Mila Jean's First Seventeen: 1932-1949

For someone who would have lifelong wanderlust of body and spirit, Mila Jean Smith Ehrlich—unlike her parents, her sisters, her husband, her in-laws, and her two sons—never resided more than six miles from her birthplace.  Which was the Wesley Hospital at 926 East 11th Street, on the northwest corner of 11th and Harrison in Kansas City, Missouri.

Her father, Francis See Smith (F.S. or Frank), came to KCMO from Dayton in the spring of 1913, escaping from the Great Easter Flood ("Second Only to Noah's") that had devastated much of Ohio.  He joined his father, Herbert Gustavus Smith (H.G. or Gus) and stepmother Cora, who'd left Urbana OH for KCMO the previous year.  In May, having just turned seventeen,  Frank got an office job with the American Radiator Company and remained there for nearly thirty years, eventually serving as chief clerk and paymaster.  The plant's longtime staff physician, Dr. W. Connelly Anderson, delivered the first two Smith daughters: Mellie Agnes in 1918 and Corinne Doris (Connie) in 1924.  After their mother Katherine succumbed to hopeless illness in 1926, Frank was obliged to give up the family home and send the girls to stay with relatives in Ohio, himself maintaining a boardinghouse existence for a bleak stretch that would seldom be referred to in future.

Then into his life came Ada Louise Ludeke, a protegée of Frank's older sister Mellie Morris Smith ("the original Aunt Mellie") and a star flapper/athlete at Miami University in Oxford OH.  Graduating in 1929, Ada Louise—known to friends as "Ick," her childhood abbreviation of Ludeke—embarked on a career as social worker, but set it aside seven months later to elope by train to KCMO (arriving in one of its more memorable blizzards).  She and F.S. married in Jan. 1930 and settled into the Emerson Apartment Hotel at 2017 E. Linwood Boulevard, where they were joined in June by young Mellie and Connie.

A third child, expected in May 1932, was intended to be The Boy: Robert Burns Smith, Robert for Ada Louise's beloved Uncle Bob Ludeke and Burns for Frank's mother's family, who had a tradition of descent from or at least connection to Robert Burns the Poet.  (A tradition that I, while researching Fine Lineage, would regretfully have to scotch.)

Not till the last minute, as Frank and Ada were getting in the car to go to Wesley Hospital, did "Mom" turn to "Daddy" and ask—what name if it's a girl?  Which is what she turned out to be, at 2:20 a.m. on Thursday May 12th: Mila Jean Smith, Mila for Frank's mother's first name and Jean for the name Ada Louise wished had been given to her instead of "Ada."

Despite her youth and athletic background, Ada Louise had gone through an arduous pregnancy complicated by severe anemia, followed by a traumatic touch-and-go labor and delivery—attended once again by Doc Anderson.  (Mila Jean, on at least one occasion, would attribute her lack of mechanical aptitude to being born with an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.)  For Ada there'd be no repeat performance; yet Frank, vastly relieved by the successful outcome, assured the newborn's mother and sisters that it was perfectly all right with him to have another daughter. "The girls were disappointed it was not a boy," Ada Louise said, "but I explained that she could not be exchanged."

Daughter Number Three would always be called Jeanie by her family, and not fully realize her first name was Mila till seeing her birth certificate for the first time.  On May 14th Herbert Gustavus Smith wrote a note (with his left hand, the right having been rendered useless by a stroke):

My dear little granddaughter: congratulations on your safe arrival after such a stormy passage.  I trust you will be yourself again after a short rest.  Don't fail to let your parents know you are here.  Let your mother hear from you quite often—let me know when you can come as I am very anxious to see you—now be a good little girl.  You certainly chose a delightful time of year for your debut.  Tell your mother you did the best you could to arrive on time.  Be good and write soon.  Love lots of it.  Grandfather

Dear Icknow I want you to be kind to your little daughter.  Treat her nice even if weather is warm.  I trust you had a pleasant time and experienced much pleasure meeting your daughter.  I congratulate you both on the happy denouement.  Convey to Francis my very best wishes for the happy event ending so well....  Tell the girls [Mellie and Connie] they must be good and set a good example for little Roberta [sic].  Sincere best wishes.  Dad

A few weeks later Jeanie got her inaugural taste of long-distance travel when she was taken on the first of ten consecutive summer vacations to Ohio.  Her mother would recall:

We packed a trunk to be sent ahead by rail, and later we left in our car driving to St. Louis.  We boarded a train there, but F.S.S. had to return to Kansas City for his job, and also to hunt a house for later occupancy. Fortunately we had no problems on the train, and [Aunt] Mellie met us in Richmond, Indiana with her car. Later in the day we drove to Hamilton, Ohio and visited there for a short time.  We had plenty of room there, the girls in one bedroom and the baby and myself in another.  She used the old cradle that my Grandma had used for her children.

As soon as the trunk arrived, I distributed clothing and possessions to Connie, [young] Mellie and myself. Ora and Mame drove down from Dayton for an extended visit.  Later, I drove Uncle Bob's car to Springfield to leave Mellie with Dad Smith and Cora, for her visit with them.  Aunt Frieda and Jeanie went along also.  For the rest of that summer I rested, ate too much good German food, and was proud to introduce the new baby to my relatives and friends.

Mila Jean would remember most of these relatives as being very kind to her, but also very old—not least her Great-Great-Great-Aunt Annie Koeppendoerfer, whom she'd later memorialize in a flowery high school essay.  Two other relatives would be singled out for particular tribute: Aunt Mol and Uncle Bob.

The original Mellie Smith ("Mol" to Mila Jean) was a librarian and Assistant Dean of Women at Miami University, where she'd met Ada Louise in 1926.  As the house mother of West Hall dormitory, she "handled many problems there with diplomacy.  She was strict usually, gaining the title of 'Library Bouncer.'  She was usually very calm and quiet, but a temper erupted every once in awhile"—as was also true of her brother Frank and their father Gus.  Mol, like Ada Louise, had lost her mother at an early age and been raised by aunts; she became a mentor, cherished friend, and occasional matchmaker for the young co-ed, who would say "Bless her, she finally accomplished her goal by introducing me to her brother."

For Jeanie it was always a big treat to visit Mol in Oxford, and a bigger treat when Mol would come to Kansas City, getting off the train "like Marion Lorne" toting paper sacks full of interesting things (which made Frank exclaim "Oh Sis!  What have you done now?)"  As a librarian, Mol was a great giver of books; at other present-giving times the postman would bring Jeanie "mysterious-looking packages" that contained coordinated outfits.

Aunt Mol, always a "creative" driver, earned a reputation for causing many minor accidents.  As Ada Louise recalled:

Someone told me, "When we hear broken glass, we usually see Miss Smith involved"...  She seemed to collect tickets from different cities...  In Urbana one Saturday a.m., [Mol,] Aunt Alice [Earsom], and Jeanie drove downtown to shop.  [Mol] couldn't find anyplace to park, so just chose an empty spot.  When they returned to the car a half hour later, a ticket was behind the windshield wiper, informing [Mol] she had parked in a No Parking Zone, and please appear at City Hall.  They did, and [Mol] vented her anger to anyone nearby.  She had to pay a fine naturally, but when they entered [Aunt Alice's] home, Jeanie announced, "Guess where we all were?  In Jail, and it was fun."  She was wearing Aunt Alice's large-brimmed blue straw hat, and it was plain to see she was the only happy one in the group.

Jeanie would also find happiness in fields where Uncle Bob Ludeke had paved the anticipatory way, as also recalled by Ada Louise:

He was interested in the stage: dancing, acting, music—but it was necessary for him to always be employed (was Secretary-Treasurer of Miami Foundry Co. in Hamilton many years and eventually moved to Miamisburg [near Dayton] to help support his Mother)...  He was extremely talented and appeared in all the local amateur productions.  The thrill of my life as a child was being able to watch my Uncle Bob on the stage—dancing and/or acting.  He bought a piano and self-taught himself to play it.  Enjoyed the social life, was the only family member to wear a tuxedo [and an opera cape], had many friends, attended all sorts of delightful functions.

