Just before he died, Don was working on an autobiographical novel of his last year in San Diego, California. "Jigsaw Summer" was his title and it tells his personal story of yearning to get away from his strict guardian but at the same time being tortured about leaving his friends. Written with his characteristic honesty and humor, and with deep glimpses into his personality, it is a treasury of that time and atmosphere in the US.
Now 50 years after he passed away, Roy his son, and Nancy Setzer Luria, Don's niece, have reviewed over 1000 pages of manuscripts by Don and put together his most complete and final version. The text is accompanied by his sketches and contemporary photographs of Don in settings from the book. The final work is now published but it is an origin story unlike any other. For as many children's books as Don wrote and illustrated in his lifetime, we have never known much about what he was like as a child. Jigsaw Summer brings his story full circle, revealing the hardships he faced growing up and shedding light on the creative, life-loving spirit that inspired his work and artistry.
Jigsaw Summer: Fact or Fiction?
[An ongoing information collection by Nancy Setzer Luria. The notes ( etc.) are endnotes to be found at the bottom of the main text. If anyone has new information to share, please contact us over the contact form.]
Don Freeman wrote his autobiographical novel, Jigsaw Summer, to address an early part of his life that he wished to understand better. As he wrote to his friend and fellow author William Saroyan in 1977, the novel was “in the third person and yet it’s about real situations and people….” It is unclear even to Don’s son, Roy, how much of Jigsaw is true; however, some details from the book are verifiable. Information gleaned from contemporary newspapers, census reports, and city directories; family letters; and other sources helps sift out the truth about some of the characters and events in the novel. Don’s clear statement that the content was based on his life suggests that even though much of the story cannot be proven to be true, he did experience the feelings and incidents he describes. Don was working on the book when he was in his 60s and may not have had access to specific details about his past, nor would he, like most of us, have precise recall of those early years of his life. He also intended the story to be a novel, thus may have intentionally bent the facts for the benefit of the story. Nonetheless, for readers who wish to learn what we know is factual about Don’s novel, we offer these insights.
Chapter 1: A Whiff of Chili
This chapter introduces us to Botsford (Bots) Everton, the fictionalized character of Don. In Come One, Come All!, Don’s 1949 autobiography, Botsford Beverforden is another boy given to the care of Don’s guardian. We do not know why Don chose either of these names (the last name of a friend of Roy’s was Everton); however, he seemed to like the first name enough to use it twice, the second time for himself.[5
In the version of Jigsaw that Roy chose to publish, Don states he was ten during the summer of his story. We chose to change his age to eleven to be consistent with the date of Don’s mother’s September 1918 death, which in the story, took place “two years earlier.” Don’s actual birthday was August 11, 1908, thus he would have been turning 12 two years after his mother’s death, whether during the year of the story or in real life (the fictitious Don, Bots, has a birthday in December, he tells us, so would also be turning 12, if we assume he were 11).
Bots’ “strict” guardian, Mrs. Belle G. Grant, was a real person with whom Don lived during several critical years of his young life (we are not certain exactly which years, but probably 1915-1920). She did, indeed, live on Kalmia Street, number 3139, in San Diego. The “two-story, yellow stucco” house still stands on Kalmia Street today, although with some modifications (see the photos, below). In his 1949 autobiography Don described the house as “a two-story square stuccoed contraption with a windowed topknot called the solarium.”
The only one of Bots’ friends in Jigsaw that we can connect with certainty to a real person is his next-door neighbor Geraldine Stacey, whom we find in the 1920 San Diego Census as 9-year-old Geraldine Staley. The Staleys did live next door to the real Mrs. Grant on Kalmia Street. (Don identifies Geraldine as an 11-year-old in his story, but she was two years younger than he.) Geraldine Staley’s 1927 high school yearbook photo proves she was an attractive heroine for their make-believe movies:
In one of his drafts for Jigsaw, Don named the boy who played the villain Pancho Villa in their movies Tom Forbes instead of Tom Ortega. There was a family named Forbes living near Mrs. Grant that had a son named Thomas who was Don’s age. In other drafts Don called his “pal Otis Benbolt,” the movie company’s director, Legler Benbolt, and the cameraman, Ziggy Berger, Ziggy Berman; however, we could not find connections with real boys having any of those names
“Grandmother Ferrier” is Don’s mother’s mother, Lucy Packard Currier. Lucy was the daughter of Abel Kingman Packard, Greeley Colorado’s Congregational minister. She married Henry F. Currier, a rancher, in her father’s Greeley home in what was reported as an event “of particular interest, owing to the social standing of the high contracting parties….” During the summer that Don is describing in Jigsaw, Lucy lived with her daughter Julia on Dale Street in San Diego. Lucy’s brother, John Cady Packard, had moved to San Diego in 1884 to join a partner in business. Henry Currier’s brother, George, had also moved to San Diego by 1896. Around 1908, Henry and Lucy chose to move there as well, along with their youngest daughter, Julia.
Don mentions the actor William S. Hart several times in Jigsaw. Since he impersonates him in the backyard movie he and his friends were making, we can assume he was one of Don’s movie heroes. In another draft version of Jigsaw, Don adds that Hart was “famous for taking the law into his own hands,” suggesting one reason Don was a fan: Hart could control what happened in his life.
Bots states that the “stiff brimmed old army hat” he was wearing came from his father’s Spanish-American War (April-August 1898) uniform. The hat would have been like the one Don’s father’s brother Horace wore during the same war:
Don’s parents, Mortimer Roy Freeman and Hazel Currier Freeman, moved from Greeley, CO, to California around the time they were married in 1903 at Hazel’s uncle George Currier’s home in San Diego. Hazel died, apparently after a long illness, in September 1918, when Don was 10 years old. Don and Warren were sent to live with Belle Grant during their mother’s “long illness.” Their first home with her was in Chula Vista in 1915. If their housing situation is a clue, Hazel and Mort had difficulty settling into a life in the city. From 1904 until the time of Hazel’s death, their San Diego address changed at least 10 times.
Bots recalls that his ailing mother had been cared for in his grandmother’s La Jolla home. While Don’s grandmother, Lucy Currier, did live in La Jolla in 1910, by 1914 she was living at 2138 Dale Street in San Diego, just east of Balboa Park (Kalmia Street was a short distance away, also east of the park). The period of Hazel’s illness remains a mystery. Was she being cared for by her mother because Mort had to work? Why wouldn’t the family allow Hazel’s children to see her and, at the end, to say goodbye? In Come One, Come All!, Don recalls of his mother “only her frailty and strong devotion.” Hazel was a Christian Scientist so would likely not have been consulting doctors about her illness. (The Freemans attended the Congregational church in Greeley. We do not know if Mort converted to Hazel’s faith.) It is understandable that Don would have felt a “terrible shock” at learning of his mother’s death.
Bots states that his birthday was “way back in December,” which is not true for Don, whose birth month was August.
Mabel “Trueshine” may be how Don remembered Mrs. Grant’s helper’s name, or he deliberately changed the spelling. Mabel Trusheim was the real “young helper” in Belle Grant’s Kalmia Street household. The 1920 U.S. Census includes Mabel in Belle Grant’s home and describes the 21-year-old as a companion in a private family.
Besides Don and his brother, Warren, Mrs. Grant did care for a third boy, who appears in the photo at the beginning of Chapter Two. We cannot confirm his name, though it is possible his first name was Frankie, or even Botsford, since Don calls him that in Come One, Come All!. As Don tells it in Come One, Come All!, the third boy came to live with them when Mrs. Grant lived in Chula Vista, not after she had moved to Kalmia Street. The photo Roy has of all three boys with Mrs. Grant is dated 4-4-15 and appears to be her home in Chula Vista, not the one in town on Kalmia Street.
Mrs. Grant mentions her “late” husband, Henry. According to documents in Ancestry.com, Lena Belle Goodwin, a teacher, married Henry E. Grant in Cassopolis, MI, in 1891. Henry was a cashier in a bank. The couple moved permanently to San Diego sometime after 1910. A 1907 local paper noted their departure for California that year was because of Henry’s condition, which must have been serious enough that the paper printed a bleak prospect for his recovery. Henry died in September 1917 at age 56. It seems unlikely that Mrs. Grant would take in boarders before Henry died unless, as Don makes clear, he was not living at her home. The couple was listed as living on Kalmia Street in San Diego as early as 1916, and in Come One, Come All!, Don describes how Mrs. Grant moved her household of boarders from Chula Vista to Kalmia Street before the war started. The 1915 Chula Vista city directory lists both Henry and Belle living there. Don never mentions knowing or being around Henry (“Henry Grant’s name was rarely, if ever, mentioned, and I had never asked about him.”). Perhaps Mrs. Grant’s need to take in boarders was linked to the loss of income from her husband. Since he died at a relatively young age, he may have become so ill that she became the only bread winner and supplemented her income by having boarders. Where Henry might have been living, though, we have no clues. Could he have had to go to a sanitarium? Belle may not have found it appropriate to discuss such a serious matter as Henry’s declining health with her young charges, especially when Warren and Don’s mother was also ill. Henry and Belle are buried together in Cassopolis so a separation or divorce does not seem a likely answer to his absence.
Don’s recollection about what he was told concerning the choice of his caretaker differs slightly in Jigsaw from what he states in his autobiography. In Jigsaw, Don has Mrs. Grant claiming it was his grandmother who found Belle through a women’s club friend “to take your mother’s place during her illness.” In Come One, Come All!, Don states that it was his mother’s friend who referred Belle. The friend Belle names in Jigsaw, Lila Titus, is likely the Lela Titus who lived near Kalmia Street and was an amateur artist and at least an acquaintance, if not a friend, of Julia Currier’s for many years. They both were members of a women’s rowing club, Zlac. Since Lela knew Don’s favorite aunt, Julia, and was an artist, it is possible Don knew her and either remembered her connection to Mrs. Grant or chose to commemorate the family link by using a variation on her name (or just thought it was spelled it this way).
Mrs. Grant feels that her teaching experience helped Don’s grandmother and father decide that she would be the best guardian for Hazel’s boys. Belle Grant began teaching while still in Cassopolis, MI. Her obituary stated that she and her husband ran a “private school for boys” in California until Henry’s death. We have not been able to locate information about such a school.
In Chapter One “Bots” presents the mystery of why his own grandmother and aunt would not have taken care of him, or for that matter why his father didn’t, after his mother died (“I was eaten by curiosity.”). While some details become clearer later in the story, this basic question about his care is impossible to answer without the testimony of these family members. The question, though, is the crux of this novel, and it seems that Don was wishing to document how a young boy tries to come to terms with such profound loss, for which, clearly, though she tried, Belle Grant could not be an adequate substitute.
Mrs. Grant’s letter from Frankie’s parents states they are staying at the U.S. Grant Hotel. Located at 326 Broadway, the U.S. Grant was built by Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., in 1910, and named after his father, the President. Mortimer and Hazel lived in the hotel in 1915, the year their boys presumably went to live with Mrs. Grant in Chula Vista.
Chapter 2: The Arrival
Don begins the chapter by describing his normal Sunday morning routine, which was to attend Sunday school. His mother, a Christian Scientist, may have wished him to be raised in that faith. He states that the church was “across town,” and the First Church of Christ Scientist, located at 2nd and Laurel Streets, would have been a streetcar ride to the opposite side of Balboa Park from Mrs. Grant’s. Just as a child might have, Bots focuses on the Bible stories he learned rather than recalling any spiritual teachings.
Mrs. Grant tells the Pratts that Bots has been living there with her “for the past three years.” Bots thinks to himself that it had only been two years he had been “under her wing.” The photo of Warren and Don and a third boy at the beginning of this chapter prove that the boys were in Mrs. Grant’s care at least as early as 1915. Why Don is making a point here of having Mrs. Grant mistaken in her claim of an additional year is not clear. Whether three years or two, the time frame does not add up with Frankie arriving in 1915—if he is the boy in the 1915 photos—and the year Don has his novel take place.
When Bots describes the movies he and his friends make, Mrs. Grant asks the Pratts if they have seen “the latest Douglas Fairbanks picture, Double Trouble.” This popular Fairbanks film was released in December 1915, the year “Frankie” (or another boy) joined the Freeman boys in Mrs. Grant’s home in Chula Vista. Mrs. Pratt states that the last film they had seen was Charlie Chaplin’s The Rink, which was released in December 1916.
