In 2002, a group of artists decided to create cards dedicated to their ancestors. The result was the Ancestor Deck, an amazing collection of art and stories representing our ancestors. We have now created additional Ancestor Decks, providing me with the opportunity to explore more of my ancestors in collage and words. The first Ancestor Deck was featured in the Winter 2002 and Spring 2003 issues of Somerset Studio's Legacy magazine. These are some of my ancestor cards:
ELEGY FOR DENNIS O’TOOLE
Dennis O'Toole, my wooden ancestor, grew up in Glencoe, Illinois with my father, George Kent Yowell (loving father, lawyer, Village Prosecutor, Village Attorney, actor, friend, Eagle scout, and ventriloquist).
Dennis had rolling eyes, long eyelashes, brown hair, rosy cheeks, and a large happy grin. He wore a variety of clothes throughout his life, but was particularly fond of blue jeans and cowboy boots.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Dennis and my Dad made appearances on radio shows. They also had the opportunity to meet Edger Bergen, faithful friend to Charlie McCarthy. Dennis was popular at parties, particularly with the women and children. Occasionally, he performed in theatrical productions with my father. He was a real joker and had a rather sarcastic wit. In his early days, he could even spit.
Dennis traveled and particularly liked our family cabin, "Ye Owls' Nest," located on Twin Sisters mountain outside of Estes Park, Colorado. There, he entertained the local children with his fireside storytelling.
When he wasn’t talking or telling jokes, Dennis lived in a suitcase in our attic or in my sister’s closet.
When my father passed away in December 1999, Dennis too passed away. Without my Dad, Dennis had no voice. Just as we mourned the death of my father, George Kent Yowell, we cried also for Dennis O’Toole. I miss and love them both.
Helen Myrtle Callahan Yowell
Born to Riley Grey Callahan and MyrtlePopplewell in Washington D.C. on June 20, 1902. A Texas girl at heart, she was raised in San Antonio. She died in Neosho, Missouri in the Fall of 1994.
A graduate of Cottey College, Helen was a teacher for two years at Robert E. Lee School in San Antonio, where she taught fifty-seven children for $84/month. In 1922, while attending summer school in Boulder, Colorado, she had a blind date with John Jasper (Jack) Yowell. The first date, they went to the cemetery; the second, they went on a picnic; the third date they went to the movie“Nanook of the North” and became engaged. During this whirlwind romance, Helen was supposed to be studying for and taking final exams. For the first time in her life, she flunked “Modern English Poetry.” Helen returned to Texas two days after the engagement, where she continued to court her southern gentlemen (just in case). Jack Yowell visited one month later to buy her a ring, visited one more time in April, and then the two were married June 16, 1923. They had three sons. The oldest, John Jasper, Jr., flew in World War II, was missing in action for two years, and ultimately was found shot down in the Black Forest near Stutgart, Germany. William Riley and George Kent became lawyers, like their father. Helen had four grandchildren, and was later happy to have her great-grandchildren call her “GiGi”.
John Jasper Yowell (“Jack”)
Born in Stoutsville, Missouri in 1893, he had a sister Jenny and a brother Emmett. In the Fall of 1900 when he was seven he started going to school riding his own horse. In 1910, his family moved to Denver,Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi, and Columbia University Law School. In World War I, he served in the Navy on the battleship Nebraska.
In June 1922 he returned to Boulder, Colorado, where he met Helen Myrtle Callahan. He writes that he “tried unsuccessfully to kiss her but she said that she was saving her kisses for her husband. Thinking that was not a bad idea I proposed and she accepted.”
As a lawyer, he handled the change of nameof Roxana Petroleum Corporation to Shell Oil Company and defended U.S. Gypsum Company against claims for water pollution, including arguments before the Supreme Court. From 1953 to 1955, he was the president of the Chicago Bar Association.
He had three sons, John Jasper Jr. (killed in World War II), William Riley and George Kent, and four grandchildren.
