours a day at this point, only awakening for a few minutes when someone was speaking to him.

In the morning, I’d arrive early and sit with him and talk to him for a few minutes. I’d put my arm around his shoulder and tell him that everything was going to be okay. He was a little agitated at times, and worried about so many things. I told him that I was taking care of everything, and that there was nothing he needed to worry about.

He’d frequently tell me, “I don’t know what I’d do without you and Wayne.”

In the evenings, I’d arrive around 7 pm and sit by the bed and turn on a night light and fix his blankets and turn up the heat (per his request).  Our evening ritual could best be described as me “tucking him into bed.” Tuesday evening, four days before he passed on, I visited him and he was very worried.

The first words out of his mouth were, “Where’s my little shoe?”

I knew exactly what he was talking about. About three months earlier, he’d sent me to the store to get him a tape dispenser. At Office Depot, I was looking for a boring old beige dispenser when my eyes lighted upon a bright red high-heel shoe tape dispenser. The moment I showed it to him, his eyes lit up and he laughed out loud.

“Oh that’s great!” he exclaimed. “I like that.”

For the rest of his days, he kept it right beside him. And when the nurses came into his room to clean up and put things away, he’d always dig out that little red shoe and put it back on his favorite end table, beside his favorite chair.

At the end, he was bedridden and it was Tuesday night that he asked about his “little shoe.”

“Dad,” I told him, “it’s in a small box under the end table where the nurse put it. I can see it right now. Do you want me to put it on your dresser so you can see it?”

“No,” he replied. “As long as I know where it is.”

Throughout Wednesday, I stayed with him, leaving at 6:30 pm when a freshly hired private duty nurse came in to sit with him. It was not a good day for him. Thursday, I was with him throughout the day. He was more comfortable and happy, but no longer in his right mind. He lost consciousness Thursday evening and passed Friday morning at 2:25 am.

Monday night, as I was cleaning out his apartment, I happened upon that little red shoe and tears filled my eyes.

Even though I have plenty of tape dispensers, I couldn’t bear to put his “little shoe” in the give-away pile. I dropped it into a box and brought it home with me. And I’m not even sure why.

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The little red shoe.

My father as seen in 1972. When I think of my father, this is how I remember him.

When I think of "my father," this is how I remember him. (photo taken in 1972)

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Rediscovering Innocence

June 12th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

June 10th (Friday) at 2:25 am, my father passed on. He was three days shy of his 92nd birthday. I was with him those last few days, and thanks be to God, it was a peaceful ending. The blog below was written in October 2010, soon after he was moved into assisted living. Today, I’m so grateful that I was enabled to glimpse his inherent, God-given innocence. Because of that, I was able to comfort him at the end, and tell him that I loved him, and that I forgave him, and that he could go in peace. Two days before he passed, he told me that his parents had come to talk with him, and prepare him for his new life. I found that immensely comforting.

I’ve made a few poor choices in this life, but I’m thankful to see that now - in retrospect - I can lay my head on my pillow at night with no regrets as to the way I handled my father’s last years, weeks, and even days.

To God be the glory.

In June 2010, my 91-year-old father moved into assisted living. It’s been a flurry of activity, closing up his house, moving him to a new place, getting things settled, and dealing with the 101 details of his life. As his POA, the details seem to be endless.

Making all this ever more difficult is the fact that my father made many poor choices in life, such as walking out on his family in 1974. Suffice it to say, “Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves” was one of the most important books I ever read.

In 2001, after my father’s second wife died, my father reentered my life bit by bit. He was 82 years old.

Now he’s 91, and old and frail and needs a lot of help on a lot of fronts. Sometimes, despite my daily prayers and best efforts and dogged determination, there are days when I still feel angry with him.

When we were cleaning out his house, we found a baby book - his baby book - from 1919. I’d expected to find a few loose photos stuck within its brittled pages. Instead, I found an incredibly detailed record of a little boy’s life from June 1919 to sometime in 1926. The “baby book” was filled with vintage photos and detailed information and stories and even a locket of baby’s hair, safely ensconced in a tiny envelope with a delicate blue ribbon.

Looking at the handwritten notes, I saw my father in a new light. More than 90 years ago, he was someone’s beloved baby boy. This cute little baby, smiling back at me from the faded-pages of an antique book, warmed my heart and softened the wrath I’d felt.