But Bob was struck by the influenza pandemic in 1918-19, developing encephalitis that left him paralyzed for a long while and handicapped for the rest of his life:

His progress was slow—having to learn to talk, walk, use hands—absolutely all functions all over again!  His sunny disposition—patience—and determination pulled him through.  His speech was never fully recovered and he walked very slowly—but he was 'gutsy' enough to return to work (even having to ride the old Traction car twice a day—to and from Hamilton and Miamisburg).  For some unknown reason he adored me and the feeling was mutual!  When baby Jeanie arrived—his cup 'really runneth over!!!'

Jeanie would remember Bob's house in Hamilton as always being full of gifts and fun and Major Bowes's Amateur Hour.  "Always cheerful, [he] bore his affliction with optimism and good nature."

Ada Louise was endowed with these resources, needing both to cope with the dog days of 1932; neither she nor daughter Jeanie ever basked in late-summer weather, then or afterward.  "F.S.S. returned to Ohio in August, and after two weeks's visit with all of the relatives, we collected Mellie, Connie, Jeanie, more possessions, and on a beastly hot day headed west to acquire our new home [in KCMO], which F.S. had rented and partially furnished."

Having outgrown their apartment at the Emerson, the Smiths moved into 3908 College: the fourth house from the southwest corner of East 39th Street and College Avenue.  As described by Ada Louise:

The old 3908 neighborhood was heavenly—typically 'middle life America' at that particular time—everyone about on the same financial level...  In our block everybody knew everybody else—majority were Protestants —Jews, Catholics, all together—no frictions whatever.  We had our own little 'Town' at 39th and Indiana: 'Crown Drug Store'—cleaners and barber shop and beauty shop in back—a grocery and butcher shop—'dry goods store' (owned by a darling Jewish man, Mr. Morris Feder, selling a world of things), hardware store (with a plumber's office, so he could be contacted anytime)—shoe patcher—and last, but certainly not least—Joe's Hamburger Shop—Ha!  Churches close by and Oak Park Theatre—39th and Prospect!!  Transportation from three public service lines.  As a family, we had no problems during the Depression since F.S.S. had a steady job—he was a good manager and I had learned to 'MAKE DO' from Grandma—so the paycheck stretched to pay all bills.

"This was a nice neighborhood to grow up in," young Mellie would agree:

No one had much—but everyone I knew had parents where the father had some type of job.  We never had lots of material things as families do today, but we never wanted for anything.  I received 75¢ a week allowance.  I knew it had to buy my school lunch, incidental school supplies, any shows, trips downtown, and lunch.  So when my friends and I knew of something good coming to the vaudeville show, we ate lunch every other day (a plate of dressing and gravy—5¢) so we could pay to get in the show, buy a peanut butter sandwich and cake at Boppart's (next to Midland) and live it up!  The Saturday Matinees were great!

"Yes!  She was always crazy about JAZZ and still is," Ada Louise would concur:

Saving nickels and dimes from her small weekly allowance, she would finally have enough to go downtown to hear visiting Jazz Bands appearing in local movie houses—Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, etc. etc. etc.  So many [at] 'The [Midland] Theatre' I recall!!  Guess this was O.K. with Pa Smith—since several girls went together to the movie, then heard the Jazz entertainment during intermissions.  [But] she told me about riding through the 'Red Light district' one night—the girls hiding under a blanket in the back seat, and the boys (some more of her crazy High School friends) in the front seat, being invited 'up' by the 'Happy Hookers' at windows—you can be sure we did NOT tell this to F.S.S.—Ha! 

Mila Jean would add: "Daddy would have DIED!"

Eight decades later Jeanie would still very much be Mellie's baby sister, and Mellie would remain Jeanie's role-model hero.  A free-spirited girl who grew up to be a woman of fearless tenacity, she never hesitated to confront even their strong-willed father on occasion, and after one argument would strike a blow for liberty by legally changing her name from Mellie Agnes to Mildred Aileen.  "I inherited some of [his] stubborn German characteristics," Mellie admitted, "and in my adolescence we had some pretty good battles, but they always worked out."  Another incident was recalled by Ada Louise:

The time Mellie sneaked out of the house was to attend a dance at Fairyland Park...  At that time the big amusement park was a favorite place for High School kids to go.  It seems she made all arrangements to go with her friends, but failed to ask permission until the last minute... and good old F.S.S. 'lowered the boom' and told her she couldn't go.  She stormed back into the bedroom and informed Connie she was going anyway.  Removing a screen from the back window, she climbed out and left, meeting her gang in front of the house waiting for her in a car.  Natch, she was seen by F.S.S. and I imagine the return of Mellie and the welcome from F.S.S. was bad!!  Fortunately, I have blotted it out of my memory!  Ha!

3908 College would be Mila Jean's home from the age of three months until she got married at just-turned-twenty-four.  The front porch was unscreened, with a swing and glider; the first floor had a living room, bathroom, two bedrooms (one for her parents, the other for her older sisters), breakfast room, kitchen and dining room, from which steps led into a "spacious retreat," the sleeping porch (very cold in winter).  The upstairs bedroom, which Jeanie occupied till Mellie and Connie left home, had a double bed, dresser and rocking chair.  She shared these with Belinda Bear, who started out white but soon grew gray with wear and care.

By her first birthday Jeanie's vocabulary had expanded to "See?," "Pretty," "Dumb," and "Oh boy oh boy."  That Christmas her Grandpa Gus advised: "Take good care of Mila Jean during the Xmas Jollification as she will be hustling & on the move every minute you must be alert & know what she is doing."  In Sep. 1934 Jeanie attended Sunday school for the first time: "Refused to give up her penny & insisted on taking a chair home."  She acquired a pet, Myrtle the turtle, who traveled with the Smiths to Ohio and back for summer vacation (Jeanie having declared that Myrtle was a member of the family and could not be left behind).  A "Coronation Edition" story was written by Aunt Mol for her fifth birthday in 1937, noting that "on this same day, far far away across the ocean in a country called England, two little princesses are celebrating too.  But not their birthday.  They are celebrating because their Father and Mother are being crowned King and Queen of England...  Jeanie asks her Mama if she can cut out pictures of the little princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, and paste them in a book."

"I was never meant for education," Mila Jean would later claim, and indeed her kindergarten year (1937-38) was cluttered with obstacles.  Her entrance was delayed seventeen days due to polio—which, though dreaded, didn't automatically mean a ticket to Sunrise at Campobello.  Many people recovered from mild cases without resort to an iron lung; but five-year-olds like Jeanie were at the classic age for susceptibility, and even a hint of polio would have prevented her mingling with other children.  She then went on to miss the entire month of November due to whooping cough, another two weeks in January with the measles, and two more in February with the mumps.  Despite all these absences she wasn't required to repeat kindergarten, which would have added not one but two years to her educational timeline (as explained below).

In June 1938 Mila Jean received her first love letter, from Heinie the butcher at 3842 Indiana, to whom she'd sent a card from Ohio.  "Sorry you had such a heavy trip," he sympathized.  (Jeanie was also prone to car sickness.)  "Yes I guess I will keep you at the top of my list, but if you stay in Ohio over two months I'll have to demote you...  Well have a good time, and don't grow too much so I won't know you when you come back to good old K.C."

For the next six years Mila Jean attended Sanford B. Ladd Elementary School at 3640 Benton, where "we had a good time for the most part."  In first grade (1938-39, taught by Iva E. Jones) her best subject was Reading.  In second (1939-40, taught by Anna May Crooks) she dealt with influenza, impetigo, and a tonsillectomy; but also made a best friend, Dolores Ann "Dee" Glogau, who came to Jeanie's eighth birthday party along with ten other girls and Miss Crooks.  In third grade (1940-41, taught by Elizabeth Morris) Jeanie for the first time was present for every one of the school year's 200 days, and was called "a joy to have in the room."

The war years brought numerous changes and cutbacks.  American Radiator closed its Kansas City plant in 1940; Frank held on with a skeleton crew of office workers until May 1942, when "he was the last to leave and 'lock up' (a very sad experience)."  The parent company wanted to transfer Frank to Buffalo, but he'd been there on business and didn't care for the climate.  Instead he spent the next five years in charge of the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot's Personal Effects Bureau, processing belongings of deceased military personnel.  The Bureau was "extremely busy (usually worked seven days a week) always and naturally depressing work.  All effects were checked thoroughly before being sent home to Next of Kin—even to sterilizing and cleaning of all clothing (removing bloodstains etc.)."

