I was intrigued right away because the annual belonged to the senior who was the editor of this yearbook. Her name was Dorothy. Here she is:
I noticed a cryptic inscription on the back inside cover, from "El Toro". Here it is:
I wanted to know who El Toro was. I began my search through the annual, trying to match up handwriting. Men of that era must have all taken the same handwriting course because so many signatures were remarkably similar. I narrowed it down to a few, but had no other leads.
I studied Dorothy's picture. Her eyes were a luminous puzzle. Who was this mystery man? She'd captured his heart, that's certain. Did they end up together? Did they celebrate their 50th anniversary with their children and grandchildren surrounding them? Did they end up marrying other people?
I even spoke to Dorothy, as if an almost 80 year old picture could talk back to me. "Come on, Dorothy, tell me about him! Who was he? What was he like?" Her silent picture only continued its tranquil stare.
The internet searches I did of Dorothy's name turned up nothing. The alumni association had no information on her. I had one other option. My grandmother had already passed away, but my great aunt Alice, my dad's aunt, was also pictured in the annual. She was of sound mind and doing well at the age of 97. Here she is:
One other thing in my favor about Aunt Alice- she was listed on the yearbook staff for that year, which means she would have known Dorothy.
We had a family reunion coming up, and I eagerly awaited the time I could show her the annual and hopefully find out who Dorothy's El Toro really was. I put the thought out of my mind that she wouldn't remember. The answer was too close.
Aunt Alice greeted us sweetly, her blue eyes even more vivid than the last time. After catching up on family news, I brought out the annual. "Aunt Alice," I explained, " I have this annual from when you were in college and on the yearbook staff."
Her fingers gently caressed the cover. "My goodness," she said. "I never thought I'd see one of these again. I lost mine in one of our moves. I spent many hours working on this."
"Aunt Alice, do you remember the editor?"
Her eyes sparkled. "Why of course I do. Her name was Dorothy, but we all called her Sally. She was such a hard worker. I lost track of her after college. In fact no one who was in our circle seems to really know what happened to her."
My breath caught in my mouth. "Aunt Alice, who was Dorothy's boyfriend? Who was El Toro?"
Her eyes widened a bit at the mention of the name. "How do you know about him?"
"Well, it's here in the book." I pointed out the places he'd inscribed in the annual.
"They were deeply in love, but they just weren't meant to be. Her parents made her give him up as they felt she should marry someone with more to the family name that what he had. He was a tremendous football player. So courageous. Played hurt and wouldn't quit. I still remember how heartbroken they both were when she called it off for the last time. I think she cried a bucket of tears.We all tried to console her, but she just wouldn't have it."
"Who was he?" I asked, trying to keep my voice nonchalant.
'Well, let me show you here in the annual." She slowly turned each page until she got to the football section. She looked at each photo carefully until her fingers punctuated her find with a hard tap.
"There he is. Lawrence. His nickname was Chesty. They called him a bull on the football field because he was so powerful. He was a mighty fine man. "
I followed Aunt Alice's finger to a picture of a strong looking college football player. Here he is:
Now I wanted to know even more. "Aunt Alice, you said you'd lost track of Dorothy after college. What happened to Lawrence?"
She shook her head. "Oh, darlin', my memory isn't what it used to be. I know I knew at one time, but I can't think of it now."
At least most of my mystery was solved. I am one who doesn't like to let things go until they are done, so I did some more searching and finally found an article about Lawrence, Dorothy's El Toro. In 1934 he was learning to fly an airplane with the Army flyers at Kelly Field. This is what they wrote:
On the 24th of April, searchers found him in the wreckage of a plane whose wings failed him. There's something heroic about Chesty's falling that way, through the night. It was a brave man's death. Unconquerable, even in death.