Monday, February 27, 2012


My dad's brother, Earle, was a good amateur photographer. In fact, a number of the photos in the Dobson collection are Earle's work, so I felt a tribute was in order.

Earle was a babe in arms when his parents homesteaded in the Gilbert country. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and then graduated from the normal school in Lewiston. Beginning in the 1920s, he taught math and industrial arts at the Idaho Falls (Idaho) High School. He and his wife Bernice lived simply and returned home each summer so that Earle could help his aging parents with the farm duties.

Living in Idaho Falls put Earle in proximity to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and he loved their majestic beauty. Though he took good pictures of the family, eventually he took pictures of scenery almost exclusively. As you read the descriptions of these photos, penned by Earle himself, you can see that he wants to develop as a scenery photographer. This sampling of pictures he took with a Kodak in the '30s.

Photo 1 -- The window in the other picture is in the rear of this church. This is one of my best pictures. This little Episcopal church stands in Jackson Hole and foresight was certainly slow in the selection of this location and the installation of the window. Grand Teton Mt. Curtis.

Photo 2 -- Taken through window behind the pulpit in the little Episcopal church shown in the other picture. Anyone, regardless of creed, could worship here. When one steps through the church door he is immediately silenced with a great awe when he beholds those majestic peaks behind the cross. 


Photo 3 - A silhouette of yours truly taken against a medium sunlighted window on 1/25 sec., diaphragm set at f.16.

Photo 4 -- This is the finest scenery picture I have ever taken bar none. It was taken about 11:00 a.m., October 23, 1938, and is one of the Teton peaks with Jenny Lake at the foot. We came suddenly upon this view and it almost took my breath away. Horizontal view would have been better but not enough Kodak. Note the pebbles in the edge of the lake. [An enlargement of this photo, or one that is similar, hangs in the farmhouse today.]

Photo 5 -- Teton Peaks from Jackson Hole. Grand Teton is second from right (el. 13766 ft.). This picture is not so good on account of too much foreground. The car should not have been it it. Also, there isn't enough sky behind the peaks. [Yes, too much foreground, not enough sky -- and yet, I surely wish I could see more of the car!] KW

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


“I have one last cache to find,” said Mike as we wended our way home from Boise, “and it’s just up here.” We had already passed through Riggins where we crossed the “Time Zone Bridge” and were coming close to White Bird.

I wasn’t expecting another stop. Dusk was rapidly becoming dark and I was doubtful we could be successful in the find. Oh well. 

Mike likes to plan a few caching stops when we travel. It gets us out of the car for a stretch of the legs, and of course, Nellie always likes to explore. We had stopped earlier in Ontario, Oregon, where we were unable to find the “Green R Us” cache at Walgreen’s. But we did find one by the side of the road in cow country along the way.

Anyway, I hopped out of the car and began taking pictures before all light vanished. Given the time of day, I thought the pictures turned out reasonably well.
AND – Just as Mike was giving up, I spotted the cache. It was a “buffalo tube,” a little cylindrical container about the size of your little finger, hanging on the branch of a bush. Those can be hard to spot.

The last few days I have been busy with P.E.O. activities as I finish my second term as chapter president. That work will continue to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks. Then someone else will be president, but I'll help her get started. 

We had wind during the night which is supposed to continue until late afternoon. Nellie doesn't like it -- is lying at my feet. It was 57 when we went to bed -- that's warm! -- and is 56 this morning. It's 66 in the house without any heat, so I can make it without heating. The forecast is for a low of 35 tonight. KW

Monday, February 20, 2012


. . . it just makes you rave to think that it’s like a trip to another country to get to the southern part of your own state. Ina Dobson, 1934

