My father, George Thomas Walsh, known to many as “Buddy” after age five, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 9, 1925, to Boston-born father Michael Joseph Walsh and Kentucky-born mother Clyda Thomas Walsh. His sister was Jean Elizabeth Walsh, also born in Boston.
Boston, c. 1928, one year after Charles Lindbergh’s historic and sensational trans-Atlantic flight:
New England, c. 1930:
Boston Public Gardens, c. 1931:
My father often talked about his early years spent on a farm near tiny Maud, Kentucky, the birthplace of his mother and his aunt Midred “Minnie” Thomas. In 1974 he finally drove his whole family from Washington, D.C., to see it. Details of his parents and their family members, and their relationship to this farm, are excerpted from Minnie’s memoir: minnie-memoir
Sisters Minnie and Clyda were first cousins of John B. Thomas, Jr., whose father, John B. Thomas, was the brother of Minnie’s and Clyda’s father, George W. Thomas. Minnie married Dallas Brightwell and had one child, Louise “Sug” (for “Sugar”) Brightwell Miller — first cousin of George and Jean Walsh — and Louise had one child, Michelle, who found her grandmother Minnie’s memoir in 2012, which lends great charm to these pictures of Buddy and Jean at the farmhouse and to family life on that farm:
Arlington, MA, c. 1936:
Boston, c. 1941:
My father and his sister both attended Arlington High School before he joined the Army Air Forces at age 18 in 1943. He trained as a pilot in Greensboro, North Carolina, but the war ended before he could be deployed overseas.
The following four attachments are scans of letters that Clyda wrote from their home (459 Summer St., Arlington, MA) to her sister Minnie during World War II. Clyda refers to her husband Michael, daughter Jean and son Buddy, and Uncle Jack, who owned the farm in Kentucky where Clyda and Minnie were raised. My grandmother mentions her husband’s new job at the Post Office, and her own job to which she refers was possibly with Filene’s department store, although my father once mentioned to me that she worked for Western Union at some point in her life, “at wages that should have shamed Scrooge.” She also mentions Buddy’s “best girl,” pictured below:
Army Air Corps, 1943-45:
Above: Army Air Forces Training Center, Greensboro, North Carolina, c. 1943
Standing left to right:
1:Donald G. Smith 2:Calvin O. Spear 3:Walter A. Bietz of Dedham, MA 4:S.R. Stevens of Americus, GA 8:Henry West of Bridgeport, CT 9: Jim “Red” Thomas of Barre, Vermont 10:Jack Stewart of North Andover, MA 11:Dave Trumbull 12:Ken Malthouse of Taunton, MA 16:George T. Walsh of Boston, MA
Middle Left to Right:
3:John D. Albright of Philadelphia, PA 4: E. Smith of Middletown, CT 5:Lawrence E. Weeden of Quincy, MA 12:Ralph N. Smith of Miami, FL 13:Norman P. Waite of N. Leads, ME
Seated Left to Right:
1:Louis A. Saskes of New Bedford, MA 2: [Illegible] of Hartford, CT 4:Lawrence A. Adams of Dante, VA 6:Joseph D. White of Bloomington, TX 9:William Sontor of Holyoke, MA 11:Thomas T. Barton, Jr., of Easton, PA 13: Raymond Robishaud of New Bedford, MA 14: John Voss
Photographer: George “Pat” Weiner of 85 Mountfort St., Boston, MA
My aunt Jean married Robert Kenney in May 1944, shortly before my father went to Harvard on the G.I. Bill, during which he lived at 119 Medford St., Arlington, MA.
The email I received from the Harvard University Archives researcher said that my father “received the AB degree with the Harvard College Class of 1950 and also attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design from 1949-1950. His undergraduate concentration was Architectural Sciences.” However, the attached image of the register entry shows he received his degree in June 1949, so I’m not sure which is correct:
My father began his career at the U.S. Department of State in late 1950.
WEDDING OF GEORGE AND ELOISE
Eloise Rathbun was born in West Hartford, CT. My parents met at one of the several cultural and intellectual lectures and social functions at Harvard University in 1950 that my mother attended while she was at Lasell Junior College in Newton, MA. (“As a nationally respected ladies’ academy, its students came from all over the United States and were often courted by students from Harvard College.”–Wikipedia) My father approached her and she agreed to go out with him. They became close over the next few months, and continued to see each other after my father moved to Washington:
In late 1950, when he got his government job, he proposed to her. As my mother once told me, “When a handsome Harvard man asks you to marry him and live in exotic places like India, you can’t say no.”
The above photograph was taken by my father’s former roommate Dick Thomas on the wedding day of my parents on February 3, 1951, in Washington, DC. Ann and Paul Dillon served as lady and best man. Paul and George were best friends from high school in Arlington, MA, and George was best man at Paul’s wedding a few months later:
The following photo was probably taken at the home of Michael and Clyda Walsh in Massachusetts, c. 1952, about ten months before I was born:
My mother pregnant with me in the summer of 1953:
BIRTH OF FIRST CHILD
The above photos were taken in the autumn of 1953 in the Pimmit Hills neighborhood of Falls Church, Virginia. A snapshot of the times back then shows the following:
Commodity Prices: Loaf of bread: $0.16; Gal. of milk: $0.94; lb. of butter: $0.79; New Ford auto: $1,651; Gal. of gasoline: $0.20; New home: $9,525
Annual Income: $4,011
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 276
Winners in the Arts: Song: Rock Around the Clock by Freedman/DeKnight; Movie: From Here to Eternity; Actor: William Holden for Stalag 17; Actress: Audrey Hepburn for Roman Holiday
Politics: Dwight D. Eisenhower, President; Richard M. Nixon,Vice President
The 4 sequential photos beginning with Arlington c. 1936 are great. Such a schoolboy portrait. Exudes competent confidence. This is someone you can follow.
All that is lost in the next one–a teenager. ‘Nuff said. Can you say “playa”? These are followed by the posed set at Harvard. Clearly more refined. The world was his oyster. The last is the State Dept ID photo which reflects a real world countenance. Not a student any more. Also, compare that to the lean college student years. Nothing like a paycheck to fill out a face.
Love the punch spike photo at my Dad’s wedding party.
Genetics are fascinating. I totally see Frank in the first Army Air Corps service photo and see only Mike in the second photo.
Eloise is elegance personified.
What a monumental feat!! This is fascinating. Thank, Mike, for putting the time and energy into such a wonderful project. Eva
Note that Buddy Walsh and Paul Dillon swapped suits for each others’ weddings. They both wore the dark suit as bridegrooms and the lighter patterned one as best men.