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Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s theme is “Close to Home.”

I had started this post in a completely different direction but realized it will need to be used for something else as it has been quite time consuming. So in keeping with the prompts that Amy has suggested: “Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits ‘close to home’?” – I have decided to write about an ancestor who has lived close to where I live.

After high school, I moved from the area where I was born and raised in Ohio to the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. All of my closest direct ancestors were either Ohio or Indiana born and raised. Very few of them ventured far from there – except my maternal great-grandmother who moved to Oregon. Since I still live in Texas, I will have to go “off-roading” – in other words, find a distant, collateral relative and not a direct ancestor.

e a johnson

Elbridge Arno Johnson and I share the same kinship three times! He is my second cousin twice removed on my maternal grandfather’s Johnson side.  The common ancestor we share would be Jacob Johnson who is Elbridge’s great-grandfather and my 3rd great-grandfather. Elbridge’s grandfather, John J. Johnson, and my 2nd great-grandfather, James W. Johnson, were brothers. Elbridge’s grandmother, Dolly Mullis (John J. Johnson’s wife), and my 2nd great-grandmother, Amanda Mullis (wife of James W. Johnson), were sisters giving us a common ancestor of John Mullis – who would be my 3rd great-grandfather.  Still second cousin twice removed through the Mullis line! And now for the third line – we share the common ancestor of John Blazer who is the grandfather of Elbridge’s mother, Rosa Jane Hawkins, and is the grandfather of my great-grandmother, Katie J Blazer – making John Blazer my 3rd great-grandfather!

E.A. Johnson was born to John Marshall Johnson and Rosa Jane Hawkins on January 15, 1883 in Cicero, Indiana. In 1900 at the age of 17, he is still residing in Indiana with his parents, three brothers, and a sister as located on the census of White River, Hamilton, Indiana. Sometime between that census and February 1, 1905 – perhaps to attend college – Elbridge moved to Houston, Texas. There at 22 years old, he married 25 year old Elpha Rhoda Stewart, daughter of John T Stewart and Anna M Keifer. Elpha was born in Ohio but by the 1900 census, the Stewart family was living in Greencastle, Indiana. She gave birth to their first child – a daughter, Lucille Agnes Johnson, on August 4, 1906 – probably in Houston. A few years later on September 22, 1909, the couple’s second child, a son, was born. He was named Stewart Arno Johnson.

By the 1910 census, the family of four is living in Texas City near Galveston, Texas. Elbridge lists his occupation as a laborer doing “general laboring” while Elpha is listed as a housewife. On April 28, 1915 the couple’s third child and second son arrived. On the boy’s birth certificate, E.A. is listed as a Construction Foreman. A few months later on the Military Registration Card (WWI), his occupation is listed as Foreman at Pierce Oil Corporation. A few years later, it would become the Pierce Petroleum Company. On the 1920 Census the family of five is living in a rented home located on Broadway in LaPorte, Texas. Elbridge is listed as a Superintendant at an oil factory.

Ten years later, the family owns a home worth $6500 in Webb county, Texas and has the same occupation as in 1920. A year later, on October 24, 1931, Lucille married Samuel McInnis Campbell in Vernon, Louisiana. By 1935 the Johnson family returned to Texas City and purchased a home located at 231 11th Avenue valued at $5000. On April 18, 1936 Stewart Arno Johnson (also called Arno Stewart Johnson) married Lorrain Adell Johnson.  Elbridge and Elpha continue to reside on 11th Avenue through the 1940 census.

E.A. Johnson was elected Mayor of Texas City and served until 1946. Before his death, he and Elpha were residing at 1107 10th Street North in Texas City. He died on January 18, 1970 at the Texas City Nursing Home and was buried at Galveston Memorial Park. His death certificate gives the cause of death as acute pulmonary infarction due to acute recurring pancreatitis; generalized arteriosclerosis. Elpha died a day short of the third anniversary of her husband’s death – January 17, 1973. Their daughter, Lucille, died on March 8, 1984 and then on July 29 her husband, Samuel, died – and their daughter, Carolyn, died a few months later on November 24. Stewart Arno Johnson died on June 17, 1988. As far as I can tell, the third son is still living as are the children of Stewart Arno.