Hallie had to work in Boise last week, and since Milo lives in Boise, she arranged to stay through the weekend to spend some time with him. Clint agreed to join them from his home in Gooding on Saturday. Tell us that our kids are gathering someplace, and we’ll make every effort to be there, too. So we left Clarkston at 3:50 Friday afternoon (the 17th) and arrived at our Boise motel at 10:20. Nellie? – of course, she rode along in the back.
It wasn’t an easy trip in 1934 and though it is undoubtedly improved today, it is still a difficult trip. It’s 250 miles that takes us up and over the Camas Prairie of north central Idaho, down into the Salmon River Valley, through a twisty mountain pass, into the farm / ranch country of Payette / Weiser, until finally – for the last 50 miles of the trip, we reach I-84 which swoops across southern Idaho. For whatever reason, traffic was heavy for most of the trip.
Saturday morning we picked Hallie up at her motel and headed to Milo’s. Having gone through a difficult divorce, he’s settling into a new place and routine. We had things to do and we set to doing them – fixing a comfortable bed, tuning the bike, tuning his old car, making his place cozy. We drove to bike shops, marts, and grocery stores – not necessarily in that order, not necessarily all of us at the same time. Mid-morning Clint arrived and the five of us were together through dinner. Then we said good-bye to Clint.

Saturday afternoon grandson Mason joined us for a few hours and he thought Dad’s new place should be cleaned, so Hallie and I joined in. It was fun – not a chore. We saw grandson Gage only briefly that day, but on Sunday both Mason and Gage came to visit. Gage is athletic and active while Mason is more introspective and requires a quieter atmosphere. With four adults on hand, we had it covered. Grandpa Mike and Milo took Gage geocaching while Hallie, Mason, and I played with electronics and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.
After lunch at McDonald’s, it was time for Mike and me to begin that arduous trek back through the mountains to our own valley, so we said good-bye to Milo, the grandsons, and Hallie. Hallie’s plane wouldn’t leave until 7:30, so she had a couple more hours with Milo until her return to Seattle. KW

[Photo 1: Hallie, Clint, and Nellie.
Photo 2: Mike and Milo
Photo 3: Nellie thinks it should be more about her.
Photo 4: Clint, Kathy, Milo, Mason, Hallie and Mike -- a timed shot. Can you tell?
Photo 5: Hallie and Mason
Photo 6: Mason called Nellie and she immediately crawled onto the sofa to cuddle with him.]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


According to my resolution - my plan of action for 2012 -- this is to be a year of finishes. If it can't be a year of finishes, then nothing more must be added to the "to be finished" list. And that means I have to finish anything I start. There has to be a loophole, you know, because things do come up.

We're going to Boise this weekend where we will spend time with our three children -- the younger family, as it were. Hallie's new job is taking her there for a few days and she arranged to stay into the weekend. Milo lives in Boise and is settling into new circumstances. And Clint is coming from Gooding to join us on Saturday. 

I don't know if we'll be able to see the grandchildren or not, but I decided to take gifts, just in case. I read recently about machine embroidery on fleece, and nothing would do but that I make fleece throws with their names embroidered on them. Yes, there I go again, off on another tangent, but I've never worked with fleece and I've never lettered a name with my machine. The project seemed worthy on several levels.

I was going to buy fleece on sale, but when I got to Jo-Ann's and reasoned through the cost, I changed my mind. Instead I went back to "Nameless Mart," where "no-sew" fleece kits were on sale for $7.00 and bought two. The kits come with two pieces of fleece -- a panel piece and plain backing -- designed to be tied together. Perhaps the panels were a bit small and juvenile for the older boy (11), and also a bit -- what's the word? militant? -- for my taste, but I still liked the price for my learning level. I also bought batting, and ignoring the "no sew" thing, I trimmed the two pieces of fleece to the same size, embroidered each boys name on the backing, and stitched the two pieces together with batting between.

Fleece seems very forgiving. I was pleased with the results, and next time I won't be afraid to buy the yardage. KW

Sunday, February 12, 2012


A couple of years ago I joined an online survey site. (Actually, I joined several but only stayed with one.) I earn points by completing surveys. Then I convert the points to an Amazon gift card and buy vintage books and magazines.

I don’t accumulate points quickly. I’m often screened out of a survey because of my age, my demographics, because I’m not buying a new car this year, or because I’m not in debt. Most of the surveys I take have to do with groceries.

A couple of weeks ago I took a survey on toilet tissue. I’ll spare you the details. Even mentioning toilet paper may be too much info, but I figure you also buy and use it. The questions were really quite entertaining, such as “Do you feel pampered when . . .” Well, never mind. At the end of the survey, they asked if I would participate in a study to evaluate their product. Sure – I agreed.