During Bots’ tour of his yard for Frankie, he points out the Stacey home where Geraldine lives. He notes that Mrs. Stacey teaches piano. Geraldine’s real mother, Mary Staley, is listed in the 1920 Census as a “music teacher.”
Bots tells Frankie that Mrs. Grant is a fifth-grade teacher at Emerson School. We know the real Mrs. Grant taught fifth graders, but we have not been able to verify that she worked at Emerson. San Diego’s Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School was located at 3575 National Avenue, about 3 miles from Kalmia Street.
Chapter 3: The Ouija Board
The Ouija board was an acceptable “tool” among Christians:
"Spiritualism worked for Americans: it was compatible with Christian dogma, meaning one could hold a séance on Saturday night and have no qualms about going to church the next day….The 1910s and 1920s, with the devastations of World War I and the manic years of the Jazz Age and prohibition, witnessed a surge in Ouija popularity. It was so normal that in May 1920, Norman Rockwell, illustrator of blissful 20th century domesticity, depicted a man and a woman, Ouija board on their knees, communing with the beyond on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post."
A Lester Purer is associated with a Mabel T. in records and in newspaper articles; in fact, he marries her, and they eventually move to Escondido, CA. Lester’s Ancestry.com information places his early years in Illinois and does not suggest a connection with Belle Grant when she lived in Cassopolis. As mentioned earlier, it was Belle’s husband, Henry, who worked there in a bank. Lester’s age—he was born in 1902 in Illinois—would make it possible for him to have visited San Diego in his late teens, as the fictional Lester did. While we have not found information about his military service, it is possible he served in World War I and then returned home to Illinois to attend the university (he is listed as a freshman in the 1922 yearbook).
Bots imagines hiding out at the clothing store where his father worked. Don’s father, Mortimer Roy Freeman, worked in a variety of stores in San Diego from the time he and wife Hazel moved to California until the Depression. From the San Diego city directories and the U.S. Census we learn that he worked—usually as a salesman, but sometimes as a tailor—at the Lion Clothing Company (1904-6), the Marston Department Store (1907), the Ives Clothing Co. (1910), Samuel Lesinsky (1911-1919—and perhaps beyond—the directories stopped listing places of employment in 1920).
Chapter 4: The Wonder Salesman
“I’ll be glad to show you how well Wonder Wiper works when applied to any surface – wood, leather, or metal,” the door-to-door salesman tells Mrs. Grant. Advertisements for a “Wonder-Mist” appeared in the Los Angeles Times beginning in 1916 and continued through at least 1918. While it was primarily for cars, the manufacturers found that it also worked well on furniture, though only on the wood!
Mrs. Grant purchased her “prized” chair at Marston’s, an elegant Renaissance Revival department store at Fifth and C Streets, considered one of the finest shopping experiences in the city.
Chapter 5: A Streetcar to China
Bots and Frankie encounter Geraldine playing jacks with her friend Ada Gerwell. An Ada Gurwell did live a few blocks away from Kalmia Street on Palm Street. In 1920 she was 10 years old.
Bots’ crush, Priscilla Dean, began appearing in silent short movies in 1912, not gaining parts in longer films until 1917. She was, indeed, lovely:
Geraldine tells Bots that she cannot go with him to Berger’s Drug Store because Mr. Berger was a German, and as long as the U.S. was at war with Germany, she was not permitted to patronize his business. The United States entered World War I in April 1917. Germany surrendered in November 1918. Don includes two major events that shaped his community during the years he lived on Kalmia Street, World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. He states of the flu: “Last year everybody in San Diego had to wear flu masks because of the flu epidemic sweeping the country.”
Frankie asks about the stars hanging in some homes’ windows. Bots explains that they represent a family member in the service. These were likely “Sons in Service” symbols, usually vertical flags, indicating men in active service. The tradition began in World War I.
The Lion Clothing Store was at Fifth and E Streets in San Diego. According to the city directories, Don’s father worked there from 1904 to 1906. During the period we believe the novel takes place, Mort would have been working at the clothing store that took the place of Lion’s at Fifth and G Streets, Samuel Lesinsky.
Bots’ friend Ziggy Berger asks who Lester Purer is, and Bots responds that he is a friend of Mrs. Grant’s from Michigan. He adds that he believes Lester has an idea he and Mabel, Mrs. Grant’s live-in helper, might get married. It does seem that the real Lester and Mabel married sometime after 1930, if the Lester E. Purer and Mabel T. Purer in the records are the same couple. Lester became a well-known well driller in Escondido. It does not appear they had children, although Lester did well enough that Mabel did not have to work.
The boys visit Bots’ father at the “Lyon Store” on B Street. As noted earlier, while Don’s father did work at the Lion clothing store, he had left it before Don was born. During the period when we believe Jigsaw takes place, Mort Freeman was working at the Samuel Lesinsky clothing store at 5th and G Streets. The Lion store had moved to 6th and Broadway, thus neither store was on B Street. Bots tells the motorman that he wants to get off at the Plaza fountain, located on Broadway between 3rd and 4th streets. The streetcar stop at the fountain would have delivered the boys close to either store’s location (Bots notes that his father’s store was only “a couple of blocks from the plaza”), and there were, indeed, some sharp turns along the route!
The motorman notes that the fountain is in a “pretty rough part of town,” and it seems, from its beginnings, the plaza was a mecca for vagrants.
During their streetcar ride, Bots recognizes the motorman as the driver on the streetcar line that he rode to take violin lessons in Mission Hills from “Miss Griswell.” A Frank and Emma Griswell lived on Goldfinch Street, just off the streetcar line, in Mission Hills. Bots mentions that he liked taking that trip because he could get off to get a sundae at the Owl drugstore, which did exist downtown at Broadway and 4th.
The streetcar motorman notes the difficulty in getting repairs done to the overhead electric lines because the qualified men were “going off to war.” The reference to World War I as ongoing is consistent with Bots’ earlier comments about the war; however, the war had to have ended by the summer Don went away to school.
Bots describes for Frankie the trip he took with Mrs. Grant to Los Angeles to see Douglas Fairbanks making a movie. The scene he describes is so specific that we ought to be able to match it with one of Fairbanks’ many films from that period; however, we have not been able to. Los Angeles was the location of the Triangle Motion Picture Company, for which Fairbanks was under contract during the beginning of his film career (he signed in 1915).
