Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The older I get…

Monday, June 10th, 2019

As we age and outlive the older generations, most of us lament the questions we didn’t ask and the discussions we never initiated.  Recently, though, I’ve been looking at the “flip side” (for lack of a better descriptor) of my own aging process.  I have been noticing which characteristics of my forebears I have unwittingly developed.  Sometimes it’s a bit frightening to contemplate…

From Papa, my beloved maternal grandfather, I seem to have inherited loquaciousness.  The older I get, the more I talk and the more rambling my stories have become… just like Papa.  As his son Willard wrote of him in Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village: “He could talk indefinitely on any subject, detouring away from it for miles but always returning to his point of departure.”

Unfortunately however, it’s the returning to the point of departure that I didn’t inherit.  More and more I tend to lose the thread — a characteristic that I probably inherited from my mother.  Luckily, I think I also resemble her in the humor department and hope that as those threads continue to unravel, I can keep laughing — especially at myself.

On a scarier note, I fear I’ve inherited my maternal grandmother’s eye problems.  Granny was legally blind by the time I can clearly remember her — a combination of cataracts and glaucoma.  Just after World War II, she flew to Manhattan and had cataract surgery which, in those days, required her to lie on her back for ten days, her head secured between sandbags — twice!  Once for each eye.  My own cataract surgery was a breeze by comparison and the toric lenses that were implanted were a far cry from the thick glasses Granny wore for the rest of her life.  For the glaucoma, she used eye drops; so do I.

I think I got my neatnik tendencies (such as they are) from my dad.  Although I hardly noticed at the time, he was forever “picking up” after my mom — taking a glass back to the kitchen, organizing the stack of newspapers on the coffee table or returning garden tools to their rightful place.  He did it automatically, without thought — an accomplishment I haven’t quite achieved.  But I do feel antsy when things are not neat tidy.

With regard to my bossiness/leadership (depending how you look at it) tendencies, Dad often said I was just like his mother.  I hardly knew her so I can’t speak to that.  And, I’m sure there are other traits I exhibit — results of both nurture and nature, no doubt — traits that make me who I am, thanks to my progenitors.  It’s easy to blame them for my less admirable qualities, but I often forget to credit them with the better ones. (And that particular trait probably came from my great-grandfather R.H. Espy.  From what I understand, he was an exacting sort — quicker to criticize than to praise.)  Hmmm.

My Aunt Mona and Sara-Stedy

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Mona, circa 1920

My Aunt Mona, whose full name was Ruth Muriel Espy, was the most different of my mother’s siblings — at least the most different of the ones I knew.  Albert, Medora, and Sue all died before I was born, but Mona lived until she was 68; I was 32.

Mona always thought of herself as the “ugly duckling” of the family, not because of her looks, but because she considered herself the least intellectual and the poorest student in a family that valued education above all else.  She was petite, scarcely five feet tall, with luxurious auburn hair, envied by every girl in the family.  Following high school, she attended Washington State College in Pullman where she studied nursing and worked as a practical nurse on and off throughout her life.

Mona spent much of her adult life in Southern California, was married and divorced twice, and had no children.  She became interested in politics and, like Papa, was a devoted Republican.  One of her prized possessions was a letter signed by President Eisenhower, himself, thanking her for her work as a committee chairman for his 1952 presidential campaign.  After Mama’s death in 1954, Mona moved to Oysterville to care for Papa.  Mona spoke of herself as “Papa’s girl” and, certainly she took after him in many respects.  She was loquacious, gregarious, and could readily to relate to folks from every background, every walk of life.  Her funeral in 1972 had the largest attendance in Oysterville’s history.

We (and by that I mean the family) thought of Mona as “a character” — but in a good way.  One of her passions was gadgets — especially kitchen gadgets — and, even though we moved into the family house more than twenty-five years after her death, there were still dozens of ‘reminders’ of her passion for every conceivable effort-saving (or spending) contraption.  I’m sure there are still melon ballers, jar openers, egg separators, and thermometers for cakes, meats, candies, etc. still lurking in the cracks and crannies of the house.

I thought of Mona-the-Nurse and Mona-the-Gadget-Lover when Nyel was introduced to Sara Stedy® the other day.  Says the website:  Sara Stedy® is a new enhanced standing aid, builds on the success of Stedy, a proven mobility-promoting support aid that encourages more mobile patients and residents to stand up independently. … The innovative pivoting seat improves transfer efficiency and patient stability.  It works slick as a whistle in getting someone with no hip (and therefore very little mobility) moving from one place to another.

Sara Stedy®

Out of curiosity, I looked on Amazon and found that Sara Stedy® and her many cousins are readily available for prices from sublime to ridiculous.  Fortunately, we think Nyel will be able to gain enough strength in his good leg and his arms and shoulders that he can manage from bed to wheelchair and back again by the time we get home two or three weeks from now.

Meanwhile…. we might be on our way back to the Ocean Beach Hospital swing bed situation as soon as tomorrow!  Cross your fingers for us!  It all depends upon bed availability!

Come to think of it…

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Day 18 at Nyel’s St. Vincent bedside.

I’ve been thinking of all the Portland connections in my life and am somewhat amazed to realize that there are so many.  And, that they go back very, very far, indeed.

As far as I know, it was my great-great grandfather Delos Jefferson (R.H. Espy’s father-in-law) who was my earliest forebear to arrive in Portland.  He and his wife, Matilda Apperson Jefferson arrived in 1848, three years before Portland was officially named.  Delos had been born at Machias, a frontier  village in Cattaraugus Co., New York, April 15, 1824. H 1835 he removed with his parents to Huron Co., Ohio, and in 1846 and 1847 he was enrolled in the preparatory department of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. He and Matilda left for the west coast in 1847, spending that winter at Fort Hall, Idaho and reaching Oregon next spring.  He taught music for a time in Portland, then moved to the Salem area where he took up farming.

Portland Cousin Barbara Espy Williams in Oysterville, 1950

Over the years, many of Delos and Matilda’s descendants settled in the Portland area, including their  granddaughter Dora (my grandfather’s oldest sister) who married King Wilson.  King became the first mayor of Lake Oswego; they had three children. Dora’s youngest brother, Cecil Jefferson Espy became a banker here and he and his wife Ruth Davis had four children..   My grandmother’s sister, Ruth Richardson, married hotel keeper Herman Alfred [Von] Hagedorn and they had one daughter.  The “Portland Cousins” and the “Oysterville Cousins” of my mother’s generation visited back and forth regularly.

In addition to visiting family in Portland, this was the go-to center for business dealings from the time that R.H. Espy founded Oysterville in 1854.  Although Portland “wasn’t much” in those days, it had more to offer than Oysterville which was, after all, the seat of Pacific County and by far the most important settlement on  Willapa Bay.  If an attorney or a banking transaction was needed and getting to San Francisco was too time-consuming, Portland was the to-go place.

St. Helen’s Hall, c. 1895

Although I was born in Boston, by the time I was three my folks and I had moved to Portland.  We lived on College Avenue.  I remember that when my mother’s best friend Gyla Cannon came to visit, she’d have her husband Ding drop her off at the bottom of the hill and she would walk up.  She thought it was too steep for driving.  My dad worked at Montgomery Ward and I began school at St. Helen’s Hall and had all those childhood ailments — measles, mumps and chicken pox — right here in Portland.

We moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the summer of 1941 when my father was made General Merchandising Manager for Ward’s Catalogue Order Department, headquartered in Oakland.  For the next thirty-five years, through the college years and the early marriage years and beginning career years, Portland was always the place to “lay over” on the way to and from Oysterville.  When I moved north it became the place to go serious shopping and, later, the center for serious doctoring.

Nyel, Today

It is hard to believe that, at this stage of my life, it is the hospitals of the Portland area that I know best.  Come to think of it… maybe it’s not so strange after all.

 

 

Getting My Irish Up as in Trying Not To

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

I grew up thinking I was “Scotch, Irish, and English.”  Later I learned that scotch was something to imbibe and “Scottish” was perhaps a better choice of words.  Still later I learned that the Irish part was wrong, too.  When I visited Enniskillen in Northern Ireland in the 1960s, I not only found my “Irish” Little relatives, but was told in no uncertain terms that we were English, not Irish.

I don’t know about the Espy side — they, too, were from Northern Ireland and they, too, had arrived there from England during one of the potato famines of the 18th or 19th centuries.  As far as I can tell, they (like my Little forebears) were there for several generations but whether or not that qualified them as “Irish” I don’t know.  And, I don’t know if, perhaps, marrying a thoroughly vetted Irish colleen or perhaps an Irish crofter would count for anything.  I have the feeling that if you had a drop of English blood, you were never to be considered Irish.