Before the first t.p. arrived, I participated in another t.p. survey, not exactly the same as the first. It seemed a little odd – kinda like the battle of the t.p. companies. It really felt like Company A got wind of what Company B was up to and quickly organized a survey of their own. At the end of the survey, they asked if they could send me some t.p. to evaluate. They said I might not be chosen for the survey, but if I were, would I participate. Sure, once again I agreed.

The t.p. related to the first survey arrived – two large rolls. Use roll “L” first for four days, read the instructions, then use roll “M” for four days, and then answer the questions at the survey site. Okay, I could do that – and I did -- no problem. Yes, Mike used it, too, but he’s been so busy I didn’t even bother him with the details. And by the way, I could tell no difference between roll “L” and roll “M.”
The other day the UPS guy delivered another box, and I set it aside for Mike, thinking he had ordered something. No, he didn’t, he said, but he would open it. “It’s a box of toilet paper,” he exclaimed. “Dear Household Member Who Agreed to Participate in the Toilet Tissue Study,” he read aloud. So then I had to explain about my participation in the Great Toilet Paper Study.

Folks, that box contained twelve rolls of toilet paper, not quite as wide as standard but plenty adequate for use. I can already tell that I prefer this paper over rolls “L” and “M.”

[On this moderate February day, Mike sits in the sun at the back of the house to work on the new bicycle he’s constructing. Inside the house, important t.p. testing takes place.]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


On the previous post, Chris asked whose cool high-heels were dangling on the right side of the picture. Well, we just happen to have a picture looking back the other way, and we have the answer -- Nina's. (Nina was Polly's mom.) I'm not sure, though, whether the kids are looking at Nina or looking a little to the left of her. It would have been just like Chuck or Bill to have clowned around for the benefit of the little ones. But Chris is right, whatever is going on has their attention -- all of them -- and they are amused.

In the picture above, we can see the back of Keri's head. Evidently she returned to finish her dinner. (Though I can tell you -- the kids barely ate. We threw away so much food!) That's Nina in the white skirt; Evva (Chuck's wife) beside her; and then Hannah Hutenan, Aunt Sara Portfors' stepmother. (I think that's right -- stepmother.) Behind the lamp is Aunt Sara. Pat Nunan is partaking of the buffet table in the back. Bill and Harriet are on the right side of the picture, I think.

Yes, it's great to have some new/old images. KW


I might have titled this post "Finding New/Old Photo Gems."

I know – I said I wouldn’t start anything new until I had completed some unfinished work, but this “new” project has been on my “to do” list for twenty years, and now is the time to make a start. We have at least two lifetimes of slides in storage. Amongst them are the slides my dad took of family events – probably 20 years of them – and these images will be meaningful to my whole extended family – and we have the slides that Mike took to mark the progress of our children from babyhood to adult. This is one huge, unfinished project that needs to be addressed, and I am stepping up to it.
I told the associate at Staples that I was looking for a slide scanner. I specified that I didn’t want a complicated system but at the same time I would hope for some quality. First he showed me an Epson combination slide and paper scanner. My eyes must have glazed over because he looked at me thoughtfully and led me to another model. “I’ve had my eye on this one,” he said, showing me a compact “ION” that scans only slides, “and have considered buying it for myself because it just looks easy. I’ve sold a number of them and no one has come back to say whether or not they like it.” He added that the scanning seemed simple, but he wasn’t sure about the quality. 

I could have left it there, read more reviews, talked to Mike, etc., but I’ve been doing all of that for years. So – without further discussion, hemming and hawing, I said I’d take it.

Anything that feels like it’s me alone with my computer is apt to put me over the edge, and indeed I was on the cusp. Suddenly I got cold feet. “What if I don’t like it,” I asked. “Take it home and try it,” insisted the associate. “If you don’t like it, bring it back. You have 14 days.”

So, I brought it home, read the simple instructions, installed the software, attached the scanner to my laptop, retrieved the copy paper box marked “Dobson Slides” from the garage, and set to work. It’s easy to set up the little scanner and so I can work frequently for short periods of time. 

You know, we took pictures on slide film for years, and even though I spoke fervently to both my dad and Mike about the uselessness of the slide medium, my complaints fell on deaf ears. They saw slides as a relatively inexpensive way to record family events, but this system allowed for only infrequent viewing of our pictures. We seldom had slides developed into photos. And the medium also influenced the type of pictures we took – very few candid snapshots.