The Pig’n Whistle that Mrs. Grant takes Bots to in Los Angeles was a chain with a location in that city as early as 1908. By 1914 it had three locations there.
Chapter 6: Between Customers
Bots mentions the Plaza Theater where his father would take him to see William Hart movies. It opened in 1913 opposite the Grant Hotel. He and Frankie have a conversation about Nazimova, who was being featured at the Plaza. Madame Nazimova, as she was called, was a popular stage actress and had agreed to turn one of her most successful plays, War Brides, into a screen production. The contemporary San Diego papers show that the film, released in 1916, was shown only at the Pickwick Theater in February 1917, with no mention of it at the Plaza. Even though Bots states he is showing his “celluloid wisdom,” when War Brides, the film, opened, Nazimova’s reputation could only have been from her plays.
The “Lyons Clothing Company,” where Bots’ father worked, advertised “Everything for the Working Man.” The actual Lion Clothing Store did specialize in men’s clothes and, because of this, was quite successful. Even though Don’s father did not work for the real Lion store after Don was born, he may have continued to shop there for clothes for himself and his boys or to visit the store with his sons, if we can assume he remained friendly with the owner. Don’s description of the owner of the “Lyon” store, a “hefty man…always dressed in his shirtsleeves and vest” and having a “big, bushy mustache,” closely matches a photograph of the real Lion store owner, Samuel Fox:
Don correctly describes his father in the novel as being “slightly bald.” Bots feels sad when he sees the small room in which his father slept on weekends when he had to work late. As noted above, Mort’s address changed constantly during the years he lived in San Diego. Some of the moves might have been to stay as close to where he worked as possible. In 1919 and 1920 Mort’s address was the same as Mrs. Grant’s, suggesting that he stayed with her—and therefore Don—on the days when he did not have to work late.
Don uses the conversation with his father to state another troubling piece of his childhood puzzle: Why was his father left out of decisions that concerned his son? If Don had had the opportunity to learn the answer to this question as an adult, he does not seem to have asked it when those who might have known were still alive.
Chapter 7: The Command Performance
Bots is picked up for an overnight visit by his Aunt Julia. He states that she is his “only true aunt.” Don may be paying tribute to the fact that his real Aunt Julia was the one who supported him (in her case financially as well as emotionally) throughout her life, while other family members did not. His mother’s other sister, Louise, also lived in San Diego with her husband and three children.
Bots and Julia talk about acting, Julia stating that she considered her nephew a protégé. Julia was, in fact, an amateur actress.
Bots mentions the story Les Misérables his teacher, Miss Sisson, read to them in class. Sallie Sisson is listed in the 1920 San Diego Directory as a teacher in the Brooklyn School. (The original Brooklyn School was located at 30th and Beech Streets, south of Kalmia Street and east of Balboa Park, and would have been the closest one for Don to attend.)
Bots describes the drive to his grandmother’s house in La Jolla; however, by 1914 Lucy and Julia lived at 2138 Dale Street in the city.
Bots reveals that it was his grandmother who was paying “for Mrs. Grant’s services.” As the widow of Henry F. Currier, Lucy—Don’s real grandmother—received a portion of Henry’s father’s estate, which was finally settled in 1913, twenty-one years after he died. Apparently disappointed in his two sons’ accomplishments, Judge Warren Currier left his considerable estate in the form of a trust, which was contested by his heirs from the time of the Judge’s death, in 1893, until it was settled by the Colorado Supreme Court. By that time, the law suit begun by Lucy’s brother-in-law George had been replaced by one brought by Henry and George’s children. We have not found the precise amounts each heir received, but if the terms in the will were respected, Lucy, as the immediate heir to her husband’s share, would have inherited half of the estate, or $125,000.
Bots describes his grandmother as “a rather small, delicate person who carried herself with great dignity” and compared her to the way a “queen must look.” He also found that she reminded him of his mother. The family photo included in this chapter proves that Bots’ grandmother was indeed Don’s own as his description of Grandmother Ferrier is a match:
The two women who were in Bots’ grandmother’s living room when he arrived explained that they were on a committee to raise funds for the Red Cross. Interestingly, Douglas Fairbanks made a point of coming to San Diego in December 1917 to help the Red Cross increase memberships (“Every red-blooded American should belong to the Red Cross,” he is quoted as saying.). “All records were broken” because of his presence as he led 25 “prominent club women” from one city landmark to another (they started at the U.S. Grant Hotel).
The purpose for Bots’ visit to his grandmother becomes clear over dinner when she announces that he will be attending a boarding school beginning that fall. She explains that this was a school his mother always had in mind for him. Although the school is called Olympic Hall, it is meant to be The Principia school in St. Louis, Missouri, which Don did attend. Julia tells Bots that he is now old enough to go there by himself. The 1919 Principia catalog listed the fees boarding students must pay, and the earliest grade students could become boarders was 6th (for which the fee was $750). Don stated in an oral interview that he stayed with Mrs. Grant until he was 11 years old. When he turned 12 in the summer of 1920, he would have been in 6th grade that fall and eligible to board at The Principia.
The Principia enrolled only the “sons and daughters of Christian Scientists.” The application process required proof that the student’s parents were of this belief. The applicant had to “furnish as references the names of a registered practitioner of Christian Science and of a reader in the church attended by the parents.” Since Don’s brother, Warren, was already attending The Principia, we assume there was no issue with Don’s application coming from his grandmother. We do not know if Don’s father, who grew up in the Congregationalist faith, was a convert to Christian Science.
Julia explains to Bots that his father agreed with the decision to send him away to school because he was “unable at this time to do anything in a financial way towards helping your education.” She further states that the money that will provide for his education was his mother’s, left to her in her father’s will. Grandmother Ferrier confirms it was her husband’s will but adds that he passed away before Bots was born, which is not true of Don. Henry F. Currier died in 1913 when Don was five. As we noted earlier, it was Judge Warren Currier’s estate that provided a generous inheritance for his sons Henry and George, and at Henry’s death, in 1913, his portion passed to his heirs.
Chapter 9: The Solarium Mystery Solved
Geraldine manages to get Bots into the solarium where she “snoops” around in Mrs. Grant’s stored boxes, trunks, and pictures. She discovers a photo of the 3-year-old son of the Grants who had died. While Henry and Belle Grant did not have a son who died, they did have a similar tragedy in their lives. Their only child, a daughter, Mary Goodwin Grant, was stillborn in September 1904.
