Bruce F Jepsen in front of P-51.

Bruce F Jepsen in front of P-51.
Flight Officer Bruce Fleming Jepson 14th Army Air Force 1917-1945

Friday, September 1, 2017

September 1, 2017

Developments, I guess

First off, for medical reasons in 2016, I took time off. I'm still here, thanks to a higher power. My husband as well. We've been through a lot. Enjoying two beautiful grandchildren. Doing well. Still researching and sleuthing. Still appreciating help from family members. You know who you are. Thank you.

After much excitement with former Brigadier General Reynolds, I'd say things have taken a slow turn, which is to be expected. Bruce's remains are still a remote possibility. A dream that is not attainable. The family is fine with that, however. We are in the camp of, A-Okay.

I am still actively interviewing my mother. She is awesome! I'm so grateful to have her! If I were a public inspirational speaker, I'd be awesome when talking about my mom. As you know, she is the last surviving member of her family, the Jepsens. I can assure you, her children, adore her. We are each jealous of the other's private, special time with her...IE, we fight over her. I think that's a good thing. Always looking at the positive.

So what's next?

I'm writing. Researching, interviewing and writing, writing, writing. I feel confidant about publishing, even though, I have no idea what I'm doing. I know that I have a great story, I think, of the ww2 home front. My interviews with mom are key to the true story but there is also the fact that I have all of the letters from India and China. The story is in the works via Bruce, himself. I don't want this story to be in any way fictitious. It's going to be the truth, no matter how long it takes.

I appreciate all of the efforts on Bruce's behalf. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My mother thanks you on behalf of her beloved brother. In some way, we are all on the same page. We are kindred in our attempts to tell this one little story.

It is my life long attempt to tell this story. It is the story of one gifted artist who was also a pilot with the 14th AAF. I want to share his fine art and advertising art as well as his sister's art. I'm still working on the copyright issues. I am hoping that those artworks are soon to be shared. I'm in need of advise in this and desperate to share with you.

So, it's not that I have nothing to share. I have so much history, it overwhelms me. What I have in my hands is special. I'm working on it and doing the best I can.

I appreciate your patience. I adore it. Please follow me. Let me know you are interested. I need your support. Everyone of you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.




Saturday, May 27, 2017

KC Trip With Grace, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency April 2017




Happy Memorial Day! Before the trip to Kansas City for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency meet and greet conference in April 2017, I spoke with Cindy Holland from the Agency via phone re: my Uncle Bruce’s case. I was able to inform her that I had contact with retired Brigadier General Jon Reynolds and that we were not in high hopes of finding Bruce’s remains. Cindy sent me Bruce’s personnel file and a DNA kit. She also sent my mother, Grace a DNA kit. Cindy was very kind and helpful. I felt I could call her at anytime with questions. The file contained detailed accounts from crash witnesses and past efforts to find Bruce and bring him home.

My grandmother, Edwina had received official army letters that told her in minimal detail about the crash, where and how he died. She wrote to the Army several times requesting more details of the crash as well as any info on efforts to find him. The area where he was shot down was still enemy occupied territory. Edwina was aware that it was too dangerous for someone to go into the area to find his remains. What she didn’t know was that the local village people buried her son, saving his body from the enemy at the crash site. There was a second burial by the American catholic missionary. The Priest was concerned about communist militants taking the remains. According to the Army, the first burial was by the Japanese, which wasn’t really a burial. The second was by the local villagers. The Army considered the missionaries to be a third burial. Though she lived to the age of 87, when Edwina died in 1978, I believe she was not aware of the efforts being made on her son’s behalf.

I had already seen many of the reports contained in the file, however there was new information for me. As far as what his mission was, what might have caused the crash and how he may have been killed, there wasn’t anything new, but there were detailed witness accounts of the crash that were helpful in understanding what happened to him. Particularly what followed after the crash, the condition of his body and the burials. It was good to learn that there were efforts by the Army and underground groups to recover him and his dog tags in 1945 and again in 1947.