My dad had an Airequipt projector. Each slide was slipped into a metal frame and then loaded into a magazine. I learned to do that in order to expedite the possibility of viewing the slides, but it wasn’t easy. The slides had to be loaded upside down and backwards, or some such thing, or else the image on the screen would be upside down – or backwards – or both. And being obsessive in my work, I demanded absolute chronology. I remember once that Mother and I had just about finished loading the magazines when Daddy tossed down a handful more, which threw off my system. At the time, it was very upsetting. Eventually the projector broke, and since it was obsolete, that was that. The slides were stored.

Mike, on the other hand, had a Kodak projector using carousels, and that was a simpler process but still imperfect. We found it desirable for storage purposes to have carousels that held a large number of slides, but we discovered that those didn’t operate smoothly through the projector. Frustrating! We were always watching for a deal on carousels, and if we were out of carousels, we waited for a sale. I think it was about 1990 when Mike found someone who was discarding many carousels, and for a minimal amount, we bought about twenty. “Why is she discarding these,” I asked in my innocence. KW

[The top picture was taken in the dining room at the farmhouse. My dad's younger sister is celebrating her 51st birthday in September 1961. I'm standing beside her (12 years old), as my mother watches. The bottom picture is Christmas 1961 -- Becky Reece, Polly Profitt, L.J. Reece, and Kyle Walrath.] KW

Friday, February 3, 2012


Back in my childhood, I was watching television at Grandpa Portfors’ house one day when suddenly he rushed into the kitchen, slipped onto a chair in the little eating nook, turned on the radio he kept there, and began to listen intently. Now and then he’d chuckle a little. After a while, he turned off the radio and went on his way.

When I told my mother about this incident, she said, “Oh, he likes a program called ‘Fibber McGee and Molly.’” And she mentioned the famous running gag, the hall closet. “Fibber opens the door to the closet and everything falls out,” she said. That was the first I knew that radio programming had ever been more than music interspersed with talking. I was a child of the television age. 

In their tribute to sound effects man Manny Segal, Heavenly Days! authors Stumpf and Price explain the closet as follows: On the show of March 5, 1940, while Fibber was hunting for a dictionary, he foolishly yanked open the door of the hall closet and out tumbled the now famous conglomeration of noisy sound effects. Reportedly, the sound was made by an odd assortment of articles including: Ten empty oil cans, a pair of roller skates, an old snow shoe, a barrelful of broken crockery, a bowling pin, two boxes of old kitchenware, a rake, an egg-beater, three cowbells, and Fibber’s old mandolin!!! These items were piled high on top of a portable staircase and then tumbled noisily upon the proper cue.

“Year after year, Fibber procrastinated about cleaning out the hall closet ‘one of these days.’ Several programs were devoted to just such a task. On October 21, 1941, and again on April 7, 1942, Fibber cleaned out the closet in search of waste materials to aid the war effort. On February 2, 1943, McGee moved all of the junk from the hall closet into the linen closet – temporarily. Then again on June 5, 1945, he tried to straighten out the mess, but to no avail. Faithful listeners of the McGee show were given an unnerving jolt on the program of March 11, 1947, when Doc Gamble accidentally opened the door to the hall closet – to complete silence. After a long pause, Fibber delightfully exclaimed: ‘I cleaned out the hall closet!’”

FM&M was sponsored by the Johnson Wax Company for fifteen years and six weeks, and during those years, the same announcer, Harlow Wilcox, delivered the commercial messages. The commercials were actually incorporated into the story line. Harlow, whom Fibber dubbed “Waxy,” served as announcer, a member of the cast, and sponsor spokesman. 

By 1949, the Johnson Wax Company wanted to move their advertising dollars to television. They spent $10,000 to film a pilot for a proposed television series of their popular radio series, which was actually a filming of the radio presentation. Although I'd love to see it today, it's clear they weren't grasping the vision of how television could be used. Stumpf and Price observe that "Jim and Marian were not at all sure that the new medium would be well-suited to them. They realized that essentially the success of their radio program had depended upon the listener’s imagination, the key elements being the famous closet door gag and the very concept of Wistful Vista as ‘Anywhere Middle America, U.S.A. . . .” KW

[Photo 1 -- C.O. Portfors, my maternal grandfather, 1961.
The remaining photos of FM&M were copied from Heavenly Days! by Charles Stumpf and Tom Price.]