Chapter 10: Wise Guidance from Our Guest
We have been unable to connect a Lester Purer with Belle Grant in Cassopolis, MI. The story Don tells in this chapter about Mrs. Grant caring for an orphaned Lester when he was young does not seem to be true of the real Lester E. Purer whose parents would have been alive when Belle lived in Cassopolis. The character of Lester is such an important one in Jigsaw that he must be based on a real person; however, one that we cannot identify. Perhaps Don used his name because Mabel did marry a Lester Purer.
Chapter 11: The Messenger
We were unable to verify any of the events in this chapter. Either Don created his own “movie version” of his make-believe film company or there are true parts cloaked in bits of fantasy. In the version of Jigsaw Roy chose to publish, Don had the Douglas Fairbanks assistant, who offers Bots the opportunity to visit the set of the film star’s movie that night, tell the children that the movie was Douglas Fairbanks’ Roman Candles. This is odd since Douglas Fairbanks did not appear in this movie (the star was L. Frank Glendon). What is true about the movie, however, is that it was filmed in Balboa Park. According to an August 1920 article, “Fully 5,000 persons were at the park last night, a great many of whom participated in the making of the fireworks celebration scenes.” So it is possible that Don and his friends encountered someone connected with the Roman Candles movie and received an invitation to come watch the filming. The silent movie, which was ultimately released under the title, Yankee Doodle, Jr., did not contain a scene showing a young messenger running up steps to knock on a door, nor were the main characters dressed in the kind of exotic Gypsy costumes Bots describes in Jigsaw. But it is possible that Mrs. Grant and Don were among the “5,000” San Diegans who witnessed the fireworks scene the movie filmed on August 2, 1920.
Because one of the main points of Chapter 11 is the realization of Belle Grant’s dream to meet her movie hero Douglas Fairbanks, we chose to change the title of the movie named by the assistant to one in which the actor did appear. Douglas Fairbanks selected San Diego as the setting for two of his early films. In 1916 he filmed scenes for American Aristocracy in San Diego’s Old Town at Ramona’s Marriage Place. Some of San Diego’s “Society Folk” dressed in “Spanish garb” to become extras in dining scenes shot in the U.S. Grant Hotel’s palm court. When the film was shown at the downtown Superba theater, the actor came in person to address the audience. Belle Grant might have been one of the “Mrs. Fluttering Harts” who saw Fairbanks run past her down the aisle of the theater and leap over the organ. During his presentation, the “marvel athlete” revealed that he was “making pictures up at the exposition.”
The picture Fairbanks was referring to at the exposition was The Americano, and we chose to make this the one that Bots and Mrs. Grant were invited to watch being filmed in Jigsaw.
As the first major film to use the 1915-1917 San Diego Panama-California Exposition buildings in Balboa Park as a movie set, The Americano and its famous star were well documented in the local papers. The papers published the schedule for both the crew and the actors, and they advertised the city’s decision to honor the actor with a “Day” and a reception, keeping San Diegans apprised of the change in date due to weather. The tribute day finally took place on Sunday, December 10, 1916. “Big scenes” with hundreds of locals as extras were to be filmed between 10 and 2:30, and the star was to make a speech at 4:30. It is hard to imagine Mrs. Grant giving up the opportunity to attend such an open invitation to see her movie hero, and because the event was fortuitously postponed until a Sunday, it was possible for Don to accompany her without missing school. “Lured by the prospect of seeing ‘movies’ in the making, several thousand people passed the greater portion of [Sunday] at the Exposition watching Douglas Fairbanks and his company film scenes in a motion picture drama…. Women, young and old, swarmed around the star, who talked and bobbed and bowed and autographed dozens of photographs for his fair visitors.” Like Roman Candles, however, The Americano does not contain a scene with a young boy running up stairs with a scroll. Still, it is hard to believe that Don would write such a detailed chapter without having experienced at least some of it. In one version of Jigsaw Don describes watching as Fairbanks “knocked on the palace door and climbed up the beautifully carved statues and floral designs which decorated the entrance.” This accurately describes the front of the California Building (now the Museum of Us), which was used in both movies:
If Don’s acting debut did happen the summer before he left for Principia, the timing with the 1920 Roman Candles is the better fit. Perhaps Don combined several film-making experiences he had with his guardian into one, imaginary, event.
Chapter 12: A Loosening of the Reins
Mrs. Grant shares the news that she has been promoted to a school principal position in Escondido. She did become a principal around 1924, according to her obituary. Her position was in Hemet, however, not Escondido. We do not know where Don lived when he came “home” from boarding school during the summer. It seems likely he at least visited Mrs. Grant and perhaps the happy news she shared with him was during one of those visits.
Chapter 13: The Fifth Chair
Bots’ father gifts him his first suit. Boys in the early decades of the 20th century would have been among the last to experience this traditional rite of passage—the receipt of their first long pants—symbolizing their transition to manhood.
Could Belle’s wish at the end of the story—to make toast for breakfast for Bots and his wife—have come true? Don married Lydia Cooley in June 1931 in New York City. With Belle becoming so ill in 1932 that she had to take a leave of absence from her job and return home to Cassopolis, it does not seem likely. But because Don leaves his reader with the optimistic sentiment that dreams do come true, let us say it did.
Footnotes --> Endnotes
 His autobiography, Come One, Come All! (New York: Rinehart & Company, Inc., 1949), overlaps Jigsaw in time; however, its primary concern is Don’s young adult life in New York City. Don did not write it as a novel; rather, it is a true account, with some names changed, perhaps wishing at the time to protect the identity of non-family members.
 Letter to William Saroyan dated February 15, 1977, among Don Freeman memorabilia owned by his son, Roy. The version of Jigsaw that Roy published is in the first person; other drafts were in the third person.
 H.D. Beverforden was in charge of the stock department of the local Ford agency, “the most completely equipped Ford agency in the country” for a city the size of San Diego (Evening Tribune, San Diego, 19 May 1917, p. 15, c. 1). H.D.’s son, Henry Jr., was about the same age as Don so might have been in school with him when his family lived in the city, 1916-1918 (Evening Tribune, 6 July 1916, p. 9, c. 1 and San Diego City Directories). Or perhaps Don knew of the father through Mrs. Grant’s visits to the Ford dealership.
 Macduff Everton was one of Roy’s good friends when he was growing up in Santa Barbara. Macduff became a well-known professional photographer (macduffeverton.com).
 Don may have been familiar with the Botsfords who were prominent in San Diego. Hotel Botsford, built in 1910, at 1048 Sixth Avenue, was owned by Frank LeRoy Botsford (San Diego Union, 11 January 1914, p.6, c.5-7). Frank L. was the nephew of the “father” of La Jolla, Frank Terrill Botsford. (http://motherearthtravel.com/united_states/la_jolla/history.htm ).
 Jigsaw, p. 9. Also, in a 1965 oral interview, Don states that he was 11 when he was sent away to school, further supporting this age for Jigsaw (Betty Hoag, “Oral history interview with Don Freeman, 1965, June 4,” Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Updated Transcript, March 15, 2007, unpaginated).
 Don changed Mrs. Grant’s name to Mrs. Blass in his 1949 autobiography, although we do not know why. Born Lena Belle Goodwin, Mrs. Grant died in 1932.
 Come one, Come All!, p. 17.
 Geraldine’s birthday was November 13, 1910. Interestingly, she and Don both graduated from high school the same year, 1927, though she from the local school and Don from Principia in St. Louis.
 The drafts/versions of Jigsaw belong to Roy Freeman.
 1920 San Diego Census. The family lived at 3004 Laurel Street. Thomas was 11.
 Greeley Daily Tribune, 16 November 1970, p.45, c.1-3. The entire article describing the June 1880 marriage was reprinted as part of the paper’s centennial edition.
 Lucy, as a widow, is listed in the San Diego Directory at 2138 Dale Street from 1914 (p. 383) to 1920 (p.319).
 John Packard was well known in the city for having helped establish its first stationery store (San Diego Union, 28 January 1951, p.10, c.1).
 The 1908 San Diego City Directory, p. 170, lists Henry Currier in La Jolla. Although the 1910 Census puts Henry, Lucy and daughter Julia on Draper Street in the city, the 1910 San Diego Directory lists Henry still in La Jolla (p.164), where he appears to have kept a home, perhaps until he died in 1913 (he is not listed in the 1911 directory, appears in the 1912 one in La Jolla [p.211] and again is missing in 1913). By 1914 Lucy has moved to 2138 Dale Street in the city (San Diego Directory, p. 383), where she remains through 1920 (San Diego Directory, p.319).
 Hart starred in approximately 70 silent movies, many of them westerns, by 1925. By 1917 his films were the highest grossing in the industry (https://hartmuseum.org/william-s-hart-museum-history).
 In Come One, Come All!, p. 14, Don mentions that Mrs. Blass (aka Grant) was preparing the boys for what might be an impending war, thus 1914-15 when they were with her in Chula Vista.
 According to the San Diego City Directories, in 1904 Mort (Hazel’s name begins to appear with Mort’s in 1914 [per the prevailing publishing custom], but we assume she was living with him at least until her illness) lived at 1848 Front Street, in 1906 at 1412 4th Street (Coronado), in 1907 at 1471 Columbia Street, in 1908 at 740 28th Street, in 1909 at 1125 Ivy Street, in 1910 at 3876 3rd Avenue, in 1911 at 3433 A Street, in 1914 at 2496 F Street, in 1915 in the U.S. Grant Hotel, in 1916 at 1738 Dale Street, and in 1917 at 2035 Broadway. By the time of her death, in 1918, Mort and Hazel were living with Lucy and Julia Currier at 2138 Dale Street, although Hazel’s death certificate states she died at home on First Street (certificate posted on Ancestry.com).
 1915 San Diego City Directory, p. 371.
 Hazel wrote a will in August 1918, presumably because she knew she was dying. California Wills and Probate Records, 1850-1953, p. 344 (from Ancestry.com). She left the care of her children to their father, who clearly was unable to care for them while working.
 Come One, Come All!, p. 18.
 Letter from Emma Freeman, Mort’s mother, to her son James in describing her daughter-in-law’s activities while visiting in Greeley, CO, October 14, 1906: “…Hazel also has gone to church (her church the Christian Science)…” (Nancy Setzer Luria collection of family letters).
 Mabel’s family lived in Mission Township, where her father was a farmer, and she was one of seven children (1900 Census). Mabel first appears at 3139 Kalmia in the 1920 San Diego City Directory (p. 891), where she is listed as Mabel Trushein. In 1921 she is there as Mabel Trueshim (p.939). Her last listing with Mrs. Grant on Kalmia Street is in 1922 (“Trushein” again, p.974).
 The other members were Don, a boarder, and his father, Mortimer, a lodger. Mortimer’s only home at the time did appear to be Mrs. Grant’s house, which in Come One, Come All! is where Don’s father spent his days off visiting with his son (p.18).
 Don changes the names of several characters in Come One, Come All! even though it is not a novel but an autobiography (e.g., Mrs. Grant is called Mrs. Blass; Mabel is called Hortense).
 1910 La Grange Township, Cassopolis Village, MI, Census. Henry was an “ass. cashier,” Belle a teacher in a public school.
 The 1910 U.S. Census lists both Belle and Henry living with her parents in Cassopolis. Henry appears in the San Diego City Directory in 1912 (p. 315), living on Louisiana Street at the corner of Madison, and in the 1913 directory at the now specific house number 4596 on Louisiana. Belle’s name joins Henry’s in the 1914 directory at the same address. Listing only the husband’s name until 1914 seems to have been the practice.
 “Word was received here…of the serious illness of Henry E. Grant, who left here last summer in the hope of benefiting his health. His recovery is doubtful.” South Bend Tribune, 1 February, 1907, p.12, c.1. The Grants must have returned to Cassopolis after this trip and then moved permanently to California (see above footnote).
 p. 15-16.
 Jigsaw, p. 16.
 p. 18.
 Lela lived at 2924 Juniper Street with her father, Nat, and her brother and sister (1920 and 1930 U.S. Census). The address is a few blocks away from 3139 Kalmia. In 1911 the San Diego Union noted that Lela attended an art and architecture course at Stanford (May 21, 1911, p.12, c.4), and the San Diego Evening Tribune, September 8, 1928, mentioned Lela’s art as part of the San Diego Art Guild’s exhibition (p.9, c.5). Lela and Julia Currier (Hazel’s sister) worked together in 1918 registering the women of San Diego for war service (San Diego Union, October 20, 1918, p.12, c.4), and the two women were among the guests at a luncheon held for a friend (San Diego Union, 6 June, 1920, p.8, c.5) and a tea for a bride-to-be (San Diego Union, 11 July 1920, Society and Club Section, p.32, c.1).