At the conference in our one on one meeting, we met with Cindy Holland and Erin Epp, Analyst with the DPAA assigned to Bruce’s case. She nicely gave Grace their account of what happened to Bruce. At the point where we discussed what she considered to be his final burial, I was able to tell Erin about Jon Reynolds and his story about efforts to find Bruce’s remains in 1987. Jon had nicely offered to have a phone conference during our meeting. I suggested this to Erin and she was very glad to do so. Jon was available, as I expected and we had a conversation with him regarding his experience as China liaison in1987. Erin was able to have further discussion privately with Jon. They shared contact info and Erin said she and Cindy would work with him on Bruce’s case. There is more to the story. Stay tuned.

Grace was present for the full meeting, as well as John Cambridge and Dan Cupak. I asked Grace a long time ago if she’d like to have a phone conference with Paul Crawford (Bruce’s tent mate) and/or Jon Reynolds. She declined because she felt she would not be able to contain her emotions. As I expected when Grace began to talk about Bruce with Erin and Cindy, she became emotional and cried. She enjoyed talking about him and when Erin commented that her brother Bruce was quite handsome, Grace gave her usual response, “He was also a gifted artist”. My mother also wanted to tell Jon how much she appreciated his work but was unable to gather herself at that moment. At this meeting, my mother was honored to hear Jon Reynolds speak for the first time about her brother.

I learned more details about Bruce through the work of the DPAA. I am sure Edwina would be pleased to know that there are people who care and are devoted daily to bringing fallen soldiers home to their families. They were organized, respectful and kind. I am glad to have met Cindy and Erin and will continue working with them on my mother’s behalf. Grace may not ever be able to see her brother’s remains returned, and without remains there is no repatriation. What this trip did for my mother is it allowed her to feel that she herself made efforts to help in the search for her brother's remains. I think she should feel good about that. Also that he is not forgotten. There are people who work very hard to bring each of them home. There are still some 2000 unaccounted for in China and thousands more lost in the Pacific. Those remains may never be recovered. What Grace has always wanted is simple. She just wants her brother to be remembered. This is my task.

This year we celebrate the centennial of Bruce’s birth and we will celebrate my mother’s 88th birthday on Memorial Day.


Left to right Harryette, Chris, Edwina, Grace. Taken in Omaha at the Connor's residence about 1944. This photo was sent to Bruce in China. It was the last photo he would see of his mother and his sisters.



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

1920's Titusville




A letter from Titusville, 1921
I am fortunate to have a copy of a letter written by my great grandmother. Though it is just a really bad copy of the original, I am so pleased to have it, especially since we do not have a single photo of my Great Grandmother. This letter contains details of my grandparents, Harry and Edwina Jepsen in 1921 Indian River City, Florida. It is my summation that at some point, my Aunt Julia, the recipient, made a copy for her sister. Unfortunately, it is a very poor Xerox copy. Much of the letter is not legible, including the signature. For me, though it's a given that it is signed, Mother or Mama.

The 1920 Florida census record shows each adult mentioned in this letter to be in the Harry Jepsen household. I believe the following letter to be written by Kelon Fleming Wilson Weaver. Kelon, Edwina’s mother was born in 1872 Alabama and died in1926, five years after the letter was written. She is buried in Mims, Florida, just north of Titusville.

There is some helpful information to know as you read my transcription. Kelon refers to Edwina as “Ed”. She writes of her son Tom. She also mentions her daughter Euphamia (Aunt Femie). The children in the household are not mentioned in the letter. DeVerde (Aunt Vergie) is Kelon’s youngest daughter, Edwina’s baby sister. Grace says that a woman they referred to as “Mammie” watched after Bruce and Christina. Mammie must not have been living in the household since there is no mention of her in the census record.

In order to fully understand the letter, I would need to see the original, if it still exists, but I do have details that allow us a glimpse into their lives. Hopefully, I’ll be able to meet with cousins one of these days and possibly get a better copy made. Yeah, Florida trip! So here’s the letter with the transcription following. I welcome your comments.


