Sunday, February 24, 2008

Photo of the Week: 24 February 2008

(Click on the picture for better detail)

From left to right: Grandma Alice Johnson Keen, her sister-in-law Maude Leah Keen Torvanger, and Maude's husband Bert Martin Torvanger.

I never met Uncle Bert, but we used to visit "Aunt Maudie" sometimes at her apartment in Walla Walla. I LOVED the smell of that place - old, musty, creepy - and the funky old elevators with a window in the door so you could watch yourself move between floors. It was dark and dusty in the hallways, but Maude's apartment was sweet, small and cheerful. She had funny old mauve couches that we kids would smile to each other over, and she would give us money as gifts. Mom said she boiled the coins and washed and ironed the bills before she gave them to us, and we always thought that was funny. Now I think it's absolutely adorable of her. Awww... she wanted our money to be clean.

Aunt Maude never had any children, so Grandma Dot and her sisters were Aunt Maude's heirs. Grandma Dot gave Mom some of Aunt Maude's things, and I remember old nightgowns and pillowcases and sheet sets floating around our home, all marked with the name "Torvanger."

Aunt Maude and Uncle Bert apparently bought some interest in an oil well in Oklahoma. Years later, about 2002, I was contacted about my family tree on Someone from the oil well share company was trying to find Aunt Maude's heirs because we were owed some money, and Mom and I got all excited. Wooo hooo, here comes the cash!

Reality sank in when we learned how much Mom and her three siblings would be receiving. So far, with long distance phone calls, gas money, and legal copies of Aunt Maude's and Grandma Dot's wills, it's cost Mom more than she would have earned from the oil well, just to get this thing hooked up. We're not quite as "in the money" as we once hoped - but that 25 cents a month sustains our Bazooka bubble gum habit, and really, that's all we can ask for.


  1. I love the stories behind the names and dates. I didn't know you were an oil baron, er baroness.

  2. My mother's family has 'oil money', too! It was about $2/month, I think! we are all livin' large on that, too. More precious are my grandmother's letters from her uncles who were in the oil business.