Thursday, February 26, 2015

Photo Feature: Faces of Nancy

Today's feature is all about one special person - my grandmother, Nancy Witter Callin.

The Witter family, c.1931
Glendale, Arizona
Grandma was born and raised in Glendale, Arizona, and spent most of her life there and in the neighboring town of Peoria. She was an art teacher, traveler, souvenir collector, and notorious pack rat, so she left a lot of photographs and other visual artifacts behind to document her life. Most of the photos in these regular Photo Feature posts are here because of her.

Here she is in a rare snapshot of her whole family - her daddy, Dick Witter, her momma, Hannah Merle Huff (who preferred to go by "Merle"), and her brother, Richard (usually referred to as Dick Jr.). I say rare because Merle did not seem to be as fond of getting her picture taken as she was of having pictures of her kids. Her family, the Huffs, displayed a fondness for keeping and sending photos to each other, so I imagine she was motivated

Dick Sr. with
Dick Jr and Nancy
c. 1936
Nancy as a young teenager
Most of the family are familiar with Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird, and when we look at pictures of Nancy as a little girl with her big brother Richard, we see a real-life Scout and Jem Finch. I don't think Nancy was ever quite the tomboy that Scout was, but I'm willing to bet that growing up on a dairy farm in Depression-era Arizona gave her plenty of opportunity to get a little dirty from time to time.

(Check out tomorrow's post for a look at what young Nancy was like, and how she got on with one of her most famous neighbors!)

Scout Finch wasn't the only literary comparison we made to young Nancy. I remember the first time I saw this portrait of her as a a girl thinking that it looked like my cover of The Diary of Anne Frank:

Nancy (right) and her best friend Bobbe
visiting Rosa Murray Huff, c. 1940
In high school, Nancy's best friend was Bobbe Harris, and it seems they did just about everything together. Here we see them visiting Nancy's grandmother, Rosa Murray Huff. (Rosa and I share a birthday - only separated by 111 years!)

I don't recall any details, but I got the impression that Nancy inherited her passion for traveling the country from her Huff grandparents. The Huffs were the adventurous early settlers from Kansas, as you might recall from an earlier post.

Bob and Nancy - 1940s newlyweds
There isn't much story behind most of these portraits.

I have grandpa with his rakish Casablanca hat...

The Witters at home - Dick Sr., Nancy, Merle, and Dick Jr.
...and the Witter family relaxing on the couch.

These three are school photos, presumably from Nancy's long career as an art teacher with the Glendale Union School District:

Nancy, Bob, Vicki, Ted, and Barbara

And this one can only be explained by the 1960s!

Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Bob with my mom and dad (and aunt Vicki peeking out in the middle).

But this is the lady I remember most - another school photo, this one probably from the early to mid-1980s.

This is the Grandma who babysat my sister and I on occasion, letting us watch The Dukes of Hazard and play with her art supplies. This is the Grandma who let us come swim in her pool all summer long, and who fed us iced oatmeal cookies (Grandma's brand, naturally) before bed.

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