Kelon to Julia 1921
 
Transcription 1921 Letter
Titusville, Florida, Aug 12, 1921, Kelon to her daughter Julia

Dear Julia,
Your welcome letter arrived yesterday.  Was getting right anxious to hear from you.  Well I have never heard of so cheap board you had better stay there as long as they will let you.
I had a telegram from Tom Monday morn saying he would be home on 5th.  There was joy in the land.  He had to get on or stay in.  The wages were cut and the food bill cut by 20 per cent so while going was good he got.  Am sure glad he did, as he is so thin it makes him look taller.  He is well and so happy to get out.  We don’t know what he will do just yet.  He has a ______ discharge.  Character and deferment perfect.  Sobriety and Work perfect.  He is looking around.  He has no love of fishing, something will turn up.  They clipped his head when he first went in, never been cut since and it’s pretty short now and thin, is nearly bald on top.  He’s driving Ed’s car, sleeping at her house.  They eat dinner and supper here.  Harry left for Atlanta Sunday ______, ______.  Left with Bill and wife, all have gone to sanatorium for ten days.  Bill has been there before, knows the roads and after they get settled out they visit her sister.  Harry says he will go in country some place and drink ________ milk and rest.  Ed is in store all the time, very busy.  She is entire manager as Jepsons have bought it all. 
Last week I had a letter from Euphamia saying she was packing to leave for Ft Worth that night as D___ was leaving for Oklahoma and she was going with him.  Said she would write as soon as they stopped.  No news yet, looking for letters everyday.
Mr. Jno Walker died last Wednesday night about ten minutes after getting home from a A____meeting.  Heart failure.  He was buried Sunday at 3:30.  The children and relatives gathered from the far winds.  There were over twenty five hundred dollars worth of flowers from everywhere.  I never saw so many and such pretty ones.  You know he was a member of everything.  Three or four lodges buried him, some from house to church, others from church to grave.  The band furnished music.  Also had special song solos as well as a big selected quire.  It sure hurt us all, he was such a good fellow to everybody.
Well I know of no house yet.  Tell me when you want it and how much pay and I will try further.  Dr. Coffers has gone, haven’t seen about his house yet.  The Robins house in front of schoolhouse is to let.  T____has the big _____ house soon as Jepsons get out.  Mary Mitchell’s dad, they say is moving down to Merritt, how about their house.  I know little, later there will be none anywhere so hurry and say. 
Lots of love to all of you,
_____________________

The 1920 Titusville, Fl. Census
Harry C. Jepson household

Harry, age 30, Manager
Edwina, age 24
Bruce, age 3
Christina, 11/12 (11 months)
William Weaver, age 41, fisherman
Kelon Weaver, age 43
Euphamia Wilson, age 19 (Aunt Femie) Citrus grove worker
Tom Wilson, age 16 (Uncle Tom), fisherman
DeVerde Wilson, age 14 (Aunt Vergie)
Harry is head of household. He owns a furniture and hardware store.
Harry and Edwina have been married 5 years.
_______________________
Harry gives his correct age. He was born in 1889 and at the time the census was taken, he had not yet celebrated his 31st birthday. Edwina tells the census taker she is 24 years of age. Those of us, who knew her, were very much aware of her tendency to lie about her age. My mother, Grace still questions me on this subject. Unfortunately, we will never have a birth certificate for her, as the 1890 Alabama records were destroyed in a fire. With the other census records in mind and Edwina’s 1978 death certificate showing her age to be 87, I’ve concluded that she was born in1890. This makes her age 30 in 1920.

Bruce with baby Christina, Titusville, Fl. about 1920
 
Let’s talk about Harry

“Harry left for Atlanta”, and “all have gone to Sanatorium for ten days”, indicates Edwina’s ability to manage things in her husband’s absence, but what does it tell us about Harry? Did Harry simply work too hard and needed a break, or had he been ill and was in need of a health remedy? Had he been drinking too much and needed to sober up?
Harry Christopher Jepsen, Titusville, Fl. Early 1900's

“Jepsons have bought it all”, gives us a bit of truth to the family story of lost wealth. It also gives us an idea of Harry as a businessman and family man. His father, Peter Jepson was a widower in 1920. The census shows him living with Harry’s sister, Ann and her husband and son. Peter was not a widower for long, though; he remarried in 1921 and died in Titusville in 1923. He was the Danish pioneer, banker; community leader and land developer. Our Aunt Chris had vivid memories of his elaborate funeral service. The Nebraska pioneer will be another post. I have a good amount of detail on the Peter Jepson family. Grace has always said that Edwina and Harry didn’t care much for the second wife. They had been in a fortunate economic situation, but after the Patriarch died and the estate went into probate court, Harry’s older brother and the second wife were appointed executors. It was at that time that Harry and Edwina lost the furniture store.

