Oh, happy Independence Day, America.
Funny thing was, I’d planned to give this a miss for a few reasons. Firstly, I know people are going to want to hear what tomorrow is like for me, with the EEG Scan, and I try not to do too many blogs, as well as too few in a week. But then someone posted a picture, and well, I had to post it, and it could hardly wait a year, so…
Of course, the funny thing about my connections to the USA, so many of them lead to one state, Oklahoma! Of course its where Clara Johnson was born, in territory time, and not only that, but Kate has pointed out to me, its a highly likely target point for my Irish Great Grandparents at the time, if they’d gone west, instead of to England. Given that would have happened just before Clara was born only makes that even more ironic.
Sadly, Kate and I have agreed that even if I get permission to fly, post scans (which I will, if only epilepsy), I wont be going to Oklahoma this year. I think she’d rather have me nearer home, and with the better facilities in New England close by, and in truth, I dont blame her! But if Clara thinks she’s safe, there’s always next year, by which time hopefully things will be really stabilised!
I cant make plans until after the scans on what I will do, as a lot will depend on where, when, and how much surgery I got done, to solve all my issues. A dear friend (or 2) have made it very clear they’d love to find a way to get it done in the USA, and given some of the recent reports coming out about the NHS, who can blame them? But until I know whats the matter with my brain, no comment. But definitely need to get some bits bobbed somewhere in the near future, I’ve pledged for that, and in truth, it will be nice now to get it done.
Its also fascinating to think where I might be now, if my ancestors had gone west to ‘Oklahoma’? Or did one version of my life have that happen, produce Clara Johnson, and only in the other life did they come to England? I know, silly idea, but an interesting thought. Would I have followed Clara’s route, ended up in movies in Hollywood, would I have followed Kate’s route, to New England. Or might I be a happy housewife home in Oklahoma, with children, who knows?
Oh right, that photo, no I hadnt forgotten. Its a picture of another shy, demure blonde, who would never say boo to a goose. Yes, you know I’m joking I hope, because its Mae West, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Would I love to wear this dress, you bet I would!
Maybe next year, somewhere in the USA, who knows, but I wouldnt put good money on it!
Right, the video. Its the obvious song, but its ironic about the way politicians pat themselves on the chest, and have this blasting out at rallies. Why, because its actually an Anti Vietnam song, and not deeply proud of what the USA did. But they just look at the song title, not the lyrics, and… God Bless America!
The next few days might be a let down for readers, but a bonus for me. Why, you ask? Because apart from Sunday, if you’re lucky, one blog will cover both versions! Tonight, because of the event, and next week, because of the holiday. But for now…
113 years ago today, in a small part of Pottawatomie county, Oklahoma Territory (as it was then, only became a state in 1907), a baby girl was born, to, I assume, a Mr and Mrs Johnson. They seemingly named her Clara Elaine, and the rest, in terms of Hollywood Chorus girl duties, and the like, are history.
Maybe one day, I’ll do more of a dig on Ancestry.com, and discover what her parents names were, and if there were any more brothers and sisters, as well as her. The only tentative suggestion (apart from the lack of birth control back then) that there was more than 1 child, was one of her actual film credits, when there was also a Peter Johnson listed in the cast. Of course, that might simply be a name coincidence, though her 1930 Los Angeles census record did mention 1 brother, so I am inclined to suspect it was probably him.
All I know of the early history is that she moved to LA from Texas in 1925, but when the move there, from Oklahoma, no idea. I need a long enough period of time to really work on Ancestry.com to dig into that sort of matter, and also I need the funds to buy a subscription for a few months at least, that I can get to really use to dig for info. So probably wont happen until I’ve finished working, whenever that is, but then… Even then, I suspect I’m only going to have the 1910, and 1920 census details, so unlikely to find exactly when the Texas moved happened is still going to be vague.
The other thing that needs a major digging through, is a list of marriages in the LA area in the late 30’s (most likely, as her work career seems to stop around 37/38), or perhaps the beginning of the 40’s, because for now, thats where my trail goes cold, with the lack of her married name. Given that her daughter she mentioned would now be in her 70’s, if still alive, it might be fascinating to follow the family tree from there. Probably grand children, and great grand children by now! I wonder if any know, or wonder what Grandma/Great Grandma did?
As I say, if I survive to retirement, and I’m mobile enough to still do it, I suspect it might be my post retirement challenge to try and find out more. I guess that nowadays, I could do a lot from the comfort of a computer at home, anyway?
I must admit, one thing I’d love to do, just once, especially at my age, is do the whole chorus girl thing. My dancing wouldnt be great, I’d probably look less than graceful in one of those flimsy outfits, but my attitude is, just once, I dont care, I want to do the whole Clara Johnson thing! I have 2 lovely friends who are trying to work on making that happen, so who knows, but I hope so?
Anyway, given this was the first year I actually have known her birthday, before the big day, I wasnt going to miss this chance. Its funny to think though, she had all the glamour of working in Hollywood, without any of the fame!
So, happy heavenly birthday, Clara Elaine Johnson, and hopefully, maybe one day, we can get to actually meet, though not in this world.
OK, video time. I have seen her dancing in numerous musicals of the late 20’s, and through the 30’s, including many of the famous ones. For all that, back then, unless they went on to make it, chorus dancers didnt normally get credits. One that Clara did, was a film named Strike Me Pink, though seemingly she was working under her middle name at the time, probably because Clara was a little ‘old fashioned’ name by 1936? Its also the best sighting of her, because she fills the screen between 4:13, and 4:17 in this clip
Sorry, if you only come here for the video selection, you might as well leave now, there wont be one. Why, because what I’m writing about doesnt really fit in with a music video for me somehow.
Yes, I’m sure that by now, you’ve heard the news about Oklahoma? And though in a sense I’m delighted to hear that the death toll has gone down from 91, to 24, its still not great news all the same. I’ve seen a tornado on TV, thankfully never seen, or experienced one in real life, and I hope it stays that way. The frightening thing, this was only an EF-4 tornado, which means there is one level of tornado more dangerous than that! Makes you think, doesnt it?
Yes, the Mid West is known as tornado alley for a good reason, they happen there on a regular basis, though mostly not as strong as this. And many just blast a 500 yard whole in a corn field, and vanish again, unfortunately this one didnt. Unlike lightning, they do seem to strike twice in the same place, Moore, OK suffering another very bad one just 13 years ago.
As I say, I wouldnt want to get caught up in one. Apart from a few crazy people in a TV show, I’m not sure who would?
Anyway, just to say that at present, my heart goes out to all those in Oklahoma, and the surrounding states at present. So, if you can spare some local currency, of whatever variety, feel free to do so. It doesnt have to be as large as Kevin Durant’s million dollar pledge, because lets face it, our salaries arent in his league in the first place. But just something, join with me.
Alright, pledging over, I promise the next blog will be more lighthearted…hopefully.