Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Barry Family Home at 516 G Is For Sale (57)

1. From the left: 516, 512, 506 G, March 20, 1942
516 G Street was built in 1939 & has been the Barry family home.  Lucille Barry died at age 95 in 2004 and Clarence Barry died in the home at age 90 in 2007. Their daughter, Jane Ellen Barry, kept the house as a rental, but has now put it up for sale.
In one sense, the Barry Home has had only one owner.

This post on the Barry Home is in two parts: 1) some recollections of Mr. Barry, 2) Jane Barry’s heartrending report on aging at 516 G.

2. Realtor photo of 516 G
In the later-‘90s, Lyda Takagi, an early Old North activist, told me that Mr. Barry had early snapshots of the area he might share. I followed that tip and found him to be very charming and helpful, including letting me scan early black and white photos of the Old North area.

3. Back yard of 516 G in snow, March 20, 1942

I chatted with him various times in later years and I have to say I was always thrown-off by his resemblance to the ‘30s-50s actor Don Ameche. It was not only that he looked rather like Ameche. 

Eerily, to me, he had Ameche’s voice--a booming, rich baritone that was “soothing but authoritative.” Into his eighties, he continued to speak in that resounding basso that riveted my attention even more because of its contrast with his physical frailty.

4. Back yard of 516 G, 2011
Before and after serving in the U. S. Army in WWII, he worked for the U. S. Postal Service in Davis. He retired in 1975 with 33 years service. The last seven of those years, he was the Davis Postmaster.

Among the snapshots he shared, two were taken on March 20, 1942 for the purpose of capturing snow that fell that day. As do other Davis Snow snapshots, he inadvertently created history-pictures in seeking to record unusual weather. (This blog’s posts 04 and 10 also feature Davis Snow history snapshots.)

5. Plan book photo of a 516 G type house
Of particular note, the snapshot he took of the snow in his back yard that day shows the iconic Plant grain warehouse behind his property (Photo 3).
That warehouse would soon be demolished as a consequence of grain storage and transport rapidly shifting from bags and trains to silos and trucks.
Photo 4 shows the same view today. Now, we see the Hibbert Lumber yard.

6. Plan book descripton
After writing the above, I read the realtor’s sales flyer on 516 G and found it had “history tidbits” written by Barry daughter Jane Ellen Barry. 

Those tidbits included the report that the house was built with plans purchased through a 1938 booklet titled New Small Homes published by L. F. Garlinghouse Co.  Photos 5 and 6 are from that booklet.

Photos 5 and 6 are reproduced from what is even more extraordinary.
7. Title page, Barry thesis
Jane Ellen Barry graduated from Davis High in 1970, became a Registered Nurse, and, in more recent years, took up Interior Design and earned an M. A. in that field at Washington State in 2008.

The title page from her M.A. thesis is reproduced in Photo 7, where we see it is on interior design for older people.

The extraordinary part is that her thesis centerpieces a case study of the elderly Clarence Barry, which is used to develop suggestions for how to organize homes for aging people more generally (Photo 8).

And what is truly extraordinary is that her account is grittily real. In chapter 2 of her thesis we see Mr. Barry and his family through the decades and the process of aging--“warts and all.”
8. Excerpt from Barry thesis

I salute Jane Barry for her willingness to report truth about people’s lives--both the joy and the pain of family living and the realities of aging.

You can read her thesis & the central, deeply moving, chapter 2, “My Dad’s Story,” at: