Sunday, January 15, 2012

Backward Glance - Carl Orson Avery

Carl Orson Avery was the son of Russell Hugh and Corinne Mae (Brownell) Avery. He was born on September 25, 1917, in Woodston, Rooks County, Kansas. Carl was an only child. 

As shown on the 1925 Kansas State Census, the family lived on Vermont Street, in Osborne, Osborne County, Kansas, east of Rooks County. It is interesting that Carl's middle initial is recorded as 'M.' His birth certificate left him unnamed, but he used the middle name Orson all of his life. Orson was also the middle name of Corinne's father, James Orson Brownell.
1925 Kansas State Census; Osborne, Osborne, Kansas


By 1930, Carl's family was living in Oakley, Logan County, Kansas. Family lore says he worked in an auto shop there, and attended Oakley High School.

There must have been socialization among the youth of surrounding towns and counties, because Carl dated a girl from Grinnell, in Gove County, named Luella Mae Bemiss. They were married in Burlington, Kit Carson County, Colorado, on July 3, 1935.

Lu and Carl had three children, all born in quick succession. Gayle was born in Oakley. However, with the depressed economic times in the 1930s, Carl moved his family to Bakersfield, California, where Al was born. He was very small at birth, and Carl and Lu went back to her folks in Grinnell. Fred was born in 1938 in Grinnell.

Lu & Carl's children ca. 1940: Gayle, Al, Fred
 In about 1939, Carl and Lu were divorced. It is said it was very sad, as the young couple was very much in love. Carl, however, couldn't seem to be able to settle down to the farming life of Kansas. On the day the divorce was final, Carl serenaded Lu with the "To You Sweetheart, Aloha." Carl then moved permanently to California.

Carl remarried before 1941 to Lenora Alice Breedlove. They had a daughter, Carol Lynn. This family lived in Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo County, California, in 1944 where Carl and Alice can be found on the voter registration list. Carl was a bartender.

On February 16, 1945, Carl enlisted in the U. S. Army as a private in San Francisco. His civil occupation was recorded as a tracktor (sic) driver or truck driver. "Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law." He was a veteran of the second World War.

Alice and Carl were divorced before 1948. Carl remarried sometime before his death to a woman named Ruth, though I've not yet found a record of it. When he died, she was named as a survivor.

Supposedly, Carl was a musician and worked for a radio station in the Bakersfield area. According to his obituary, his daughter lived in Oildale, the hotbed of country music at the time, producing such artists as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Perhaps Carl knew these men.

Carl's life, though very full and diverse, was relatively short. He was a heavy drinker throughout his adult live, and died at the young age of 40 on October 26, 1957, in San Luis Obispo, California, from complications of alcoholism. He is buried in the Arroyo Grande Cemetery in San Luis Obispo.

Carl's children ca. 1970: Carol, Fred, Al, Gayle


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