San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SMCGS Sharing Stories 2017


Harold Augustine “Hal” Lane (12 Jan 1921 – 10 Feb 2004)
Submitted by Diane Elaine Wilson

Cousin Gertrude never used her real first name after she was twelve years old. She was a teenager in the Roaring Twenties, and snapshots show her in coquettish poses at the age of fourteen. Those poses later would usually include a cigarette in her hand, often in a long holder. The best smokers of the movie screen were her idols and models. Gin was tall, slender and best described as gangly. I have an unforgettable mental image of her doing the Charleston.

Ginger, or more often, Gin, was alternately in love with Commander Richard E. Byrd, whom she called her “Dickie bird,” and Robert Montgomery whom she called her passion.

Gin made me feel important. Although she was five years my senior, she always treated me like an equal, asked my opinion, listened.

When she and her next youngest sister were being taken to a barn dance, Gin suggested that her youngest sister and I come along. We were thrilled to be in the company of these almost adults. We were little more than twelve. Bobbie and I squeezed into the rumble seat of a ‘Model A” Ford roadster and enjoyed a most grown-up evening.

Hal's Graduation Picture
When I was in high school Gin had a date to go to a University of Santa Clara dance at the Palace Hotel. At the last minute her boy friend couldn’t make it, so she asked me to escort her. Was I flattered that she would be seen with a young twerp like me? Yer darn tootin’! We even went with a group down the alley from the hotel to Breen’s “where you could get a real drink.” Cousin Gin told me that it was okay for me to have a Tom Collins highball because I had a relative with that name.

I wasn’t the only person that Gin mothered or big-sistered. Her sister-in-law, Elaine [Diane: my Mom!] told me years later that Gin had been her confidant. She learned all about birth control from Gin, she said. And then she proceeded to have seven kids. Gin had four. I asked which side of the subject Gin had spoken on – pro or con.

Ginger was one of my favorite people, not only in the family, but in the world. She was a doozer.
Diane Wilson has lived in the SF Bay Area her entire life.  She is a retired computer programmer who considers herself an intermediate level genealogist.  Her other hobby is geocaching. Hal and Ginger were 1st cousins, their mothers were sisters.  Ginger was Diane’s Aunt, the oldest sister of her father.  You can contact Diane at mistycity @

© 2017 Diane Wilson - Please contact contributor for use of any portion of this story.

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