It reminds me of the story a young man from Naselle told me.  His parents had moved there when he and his siblings were little.  After fifteen or twenty years, his mother asked an old-timer how long she and  her family would be considered “newcomers.”  After considerable thought, the answer was:  “Until the last person who remembers when you came here is dead.”

All of this flashed through my mind a bit when a caregiver came into Nyel’s room and said she wanted to talk to me about getting Nyel out of here — not this week, of course, but next.  She said that they would not consider sending him home yet (with which we heartily concur) but they were also not much in favor of sending him back to a small rehab place “on the coast.”  She went on to say, “We did that last time and, yet, here he is again!”  To say I was instantly furious is an understatement beyond comprehension.

My Irish was definitely up.  “That certainly wasn’t the fault of the facility where we were,” I said.  “That can be attributed directly to the care Nyel received, or actually, didn’t receive here in the first place.  Have you read his chart?”  I really wonder if I didn’t say all that with a very thick Irish brogue…  She backed down immediately.

I also said that I thought it was paramount to Nyel’s healing that I be nearby and that we also need to have our wonderful community to give him support.  She did not argue.  I assured her that we could get him back and forth to see the doctors here, as needed.  Perhaps she was convinced.

Our first choice is the swing bed situation at Ocean Beach Hospital.  We have our fingers crossed.  She said they had been trying to get another patient admitted there (Really!!  Who??? — but I knew better than to ask.) and, thus far, there was no availability.

“It’s early days yet,” I said.  “Perhaps something will open up.”

“Perhaps,” she said.  “If they will take him.”

“D’fheidhmigh siad go maith níos fearr!” say I!

Havetos and Gettos

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Sydney in Oysterville, 1939

When I was a young girl, I hadn’t heard of “the power of positive thinking” or of “the cup being half full.”  My life was simply a matter of havetos (as in you have to go to the dentist and get your braces tightened or you have to clean up your room)  and gettos (as in you get to go outside and play until dinnertime or you get to go see the new “Road” picture with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.)

It seems to me that most of the gettos were connected to ifyous.  If you put away your toys you get to listen to “Let’s Pretend” on the radio.  The havetos, of course, were decided upon by forces beyond your control like your parents, or by circumstances like getting sick.  And they were really serious like having to stay in bed or go to the doctor.  But, as I remember, my life was mostly gettos.  Thank goodness!

I didn’t realize until long after I was grown that not all of my playmates had as many gettos as I did.  For me, for instance, school was a getto.  The only haveto I associated with it was having to eat some breakfast before I left the house.  That always left me feeling a bit sick to my stomach and as soon as I went away to college, I gave up eating first thing in the morning.  (Ever since, breakfast is a getto if I can wait a few hours for it.)

I was amazed when I learned that some of my friends looked upon school as a haveto.   They thought of visiting the relatives as a haveto, also.  And, even of going to camp as a haveto!  They were the Eeyores among my friends.  I tried to stick with the Poohs and Piglets.

I remember hearing some older people made dire predictions and ominous statements – “when you grow up, you’ll realize…” or “enjoy being young while you can…”  I knew even then that they were referring to the grim realities and responsibilities of life as an adult when it would be all havetos and very few gettos.  But, I hadn’t heard of “making lemons out of lemonade” back then, either.

I’m happy to report that my life is still more gettos than havetos.  The number of doctor’s appointments are creeping up, of course, and housework and gardening definitely fall into a gray area… So far, though, the gettos are way out in front.  

Caught Up in The Moment

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

Willard at 20 (1930) — Family Resemblance?

Last evening Max and Micah came for dinner.  It was a momentous occasion – at least for me – and I promised myself I would take lots of pictures.  More importantly, I promised my cousin Mona, I send her some.

Did I remember to capture a moment or two?  No, not even one picture.  My camera was in my back pocket the entire evening and I never even gave it a thought! I tell myself that I was too much ‘in the moment’ which is true as far as it goes.  But, let’s face it… my memory is getting wonkier these days.  Damn!

Max is my 24-year-old first cousin twice removed.  To put him in context with Espys and Oysterville, he is Willard’s oldest great-grandson – grandson of my first cousin Mona and son of her oldest son Alex.  (If my remeberer is correct.) Micah is his beautiful girlfriend of seven years’ standing.  It was the first time we had met her and the first time we’d seen Max since he was here with his mom in 2004 for Oysterville’s sesquicentennial.

He remembers that occasion… barely.  “Something about coonskin hats, I think,” he laughed.  That triggered a memory of a picture of him and his three younger brothers – on our lawn with their mother, Kathleen.  I should have dug out the album then and there.  It might have made me think to take a picture then and there.

The Schreiber Boys and Their Mom, 2004

Max had made one other visit here with his brother Sam (the next oldest) and his dad.  They came to my classroom at Long Beach School way back in the ’90s, and Alex did a great presentation on frogs for my 1st/2nd/3rd graders.  His research (he’s a biologist/professor) had something to do with adaptation and genetics and applications for cancer research – I only remember my fascination with the idea that whatever makes a tadpole’s tail disappear when it becomes a frog could have implications in making tumors disappear.  And the fact that the kids were entranced by the slide show of ‘exotic’ frogs that could be found right here in the Northwest.  I think there were many forays out into the swampy areas of the Peninsula following that visit.

We spent last evening catching up.  I had no idea that Max had gone to the “U” and that he is a computer game designer and works for a small company in the Kirkland area.  Or that he’s a percussionist.  Or that his brother Sam is a fine jazz/blues musician and has just completed an extensive interview process with Google.  Or that his brother Jack, a senior in high school, has been accepted into the army’s cybersecurity program.  Or that the youngest brother, Ben, is the one who Max thinks will become an attorney.

Ben, Max, Sam, Jack — 2016

And Micah?  A yoga instructor as well as a para-professional in a self-contained classroom for middle-schoolers with special needs. She is itching to get out of the city and back to a rural area – more reminiscent of the farm she grew up on.  She LOVES to work in the garden which she misses in the small apartment where they live.  Needless to say… they have a standing invitation to Oysterville!  “I can hear the garden calling you already, Micah!” I told her.

Now, if we can just arrange for peaceful co-existence between their rescue puppy Shanti and our chickens…

High Tide Season

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

High Tide at Our House, Dec. 20, 2018

Toward the end of December here on Willapa Bay, the tides are typically higher than at most other times of the year.  Depending upon which tide table you check, we’ve already had the highest tide of the year – an 11.57-footer at 11:05 a.m. on December 20th (which was this past Thursday.)  My neighbor Cyndy referred to it as a “King Tide” – a term I’d never heard before.

According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) “a King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides.”  I didn’t know that.  In my (admittedly limited) experience, I’ve just heard winter high tides referred to as… “winter high tides.”

I don’t know what an average high tide is, or even if you can really call a tide’s height “average” but, around here, any high tide in the ten or eleven-foot range is considered pretty high.  If the timing is such that there is a big storm behind such a tide, the incoming water has been known to roll right on into town – over the meadows, up the lanes and onto Territory Road.  Old-timers can tell you about people who have rowed their boats right down the street!

Oysterville by Willard Espy

My favorite high tide story has been told for several generations in our family.  My uncle Willard Espy memorialized it in his book Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village.  In honor of High Tide Season and of my great-grandfather R.H. Espy, I reprint it here:

One day in the 1850s, a winter tide lifted the Stout home from its location on the bay bank (the house must have been about the size of a two-car garage) and carried it seaward in the midst of a driving rain with Mrs. Stout and their three small children trapped inside.  A neighbor rushed to grandpa with the news.  Grandpa set aside the accounts on which he was working, unlaced and removed his shoes, pulled on wool socks and gum boots, donned slicker and sou’wester, and waded down the flooded lane to his dinghy.  He upped the anchor, settled the oars in their locks, and began to row, using short, even strokes.  The wind was intense, the rain was heavy, and the house had been bearing toward the bar for nearly an hour.  Grandpa, however, followed without hesitation the path of the now retreating tide glancing over his shoulder at intervals to see where he was going.  At last the Stout house hove dimly into view, already listing to starboard, and well down in the water.  Overtaking it, he snubbed his boat to a porch post, waded over the porch, and forced the front door open against the pressure of the water inside.  In the living room he found Mrs. Stout in water up to her balloon-like breasts, which she appeared to be using as water wings.  She was holding the head of her one-year-old above the surface with one hand and that of her two-year old with the other.  Her three-year-old sat on her shoulders, his hands rooted in her hair.     

