Images My Dad Left Behind
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IntroductionMy Dad, Ollie Garland Tanner, was a complex man. He had two sets of children (13 in all) in two marriages over a period of 30 years. By the time of his death at age 54 he had already buried 4 of his kids and a fifth would pass before reaching full adulthood. Now, only 6 of us remain.
I was 7 months old in September 1958, when my Mom (his second wife) left him because his drinking had gotten out of control. Not long thereafter he left the property he had transformed from a swamp into a farm (just south of the dunes of Lake Michigan in Lake County, Indiana), and wandered aimlessly for a couple of years. In December 1960, when I was almost 3 years old, he died in Des Moines, Iowa. His sister Cleta told me she was the one who met him after that last train ride "home." She confirmed my Mom's bizzare tale of a violent death by simply saying: "Whatever he did wrong in his life, he paid for in his death."In between the sad and bitter stories about him, are the echos and murmurs of a hero. I have spent a good bit of my life looking for him in the few artifacts he left behind and in the words and memories of those who knew him. This page will probably be a long time growing. The "Images" which will fill it will be both graphical and the works of a word-smith. Right now I will begin by adding links to some scans I have made. Because I am eager for some instant gradification, I am not doctoring each one up as a neat HTML encoded file, so, for the time being: please use the "BACK" button on your Browser to return to this page after viewing each linked image.
WWII Pocket Journal
My parents met at the Brooklyn Navy Yards at the commissioning of the battle ship my Father would serve on as Fireman First Class, the Bonne Homme Richard. While on board he kept a pocket journal. My brother David now owns this slim notebook.
Veterans Permanent Free Permit
When my Father returned to Indiana, it was to completely changed circumstances. His eldest son, "Red" had died in a drowning accident while my Dad was still in training. I have always wondered if this terrific loss did not set in motion the emotions and events which led to his leaving his first wife, Evelyn. Not long after he got home, he was joined by my New York City raised Mother who would share his rural lifestyle for the next 13 years. In any case, his status as an honorably discharged veteran earned him this lifetime permit to hunt and fish and trap. The stories my family tells of his 16 hunting dogs and his ability to move silently in the woods made him seem legendary to me as a small child.
Farmer's Pocket LedgerAs he had during the war, my Father kept a slim pocket journal about matters on his farm. In addition to all the notes he jotted down, it came (probably as a free give-away to promote John Deere products) full of pre-printed information on weights and measures, crop to acreage conversions & etc.
Newspaper ClippingsThree clippings that were tucked into his Farmer's Pocket Ledger show the strong feelings my Father had for his profession and his children.
Library CardIn 1988 I went to Charleston, Illinois to meet my Aunt Cleta who was 86 at the time. We had been corresponding since 1979 but I had never met her before. In all the time I knew her, she was the only still-living of my Father's huge group of children... Like me, he was the youngest of 13. Cleta was the second youngest.
Charleston is the nearest city to the very small town of Ashmore where they were born and where I visited my great-grand father's grave. So many things happened on that trip! In time, I will get around to writing more about it. For now, I simply want to say that toward the end of the trip I went for a couple of days to north-western Indiana and visited with Jim, Pauline, Juanita and Garland: my half-siblings. It was Memorial Day Weekend and everyone came to Pauline's for a picnic. I was astounded when Pauline went into the house and came back out with a gym bag full of things that had been my Dad's, and gave it to me. I will write more about the contents of that bag ... but for the moment: there was this library card, from "The Public Library, Des Moines, Iowa."
OK, That is as much as I have gotten done so far. Come back as watch as my telling of the story of my Dad grows. Next up -- some family photos including James (his Dad), Sarah (my Mom), and my Dad in his handsome Navy duds! Web hosting services provided by THE FOXFILES are dedicated to the memory of my parents:
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THE FOXFILES are dedicated to the memory of my parents: