Except where noted, all text and photographs Copyright © 2015 Stanley D. Williams. All Rights Reserved.

Books I read during my journey from Evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism can be found here:
Recommended Books on Catholicism and Christianity.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Jeremiah Williams and Children

My father, Ben Williams, Captain of the Greenville College Military Company in 1917. Here's the page out of the G.C. 1917 VISTA year book, Ben Williams at lower left.

My cousin, Burt Williams, sent me this picture of my Dad's family when they gathered in 1936 for his mother's funeral in Pinellas, Florida.

Second from Left, Burton Williams, with President Truman and other National Press Photographer's Assn. officers. (see caption above). Uncle Burton was one of the two visual media professionals (and Catholics) on my Dad's side of the family I knew nothing about until I was in my 30's. Yet today, the NPPA gives out the Burt Williams Award to press photographers who have been in the profession for 40 years. (My thanks, again, to my cousin, and Burt Williams' grandson, Burt Williams, for sending me this scan from "A Voice Is Born" a book about the founding and early years of the NPPA by Claude Cookman (1985).

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Bob Kenney

My book does not do my nephew Bob justice. But his kids in 2015 at Christmas did. Here's a Facebook Image of Bob with new PJ's. This says more than the book could ever explain.

Friday, July 24, 2015


The piano was not my forte.
Pictures are being added weekly. The topics are more or less in chronological order as they appear in the book. Use the Table of Contents to "picture along" with your read.

PHOTOSHOP WARNING: I photoshop almost everything....a little. I do not add limbs, eyes, or ears, but I have been known to obliterate dust spots and pimples.

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

Edith Willobee (1880-1962)

Edith Jane (Flesher) Willobee was my maternal grandmother. She lived a "Harrowing" life, which is the title of a novel I've outlined about her life.  This picture was taken in 1907 (age 27) as she prepared to leave for India the first time. She was purposed and determined. Two years later Ross Willobee follows her there. They married in 1911 in India.

This was a fund raising photo of the Willobee family in India taken perhaps a year before Ross and David's death in 1921. (L-R) Ruth (my mother), Edith, David, Hope (my Aunt Hopie), Ross.

The caption, written by Ruth in later years, reads, "Graves of Ross Van Willobee and David Allen (son) at Chowki, India. On right Edith Willobee wife of Ross, on left is daughter Ruth (Willobee) Williams."  To bury her loved ones, Edith tore down the doors and window shutters on their bungalow, which Ross had recently installed, to make coffins. She had to get special permission from the local Raj because Indians do not bury their dead.

This take around 1924 (L-R) Hope, Edith, Ruth. Shortly after Edith's husband, Ross, and their little David (2 years) suddenly died, Edith had a nervous breakdown and spent 6-months bedfast. One day she swung out of bed and ordered up a ox-cart caravan to evangelize the surrounding villages. To promote that work she sent this picture to America seeking financial support for the project.  

Upon rising from her six-month long sick-bed following Ross and David's death, Edith mounted this ox-cart caravan to evangelize and start churches in the surrounding villages. She did this for six years before bringing her girls to America to attend school. Edith is on the far left, and the girls are just to the left of the dog, whom a Tiger later had for dinner. 

Edith Willobee's 1927 passport. Pictured is my mother, Ruth (15) on the left, and my Aunt, Hope (12) on the right. Their journey from central India by ox-cart, train, ferry, steamship...to America is documented in a diary that has become the basis of a future historical pice of fiction I call HARROWING. I'd have to dumb it down for Hollywood to accept it.

Edit retired from missionary service in 1942 and came to live with her daughters, dodging U-Boats as they sailed across the South Atlantic without any lights aboard at night. When Ruth got married, all three women moved in with the widower, Ben Williams.

Although she wasn't very excited about her daughter's marriage to a widower, 18-years Ruth's senior, when a little boy came along, Edith was eager to hold him, pray for him, and tell him stories that put all kinds of ideas into his little head. For 5 months old, I seem big and restless. It was 1947.

