Leonard Charles Clark (Len) was my father. He was born in London, June 27, 1893. Current research reveals he was married to Gladys May 18, 1913, in Bournemouth,on the South Coast of England, and they lived there, and had 2 daughters. Just after marriage, he fought in WW1 as a captain in the Seaforth Highlanders. I have a picture of him in his kilt. After the war he worked for his father, who was later mayor of Sutton, Surrey, who owned a wholesale meat business in Smithfield Market. He met my mother when he bumped into her on Victoria Station around 1928, and set up house with her in London – unbeknownst to his family back in Bournemouth, and unbeknownst to my mother at that time. A happy commuter, right out of Alec Guiness’s “Captain’s Paradise”, I’d say. Well, his wife paid him back. She steadfastly refused to divorce him, and that was in the days where you didn’t get one, unless both agreed. Sadly, his father and mother, and his brother and 2 sisters influenced by their parents, also disowned him, ignoring him for the next 30 years, (and depriving me of grandparents forever). Finally, in 1970, my mother and father got to marry in the same courtroom where the judge granted him his divorce (new grounds of 2 years desertion by either party). The English judge was horrified, told them to get 2 policemen from next door, and he married them then and there. Nice story! I traced my half-sisters through a television show in Burbank about 8 years ago, and they are now my great friends and supporters.
Ethel Margaret Clark (Greta) was my mother. She was born in the village of Billum, near Esbjerg, Jutland, Denmark, on May 27, 1903, and spoke with the Jutlandic dialect. The second oldest of ten children, living on a dairy farm, her father committed suicide when she was about eighteen, leaving his family on the edge of poverty. I’m still researching the reason. Mother left for England to seek a better life. I dare say meeting my father was a stroke of luck for her, and he helped the family tremendously. I met them all just once, in 1947 on a trip over there with my mother. Of course, Denmark had been occupied by the Nazis, so there was no prior contact with them either.
I am still researching both of their stories, because much was kept secret from me and my sister as we were growing up, and now they are both gone. I want to bring everybody back into the fold, because the old issues are dead, too.
Just now, I am in touch with my cousins in Jutland, who can handle quite good English, and it’s all thanks to the Internet. The Internet has changed people’s lives, not least by bringing far flung estranged families together again. Everyone should have a computer and learn how to use it. Because otherwise, they’re missing out.
Sonia Pamela Clark is my one sibling, 2 years older than me, born in England, lives in Henley-on-Thames. She is referred to elsewhere. We don’t talk. But her two daughters, one’s a doctor, used to visit and send Christmas cards until about 20 years ago, then suddenly stopped. That I don’t understand. They are independant individuals, and should know better.
Sybil Clark and Mavis Dayton are my half-sisters. They were born in England in the twenties. Mavis met and married a Canadian flyer, and they all emigrated to Vancouver, Canada, in the forties, just after WW2. Their mother was Gladys, my father’s first wife, the fact which I didn’t discover until I left home as a young man. And to think I used to sail into Vancouver in the early fifties, and could have looked them up.
Katharine Mary Craven Hawtrey (Kay) was my first wife, born in Toronto in 1926, I married her there in 1956. She was six years older than me, and I refer to her elsewhere. I met her when I was the juvenile lead in the Canadian Repertory Theatre in Ottawa, and she was the character actress. She is still a working actress, and lives in Toronto, Canada. When she refused to let me see my son, I went to court with an attorney, and she then ignored ensuing court orders, and I decided to give up. It is in my nature to fight injustice, but not when it involves hard-balling my family. We haven’t spoken since.