Tuesday, June 14, 2011


“We all went to Lewiston to this centennial affair, except June and Jack,” wrote my Great-aunt Bertha in June of 1936. Aunt Bertha and Uncle June Dobson lived on the homestead adjoining that of my grandparents, Ina and Jack Dobson. Bertha and Ina were sisters. Jack and June were twin brothers.

The Idaho Spalding Centennial took place in Lewiston May 7-10, 1936, celebrating one hundred years since the establishment of the Spalding Mission 11 miles east of Lewiston on the Clearwater River. Aunt Bertha penned only two paragraphs related to the event and one of those is largely devoted to transportation and food.

The journey originated in Orofino. Apparently the opportunity to ride to Lewiston with the Hunters took Bertha and family by surprise. Besides Bertha and her three adult children, the party might have included my Grandma Ina, her daughter Shirley and Shirley’s fiancé Henry Shockley. She specifically states that Jack and June didn’t go. They likely stayed behind to take care of the farm chores. I doubt they cared too much for celebrations.

“I was glad we could ride with the Hunters,” Aunt Bertha continues. “We were out $7.00 on the trip for gas and eats as we only took Dutch cheese along. We stopped at the home of Mrs. Hunter’s cousin, Mrs. Brown, and she didn’t know we were coming -- ten of us in all. If I’d known we were going I could have taken some food from home. Instead I sent Ruth [her daughter] to a nearby store and she bought two loaves of bread, 6 lbs. sausage at $.25 per pound, one pound butter, a pint of cream, and some fancy cookies. Mrs. Brown made two pots coffee – think we drank less than one. She opened two one-quart jars fruit and we didn’t use one. We just made up sandwiches using one of her big loaves of newly baked bread. (We left our two loaves for them.) The men and boys ate outside. Hunters just took some cupcakes and brought a lot of them home – just left two for Browns as Mrs. Brown said they couldn’t use them all. The Hunters didn’t seem to feel beholding to the Browns, and I don’t either now. I bought a dozen oranges at $.35 and a box of crackers and cheese for lunch coming home, too.
“Well, $7.00 for four once in a lifetime isn’t so bad. We had a fine time. 40,000 people in Lewiston that day, but we didn’t visit the museum as I heard admittance would be $1.00. I thought it was out of town, but it was at the DeFrance Hotel. Will C. [Chandler, perhaps – a local historian] was head man in there. Ina went and held in her hands a little old copper kettle that came over on the Mayflower.  She saw so many old dolls -- one 200 years old. She thinks she’ll send her 57-year-old doll down there. Mine of same date is to pieces though the head is whole. Ina thinks the museum was the best part of the celebration. Pa C’s old clock is there and Mrs. McCain’s side saddle.
“We saw the Lewis & Clark canoe at Spalding as we passed. Ina went to Spalding for the dedication but the day was hot and no shade nor seats and only two stands where a dozen were needed.”

[In the first picture, Bertha and June Dobson are on the left while Jack and Ina are on the right. I think it was taken at June and Bertha's house in the '40s -- before 1945.  The dolls in the next picture were treasured by Ina and given to me by my dad in 1968 (see note on right). I believe the doll Ina considered sending to the museum is one of these in the picture.The small one bears a tag that states she was given to Ina by a cousin in 1878. That would coincide with the 57 years Bertha mentions.]

What would you do if ten people showed up at your door asking to share your lunch? KW


Leah said...

Good to see the letter from Bertha about the centennial. When she lists prices of food, I realized that she thought the cost was high. Oranges for instance at 35¢ per dozen told us that was high. Maybe oranges usually were 12¢ a dozen!

Love the candor in Bertha's letter about the visit to Mrs. Brown. Kathy, you asked how we'd feel to have 12 people come unannounced for lunch. I guess you'd have to put it in context. My aunt (96 now) & uncle lived in Colorado for years. They later moved to Arizona, always living in small towns. This generation (including my aunt & uncle) would feed anyone that came to visit, no matter how long. They never complained about cost or inconvenience. I think that in Bertha & Ina's time, the welcome mat was always out (at anyone's house). I wish people were like that today.

What wonderful dolls you have. They are quite valuable, monetarily and as family treasures.

Kathy said...

About having company -- so well said, Leah, and thank you. I thought that was the way it was but wasn't really sure. I know we had non-stop company all summer long in the '50s and '60s. My parents never complained and were pleased that guests had a good time and wanted to come back. (I feel another blog post coming on . . . )

I'm not sure the dolls are monetarily valuable because they are broken. Neither doll has hands nor feet. They are just what's left from another era.

Chris said...

Imagine being a little girl and trying to keep a china doll "whole". No wonder they're missing hands and feet.

I especially love the note from your dad. What a treasure.

Kathy said...

I've had the same thought about the china dolls, Chris. It must have been a trial. And I agree -- the note is a treasure.

Leah said...

A new website (to me) allows you to convert almost anything. Wolframaftra.com. 35¢ in 1936 translates into $5.58 in 2011 dollars (the oranges). $7.00 would be $111.58 today (the trip costs). The 6 lbs. of sausage at 25¢ per lb. would total $23.88 today. That $1.00 admission to the museum would be $15.94 today.

Hallie said...

Entertaining can be fun, but if ten people showed up unexpectedly, I wouldn't have enough of anything to feed them. I'd prefer some notice.

Leah, I'm glad you did the conversion--I was going to do the same. $111 seems like quite a sum, especially if times were tight.