These web pages are an attempt to put in one place all the family photos I could find that were taken during the 1950's. Although I have some memories of childhood fears, traumatic-seeming falls from bikes, skates, and on ice, and occasional disagreements with my little sister, my overall reminiscence of this period is of a joyful, exciting time with a loving family and many good friends. I want to dedicate this archive to my parents, who provided us with such a secure and loving foundation during these formative years, and especially to Mom, whose "packrat" tendencies in saving all of these photos and slides have made its creation possible.
The color pictures whose colors are not degraded are from slides, the rest are from photos. All of the photos, and the slides, especially, have been down-sized for ease of display on web pages. If you would like high-resolution copies of any of them, let me know and I'll be glad to send them to you. Take a look at the Who's Who page if you need a refresher on our family tree.
My mother, sister and I spent part of the early years of the decade living in Houston with my grandparents while my father, in the Air Force, spent time moving from base to base for training, and then an extended time on duty in Newfoundland. After he returned to the States, we lived briefly in Valdosta, Georgia, and then he was transferred to Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana, in 1955. We remained in Great Falls for an unusual length of time, as Dad was "transferred" during that period, but the transfer was to duty with the Montana Air National Guard, also located in Great Falls. There was talk near the end of our stay there of his possibly being transferred to Germany sometime in the coming year, a prospect which was both daunting and exciting, but the story of our lives was not to follow this path.
On April 18, 1960, Dad was off on another multi-day mission. I remember him leaving that morning and Mom going out to the garage to see him off. When Joan and I came home from school at lunch that day (as we did every day) one of the neighborhood moms caught us as we approached our house and asked us to go next door, where Mrs. Birtwhistle, who lived there, told us that our father had been killed that morning on takeoff from Malmstrom, along with his young co-pilot. I only have disjointed, episodic memories of the weeks following this horrible morning, but after school was over for the year, we left the home in Montana that we had come to love so deeply, and moved back to Houston. It was necessary, so that Mom, who was quite devastated by this loss, could have the support system of her Houston families to draw upon.
But it was a sad departure, all the same. I finished 5th grade in Great Falls and was just beginning to have something of a social life (I even had a "boyfriend"!) so leaving my friends was hard. Eventually I made good friends in Houston, but I will always treasure the memory of what increasingly seem like golden years in Great Falls.
[If you are interested in seeing more information about the fatal crash, here is a set of web pages that include Great Falls newspaper clippings and other documentation.]
Here is our favorite pre-Steve family picture, of Mom, Joan, myself and Dad, taken in 1955:
And here is a map of the U.S., showing the locations of various places represented in the photos on these web pages:
—Kathleen Lewis Amen, San Antonio, Texas, 2008
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