 The club was founded in 1892 by four San Diego women who rowed together on the bay. They used the initials of their first names to create the club’s name, ZLAC, which became the oldest women’s rowing club in the world (ZLAC.org). For two club events at which both Lela and Julia were mentioned, see the San Diego Union, June 16, 1921, p. 6, c. 5 and June 12, 1927, p.43, c. 6-7.
 The 1900 Census from Cassopolis shows Henry and Belle both teaching school.
 The South Bend Tribune, 23 November 1932, p.20, c. 4.
 The 1915 San Diego City Directory lists both Henry and Belle living in Chula Vista (p.1266, no specific addresses for Chula Vista) and gives Henry’s occupation as teacher. A Henry Grant is listed as having a home at 4596 Louisiana Street in San Diego (p. 518), which was near the State Normal School; however, no occupation is given. By 1916 the couple is listed as having moved to Kalmia Street, where, again, Henry is listed as a teacher (1916 San Diego City Directory, p. 482). Because the “rule” for listings was to use the husband as the head with the wife’s name in parentheses, it is possible the “tchr” designation only referred to Belle: “Grant Henry E (Belle G), tchr, h 3139 Kalmia.”
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Grant_Hotel Marriott owns the hotel today as part of its “Luxury Collection.”
 San Diego City Directory, 1915, p. 477.
 The church’s website states that the faith had become so popular by 1910 that the congregation had to build a second, larger, church at the Laurel Street location. “The dedication was covered by the press due to the popularity of Christian Science.” https://www.prayerthatheals.org/find-us/church/san-diego-county/san-diego-downtown/history
 The film was shown at the Superba theater at 3rd Avenue and C Street, next to the U.S. Grant Hotel. Evening Tribune, San Diego, 15 December 1915, p.7, c.1-2 (there is no listing for a theater in Chula Vista).
 Geraldine’s father was a lawyer with his own practice.
 The San Diego newspapers usually printed a list of all teachers for the upcoming school year in August. Belle is not among the teachers in the 1916 list (Evening Tribune, San Diego, 26 August 1916, p. 10, c. 4), but appears as one of four teachers at the Fremont elementary school in 1919 (“Few Changes Shown in List of Teachers Employed Here,” San Diego Union, 30 August 1919, p.14, c. 1-2). In 1920 she is listed among the teachers at the Brooklyn elementary school (Evening Tribune, San Diego, 12 August 1920, p.16, c.3). The 1921 announcement shows Belle still at Brooklyn with the added information that she is teaching grade 5B (San Diego Union, 29 August 1921, p. 3, c. 2). She is at Brooklyn through 1923 and does not appear in the 1924 list (Evening Tribune, San Diego, 30 August 1924, p. 12, c. 2-5).
 See details about Lester, below, Chapter 5.
 The Freemans returned to Greeley, CO, in August 1906.
 Mort and Hazel returned to San Diego in January 1907, Mort’s job in Greeley not working out (see footnote 69).
 The Lion Clothing Company occupied the Cole Building at 5th Avenue and G Street until 1905 when it moved to 6th and Broadway. The Samuel Lesinsky Clothing Co. took over the Lion spot in the Cole Building where it remained until 1922 (https://gaslampfoundation.org/cole-block-building/ ).
 1920 U.S. Census.
 The store moved from Fifth and G in 1905 (Times-Advocate, Escondido, CA, 25 August 1905, p.2, c.3).
 San Diego Directories, 1904-1906.
 San Diego Directories, 1911-1919 (in 1920 the directories discontinued listing the place of work).
 The 1930 Census lists Mabel still living with Belle Grant and lists Lester as single.
 Lester’s Triangle Drilling Company in Escondido advertises frequently in the paper, e.g., Times-Advocate, Escondido, 28 June 1935, p.4, c.5.
 They had enough saved to take a month-long vacation in Hawaii (Times-Advocate, Escondido, 16 July 1953, p. 4, c. 4). The 1940 U.S. Census does not list an occupation for Mabel, thus we assume she did not work.
 See the facts in Chapter 3.
 Kalmia Street intersected with the North-South streetcar line on 30th Street. The line turned west on Beech, then south on 28th to reach B Street. To arrive closer to the clothing store and the Plaza Fountain, the boys would have continued riding to a south turn on 28th and then west on Broadway (https://www.vintage-maps-prints.com/products/old-map-san-diego-california-1920 ). It would only have been a few blocks walk to arrive at 5th and G Streets, where the Lesinsky store was located.
 “From its inception the plaza had problems related to vagrancy, but it still continued to be a prominent location for important speeches, proclamations and special events.” http://www.sohosandiego.org/reflections/2007-2/fountain.htm
 1915 San Diego City Directory, p. 528.
 “The Owl Drug Co.” 1915 San Diego City Directory, p. 877.
 From 1915-1916, Fairbanks made 12 features with Triangle. https://obscurehollywood.net/douglas-fairbanks-triangle-fine-arts.html
 San Diego Union, 15 February 1917, p.14, c.3. The Pickwick was at 1029 Fourth Avenue.
 She did quickly become a major screen star, so it is understandable that Don would claim such knowledge for Bots. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alla_Nazimova
 In a January 14, 1907, letter Mort’s mother, Emma Freeman, wrote to her son James, she states: "I suppose Mort has written you Jamie, of their [Mort and Hazel] soon leaving Greeley, they hope for San Diego, but nothing is yet sure or settled. Things at the store* I guess have gone from bad to worse, till it's quite sure they cannot afford to keep so high a priced man as Mort; so now he is looking for another ‘job’ and hopes to get his old place back in San Diego; it's too bad he ever gave it up for any such uncertainty as the business was here; now I doubt very much if he will be able to get his old place back.” She is referring to his former job at the Lion Clothing Store in San Diego, which, apparently, he left because Hazel was unhappy: “I don't think he [Mort] ever would have given it up if it hadn't been for Hazel, who insisted on a change; and is now just as anxious for another change and even after they get back there [San Diego] again, she'll be just as unsatisfied as ever after a time and will want to go somewhere else; it runs in the family you know; it's too bad and I feel so sorry for Mort who will never in the world be able to get one bit ahead as I can see it.” *(The couple had moved back to Greeley for Mort to become the manager of the new Thompson Clothing Co. store [Greeley Tribune, 23 August 1906, p. 1, c. 2].)