At left possibly one of Edwina's sisters, Edwina in the middle and Harry at right in front of the Jepsen Furniture Store, Titusville, Fl. early 1900's
In Florida, the great depression came early in 1926, when much of Miami, Dade County was destroyed by a hurricane. It has been called a “pinprick” in the bubble of the Florida real estate boom. Harry had purchased a lot of land along the east coast, including land known as Dade County. This puts much of his investment into land- that had been destroyed and deemed unfit for habitation. The story from Aunt Chris was that Edwina asked for help from family to pay the taxes on that land but no one was willing to invest in it, calling it "nothing but swamp land". But I do think that the Dade County land was the last bit of land that Edwina sold. I have deeds and correspondence letters. The Jepson real estate will be another post. I think that Peter’s death and the estate going to probate in 1923, was the first “pinprick” in the Jepson family bubble. Financially, the hurricane was another pinprick and then the stock market crash in 1929.

So we get a picture of their economic situation. “Gone to sanatorium”, adds mystery. My imagination runs wild sometimes. Prohibition began nationally in 1920. In Florida the new governor, elected in 1919, ran on a theme of pro-prohibition. But, there was a lot of bootlegging going on and as long as you had money, you could get booze. Florida in the twenties prohibition era was called “the leakiest place in the nation”. Read about it here and be sure to watch the short video, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/sixty-years-before-the-cocaine-cowboys-miami-was-the-wild-west-of-prohibition-8269399.

Grace has always maintained that in 1930, the family was in Miami so that her father, Harry could visit a sanatorium there. The 1930 census shows them in Miami, 9 years after the 1921 letter and about a year before Harry died in 1931. I have another post coming soon about the family in Miami. It’s Grace’s story about a stroll with her father and a somewhat infamous court case. 
Moving on. Bonus! A letter from Harry to Edwina written about the same time as Kelon's letter.  It’s a short letter and it is not dated, but the details show the approximate age of Bruce to be a toddler. It gives an intimate picture of father and son.
“Bruce is on my lap, trying to help me write this, Hi Mama, see his writing”. I do not know where Edwina was, but it does indicate that she could have been taking care of some business, “Saw Bill Morgan today and he said that you made connections ok. Write as soon as you can and let me know how you are getting along and when you expect to return. I don’t believe it will take very long, I hope not”.
I’d say both Harry and Edwina did some traveling in the twenties. We have heard it said that Harry was a drinker and enjoyed smoking cigars. It has also been said that Bruce and Chris adored their father. It's important to mention too, that Edwina practiced temperance her entire life. Bruce may have been around three years old at the time of the above letter. Harry died in 1931 from cancer of the esophagus, at the age of 42. Bruce was fourteen years old.

 
Edwina

“Ed is in store all the time, very busy”. This shows Edwina’s strength after fairly recently giving birth. It shows us she was managing a baby, a 3-year-old boy, a house full of people and the family business on top of all that. “She is entire manager as Jepsons have bought it all”. This indicates there was more than one business venture. We know from family stories that there was a black maid the children called, “Mammie” and that Bruce and Chris loved her and played with her little boy. With Mammie, her mother and sisters, we may assume that Edwina had some help.
“Tommy drives Ed’s car”.  Grace has said that Edwina was the first woman in Titusville to own an automobile. She thinks there was a newspaper article with Edwina pictured. Searching a newspaper archive is tedious and time-consuming. I have a Jepsen-Paulsen cousin who is a whiz at it. Anyway, I have not found such an article.
 Before marrying, Edwina was a music teacher in Alabama and she did continue to teach music and Shakespeare, mostly as a volunteer in Titusville and surrounding communities. Titusville at that time had a country schoolhouse. We know that Edwina took it upon herself to tutor her children in cultural arts. Bruce’s 1945 letters from overseas indicate that he did not want Grace and Harryette to be taken out of school in Omaha, saying they would do much better with their education there.
In my conversations with Aunt Chris, I learned that Edwina wanted to to be a writer, and that she never really gave that up. She also had wanted me to play the piano and I remember feeling her disappointment in me for not pursuing that. But when I was around 12 years old, she told me that I could write well and encouraged me. I didn’t believe her. I didn’t think about it again until many years later. It has taken me most of my life to realize that I am a writer, like my Grandmother. When we’re young we don’t listen. I wasn’t focused. I could have learned so much more from her.
We fondly called her Pudgie. She didn’t like being called “Grandma”, yet I never thought of her as anything else. As I do the family research now, I’m amazed at the things one might find. Here we can really appreciate her. There will be plenty more to share about Edwina later but I think you get the picture. None of us really knew the kind of strength that woman had while she was still alive.

Edwina in her garden about 1920, Titusville, Fl.

 
Putting it all together

In 1921, Harry and Edwina Jepson are generous and successful enough to have much of their family living under the same roof. They own their home. They own more than one business. Edwina’s mother has come with second husband in tow for an extended stay. Her siblings are there to help. Euphamia, is working at a citrus grove, probably the family business, Titusville Fruit and Farmlands Company. Tom drives Ed’s automobile. Tom was in the navy (verified by Grace), and had an honorable discharge. He isn’t fond of fishing, but with family support he seems to have been managing well. According to Grace, her Uncle Tom was a much, loved brother and he adored his sisters. They are all having dinner together. There must have been plenty of fish and citrus on the menu. Harry is able to leave for 10 days without worry over business. Edwina is possibly a kind of celebrity in her small community.

In the last paragraph of the letter, Kelon is answering Julia’s request for help in finding a home. “The big house”, “is to let, soon as Jepsons get out”, probably she is speaking of the Peter Jepson home on Coquina Ave. Peter’s second wife was a wealthy widow. She owned the Hotel Dixie, which she sold in 1921. Kelon’s comments sound as though she was speculating that the Jepsons might be planning to live at the hotel. I found this little news bit, with the help of our Paulsen cousin, newspaper archive expert, Linda.

Miami Herald, June 6, 1921, p. 2

Titusville - The Hotel Dixie has a new manager, C. Fielding, a well-known hotel man of Lakeland.  Mr. Freiding (sic) took possession of the hotel last Wednesday, having purchased the interest of Mrs. P. Jepson.  Mr. and Mrs. Jepson will move to Indian River city and reside in the Jepson home.                


Titusville Fruit and Farmlands Company, "The big Jepsen House".

Julia and her husband did settle in Cocoa. The 1945 Florida Census, 24 years after the 1921 letter, shows Edwina, Grace and Harryette in the Parrish household. The state census was taken around the time of Bruce’s death. Bruce is listed in the Parrish household, but we know that is incorrect as he was in China. The fact that he is listed, I think, shows Edwina’s inability to face her son’s death.
  It is a great thing our ancestors have given us in the form of a 1921 handwritten letter, even if it is just a bad zerox copy. Thanks go to whoever it was that sent the copy, probably Julia. As I said before, I hope to meet the owner of the letter one of these days. 

 
Other worthy mentions
The funeral service Kelon describes may have been a cousin since Kelon’s ancestry includes Walkers. She writes his name as Mr. Jno (Johnathon) Walker.  I might research that further, if I ever find the time. Her description of the flowers, music and the organizations that honored him really give a picture of what funerals were like. Harry’s father, Peter Jepsen’s funeral service would have been very similar. I will write more on that at some point. Chris recalled his service in detail, bagpipes, swords and all.
The story of Kelon’s oldest son, Douglas Wilson who is not mentioned in the letter, would be an interesting one to research. I was told that he disappeared due to gambling debts and that Julia hired a private detective to find out what happened to him, “Euphamia is packing for Fort Worth”. I also remember Grace saying that Aunt Femie went to Texas in an effort to find Uncle “Dougie”. I found his WW1 draft registration form dated 1918. He was in Arizona. Ironically, in a town called Douglas.
Kelon died in 1926, five years after writing the letter. Possibly, she, like her daughter Ed, lied about her age when the 1920 census was taken, saying she was 43. That would make her 49 when she died. We have 5 sources for her age, including the Find-a-grave website and an obit, which shows Kelon Fleming Weaver born 1872, died 1926 at age 54. Like mother, like daughter.

 
© Julie Ann Cambridge, Inkwashletters, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Ann Cambridge and Inkwashletters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.





Friday, August 19, 2016

Grace Notes


 Grace, Shirley Temple and Bruce's early art.

In 1934, Grace's idol of the day was Shirley Temple. Grace and Shirley were the same age, just a month apart. Through my genealogy research, I discovered that they were also distant cousins. In May of 1934, I imagine Grace got to go to the movies for her 5th birthday. She might have seen Shirley Temple's breakthrough film, Stand Up and Cheer! Which was released in May of 1934, check it out here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Temple. 