No summer vacations to Ohio were taken in those "Is this trip necessary?" years, when gas and tires were rationed.  Few photos were taken and none were added to the Snapshots album that had been kept for Jeanie since birth.  For awhile, elementary schools replaced letter grades with checkmarks: "No check under a subject means that good work has been done.  One check means that improvement is necessary.  Two checks means that improvement is urgent and that a conference with the teacher is advisable."  Jeanie's report cards were commendably blank for fourth grade (1941-42, taught by Margaret Ferguson), fifth grade (1942-43, taught by Eleanor Adams) and sixth grade (1943-44, taught by Ethel Burns); though Mrs. Ferguson did remark that "Sometimes I feel that Jean does not work up to her ability" (later upgrading this to "She is growing in poise and in ability to command a situation").

By and large Mila Jean found World War II "a blast," particularly when bellicose films and newsreels were shown at the Oak Park Theatre, where two double features could be seen in one weekend.  She and other children would make so much noise cheering on the Allies and berating the Axis that Oak Park "had to keep shutting down the projector, and [the manager] would say, "Kids!  If you don't quiet down, we won't show the rest of the movie!'"

All Jeanie would say of her two years at Central Junior High was that they were "not so good."  She may have reached her full height of 5'8" at this time, causing social and physical awkwardness—the latter indicated by mediocre grades in Gym.  (She would also remark that during adolescence she had to "grow into her face.")  In seventh grade (1944-45) she showed consistent excellence in English and History, and began playing the violin in Wilfred C. Schlager's school orchestra.

The KCMO School District introduced eighth grade in 1945-46, to "give more time for physical and mental maturity before a pupil began high school...  For years it was argued that the jump from seventh grade to freshman in high school was too great, and usually left the student bewildered."  Even so, in Fall 1945 only transfer students were enrolled as pioneering eighth graders at Central and elsewhere (which would result in minuscule graduating classes in 1950).  Mila Jean's class was the last to go directly from seventh grade to "sub-freshmen."  Which means that if Jeanie'd been obliged to repeat kindergarten in 1938-39, she'd have gone from seventh grade in 1945-46 to eighth in 1946-47, and not graduated from senior high until 1951 instead of 1949—tearing an irreparable hole in her space-time continuum.

During Mila Jean's second semester as a "sub-freshman" she switched from Mr. Schlager's Orchestra class to one taught by Maurice L. "Mo" Cater, the senior high school's music director.  He held the same position at Agnes Avenue Methodist Church, where Jeanie (like Mellie before her) had gotten permission to go with school friends rather than attend Linwood Presbyterian with her parents.  At Agnes Avenue on Nov. 17, 1946, Jeanie made her "one and only venture into violin soloing in public."  She would later part with the Methodists after being asked to sign a no-smoke/no-drink pledge, and in college come to accept The Stage as her temple and tabernacle; for which her devout father Frank would dub her (only half-facetiously) "My heathen daughter Jeanie."

Mila Jean attended Central High School from 1946 to 1949: the era of postwar bobbysoxers.  Whether or not she did any swooning over Sinatra or Perry Como, Jeanie definitely sported the trademark anklets (worn with saddle shoes or penny loafers) and was a reader of Seventeen magazine, launched in 1944 to track trends and tap into disposable teen-girl income from allowances, babysitting and whatnot.

Whatever her footwear, high school posed challenges old and new.  In her sophomore year (1946-47) Mila Jean again had to wrestle with Physical Education, finally escaping with the equivalent of a D+.  Her homeroom and English teacher, Estelle Morrison, was "a formidable no-nonsense woman who never ingratiated herself with students," but in the 1980s Jeanie would still remember things she'd learned from her.  And besides Orchestra with Mr. Cater she took a Vocal Music course with Helen E. Davidson, scoring top marks both semesters.

During her junior year Mila Jean joined Minerva Literary Society (M.L.S.) and was one of its six Intersociety Contestants on Apr. 29, 1948.  For her entry in the Informal Essay category, Jeanie—using the pseudonym "Brenda Starr"—submitted a memorial to the late Annie Koeppendoerfer.  Excerpted in Fine Lineage Chapter L-1, it says as much about its young author as its old subject and so is presented below in toto:

Just Annie

I was very fortunate in being blessed with a great-great aunt.  I remember as a very small child, always being able to win a certain amount of distinction by merely announcing that I had a "twice great aunt."  And how aptly that described her, for she certainly was twice great in everybody's opinion.

Born many years ago, in a small community of good German stock, she lost her father at a very early age, and having many responsibilities in her own home as a young girl, she knew little of the carefree childhood that most of us only take for granted.  While still in her early teens, her mother died, and she then did housework for some of the better families, those who could then afford to have a 'hired girl.'  She preferred doing this rather than live with relatives because she did not want to be a burden on anyone.  In later years, when her niece, who was my great grandmother, lost her husband and was left with a family of small children, she went to live with them because she felt she could be of more service there, than in a stranger's home.

My great-great aunt had a very unusual, and almost unpronounceable last name, K[o]eppendoerfer.  So few people even attempted to pronounce it, that consequently she was known as Miss Anna, and later, as an aunt to many nieces and nephews, she was recognized as Aunt Anna or Tanta Anna to most everyone in the community.  Tanta, being the German word for Aunt, seemed too difficult for me to master when I was learning to talk, so I just called her Annie.

In thinking of Annie, that well known poem, "Little Orphan Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley, is always brought to my mind.  The first line in itself, "Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay," describes her situation so well.  Of course, I didn't have the opportunity of making my home with her, but each summer for many years I was taken back East by my mother, and we always visited in that particular home.  So, through direct contacts with Annie, plus the many things told to me by my mother, all have built a vivid and beautiful memory of a dear lady.

"Lady," in the true sense of the word, means a well-bred woman of refined manner, and how well that described Annie.  Being deprived of proper schooling didn't prevent her from reading good literature, learning to speak correctly, and having perfect manners, so that she always gave the impression of being a high-born woman.  Annie was taught early in life that "children should be seen and not heard," and she practiced that rule all her life, child or not.  I well remember her quietly sitting in her favorite rocker, alert to all being said, but never speaking unless she had something worthwhile to contribute to the conversation, and then speaking in a soft, well-modulated voice.

But Annie was far from being a shy little mouse.  I recall Mother telling me that Annie taught her father how to whistle through his teeth, when he was depairing of ever learning that trick; of how she patiently taught a nephew the best way to shoot marbles, a niece to master the intricacies of "jacks," and my own mother how to spin a top.  Her gentleness not only won her the love of every child she came into contact with, but every animal too.  A dog would know instinctively that Annie would dislodge a chicken bone from his throat, or a bird with a broken wing would lie passively in her hand as she bound the wound.

Annie not only lived beautifully by her kind deeds, but she never spoke unkindly about anyone.  Even in the worst, she could find something good to say about them—and if it was impossible to find any good in a person, she just had the good sense to not say anything.  She truly possessed the ability to grow beauty too, for her flower gardens were the attraction of everyone and the envy of many people.  Planting a lonely peach seed, would in time develop into a peach tree, which would bear fruit also.

From early photographs of Annie, anyone could see she was a lovely young girl.  She possessed curly soft hair, very large expressive grey eyes, small and dainty features, and a smile that was a joy to see.  I never could understand why she didn't marry, for she had many beaux, danced better than anyone of her friends, and was very popular, but taking her responsibilities at home very seriously, she no doubt considered her duty to her mother more important than marrying and her own happiness.  Annie possessed a beautiful singing voice too, and she sang in church choirs when a young girl, and I remember on many occasions even when she was quite old, of hearing her softly singing an old German song around the house, in her rich contralto voice.

I don't believe I ever knew anyone who was so immaculately dressed at all times, as Annie.  She was tiny and petite, and in her starched full-skirted, high-necked dresses, she was indeed a Godey print.  For morning wear, she always wore a black or dark gray percale or gingham print dress, always long sleeved, high necked, and ankle length of course.  The very full skirts, with several starched petticoats unerneath, made her look like a cute little Dutch doll.  A very full apron of checked gingham, and sunbonnet were donned if she chanced to go out in the sun, and for afternoon and evening, she always changed to a plain black dress made the same way, and topped with a snowy white apron. On the Sabbath (she never referred to it as Sunday) she wore plain black silk, with a touch of white lace around the high collar, and a lovely white, lace edged apron was worn.  Of course she always wore high black laced shoes, and gloves were an essential part of her costume, always wearing them to protect her hands from the sun.  Annie always removed her apron before going to the table for meals, and she never once ever crossed her legs at the knees.  She told my mother that ladies didn't cross their legs.  Her fine gray hair was worn simply in little braids at the back of her head for morning time, and in a soft knot and "frizzed" in the front.

