Wanda Johnson #3, hopefully more than the lonely divorcee she presents on paper

Wanda Johnson in 1908, age 17

Wanda Johnson in 1908, age 17

Wanda Johnson is identified by #3 on the Seneca High School photo from Seneca, Kansas. (Whole photo originally posted here.) Her bow is magnificent isn’t it? Wanda was from a larger family, and one I wish I had the time to delve into more. She was born about 1890/91 in Kansas to Irvin Johnson (1856, CA) and Ellen Burger (1854, Canada). Her parents married in Ontario but the children were born in Kansas. Irvin was a farmer naturally. Wanda was the 6th of 7 children as well as I can tell.

In 1908, when this photo was taken, Wanda was 17 or 18. In 1910 she lived in Seneca with her parents. Her older sister Effie and husband and small child lived in a nearby town, Richmond, with older brother Claude. Claude was a widower at 26 with a baby (Claude Jr.).  See what I mean? So much more I’d love to research. But back to Wanda.

She married Elmer Britt sometime before 1915 when the couple appeared in the 1915 KS census. In 1920 they lived in Seneca, Kansas and Elmer was a barber. But, by 1930 they had made a move to Los Angeles, California. Older sister Effie (now Stevens) and family were also living in CA, near Los Angeles. I’m not sure who followed whom. Elmer was working as a salesman for building materials. The couple had no children and that may have been the reason that by 1940 they were divorced.

Wanda was a single border in LA working in a clerical position for the board of education – at age 49 it may have been her first job. And unfortunately her sister, Effie, would die in LA a few years later in 1944. I hope Wanda wasn’t as lonely as she appeared on paper (or even in this photo). While I’m not totally sure this is her, a Wanda Britt born 10/29/1890 died in Arizona in April of 1978.

Blanche Dellis Prater, “My Dearest Friend”

I’m going to do something a little different with this post. I have a treasure of a family document, my grandmother’s 1930 High School “memory book”. It was a gift upon her graduation from her oldest sister, Sybil Guthrie. My grandmother, Holly, either loved high school (likely since she was the valedictorian) or was really bored because this book is chalk-full of memories, photos, signatures, letters, grades, you name it. It’s absolutely wonderful!

One of the first pages is titled “My Dearest Friend.” On it is one photo “Blanche” or Mrs. Hillard Prater as she was soon to be known. It’s a beautiful photo; and I knew a lot about Blanche without doing any research. She was probably born around 1911, just like my grandmother. She went to Mullin high school and therefore likely lived in Mills county, Texas, like my grandmother. And she clearly married Mr. Prater. Later in the book she’s identified by the last name Dellis.

Here are the many places where Blanche makes an appearance in my grandmother’s memory book:

  • My Dearest Friend page (see photo)
  • Nicknames and Nonsense page – Blanche’s nickname was “Auntie”, later in the book she’s referred to as “Blondie”
  • On the “class roll” listed in the local newspaper
  • The “My Friends” page. Blanche’s note on 5/14/1929 to my grandmother was “Love me lots.”
  • Blanche was listed as the “circulation manager” on the Tattler staff 1929-1930
  • She and my grandmother were on the girls basketball team (Blanche was a guard), Blanche is also listed on the tennis team
  • The “Holidays” page says “Blanche and Rosa Meek came to see me. We went to Goldthwaite and saw Seignor.” Christmas day there was a “party at Blanche’s”
  • Another photo of Blanche in the senior photo (attached) and on the basketball team photo (attached).
  • On a “Dates” page, Blanche’s wedding date is noted as June 7th.
  • A photo of Mr. and Mrs. H Prater (attached).
  • A full page in the memory book is signed by Blanche with a note. (photo attached)

I hope that my grandmother’s careful preservation of her high school memories can be beneficial to others – like Blanche’s family. It’s a treasure trove I’m more than happy to share!