Friday, January 30, 2015

Me and Jeff

john jeff clayton72

The caches of old photos keep turning up and continue to yield surprising images and memories.

Like this one of me and my pal Jeff Clayton around 1949 or 1950.

Jeff’s father, Bernard Clayton, grew up in Zionsville where his father owned The Zionsville Times. Bernard was a newspaper guy too and worked at The Indianapolis News and ran bureaus in Chicago and San Francisco Time and Life magazines. He was a military correspondent in World War II and was lucky enough to be on the USS Missouri when the Japanese signed the surrender documents in Tokyo Bay in August, 1945, and witnessed the proceedings. After the war, he settled in San Mateo, Calif. and handled public relations for Matson steamship lines, which did a booming post-war business carrying passengers to and from Hawaii.

I’m a little fuzzy on when he married Marjorie Roach, but it had to be before or during WWII. Marjorie was a daughter of Harry and Minnie Roach of Delphi, Ind., and Jeff spent a few weeks some summers at their house, which is how I came to know him. That’s the Roach house and yard in the photo. Their yard and ours were separated by a long line of peony bushes.

The last time I saw Jeff was sometime in the 1980s when he traveled from California to spend Christmas with his parents who, by that time, were living in Bloomington, Ind.

Dropping out of the corporate world in 1964, Bernard and Marjorie traveled the U.S. and Europe for a couple of years before he was recruited by Indiana University for a special project. In the course of their travels, Bernard took up cooking and wrote cookbooks, the most successful of which were “Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Small Breads” (1998) and “The Complete Book of Soups and Stews,” first published in 1984 and reissued in a revised edition in 2006. Bernard died in Bloomington in 2011 at the age of 94.

He is one of a handful of my acquaintances to rate an obituary in The New York Times.

I’ve lost track of Jeff. There are a lot of Jeffrey Claytons in the U.S., but I suspect he’s the one who lives in Twin Peaks, Calif.

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