These are the closest “shirt tail” relatives I have found living in Texas (this does not include a really, really close relative – my sister!)  It is also interesting to be able to have a distant cousin who I am related to in the same kinship fashion via three different lines!

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john lafayette johnson birthday 001

This is a picture that my mother told me was taken for my great-grandfather’s birthday. When I asked her who everyone was (besides those whom I knew), I don’t remember if she told me or if she just said “relations.” I’ve slept since then and of course – it is NOT WRITTEN on the back of the picture. I dug it out again last week and decided it was time I tried to figure out who was at the birthday celebration.

I knew it was taken in 1939 – two months before my great-grandfather (he’s the older man on the far right), John Lafayette Johnson, passed away from pancreatic cancer. Even if I hadn’t been told that was the year, I could look at the image of my mother – third from the left in the sweater with the “B” on it – and know that she was still in high school. In 1939, she was 17 and played basketball for her high school, Bath Consolidated Schools, located in Bath Township, Greene county, Ohio. My great-grandmother, Katie (Blazer) Johnson, had passed away in 1930 of stomach cancer which explains why she wasn’t in the picture.

I knew the photo was taken in front of the home on Ohio Street in Fairfield (now Fairborn, Ohio) because I have seen other pictures of the same house and in the 1940 census, my grandparents were still residing there. My first thought upon seeing all the other people was that it was Johnson relatives, but when I shared it with some distant cousins hoping they would recognize someone, it was a bust. Anyone that it might have been had already died by 1939. Besides, the Johnson relatives lived in Indiana.

So I turned to my great-grandmother’s family. They lived in Urbana, Ohio – about an hour’s travel today. Her brother, Wesley Blazer, was still living in 1939 but I had never seen a picture of him. His son, Glen O. Blazer, I had known and had pictures that I could compare as well as his wife, son, and sister. Below are the comparisons. The picture on the right was taken in 1976. Looking at the ears, chin, mouth, nose and eyes led me to believe this was Glen. Based on that deduction, all I needed to do was compare photos of his wife, Nina (Cushman) Blazer, and his sister, Ada D. Blazer, as well as place them in that time frame.

glen blazer comparison

Below, the picture on the right of Nina Cushman Blazer (Glen’s wife) was taken at a reunion in 1969 – 30 years after the one on the left.

nina cushman blazer comparison

The comparison collage below of Ada Dell Blazer show how she looked in 1939 (left), around 1918 (top right), and at a reunion in the early 1970s (bottom right).

ada blazer comparison

Based on the photographic evidence, I was able to see the picture more clearly (pun intended!). Since Wesley Blazer was still living and would have been 76 years old, I believe he is the gentleman with the hat sixth from the left. The young man standing just over Nina’s shoulder would be Marion Blazer – son of Glen and Nina. In 1939 he was about 16 years old. The man peaking out from behind Ada’s head would be her second husband, John Black, and their daughter would be in front of her.

Below is the photo after I added the names of those in the picture.

john lafayette johnson birthday

 And just for more comparison – here’s a few photos taken in 1969 and the early 1970s that include my grandparents, Glen & Vesta Johnson, as well as Glen and Nina Blazer, and Ada (Blazer) Black.

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glen_gleno_nina_ada

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johnson_eva

Eva as a young girl

In The News Article I learned that my grandfather’s foster sister listed her mother as Clara Badgly Grennells. Then in Clara Badgly I sought out this mystery woman through census records – without too much luck. But in the previous installment, The Letter, I finally had more information to work with. In order to decipher the who, what, when, why, where, and how, I need to analyze the letter.

