Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Joel Shirley Locke, Sign Painter

Joel Shirley Locke was born in Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota on 4 November 1886. He was named Joel after his grandfather, but his family called him Shirley. His parents were Charles L. Locke and Mittie Alice B. Duffy. He had an older brother, John Henry, who was about two when he was born. When Joel was two years old, his only sister, Jessie Alice, was born. She lived just one year. Then in 1891, Marion Damon was born. The family lived at Annandale in Wright County, Minnesota at the time. In 1899 when Joel was thirteen, his mother died in Minneapolis. On the 1900 census he was a student at the Minnesota State Training School at Red Wing, Goodhue, Minnesota. It was about 54 miles SE of Minneapolis, where his father lived and worked. That may have been a difficult time for him, having lost his mother and being away from home.

Joel married Dorothy Alice Procter on 19 February 1919. He was 32 years old and fourteen years older than Dorothy. They lived in Portland, Oregon, and drove the bridge across the Columbia River to Vancouver, Clark, Washington to be married. They had two sons while living in Portland, Ray and David. The photo of Joel and Dorothy with Ray was taken in 1920 at Multnomah Falls. In about 1924, Joel and Dorothy divorced. Joel took Ray, the older of the two boys and not yet five years old, and moved to Tacoma, Pierce, Washington. David stayed in Portland with his mother.


In the above photo, Ray is sitting in the car. Notice the logo for "Locke and Keys Signs" on the side of the vehicle. The photo at the right shows three generations--C. L. Locke (Joel's father), Ray, and Joel. Double click on the photo for a better look.

In 1925 Joel married briefly, and it must have been a mistake from the beginning. The marriage was so short that Ray didn't even know about it. On the 1930 census Joel was 42 years old and living in a boarding house in Tacoma. He was a sign painter. Ray, aged ten, was living in another boarding house with a widow named May Greenleaf, who took care of him. It being during the Great Depression, times could be difficult. At one point Joel went to California to try to get work in Long Beach. While he was there, they had an earthquake. It was so upsetting to him that he returned to Tacoma and stayed there. As an adult, Ray remembered that when times were good, their needs were met; but when Joel was out of work, they suffered. Joel did his best to provide for Ray. This is a good look at father and son together. It was just the two of them for many years.


Joel married Ruth Elinor Anderson on 5 January 1933 in Port Orchard, Kitsap, Washington. It was her first marriage. They had one son, Daniel, in 1934.


Each summer Joel took his boys to eastern Washington to Soap Lake. That was something everyone enjoyed. He loved his children, and kept an album of their times together. This is Ray, Dan, and David together on one of their Soap Lake vacations. The handwriting is Joel's.

This picture shows Joel, at the right, when he was older. He is with his son, Ray, who is my father. Joel died on 22 January 1943 in Tacoma. He is buried in the Old Tacoma Cemetery.

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