The Leia Organa League

It’s been several months since anyone has dropped a personal note about the Lovewell site although it continues to receive about 800 visits each month.  Rarer still are visitors who comment on the Formoso side of things, most of the space in the Formoso album being reserved for pictures from a booklet of postcard views of the little town as it appeared in 1909.

So I was quite pleased and surprised to hear from a lady doing a bit of idle late-night research who had paused to examine the photo of a family reunion at the Leydig house.  No one has ever said as much, but I’ve long suspected that the occasion of that reunion and photograph was  the death of family patriarch Levi Leydig four years before the booklet was printed.

As noted in the local paper of the day, the Formoso New Era, Mr. Leydig’s death a few days short of his 79th birthday was the first death to occur among his immediate family and “although on a sad occasion, it was the first time the family were all together since the children had attained their majority.”  

The fact that a man could live so long without burying his wife or any of their nine children or twenty-eight grandchildren seemed to be something for the record books in 1905.  It might even have been a fact worth passing along to “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” when the feature was finally launched a decade later.   

My email correspondent, the great-granddaughter of one of Levi and Rachel (Sturtz) Leydig’s granddaughters, sent me a wonderful photo of Effie Lou Leydig (front row, second from the left) posing with fellow members of a women's athletic club on the south steps of the recently-built Formoso School, probably sometime in the second decade of the 1900’s.  They look like a take-no-prisoners bunch.  

Leia Organa League

Seeing a close-up view of those stone steps always makes me smile, because the ones on the east side, quite a bit larger than those pictured, were where generations of boys (including mine), demonstrated our fearlessness by leaping off the sides, dropping about seven or eight feet to the ground, landing with a thump and a groan.  That ground seemed a lot farther away when the distance to it was twice your own height.

However, my first reaction on seeing the picture was an eerie sense of recognition.  I was certain that I knew the identity of the young lady holding the basketball.  Chins don’t lie.  She looks very much like a neighbor whom I would visit occasionally some six decades after this picture was taken.  Another member of the squad resembles a girl who was two or three grades ahead of me in school, who could have been a grand-niece of her lookalike on the back row.

The problem with my identification is that the names I was hoping to attach to the picture are not necessarily the names of girls who ever attended school in Formoso.  

And yet I still think I’m right.  I just can’t figure out how.

© Dale Switzer 2023