Pendleton, Ind.
July 19, 31.
Dear Folks,
How does the weather suit you? I wish it would rain, our garden is wilting. I have some news for you all.
I undertook to locate my Mother and found my Father. He was here to see me on the 12th and again yesterday afternoon and evening. Lives in Indianapolis. Has a brother that’s an attorney and one a contractor. Name is John Hanrahan.
He is Irish. Vesta my mother would not have nothing to do with him after she learned she was to become a mother and would not tell him the truth nor let him see her. So he did not know until after I was born then he wanted to marry her but she wanted to marry Fred Blackburn. Instead. She told my father I died. My father really loved (Fluffy) that’s what he called her. She was his first sweetheart. Name was Clara Badger instead of Badgly. I guess she was always changing her name. This picture of her was taken when she was 30 yr old. My father said she looks tired and worned in it. Not a bit like she did at 20 yr, said she was beautiful at 20.
When she died on Christmas ’28, Clara’s father states she called for me and cried till they had to give her morphine. She died at 6 pm. That was the Xmas John gave me those pearls, and that day I told Mom that some one wanted me terrible bad. I just felt it. The Doctor said if they could find me she would live. Oh I don’t see why I can’t have her now. They say I’m exactly like her. She named me “Marie”! She some how found out my last name was Johnson. He said she was not bad.
Am enclosing this envelope. Please send it back right away as it is precious to me. He said he would send us some money next Thursday. John is laid off again.
Well I thought I’d let you all know about it. My Father said to thank Mom and Dad for taking good care of me and wants to meet all of you. Has raised or nearly raised 5 children of some one else’s and none of his own. Said he always wanted a child and here he had one and did not know it. His step-children are jealous of me. He 41 awful nice. John likes him.
I like his brother Frank and his wife (illegible) nice too. My father looks like this picture yet.
Well I’ll stop. Send this back right away. I’ll enclose a stamp I want them.
As Ever,
Eva

Initially, I was beyond thrilled to find this letter, read it, and share it with “L” (Eva’s daughter). And she was just as excited to hear about it and read it. However, the more I looked at it, the more unclear it became.

The date the letter was written is July 19, 1931. That is one year and almost two months exactly from the time Eva’s foster mother (my grandmother), Kate J Blazer Johnson, passed away from stomach cancer in Greene county, Ohio while living with my grandfather, Glen R. Johnson. My great-grandfather (Eva’s foster father), John Lafayette Johnson, was still living. Presumably, the “folks” to whom she addressed the letter includes her foster dad, John Johnson, her foster brother, Glen R. Johnson, and his wife (my grandmother), Vesta C. Wilt Johnson; Eva even uses my grandmother’s name at the beginning of the letter. I wonder if Eva had given any thought as to whether or not she would hurt her foster dad by gushing over her birth father or pining away for her birth mother a year after the death of the woman who had raised her from birth?

Eva begins the letter just like any other correspondence between family members by mentioning the weather and her garden but makes it perfectly clear that her reason for writing doesn’t have anything to do with trivial day to day matters but an important event that has happened to her by summing up how she had been searching for her birth mother. Eva doesn’t mention how long she has been searching but putting it together with the news clipping from the Anderson Herald, it would seem as if the search has been ongoing for awhile. Eva drops the proverbial bomb in their lap that she has already met her birth father, and he has visited her twice! She gives her birth parents’ names as Clara Badger (“not Badgly”) and John Hanrahan, who she says “is Irish.” Since she has discovered the error of what she thought Clara’s surname was and what is correct, my assumption is that the news article came first. If that is the case then the information given in the article was incorrect because it specifically states that “four years ago the foster parent…died.” That would have meant the story was printed in 1934. Yet the story said it had only been twenty years earlier that Eva had been born giving the news article the date of 1930 and only a few short months after Katie had died.

Then, perhaps to somehow justify the circumstances of her birth or the reason she was given up to Katie and John, Eva launches in with an explanation that includes how Clara didn’t want anything to do with John Hanrahan even though he wanted to marry her but instead was told by Clara that Eva had died. Eva gave the name of the man Clara had wanted to marry instead as Fred Blackburn. Furthermore, she goes on to talk about the events surrounding the night that Clara died and said it was Christmas 1928. She used the words “Clara’s father states” and “The Doctor said” and “They say” but there aren’t any details to defend those statements. Did John Hanrahan tell her those things? If so, how did he know what Clara’s father or the doctor said? Who are the “they” she says told her she is just like Clara? How did Eva know that Clara named her “Marie” or how she found out her surname was Johnson? No explanations by Eva are ever given for that. She never tells my grandparents that she has met these other people. If John Hanrahan didn’t give her that information, then how did Eva know all of that?

