Thursday, July 21, 2016


I was turning 7 years old, and this was an extra-special birthday party.  I am the somewhat disheveled little girl with the sagging belt in the back row.  The girl to the left was a neighborhood friend, whom I have long forgotten  The dark curly-headed boy on the right, the woman in the photo and the little boy in short pants were honored guests -- Gail Stegall and her sons, Virgil Eugene  and Michael. They were at our house in Long Beach, California on a visit from Denver.  The last two girls were my sister Ginnie Lou with the doll, and my cousin Shirley, kneeling.  Gail and my mom were best friends, and after high school had shared an apartment while they set out on their first jobs.  But marriage made a change in that, and "Virgie Gene" (as we knew him) was born in 1934 and I was born in 1935.  I was given the middle name of Gail, after his mom.

Looking at this picture,from my baby book reminds me that as a small kid, I always intended to marry Virgie Gene.  However, my sister made claim to him also, simply because in this picture he had his arm "around" her.  My sis and I had many squabbles over which one of us this darling boy was going to marry.

This next picture, also from my baby book, was taken at an earlier time.  Mother noted that it was my third birthday (June 26, 1938) and that we were in Denver, visiting the Stegalls.  Mike had not yet been born. Virgie is the sailor.   (Note:  I think I had the hug this earlier time.)  

As the demands of motherhood grew more involved, the vacation visits ceased, but mother and Gail wrote each other faithfully through the years.  In those days, one didn't make long distance calls to chat; the cost was too high.

So it was a surprise when mother got a call from Gail in the summer of 1946 from Denver.  The news was not good.  Virgie Gene had unexpectedly died.  As I recall, he had played in a softball game, and at the conclusion drank a lot of water.  And he died shortly thereafter.  That may not be the story at all; but it is what I remember my mother telling me.  Those were the polio years; there was some speculation as to whether or not that played a part in his death.

I am sure mother eventually found out from Gail what the cause was, but we kids never knew.  And life goes on.  Mother and Gail communicated until they each passed away in the 1980s.  My sister didn't treasurer her baby book like I treasured mine, and I doubt if she ever gave Virgie Gene a thought. But quite often I have occasion to delve into mine - either by way of reminiscing, or to confirm something genealogical, or even to use as an illustration when I give a talk on "Writing Your Family History." When I do this I always see little Virgie Gene's pictures, and I remember how important he was in my life, -- as a future husband, I hoped!

He is buried in Denver, and his name is inscribed in the lower left hand area of his father's tombstone. It is a bit hard to read when looking at the photograph on  But it's there.

1934 - 1946

And it's here, too, as an IMMORTALNOBODY.

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