Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Driving Tour of Ryder Family Omaha Homes

Touring With Katy Ryder Finnegan, April, 2013

Frank T. Ryder and Ruth Harriet Gearen were married June 29, 1921, in Sioux City, Iowa, and their first son and first child James E. Ryder was born here on July 30, 1922.  The 1923 City Directory for Sioux City, Iowa shows Frank and Ruth living at 617 Rebecca Street.  My uncle James E. Ryder was born there on July 30, 1922.  My mother Mary Virginia Ryder Wilmes was born January 15, 1924, and Frances Ruth Ryder was born August 22, 1925.  The City Directory entries continue to list the Rebecca Street address until their move to Omaha which might have been shortly after Frances was born.

In April, 2013, my mother's sister Kathleen "Katy" Ryder Finnegan, her youngest daughter Kathleen Finnegan Hiatt, my husband Gene Spruck and I rode through Omaha to each of the houses Katy could remember.  My cousin Kathleen drove that day, a misty, gray spring day but one that will save the information and her memories for her family and her siblings families as Katy died on April 5, 2015, in Omaha.   

By 1925, the Omaha City Directory shows their address as 412 South 48th Street at Howard Street, in Omaha, Nebraska.  There is a family story about this house, which directly borders Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery.   Ruth was uncomfortable with the location, and they apparently did not stay very long.  The City Directory for 1926 does not include an address for them but Frank's occupation  is listed as electrician at Cudahy Packing.  The 1930 Federal Census lists their address as 215 South 35th Avenue (between Frances and Martha Streets, Omaha).  There is no photo for this address because we did not go there on the tour day.   

2322 South 33rd Street
The first house Katy Ryder Finnegan (born in 1927) could remember is 2322 South 33rd Street, confirmed by the 1931 Omaha City Directory. Katy:  "Go to the end of this street, then take a left. That is it, the white one.  Boy, you know, we thought this was a big house.  Gosh, I had forgotten.  The drug store was down there...I thought it had a porch on it."

Brick Street South 33rd Street
The streets are still brick.  This looks back north and east from the house.

Sherry:  How many grades did you go to Our Lady of Lourdes School?  Katy:  "From first grade.  Until we moved to Sioux City " (later than 1935 and by 1939 living at 1223 Morningside Avenue in Sioux City according to the City Directory for that year). 

1223 Morningside Avenue, Sioux City, IA
This picture was captured from Google Earth on June 3, 2015. This house was next door to the Rectory of the Catholic Church across Morningside Avenue.  

Katy:  "Turn left and back to 32nd Avenue. Many is the time I went up here (to a grocery store on the corner of South 32nd Avenue).  Mom would say I need a loaf of bread.  I would get that penny saver bread and I'd ask her (you know it had a wrapper  with a coupon), can I spend that on candy and she would say yes."

The 1940 census shows that they were living at 1335 South 36th Street and a census question asks where the respondent lived in 1935.  The answer to this question for the Ryders is “Same”  so it is possible that they rented this house before and after they moved back to Sioux City for a few years which the Sioux City Directory shows included the year 1939 at 1223 Morningside Avenue.  Frank's occupation at that time is listed as “Department Superintendent".

2227 Hanscom Blvd.
Katy:  "North, turn on Martha Street.  Now left here.  See how convenient it was to church and school (Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church).  Now left here.  Do you remember Higgins?  The Higgins lived right up there.  We lived in this second house.  2227 Hanscom Blvd.  I doubt that we planted that tree.

2205 Hanscom Blvd. - the Wilfongs
"Right down here was Rene's (Wilfong Garvey's) house."  Kathleen:  You and Rene were friends from grade school?      Katy: "Kindergarten.   It's 2205 Hanscom Blvd.  That was a big house."

"Look how close we were to Hanscom Park.  I never will forget Patty (her younger sister) burning her hands at Hanscom Park skating.  They had a big old stove that they threw in stuff to keep it burning.   Patty and I were skating and she went inside, you know because it was cold and her hands were wet and she accidentally put her hands on it.  And they just burned.  She cried and cried.  I didn't even bother to take off my skates and she didn't either and we ran all the way home through the snow."

Driving north towards Center Street:  "Evans and Reed ice cream store.  Both right there on Center.  People would walk there.  Ice cream and goup sundaes.  Chocolate goup.  Hanscom Park was so much fun.  The City greenhouse wasn't there then (as it is now).  This is President Ford's (memorial) house.  We walked from Our Lady of Lourdes all the way down here (from 1335 South 36th Street) after we came back from Sioux City.  That was a Joslin (George and Sarah) house (traveling north on South 36th in Field Club (Joslin's mansion on North 40th Street near Dodge Street was heavily damaged by the Easter Tornado of 1914 so the family moved to a house in Field Club at least for a time).

1335 South 36th Street
"This one with the porch (1335 South 36th Street).  It was so nice. Everybody used their porches.  They would come out and read their papers.  But you know what, I can't remember that this berm was built up that high on the other side of the street".  Perhaps the berm was erected by the Field Club Golf Course across South 36th Street to keep golf balls from striking cars. 

1009 Mercer Blvd.
The Ryders may have lived at 2227 Hanscom Blvd. until at least 1942.  In 1945, according to the Omaha City Directory, they were living at 1009 Mercer Park Blvd.  Frank's occupation is listed as Chief Engineer.  The 1948 City Directory shows that they still lived on Mercer Park Blvd.  Katy is listed as residing there and it incorrectly notes that she worked at Mutual Benefit and Accidental Insurance Co. but her employer actually was the Union Pacific Railroad at that time.

