Monday, April 14, 2014

A to Z April Challenge: L is for Leta LeVow


My theme for the A to Z April Challenge is “In-Laws and Out-Laws – Friends of the Family.”  I will be researching friends, colleagues, neighbors - those people who came and went touching my family’s lives in both small and large ways. 

is for Leta LeVow.  Isn’t that a fantastic name?  It sounds exotic, like a movie star of the silent screen.

But Leta was far from a movie star.  She was just an ordinary girl from Waynesboro, Virginia who happened to be assigned to share the dorm room of my grandaunt Velma Davis at Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University).  The many smiling photos in Velma’s scrapbook suggest they got along famously. 

Leta LeVow March 1925
Leta LeVow
"Smiling thro'"
Leta LeVow March 1925
Leta LeVow
"As high up as she'll get"




Velma and Leta were both in the 2-year program that would allow them to teach elementary school for seven years before recertifying. 

Scanned from
School Ma'am 1926

The quote beneath Leta’s graduation picture observed “Ever studious was she, ever active too.”  Leta was a member of the Grammar Grade Club as well as the YWCA and Athletic Association.  Most interesting, however, was that Leta was a member of the Page Literary Society.  Membership in any of the literary societies at HTC was by invitation only, so it was quite an honor.  These societies were, in fact, the forerunners of today’s sororities.  Leta’s club eventually became Sigma Sigma Sigma (Tri Sig), the oldest sorority at today’s JMU.

Leta LeVow
Wellington Hall in the background
Leta was born March 10, 1907 in Marshalltown, Iowa, the daughter of Russian immigrants who had been in the United States less than ten years, naturalized citizens for three.  Her father was enumerated in various years as either a peddler or junk dealer.  But the man lived the American dream becoming the proprietor of his own grocery and dry goods store as recorded in the 1930 Waynesboro  census.

Velma Davis and Leta LeVow May 1925
Velma and Leta at Velma's house Shenandoah, Virginia, May 1925

Leta graduated from HTC in 1926, but in 1930 she was living at home and apparently not working, certainly not teaching.   



Leta attended Velma’s wedding and signed the guest registry.  Judging by the names surrounding her signature, it was a regular class reunion.

At least by 1935 Leta had married Irving Steinberg.  The two lived with his widowed mother in Passaic, New Jersey.  In the 1940 census, Leta and Irving were parents to a son and daughter.  Leta was at home while Irving ran the Steinberg Grain and Feed Supply, a business apparently begun years before by his father.

Leta died on March 28, 1995 in Passaic, a city she had called home for over 60 years.


Last page of Velma's
wedding guest book

Don’t let the labyrinth of lampoons and belles-lettres languish at the A to Z April Challenge.

22 comments:

  1. Your grand aunt had a fab-looking friend.

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  2. How lovely to discover the past in this way. It makes it so much more real when there are real people with real lives to tell stories about. Thank you


    htt://ceciliaaclark.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Thanks for the kind words and the visit!

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  3. It looks like Leta and Velma had fun together! Do you know if they stayed in contact as they got older?

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    1. I wonder that same thing, Debi. I've lost contact with a lot of people I was GOOD FRIENDS with in high school and college, so who knows about Velma and Leta.

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  4. The name Leta had a very movie starish quality to it. Looks like Leta and Velma had lots of fun together.

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    1. I've posted other pictures of Leta, so I didn't use as many pictures as I had planned to. I think the two girls had lots of laughs together.

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  5. Dear Wendy--this was delightful and Leta's spirit shines through, due to your writing! You really have great talent at this. Thank you! jean

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    1. Oh stop - you're making me blush.

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  6. What an interesting story. You're lucky she kept notes in her scrapbook! Thanks for visiting "The Road We've Shared" !

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    1. At one time I thought, "What am I going to do with this silly scrapbook," and now I LOVE it! It's been fun studying the faces and trying to discover who they are.
      Thanks for the visit!

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  7. What a great idea for a theme! I enjoyed reading your post.

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    1. Thank-you! And thanks for stopping by.

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  8. That is so neat she was at Velma's wedding. The picture of Velma and Leta looks like YOU and Leta! Genes are something, just don't end up looking like that Passport picture LOL. Great post girl. I think this is a terrific theme.

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    1. Yeah, I could see me in Velma in that one picture.

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  9. Leta LeVow is a great name. I'm always looking for good names for fictional characters.

    Liz A. from Laws of Gravity

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    1. Yeah, I think I'm drawn to Leta more than to any other of Velma's friends -- must be that name!
      Thanks for visiting~

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  10. I just love the old college photos you post...makes me jealous that I did not have so much fun in college....and her name...yes, awesome!
    Half way through tomorrow :)

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    1. No fun in college? You're making up for it now!

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  11. Leta LeVow now has entered the Internet and will forever live on thanks to you. I am also doing family and friends so their story is told for future generations. You do such a better job than I and I am truly enjoy reading your posts.

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    1. Oh Ann, you're funny. Your posts are good -- love how you connect them to today.

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