Eva weaves a melodramatic story about how her birth mother was calling for her the night that she died and at the same time – miles away – she was having a premonition that “someone wanted” her “terrible bad.” Later in the letter she gives more information as to the name of one of John Hanrahan’s brothers – Frank – and that she likes him and his wife. That indicates that she has met the Hanrahan side (or some of it) of her birth family. Eva mentions how her biological father bemoans that he never got to raise one of his own children but has helped or has raised five children. She goes on to say that his step-children are jealous of her. Was she able to meet them? Were all of the “five children” John’s step-children or did he have nieces and nephews that he helped raise? Did John tell her they were jealous of her or did she say that to make herself feel better or look better to her dad, brother, and sister-in-law? Perhaps it was her way of saying, “See, there are people who can’t believe I have John Hanrahan for a father and they don’t!”

Finally, in closing the letter, Eva reminds my grandparents and her foster dad that she has enclosed a picture, possibly two, of her parents. It is not clear whether or not it is a picture of her bio parents together of separate ones. What she does make clear is that the picture is very precious to her and they are to send it back to her immediately in the envelope she is also sending along with a stamp. I assume that they did send it back although I haven’t checked to see whether or not they kept it for some reason, and it’s among the other ten-thousand photos I have of people I don’t know (because no one marked who they were on the back of the picture! – but that’s a rant for another time!). Eva also casually mentions that John Hanrahan is going to send them some money because her husband, John Skinner, has been laid off again. Eva makes sure to let them know that her birth father wants to thank her foster parents for taking “good care” of her and also wants to meet all of them.

The details that I picked out of the letter to help me research Eva’s birth parents include their full names: Clara Badger and John Hanrahan. Clara wanted to marry Fred Blackburn. John Hanrahan has two brothers – a contractor and an attorney. He also has a brother, Frank, who is married. I can’t claim that Frank is either the lawyer or the contractor. John Hanrahan was born about 1890 if he is 41 years old in 1931. It isn’t clear if he is married in 1941 but he has or has had step-children – or children that he considers step-children. Clara has passed away by 1931 – supposedly on December 25, 1928. John Hanrahan is Irish or of Irish descent and lives in Indianapolis.

My best guess is that when The Anderson Herald published the news article concerning Eva and her mother, it was printed in the late summer to early fall of 1930 – not that long after Katie died. That is probably how John Hanrahan discovered Eva – even though the birth mother’s name in the article is incorrect – it was close enough for him to figure it out. I believe that Eva embellished some of the details for dramatic flair. Her mom, Katie – the woman who had raised her – had died and her dad – John Johnson – was living in another state. Eva was unclear if she was going to see him again. So her melodrama could have been a way for her to cope with the types of abandonment she had felt in her life – first by her birth mother right after she was born, then by her foster brother, Glen,  and then Katie and John when they moved away, then by Katie’s death, and finally the knowledge that Clara had already died. Eva found her birth father only because she was searching for her birth mother! She wasn’t going to end up with a “mom” following Katie’s death after all.

If nothing else, I had more information to use for research – and what a boat-load of information I found!

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stamps

Before delving in to “the” letter, let me back up a bit. When I created my very first genealogy website (still online – just not as updated as I’d like) over ten years ago, I had posted some information about my grandfather’s foster sister, Eva. Imagine my surprise when someone left a comment for me that informed me that Eva was her mother! Say what?! The writer had been put up for adoption similar to how Eva’s life began. Then I saw a picture of the person who had contacted me, and there was no doubt at all that she was Eva’s daughter. She told me her story and how she eventually did get to meet Eva before her death. And just like Eva, she was searching for the elusive Clara as well as the man who would have been Eva’s father. I vaguely remembered that somewhere in my possession I had a letter that Eva had written to my grandparents that mentioned her biological parents. So one day several months ago – on the off chance that I could find the letter – I went into the black hole that is my genealogical filing cabinet. (Okay, disclaimer here – I really didn’t go looking for that letter. I was going through papers to see if there was something I needed to scan or enter in to my family tree database.)