Annie was always blessed with good health that afforded her the ability to work hard for many, many years, always helping others, their welfare coming first.  When any of the family or neighbors were ill, they could always count on her being by their bedside to comfort them and help them either by actual nursing them through their illness, or by just sitting quietly, and talking to them and helping them to forget their misfortunes.  Annie had one serious illness, when she was very old, and all despaired of her getting well, but after many weeks in bed, she calmly announced one day that she had been a burden on folks long enough, and it was high time she was getting up and about.  So double-pneumonia couldn't even keep her down.

After reaching the age of ninety-two years, Annie was still fairly active, and insistent in carrying on some of her daily duties.  She was still cheerful at all times, but she said often that she felt it was time to leave because all of the relatives and friends of her own age were gone, and she felt she had fulfilled all her obligations.  So finally, one beautiful spring morning, Annie slipped away from all of us, but I have always felt that it was only because someone else needed her help in the other world.

Two of the Intersociety Contest judges deemed this worthy of first place ("Holds your interest, written well" and "Grammar good"); but it finished behind "The Priceless Heritage," "Privileges of Age," "The Wisdom of the Lazy," and "Lazy Thoughts."

Not favoring laziness was Mila Jean's junior English teacher, Bess G. Clapp, "who made her students individually recite Macbeth."  Jeanie sang with the Girls Chorus in 1947-48, continued to play violin with the Orchestra, and was as an officer in the Y-Teen Cabinet.  Though free at last from Phys Ed, she now had to contend with Typing, which would be the only blemish on her report cards for the next four semesters.  (While typing "Just Annie," no attempt was made to sustain a right margin; each line went on till it ran out of paper.)

Minerva's faculty sponsor, C.S. Hann, was a man "who snapped girls's brassiere straps."  (When Jeanie mentioned this in 1983, her sister Mellie exclaimed "Did he do that to you too?")  He would be Mila Jean's homeroom and Zoology teacher her senior year (1948-49) and she would join the school Zoology Club, somehow finding time for that along with serving as President of the Orchestra, Vice-President of Minerva, Y-Teen's representative on the Inter-Club Council, and a member of the Trouvere music appreciation society, for which Dee Glogau was Song Leader.  Their friend and fellow Trouvere/Y-Teen officer Pat Liston was voted Best Girl Musician in the Senior Class; all three were elected to the National Honor Society.

Among Jeanie's other close friends were the Smith sisters, Mary Ann and Betty (related to each other but not to her), who lived down the block and across the street at 3943 College; Jeanie and Betty were the same age and Mary Ann a year older.  The sisters were Catholic and evidently attended a parochial high school, possibly Bishop Lillis at 3740 Forest; with Mila Jean they engaged in such activities as sunbathing in the park.  This must have attracted male eyes, but no photos of any boys were retained for future sighing (or laughing) over; nor did Jeanie ever mention any romantic attachments prior to college—and those, she would emphasize, weren't with boys but men.  Only girls clowned for the camera when Mila Jean turned seventeen on May 12, 1949.  A month later she (and some of they) graduated from Central High School at KCMO's Municipal Auditorium on June 7th.

Although Jeanie had been named to the All-City Orchestra, she was not forecast as a concert violinist in the Centralian yearbook's Senior Prophecy.  Nor was she said to be a torch singer, a congresswoman, queen of the policeman's ball, or to "have had a nervous collapse from overwork in a flea circus."  Instead the Prophecy saw her among the graduates who became teachers at Central High—a perceptive guess, even if meant satirically.  But that destiny lay in the actual future; and not at dear old Central but four miles to the southwest, where Mila Jean was heading in September: the University of Kansas City.


[click on the > at the end of each Note to return to its source above]

  Built in 1915, Wesley Hospital was designed by the architectural firm of Keene & Simpson, who went on to design the Land Bank, the Armour Theatre, and the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs MO; they also participated in designing the Jackson County Courthouse.  Wesley Hospital would be taken over by the U.S. War Department in 1943 and purchased a year later by the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery, which vacated it in 1972.  Today the site is an industrial space just to the east of I-70.  >
  As a beckoning portent for Mila Jean, the southwest corner of 11th and Harrison was occupied by a hotel (the Royce).  >
  The life of Francis See Smith (F.S. or Frank: 1896-1973) will be profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter S-6.  >
Jeanie's grandfather Herbert Gustavus Smith (H.G. or Gus: 1860-1934) is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter S-4.  >
Cora Mathilda Kirchwehm Smith (1875-1963) was H.G.'s third wife.  >
  In 1912 H.G. Smith "was an innocent victim caught up in some sort of a political MESS [in Urbana OH] and lost his license to practice law," according to Ada Louise.  "He decided to move away and start a new life, and chose K.C. (wonder why that particular city)?"  Gus had taught school in central Kansas in the mid-1880s; daughter Mellie was born there, and the entire Smith clan in Ohio contemplated joining them ("Our great objection is the want of timber"), but the death of Mellie's mother Debbie in 1887 brought Gus back to Urbana.  Possibly an old acquaintance from his Kansas teaching days pointed him and Cora to KCMO in 1912.  >
  The American Radiator Company's Kansas City plant went into operation in Oct. 1910 at 12th and Eastern Avenue near the Blue River.  The plant manufactured radiators and boilers for steam and hot water heating, shipping them "throughout the entire West" (as per the Nov. 1912 Kansas City Manufacturers Exposition).  A 1915 ad declared:

The struggles of many a man through life seem like a journey through a howling wilderness of bills which mount so high that he can hardly see the blue sky of living economy.  But one of the strangest, reckless habits of running up domestic expense is the way that many people still cling to old-fashioned heating ways which greedily eat up coal and send the heat a-flying up the chimney, rather than distributing it evenly to the rooms to comfort the folks.  The only way to get out of that wilderness of self-imposed taxation, and to stay out forever, is by putting in an outfit of coal-economizing American Radiators & Ideal Boilers >

