Wednesday, April 18, 2018

F. B. Silverwood and Our State Song (Part 7)

Happie Winckler with inset photo of Frank Silverwood
[Continued from Part 6]

In 1919, Silverwood met Happie Cora Winckler of San Francisco while heading west on a cross-country train trip. Happie was a Wisconsin native, a recent divorcee, and was about 30 years Frank’s junior. Prior to her arrival in San Francisco, she’d lived in Chicago with her husband, German merchant Otto W. Winckler, and she was still best known as a Chicago socialite. Over the next year or so, Silverwood frequently took the train north to visit Happie, who lived at the Chancellor Hotel in San Francisco. In late 1920, impending nuptials were announced.

Silverwood invited 500 guests to his Dec. 8 stag party, held at the ritzy Jonathan Club, where he’d kept his bachelor’s quarters for over a decade. The elaborate invitation featured images of Happie, a gold wedding ring inscribed with "Fifty-Fifty" (a favorite Silverwood phrase), and the home he’d purchased for their new married life. He called the home Happyland, in her honor, and under its image was written, "Where the Welcome Signs Are Always Out to Daddy's Friends."
Cover of Silverwood's stag party invitation.
After the party, he headed north to San Francisco, to marry Happie on Dec. 14, 1920. They were married by Judge Thomas F. Graham at the home of Col. James H. Fannin near the Presidio. In contrast to the enormous stag party guest list, the wedding guests were few. They included Mr. and Mrs. Joe Dowling, Mrs. M. Cooke, Mr. and Mrs. Fanning, and Mr. and Mrs. George E. Nagel. The newspapers said, it was the third marriage for each of them, although only the one other marriage, to Marie Funk, can be found for Silverwood.

Frank and Happie spent a month-long honeymoon in Hawaii, where they were feted by local Shriners and the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce (for whom Frank had written a song). The "dashing and beautiful... Mrs. Silverwood proved herself a great favorite here," said the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. But Frank and Happie were becoming less enamored of each other by the day. 

Returning to California, they settled into Happyland at 760 E. Sycamore Dr., in Eagle Rock. The house had been built in 1904 by James Fulmer and it was not far from the Strickland Home (renamed the Optimist Boys Home and Ranch.)
All was not happy in Happyland. Apparently, Happie found Frank to be morose, temperamental, and generally a party poop. And Frank wasn’t happy with Happie, either. In early August of 1921, he told Happie he was sorry he had married her, had regretted it from the day of the wedding, and that she had best pack her things and leave." Happie filed for divorce in San Francisco after only nine months of marriage, hiring bigshot attorney Harry I. Stafford and telling the court she was "Happie by name, happy by disposition, but unhappy as a wife.'" The divorce was finalized on December 27, 1921 in San Francisco Superior Court. Happie failed to get the $100,000 cash settlement she sought, but came away with $32,000, a big automobile, and a large amount of Southern California real estate.

Within a few years, the land surrounding their Eagle Rock home was subdivided by developer R.C. Blackmer into residential lots sold under the banner of “Silverwood’s Happyland.” It’s now the Happyland Residential Historic District.

Happie Silverwood was still living in San Francisco in 1926, after which here whereabouts are unknown.
Happie Winckler Silverwood

Next time: The Wise Office Boy

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