Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy New Year 1950something


This appears to be a New Year Celebration. I am guessing it took place in the 1950s.

I do not know all of the revelers pictured, but the gentleman on the far right was my father-in-law, Ralph Craig Williams. To the right of Ralph is my mother-in-law, Phyllis Jean (Jones) Williams. Both are now deceased.

Ralph was a U.S. Marine and the only survivor of his platoon at Iwo Jima. He was apparently left for dead and later identified by his dog tags. He received a purple heart.

His nickname was "Squire" and was known to be an outstanding salesman. He apparently suffered from the then rarely-understood post-traumatic stress disorder. I heard that he was a wonderful man who ran into some troubles. The life of a traveling salesman did not mesh much with family life. He divorced Phyllis in the early 1960s to live a "fast" life. He died lonely and penniless as a result of alcoholism in 1984. Unfortunately I met Ralph on his deathbed. From that brief meeting I realized that the man was a charmer. If only circumstances were a little better, I am sure he had many stories to tell.

Phyllis struggled as a single mom. It was not as acceptable in the 1960s. She was extremely dedicated to her three children, Craig, Gail and Douglas (my hubby). She made sure that all three children graduated from college. She was a fierce and passionate woman. We had some memorable arguments. I grew to love her as I came to appreciate her. She passed away from cancer in 2005.

16 comments:

Betsy said...

Love the photo...looks like the 50's to me! Love the streamers on the ceiling. You never know what their lives turned out like when you see them young and smiling, do you! They were a cute young couple!

Martin H. said...

Poor Ralph and Phyllis, they both suffered. For Ralph to have survived at Iwo Jima, only to succumb to alcoholism in later life, seems so cruel. The photograph is a happy one though. A nice way to remember them.

Barbara and Nancy said...

They look so happy in the picture. Too bad their lives couldn't stay like this.

dive said...

What a tragic tale, Neetzy. Poor Ralph and Phyllis.
For such a hero to have been so misunderstood is a sad reflection on those times. It's thanks to people like Ralph that such conditions are now recognised and our modern heroes better served by their country.

Nana Jo said...

How nice that you have a snippet of a such a delightful time to remember them. I think it's often a good thing that we don't know the future heartbreak that sometimes befalls our lives.

Poetikat said...

Excellent photo, but even better was your relating their stories. Your father-in-law's story sounds quite a lot like my grandfather's - separating from his wife and dying alone after years of drinking. So sad. Mind you, who can imagine what those war scenarios could do to a man?

They sure did look happy in that picture though, didn't they?

Katie said...

Amazing that there's such a story behind this festive photo. Sorry to hear things didn't end up going so well for your father-in-law. The story about Iwo Jima prompted me to open up a book I've had on my shelf for a long time from 1985 called "Iwo Jima Legacy of Valor". My grandfather Murphy was the Commanding Officer of the 133rd Naval Construction Battalion at Iwo Jima, and amazingly your father-in-law and my grandfather might have been there at the same time. I'm just now reading that the casualties my grandfather's battalion of Seabees suffered at Iwo Jima were the worst of any Seabee unit in the war. I never heard him tell a single story about the war and I'm embarrassed that I haven't read this book, but thank you for prompting me to get it off the shelf. I'll read it now, and think about all the men who fought and died, or who made it home, but were forever changed by their wartime experience.

Maria said...

I've come to believe that you can't really know or love someone until you have a doozy of an argument with them.

neetzy said...

Wow! Thanks everyone for your enthusiastic responses. I will do my best to answer each one personally!

Betsy, My husband was the youngest and does not have fond memories of his absent father. I'd like to think things could've been different.
They were cute!

Martin, I only wish we knew then what we know now. Ralph might have made some better choices.

Barbara and Nancy,
Sometimes you have to just remember the good times.

Dive,

He was held blame for screwing up such a promising life. He would never speak about his war experience.

Nana Jo,

They were happy times I've been told. I will try to remember him this way. Unfortunately my husband, his son, does not.

Poetikat,
I can only imagine. At the time it was not man to talk about it. Thankfully times have changed.

Katie,

Wow. I also would like to know about my father-in-law's platoon. Let me know what you find out!

Maria,

Phyllis and I had MANY arguments. I was always wrong of course.

willow said...

We don't often speak of the effects war has on the surviving soldiers. Sad ending to such a happy picture.

Alan Burnett said...

The photograph seems so evocative of the times - so 1950s. As always, a fascinating story.

neetzy said...

Willow,

At least we are beginning to understand and help these heroes.

Alan,

Thanks. I didn't mean this to be a sad story. I look at the photo and write whatever comes to mind. I should have concentrated on the happiness.

Jingle said...

remarkable stuff,
thank you for helping us recalling history.
Happy Tuesday!

neetzy said...

Thanks Jingle,

It sometimes helps to put a name and a story with the face or blurb in a history text.

Ben Birk said...

Enjoyed the photo and the history. Thanks for sharing.

neetzy said...

Hey Ben Birk!
Long time no talk to. Thanks for stopping by!