Grace also idolized Bruce. He must have been quite touched by that. Of course, he was continually practicing his drawing and tutoring all his sisters. Perhaps the sketch of Shirley temple was a birthday gift for Grace.

Shirley Temple "To Grace" by Bruce F. Jepsen, 1934



So this is one of my favorites, Bruce's 1934 sketch of my mother, Grace while she was sleeping.

Grace Asleep, by Bruce F. Jepsen, 1934

Grace 1935


By the time Bruce graduated from Central High School in 1937, he had won art awards and was being hired by various local business's in downtown Omaha to do signage and newspaper ads, as well as murals. See previous post on mural painting and the early Omaha Bee Newspaper.  Bruce also did a few self-portraits, which I will share later. Happy Friday!

Bruce Fleming Jepsen, Central High School, 1937

 
© Julie Ann Cambridge, Inkwashletters, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Ann Cambridge and Inkwashletters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

1945 Tentmates

Tentmates in 1945 China




Bruce wrote descriptions of his best buddies and tentmates while in China. Bruce's favorite buddy was Paul Crawford who called me a few years ago and told me a funny story about their time together. I don't want to get into detail about that story here but let's just say there was a lot of drinking. It was such a great honor for me to be able to talk with him about my Uncle. I felt I could have spent hours and hours chatting with him.


When he called me he introduced himself as Bruce's tentmate. In all my research and writing I have learned that the word, tentmate holds more meaning than I realized the first time I read it in Bruce's letters and the first time I heard Paul Crawford say it. The word tentmate is not to be taken lightly here. To these pilots of the 14th Army Air Force, it meant so many things. It meant friend and brother. 


They were buddies, as Bruce referred to them. They were together in close quarters night and day, sharing their food packages from families back in the states. They were family. They would fight in
the skies together side by side.Bruce and his fellow tentmates were flying a lot of missions while in China. They were working hard and were sometimes weary, but I can tell you that Bruce was having the time of his life there. He loved the Chinese people and most especially loved his tentmates. I believe these photos were taken by Bruce or a buddy with Bruce's camera. As you have seen in previous posts, Bruce was a talented photographer. He sent the negatives home and wrote that he intended to share copies with his buddies.

Bruce F Jepson beside the P51

L to R-Unknown, Bruce, Sweeney, and Lt Bauman (also from Nebraska

Bruce Fleming Jepson

Possibly some of the negatives were  given by my grandmother, Edwina to Bruce's buddies who contacted her after the war. I'm still scanning more photos and have some saved on different computers so I'm still figuring out how to be more organized! Finding things can be a challenge, but the originals are safely archived. I use 100% rag paper in an archive safe sleeve. They are carefully attached to the paper using a tiny piece of 100% rag tape which is easily removable. If I want to display in a wall frame I will make a copy for that purpose. These are photos that should never be exposed to sunlight. For the copy, I still use rag paper, rag backing, and glass with UV protection.

Photos with Paul Crawford are coming soon. Check out his interview with the Veteran's History Project here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd-iSp24644





© Miss Cambridge, Inkwashletters, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Miss Cambridge and Inkwashletters with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

1941 Midtown Omaha



WW2 Era Midtown Omaha



In the late 1930's Bruce Fleming Jepson was busy painting. He was excited and energetic as he became a successful artist and illustrator. My mother, Grace, remembers the long hours her brother spent at his drawing table, sometimes missing school. He was the kind of artist that would start a painting and not stop until it was completed. He worked in his studio loft apartment of a two-story home on the east side of 31st Street. The only photo I have of that house during the period the family lived there, is actually a photo of the Clarinda-Page Apartment building.  It's the tiny little house just behind the Clarinda.  My mother described the house as very large with many rooms. The living room had wood floors with a fireplace and sunroom off the back of the house where Grace would sleep on a chaise. It had a tiny little kitchen, where Edwina would make Bruce's favorite lemon pie. Many of Bruce's letters from overseas were addressed to this house. Grace has happy memories of their time there from about 1939 to the summer of 1944 when Edwina and the girls moved to Florida in hopes of seeing Bruce before he left the states. The house was torn down many years before the Clarinda building would share the same fate. 
Clarinda about 1930
Photo found on https://www.facebook.com/savetheclarinda.


http://memories.nebraska.gov/cdm/ref/collection/opl/id/3458
The Omaha Public Library Nebraska Memories site, is a great historical reference place for early Omaha. The Mr. and I just love going through old photographs of homes and buildings in Omaha. We found the above photo that shows the original home of Rev Arthur W. Williams at 315 S 31st Street, looking across Harney to the West early in the 1900's. In this picture, you can see that the house was large, as we were told. You can even see the "loft" window where Bruce would possibly have done his artwork.

