1989

Throughout the year Garé maintained a lively correspondence with John ..., a relative, who was helping establishing a family tree for Garé's ancestors. The letters are quite extensive*, and the renderings below are merely very brief excerpts from the letters. The individual passages have to some extent been chronologically arranged by the editor in order to make them a bit more fluent and understandable, but all words are Garé's own.

* Garé wrote on top of one of the letters: Please don't try to read this all at once! Lord - it's as long as 'Quo Vadis'!

 

 

...My apologies for slowness in answering your letters of the 27th and 28th April and May 14th...
...Thank you for the photos... I wonder if the school would have been the one mum (in letters Garé always referred to her mother Ethel this way - Editor's remark) referred to as 'the Priory'. I think so - because I've seen that before in someone's album labeled as the Priory! Mum had horrible memories of her days there - of being forced to sew little tiny stitches on delicate material in a dark room when from a child she had such a stigmatism she couldn't see what she was working on, then being cracked on the knuckles for missing a stitch...
...I never heard anything good about their (Ethel and her siblings' - Editor's remark) young lives - all their memories were of being hungry, being punished, being cold, having to spend endless hours sitting in church and being cold because they hadn't enough warm clothes, and being told that it was God's will till they thought of God as some horrible monster ... and with Nina and the older girls (there were 14 in all - Editor's remark) the memories of lugging endless babies around, wiping endless noses, washing endless numbers of rags that were used for diapers. None of them had any fond memories of their young lives...

...I know my Grandma (Charlotte) was rabid on the subject of temperance. I remember she and my dad getting into it (squabbling) a couple of times because the Catholic Bishop of Hawaii would occasionally give my dad a bottle of wine during prohibition. The architectural work my dad did for the Catholic church in Hawaii kept us all eating during the depression...
...I think the main reasons for the children (except for Will and Fred and Harry) leaving England and traveling for Africa were economic - looking for where they could find a means of survival. None of them to my knowledge had any training in any trade...

...I did find a copy of my dad's enlistment in the 'national guard' at Schofield Barracks on the island of Oahu (the island Honolulu is on) and it's dated 1918 - so they had moved to Honolulu from the island of Hawaii sometime in 1918 - meaning that I must have been less than a year old when someone held me up to look at the lights of the volcano, and I can remember a dog we had there called 'Rocco' and I can remember eating the heads of some matches and getting sick - more clearly than I can remember things when I was older...

...I have a whole album still of old family photos I'd like to send you if you'd like it. If so, I will go there and do my best to identify as many as I can and date them???...

...I am the younger daughter of Ethel Harriette (Banning) Williams and Frederick William Williams, a Welshman. My mum and dad must have left England shortly after my sister, Gwendolyn Carr (named after her father's family - Editor's remark) Wright was born in Oct. 1907 (actually, Ethel and Gwendolyn left as late as 1912 to join Garé's father in the USA - Editor's remark). And, Oh Boy! how they traveled for the next 10 years or so. First, they spent a year in the state of Maine nearly starving to death, altho my dad was a trained Architect and Engineer, the only work he could find was chopping firewood at 50c a day. He had to walk 6 miles a day to get milk for Gwen in -30 degrees weather (equals minus 34 degrees Celsius - Editor's remark). Finally, he got on with one of the railroads that was being built across Canada as an overseer on the bridges and trestles that they were building, and they worked their way across Canada that way.
At one point, in 1911, when Gwen was about three, the work was in such wild country that mum took Gwen and went back to England to Grandma for a year... Eventually, my dad was able to send for them and mum got bookings on the great new Titanic! (1912). When she arrived to board, she was told they had overbooked, and she must go on the next best thing, the Carpathia - well, you know the rest of that story! (The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank with 1,500 souls. 700 survived many of which were picked up by the Carpathia and sailed to New York - Editor's remark). Meantime, my dad was nearly frantic thinking she and Gwen were on the Titanic - till the Carpathia arrived...

...The railroad my dad was working on reached the Pacific coast in 1914 or 1915 - but I think my parents must have left it in 1913. Meantime mum's youngest brother Claude had joined them (he later renamed himself 'Dick'). I wish you could have known them (Dick and my dad) while they were alive - so you could have heard the wild tales of their experiences there in Western Canada...
...Anyway, my folks decided to go and join Aunt Connie (Constance Banning Woolard) and family who had migrated to Australia (Sydney?). Dick joined them a little later. On the way, their ship stopped in Honolulu, Hawaii. They were fascinated with it. They stayed in Australia a very short time, they hated it! They must have left in 1914 to return to Hawaii, because they always spoke of being terrified on the trip back of being attacked by the German cruiser Emden (this was during World War One 1914-1918 - Editor's remark). The Emden was sunk itself in late 1914 after roving the South Pacific for a number of months.
In Hawaii their luck changed. My dad found work in the building trade and later, in 1917, he was offered a very lucrative job on a large sugar plantation on the island of Hawaii as weigh master - house and transportation furnished (transportation being a big old mule who always managed to pitch him into the irrigation ditches).
I was born there in 1917 (Dec) and my earliest memory is being held up to a window to see the brilliant red lights in the sky above the erupting Kilauea Volcano about 2 miles away. I must have been about 18 months old.
Sometime in 1919 or 1920 we all moved back to Honolulu where my dad had been offered an opening in the offices of two early day Honolulu architects, Emory and Webb. My dad got his license... as a structural engineer and for a number of years was one of only 2 structure engineers in the islands. The white resident population at that time being somewhere just over 10,000 for all the islands...