By the time the Ryders moved to 1009 Mercer Blvd., the five daughters and two sons had reached an age where many friends visited very often.  Sports of all kinds were played often on the wide driveway and the quiet street and Katy always joined in.    Katy:  "At Mercer Blvd., when a game got underway, I was out there for a long time playing basketball until Bob Wear (later her brother-in-law, Franny's husband) would poke me in the ribs.  He was an instigator (fun loving but pesistent)."  Kathleen:  Connie Wear Rensch and I talked about Bob's love of trouble-making.  Katy:  "Straight across Leavenworth Street,  Kenneys lived down here and Moylans."

Sherry:  How did you get to St. Mary's High School?  Katy:  'I had to take two street cars.  One on North 40th Street.  Rene always reminds me what one of the nuns used to say.(about being late).  Here's the Blackstone Hotel.  That was very big (a social destination).  And Mutual (of Omaha) on the right.  Ilene Ryan (Krebs) lived in one of those houses."  

"Now left.   Dad drove a Packard, dark I think.  Here are the Carberry Apartments on North 40th Street.  Mom had many friends who lived there.  Jim (Finnegan, her husband) could tell you all about Dr. Kelly.  Howells.  Langdons.  Jim could tell you.  The Austin Apartments.  The Bishop's house (was originally near St. Cecilia's Cathedral) was down here (gone now).  This was Methodist Hospital. On the corner of Cuming Street and North 38th  (now the Salvation Army)."

Sherry:  This was an elegant neighborhood in Omaha.  There is a little park on the northeast side of Walnut Hill Reservoir with a large fountain and wading pool (between North 38th and 40th on Hamilton Street which is a small city water reservoir and it is where my mother and father had their first date on the 4th of July, 1943). 

Sherry:  1009 Mercer Blvd.  I remember walking down this stone wall to go to the stores, pharmacies and soda fountains across Cuming Street.  This is the Mercer Mansion on the right.   Do you remember Dr. Sullivan (He was a physician and mentor to Jim Ryder and delivered many of us of the third generation and his picture was on Uncle Jim Ryder's office wall on Missouri Avenue in South Omaha)Katy:   "Oh yes, he was nice.  He's the one who used to chase me to give me a shot."          

Sherry:  After Grandpa Ryder died, this duplex on North 40th and Izard Street is where Grandma lived.  (No photo)   It was large, three bedrooms.  Katy:  "She liked it there."    Sherry:  I can remember the night there in 1960 before Bernie got married.  Her sisters and some nieces came over here and each of us had a job, shining shoes, folding clothes, packing for her honeymoon.  It was a great night, one of those sweet memorable family occasions.

There was a fire station right here next to the apartments.  There is Duschesne Academy (North 36th and California Streets) where Patty and Bernie went to high school. 

Katy:  "Nearys lived right down on the corner here."

Sherry:  On Cuming Street.  A drug store on the corner.  Blackstone Pharmacy.   Red leather twirl stools in the soda fountain.  We went there all the time.  Cherry Cokes.  There was a grocery store across the street there. 

3828 Cass Street
Sherry:  3828 Cass Street:   This is where you moved after you were married?  Katy:  Yes.  Jim lived in those apartments (before they were married with his mother and two sisters Geraldine and Grace).  He went to (Creighton) Prep. It is the one (Jim and Katy’s apartment) on the right, second floor.  Screened porch.  Jim's family lived across the hall on the second floor. 

Sherry:  In the late 1950's, we, Colleen, Patricia and Maureen and I, would go out the back stairway from the apartment kitchen and play in the alley.  The kitchen had a small door to the hall way where ice for ice boxes was delivered before electric refrigerators were available.  The apartment also had green and white striped wall paper in the dining room.  The alley appears to be blocked by a fence now.  There was another grocery store on the corner of California Street.  We went there often, too.  The first disc of Finnegan Family Memories DVD's shows the apartment and many other family events shot in 8mm film by Jim Finnegan.  

Sherry:  Then Grandma and Granpa Ryder moved out to Rockbrook Blvd (South 102nd Street).  A previous Long Since Dispersed post discussed the architectural kit that Frank purchased to build this home:  Building Rockbrook Blvd.

This photo is of the house that replaced their house which was a three bedroom white ranch.  It became a rose covered cottage with large yards on the south side and rear (which ran downhill to Rockbrook Creek).  It also had a driveway that ran downhill slightly into the garage, less level than shows here.  There was a narrow screened porch across the back of the garage and a door from the basement to the back patio where he had built a large stone barbeque ).   Bernie and Tommy (and Patty who was a dance instructor at Arthur Murray), all lived there for a time.  I spent a lot of time with Frank and Ruth and I remember it being built.  It wasn't done when they moved out of 1009 Mercer Blvd. and so he rented a house at Lake Okoboji , Iowa, for the summer – probably 1949 or 1950 - for Grandma and my mother and I went with her for a part of the summer. 

Katy: "The first year Tommy(her youngest brother) went to (Creighton) Prep, Grandpa bought him a scooter.   I gave Maureen (her oldest daughter)rides on it. "  

Sherry:  On the way out here to Rockbrook Blvd., I was reminded that about 1952-3, this South 90th and Center area was cornfields.  Katy:  "The city was growing and Dad wanted somewhere he could go out in his cutoff shorts and be in the yards.  He died at 67 in October, 1957.   It was peripheral artery disease.   That's what made him have to retire."

Kathleen:  He (Frank) just sort of picked up electrical engineering by himself?  Katy:  "Well, yes, and he had all of these books that he read all the time.  He didn't go to school very long (according to the 1940 census entry, he attended high school for one year)."  In a previous Long Since Dispersed post, I recalled more about Frank T. Ryder: Remembering Frank Thomas Ryder