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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Detective

My second cousin sent a photo the other day, which proved to have an interesting mystery. The snapshot is of my great-grandfather, Alfred John Johnson, who is the old gentleman near the left side of the picture. He is surrounded by his children and their spouses, his grandchildren and their spouses, and his great-grandchildren. I probably have a copy of this somewhere, but what was interesting about the copy Chris sent is that her mother had identified the people on the picture. So first, here's the picture:
I'm the boy just about in the middle of the photo. After admiring the photo for a few minutes, I wanted to figure out when it was taken. I knew, first of all, that it would have been taken at one of the annual "birthday parties" held at my great-uncle's ranch in Sloughhouse, CA, on or around Grandpa Johnson's birthday, which was in May. He died in August, 1956, so obviously it could be no later than May, 1956.  The names Chris's mom had written indicated that the young child right next to Grandpa is Peter Leo Johnson, another second cousin; he was born in October, 1955, so that pretty much indicated the picture had to be taken in August, 1956. 

But what was odd about this is that the youngest girl just a bit to the right of me had been identified as my sister Vicki, who was born in 1953, and this little girl certainly is older than three! I blew the photo up a tad and realized that this was actually my younger sister Susan, who was born in March, 1955, so would have been just over a year. OK, that looks right. But where was Vicki? I wondered at first if perhaps she wasn't there; about that time, she had some very serious health problems, and perhaps she was in the hospital or otherwise absent because of illness. 

But then I saw it! Looking at the "blown up" picture, I noticed her--mostly obscured, but you can make out her head, third from the right, sitting in my dad's lap. Well, she always was a shy little thing. Obviously Betty, when she wrote the identifications, had missed her entirely.

For the record, here's who they all are. Let's go left to right:
Gerald Grupe Johnson, with son Gerald Patrick Johnson in his lap; his wife Rita (Chapman) Johnson, with son Peter Leo Johnson in her lap; Great-grandpa Alfred John Johnson; Gerald Columbus Johnson; Ruth (Moore) Johnson (wife of Lester); Linda Sue Paradise, Marcy Ruth Paradise, and their mother, Marjorie Elsie (Johnson) Paradise (Lester's daughter); Elma (Johnson) Craig; Olin Street Johnson (my grandfather); kneeling in front, Christine Schriefer; behind her, myself; next to me, Elizabeth Ann (Craig) Schriefer (who wrote the identifications); behind her, her husband Raymond Schriefer; then my grandmother, Katharyn (Likins) Johnson, my mother Lorine (Anderson) Johnson, and of course my sister Susan Amelia Johnson in front, and my dad Alfred Likins Johnson, with my sister Victoria Kathryn Johnson in his lap; finally, Lester Alvin Johnson, with Craig Lee Schriefer in his lap. I'm guessing maybe the photo was taken by Daniel J. Craig, Elma's husband, who seems to be the only one not in the picture whom I would have expected to be there.

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