|I recall my mother using three words that are in the flapper glossary:
cluck, goofy, and pie-eyed. Cluck is defined as "a girl who
dances clumsily," however, my mother used it in its traditional meaning
of "a dull-witted, stupid person..." She also talked about people being
"goofy" in love and sometimes referred to those under the influence as
these hung with her from the Roaring Twenties
or appeared in her vocabulary decades later is impossible to
My dad was born in 1909, at the end of the score of years that produced flappers. He wasn't a "dew dropper" (see glossary) but reputedly, he did show up at barn dances with moonshine in the trunk to make a few bucks on the side. At least this is what someone who knew him at the time told me.
Careless, youthful passion during the fiery flapper era affected my parents forever. My mother wound up pregnant and unmarried at 20, and my dad, at 19, was forced to wed a pregnant woman though, I'm told, he always denied being the baby's father.
His shotgun marriage ended in divorce within two years, but he paid child support for 16 more. The daughter always regarded him as her father, but he didn't acknowledge or have anything to do with her. In the months following his divorce, he met, romanced, and married my mother.
He never spoke to me of his first marriage or the daughter, but I was just a few months past 15 when he died. My mother told brother Bob and me about my dad's past and that he was not my oldest brother Forry's biological father just prior to his funeral in January, 1966. She thought the daughter might attend and wanted us to be prepared. The daughter did attend and sent a floral arrangement labeled "Dad." She stood looking into the open casket, cried as hard as anyone, and probably had more to cry about.
Like everyone, my dad was far from perfect, but he was good to me and certainly inspired a love of reading, thinking, and the stars. He was charismatic, the type people warmed to quickly and wanted to be around. It was hard to recover from his death at just 56, and I tended to idealize him. One day I was telling my daughter what a great guy he was, when she interrupted and said, "What kind of guy would ignore a little girl who thought he was her dad?" This gave me pause.
From what I've heard, he always blamed the pregnancy on others, but his first wife expressed certainty it was him because she liked him best. His father was persuaded and pretty soon my dad was married to his first wife—at least that's the way I've heard the tale. There are two sides to every story, and I haven't heard the woman's and she, like my dad, is long gone.
I don't excuse or condone his behavior but have a feeling his anger at the woman and looming years of child support payments clouded his judgment and once he began rolling down that road it was hard to take a different route. Probably it caused him a great deal of anguish and pain and he very well might have wished he had decided differently.
My oldest brother, Forrest, was born in 1927 and had many talents. Our mother said his father was a prominent man in her home area who was killed in a train wreck after she became pregnant but before they could marry. She didn't like talking about it, but I wish I had questioned her more intently. She's been dead more than 20 years now and we'll never know.
Oddly, Forry, as we called him, did not have a middle name. My father married my mother in 1933 and later my dad legally adopted Forry. A new birth certificate was issued and both are listed as his parents; "Yes" is typed after "Legitimate?" in Box 7.
Wittenberg, Wisconsin Grays circa 1932.
Alfred August Schaar kneeling row,
second from the left. Probably
he was 22 or 23 at the time.
Alfred August Schaar. Little could he have suspected that his
his final son, born 18 years after the photograph was taken,
would be captioning a blow-up from the team photo 85
years later. He was a long-time nicotine addict and
might be holding a cigarette in his left hand.
It's hard to be certain.