One could say that taking a magnifying glass to history is like rigging the padlock open to pandora’s box. Unexpected trouble is what I find while digging through the past, not just about my Great-aunt, but in the rest of history during her lifetime.
Imagine what life was like with paved roads for the first time. Or when highways first connected small towns or railroads and trains crisscrossing the country, carved travel and product delivery time down to weeks, not months.
What would your mindset have been when Henry Ford announced that the bodies of all Ford automobiles will now be made out of 100% steel from here on out? It happened. He wrote a letter and printed it in every newspaper from New Port Beach on the east coast to New Port Beach on the west.
To me, suddenly, it made sense why there were so many automobile fatalities! Here they were, flying down newly paved highways at thirty miles per hour, on four-inch wheels, and in cars made out of wood—worst Pinewood Derby ever!
The more I read, the more I’m reminded of Billy Joel’s song, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (September 1989), a litany of happenings and tragedies spanning time. This was Glenna’s life before she was committed to the State hospital and beyond.
In Glenna’s early days, Prohibition came to Idaho four years before it spread across America. It also ended four years before anywhere else, with Idahoans concluding first that it just didn’t work.
Glenna was two years old when the Spanish Flu of 1918 took around 3-5% of the entire world’s population. I wonder what would have happened if masks and quarantine were mandated?
Charles Lindbergh was also known for getting around, first for his solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927. His name ran through the headlines again when his child was kidnapped for ransom and murdered in 1932. How does this relate to Glenna? I’ll go into this in another post!
World War I happened and the rise of sexually transmitted diseases. Then WWII came, and news of Nazi concentration camps (whose victims looked remarkably like photos taken of patients in State hospitals) resulted in search of magic cures for the mentally ill, treatments like Lobotomies. Lobotomies? (More on that in an upcoming post, too).
The Stock Market crash of 1929 turned silver spoons into tarnished tin forks, and the Dust Bowl ate across America’s waistlines and created soup lines.
It seems one could summarize Glenna’s life with—the Flappers came, did the Charleston and left, and so did the Hydrogen Bomb—but that’s not fair. That’s not the whole story, not in history, and not of her life.
With all this, all those things pointing to more significant, more expansive moments (some cautionary tales, others that are just downright strange), why would the investigation of one person, a nobody, still be important?
Because every person has worth, not for doing something noteworthy in history books, but because they once lived. And Glenna Marriott mattered. Her life mattered. With or without anyone else knowing her, my Great-aunt was someone, a somebody, and I’m just discovering who!