  William Connelly Anderson Sr. (1874-1954), besides being American Radiator's staff physician and a consulting provider for the Kansas City Southern Railway, had a private practice in the northeast district.  His office was across Bennington Avenue from Fire Station 21, for which he furnished turkey dinners every Christmas and New Year.  "Among the reasons which led him to express his friendship by the holiday meals were the several occasions when he returned to his second floor office and found himself locked out.  The firemen provided a ladder and a nimble member to enter a window and let him into his office."  (Per Doc Anderson's obituary.)  >
  Ada Louise Ludeke Smith (1907-2011) was Ada Ick in childhood, Ick at college, Icky to her husband, Mom to her daughters, Louise to her in-laws, Momine or Grandma or Goppy to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and Smitty as a senior citizen.  Her early life is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter L-4, her education in L-5, her career in L-6, and her memoirs in L-7 >
  The life and career of Mellie Morris Smith (1885-1950), Frank's older half-sister, are profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter S-5 >
  Ada Louise had just turned five when she lost her mother to tuberculosis.  Not long afterward her father married a young woman whom Ada viewed as the classic wicked stepmother, and permanent semi-estrangement resulted.  (Mila Jean would meet her Grandfather Ludeke only once, but said "he was always good at sending a dollar at birthday time.")  When Ada herself became a young stepmother, "I realized I could not be possessive or jealous... I knew I would share a husband six months later with his two daughters.  We all grew together, naturally having some problems, but family conferences worked them out."  >
  The family background and early life of Mary Adelaide/Adeline (Addie) Schneider Ludeke (1883-1912) are profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter L-2, her marriage in L-3, and her motherhood and early death in L-4 >
  Ada Louise's father William Michael Ludeke (1882-1975) is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapters L-3 and L-4 >
  Stepmother Drucilla Catherine Llewellyn Ludeke (1894-1970) is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter L-4.  >
  Uncle Robert Wuechner Ludeke, "the Cheerful Performer" (1887-1943), is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter L-3.  >
  See Fine Lineage Chapter B-1 for the Burns clan's Less Poetic Pedigree, with the latter half of the 18th Century spent not in Scotland with Oor Rabbie, but among the Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountains of Ole Virginny.  See Chapter B-4 for my suspected source of the More Poetic Tradition: Frank's great-grandmother Jane Marshall Burns (1790-1880), who claimed a similar connection with Chief Justice John Marshall's family; as well as that her hair was naturally jet black even at the age of ninety, and that scars on her arms had resulted from attempting to protect a slave boy from being whipped.  >
  Frank's mother Mila Kathryn Burns Callison Smith (the Original Mila: 1859-1907) is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter S-4.  >
  Over two dozen women and girls named "Mila" were living in Ohio in 1860.  Nowadays the name tends to have Slavic origins: interpreted as "dear one," pronounced Mee-la rather than My-la, and sometimes used as a diminutive of L(y)udmila.  In mid-19th-Century Ohio it was far more likely to be the feminine form of Milo or Miles—and also seemed to flummox census takers, who recorded Frank Smith's future mother as Maria in 1860 and Hilda in 1870.  As a result, numerous web genealogies display her inaccurately as "Hilda Maria 'Mila' Burns."  >
  Mila Jean never learned to drive a car, use a personal computer, or operate a cell phone.  Her husband George once attempted to teach her the rudiments of word processing, but was put off by Jeanie's responding like a cat being given a flea bath.  >
  The elder Smiths had returned to Ohio in 1917 (H.G. reluctantly) so Cora could care for her "iron-handed invalid" mother.  Young Mellie Smith lived with them in Springfield OH from 1926 to 1930; Grandpa Gus suffered a stroke in 1928, and Mellie stayed awhile with Frank's oldest half-brother Earl Elliott Callison (1878-1949) who is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter S-4 >
  Hamilton OH was home to the Ludekes and Ada Louise's other forebears, as profiled in Fine Lineage Chapters L-1, L-2, and L-3.  >
  On the back of a photo of five-month-old Mila Jean, the present author discovered a truncated (unsent?) Christmas 1932 note from Ada Louise to her father: "Dear Dad—I'm awfully sorry you didn't get to see the baby this summer—she is such a big girl now—trying to talk and walk—and just..."  >
  Louisa Elizabeth Wuechner Ludeke (1855-1930), Ada Louise's paternal grandmother who raised her from the age of five till her elopement, is profiled through most of Fine Lineage's "L"-chapters >
  Ora Colgan Callison (1880-1932) was Frank Smith's other older half-brother, the second of Mila Burns Callison Smith's three sons.  In 1905 Ora married the splendidly-named Mary Belle Bloodgood (Mame: 1878-1959) and Frank lived with them in Dayton from 1911 till the 1913 Flood.  Ora "adored children, but never had any of his own—hence was elated when Connie was 'loaned' to him in 1926...  'Eo' was a nickname Connie gave him," said Ada Louise.  Connie lived with the Callisons till returning to KCMO in 1930, and "was always sorry I never could remember 'Eo' hardly.  [I] was just too young."  The Summer 1932 trip was the last time the Smiths saw Ora/Eo; he would die of cancer on Sep. 2nd.  >
  Frieda Louise Ludeke Falkenstein (1880-1950) and Irma Marie Ludeke Charles (1878-1964) were Ada Louise's aunts, who helped Grandma Ludeke raise her before each got married in middle age.  Mila Jean would call Frieda and Irma "Sheeshy" and "Emmy" respectively, saying Irma's musician husband Walter Charles (1879-1959) "scared the beejesus out of little kids," while Frieda's husband Edward Falkenstein (1872-1959) had godawful table manners.  All four aunts and uncles are profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter L-3 >
  Anna Katharine Koeppendoerfer (1851-1942) was the much-younger half-sister of Grandma Ludeke's mother; she is profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter L-1 >
  Aunt Mol's mother was H.G. Smith's first wife, Deborah Ellen Hedges (Debbie: 1860-1887), profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter S-4.  Her sisters Mary Augusta Hedges (Mamie: 1858-1934) and Martha Alice Hedges Earsom (always called Alice: 1863-1949) raised Mol.  >
  Dithery comic actress Marion Lorne is best-remembered today as Aunt Clara on Bewitched.  >
  Like Irma and Frieda Ludeke, Alice Hedges was a middle-aged maiden lady who surprised her family by taking a husband: in her case the gruff farmer Edward Earsom (1857-1945).  His daughter Mary Earsom Saxbe/Saxby (1899-1984) lived in Detroit, and on one occasion telephoned George Ehrlich while he was in town for a Society of Architectural Historians convention.  George was meeting at the time with two ladies (neither of them his wife) in a motel suite; and (according to Ada Louise) if his caller had known this, "Mary would've broadcast it all over Michigan!!"  >
  Among Bob's theatrical performances was in Dolly Dimples, a charity benefit staged by the Elks in 1914: "If any professional on the stage today would make a better 'Percival' than Bob Ludeke, we don't know where he could be found."  He reprised this character three years later—"Angelo Percival (Bob Ludeke), the 'teacher's pet' and a gentle little lamb, [wearing] Ibsen spectacles"—in School Days, presented at the Grand Theater: "One of the cleverest bits of tomfollery [sic] ever staged by local actors."  Bob was also featured in dancing reviews, and would especially be recalled for "an elaborate Russian dance."  >
  In 1925 Ada Louise appeared in Miss Molly, a two-act comedy presented by the Presbyterian Endeavor Society; Bob attended both performances "and if it had been put on twenty times instead ot twice, [he] would have attended all twenty."  >
  In 1926 Bob went backstage at the Cincinnati Music Hall to congratulate Ernestine Schuman-Heink following her concert there, and inquire whether Ada Louise (taking voice lessons at the time) might audition for Madame Schuman-Heink's singing seminar in California.  Madame was agreeable, but Grandma Ludeke would not consent to Ada's traveling so far away from home; so she had to content herself with choirs at college and church.  >
  Hosted by "Major" Edward Bowes, the Original Amateur Hour radio talent show ran from 1934 to 1952.  >
  Indiana Avenue is one block east of College.  >
  There was a chain of Crown drugstores in KCMO, including one at 3846 Indiana.  >
  Morris Feder (1892-1963), whose dry goods store was at 3851 Indiana, lived at 5541 Holmes: the same block where Mila Jean and the Ehrlichs would move in 1962.  >
  Joe's Hamburgers (later called Joe's Drive-In) was at 3315 E 39th, just down the street from 3908 College.  >
  The Oak Park Theatre was at 3935 Prospect, seven blocks west of College.  According to, it opened in 1925 and closed in the early 1960s, later becoming the Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church.  >
  Boppart's Spanish Grill was at 1224-26 Main, next door to the Midland Theatre.  >
  The Midland Theatre at 1228 Main, built by movie magnate Marcus Loew in 1927, has an "interior which tosses restraint aside in a sumptuous display of rich ornament inspired by opulent Baroque examples" (per George Ehrlich's Kansas City, Missouri: An Architectural History).  "In the finest tradition of the 'movie palace,' it was filled with works of art, great mirrors and glittering chandeliers."  After several renovations, the Midland remains in operation today.  >
  Mellie/Mildred remained devoted to the two aunts she'd been named after—Mellie Morris Smith and Agnes Waterhouse Martenson (1885-1948: profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter S-7).  She was billed as "Millie" Smith as early as 1935, the year she graduated from Central High School, whose yearbook said her "constant good humor made her a delightful companion to work with in the Zoology, Pep, Girls' Hi Clubs, and Student Council."  She would always be "Mellie" to Frank, Ada Louise, and Mila Jean; I myself was unaware of her legal name change until 1976, and in my youth had attributed her husband's calling her "Millie" to his Mississippi accent.  >
  Fairyland, a KCMO amusement park at 75th and Prospect, opened in 1923 and had its heyday in the 1950s and '60s; it would lose its clientele to "the newer and shinier" Worlds of Fun, and close in 1977.  >
  The last time I saw Mellie in 2016, she disavowed this incident and offered a much milder substitute (though it still wound up with her being grounded by her father).  >
  So narrow was the space between 3908 and the house next door that Jeanie claimed you could look into the neighbors's window while sitting in the bathtub.  >
  In the days before air conditioning, houses often included a screened-in sleeping porch for summer use.  >
  Mellie's memoir: "I knew I had to get a job and get on with making a living as my Dad was having a rough time making ends meet.  I went to secretarial school at night for three months, and found a job at Montgomery Ward—one of the few places to find work with no past experience.  It was in the mail-opening department—orders received from catalog orders, office mail, etc.  We had to be at work at 5:30 AM and have mail opened, sorted and delivered to proper place by 8:30.  Since I had a room at 39th and Main area, this entailed very early rising, and catching the streetcar by 4:30 AM.  After about six months, I was given a better job in the secretarial field in the headquarter offices.  I worked there for about eighteen months.  Found a job in downtown Kansas City as secretary to a stockbroker in the old Victor Building at 10th and Main.  Was working there when I met Pete.  It sure beat the long streetcar ride and very early rising, and I loved downtown with all the hustle and bustle."  >
  The Montgomery Ward Distribution Center (billed in 1914 as the largest building west of the Mississippi River) was located on the corner of Belmont Boulevard and St. John Avenue, coincidentally near the old Smith/Waterhouse neighborhood in northeast KCMO.  >
  Pete Nash (1918-1985) was born William Henry Landrum Jr. in Mississippi; he took his stepfather's surname when his mother (Jo[e] Mynell Hennington Landrum Nash Pearson: 1899-1978) remarried in 1927.  Like astronaut Charles Conrad, he was known as "Pete" since boyhood.  He and Mellie got married in 1938; two years later Pete took a desk job with the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, and in 1941 the Nashes moved from the Claridge Apartment Hotel (downtown at 1004 Locust) to "a little house on a lake in Fairmount, near Independence.  This was a particularly happy time."  Daughter Marcia Ann Nash was born that year in Fairmount; "our neighbors were all young and struggling as we were, and a close-knit group.  We swam together, took the children boating, sledding, ice skating in winter.  The night before Pete was to leave for service in World War II, the entire lake group had a big party for his farewell."  >
  While Pete was away (1943-46) Mellie "found it necessary to go back to work, even though he sent me most of his army pay.  It was a difficult time—I hated leaving Marcia—at first I tried working just weekends, and took her to 3908 [College]...  But eventually I worked full time and felt it would be best for her to not be hauled around nights (I worked 3-12).  So my Aunt Agnes and Uncle Walter [Martenson: 1887-1965] kept her at their farm near Warrensburg [MO].  On weekends I took the bus down to spend with them, Marcia loved it there with all the animals and they loved having her."  Pete, after his discharge from the service, "vowed he never again would sit at a desk in an office job," so he bought a tank truck and became a commission agent for Socony-Vacuum—later renamed Mobil Oil—in Shelbina MO, about fifty miles west of Hannibal.  "[We] made some wonderful friends, but my heart was never in that area," said Mellie, who "was ecstatic!" when Mobil made Pete a marketing salesman in 1953 and the Nashes moved to Blue Springs MO (then a fairly rural community twenty miles east of Kansas City; today a major suburb and the tenth largest city in Missouri).  Mellie would work with the Girl Scouts for twenty years (1958-78), serve as a regent with the Daughters of the American Revolution, and indulge her loves for travel, gardening, and genealogy till her death at ninety-eight in 2017.  She never lost her fearless tenacity: once while lunching with friends at McDonalds in 2007 she suffered a heart attack, but said nothing about it (so as not to alarm anyone) and later drove herself to the doctor.  >
  Uncle Ora Callison "had a fine position with Frigidaire" in Dayton, "good salary—owned a lot of stock—no financial problems."  In 1930 he and Aunt Mame (and Connie, before her return to KCMO) lived at 1344 Harvard Boulevard, a house valued at $18,000: not a meager sum at that time.  After Ora's death in 1932, Mame "was 'well heeled' [but] living alone in the large house."  (Jeanie would recall it as a "great big imposing house [that] seemed like a mansion in comparison to other relatives's houses.")  When Connie finished junior high in 1939, Mame proposed that she come live with her again in Dayton and attend senior high there.  A family conference was held, with the final decision left to Connie (who shed tears over it); though still at 3908 College in Apr. 1940, she graduated from Dayton's Fairview-White High School in June 1942.  She then began nurse's training at Good Samaritan Hospital, but left in 1943 to marry Carl Edward Frisby Jr. (1921-1985) of West Middletown OH, about twenty miles southwest of Dayton.  >
  Fairview High School and Colonel White Junior High were "paired" in 1940, with students attending ninth and tenth grades at White, and eleventh and twelfth at Fairview.  >
  Carl was an Army Air Corps bomber pilot during World War II.  In 1944, on the next-to-last mission in his flight rotation, his plane was hit over Germany; though Carl's arm was badly injured by shrapnel, he kept the plane aloft and landed it in England, for which he would receive the Distinguished Flying Cross and be profiled in the Feb. 1945 Army Life and U.S. Army Recruiting News.  After a long hospital stay he took an office position with American Air Lines in Columbus OH, but (accordingly to Ada Louise) "was not satisfied with the type of work he was doing—and being so close to planes on a daily basis and not able to fly—guess that flying was the 'love of his life!'"  In 1947 Carl signed on with Dayton Power & Light (initially as a meter reader, eventually as head of the service department).  He and Connie moved with firstborn Michael Edward (1944-1991) to New Lebanon OH, "a small country-like community" on Highway 35 west of Dayton.  There the Frisbys had a large yard and a small house, to which four more children would be added: Larry Wayne (1947-1989), Sharon Lee (born 1949), Kathleen Ann (born 1954), and Carl Kevin (born 1958).  When the Smiths came to visit, Connie would not hear of their staying at a motel, so room was made to squeeze them in "somehow."  >
  When Mame Callison died in 1959, "Connie fell heir to the lovely big home and the Frisby family moved into it."  Connie called Aunt Mame "a very special lady [who] was wonderful to me and our children.  Guess they were just like her grandchildren and many times during our early married life she was a Godsend trying to help Carl and me during illnesses and emergencies."  The Frisby nest gradually emptied, and when Carl took early retirement he and Connie relocated to Sevierville TN, a few miles north of Dolly Parton's Pigeon Forge birthplace.  After Carl's death in 1985, Connie moved west to Seymour TN (further away from Dollywood) and married widower John Henry Huff (1908-2009).  She had to face far more than her share of grief and tragedy, being predeceased by both husbands, two sons, a son-in-law, and her little sister; as well as see her home get struck by lightning and burn to the ground in 1996.  Even so, Connie remained a very sweet gentle lady till the end in 2016 (maintaining middle-child status by passing away soon after Jeanie and just before Mellie).  She lived by the admirable catchphrase "Bless her/his/your heart."  >
  Mame left $1,000 legacies to Mellie (which paid for daughter Marcia's college tuition) and Jeanie (which was a windfall in the Ehrlichs's empty-pocket year of 1959 >
  The Smiths had been Methodists since before leaving New Jersey for Ohio in the early 19th Century (as related in Fine Lineage Chapter S-1A).  The Ludekes "were German Lutherans, natch," till Uncle Bob joined the Presbyterians and Ada Louise (though scarcely of a Calvinistic mindset) followed him there.  In KCMO she gravitated toward Linwood Presbyterian Church at 1801 E. Linwood Boulevard, and Frank "very graciously joined with me—wouldn't transfer his letter—but was quite contented with the 'switch.'  Much later when we moved to Blue Springs [in 1971], we 'shopped around' for awhile and he instantly liked the Methodist minister—so I felt it was high time for me to go where he wanted to go, for a change.  To tell the truth—I never felt completely satisfied (though I joined with him)...  Never really felt at home in the Methodist Church...  Guess I was a Presbyterian much too long to switch channels...  But—what the heck? What difference does it make what route we take?"  When she returned to KCMO in 1986, Ada Louise attended Central United Methodist at 5144 Oak and greatly enjoyed senior activities at nearby Shepherd's Center.  >
  Edward VIII's coronation had been scheduled for May 12, 1937, a date unaffected by his abdication and George VI's accession the previous December.  It was the first British coronation to be filmed and broadcast on radio.  >
  Among those who recovered from mild cases of polio was golfing legend Jack Nicklaus.  At age thirteen "I started feeling stiff, my joints ached, and over a two-week period I lost my coordination and twenty pounds.  I recovered after a few weeks, but... my whole career, my joints have gotten awfully sore at times."  The Golden Bear would become a Rotary ambassador for worldwide polio eradication.  >
  "Heinie the butcher" was Henry Glen Stallbories (1906-1984), whose family had been in the retail meat business for several generations.  >
  Mila Jean would remember spending the annual trips along Highway 40 ("America's Main Street") sitting by the window of various Fords, trying not to be carsick.  >
  Sanford Burritt Ladd (1844-1936) was the Kansas City School Board's attorney for over forty years; he also presided over the city and state bar associations.  >
  Ladd Elementary (one block west and two blocks north of 3908 College) opened in 1912 and closed in 2007; ten years later it was slated to become a senior center.  >
  Dolores Ann "Dee" Glogau (born Aug. 26, 1932) was the daughter of auto worker Theodore Roosevelt Glogau (1906-1987) and Mildred Romig (1906-1980); they lived at 3836 Askew Avenue, three blocks east and two blocks north of 3908 College.  Previously they lived at 3731 Wabash.  >
  Central Junior High opened at 3611 Linwood in 1925.  During the previous five years Central High School 's enrollment had nearly doubled, from 1300 to 2400, giving it the largest in the state of Missouri; to relieve this congestion, the stand-alone junior high was built.  (As were others for Westport and Northeast; though Lincoln, the only KCMO high school that blacks could attend, had to make do with an annex.)  Junior high was also seen as "necessary to isolate the seventh-grade student from the child-like atmosphere of the grade school and the adult-like atmosphere of the high school."  (As per a 1931 Kansas City Star article cited by Bradley W. Poos's 2014 dissertation Desegregation at Kansas City's Central High School, which provides a panoramic history of public education at Central, and KCMO generally.)  >
