Thomas Wictor

We’re seeing them for the first time

We’re seeing them for the first time

These photos? We’re seeing them for the first time. You and me both. Mom had thousands of images, but we didn’t talk much about them. Mom’s guiding principle with her children was to not “regiment.” This was a reaction to her own upbringing. Unfortunately, Mom felt that telling us things about herself and her family would be imposing on us and therefore regimenting us. There’s a lot I don’t know about Mom and Dad.

Tonight my niece Tori Gonzales asked me if I could send her scans of my Great-aunt Marian Lower Kimball as a young woman. Marian was my maternal grandfather’s sister. So I went into Mom’s albums and found some photos. Here’s Marian looking shockingly contemporary with her parents, William and Mary(!) Lower.


The photo is undated, so I have no idea how old Marian was. Probably around thirteen. She was the baby of the three kids born to William and Mary, who were both past fifty when the stork dropped Marian down the chimney. Initially, I thought William Lower sported a Mohawk in this portrait. Knowing what little I do about my family, it’d be in keeping.

Here’s Marian in another undated photo. The clothing and hair styles are from the early 1940s.

Mom idolized Marian because like Mom, Marian was a rebel. She didn’t give a hoot about conventions. When Mom was twelve, Marian took her to a party for college kids. (Mom entered college at the age of sixteen, by the way.) At the party Marian suddenly realized that she’d forgotten something she’d wanted to bring.

“You’ve watched me drive for years,” she said to Mom. “Think you can handle it?”

“Sure!” Mom said.

So Marian tossed her the keys, and Mom drove from Pomona to La Puente and back again, about thirty miles in one of those behemoths with no power steering and gears you had to shift by pounding on them with a sledgehammer. That’s one of the secrets Mom told me in the last year of her life. Sorry, Mom! Never tell anything to a writer!

Actually, I’m sure Mom wanted this to get out. She was pretty proud of her precociousness and iconoclasm. In her teenage years, Mom survived two major car crashes, neither of which were her fault. This was before seat belts were mandatory. In one accident her face slammed into the steering wheel, breaking out her teeth, and in the other she flew from one side of the car to the other. She hit the passenger door so hard she shattered several ribs on her right side.

Marian married Major Curtis Yarnell Kimball, U.S. Army General Staff. When I was looking for photos of Marian for Tori, I found this image. On the back it says, “Curtis Kimball being awarded medal by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, Munich, April 1945.”

I know that Curtis was awarded the Order of the British Empire. Is this the ceremony? I just don’t know.

Marian Lower Kimball’s older brother George was my maternal grandfather.


Although I met him several times, I have no memory of him. Not sure why. Here’s George and my sister Carrie Wictor Gonzales—Tori Gonzales’s mother—in 1965. I think I was there. In a coma? We were on our way to Pomona to take the helicopter to Los Angeles International Airport. From there we’d fly back to Venezuela.

And finally, I found a photo dated January 2, 1971. Thomas, Tim, Paul, Pat, and Carrie Wictor, in Campo Verde, Tia Juana, Estado Zulia, Venezuela. Paul was building a model of a Consolidated B-24 bomber, which he customized with a sort of hot-rod color scheme. I was upset because it wasn’t accurate. It was a desecration. Paul just liked machinery. He didn’t care about markings and camouflage.

It’s obvious that Mary Scheer ripped off her character Dixie Wetsworth from Tim.

Tim and I are going to scan all the photos in Mom’s collection and then give the originals to Carrie.

I wonder what else I’ll find? I wish I had a photo of twelve-year-old CeeCee driving Marian’s car. But they didn’t do selfies back then.

Oh well. I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye.


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