Circa 1956.
I find it interesting that the first hotel we stayed at was "Bob's" Hotel...and that the salutation listed everyone in our whole family and then closed with "...and the whole family," as if we were on a vaudeville tour with suitcases full of ventriloquist dummies. 

Over the next eight years, Edith slowly developed Parkinson's Disease, and in 1955, Ruth and Hope put her in a nursing home where we visited every Sunday for seven years until her death in 1962.

Even lying disabled in her bed, her eyes were clear and blue as she'd look up at Hope Ellen (pictured), and me (with the camera) and say, "Hope Ellen and Stanley, I'm praying for you." Today, we are the beneficiaries of those prayers that continue yet today. I imagine that for seven years she laid on her back and did nothing but pray for the people she ministered to in India, and for us.  I am convinced that I am the recipient of God's love shown "to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:5) Thank you, Grandma!

Missionary to India 1908-1942. EDITH J. WILLOBEE. 1880-1962. Edith's grave marker in the Roselawn Cemetery, Berkley, MI. Right across Woodward Ave. from Roselawn's entrance is a Catholic basilica "Shine of the Little Flower" which renowned as a Catholic landmark. As a kid we drove by the shine a thousand times, but never darkened its doors. After becoming Catholic, on my way to work, I attended early morning Mass at Shine for years.

Tuesday, October 1, 1996

Ben & Ruth Williams (my Mom & Dad)

A GREAT ANTAGONIST.  In the book I  write a good deal about how a boy could not have had a better antagonist for a mother. That's putting it nicely. She was mean. But she feared God and I never thought she hated me. There was another side to her however, that I didn't get to know until I began looking through the pictures and letters Mom and Dad left behind. Here's just a snapshot.

HOW DID WE GET HERE? As I've tried to explain in the book, my sister Hope and I never saw Mom and Dad express any physical affection in front of us. Neither in public or in the privacy of our home did we ever see them hold hands, lock lips, or passionately embrace. Just a light platonic hug, or peck on the cheek now and then when one of them would come or go. We wondered where we came from. 

But there was documentation that somehow assured us that indeed we were possible.

There was this, but notice... no address for the wedding, and the recipient was clearly not invited to the wedding at least.  
And there was this. A honeymoon suite for $7.50 at the most exclusive hotel in Dearborn built and owned by Henry Ford.

And who keeps track of expenses on a honeymoon? 
According to my Dad's accounting, the trip cost $57.63, they drove 692 miles (spending only $7.53 on gasoline and oil), and ate only two meals. Perhaps they were distracted by the scenery.

UPON THIER RETURN. Look carefully at the expressions of my mom and dad and her mother. This was taken about two weeks after their honeymoon, just before Christmas 1945, and the Edith is still not too happy about the arrangement. (Remember, Edith wore "black" at her daughter's wedding.) There's a Christmas tree off the screen to the right. The assumption is that Hope, Ruth's sister, took the picture.

Newly weds, Ben & Ruth Williams share a secret as mother-in-law and mom, Edith, looks on. I'm the glimmer in my parent's eyes. The facial expressions are priceless...a caption contest would be in order. 
I've been trying to wrap my head around my Dad's thinking at the time. A widower for five years he was 18-years older than his young bride, then 33. The deal was that if Ruth married him, mother-in-law Edith and sister Hope came to live with him. At least that was the arrangement when I came to live with them 15-months later.

Imagine their thinking that it might be fun to have children around. Little did they realize what kind of fun their first child (me) would bring into their lives. But as their smiles hint, they were determined to find out.

That's when it all started.

I came near April Fool's day 15 months after the above smirks.
Yes, Mom and Dad truly loved and cared for each other. But nothing good is ever easy.

Eight-months into the journey.
Parents had great posture in 1947. 

Detroit Tribune Photo, 1948
 (Right B&W) Mild-mannered Sealtest Dairy Safety Director by day, mild-mannered dad by night. He was steady his whole life. 

(Below) Benj. R. Williams' Reference Passage Bible for the New Testament. Dad's KJV Bibles were frequently rebound. He used them extensively for reference in preparing his Sunday School lessons that he taught for decades at the Ferndale Free Methodist Church. 

Above are some of hand written notes in his S.S. Teacher's Quarterly. Ironically enough, during my childhood and teen years, Dad took his lessons from what was then known as the Sunday School Times, a monthly publication that provided lesson outlines based on the universal church calendar of readings, which non-Evangelical churches (like the Catholics) used to ensure an even coverage of the Bible and topics through a three-year cycle.

Christmas 1952 (Benjamin, Stanley, Ruth, & Hope Ellen)

Memorial Day 1988, when my girls were in their teens and Josh was contemplating how he was going to eventually grow taller than all of us, I persuaded them and their mother to hunt down my Dad's first wife's grave. By the look on Trudy and Josh's faces, this was a thrilling afternoon for them. I got them to do the dirty work of cleaning of decades of sod from Lucile's grave and placing flowers over the top. That Lucile's maiden name was my Dad's first name was always a romantic recollection. 

Ben & Ruth 1981 - the troubles are now
behind them and the camera.
All smiles again.
(Left) In 1981 when they came to visit us in Michigan, Dad was 87 and Mom was 69. They had been married 36 years and that smirk was still on their faces. 

(Right) Seven years later at 94 Dad was still trying to get Ruth to loosen up, but, alas... his behavior was so inappropriate, even in their own dinning room with the curtains drawn. She loved it but could not crack a smile. Less than a year later Dad passed on while taking his after-lunch nap. He had raked the leaves that morning.

(Below) After Dad died, and although she suffered from dementia and would get lost, and forget many things, I was always amazed that Mom could sight read any hymn you put in  front of her...and sing the words as she played. But she would never touch popular music, or the Mary Poppins score next to the Christian song book you see in this picture.

Monday, November 1, 1993

A Young Life


On the left, a 1947 black and white picture of the house  that I grew up in. Dad built the house with an upstair's renter's flat in 1922 for his first wife, Gertrude). He also built Gertrude's sister and husband a house next door (in the left image, peaking through the trees). The color picture on the right, care of Google Earth, shows the same architectural features when they were build nearly 100 years ago. Whoever lives there now, thanks for keeping them up. They look great.

# # #

Dad was a gentle and slow, patient man, not given to quick motions. Squirrels liked him...me less so. I had not yet mastered the patience. We fed them peanuts and Ritz Crackers. I'm sure they were fatter than they were suppose to be. Since then, I'm been disappointed that squirrels stay away.

# # #

FIRST BIBLE MEMORY CERTIFICATE. I'm guessing I was 4-5 here (circa 1951-1952). I was big for my age. Looks like I'm wearing one of my Dad's dress shirts. If the collars were any longer I could use them to blow my nose...and probably did. That is definitely one of Dad's ties I'm wearing. I remember it in his collection of wide, wild color silks. Ben Williams was not flamboyant but the ties of the era were. I'm standing in my parent's backyard in Ferndale, MI. It's about noon or early afternoon (shadow being cast to the North, probably June (not many weeds yet in the flower bed). We've just come home from church (the only reason I'd be dressed this way) and I probably had just received, that morning in Sunday School my first Bible Memorization Certificate. Bible Memory work was always a big deal growing up in Evangelicalism...one of the things that the movement had over the larger mainstream faith organizations, like Catholicism.  by the time I was in high-school I was memorizing  whole chapters of the Bible...which was not an easy thing for a marginal academic. 

Here is a scan of the same certificate I'm holding above.  Notice that whereas the picture of me above only has one gold seal in the middle, the final certificate has all five  placeholder's filled. I never thought I could memorize stuff—my excuse in school for getting bad grades. But my Mom would pull out this certificate (once in a glass frame) and beat me over the head with it (the glass eventually broke on my hard head) to remind me of the alternative. I didn't convince myself until I was in my 50's and wanting to do good in graduate school, when I finally rose to the occasion. There's a favorite Bible verse that I memorized back then, which I often recall yet today, and it continues to guide my life and decisions...and it's one of the reasons I named my only son Joshua. It's God's charge to Joshua when Joshua took over leadership of the Israelites after Moses's passing and just before Joshua led the throng across the Jordan to "attack" Jericho.

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your god will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7-9) 
This is the chart I discuss in the book. My Mother was of German heritage. It wasn't the blonde-blue-eyes, it was the regimen. The week after I turned 7 she introduced this document to me, which became part of breakfast, lunch and dinner...if I could be caught. It was either do what it commanded or eat it. In my Mom's strange way of thinking "zero (0)" was a good thing. It mean I had no demerits. That's how it was. She didn't believe in attaboys. She lived for swats. Like I said, she was German. (Dad was English, they sort of balanced out.)

The Dragon Jacket I describe in the text had a dragon embroidered on the blue outside. This was a picture of the inside I am modeling. I found this slide among my aunt's slides. It was given to me about the same time as we started the chore charts above. And the picture on the right is what I refer to as Tiger or Dragon Alley. The last gate on the right, just before you get to the brick Presbyterian Church at the end, housed the famous empty chicken coops.

MY FIRST SCHOOL CHART.    My second grade teacher, Miss KILL-GORE (my mother loved her name), also introduced a chart of such. The caption reads, "Stanley is very careless when putting his rubbers in the closet..." You can imagine why or read that relative chapter in the book. It took a few years before I realized that the blue ink, penmanship, and paper stock were the same, whether it was my mom's chore chart or Miss KILL-GORE's "Point" chart.  Hmmm?

This next chart was for the week after the one above. Notice, unlike the first week, this chart reflects a perfect little guy. Miss KILL-GORE explains, "Stanley had an exceptionally good week." Now there are only two possible explanations for the difference. Key to understanding what the difference might be is the last line of the chart above where Miss KILL-GORE writes, "Perhaps a word or two from you on the subject will help."  Dear reader, you can choose which to believe.  Either (A) Mom's "word or two" was really convincing to the little devil who was throwing his rubbers in the closet and missing his target, or (B) Miss KILL-GORE finally met my mom and had sympathy on me. 

This final piece of court evidence came about during elementary school. I tell the story in the text. Suffice it to say the event really did happen and this note gives evidence to it.  It reads:
Dear Mom. Today in school I blew my stack at my X Teacher Mr. Jagodzinski. He said either take number 6 or get out of school for 3 days. I was so mad I took the 3 days (over). I do not want to talk to anybody until tomorrow. Then and not to then will I tell you and the family what happened. Love Stan
Get that "Love, Stan" bit. I was a very loving kid. It was either this note and hide, or be found and get strapped. I think the number 6 referred to how many swats from Mr. Jag's paddle. My butt was so swore during those years I would do anything to find some relief. 

The two biggest influences in my life: Mom and Jesus. I think this was taken on my 3rd birthday. Mom could still lift me. About three years later  in a Bible memor contest, I won the wooden plaque with the Sallman's Christ the Pilot clear lacquered to the front. I kept it over my desk from about age 6 till I was out of college. Wish I still had it. That's me steering the ship if you didn't recognize the curly dark hair. I think this piece of art had as much to do with giving me a strong faith as did my mother's prayers.

Neither me or my nephew, Bob (who was older than me by 6-months) had a brother, so when the opportunity arose we did things together. I think was our annual Christmas trip to the famous toy department at the J.L. Hudson story on Woodward Ave, early 1950's.

The apple tree in which I occasionally got tangled during my harness period. I think that's me, which my head cropped off. 

Tuesday, June 1, 1993

Milky the Clown

Twin Pines Dairy's Milky the Clown, circa 1950
During a special visit to my kindergarten class, this clown scared me silly. But I still loved milk...although we had a loyalty to the competition from Sealtest Dairy where my Dad was the Safety Director for the delivery trucks. 

Clare Cummings was the man behind the white mask. There's a webpage dedicated to his love of kids and magic at DetroitKidShow.com