But then – there “it” was. My grandmother – oh, if she were alive – I could have kissed her – she had written on the envelope “Eva’s letter about her father.” OHMYGOODNESS! So I took it out, sat down and read the letter. As with the news article (and everything else I’ve been told about family stories), I took the information with a grain of salt. I needed documentation. But – I needed to tell Eva’s daughter what I had found.

Instead of typing the letter word for word on Facebook private messaging, I gave her a few highlights and then emailed her a scan of the letter so she could read everything in her biological mother’s handwriting. She shared with her half-brother’s daughters. Granddaughters of Eva who had known her – yet it was still a mystery to them. Anything their father, Eva’s son, knew – he didn’t disclose for their relationship was pretty non-existent for several decades.

And now, I present to you, the reader, THE letter.

 

So now you understand my excitement! I had two new names to research! And just what would I find?

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P8120683

I have three pictures of my Johnson ancestors with mules – two of them in particular. I can’t say for certain these two mules were used to plow the fields.  The first photo (above) wasn’t easy to scan – it is in a frame, and I don’t want to take it out in fear of damaging it. The only way I could digitize the picture was to take a digital photo of it. The “bubble” glass isn’t conducive to that (and without the flash the photo wouldn’t have come out at all). This is my maternal great-grandfather, John Lafayette Johnson, born in Howard county, Indiana on March 2, 1861. The first census (1880) I found for him shows him as a 19 year old man working as a laborer on the Isaac Goble farm in Rush county. (I have been unable to locate the 1870 census for him.) In 1900, he is married to Katie J Blazer and living at 1524 Forkner Street in Anderson with their two sons, 13 year old Letis, and 1 year old Glen (my grandfather). His occupation is listed as “rod roler.” Ten years later the family is still living in Anderson but at 434 17th Street. This time Letis (age 23) and Glen (age 11) are joined by baby sister, Mary, age 1, and John’s father, (James) Wilson, age 80.  John’s occupation is listed as huckster – a salesman. In 1920, John and Katie have lost their oldest son and baby girl but have added Glen’s wife, Vesta (my grandmother), and a foster daughter, Eva, to the family along with a grandson (my uncle – age 2 1/2). John’s occupation is Vendor – Retail and my grandfather’s occupation is Expressman.

johnson mules 001My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, with the mules
johnson mules 002

So about those mules?

The only thing I could come up with is that the family probably did have a garden – more than likely a very large garden. Perhaps they used the mules to plow the garden or maybe they just had mules! Notice that I don’t have pictures of the mules AND a plow. Just mules. Some people have horses – my Johnson ancestors had mules.

I tend to prefer this cute little mule: donkey on farm

Mule and Flower Box on the Littrell family farm in Missouri

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time! This week’s challenge is “Plowing Through” – do you have an ancestor who had to plow through – fields, snow, a tough time?

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question_mark

In the previous post, the Anderson (Indiana) Herald’s article about reuniting mother and daughter gave the name of Eva Louise Johnson’s birth mother as Clara Badgly. So I set out to see if I could locate this mysterious woman. The best place to start is to look at census records for 1910 since Eva was born in October 1910.

In order to get a better group of results, I wanted to find women who would be within child-bearing age in 1910 – someone age 14-50 (taking to the extreme on both ends). Eva was conceived in January so by the census date of April, I would have a pretty good idea of how probable it would be to rule out someone. I want to look at all different spellings: Clara/Clare/Clair/Clarra/Clora and Badgly/Badgley/Badgeley/Badglie.

