Archive for May, 2018

A Memorial Day Letter from Cousin Ryland Howard about his father

May 28th, 2018 Comments off
Lieutenant Alfred Ryland Howard

Lieutenant Alfred Ryland Howard II

I received this touching email from cousin Ryland Howard some time ago. With his permission I am posting it on the family website today, Memorial Day 2018, to celebrate Uncle Ryland’s life and to honor his sacrifice.

For the younger generations who may not be familiar with the history Alfred Ryland Howard II, here is an article by his grand-niece Eugenia Kiesling: Uncle Ryland’s military service

Love to all and thanks to Ryland,

Dear Sperry –

This means so much, not only to me, but to the children. They grew up with “Alfred” as they called him. Their way to differentiate him from me. My mother kept his memory in the forefront of my life throughout. As I have said before, I said the Lord’s Prayer, “My Father who art in heaven…” Well, he was. So I did my best to keep Ryland’s memory for his grandchildren. I never had a problem with having two fathers. It all made sense. One died for his country and the other lived serving his country. One was in heaven and one was on earth. I knew I was the child of the first and not the second, but that I was blessed to have them both. Ford treated me as his son. The children were in a way too young to really know Ford and appreciate his great sense of humor, but I have done my best to let the kids know what he meant to me and why.

These children really understand the warmth and connection among the Howards. I know it was not all warm and fuzzy, but they did a pretty good job. Each of Aunt Jean, Aunt Georgia, and Uncle Philo became special friends and soulmates to me over the years, and so for Uncle Wilmer, Aunt Mary, and Uncle Brother. I cannot think of a time where there was an awkward silence in my conversations with any of them. We just talked with mutual respect and shared feelings; communication came naturally.

The Howards were so special to my mother. She revered Nanny Mine and looked to her for counsel over the years. She respected the wisdom and skill of Dr. Howard. And she so appreciated the warmth of having this family as hers. She had grown up without a permanent home, with her father gone at age 5, living across Europe, in and out of schools and hotels, with her grandparents and aunt gone by her teens. You can imagine what this warm Southern family meant to her. When she married Ford and was going to Houston to introduce him to the Howards, she was very concerned about their reception of the person who was taking the place of their revered lost son. She called Georgia to ask how to handle it. Well, as Aunt Georgia told me, the Howard family swept Ford up. They loved him from the get go and he fell in with Philo, Wilmer, and Brother each on their own. That is just the way they were.
So, as another family half-orphan (I never thought of myself as such; just had two fathers), how could I have been better blessed.

I did not have to endure the loss of my father. He was always there; but not there. I did not dwell on it. But Mother endured it and the tragic loss to Daddy Philo and Nanny Mine must have been brutal. Timing. The last letter from Ryland to his parents, dated June 30, 1944, was cheering for everyone just learning that Uncle Philo was alive, and relatively safe in prison camp. So, almost up until Ryland’s death, they did not know that Philo was alive. He must have been MIA until then. From the date that he was shot down over Germany until then, he could have been dead. And so soon after the good news came the really bad news. No hope there. Just faith, and the comfort that a son was on the way, to be some solace in this time of sadness.

If you saw the movie saving Private Ryan, the opening scene after the Omaha Cemetery and the landing is the house on the prairie and the car driving up and the officers getting out of the car and the mother, who looked and dressed rather like our grandmother, realizing why the officers were there and collapsing on the porch. That was pretty strong you are there stuff. It was too close to home, that home on 3608 Audubon, JA44961. We can only imagine how that hit. Uncle Dwight Hunter said that people told him later that Dr Howard was in shock after that and would just look at people and say “My son is gone.” There is a description in the biography of Joe Kennedy of when he learned that his eldest son Joseph was killed in the war. The same thing happened to Mr. Kennedy. Total loss for a time. Something gone that will never come back, no matter how strong one’s faith in God. We can only imagine.

So much for my train of thought. I will stop here, and thank you for bringing so much of this family back to all of us.

My regards, Ryland

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Hedy Lamarr Meets Judge Hunt

May 21st, 2018 Comments off

Here Come Da Judge

In April of 1959 famed actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr found herself in Judge Hunt’s court suing her husband Houston oilman W. Howard Lee for divorce.

This from the Houston Chronicle April 15, 1959:

Miss Lamarr’s three appearances in Judge (Wilmer) Hunt’s courtroom Tuesday constituted an impromptu fashion show that was dictated in part by climatic conditions.
When she first came to the courtroom at 9 a.m. for the docket call, Miss Lamarr wore a bright red wool suit, thong sandals and a black scarf tied under the chin and worn like a babushka.
Returning shortly before 11 a.m. for the actual start of the hearing, she wore a tailored black suit with white beads and a yellow coolie straw hat over the babushka.
After the noon recess of court, she returned with an orange-red sweater under the suit coat and a salmon scarf in place of the coolie hat and black babushka.
The next day, Hunt awarded Lamarr $3,000 a month in temporary support, far less than she had originally sought.

The Houston Post reported
Within minutes after Judge Hunt announced his decision in the packed courtroom, Miss Lamarr walked over, smiled and chatted with Lee.
Asked by bystanders if she did not think a handshake was in order, she replied: “Why not? No hard feelings!”
Lee, apparently abashed, smiled and shook her gloved hand gingerly.
The niceties didn’t really end their legal squabbles, which continued off and on for at least the next 10 years.

Note: Here’s the source blog:

When Hedy Lamarr called Houston home