  Height may have been a Burns family trait, passed down through the First Mila: Frank Smith was 5'10", and his Callison brothers Earl and Ora were both said to be tall.  As was William Ludeke, who supposedly quit high school when he got too big to fit behind a desk.  At any rate the present author inherited the same gene, reaching 6'1¼".  >
  Wilfred Clarence Schlager (1905-1976) contributed an article on "Cooperative Violin Class Training" to the 1934 Yearbook of the Music Educators National Conference.  >
  As per the 1946 Manual High School and 1950 Paseo High School yearbooks.  Previously, junior high consisted of "First Year Class" and "Second Year Class."  >
  The average KCMO high school graduating class in 1950 numbered fewer than 100 seniors, a fraction of the norm.  Northeast's yearbook was canceled that year, and reunions of Southwest's Class of '50 would be "piggybacked" onto those of standard-sized '49 or '51.  >
  Maurice Leroy Cater (1912-1997)'s master's thesis at the University of Kansas in 1949 was "The Effects of Music Upon Painting."  In 1957 he became Band Director at Kansas City University.  Mr. Cater also served with distinction in the Marines during World War II and remained in their reserves, serving as commanding officer of a weapons battalion in 1958.  >
  Agnes Avenue Methodist Church was located at 4101 Agnes.  Today it is the Mount Ararat Baptist Church.  >
  Frank would be relieved that Mila Jean married a churchgoer (albeit a Unitarian of Jewish ancestry); and that she and George Ehrlich's two wedding ceremonies in Kansas City and Urbana IL were conducted by ministers (though again both were Unitarians).  But he was distressed when Jeanie's sons received what would be labeled "secular humanist" upbringing; and as my self-appointed godfather he occasionally provided me with religious literature, including the YMCA booklet Stones from the Brook that his Uncle Will (James William Burns, 1848-1938: profiled in Fine Lineage Chapter B-6) had given him in 1911.  >
  It might be mentioned that earlier in 1911, Uncle Will's youngest brother Elliott Spahr Burns (1866-1935) murdered his ex-common-law-wife on a crowded street corner in Cincinnati, later penning a cautionary screed for public print as he "heard the ponderous thud of the huge prison gates" close behind him.  (As detailed in "Her Smile Incensed Him," Fine Lineage Chapter B-7.)  It might also be mentioned that when this scandal came to light a century later, Mila Jean—far from wanting to hush it up—"dined out on the story for weeks."  >
  Central opened in 1867 as KCMO's original high school, at a time when public secondary education was still a controversial issue.  By 1898 more students were graduating from Central than any other high school in the United States.  Casey Stengel (then called "Dutch") was a star on several sports teams before dropping out in 1910 to pursue professional baseball.  William Powell graduated with the Class of 1911, having presided over the Shakespeare Club, twice appeared in the Christmas Play, and served as a "Cheer Leader."  In 1915 the school moved from 11th and Locust to a "splendid modern building" at 3221 Indiana, fronting on Linwood Boulevard; where it remains today as the Central Academy of Excellence.  >
  In 1911 William Powell's family lived at 3116 Tracy.  That same year, Harlean Carpenter was born a mile or so to the southeast at 3344 Olive.  She would attend Miss Barstow's Finishing School for Girls until being taken to Hollywood, where in 1928 she signed with Central Casting as Jean Harlow (her mother's maiden name).  Despite their adjacent backgrounds, Harlow would not meet Powellwho'd come to Hollywood in 1922 after a decade on Broadwayuntil 1934.  (Powell took a full-page ad in that year's Centralian yearbook to offer "Long life to the 1934 graduating class from an ancient Centralite.")  >
  The Smiths resumed their annual trips to Ohio in the summer of 1946, though as time went by and the older generation(s) thinned out, these visits were mostly to Connie and the Frisbys.  Aunt Annie had died in 1942 and Uncle Bob in 1943, with Uncle Earl following in 1949 and Aunts Mol and Frieda/"Sheeshy" a year later.  Meanwhile the Quartermaster Depot closed the Personal Effects Bureau in 1947; Mila Jean's father would be  employed through the end of 1949 by the (no relation) Smith Engineering Company, which had a government contract to manufacture caskets for the transportation of dead servicemen to their homes.  Frank supervised this project at the Lake City Arsenal in Independence MO.  In Jan. 1950 he would be hired by Reeves-Wiedeman, purveyors of plumbing and heating equipment, and remain with them until his retirement in 1965.  >
  Apart from their experiment with checkmarks, the KCMO School District graded not on an A-B-C-D basis but E (Excellent), S (Superior), M (Mediocre), and I (Inferior).  Officially the latter two were "Average" and "Need for Improvement," but students and parents knew what those letters really stood for.  (An F was an F without question.)  >
  Estelle Rees Morrison (1877-1952) would be cited by H.L. Mencken in his second supplement (published 1948) to The American Language: "In 1926 Miss Estelle Rees Morrison provoked an uproar by suggesting in American Speech that, when thus used in the singular, you-all was a plural pronoun of courtesy analogous to the German sie, the Spanish usted, and indeed the English you itself."  Southerners took umbrage at this declaration by a Nebraska native, but Miss Morrison "pledged her word that she had heard it so used at Lynchburg, Va., and also in Missouri.  The Southern brethren were baffled by this, for the Confederate code of honor forbade questioning the word of a lady."  >
  Miss Davidson taught at Southwest in the 1950s and then Bingham Junior High, where I myself apparently took her Vocal Music class in 1968-69: a bizarre school year (compounded by "modular scheduling") of which I remember very little.  Five years later she was my brother Matthew's music teacher, and in his Bingham yearbook wrote To one of the finest students I have ever had—"which probably said less about me than it did about the general caliber of students she had had to work with over the year
s—either that, or she somehow was confusing me with Mom."  >
  High school literary societies doubled as sororities and fraternities, with much the same Greekesque trappings.  Minerva was organized at Central in 1906 and had as its motto Fax Mentis Incendium Gloriae: "The Torch of Glory Inflames the Mind."  Jeanie's sister Mellie had belonged to the rival Thalian Literary Society, whose motto was Non Ministrari sed Ministrare: "Not to Be Ministered Unto, But to Minister."  >
  Mila Jean would play the goddess Minerva in a 1952 Kansas City University production of Orpheus in the Underworl; she also named the trusty shoulder bag used during her Fulbright year abroad (1954-55) "Minerva."  >
  Dale Messick's Brenda Starr, Reporter debuted as a Sunday comic in 1940, with a daily strip (sometimes literally: Brenda spent a lot of time in cheesecake poses) added in 1945.  >
  Actually thrice great-aunt, Annie being the aunt of Jeanie's great-grandmother (as the essay mentions).  >
  Actually Tante, though sounding like "Tanta."  >
  Godey's Lady's Book, published from 1830 to 1878, had the largest circulation of any American magazine before the Civil War.  Each issue featured a hand-tinted fashion plate.  >
  Actually aged not quite ninety-one.  >
  Bess Gertrude Clapp (1889-1966) earned a diploma from the Leland Powers School of the Spoken Word before teaching Expression, Dramatic Art, and Public Speaking at Chowan College in Murfreesboro NC.  She went on to put in nearly thirty years with the Central High English department.  >
  The YWCA's Girl Reserves program, created in 1918 for members aged twelve to seventeen, was renamed "Y-Teens" in 1946.  Their goals were "to grow as a person, to grow in friendship with people of all races, religions, and nationalities, [and] to grow in the knowledge and love of God."  >
  Claire Stephen Hann (1893-1965) taught at Central for forty-three years, and the 1960 Centralian yearbook was dedicated to him as "an outstanding educator and a true gentleman.  His dignified bearing in and out of the classroom and his gracious and affable manner won for him the respect and admiration of his pupils, whom he inspired to emulate his demeanor by addressing them as mister and miss."  (Snap!)  >
  Minerva's officers rotated every half-semester, so Mila Jean worked her way up from Corresponding Secretary to Treasurer to Recording Secretary to Vice-President.  >
  Dolores Glogau would go on to graduate from Millikin University in Decatur IL, earn an MSW from Washington University, and be a social worker in Dayton OH (which must have pleased "old social worker" Ada Louise Smith).  In 1954, three days before leaving for her Fulbright year abroad, Jeanie was a bridesmaid at Dee's wedding to psychologist Eugene Dale Chambers (1929-2009).  Dee died Apr. 7, 2018 in Ann Arbor MI.  >
  Patricia Joan Liston Graves Fordham Scott Wilson (1932-1990) was a pianist; her family lived at 3218 Cypress Avenue, a mile east of Central High.  Her parents were bookkeeper John Joseph Liston (1889-1958) and Goldie R. Kelso (1895-1984).  Pat and Mila Jean would join the Sigma Alpha Iota music sorority at Kansas City University in 1952-53; Jeanie was its treasurer and Pat the chaplain.  Both sang in that year's A Cappela Choir, and worked on the 1954 KCU Playhouse production of Babar.  >
  Mary Ann Smith (1931-2010) and Betty Jean Smith Shea (1932-2004) were the daughters of railway mail clerk Leon Dreyfus Smith (1900-1980, who hailed from Mississippi like Pete Nash) and Golda Pearl Neukirk (1901-1964).  >
  That summer the Smiths detoured from Ohio long enough to visit Niagara Falls, and Jeanie was sufficiently gleeful about it to allow photographs of her wearing glasses
a rarity then and for many years to come.  >
  In fact she put the violin aside after high school and pursued only vocal music in college, till devoting herself to The Stage in general.  >
  Mildred Kittell Ray (aka Mrs. Sam Ray: 1895-1996) had a famous collection of vintage KCMO postcards, which she published individually with historical notes in her newspaper column "A Postcard from Old Kansas City," 1976-1998.  >
  The Poissant DeCloud family had two photographic studios in KCMO at this time: Joseph Poissant DeCloud ran DeCloud's Studio in the basement of the Lathrop Building, downtown at 1005 Grand Avenue; while his siblings Frank, Reginald and Marguerite operated the prestigious Strauss-Peyton Studio on the Country Club Plaza, at 224 Nichols Road.  (Which, very soon after the DeCloud family sold it, was ruined by the Brush Creek Flood of 1977.)  >

