Yuma County, Colorado
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Although Betty was only in Yuma County a few years in the early 1950's, she had such a colorful life and family that a page is warranted. This page starts with Betty's life, then - with some lap-overs - with her family.
1955 Yuma Union High School - courtesy Marie (Trautman) Wenger
Courtesy Arlene (Trautman) Glenn
When Betty was in Yuma, she taught school for at least one year in the elementary school and one year at the high school. One of her students was Kent Haruf, in whose award-winning PLAINSONG, Ike and Bobby are visiting old Mrs. Stearns, and she is talking to the brothers. Kent has graciously permitted this paragraph to be used as a tribute to Ms. Keen.
|What are you doing at school? You go to school, don't you?
They were silent
You, she said. The oldest one. What's your name?
What grade are you in?
Who's your teacher in school?
A big tall woman, with a long jaw?
I guess so, Ike said
Is she a good teacher?
She lets us do seatwork at our own speed. She lets us do work at the board and do writing. Then she copies it and sends it to the other grades in school to look at.
So she is a good teacher, Mrs. Stearns said.
But she told a girl to shut up one time.
Did she? What for?
She didn't want to sit next to somebody.
Who didn't she want to sit next to?
Richard Peterson. She didn't like the way he was smelling.
Well, yes, Mrs. Stearns said. His people have a dairy. Don't they?
He smells like their cow parlor.
So would you if you lived on a dairy and you had to work on it, Mrs. Stearns said.
Charleen Elizabeth Loud Keen (also known as Charleen Armstrong) was born August 25, 1911, in Dallas, Texas. She was the daughter of Walter Thomas Armstrong and Ota Maco Chasteen Armstrong and was raised (the reference to her maternal grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. N.W. Loud is wrong - Dr Loud was her mother's second husband), in Kensington, Connecticut. Charleen Keen's paternal grandparents, Charles A. and Carrie Bryant Chasteen were both ordained ministers of the Christian Church in Dallas, Texas. Charleen Keen died January 30, 1976, in Dallas, Texas.
In 1900 Oten M. Chastain is 9, with her minister parents Charles and Carrie Chastain in Pawnee County Oklahoma.
One tree said her full name was Oto Maco Carita Chasteen, and her mother was Carrie BELLE Bryant. It also said she married Walter T. Armstrong in Lockhart, Texas.
In 1934 the Tuscaloosa Alabama News wrote about Christine Diemer "an American girl, who is now an editor of cable news in Shanghai, China, for the far-flung Reuters news agency. Only one other woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Keen, also an American, is employed in an editorial capacity by foreign news agencies in the Far East."
Betty Keen and E.B.White June 2, 1934 THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE
Chrysler Automobiles China Turtles
We can hardly wait to hear news of how the new Airflow Chrysler make out in Shanghai. The report is that all the rival car dealers in town have banded together and spread malicious rumor that the new Chrysler resemble a turtle. There is no greater insult in the Orient than to call a man a turtle. And no right-minded Chinese would be seen riding in anything even remotely resembling the noxious beast, no matter how clearly it cleaves the air.
August 1937 - she must have been using the name "Keen" before the ceremony.
|Emily Hahn's book "China to Me" has a section on Shanghai
night life, especially the taxi dance "I had a friend, Betty, the tall,
handsome wife of Victor Keen, she was working for the United Press and
living away from her husband while she made up her mind to a divorce.
We decided to investigate the mysteries and the technique of
taxi-dancing. I can't remember now just how it all began, but I
think we must have been drinking a little when we got the idea . I
do remember how it ended. An insurance salesman, Betty's
acquaintance, carried it through by applying to his friend, the manager
of the Frisco, for permission for us to work there one evening.
He'll have to talk it over with the regular girls," explained Buster, the insurance man. "If not, and you're sprung on them cold, there's liable to be an awful row. But he's putting it up to them that you're only going to be there one night, trying to earn an honest penny to carry you on to India, and I don't think they'll mind."
I felt pretty silly about it when we started out at last, dressed in evening clothes. Betty was gloomy toom, because she had a boy friend she cherished for one reason and one reason only, he topped her six feet two by another inch - and he didn't approve of the project at all. He was, she told me in exasperated tones, being stuffy.
The manager greeted us hastily and gave us our station, a tiny table just off the dance floor. All around the restaurant were other girls, sitting at inviting little tables that had extra chairs for clients. they stared at us and we realized that we were badly overdressed; the others wore shabby frocks, some short, some long, but all of them frayed at the hem and sweated out under the arms.
It was ten o'clock, still early for the sailors, who liked to go to the movies first. Pretty soon, though, they started to drift in. Our dresses may not have been admired by our rivals, but they worked quickly with the sailors. One of them joined us immediately.
He was a Briton, a cockney, and he didn't seem to have any money. We noticed that because he ordered no drinks and he didn't suggest dancing. Evidently it was wrong of him to take up space and time under these circumstances and he knew it better than we did, because when the manager strolled watchfully around the floor he went away. After that the British contented themselves with sitting as near to us as they could get without joining the party, talking to us over the intervening space.
I had heard that the British and the Americans always had trouble at these places because of the difference in their rates of pay. The Yanks were wealthy and took what they liked, whereas the poor sterling-based British had to think twice before they ordered single beers. It was an obvious state of affairs and Betty and I commented on it in decently lowered tones.
In the meantime a few of the girls were dancing with special friends, old acquaintances who evidently came in every night. Still Betty and I sat there, resplendent in our dresses, with the non-dancing British sitting around us out of reach, if admiring.
"This is dreadful" said Betty "It's just like my first party at high school. I'm being a wallflower. Do you suppose we are going through the evening without anybody asking us to dance?"
"Looks that way." I said gloomily. But the jinx was broken just then; an American Marine took Betty off to dance, and a moment later I got an Italian sailor.
Our conversation was on a high moral plane. After remarking that he hadn't seen me around before, the sailor said that the weather was cold but seasonable, and I said it was. He told me I danced well and I complimented him on his style. By that time the dance was over; they liked a quick turnover at the Frisco. My Wop didn't linger or buy me a drink, but he gave me five tickets. Betty's Marine sat down with us and set out to run up a bill.
After that we did fine. I collected a lot of tickets and Betty would have done better than I if her real boy friend hadn't suddenly marched in, a deep frown on his forehead, and planted himself at our table. The Marine who was sitting there at the time took one look at his face and withdrew, intimidated.
"Go away," said Betty "You're spoiling everything. I told you not to come."
"Didn't I hear you making a date with that man?" demanded the angry swain.
"You did. What's it to you?" demanded Betty. I missed the reset of it because I was taken off to dance by a man who was, surprisingly enough, British. He was a Scottish engineer, and his first line was the same one I had heard about ten times already. "What are you doing here? " he asked.
I didn't want to cut in on the family quarrel at our table, so I accepted my engineer's offer thankfully and had a drink (cold tea with commission) at his. He was drunk. After a little while he asked for the story of my life. I gave him a pretty good one, concocted by Betty specially for the occasion. When I had finished the Scot announced that he was going to Take Me Out of All This. He was going to buy me a ticket straight back to the States where I belonged. What was more, he intended to come along with me and tell that stepmother exactly what he thought of her. Then he gave me a lot of tickets and went off to sleep.
I did pretty well out of the evening, but I would have done better if one American Marine hadn't cheated me out of my rightful earnings. He walked off without giving me even one ticket. I could have appealed to the manager, but I felt funny about it. Anyway, we didn't cash in on our tickets; we gave them to be distributed among the regular girls. Betty's young man took us home, in one of those uncomfortable silences. It lasted for half an hour but he relaxed over coffee at Betty's apartment when we held our post-mortem. What cheered him up was our decision never again to enter the gay life.
In 1944 the News-Chronicle (London) reported
|Edward Burra was a noted surrealist painter - the painting described
in this letter is The Tea Party
"I have been doing some research which
has involved looking at the collections of letters to and from Edward
Burra in Tate Britain -- I was interested to see this picture on the Web
because it explains a minor mystery in Burra's wartime correspondence: a
letter from a journalist friend of his called Betty Keen, who wrote for
the News Chronicle. This letter is internally datable to 1946 by the
Betty Keen Joins
Pioneer News Staff YUMA COLORADO
The Pioneer is happy this week to present Miss Betty Keen, who has joined the editorial staff of the paper. Miss Keen was employed by the paper following some reorganization of personnel made necessary through the resignation of Glen Knapton.
Mr. Knapton was a valued employee of The Pioneer for five years, but has returned to his former home in Oregon to take care of some property interests and plans to remain there. His family is still in Eckley, but will leave for Oregon as soon as arrangements can be made for them.
Miss Keen's journalistic accomplishments place her high in the craft. Prior to returning to the United States three years ago, she had spent two years in South America, travelling as a freelance writer through Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. During World War II she was news reporter for the News-Chronicle in London, England. The paper is recognized as one of the best-written dailies in Britain and is proud of the fact that Charles Dickens was once one of its editors.
Before the war, Miss Keen was a departmental editor for The North China Daily News, Shangha's largest English language daily newspaper, and while in China was also associated with the Shanghai bureau of the United Press News Service for one year. After seven years in Shanghai she went to Paris as a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune, Paris Bureau, where she remained for one year.
She is familiar with news work in small towns, having worked on suburban California papers early in her career. Preferring to work on small town, mid-western newspapers, she came to Colorado three years ago, and has been employed on the staff of The Clear Creek Mining Journal of Idaho Springs, and Estes Park Trail. The Pioneer feels fortunate in securing Miss Keen as a news staff member. Roger Chance who has been assisting in news writing, will, now devote full-time to mechanical operation in the plant.This article appeared on the front page of a July 1952 issue of The Yuma Pioneer. Rollie Deering reset this article from the Yuma Public Library’s microfilmed copy.
YUMA: Our fourth grade classroom was a country school that had been moved in just southwest of the brick school. Miss Carpenter was dating Lavern Lillich at the time.
Fifth grade was on northwest corner above the gym….technically the first floor but probably considered the second floor.
Lowell Baumunk’s dad, also Lowell, had hired Miss Keen and made sure that his son was in her class. At the time I thought it was unusual that he would “stop by” so often to observe. It was her first year of teaching (she probably had no teaching credentials) but was excellent.
Miss Keen published a “newspaper” for her class…mimeographed, of course ….Kent Haruf could still recite the poem he had written for it.
We also did a mural with Crayola's on a sheet of muslin that was fastened to the east wall. We were all so proud of it. It went to the fair!
I also remember that she got a sheet of steel to place over a fire in the schoolyard and made tortillas from scratch. She had lived in South America, China, and England. She told of being in London during WWII and having to spend the nights underground, surviving on stale bread and mustard. The college kids of the University of Wyoming and Tuskegee Institute also had a great teacher!
Rollie E. Deering
The "Annals of Wyoming" of the Wyoming State Historical Society 1962-1963 had a long article on WYOMING'S FRONTIER NEWSPAPERS by Ms. Keen.
This must be the author of a 1962 letter to the Village Voice
She probably is the Elizabeth Keen who wrote an MA thesis for the University of Wyoming in 1964 on "The Frontier Press."
Her grandmother died in Dallas in 1971
A Charleen Keen died in Dallas January 30, 1976. Her death certificate implies that her body was donated to medical research.
The following listing of material in the Charleen Keen collection at the Arkansas History Commission probably gives the best timeline
FATHER - WALTER T. ARMSTRONG
In 1910 Dallas Walter is a druggist, having his own store. He's 24, born in Texas, married to Ota M. They're renting south of current Fair Park.
Walter registered for WWI in Dallas County, saying he was living in Garland, working for Whitney Hill as a pharmacist. In 1920 Walter T Armstrong is in Dallas, divorced, pharmacist, living in a boarding-house.
In 1930 he's married to Mary, living in Dallas, and they have a three-year-old son John. Walter is an insurance salesman.
In 1940 they're in Garland, and have added Betty, born in Dallas April 15, 1931 to Walter Thomas Armstrong and Mary Lois Anderson Armstrong
. Neither Walter nor Mary have an occupation.
Mary died in 1942,
Walter died in 1954 - but his obituary doesn't mention the Yuma Charleen Keen
Walter in 1954, and are buried together in Garland Texas. Betty Susan Armstrong married Marvin L. Jacobs June 17, 1978 in Rockwall, Texas, and divorced him in September 1978.
MOTHER - OTA MACO CHASTEEN
In 1920 Luzerne County Pennsylvania at an insane asylum Maco Armstrong, widow, 29, born in Arkansas, is an "Asst Phys", with her daughter Charleen Armstrong - eight years five months old, born in Texas.
The 1930 census of Hartford Connecticut has an Ota C. Loud, born 1891 in Arkansas, married to Norman W. Loud, a physician born in Colorado. He's 38, Ota 39, and they were first married at ages 32 and 33, respectively. That would put their marriage at 1924. One family book said his father was a professor of mathematicsa at Colorado College - and Norman was born in Colorado in 1892.
Guests of Local Republicans at Saturday Rally
In 1940 they're in Bangor, Maine, where Norman is a Roentgenlogist at a hospital. These two census don't quite match with Charleen's biography at the Arkansas Historical Commission - first paragraph.
