Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This group picture, which I have posted before, was taken July 4, 1933, at a picnic attended by members of the Sanders / Dobson families. What brought them together was a visit from Al and Pearl (Dobson) Sanders who drove from their farm home at Foreman, Alberta, Canada, to visit Al’s sister, Nina Portfors, and Pearl’s parents, Julian and Ina Dobson. The picture is great, but the details of the day were lost until I found Grandma Ina’s letter. Here’s what she wrote to her son, Vance, on July 30, 1933:

“The following Sunday [July 2] we were to have a basket dinner and two sermons at the church and so were busy preparing for that . . .  We had one day after that to prepare for Pearl and family and the Fourth, so “a Mondays” we washed and baked and Pearl called from town [Orofino] that afternoon. They had got in about noon, and we arranged to go over near Melrose where Al’s aunt [Naomi Stinson Long] lives, and picnic in their pasture, a lovely place. They [Pearl and Al] got here next a.m. [Tuesday, July 4] at about 11, and took Dad and me [as well as granddaughter Shirley Jean] with them. At Dryden’s [near the village of Peck] Earl and Bernice joined us in their car. Charles and Nina [Portfors] with Mrs. Sanders and daughter Muriel came the river road. Fairly and Dorothy came also so there was quite a gathering. Dorothy isn’t well and looks so thin. Fairly looks fat and fine and the baby is a prize. I don’t know what he’s doing but they live in town.”

Here’s the photo identification:
Front and center: Dorothy Portfors Walrath and her daughter, 3-year-old Harriet Lee Walrath.
Seated to the left are C.O. (Charlie) and Nina Portfors.
Seated to the right is Muriel Sanders German.
Little girls behind Dorothy – Helen Reed and Shirley Jean Robinson; also Lois Reed.
Next row, l. to r.: Ina Dobson, Naomi Stinson Reed Long, Bernice Dryden Dobson, Alice Mary Stinson Sanders (Saunders).
Back row: Stanley Sanders, Fairly Walrath, Julian Dobson, Bud Long, Al Sanders, Clifford Reed, and Earle Dobson.

The “who’s who” of the picture:
Alice Sanders is the mother of Nina Portfors, Albert Sanders, and Muriel German. I believe she lived near Portland at the time; perhaps she was visiting at Nina’s home to coincide with Al and Pearl’s visit.

Ina and Julian Dobson are the parents of Pearl Sanders and Earle Dobson. Stan and Shirley Jean are their grandchildren. Shirley Jean just happened to be spending some time at the farm.

Naomi Stinson Reed Long is the younger sister of Alice Sanders, hence the aunt of Nina, Muriel, and Al. Eventually the Longs moved to Missoula.

Dorothy Portfors Walrath, daughter of Nina and Charlie, is my central person. In 1945, her husband, Fairly, was killed in a woods accident, leaving Dorothy with a family of four. In 1947, she married Vance Dobson, Ina and Julian’s son, and in 1949, Vance and Dorothy became my parents.

So, this picture, taken in 1933, shows my mother, both sets of my grandparents, my maternal great-grandmother, my great-great Aunt Naomi, my great-aunt Muriel, and my maternal great aunt and uncle, Pearl and Al. Or – my paternal aunt and uncle, Pearl and Al – however, you want to look at it.

Except, of course, I think Pearl was the photographer and doesn’t appear in this photo. KW


debdog42 said...

Can you make this photo so that when we click it, it gets bigger?

Kathy said...

Yes, I fixed it.

If you're L.J., this picture is also a treasure, but he probably already has it in his collection.
But he doesn't have the Dobsons on his tree.

But it may be interesting to L.J. to know that Ina mentioned his birth on her diary entry of July 12, 1955, and she also wrote his name and birth date inside the cover of her diary.

Leah said...

We often dwell on the fact that our grandparents who lived on farms were a bit isolated. Their nearby roads/streets didn't hold dozens of neighbors like today. Their relatives often weren't in the same town.

When people moved a long distance, and came home to visit, the whole family turned out. The "reunion" that you described must have been a big thing in the Portfors Dobson families when you put it in the perspective of life in 1933.

Kathy, you've worked so hard with the photos & letters from your family. These long ago people have come to life for us as readers. Thank you.

Kathy said...

Thank you, Leah. I mean to make them come to life, so I'm pleased to hear you say it.

I'm preparing to explore this event and also other summer events of 1933.

Chris said...

Love the photo, and love the connections between both sides of your family.

Hallie said...

That just doesn't look like Grandma to me. Does it look like her to you, Mom? Do you think she doesn't look well? Aunt Harriet looks good--do you see her dolly?

Kathy said...

I recognize her as Mother. She had a tendency to be anorexic, but yes, she fed Harriet. I didn't notice Harriet's dolly. But I did notice that Mother is the only woman wearing slacks which was a deviation from the social standard of the day. Even in the '50s, we wore dresses to picnics.

Chuck said...

Where was your dad at this time? Great photo and story.

I just got back from a couple of weeks getting Leilani Fisher (Joanne's granddaughter) married in California. I am getting caught up on the blogs I missed.

Kathy said...

In 1933, my dad (Vance) was teaching in Raymond, Washington -- near the coast. He started teaching there in 1928 and left in 1942. 14 years -- that's a significant amount of time to live in a town.