Even if you want to be famous, no one really wants to be infamous. Especially for nonsense that we laugh about and create memes about today.
I now present the case of Phyllis Joyce Stalnaker.
13 October, 1925
Phyllis was born to Archie and Mildred Stalnaker.
May 1930 Census
The Stalnaker's were a young married couple from Nebraska. They were the parents to two small children in the 1930 census. They lived in Fullerton, Nance County, Nebraska. One thing that I can tell you about Nebraska from the time I have been in and out of the state: They slaughter a lot of beef and pork. Probably chickens as well, but I don't know about that one, personally.
The Stalnaker's were married a little over a year before Phyllis arrived. Phyllis' father, Archie or possibly Archibald LaVern Stalnaker set his family up in a rental home that was valued at $1500.00. He worked somewhere nearby as a butcher in a meat market. I am sure that with the Great Depression going on, they were all grateful for Mr. Stalnaker having a job that literally put food on the table.
Mrs. Mildred Clara Crawford Stalnaker was not working during the 1930 census. She had 2 small children underfoot. Phyllis was 4 and 1/2, her brother, Gordon Rex was about 3 1/2, born 16 February, 1927. There would eventually be 2 more brothers.
Both Phyllis' parents were born in Nebraska. However, both grandmothers were born out of state. The paternal was from Wisconsin and the maternal was from Illinois.
1934 Moved to California
According to the information in Archie's obituary, the family moved to California in 1934.
The first appearance we have of the family in the city directory is here. A different address, but here is Archie, working as a meat cutter in the city directory.
1938 California New Address
Family is still here, nothing has changed-except they have moved to a different house.
1939 California New Address
A New year, a new you! New address. Nothing else has changed.
1940 Voter Registration of Archie Stalnaker
In 1932, the family pulls up their stakes and moves to San Diego, California. They resided at 4505 Contour Dr., San Diego. Mr. Stalnaker was a registered voter in the San Diego county rolls as a Democrat. His occupation? Meat cutter. The house is absolutely tiny, less than 700 feet with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Built that year, it must have been very exciting to move into a new and modern home, albeit small by today's standards.
1940 No Census Found
I have not been able to locate the 1940 census for this family.
Thrown from a horse October 10, 1940
A mention appears in the San Diego Union on October 10, 1940 that Phyllis Stalnaker was thrown from a horse on Euclid Ave. near Auburn St. on October 3rd. In the article, she was improved, but still in serious condition at the county hospital a week later. Could this injury have impacted her for the rest of her life?
1942 Voter Registration Archie Stalnaker
Again, Democrat, same address. Same profession.
This is when Phyllis would later gain internet fame. She would be arrested in San Diego, California under the charges of Weedhead, tramp. Her booking number was #20389. Oh, San Diego. I am sure that it was very serious at the time for you and for her. A 19 year old with serious charges surely would have incurred some "drama" at home, if she was still living with her parents. Wearing a darling herringbone jacket with tailoring, a striped shirt and a bow in her hair, Phyllis sure does not look trampy.
She looks a little pretty with the dark hair, eyebrows and lipstick on. But, to be honest, she looks tired more than anything else. No tiny smile at the corners of her mouth. No twinkle in her eyes. This is the look of "let's just get this over with." Was she waitressing already? Was she in school? No way of knowing. The fact that she was written up as a weedhead, I can deal with that. Ok, she smoked some pot. Whatever. But tramp? Proof that she was not fitting into a mold that someone else tried to push her into. I wish that there was some way that we could know her fate in the courthouse, but the records do not go back that far.
May 15th, 1946
Phyllis J. Stalnaker married a John J. Gordon. This is listed in the California County Birth, Death and Marriage records. Phyllis lists an address in Los Angeles and her occupation as waitress on the marriage license application. Her groom is a couple of years older than her, and he is from New York City. He also resides in Los Angeles.
October 28th, 1946
Archie dies in San Diego and is buried at Mount Hope cemetery. He was only 45 years old.
October 30, 1946
Archie's obituary comes out. Listed are his wife, Mildred, the 3 boys, and then a Mrs. J. J. Gordon, of Hollywood. That would be Phyllis! How she is listed as J.J. is because of her husband's initials being that.
Phyllis is divorced and remarried. This time to her USN husband, James R. Harris. They live on 3601 Crowell in San Diego. They are listed in the 1950 San Diego city directory. I can find no record of the marriage in California.
January 2, 1961
Phyllis dies in the hospital in San Diego at the age of 35. Married and living on Pacific Hwy, her mother lists the same address.
1963-1969 San Diego
Archie is now gone, as is Phyllis and Mrs. Stalnaker is working as a seamstress at Ratners Mfg. and living on Pacific Hwy.
January 18, 2001
Mildred dies at 94. Not listed in her obituary are Phyllis and Archie, her daughter and husband.
Curiously, the burial plots in the cemetery include one of Phyllis' brothers, Phyllis and her mother and father. Neither of the children are buried with their spouses. Mildred's marker is larger than the rest as well. It is strange.
After the arrest, marriage, divorce and second marriage, nothing that Phyllis did ever stands out again. She never had children that I could find, she never registered in the city directories, and she never even registered to vote. It is like the entire episode of being arrested as well as being thrown from a horse really pushed her into not getting into any trouble.
If you come from a large family, a family census can be a really great way to get to know one another.
It allows you to create questions that are relevant to your family, and get input from your family before you send it out.
A family census allows you to ask questions that can benefit your family in terms of gathering medical history and regional disbursement.
If you are connecting via DNA links, a family census can allow your family to see the types of connections that are shared.
I have created a family census form that I will be adding to the site this week for sale in a PDF format. If you have suggestions for the census, please feel free to email me. I would love to have input on this.
Here are some of the questions that I am including in my family census:
Of course, there is room for more questions, and I have not decided if all of these questions will make the cut, but I want to create a dynamic document that will not take longer than 10 minutes to fill out.
Let me know your thoughts!
I write a lot about genetic genealogy, family trees, DNA, and home life as well as the occasional product review. Comments? Email me at CocktailsAndSwagger@Hotmail.com