Posts Tagged ‘Dale Espy Little’

September 13, 1987 seems so short ago.

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

September 13, 1987

Thirty-six years ago today

Nyel and I were married

At Croquet.

Gordon was my Bridesmaid,

Roy was Best Man.

Joel Penoyar did the honors

Much to Willard’s chagrin!

Wedding Picture by Kati Downer

It was a surprise to everyone

Except to my son Charlie

My mother had the vapors

Dad had another drink.

I gave Michelle my bouquet

And she took it to class for sharing,

Proceeds?  To Water Music that year.

It was the best wedding ever!

Wedding Pillow from The Franks

Delbert Knapp, Esq. – The Old Lamp Lighter

Monday, June 19th, 2023

Delbert Knapp, Esq.

In the case of Tucker’s friend, Del, and the lamps in my house — it’s the lamps which are old, not the lamp lighter!  (And speaking of age… are you old enough to remember that song, “The Old Lamplighter of Long, Long Ago”?)  I can’t help associating Del and that song because he has worked on two of my old lamps to get them alight once more.

Fixed Last Summer

The lamps belonged to my grandparents and were originally gas lamps.  I have no doubt that they were used in the parlor and only for special occasions.  Otherwise, how would they have survived seven children and all the hubbub that went with their growing up years?

The Lamp With The Replicated Globe

Actually, one of the globes did not survive and my mother had a friend in San Francisco duplicate it from the pieces that had been saved.  It was in the 1960s and my mother, at that time, owned The Little Lamp and Shade Shop on College Avenue right on the Berkeley/Oakland border.  She specialized in custom lamps and shades and if she couldn’t make it for you (or in this case for herself), she knew someone who could!

 The Ailing Lamp

I’m not sure when the lamps were converted to electricity, but probably 80 or 85 years ago.  And in that length of time, parts wear out — especially switches.  Del is a genius at electrical (and probably other) stuff.  He spent the better part of two days last summer working on one of the lamps and it has been perfect since then.

Tonight, he tackled the other one — the one with the replicated shade.  One of the switches has not worked for some time, so Del to the rescue!  He was able to fix the pesky switch but needs to replace a light bulb and we didn’t have the right size on hand.  Tomorrow he plans to go to… yep! … Jack’s Country Store to find one small enough for his purposes.


Not on your tintype or in a month of Sundays

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

Dad (William Woodworth Little) and Me (Sydney Medora Little) – 1937

I can’t remember who said what yesterday, but whoever and whatever it was (or they were) prompted my rather adamant thought:  “Not on your tintype!”  Wow!  Where did THAT come from?  It’s an expression my dad used occasionally but I hadn’t thought of it in years — probably not in a month of Sundays.

I Googled “tintype” which resulted in a refresher course in early photography but I quickly back-tracked to old expressions which were once everyday sorts of things and that you don’t hear much any more.

“Billy” – My dad at seven years old – 1916

Not since “Hector was a pup,” actually.  Little did I know that Hector referred back to the Trojan War god who children at the turn of the 20th century studied about in school.  Apparently Hector was, in more modern parlance, “one cool dude” and young boys often named their dogs after him.  Who knew?  Again, that’s an expression my father sometimes used and, since he was born in 1910, the timing is about right.

Another of Dad’s expressions (usually used after a rich and delicious dinner) was, “I’ll see my Aunt Mariah tonight!”  There was no doubt in my mind that he thought he’d have the gollywobbles and it simply never occurred to me to ask who Aunt Mariah was.  As far as I know, she wasn’t anyone related to us.

Mom and Dad (Dale and Bill Little) – 1982-ish

And so last evening passed in a series of reveries about old-fashioned expressions and thoughts of my dad and gentler (or at least more gentlemanly) times.  Not a bad way to spend a few hours,  if truth be told.

Mother’s Day Has Already Begun!

Thursday, May 11th, 2023

Postcard From Charlie, 1964

As I was going through yet another pile of “keepsakes” today, I came across a postcard sent to me from Shasta Dam in 1964 from my son Charlie who was then eight years old.  This is what it said: I got a pocket from Shasta Dam.  Can’t talk long.  This telephone costs money. Bye.  “Click”  Your son, Charles.    It was addressed:  To Mommy, 5808 Greenridge, Castro Valley, Calif.

I’m not sure  what a “pocket” was — maybe Charlie can remember.  I’m so glad I kept this.  What a treasure!   Already he was thinking in alternative possibilities…

Letter from Mom, 1983

And then I ran across another treasure — this one from my mother written in November 1983, just after she and Dad had celebrated their 5oth wedding anniversary.  Mostly, she was thanking me for my “very efficient handling of all the last minute details” — not one of which I can remember and probably was getting credit for things not deserved!  But what tickled me was this paragraph, so typical of Mom:
Your father and I both agree that we accomplished our mission in life when we “Diddled” and produced you and you “Diddled” and brought forth Charlie.  We didn’t stop at half best, but we produced the top best!

 What a mom she was!  I miss her every day but never so much as when something zany strikes my funny bone and I know that only my inimitable mother would share in my delight.  I’m so glad I caught just a bit of her unique flavor!

Flowers From Charlie!

And just about then, the lovely Mother’s Day bouquet arrived from Charlie (via Nansen).  I feel like I am sharing it with his beloved Granny, as well.  What a lovely beginning to the holiday meant just for us mothers!  (Who all diddled, don’t forget!)




“I’s not a leetle boy. I’s a leetle geel!”

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Someone in my past — my mother? my grandmother? — used to give a deep sigh about whatever was annoying her and say, “This will be the bane of my existence!”  I do believe it was often my wretched curly hair which one or the other of them was trying to subdue into “proper” Shirley Temple style corkscrew curls.  One or two portraits of me at age five or six demonstrate their success, but mostly my hair has continued to be “the bane” right up to present days.

Not that I’m longing for corkscrew curls, mind you!  In fact, I sometimes wonder if my life (and my mother’s)might have been greatly simplified if she hadn’t been so intent on those curls.

Helen-Dale, Edwin, Willard c. 1914

Perhaps it all hearkened back to her own childhood when her curls were cut short and, at least before she started school, she wore rompers similar to her brothers’ and they all hung out together — Edwin three years older and Willard eleven months older than she.  In fact, the family all remembered that Dale (my mom) was the only girl among thirteen boys in town of a similar age.  She said that she was often the “tag-along” that the rest of them were trying to lose as they raced through the woods or along the bayshore on their many adventures.

Dale at 16, 1927

When adults mistook her for another one of the boys,  three-year-old Dale’s indignant response was:  “I’s not a leetle boy.  I’s a leetle geel!”  Apparently, the census-taker in 1920 didn’t ask.  Instead of listing her as “Helen-Dale, a girl” she went into the public record as “Allen-Dale, a boy.”  I wonder if she ever knew about that listing.  I don’t think I ran across that bit of misinformation until after she had died.  But, I must say, I was indignant on her behalf!

By the time she was sweet sixteen, though, her hair behaved as her mother had always hoped.  Sorry, mom. that I didn’t follow in your footstepsl  It would have saved us all a lot of angst!



Navy Blue Eyebrows and the S. of O. A.

Sunday, December 4th, 2022


Mom at Sweet Sixteen

It’s with that first glance of myself in the mirror each morning that I often hear my mother’s sighing whisper — “Oh, the Secrets of Old Age.”  Though she never revealed exactly what those were, I find that I am, by now, discovering a few for myself.

Take the time, years ago, that Jan Erikson was doing nails… My mother was leaving as I was arriving for my appointment and Jan said quietly, “Did you notice?”

“What???” I was gormless, as usual.

“Your mom’s eyebrows were navy blue!”

Mom at 86

We discussed whether I should mention it to her and I finally decided not to in the “This too shall pass” frame of mind.  It did and she was soon back to her usual (and not so unusual) fashion statements.  She was always dressed to the  nines and I can still here my dad saying to her when she readied herself for a special occasion, “You look like a million bucks!”

It wasn’t until I was in my late sixties and mom, though deep into her own world of dementia, was still making fashion statements at the Nursing Home, that I discovered my very first “S. of O. A.”  I could no longer distinguish between my navy blue socks and my black ones.  Cataracts were the culprit — and I was so sorry I hadn’t spoken to her about those eyebrows.  She did in fact, have cataract surgery later which helped for a while.

Mom at 92

All that also put me in mind of a boyfriend I once had (we might have even been engaged for a minute) who told me with great self-confidence (he was an artist) that my mother wore too much makeup.  And by the way, he told me, “so do you.”  Well, all I can say is that with those statements he revealed some of his own secrets.  I didn’t stick around long enough to see how he would weather into his own old age…

On the other hand, I do very much admire women of my own age who have never worn makeup at all.  They look fabulous — great skin tones, everything in sync, and they probably don’t have S. of O. A. thoughts with that first glimpse in the mirror each morning.  Hindsight.  (Maybe that’s another one…)

My mother set the bar really really high!

Monday, September 19th, 2022

Dale’s Birthday Crown – 1998

I’m not talking about the beverage bar here — although mom had a fair hand at managing the little wet bar in this house after Dad (the main bartender) died.  I think she was making up for the years that she (and Dad, too) were pretty much teetotalers.  Those were the years before her own parents died and, though Mom and I never discussed it, I do believe she didn’t drink out of respect for their beliefs.  But, she made up for lost time in her own old age and liked nothing better than to entertain her friends with cocktails and her inventive appetizers.

Dale On Her Way To Vespers

But, the bar that this blog title refers to has to do with her fabulous wardrobe.  From hats to shoes, dresses to suits, jewelry to gloves, she could create an outfit for any occasion and loved every opportunity to do so.  Among her keepsakes are some great pictures of mom “dressed to the nines” sometimes on her way to a special function, but often for a “usual happening” like Vespers or a meeting of the Community Club at the schoolhouse.

My earliest memories include mom’s trips to her dressmaker.  No matter where we lived, she found someone who could whip up a new outfit or alter an old one for her.  She was never without something “new and fashionable” to wear.  By the time I was in fifth or sixth grade, I was included in these dressmaking sessions and how I hated them.  My fondest wish was to buy the perfectly fitting item off the rack, preferably without having to try it on.  That, of course, never happened, and as soon as levis became the rage, I was in them as often as I could manage.

Dale – A Symphony In Black and White

I think I was a great disappointment in that regard to Mom.  But she never gave up on me.  Periodically, when she could afford it, she would take me on a shopping spree and get me “outfitted” — usually for some specific occasion.  When Charlie and his Dad and I went to Europe for a year, Mom took me to I. Magnin’s and bought me several warm wool suits and a few dresses that stood me in good stead for years.  And again, when I accepted a teaching job up here in the Northwest some twenty years later, she took me to Portland to get me “properly outfitted.”

I think she finally realized that I was a hopeless prospect.  But she never chided or even mentioned any disappointment.  As I look at these picture of her now, I wonder if I did my part by telling her how beautiful she was and how proud I was to have such an elegant mother.  I hope so.

Coasters For The Cocktail Hour

Monday Evening, March 23, 1931

Sunday, September 18th, 2022

Bright Angel Trail

Letter from my dad, Bill Little, to my mom, Dale Espy, during Spring Break when they were both college students at the University of Redlands.  They would soon announce their engagement and would be married on September 22, 1934.

Bright Angel Camp
Grand Canyon National Park
March 23, 1931

William “Bill” Woodworth Little, 1932

Dear Dale,
I am a total wreck – physically at least.  Bob and I went down the Bright Angel trail —  and if there were Angels on that trail, the Devil made ’em — to the river.  It’s a seven mile hike each way — 14 miles in all — and a drop of 7,000 feet in the 7 miles.
Well, it only took us 2 hrs 40 minutes to get down.  We rested for an hour and a half and started up.  We made the first half in 1½ hours and the 2nd half in 3 hours!  How we made that last mile of the trail — 2,000 feet up — I don’t know.  But we are here — loafing in front of the fire in the lodge room of the Bright Angel Camp.
We have a cabin here — all furnished for $1.50 each day.  Tomorrow we’re going to loaf and see the places around here where we don’t have to walk!
We are running out of money and we aren’t going to come back by Zion Park and Las Vegas — the roads are reported as terrible  —  but are either going to stay here until Thursday and get home Friday night — or come back starting next morning by way of Phoenix, Yuma, San Diego stopping for Friday night and part of Saturday with Dr. Love…   I’ll write you tomorrow night and let you know how we’re coming.
At any rate, we’ll land in Redlands on Sat. afternoon and I’ll see you Sat. night and I’ll be broke!
I miss you now — I was too tired this afternoon to miss you.  I didn’t miss anything except a comfortable chair.  There’s one thing wrong with this Canyon — there’s no elevator to the ground floor!
                                       Love    you, Bill
Bob sends his “stiffest” regards —



Can hope exist without memory?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

“Happy 96th!” Sydney and Mom, 2007

Some years back, when my mother was still living at the nursing home up at the west end of Pioneer Road, we had an incident which I’ve never forgotten,  Nor have I ever quite come to an understanding of it.

It was one of those pouring down January evenings — cold, pitch black, but not yet dinner time.  Nyel and I had gone to pick up mom and take her home for fried oysters or clam chowder or another of her favorites — I’ve sort of forgotten.

Mom looks at Dear Medora with Nyel, 2007

She was smiling as the nurse’s aide brought her outside and she stood with me patiently under the overhang as Nyel brought the car as close to us as possible .  He leaned over, opened the passenger door, and  I quickly manuevered her into the car.  But not quite quickly enough.

As soon as the rain hit her face, she began to scream.  And then to cry.  “It’s okay, Mama!” I kept saying.  “Get in the car.  It’s okay.”  But she was terrified.  It was cold.  It was wet.  And she had no idea what it was or what was happening to her.

We all — Nyel and I and the aide — understood that she did not “recognize” the rain — had no memory of it.  Or of much else.  And when I kept repeating, “It will be all right,” those words had no meaning either.

Once in the car, of course, she began to calm down. And soon all was well. When we got home, Nyel cleverly drove directly into the garage and we were able to get her into the house without going back out into the rain.  But I’ve never forgotten her fright.  Nor have I ever forgotten the realization that without memory, there can be no hope.

By Thomas Bulfinch, 1867

Last night, I re-read the story of Pandora and her box (or jar as the story is related in Bulfinch’s Mythology). When “she slipped off the cover and looked in, forwith there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man — such as gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind…”  Only hope was left at the bottom of the jar…

No mention is made of memory, at least not in the story of Pandora and her jar.  And when Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, is spoken about later (as mother of the nine muses) there is no connection made between memory and hope.  I’m sure that must have been an oversight…

The Wrong Holiday? Maybe not.

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

I know that love stories are usually associated with Valentine’s Day more than with the upcoming Thanksgiving season, but this one that I ran across “amongst my souvenirs” reminded me a little bit of  both.  It was a story written  by my mother in the early 1970s  and reprinted in the Chinook Observer after Charley Nelson’s death in 1978.

In memory of Charley and
Deane Nelson: a love story
by Dale Little

Dale Espy Little – “Mom” 2010

(Editor’s Note:  The following was written a while ago as a tribute to Charley and Deane Nelson, pioneer family of the peninsula who lived at Nahcotta. Both have recently passed away.)
“I saw you coming,” Charley said, as he opened the door.  I was late, and he was probably beginnng to wonder if I had forgotten to bring him his dinner.
Friends and well-wishers always tried to see that Charley was well taken care of when Deane was having one of her bouts in the hospital.
Charley is ninety-two and has begun to fail noticeably over the last year.  Even so, though he can hardly see and his hearing is becoming more and more difficult, he keeps his priceless sense of humor.
He and Deane — his 88-year-old wife — are certainly the most beloved of all the people on our isolated peninsula.  They are childless, but have an abundance of friends and admirers.  I seldom drive by their place that they are not having visitors.  Though Deane has been a cripple for forty years, up to this day they have never had help in the house.
They are both so independent, it is difficult to do much for them.
Right now Charley says, ” I’ve always taken care of her and I can do it this time.”
As I went in I said, “I guess you’re happy, Charley that Deane will be home tomorrow.”
“It will be one of the best days of my life — that and the day I married her,” he said.  He had come near losing her this time.
Then he added, “What is Pledge?”
“If you are talking about what I think you are, Charley, it’s a furniture polish — what did you want it for?”
“I want to squirt it around to freshen the air.  I’ve been cooking bacon and eggs and I want the house to smell good when Deane gets here.”
“Show me where you keep it, Charlie, and I’ll see if I’m right.”
He took me to a back utility room — everything was in apple pie order.  He pointed to a can on the counter and said, “I know Deane uses that, but I didn’t know for exactly what.”  It was Pledge all right.
I said, “If you let me look, Charley, maybe I can find what you want.”  He pointed to the cupboard.  I found the air-freshener without any problem and handed it to him.
“This is what you want, Charley, it’s the tall thin can, but you had better keep it out so you won’t have any trouble finding it.”
As I had entered the utility room I had noticed two beautiful bouquets — evidently just picked.

Charles and Deane Nelson c. 1970

“Did you go out and get the flowers yourself, Charley?  I love apple blossoms.”
“Yes,” he said.  “I wanted to beat the rain.  I proposed to Dean under an apple tree out on the old Andrews place sixty-nine years ago this month.  I loved her then — she was beautiful — and I’ve loved her more each year since.  It’s been love all the way.
“I’m going to make her one of my big mulligan stews tomorrow.  We both go for one of my big stews — two gallons of it.  I cook it all day.”
“What do you put in it Charley?”  I was curious.
“In the old days we had to use canned beef because we hardly ever had fresh meat unless someone had just butchered, but now I use regular stew meat, but I put everything in it — every vegetable on the market.”
I went away worrying at first about Charley managing the stew without being able to see and then I realized that it would probably taste better to both of them than any meal they ever had.  They were together again — still together after 66 years of love and being loved by all who know them.