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The face in the photo

Library brings generations together at farmers market


by: JANE CARR - Courtney Gomez got a big kick out of her daughter, Gemma, putting her face in the photo featuring Happy Johnson, her great-great-grandfather.Clifford Johnson recently got to hold his great-great-granddaughter Gemma Gomez. But not in the way you think.

Call it coincidence, fate or sheer luck, but 2-year-old Gemma and her family went to the opening Lake Oswego Farmers’ Market and found something very surprising.

The Lake Oswego Public Library had set up a photo booth featuring a giant blowup photo of the 1915 Lake Oswego baseball team, and sitting right in the front row was Gemma’s great-great-grandfather, Clifford “Happy” Johnson. Of course, Gemma had never met her great-great-grandfather, but because a child was sitting on Johnson’s lap, a hole large enough for a face was cut out of the photo.

Mind you, reference librarian Jane Carr had no idea that a descendant of Happy Johnson was going to come along and be the first one to have her face in the old photo, but she sure was happy about it.

“It was the coolest thing,” Carr said. “The library could have shown a lot of photos, but they chose that one, and then his great-great-granddaughter came along. I had just taken out the picture. He was the only member of the team holding a child on his lap.”

“I had seen the picture before, but I was surprised to see it at the farmers’ market,” said Mike Gomez, Gemma’s father. “Clifford Johnson was part of my wife’s heritage, and he was a respected presence in Lake Oswego. Gemma was pretty excited. It’s something you don’t see every day.”

For the record, Christina Gomez’s maiden name was Johnson, and her grandfather was Jim Johnson, who was Clifford’s son. Carr noted that Clifford’s father had opened the historic Johnson Hotel in Lake Oswego.

What’s more, Gemma’s cousin showed up and she had her picture taken with Happy Johnson, too, making two sixth generations on one historic lap.

These are the happy results that Carr wants to promote at the Lake Oswego Public Library. That and promote interest in Lake Oswego’s history and family genealogy.

“People have loved the photo booth,” Carr said. “It’s sort of like something you would see at a boardwalk. Once they’re there they see what else we have on our databases.”

For more about the library’s photo collection and database for genealogical study, visit www.ci.oswego.or.us/library.




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