List of Illustrations

●  "Some Expressions Last a Lifetime"
●  Wesley Hospital, KCMO
●  Mrs. Sam Ray postcard of Wesley Hospital
●  Dr. W. Connelly Anderson
●  Mila Jean puts her left foot forward
●  Mila Jean (12 weeks old) with mother Ada Louise
●  Jeanie with grandfather Herbert Gustavus Smith, 1932
●  Ada on guard (since H.G. had only one good arm post-stroke)
●  Connie (7) and Mellie (14) in 1932
●  H.G. Smith with his three granddaughters
●  Jeanie in buggy, 1932
●  Jeanie with Mellie, 1933
●  Jeanie with Aunt Annie Koeppendoerfer, 1933
●  1934 portrait photo of Mila Jean in a hat
●  "I'm frowning because I don't like to have my picture taken," 1934
●  Jeanie with Connie on a snowsled, 1934
●  two views of Jeanie with Uncle Bob Ludeke, 1935
●  two views of "Millie Smith" in the 1935 Centralian high school yearbook
●  1936 portrait photo of Mila Jean in a chair
●  Jeanie with Belinda Bear, 1936
●  Jeanie's alternate expressions, 1936
●  Mila Jean as Bathing Beauty, 1936
●  Jeanie with Aunt Mol Smith, 1936
●  Jeanie with her parents, 1936
●  Jeanie with her father, 1936
●  Mila Jean on 3908's front steps, 1937
●  tinted 1937 photo of Mila Jean
●  Jeanie in Waterbury OH, 1937
●  Jeanie with Belinda, 1937
●  Jeanie with Aunt Mol, 1937
●  Jeanie with her parents, 1937
●  Jeanie with her father, 1937
●  Jeanie with her mother and sisters, 1937
●  Sanford B. Ladd Elementary School
●  Jeanie with Uncle Bob on a picnic, 1938
●  Jeanie with her mother and dolls on the same picnic
●  Mila Jean on a pony, 1939
●  Jeanie with Aunt Mame Callison, Connie, and her mother, 1939
●  Jeanie with Aunt Mol and her mother, 1939
●  Jeanie and Connie, 1940
●  Second grade field trip to a Blue Springs MO dairy, 1940
●  Ladd Elementary classroom, 1940: unidentified students churning butter
●  Mila Jean's eighth birthday party, 1940
●  Jeanie in Dayton, 1940
●  Jeanie demonstrating the narrowness between houses on College Avenue, 1943
●  Ration book, 1943
●  Ration stamps, 1943
●  the Nashes (Pete, Mellie, and baby Marcia) in 1942
●  Mellie, Frank, Ada Louise and Jeanie in 1943
●  the Smith Sisters (Connie, Mellie, Jeanie) in 1943
●  the Frisbys (Connie and Carl) in 1945
●  the Smith Sisters (Connie, Mellie, Jeanie) in 1984
●  the Smith Sisters (Mellie, Jeanie, Connie) in 1988
●  Jeanie and Mellie in 2013
●  Central Junior High School
●  Central High School
●  William Powell (Central Class of 1911) in the Christmas Play
●  William Powell (Central Class of 1911) as a Cheer Leader
●  Mila Jean in 1945 and 1946
●  Violin Solo at Agnes Avenue Methodist Church, 1946
●  Mila Jean's sophomore photo
●  Mila Jean's sophomore homeroom photo
●  Mr. Maurice Cater, Orchestra
●  Miss Estelle Morrison, English/Homeroom
●  Jeanie with a racket on her fifteenth birthday, 1947
●  Jeanie (sans anklets) and neighbor Mary Ann Smith as bobbysoxers, 1947
●  Bobbysoxer Bugs Bunny in Long-Haired Hare, 1949
●  Jeanie in bobbysox, 1949
●  Jeanie sunbathing, 1947
●  Jeanie with her parents at the Lake City Arsenal, 1947
●  Mila Jean's junior photo
●  Mr. C.S. Hann, Zoology/Homeroom
●  Miss Bess Clapp, English
●  Jeanie with the other Smith sisters, Mary Ann and Betty, 1948
●  Jeanie emoting, Easter 1948
●  Jeanie with her mother and the Nashes in Hannibal, 1948
●  Mila Jean's senior photo
●  Dee Glogau and Jeanie's senior homeroom photo
●  Dolores (Dee) Glogau
●  Patricia (Pat) Liston
●  Trouvere music appreciation society, 1949
●  Y-Teen Cabinet, 1949
●  Jeanie with Ada Louise, Mellie and Marcia for Easter in Shelbina MO, 1949
●  Pat and Jeanie in KCU's Sigma Alpha Iota, 1953
●  Jeanie as a bridesmaid at Dee's wedding, 1954
●  Mila Jean with members of the 1948-49 All-City Orchestra
●  two views of the girls clowning on Jeanie's 17th birthday, May 1949
●  Jeanie's alternate expressions in graduation regalia, June 1949
●  Central High School Commencement program, 1949
●  Jeanie (wearing glasses) and Ada Louise at Niagara Falls, July 1949
●  DeCloud Studio portrair of Mila Jean, 1949


A Split Infinitive Production
Copyright © 2019 by P. S. Ehrlich