I just returned from interviewing Jane Street’s grandson and gained a wealth of information. He had already destroyed some of her work, and I was prepared to find little. Imagine my excitement to discover about a 1 ½” stack of her type-written writings. Poems, short stories, jokes, protest articles. Who knew there would be so much more to Jane Street—artist, musician, author. Oh my!
Last year when I was beginning my early research in Denver, I looked for Jane in the Colorado History Center archives and Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection. I was able to investigate Denver’s strong women’s suffrage movement, even holding original Susan B. Anthony letters. Yet I discovered Jane was a ghost—all knew of her presence, some details about her work—but no physical evidence remained. Thrilling and disappointing at the same time. Where was Jane’s DNA, remnants of her work?
Now I am holding her papers in my hands. I have begun reading them and will likely read them dozens of times before I can fully assess what she wanted the reader to know.
One strand I will have to address in my final manuscript is her motherhood. Without a doubt, she loved her children dearly, so much that some individuals criticized her devotion to the children over the cause of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), affecting her profoundly. With all the turmoil in her life, her children certainly bore the scars, despite her care. As a result, Jane’s sons and daughter traveled similar life-paths as their mother, enduring tragedies of their own. In particular is her youngest son, Charles Patrick Devlin, stage name David Street.
David Street is an unmemorable individual that some of you may have actually seen on the big screen. You wouldn’t have noticed much since David Street was a “B” actor in Hollywood from 1949 until 1962. Yet, the paparazzi followed his activities intently, furnishing black and white glossies for Hollywood rags, generally because he was usually in the company of well-known, glamorous leading ladies, including Jayne Mansfield, Ava Gardner, and Marilyn Maxwell. Though David inherited his mother’s musical talent, he also bore her self-destructive proclivities.
“Tall, dark and handsome singer David Street seemed to have all the necessary credentials for musical film stardom in the 1940s, but his career fell drastically short and today is better remembered, if at all, for his tabloid-exposed private life.” From IMDb.
Actress Mary Beth Hughes, One of David Street’s Many Starlet-Wives
He was married seven times to starlets of incredible beauty—Sharon Lee; Marilyn Maxwell; Mary Beth Hughes; Mary Francis Wilhite; Cathleen Gourley, stage name Lois Andrews; Elaine Perry; and probably the most famous of his wives was Debralee Griffin, stage name Debra Paget. Some of these marriages lasted mere days, some divorces due to addiction and/or spending problems. Jane’s grandson reported that spending $300 on shoes definitely caused stress in one marriage when David was not earning enough to support his lavish lifestyle. Yet he loaned Jane money when she needed it.
Did Jane’s personal relationships and care differ among her children, perhaps because of her life experiences? Possibly. How much impacted the lives of her children? Her papers reveal much. I will have to see what Jane tells me.