The Republic, Columbus, Indiana, November 10, 1922
I usually just post the random research I do on my personal blog, but people seem to be enjoying the projects I’ve been talking about, so I thought I’d post this here as well.
In truth this isn’t really a project, just something I did randomly because I was bored and this striking 1920s Molly Ringwald came across my dash and I got curious. It turned out fairly interestingly though so I’m sharing…
Her name was Mabel Inez Woodland and she was born July 15, 1907 in Lynn, Massachusetts just north of Boston (unfortunately the house she grew up in is now a parking lot). She also spelled her name as Mabelle and occasionally Maybelle. The variations in spelling actually seem to have caused some legal confusion as she registered for her social security number as “Mabelle” in 1938, but registered for veteran’s benefits as “Mabel” in 1945. There’s actually a note in her social security file clarifying that “Mabelle” and “Mabel” are indeed the same person.
Mabel’s picture ended up in papers across the country in 1922 after she won a beauty contest run by The Flapper magazine.
She claimed, in the small article that accompanied the photo, to be 18 years old, but based on her birth date she was actually only 15 at the time.
Her parents (Harry Woodland and Jennie Messenger Woodland) were both from Annapolis, Nova Scotia (which has a ridiculously long and complex history for a town with fewer than 500 people). Harry and Jennie had both moved to Massachusetts independently with their families as children, and were married at the First Methodist Church in Lynn on September 12, 1905.
Harry worked various miscellaneous jobs, including as a farm laborer, teamster, chauffeur, driver for a coal company, night watchman at a stone crushing plant and school janitor. Jennie had worked as a tailor/dressmaker and bookkeeper prior to their marriage.
Mabel had two siblings who were quite a bit younger that she was: Nellie, born in 1915 and Harry Jr., born in 1925. Harry would end up serving as an Army Engineer during the Battle of the Bulge and was later held as a POW by the Germans.
(Now, this is strictly a theory without any hard proof and I’m not attempting to start any family drama, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that Mabel’s “brother” Harry may have actually been her biological son. There are a few different things I’ve come across that make me suspect this, but the main one is the fact that Jennie was nearly 50 at the time Harry was born, whereas Mabel was 18. It’s not biologically impossible that Jennie was his mom, but I think there’s a pretty good chance it was Mabel. But, like I said, it’s just a theory, so don’t go quoting me on this.)
Mabel had an 11th grade education, which was fairly respectable in an era when fewer than 20% of people had a high school diploma.
In her 20s and early 30s she lived with her parents and worked at a department store in Saugus, Massachusetts, and later on as a secretary at a credit union.
In 1943 Mabel married G. Kenneth Caddy (the “G” is for George, but he always went by Kenneth as far as I can tell). Kenneth was an industrial engineer specializing in time management studies and can be seen here in his senior yearbook photo from Northeastern University.
Almost immediately after their marriage, Kenneth enlisted in the military as a warrant officer in February 1943.
In a move highly unusual for a married woman at the time, Mabel herself joined military service as well the following month. She enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps as an Air Cadet on March 18, 1943. She served for nearly two years, being discharged on February 24, 1945.
Mabel and Kenneth settled in the Cliftondale section of Saugus.
They had three children: two boys and a girl.
They lived in this duplex at least until Kenneth died in 1964. Later in life Mabel moved to Mashpee on Cape Cod. (Is it “on” Cape Cod or “in” Cape Cod? Google was unhelpful.)
Mabel died in 1990.
(Please let it be noted that I only spent like an hour on this, and I fully admit there could potentially be some mistakes. So don’t go quoting me in any academic papers or anything okay? <3)