Tuesday, February 8, 2011
My Grandmother's Funeral
The boy is Billie June Luke and the woman is Mary Agnes (Leemon) Luke. They are the son and mother of Marguerite Murphy (Luke) Treme, the person just buried. Marguerite was my grandmother. You can find Marguerite on Find A Grave (47660066).
This poignant photo was taken by Lillie May Luke, Marguerite's older sister and a shutter bug. My aunt had Brownie camera and she snapped pictures constantly.
Great aunt Lillie is part of the reason that I started doing family research. She was always interested. I had a casual interest until a distant cousin sent me a box filled with my aunt's memorabilia, including a "My Family" book in which my aunt had made numerous entries. My aunt's book gave me a jump start on putting together a family tree that includes more than 1,000 people on the McKee line alone.
Billie, my uncle, was the oldest of Marguerite's three children. The other two children were Joy Treme and James Treme, my father.
The widowed Mary Agnes raised her grandson after the death of his mother. Billie was born out of wedlock and Mary Agnes seems to have been the only person willing to take him in. It was 1932, Depression Era, and based on a few saved letters, Billie and Mary Agnes live lives of quite desperation. Billie had his first after school job at age 8. He was told he would have to earn his way in the world and that he did.
Billie joined the Navy at 18, well into World War II. He was justifiably proud of his service. He was the recipient of several awards and medals.
From this rough start, Billie ended up a very successful person. He worked in the aircraft industry in California, and did quite well. Somewhere along the way he learned to play a guitar and was in a band. He was good enough that he did a bit of studio work.
Billie never had any children of his own. He seems to have been far too wounded by his early years. He grew up at a time when society judged and nobody let him forget the circumstances of your birth.
Speaking for myself, I never cared about the circumstances of Billie's birth. I loved him for who he was...wounds, warts, and all.