Friday, November 28, 2014

George Rutherfurd: Life After War

This is the seventh post in a series about my great-grandfather, George Roscoe Oliver Rutherfurd.

George Rutherfurd with his wife Julia after arriving home in California

George Rutherfurd and the 411th Telegraph Battalion arrived in San Francisco on May 5, 1919.  The war was over.  George was returning home to a wife he hadn't seen for fifteen months and a daughter he'd never met.  Julia Barrett Rutherfurd was in San Francisco to greet her husband upon his arrival.  It must have been a joyful moment, as George and Julia had been newlyweds when they were separated by war.  George had brought Julia a beautiful cameo pin he'd bought for her in France, a lovely piece that my mother now owns.  Packed carefully in his belongings was the telegram announcing his daughter's birth.

George Rutherfurd and his wife Julia at the time of their marriage in 1918

A banquet was held for the veterans at the San Francisco Commerical Club.  Emotional speeches were given and the members of the 411th prepared to decommission and re-enter civilian life.  For George, this meant a return to Los Angeles and his job at Pacific Telegraph and Telephone.  It meant moving out of his mother-in-law, Nellie Barrett's home and into a house of his own with his wife and child.  Most importantly, it meant forging a bond with his nine month-old daughter, LaVerne.

My grandmother, LaVerne Rutherfurd Smith, said that she and her father loved each other from the start.  She thought he hung the moon, and he felt much the same about her.  LaVerne had been named for her mother's good friend, LaVerne, but this name presented a challenge for George.  He didn't much care for the name LaVerne, so he called her Tommy.  My grandmother said she wasn't sure how this nickname had originated, but it wasn't because her father had wanted a boy.  It was a term of endearment, and so special to her that she later called her firstborn son Tom.  George and his Tommy formed a mutual admiration society that would last the rest of their lives.

George, Julia and LaVerne in 1921

In 1920, George was sent on assignment to work with the phone company in Sacramento.  He brought Julia and LaVerne with him, and they lived there well into 1921.  They then returned home to Los Angeles, and in 1922, George and Julia bought their first home at 3429 West 60th Street in Los Angeles.  Three years later, they moved to 3510 West 59th Street, just a short distance away.  They remained in this home for many years.

The house at 3429 West 60th Street in Los Angeles

While George and Julia wanted to have more children, they weren't able to do so.  LaVerne was their only child.  LaVerne was very close to her parents and had many fond memories of them.  She often described her father's love of sailing.  After the war, he'd learned to sail and was at his happiest sailing out to Catalina Island on his boat.  He owned a Star boat of about 38 feet in length and took Julia and LaVerne out sailing nearly every weekend.  Julia never enjoyed being on the water as much as her husband, but she shared a great love of reading with George and LaVerne.   The family could often be found reading into the evenings at home.  George was occasionally sent to Sacramento to work with the telephone company there, but other than that, the family didn't do much traveling.  They talked about sending LaVerne on a European tour after she graduated college, but then World War II broke out and the idea had to be abandoned.

In 1941, George and Julia announced the engagement of their daughter, now a graduate of University of Southern California, to Glenn Smith, a young man she'd been dating since her teens.  A wedding was planned.  Then, Julia died suddenly of a stroke on June 30, 1941.  She did not live to see her daughter's wedding on November 1st.  Julia's unexpected death devastated George and LaVerne.

George with his daughter LaVerne on the day of her marriage to Glenn Smith in Los Angeles

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment