A Day In The Life: Walter, Blanche and Hazel – World War ll

WWll-Walter & Blanche_0001

Walter & Blanche Thompson

They lived together on Piper Blvd. in Detroit, Michigan:  Walter (my grandfather), Blanche (my grandmother) and Hazel (my aunt). The time was 1945 (more or less). I can guess at the date because there is a picture of my cousin Ed on the mantle, and he looks to be five or six years of age. The War was coming to a close. Detroit was getting ready to resume making the cars which guaranteed its existence.

Photographic images, now so old, remind me of my grandparent’s home: the clock with it’s hands stopped at 7:40; the iron figures on the mantle;  the pipe holder; the ash tray, close to wherever my grandfather sat; the sewing basket placed behind my grandmother’s chair; the doily’s on the arm rests of the chair; the old Zenith radio with the globe of the world on top; grandpa’s Spanish-American War momento’s framed and hung on the wall behind his rocking chair; Mickey, their dog, held close to my grandmother or aunt – all were a part of their every-day life.[Continue Reading…]

Thank you Aunt Hazel

Hazel Thompson

Hazel Thompson

Aunt Hazel was an artist…not just someone who drew pretty pictures, but an artist who made her living that way.

Her studio was in my Grandparent’s home where she lived.  When I was invited into her studio, it was like entering another world.  I remember falling in love with a large portrait of a young man she had painted years before when she was an art student and Roosevelt was President.  He was wearing overalls, not denim blue, but a deep reddish orange.  He had a cap on his head, pushed over to one side like I would later wear mine, and a sack of books slung over his shoulder, tied together with a leather strap.  He was dressed like a factory worker, which seemed to be the style back then.  But I thought of him as a dancer.

One day Aunt Hazel asked me to draw a picture – any picture.  Her only instruction was:  “Try to make the picture cover the entire page.” I worked and worked on that drawing. First I drew a house, then a tree.  I drew a dog and a cat and an elephant.  But try as I might, I couldn’t fill the entire page. Finally I presented it to her.  She carefully looked at it and said: “Try putting some sky in the picture.”[Continue Reading…]

Untold stories, unknown history: The early life of Ludwig Earl Bucher

Earl family closeup

Earl Ludwig Bücher

As a boy I had many questions about Uncle Earl – the uncle I had never seen.

  • Who was his “real” mother?
  • Where did he live?
  • Why did my Great Grandparents adopt him?
  • Why did my Grandmother have to drop out of high school to care for him?
  • Was he secretly a child of my Grandmother Blanche or my Great Aunt Lilly?

As I got older, the stories about Uncle Earl faded, but my questions didn’t.

Until recently, the only photo I had ever seen of Uncle Earl was the old, sepia toned family photo of the Bucher family assembled in 1910 on Great Grandma’s porch in Manistee, Michigan.  Uncle Earl is seen seated on the far left of the photo, alone but close to my Great Grandmother,  his adoptive mother, Emma. He looks to be a handsome teenager – taller than the rest of the Thompson’s and Bucher’s – smiling but distant.[Continue Reading…]

The Spanish-American War involvement of Walter Stacy Thompson

Close up, Walter in first row, far left.

Close up, Walter in first row, far left.

Grandpa Walter wasn’t a war hero in the traditional sense. There is no record of him charging up an enemy hill, or saving a fallen soldier.  In 1898, Walter was a student at Michigan State Agricultural College in Lansing, Michigan.  He, along with thousands of other young people, heard the cries of an outraged nation and volunteered to fight a war against Spain.  He once told me that while at school, he received a letter from his father, telling him to stay in school and refrain from joining the Army.  He immediately replied to his father’s advice, saying:  “It’s too late.  I volunteered yesterday.” He was, and will always remain my hero; my Grandpa, Walter Stacy Thompson.[Continue Reading…]

The Early Life of Lillian L. Bucher Brugman, 1880 – 1964

Lillian close-up

Lillian Bucher

She wasn’t always my Grand Aunt Lilly, the old lady who lived alone in a big house in Manistee, Michigan and came to visit us during winter when it was too cold for her to remain in her house.

She was born in Manistee, Michigan in 1880, one year before her sister and my Grandmother Blanche. Her parents were Ludwig Bucher and Emma Kowalske Bucher, German immigrants.

I was told that she was an excellent student.  After high school she went to college, or a normal school somewhere in Michigan, where she became a teacher.  She returned to Manistee and taught in the public schools until she was in her early thirties when she married Otto Brugman and became a wife and mother.

Family lore has it that Lillian and my Grandfather Walter were romantically involved  for a while in their youth.  In fact (or fiction) it was told to me that my Great Grandfather Stacy Thompson and my Great Grandmother Ida May Goodenow Thompson invited Lillian to join them on a long train ride westward to California,  during which time my Grandfather was able to “court” my Grandmother Blanche and ultimately to propose to her without interference from Lillian.  Truth or fiction – it really doesn’t  matter.[Continue Reading…]

Aunt Bess & Uncle Albert Porter

Bess 1

Bess Thompson

Grandma Blanche & Grandpa Walter celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary in 1953 and Aunt Bess & Uncle Albert Porter arrived from sunny California to attend the fete. By 1953 they were both quite old, especially through my 13 year old eyes, but oh how they could laugh! Especially Aunt Bess.

One day we were driving them around Detroit. Grandpa Walter was in the front seat and Uncle Albert in the rear.  Walter would say something and Albert would reply: “What?”  Then Walter would say:  “Albert can’t hear very well,” and would repeat what he had previously said, but in a much louder voice.  A while later, Albert would say something and Walter would reply. “What?”  Albert would say, “Walter is as deaf as a doorknob,” and repeat his previous statement in a roar.  That went on throughout the drive, again and again. The rest of us would chuckle while their banter continued.

The next time I saw  Aunt Bess was in the 1960’s, when I visited her in Sacramento.  She lived with her daughter and son-in law Jerry & Ruth Anderson.  By that time Albert had died.  Aunt Bess was frail and using a walking stick. In the morning, she would arrive in the living room, plunk herself in a chair, stomp down hard with her walking stick and bellow: “Well, David, what do you want to know about Manistee?”[Continue Reading…]

The early years of Blanche Henrietta Wilhelmina Bucher Thompson

Lillie, Earl and Blanche_0001

Lilian, Earl and Blanche Bucher

How about a name like that?  My Grandmother wore it well.

She was born in Manistee, Michigan in 1880 to an immigrant family from Germany or Poland or both.  Family lore is vague and perhaps misleading on the place of origin.  Her family spoke German and Blanche studied German in school.  I have her notes from her High School German classes, as well as those from Physics, Chemistry and English. Someday soon I will publish all of them, as they are true masterpieces.  Blanche was a very good student. She had to leave High School for a year to care for Earl, her adoptive brother.

She returned to High School the following year and graduated with honors.

I know so little about her early years.  The trove of photographs that have recently come into my hands tell far more about Blanche’s early years than my memory does.  To me, my Grandmother was always an old lady. However looking at these photographs gives me a new and much deeper appreciation  into the girl and young woman who would grow up to be the Mother of my Father, and the Grandmother of my brothers, cousins and me.[Continue Reading…]

The early years of Walter Stacy Thompson

Walter as an infant - 1877

Walter as an infant 1877

Today’s post concerns the early life of my Grandfather, Walter Stacy Thompson.  Walter was born on May 25, 1877 and died on May 24, 1960. He worked at U.S. Rubber Company in Detroit, Michigan, retiring after World War ll.  I don’t know a lot about his early life, but the following pictures give a brief snapshot of some of the events that took place between the time he was born and the time he married in 1903.  All of the events depicted in the following photographs took place in Manistee, Michigan, a town situated on the northern banks of Lake Michigan.  This was his home for the early part of his life.  I have included one photograph of Company B, a Manistee unit of soldiers which went to Cuba in 1898 to fight in the Spanish-American War.  Walter was a part of Company B.  The last photograph of todays blog is of his home in Manistee which depicts his welcoming home party, after his service in the Spanish-American War.  Another blog will delve into his war time experiences and will include a copy of the journal he kept during that time.Some of the photographs in this group are taken directly from prints done on thin metal.  They are in good condition concerning their age of more than 135 years old.[Continue Reading…]

A few photos of Hazel B. Thompson


Hazel around 50

Hazel at 50.

Hazel at 30 yrs.

Hazel at 30.

Hazel about 40

Hazel at 40

Hazel at home with her dog

Hazel around 90 at home with her dog

Hazel around 90

Hazel around 90.

Hazel with Mabel and Douglas

Hazel, Mabel and Douglas