Barbara was born in Anderson, Indiana, in a section of town known as the Baby Farms. Born during the Great Depression and at a time when her father, Earl, was struggling to find work and her mother, Garlet, was doing her best to take care of three children. Barbara was the last of three children. She had a brother, Donald, and a sister, Doris. Earl’s mother and father lived a few doors down the street and his aunt Lola lived across the street from them. So the parents had a support system of sorts. The depression left few untouched, they were all struggling.
Earl and Garlet got married in 1929. The marriage ended in 1938 for reasons I don’t completely understand. Garlet was known as a “wild child” while growing up. I’m sure her idea of fun didn’t involve three children and a struggling husband. It was evident from the regrets she struggled with that she was responsible for the divorce. Even though she married twice after their divorce, her first and only love was Earl. The divorce court awarded custody of the Doris and Barbara to Garlet and Donald to Earl. Earl was ordered to pay child support.
In 1939, a year after her divorce, Garlet got remarried to Charles Williams. He didn’t adopt the girls but they assumed his last name even though they had not been legally changed. Charles and Garlet lived for a short time in Anderson and then decided to move to California. He brought with them his highly religious and protective mother, who I suspect was not a big fan of Garlet. Short of funds, they lived on the beach while Charles hunted for work and a place to live. They ended up in a rented house in the Los Angeles area. The marriage lasted for about four years, they divorced in 1943.
Garlet must been separated from Williams prior to the divorce. She took a job cleaning rooms at a motel across the street from Universal Studios. The motel provided her with a place to live and paid her wages. Garlet met her future husband Leo Bisek while working there. He had come to California to seek a job with Lockheed Aircraft and was staying at the motel. She married Leo twice. I turned out the first time she was still married to Williams.