The Meadow at High Tide, 2017

The building had sunk too deep to be towed back home against the tide.  Grandpa used the painter and anchor from his dinghy to moor the house for future salvage, and rowed the Stouts back to Oysterville.  He could not swim, but he knew how to row.

Beginning on Christmas Day and continuing for a week or so, there will be a series of ten-foot-plus morning tides.  I don’t think any of our houses along the bayside are in danger of floating out to sea, but you might have your dinghies ready for a rescue run just in case!

Another Generation at Our House

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Nurse Stump

As I worked my way toward the southwest corner of the fence yesterday – still trimming back those pesky roses – I bumped up against the old spruce stump, still fairly solid but showing its age with its new role in life.  It has gradually become a full-fledged nurse log with sword fern and bracken, foxglove and moss and lots of there greenery growing proudly among its cracks and crevices.

At the top, over on the south side is a still spindly young spruce tree.  The next generation!  It is probably three feet tall, making it six feet high in all when you factor in the height of that big stump.  It shares the space on the stump’s table-like surface with a big galvanized tub of geraniums.  The little sapling appears to be happy there, as well it should.  It has a proud heritage of which I reminded it as I worked my way along.

The mother tree once grew in the woods nearby and was carefully selected by my grandfather and uncles to serve as a live Christmas tree.  It must have been in 1916 or 1917 – Edwin and Willard remembered that they were about eight and six, respectively.  “We tromped around for a long time to find just the right tree,” my Uncle Ed said.  “It had to be no less than ten feet tall and no more than eleven to fit in the bay window in the parlor.”

Ready for a Sunday Drive, 1939 (Spruce Tree at Left)

After the holidays were over and the clean-up almost complete, the boys and Papa once more went on the search.  This time, it was just in the yard.  They were looking for the perfect place to replant the tree so that they would always remember that Christmas… and all the others, as well.  And they always did.

They chose the southwest corner, adjacent to the lane and across from the church.  “For years the tree didn’t change much,” Willard often recounted.  “Then, it must have finally found a deep-water source and up it shot.”  It became something of a landmark in that part of Oysterville.  In fact, when we finally had to have it removed, there was an angry letter to the paper accusing us of taking down an “old growth” tree and saying that the birds would no longer have reason to come to Oysterville – no place to nest and sit.

Spruce Sapling

But, the tree had a good deal of rot beginning and we had feared for the church or for our dining room or for passing pedestrians and cars should it go over in a big storm.  We watched as the logger from Naselle took it down, section by section and I felt a deep ache with every part that fell.  It was like losing a family member.  It helped a little that the very last round – fully five feet across – was taken and polished and made into an immense coffee table.  It sits in the central room at the Portland Audubon Society – a room surrounded by windows so that the birds can say “hello” as they fly past.

I told the little sapling all of this as I worked yesterday.  I think all of us should know something about our forebears.  Don’t you?

Or is that an oxymoron?

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Reference Books

One of my go-to places when researching local history is the two-volume set of books, History of Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington that sit on one corner of our library mantle.  They were published by the Northwest History Company of Portland, Oregon, in 1889 and, together, weigh 19 pounds.  Not that you can learn about the past by the pound, mind you, but they are certainly impressive, beginning with their size!  They belonged to my great-grandfather R.H. Espy.

One of the reasons for my frequent visitations to these tomes is their abundance of illustrations.  Beautiful lithographs, mostly of people but, also, of notable places, can be found every few pages.  Unfortunately, they are not indexed nor is the artist credited.  Looking for the likeness of a specific person requires a page-by-page search – a time-consuming operation which I usually undertake as a last resort.

Fabric Swatch

During a recent perusal for information about an early resident of Washington Territory, I ran across a swatch of fabric tucked between the pages of Volume II.  A scarlet and white checked pattern, perhaps from a woman’s dress or skirt. My first thought was of my great-grandmother Julia’s wedding dress.  Her wedding photograph, of course, is in black and white but, for whatever reason, I’ve always thought that the color was red.

