A letter written by my Aunt Ethel to her mother, Ina, on July 19, 1933, provides even more information about the “Hard Times Summer.” All the Dobsons were personable and chatty and as Aunt Ethel observes, “I suppose you are resting your eardrums after the terrific din they must have been subjected to for the last two weeks. It will be very quiet around home just now, I know.”
If you’ve been following, you doubtless remember that besides granddaughter Shirley Jean’s visit, Ina’s daughter Pearl, her husband Albert and son Stanley also visited at the Gilbert homestead during the summer of ‘33. Ina hints that Stanley’s behavior left something to be desired. “Stan has improved tho there is still room for lots more,” she observes. Ethel rounds out the picture more fully: “I was so very glad and relieved when your letter came telling of Stanley and Shirley Jean getting on much better than they did in ’31. I had dreaded the constant friction I feared their being together would make for you all, on top of all the confusion you were bound to have with so many extra people there. Am glad Pearl told Stanley what would be expected of him before they ever came; glad for his sake too, for it was too bad the way he acted when there before. He is a bright boy but needs much training, and Pearl is too much of a blunderbuss to give it to him in the right way. Some of your own quiet, politely freezing manner is the medicine for that young man; I mean freezing when one has offended, Mamma!” [Good save!]
Ha! I might be embarrassed to write this were it not that I have been on the freezing end of that stare (and more than once) myself. However, now that I’m a grandmother myself, I have come to see that freezing stares are an ineffective means of discipline.
Stanley, my cousin, 30 years my senior, passed away in 1996 at the age of 76. I’d say he didn’t really overcome the challenges his disability brought to him. Perhaps he indulged in self-pity, I don’t know. But I became the beneficiary of a very nice gesture he made toward my mother.
One year in the ‘70s he came unannounced to the door of our house in Orofino. Handing a shirt box to my mother, he said, “Dorothy, I want you to have my mother’s collection of family photographs. I have no one to care about them and when I’m gone they will be tossed out unless I give them to someone. I have no one,” he said again. “I would like you to have them.”
Why did he give them to my mother? Because Mother and Stanley were Sanders cousins but also, Mother and Stanley were linked through the Dobsons by her marriage to his mother’s brother. Stan knew she would care not only about the Sanders photos but also about the Dobsons and see to it that both were preserved. Mother accepted the photographs with appreciation. She looked through them, removed a few from the box, then handed the box to me. She knew that not many Dobson photographs had come my way. Stan’s thoughtful gift rounded out my collection wonderfully.
[The first picture is of Pearl Dobson Sanders with her son, Stanley, 1921. Stan is just a toddler. The second is of Pearl and Albert Sanders with Stanley at their farm near Foreman, Alberta. And the last was taken Christmas 1951 here at the farmhouse -- Ina Dobson with granddaughter Kathy and great-granddaughter Patty (Shirley Jean's daughter).] KW