The house no longer exists. The area is  known today as Midtown Crossing. Edwina and the girls lived on the main level. There were other tennants. Many of Bruce's letters from overseas, were addressed to this house. Bruce took a photo of the First Unitarian church across the street. Taken about  1941. It is one of the views from the front yard of the house at 315 South 31st Street. To the left of the church is Harney Street and to the right is Farnam and Turner Park.


First Unitarian Church, 3114 Harney St. about 1941. Photo by Bruce Fleming Jepsen.

I imagine Bruce was thoughtful when taking the above photo. If it was taken in 1941, it would have been shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which obviously had a profound affect on him.


Snow day in Omaha 1941

I love the photo of traffic on a snow day, which would possibly have been taken about the same time as Bruce's photo of the church. It is looking west on Farnam, with Turner Park at left. Perhaps Bruce took a cab to work that day. We know that Bruce loved city life. Photo found at http://worldherald.tumblr.com/search/1941


Vintage postcard of Turner Park neighborhood Omaha, Nebraska

In the postcard it is easy to see why the girls were happy living in this area. It looks perfectly dreamy. Photo again from Omaha Public Library, Nebraska Memories. You can read more about the Turner family here, http://memories.nebraska.gov/cdm/ref/collection/opl/id/248
 
One of my favorite photos that Bruce took is of the three sisters. This photo was taken in the 31st St. house before Bruce left for his pilot training in Texas. Chris and Bruce were art instructors for the two young girls. Chris was just beginning an art career. She became a top fashion illustrator in Omaha. Perhaps in this photo, Chris was tutoring Grace and Harryette on some basics of advertising. At the time this photo was taken, the two young ones had no idea they would also become successful in the Omaha advertising world. 
The three Jepsen sisters. Photo by Bruce Fleming Jepsen. Taken about 1941.
Harryette is at left, Chris in the center, and Grace at right. The photo was taken at 315 South 31st Street.



Bruce with his fellow artist friend, Walter LaHue. Eventually, the two young men would establish themselves as professionals among well-known artists. This photo was possibly taken at Fontenelle Park, overlooking the Missouri River. I believe Bruce may have set up this photo and that his mother, Edwina Wilson Jepsen acted as photographer, or possibly Chris.



Walter LaHue and Bruce Jepson, Plein air excursion Missouri River, 1937-38.



We have a painting by Edwina of the Missouri River and the Bluffs beyond, which may have been painted at the same location. I'll be doing more on her artwork at some point. Unfortunately, we do not have a painting from Bruce that might have been done during this outing. Bruce was busy in the 1930's. He gave many of his paintings and drawings away to friends and admirers. He was extremely generous. Our family has a good archive of his work but we are aware, there's a lot out there that we have not seen. If you have any of Bruce's work, please consider sharing. It would be a thrill to see it. More importantly, it would be a blessing for his only surviving sister, Grace. 


Walt and Bruce scouting a place to paint, Near the Missouri river about 1937


The photo above is of Walt and Bruce walking toward what looks like a farm. Perhaps they are trying to find the perfect spot for painting. Taken possibly somewhere along the Missouri River about 1937-38. If Edwina was the photographer here, she was pretty good with that camera.


Grace ready for work about 1949


Grace's first entry job was with Mutual of Omaha. She would eventually do artwork for the company brochures. After marriage, Grace would stay in the midtown area, moving just to the south to an apartment overlooking Dewey Park.


More about the Clarinda here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarinda_%26_Page_Apartments

I will post more of the fashion illustrations from all three sisters soon. You can read more about 1930's fashion here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1930%E2%80%931945_in_Western_fashion

For a look at some fun fashion illustration from that period go here, http://glamourdaze.com/2012/11/the-1930s-the-golden-age-of-glamour-for-womens-fashion.html