I’ve heard it said that the kindest thing we can do for our heavenly Father is to be kind to his children. It occurs to me that - in addition to the divine command - perhaps the kindest thing I can do for my paternal grandparents is to be kind to their youngest son, their beloved little boy, Thomas.

Baby Boys in 1919

My father was a twin, born ten minutes after his brother "Junior." Here's their picture from Fall 1919. The caption (written by my grandmother) said, "In their buggy, Junior always reaches out to hold Thomas' little hand."

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"Junior" and Thomas at the park. Apparently, Thomas doesn't like the fact that Junior (left) has a toy and Thomas does not. Thomas is so rattled, he's on the verge of falling over.

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Thomas (left) and Edgar with their maternal grandparents, the Whitmores.

January 1920

January 1, 1920. Junior is on the left, Thomas on the right.

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Edward Atkinson Fuller Junior (left) and Thomas Hoyt Fuller (right)

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Not sure who's attending to the babies, but I'd guess it's Mother (Florence).

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A wicker basket built for two!

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A day at the park, July 1920. Edgar is on the left.

Boys

Somewhere in Denver, this photo shows the boys with their grandparents, but I wish I knew more.

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Thomas and Junior (front and rear) with their maternal grandparents, the Whitmores. Thomas is ready to get this tub on the road!

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Thomas (left) and Edgar about at about two years old.

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Awesome necklace

The Muscle Twins at Santa Monica Beach.

The Muscle Twins at Santa Monica Beach.

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Junior (Ed) on left, Mom (Florence Whitmore Fuller) and Thomas.

Thomas with his horsie

Thomas with his horsie

Being Californians, I guess Mother decided the boys needed private art lessons. I love the little berets on their heads.

Being Californians, I guess Mother decided the boys needed private art lessons. I love the little berets on their heads. This was from 1926, and the teacher is Mrs. Betts.

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Thomas is on the right. Edgar is holding "Stripes" (April 1926).

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Thomas (left) and Edgar (Jr) in first grade in Los Angeles. This was a panoramic class photo, whittled down to the two boys. When I showed this picture to my father, he said they put a band around his head to keep his out-of-control thick hair in place.

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children.

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children. He had a tremendous physique and at 6'4" he was a commanding presence. In the late 1930s, he was a founding member of Muscle Beach on the Santa Monica shore. He and his twin brother worked out each morning on the beach. One morning when they appeared, one of the lifeguards yelled out, "Here come the Muscle Twins!" It was a name that stuck, and soon they became widely known as "The Muscle Twins." As friends started to join them for the morning workouts, locals dubbed the area "Muscle Beach."

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

My father in 2007, at my wedding. He was 87 years old here. Photo is copyright Dave Chance and can not be used without written permission.

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May God Bless Him and Keep Him

June 10th, 2011 Sears Homes 2 comments

He was not always in my life, but I always loved him just as any little girl loves her father. May he rest in peace.

Thomas H. Fuller, Sr., of Portsmouth, Virginia, passed on June 10, 2011 at the age of 91. He had suffered a stroke in June 2010, and moved from his residence to an assisted living facility, under strong, strident and consistent protest.

Mr. Fuller was born in Denver, Colorado on June 13, 1919, to Edgar A. and Florence W. Fuller.  At the age of four, he and his twin brother Edgar A. Fuller, Jr., moved with their parents to Santa Monica, California, where they grew up.  Mr. Fuller was a graduate of UCLA, and a founding member of Muscle Beach on the Santa Monica shore. He and his twin brother worked out each morning on the beach and soon became known as “The Muscle Twins,” and as friends started to join them for their morning workouts, local residents dubbed the area “Muscle Beach.”

Mr. Fuller enlisted in the United States Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was a combat soldier in the European theater.   As a member of General Patton’s Third Army, he was in a number of battles now distinguished in history.   One of his favorite memories was entering Paris in his combat fatigues,  having left the battlefield only hours before making a trip into the liberated City of Lights.

Returning stateside, he married Betty Mae Brown, a Navy Lieutenant, of San Francisco, Ca.  He worked for Skippy Peanut Butter in Alameda, California, and in 1953 moved his family to Portsmouth, Virginia to manage the Skippy plant located at Confederate and High Streets.  He was active in the Portsmouth PTA, Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, and several other civic organizations.