...Mum and Pup lived in Hawaii with brief sorties to California until shortly after W.W.II started. I had just rejoined them after 4½ years in art school in Boston, Mass., in June 1941. - The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing the USA into the war Dec. 7, 1941. We were evacuated to California Feb. 27th, 1942, because of my parents' age and health. They tried to get as many older folks out of the islands as possible to ease the difficulty of transporting enough food over there from the States.
They bought a 20 acre (8 hectares - Editor's remark) apricot orchard (it was equipped with facilities for drying the fruit and during the war they produced 100's of tons of dried apricots) in Hemet, California, (they paid $3,500 for it... - the land sold 12 years later for $150,000), which my mum ran for two years. My dad worked for the U.S. Engineers for 2 years about 250 miles north of Hemet at Santa Maria, California. I worked in Los Angeles at Douglas Aircraft as a draughtsman, and at Boeing in Seattle as draughtsman for the rest of the war.
The war over, my dad went back to building and later retired - he was ill with a form of pernicious anemia the last 10 years of his life - kept alive with blood transfusions. He died in 1963. My mum in 1973, result of a bad fall. Here I want to say that they were two of the really wonderful people who happen on Earth occasionally. I often wonder what would have happened without them...

...Now, for my story, I'll make it brief - 4½ years in art school, draughting during the war, then an unsuccessful marriage - divorce - became a successful housepainting contractor (I had always supervised the painting and decorating of the homes my dad and several other contractors built). Then finally in 1952, met, again, a man I had met casually a couple of times while we were both divorced. He had a high pressure business writing and drawing the Walt Disney comic books and needed help. I was finding the house painting too strenuous, so I went to work for him and a couple of years later we married (1954) much to the consternation of my dad who thought I was crazy marrying a man 17 years my senior.
However - it was the best thing I ever did in my life. We have had 35 years of very happy marriage, hard incessant work in the cartooning years till 1966 when he retired from that particular phase of his work. The comic books that he wrote and drew were the largest selling of any magazines in the world other than LIFE for many years. The original pages that he wrote and drew for $45 a page, now sell for $10,000 to $12,000 (the few that escaped the incinerator at the publishing house).
Carl is now 88 years old and still painting. Since 1959, when some of his fans broke the wall of secrecy Disney Studios kept around all their artists and writers, and found out who wrote those stories they loved, the Barks cult has grown into millions all over the world. And I think he's worthy of their adoration - he's kind and gentle and like most humorists - from clowns to writers - very serious. He's been a wonderful companion all these years, and now, finally, he is getting (financially) some of the rewards of his work. Carl is the only one of Disney's writers or artists who has ever been allowed to collect royalties on his work the last 12 years (Mickey Mouse artist Floyd Gottfredson was also allowed to produce 24 paintings during the years 1978 through 1983 - Editor's remark).
From 1966 thru 1983 I painted and sold through galleries, the paintings, I mean. By 1983 the recognition of Carl's work had snowballed, books of his work being published, his paintings of the Disney Ducks reproduced as expensive lithographs - that it kept me hopping just answering the phone and the mail. And that's what I'm still doing.
By moving out of the Los Angeles area we moved away from a lot of the 'pesty' casual visitors and interferences that were driving us nuts...

Now my sister Gwen (short for Gwendolyn - Editor's remark), 10 years my senior still hail and hearty at 81. A very sweet gentle soul, with a horrible inferiority complex that led her into and out of three disastrous marriages (2 children (girl and boy) by the first, 1 son by the second, none by the 3rd)...
...Gwen has left Hawaii several times and always gone back. She lives in an apartment on Social Security and seems happier than she ever was as a younger woman...

(The last two paragraphs illustrate how Garé would end her letters - Editor's remark):

...I think I'll end this awfully long rambling recitation of my memories of people and movements of the family (Garé wrote detailed comments on all the ancestors as she could in her letters, but these passages have been omitted here - Editor's remark). Please forgive its disjointments and lack of composition - but things just kept popping into my head as I went along.

...I will get Carl to make copies of all this and then get it in the mail. The photos and sketch of the Pub at Miller's Dale were fascinating but I am going to return them. I've given up waiting to get it down to John's (John Barnes, a cousin - Editor's remark) to get his help in identifying people - God knows when we'll make it down there. Either he gets sick or I do, or something urgent comes up with Carl's work... We can't get a house-sitter to stay here while we're gone. We need the phone answered by someone other than an answering machine!

 

 

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