I have a few pet relatives in my tree – mostly folks whose lineage or ancestry makes me feel way more interesting and lots better about myself, generally. (I’ve never met any of these favorites… just in case you’re reading this and prepping for a full-on Ralph Edwards This Is Your Life-style ambush.)
I’ve actually told The Nina Mauvais Watson Story before (here) – but some new info has come to light! To recap, though: Frank Watson was the son of B. A. Clark Watson, my 3rd Great-Grandfather’s youngest brother. He owned a small dairy farm on or near the Fruitvale & MacArthur intersection here in Oakland. Son Frank was a real estate guy – a solid mid-grade tycoon, by Turn of the Century standards. And if you were to search the archives of Bay Area newspapers between 1890 and 1950, and ask specifically to see instances where “Mrs. Frank C. Watson” appears adjacent to the word “hostess”, you’d have a mind-boggling number of hits to peruse.
Nina and Frank threw a lot of parties, and they attended many more. Every society wedding, every civic See-And-Be-Seen, they were there. Nina was often called out for her fashion sense, as someone always was in those event write-ups.
Just because – this is an example of the sorts of causes to which Nina gave her time and energies:
Their first home was 266 Thirteenth, and they moved to 406 Van Buren around 1909 when, I thiiiink, #266 was slated for demolition prior to construction of the Hotel Oakland. 406 Van Buren is a block off Grand, between Bellevue and Staten – the address is now a mid-Century apartment-condo building.
Perhaps it was through her cousin, the actor Joel McCrea, that Nina found herself in the company of various Hollywood stars.
Most notably, she and the fam regularly hung out with Ramon Novarro (star of the 1929 Ben-Hur, among many others), his sister, and their mother. (I know I mentioned that before, but c’mon, this name-dropping thing is fun!)
But even with this kind of social profile and pedigree I never saw her photo until yesterday. That’s our Nina, top left.
I’m still hopeful I’ll find a decent quality image someday. Something not so super-duper high-contrast, ideally. But in the meanwhile, this will do.