He is predeceased by his wife of 28 years, Betty Brown Fuller. Survivors include their four children, Mrs. Rosemary Fuller Ringer (Wayne), of Norfolk, VA, Dr. Thomas H. Fuller, Jr. (Sue), of Elsah, IL, Mr. Richard B. Fuller (Margie) of Pickens, SC., and Dr. Edward E. Fuller, Sr. (Kathy), of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also survived by his twin brother, Edgar A. Fuller, Jr., of Rolling Hill Estates, CA.

Tom Fuller is also survived by ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for Monday, June 20th at 11:00 at Monumental Methodist Church in Portsmouth. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Portsmouth Humane Society, 2704 Frederick Blvd, Portsmouth, VA 23704.

Dad with Tommy and Rickey, mid-1950s

Dad with Tommy and Rickey, mid-1950s

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Left to right is Rose (me), Dad, Rick, Tommy and Eddie at Hoover Dam (1966).

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My father (right) with his father, in Santa Monica.

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Eddie (far left), Rick, Dad, Rose, Dolly, and Mom.

My father and my brothers at the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco, about 1966.

My father and my brothers (Rick and Ed) at the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco, about 1966.

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Rediscovering Innocence

October 11th, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

On June 10, 2011, my 91-year-old father passed on. Almost to the day - one year prior - we’d moved him into an assisted living facility. This blog (below) was written soon after that event.

In June 2010, my 91-year-old father moved into assisted living. It’s been a flurry of activity, closing up his house, moving him to a new place, getting things settled, and dealing with the 101 details of his life. As his POA, the details seem to be endless.

Making all this ever more difficult is the fact that my father made many poor choices in life, such as walking out on my mother and me in 1974. I could go on, but I won’t. Suffice it to say, Forgiving our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves was one of the best books I ever read. I highly recommend it.

In 2001, after my father’s second wife died, my father reentered my life bit by bit. He was 82 years old.

Now he’s 91, and old and frail and needs a lot of help on a lot of fronts. Sometimes, despite my daily prayers and best efforts and dogged determination, there are days when I still feel angry with him.

When we were cleaning out his house, we found a baby book - his baby book - from 1919.  I’d expected to find a few loose photos stuck within its brittled pages. Instead, I found an incredibly detailed record of a little boy’s life from June  1919 to sometime in 1926.  The “baby book” was filled with vintage photos and detailed information and stories and even a locket of baby’s hair, safely ensconced in a tiny envelope with a delicate blue ribbon.

Looking at the handwritten notes, I saw my father in a new light. More than 90 years ago, he was someone’s beloved baby boy. This cute little baby, smiling back at me from the faded-pages of an antique book, warmed my heart and softened the wrath I’d felt.

I’ve heard it said that the kindest thing we can do for our heavenly Father is to be kind to his children. It occurs to me that - in addition to the divine command - perhaps the kindest thing I can do for my paternal grandparents is to be kind to their youngest son, their beloved little boy, Thomas.

Baby Boys in 1919

My father was a twin, born ten minutes after his brother "Junior." Here's their picture from Fall 1919. The caption (written by my grandmother) said, "In their buggy, Junior always reaches out to hold Thomas' little hand."

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"Junior" and Thomas at the park. Apparently, Thomas doesn't like the fact that Junior (left) has a toy and Thomas does not. Thomas is so rattled, he's on the verge of falling over.

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Thomas and Junior (front and rear) with their maternal grandparents, the Whitmores.

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Edward Atkinson Fuller Junior (left) and Thomas Hoyt Fuller (right)

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A wicker basket built for two!

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Awesome necklace

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Junior (Ed) on left, Mom (Florence Whitmore Fuller) and Thomas.

Thomas with his horsie

Thomas with his horsie

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children.

My father in the early 1950s with two of his four children.

Dad

August 31st, 2010 Sears Homes No comments

Despite my personal commitment to post something at this blog each day, I’ve fallen short. In June, we moved my elderly father (91 and counting), into an assisted living facility here in Portsmouth. I’d hoped that ONCE he got into assisted living, my troubles would cease. I was wrong. Nearly every day, there’s something to be done, or someone to be called, or paperwork to tend to. It’s a lot to deal with.

In 1974, my father left my life for several decades. I didn’t re-enter his life in any significant way until 2000, when his second wife passed on. When I think of my father, I think of him as I remember him as he looked in the late 60s and early 70s. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Dad with Tommy and Rickey, mid-1950s

Dad with Tommy and Rickey, mid-1950s

My father and my brothers at the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco, about 1966.

My father and my brothers (Rick and Ed) at the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco, about 1966.