Monday, March 26, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Yesterday, March 25 would have been my mother's (Helen Weaver Stapp) 99th birthday and my Aunt Marge's (Marjorie King Weaver) 91st  birthday.  They were two strong women who raised six fearless headstrong children during the 50's and 60's.  My mother and Marge both met their husbands during World War II.  Marge was a SPAR stationed in Seattle, Washington where Uncle Tom was stationed.  Mother was working at Boeing in Wichita in the library and proudly wrote to her friends that they built the famous B-29 there.
Mother in the white dress in Aunt Della's apt. The Pigeon's Nest.

This photo brings back delightful childhood memories for me as it was taken in my Aunt Sissie's "Pigeon's Nest Loft."  The roof loft was on the 4th floor of  my grandmother's boarding house on North Broadway in Wichita.  She is the smiling mother-in-law to be sitting on the far right.  Aunt Sissie (Della) is on the floor on the left and my favorite character in this picture is Murphy Doodle, the one who appears to be standing under the flower pot with the greenery streaming down.

In one of the letters that I found of my mother's the note read:  Johnie is everything I could wish for in a man. They were married May 25, 1946 in Las Vegas at the Little Chapel of the West.  On July 30, 1983 Jack and I married in the same church, a small brown wooden structure filled with charm.

In another letter my mother wrote to her cousin Ethel, "Tom asked me last January to write to you and thank you for the fruit cake.  He said it was swell, but that he was no good at writing.  He doesn't write to us often but I have surprising news.  He got married last week.  The girl is a Coast Guard SPAR.  He met her in Seattle about two years ago and must have fallen hard.  Tom never had but about two girl friends in his life."
Tom's wife, Marge, with baby number two, Dana, in Independence, KS at the Country Club. 

 Love is in the air and my heart just giggles when I think of these great memories. 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Consumed by a Story

Dear Friends,
I've spent the winter consumed by one story, one unwritten saga of a family who left Ireland and Scotland in the early 1800's and traveled to the U.S.A. to raise their family.  Sadly, the record of their lives is found in cemetery after cemetery from County Donagal, Ireland to Pennsylvania, to Indiana, and on to  the plains of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and through the battles of the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and World War II.  In between many many babies were born, but death was always standing nearby collecting mothers, babies, and soldiers.

Mae Clendening Kneer

Of those strong stalwart people who were able to put off death long enough to raise families the pictures show the joy in their lives when time was spent with family and friends.  Pictures also show somber dark eyes starring into a camera searching my soul one hundred years later, wondering who will know them when they are gone.

Pearl Clendening Weaver and my mother Helen.
Postcards tell the journey of this family from Indianapolis to Lansing, Michigan and on to homes and oil fields in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Wichita, Kansas.  Postcards remind them of the family they left behind and of celebrations of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Letters and postcards tell of adventures and travels by train and by car.  They tell how one woman traveled from Ardmore, Ok to Indianapolis, Ind with an 8month old son and 5 year old daughter and the help of a Nanny.  Letters tell the longer story of the human heart, its sacrifices and it's passion to continue beating through celebrations and heartache.
1912 A Happy Easter to You.

My grandmother, who's mother died when she was only 3 or 4 lived 75 years, but I was only 12 when she died in 1960.  Her story, and that of her sister, Mae, who died in 1915 at age 34 leaving behind 3 young children, remained tucked away in a box until 1960.  Then from 1960--89 the story lay hidden in a pair of hose in my mother's underwear drawer.  After my mother died the story came to me, and once again lay buried in a plastic tub in my basement.

One day last fall while writing a different family story I received a phone call that my nearest cousin by birth, Thomas, was in the hospital with a possible heart attack.  We had already buried our youngest cousin, Gary, and all of our parents.  My heart raced, and I knew I had to tell my family's story, our story, their story. Follow along in the months to come as I share "Bits and Pieces" of our journey. 

Letty (Clendening) Stapp Watt