Somehow, it made sense to me that she might have saved a bit of the fabric.  They were married in 1870 and, in the thrifty was of our pioneer forebears, it is likely that she saved any left-over fabric or even remade her wedding dress for her own use or for one of the children.  I know for a fact (well… as factual as family lore can be) that after nineteen-year-old Julia had said “yes” to Mr. Espy’s marriage proposal, she finished out her teaching contract at the Oysterville School and went home to Salem “to sew up the family” for her impending wedding.  That was her responsibility as the eldest of Delos Jefferson’s eight children.  (Her mother, Matilda, “remained unbalanced” after the loss of two young daughters to diphtheria within two days of one another.)

Julia Jefferson Espy on her wedding day, 1870

Julia’s wedding photograph shows her in a checked dress – probably made for the occasion but, possibly, simply her best dress which was the still customary attire for many brides in those days.  (Dressing brides in a special gown of white did not become de rigueur until sometime after the Civil War here in America; in the American West practicality overrode fashion for some years after that.)

But, when I checked the fabric against the photograph, I realized that the pattern was much smaller and more delicate than young Julia’s wedding dress.  And, then, in one of those déjà vu moments, I remembered that I had “discovered” this fabric swatch once before and replaced it for someone else to find someday.  In all, I prefer to think of this “re-discovery” as a sort of oxymoron rather than a failing of my aging mind.  Or… is it possible to really discover the same thing twice?

On this day…

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Dale Espy Little – September 22, 1934

My parents were married on September 22, 1934.  When they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on this date in 1982, no one really took note of the discrepancy in the number of years.  Not until the big dinner celebration for family and close friends at the Ark Restaurant that night.  It was then, in a toast to my mom, that dad told the story

During the fall of 1932 – the midst of the Great Depression – my mother, Dale Espy, was here in Oysterville getting her wedding trousseau together while she waited for her fiancé Bill Little to complete his final year at the University of Redlands in California.  Mom had graduated from there the previous June but Dad, although he was two years older, had worked for a few years before beginning college… hence the delay in their marriage.

Dad was from Boston.  What’s more (my mother always teasingly said), he was a “Mama’s boy. ” So, the plan was that they would be married in Boston by my great-grandfather, William Woods, a Methodist minister.  (As an aside: “Big Bumpa” as I called him, had Christened his daughter — my grandmother “Nana”, had married my grandmother and grandfather, and had Christened my father.)  My Grandmother Little saw no reason for the tradition to be discontinued – never mind the Depression or the 3,000 miles distance between Boston and Oysterville, or that a bride might want to be married with her own family in attendance.

“Big Bumpa”
William Woods, 1844-1939

During the Christmas break in 1932, my dad came up to Oysterville to spend the time with Dale and his soon-to-be in-laws.  It turned out to be the holiday from hell.  My mother’s sister, Sue, was scheduled to come from Portland for Christmas with her young family but called on December 23rd that she was too ill to make the trip.  Pneumonia.  That news seemed like the last straw for Papa, my mother’s father, who was extremely ill himself from asthma. His mind began to seriously unravel.

My grandmother insisted that all of them pile in their old Model A and drive to Portland to be with Sue.  My dad drove.  They first took Papa to be admitted to a sanitorium, then went to Sue’s apartment where she gave my grandmother final instructions about her sons ages 4 and 8.  Sue died on December 27th.   My grandmother, at her wits’ end, was concerned for Dale (the youngest of her four living children) and asked Bill if he would please marry Dale so that she (my grandmother) would at least know that Dale’s future was assured.

So, Mom and Dad drove to Chehalis, the seat of Lewis County (they didn’t want the announcement of their marriage in the Pacific County papers) and were married at the courthouse on December 30, 1932.  For their wedding supper, they had only enough money for two glasses of milk.  The oyster crackers on the table were free.

Four Generations at Sydney’s Christening, 1936

Dad returned to Redlands, graduated in June, went back to Boston, worked for a year until he was finally was making enough money to send for Mom.  They were married by Big Bumpa in my Little grandparents’ living room on September 22, 1934. Of the witnesses at the wedding, only Mom’s brother Willard knew about the first marriage and he kept the secret for fifty years.

“So, we combined the dates for this celebration –  50 years after our first marriage and the September 22nd date from our second one,” dad said that evening at the Ark.  Everyone was delighted with the story – except my father’s brother, Jack.  I don’t think he ever forgave dad for keeping that secret from their mother (and from him!) for all those years!