The 1941 Palm Beach directory has an Ota C. Loud - saleswoman for John H. Birdsall - she lives on La Puerta - no mention of Norman. But the 1944 and 1948 directories have him as a physician, both he an Ota on La Puerta.
But the 1945 Florida census just has Ota - 60, born in Massachusetts, a physician living on La Puerta - but no mention of Norman.
The 1956- 1960 directories of New Smyrna Beach, Florida have Norman W. Loud married to Urania (and there's a Urania in the sane cemetery as Norman)
Norman W. Loud, born September 20, 1892 in Rhode Island (?) died December 15, 1966 in Volusia County, Florida.
|Name:||Ota Maco C. C. A. Loud|
|County of Death:||Palm Beach|
Hartford Courant April 24, 1948 "Dr. Ota Maco Loud, wife of Dr. Norman W. Loud of Palm Beach, Fla., formerly of Kensington, died April 18 in Palm Beach, after a long illness. Her husband was ... "
GRANDMOTHER - CARRIE BRYANT CHASTEEN
In 1929 Charleen's grandmother was making news in Dallas
Elizabeth Enstam wrote
HALF-BROTHER - JOHN WILLIAM ARMSTRONG
HUSBAND - VICTOR KEEN
In 1920 Pueblo Victor is 21, no occupation , born in Colorado. He's with parents Perry M. and Etta F. Keen. Perry is a real estate agent. Frances, 25, daughter also born in Colorado, is a teacher.
The Columbia (Missouri) reported in 1922 "Victor Keen, B.J. '22, left yesterday for Chicago where he will be on the staff of the United Press News Service. Keen's home is in Pueblo, Colo. He has been attending the School of Journalism for the past two years. During the present school year he has been in charge of the news desk of the Missourian part of the time.
On August 26, 1937, Charleen Elizabeth Armstrong, 26, born in Dallas, married Victor Keen, 39, born Pueblo in the Chambers of the US Court for China, Shanghai, China.
December 1937 Pueblo Indicator
In October 1939 Charlene Elizabeth Armstrong Keen - same birth place and date - arrived in New York from Le Havre, with a U.S. address of Kensington, Connecticut.
Victor Keen reported for the Japan Advertiser, New York Herald Tribune and the China Press.
1942 U.S. JOURNALISTS HELD IN SHANGHAI NEW YORK. January 6.-Karl Eskelund, a correspondent of the United Press, who escaped from Shanghai and is now in Chunerking says that at least two prominent American journalists are being held by the Japanese in Shanghai. They are Victor Keen of the Herald-Tribune," New York, and J.B. Powell, editor of the "China Weekly Review."
The POW Archive says that Keen was held at the Shanghai War Prisoners Camp
Kiawgwan Sha and later repatriated or liberated.
"The Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story" by Adam Schrager says " Pueblo (Colorado) native Victor Keen, who had worked as a journalist in the Far East for twenty years, came home after being imprisoned for months by the Japanese. He had been kept in a twelve-by-twenty-foot cell with three other American men, two British women, two British men, one Russian woman, one Russian man, and twenty Chinese men and women. Their bathroom facilities consisted of a hole cut in the floor of the cell with no privacy for men or women.
Keen told Colorado audiences that a fellow American journalist had lost his toes from a gangrenous infection that 'the Japs would not treat.' The Chinese prisoners apparently received the worst treatment. Keen described one man's chest that bore a mass of blisters from burns inflicted with matches."
Thanks to "Edgar Snow in Asia " by Robert M. Farmsworth
1942 Dallas newspaper.
July 1943 VICTOR KEEN MARRIES; New York Newspaper Man Weds Miss Alice Morgan
In 1979 - 1980 Beijing - When the bloody weekend came, June 3 and 4,
the sense of helplessness among foreign onlookers was overwhelming, even
though we realized we were part of a long string of similarly gut-wrenching
episodes. In 1935, when a student demonstrator tried to break through a line
of troops with fixed bayonets and police armed with Mausers, the police,
"began to beat her," Hamilton reports, and "Snow and Victor Keen, the
New York Herald Tribune reporter." The New York
Herald Tribune was a daily newspaper created in 1924 when the
New York Tribune acquired the New York Herald. The Herald
Tribune correspondent, rushed over hoping their presence would
shame the police into stopping." The reporters in Tiananmen June 4 had even
less effect. I ran in a panic from a volley of shots overhead Much of that
day seemed spent avoiding gunfire, and one young American journalist found
himself in police custody for several hours with all the standard
psychological torture - blindfolds, threats of death, pistols held to
forehead, hours left alone and unclothed.
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