He was a Unitarian and writes of “a sense of the unity and of the divinity of all things and of all beings, and the realization that we are a part, however small, of the Whole; the attempt to determine our proper relation to the Wholeand to its various other parts; the effort, however ineffectual it may be, to order our life according to a series of ideal patterns toward the highest development of the mind, the heart and the personality or soul.”
George Kent Yowell Born May 12, 1927 – St. Louis, Missouri Died December 13, 1999 – Evanston, Illinois Son to John Jasper Yowell and Helen Callahan Yowell. Married to Joyce McCallum Yowell September 8, 1951. Father to John Jasper Yowell III, Susan Kent Yowell, Margaret Yowell Hall and Helen Elizabeth Rouman. The voice of Dennis O’Toole.
When I think of my Dad, which is often, I think of the quiet, gentle, wise, wondrous, magical, kind, soul-filled, caring, loving, funny, marvelous, full-of-life, giving, friendly, colorful, rare, unique, simply good, shining, inspiring, natural, laughing, dancing, imaginative, vibrant, fun, special, nurturing, centering, original, feeling, visionary, always and forever, talented, honorable, celebratory, intuitive, joyful, one and only, laughing, beloved, intelligent, thoughtful, dreaming, contemplative, memorable, perceptive, spirit-filled, inspired, playful, heart-filled, connected, reflective, whole, deep, real, present, modest, courageous, open, surprising, heartfelt, generous, extraordinary, star-filled, great, bold, true, gifted, awe-filled, awe-inspiring, sharing, watching, hoping, story-telling, bold, committed, engaging, visioning, supportive, empowering, magnificent, serious, listening, achieving, sensitive, cherished, sparkling, believing, believed, grand, highest quality, warm, spiritual, human, friend, teacher, healer, spirit, soul, father – that he was.
(Mailed Mar 19 1945) Dear Folks,
Not much to write about. Recently flew my sixtieth mission. I am going to put in a claim for one half the credit for shooting down an ME 109. I was flying wing and the ME made a head on pass at both me and my element leader.
Yesterday I nailed some flak gunners. We were going to bomb a marshalling yard. I was the last man and as I started to peel off I saw a lot of flashes coming from some foxholes next to the yard. These guys make me mad. They do all the shooting and never get shot at. So I says to myself to heck with the marshalling, here’s where I give them a dose of their own medicine, and went down on them. I could see the guns and the guys in the holes when I pulled out. I fired my guns all the way down and the way those guys looked and from the number of bullets that went into the holes I know they’ll never fire another bullet. I guess it’s a bad thing to feel the way I did about killing those guys, but I sure did feel good. It was so personal. They were shooting at me and all the time thinking they were perfectly safe. I’ll bet those that are still alive, if there are any, won’t be quite so eager about shooting the next time some pigs come over. As soon as I peeled off they all concentrated on me, but when I rolled out on them with those eight fifties chattering away every one quit shooting.
Well, they’re about to close for the night here at the Red Cross, so goodnight.
Love to all, JACK
Nile Clinton McCallum d. July 27, 1961
Married to Marguerite Hamm (d. Mar. 12, 1939) Adopted Joyce Ruth McCallum Yowell (born June 17, 1929) Married to Leona Clark (d. Aug. 6, 1943) Married to Rolena S. McCallum (d. Dec. 30, 1976)
My grandfather, Nile Clinton McCallum lived in Enid Oklahoma, Denver Colorado, and Spokane Washington. Originally an electrical engineer by trade, Nile McCallum became a Master Carpenter after an electrical accident that knocked him across a room. As a carpenter during the war project years, he helped to build the Grand Coulee dam outside of Spokane, Washington, the Bonneville dam outside of Portland, Oregon, and a dam in Oklahoma State. He also raised his daughter, Joyce Ruth McCallum with the help of relatives. He built an entire addition onto “Ye Owls’ Nest”, the family cabin owned by Joyce’s mother and father in law outside of Estes Park, Colorado. Nile loved good carpentry tools, mountains, telling jokes, and fishing.