I can rule out the Clara Badgly born about 1899, age 11, who is living with her parents, Frank and Grace, in Shelbyville, Indiana. I can also rule out Clara Badgley who is a newborn infant living with her parents, Sydney and Grace, in Anderson, Indiana.

There is a Clare Badgley age 43 living in Perry township of Marion county. She is married to Lewis and the household consists of Lewis’ two older children in their 20s, Clare’s six year old daughter from a previous marriage and the couple’s one year old son. The seat of Marion county is Indianapolis. The town of Fortville, where Eva was born on the interurban car, is half-way between Indy and Anderson where Katie and John Johnson lived. So Clare Badgley could be a possible candidate as Eva’s birth mother. The one year old son makes her a strong improbability but it is not an impossibility. In the 1920 census, she is now a 53 year old widow living with her daughter and son-in-law in Indianapolis. The one year old son from the 1910 census is not living with them.

There is also a Clora Badgley living at 1930 Nichol Avenue in Anderson. She was 52 years old and living with her husband, Joseph, and two of her three chidren. It is her second marriage and her husband’s first. In 1910 they had been married 31 years. The youngest child is 16. They lived a little less than a mile and a half away from my great-grandparents. If Clara was Eva’s biological mother, she would have been in pretty close proximity to the girl and quite possibly might have even known John and Katie. Again, I can’t rule out this Clara just because she is over 50 but as with the previous woman, the length of marriage and having children in the household makes this woman improbable.

A Cora Bagley, age 29, is married and the mother of a six year old daughter in the 1910 census. She is living in Duck Creek, a township of Madison county. This woman could also be a good possibility. Ten years later, she and her husband are at the same location and have added another daughter to their household.

All of the women (not the young children) mentioned above are using their married name. According to the news article in the previous post, Badgley was the woman’s maiden name. 

Since the news article mentioned Chicago, I took a look at the 1910 Chicago directory. The Badgley residents: Bert and Edward L., home address 1341 Glenlake Avenue; Edward, Hannah and Joseph,  831 Sedgwick; Fannie, 1712 Park Avenue; Louis, 6242 Wayne Avenue; Rufus, 1941 Hancock; and Timothy, 850 Monticello Avenue. For residents with the surname Bagley, there are quite a few.

There is a 26 year old Clara Biagley residing with her cousin and his family in Chicago. She is single and her birth place is listed as Illinois. Prior to giving birth on the eastern side of Indiana, it is improbable that Eva’s birth mother resided in Illinois. In 1910, that would have been a long way for a pregnant woman to travel – especially so close to the time of giving birth.

Based on the information found in directories and census records, it seems rather unlikely that any of these women were Eva’s biological mother. So the mystery seemed to come completely to a stand still.

Until the letter was found.

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52ancestors-2015

Amy Johnson Crow, of No Story Too Small continues the challenge to the geneablogging world to write a blog post weekly on one ancestor. This could be a photo, a story, biography, or a post on the weekly theme. To read her challenge please go to Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. Feel free to join in at any time!

Week number four’s challenge is “Closest to your birthday” and is about an ancestor who shares the same birth month and day.

The first ancestor that comes to mind is my great-grandmother, Frances V. Ogan, who was the mother of my paternal grandmother, Ella Maria House. I have written about Frances before in Mystery Surrounding Frances V. Ogan. She was born exactly 115 years before me. Unfortunately, I don’t have any new information about her that could solve the mystery. She is the only direct ancestor who shares my birthday. Other collateral relatives that I share a birthday with include a close family member; my first cousin on my dad’s side; a second cousin on my dad’s side; and Orlow Barnes – my third cousin once removed on the Johnson side (maternal) of my family.

One direct ancestor died on my birthday – Anna Burnham. She was born abt 1644 and died in 1722. She married Samuel Gaines on May 1, 1668 probably in Massachusetts. Anna and Samuel were my 7th great-grandparents.

There were no marriages reported among my direct ancestors that occurred on my birthday.

In summary, since Frances V. Ogan is the only direct ancestor that shares my birthday, perhaps that is why I feel I must leave no stone unturned in order to figure out her origins.

 

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