 In one of his draft versions of Jigsaw, Don states that his father lived in a “small hotel room downtown.”
 1919 (p. 369) and 1920 (p. 399) San Diego Directory. It is interesting that this time frame coincides with the years after Hazel died. Mort is not listed in the 1921 San Diego directory. In 1922 he lives at 1430 7th Street (p. 430). He does not appear in subsequent San Diego directories. At some point he went to work with his brother, Edwin, at Richardson Grove, in Humboldt County, where Ed held the concession for the popular campground.
 When Don and his wife, Lydia, returned to California to live (c. 1949), they chose Santa Barbara where Don’s aunt, Julia Currier, and Lydia’s parents were living.
 Don’s son, Roy, believes there was a family rift over Don’s participation in an art show in New York City early in his career. According to Roy, Julia supported his father’s artistic efforts.
 Louise had one boy and two girls, born between 1904 and 1910, who would have been close-in-age cousins; it’s unclear what role they played in Don’s life.
 Julia attended the San Diego School of Expression, which presented plays for the public (San Diego Union, 25 November 1915, p. 16, c. 3 ; San Diego Union, 8 December 1915, p. 7, c. 6; San Diego Union, 23 April 1916, p. 12, c. 3).
 1920 San Diego Directory, p. 824. Belle Grant is listed in the same directory (p. 431) as a teacher in the Fremont School. According to the list of teachers in 1921, Sallie Sisson taught 8th grade at Brooklyn and Belle Grant 5th grade at the same school (San Diego Union, 1 September 1921, p. 8, c. 7). The earliest mention we could find of Sallie Sisson at Brooklyn is in 1915; however, the grade she taught is not included (Evening Tribune, San Diego, 15 June 1915, p. 3, c. 2-3).
 See footnote 15. In one version of Jigsaw, Don does have them drive to the house on Dale Street.
 The papers reported that by 1913 the estate was worth $250,000. When Henry’s father, Judge Currier, died, the local paper claimed he owned half of Greeley (Greeley Tribune, 20 July 1899, p. 3, c. 1-3); however, a notice in the same paper, its author having done some research, clarified the percentage as only 1/13th (Greeley Tribune, 20 July 1899, p. 1, c. 3). Ironically, Henry died in June of 1913, one month shy of finally receiving his inheritance.
 It was such an interesting case that it is detailed in Annotated Cases, American and English, Containing the Important Cases Selected from the Current American, Canadian and English Reports, Thoroughly Annotated. V.1-40,1916C-1918E, p. 599-609.
 Ibid., p. 601.
 There were 11 heirs, so if she and her four children received half (according to the per stirpes stipulation) and divided it, she would have inherited $25,000 or approximately $650,000 in 2021 dollars. Each child—Louise, Hazel, Warren, and Julia—would have received the same amount, unless, as Henry’s widow, Lucy received the entire amount and shared it with her children as she saw fit. The entire $125,000 amount would be worth about 3.4 million today. [One paper—Greeley Tribune, 11 July 1913, p.3, c.5—stated there were 13 grandchildren who were to inherit. By September, the Tribune was printing that only 11 “descendants” were inheriting (4 Sep 1913, p. 3, c. 2), which seems to have been each of the son’s widows—George died in 1911—and their children (Lucy and Henry had 4 living; George and his wife had 5 living).]
 San Diego Union, 21 December 1917, p.2, c.4.
 Evening Tribune, San Diego, 22 December 1917, p.2, c.5.
 Betty Hoag, “Oral history interview with Don Freeman, 1965, June 4,” Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Updated Transcript, March 15, 2007, unpaginated.
 1919 The Principia catalog, p. 2.
 State of Michigan Certificate of Death, Ancestry.com.
 See Chapter 5 facts. Mabel lived with Belle Grant at least until 1930 when they appear in the same household in the Hemet Township Census. Mabel is a secretary in a school, Belle a teacher.
 The San Diego papers printed many stories about the Master Pictures production being filmed at the park (e.g., Evening Tribune, San Diego, 7 August 1920, p. 5, c. 3).
 Evening Tribune, San Diego, 3 August 1920, p. 1, c. 7-8.
 San Diego Union, 17 November 1916, p. 5, c. 5. Fairbanks is quoted claiming the site as “about the best little background in the whole world for a motion picture.”
 San Diego Union, 22 November 1916, p. 10 c. 2-4. The U.S. Grant is where Fairbanks stayed when he was in town (Evening Tribune, San Diego, 21 November 1916, p. 6, c. 2-4).
 San Diego Union, 19 November 1916, p. 25, c. 1. He was to appear every night that week.
 Evening Tribune, San Diego, 21 November 1916, p. 6, c. 2-4.
 San Diego Union, 24 November 1916, p. 12, c. 4; Evening Tribune, San Diego, 29 November 1916, p. 5, c. 1.
 San Diego Union, 29 November 1916, p. 10, c. 5.
 Evening Tribune, San Diego, 6 December 1916, p.3, c.4.
 Evening Tribune, San Diego, 7 December 1916, p. 5, c .4.
 Evening Tribune, San Diego, 7 December 1916, p. 11, c. 7-8.
 San Diego Union, 8 December 1916, p. 16, c. 4.
 South Bend Tribune, 23 November 1932, p. 20, c. 4. The obituary states she had been a principal “for the last eight years,” and before that had been teaching in San Diego. Also, Belle Grant’s listing in the San Diego Directory is gone beginning in 1924, suggesting she had moved.
 Until at least 1930, Mabel seems to have followed Belle. She is listed as a member of her household in the 1930 Riverside County Hemet Township U.S. Census as a 31-year-old secretary in a school.
 According to the San Diego Union, in July, 1925, “Mrs. Belle Grant of Hemet and Donald Freeman of St. Louis, were dinner guests at the home of A. R. Thompson…” (19 July, p. 9, c. 3, Lemon Grove News). We do not know who A. R. Thompson is.