Monday, April 12, 2021


My writing muse is missing. Wherever she is, my kitchen muse went with her. (My cleaning muse hasn’t been seen for years, and I could use her, too.) Perhaps they’re at the farmhouse overseeing the repairs. Wherever they are, the sewing / crocheting muse stayed behind with me, and she’s had me buying patterns, fabric, and yarn at a time when I really don’t need extra clutter. I mean, I’m suddenly inspired, possessed, and obsessed by all things in the sewing room. I’ve discovered “Cuddle” fabrics – cute, soft, and appealing – and my life may never be the same, but that’s a story for another day.

“It’s not supposed to get this cold in April,” Mike complained this morning. Our morning temps have been in the 30s and 40s, occasionally dipping near freezing, but this morning it was an unexpected 24, and Mike got up at 5:00 to check the faucet at the shop door. “I don’t need more water problems,” he added in a tone of disgust.

But, you know, late frosts do happen here. All danger of frost has not yet passed.

The projected finish date for the work at the farmhouse is the end of this month. The ceiling is dry now and no mold developed, but the work progresses slowly because the house is so far from base – more than an hour’s travel time one way. But Mike and I have agreed that we could go there nevertheless, and we will make a trip soon.

And then, we’ve scheduled work for the modular home in May – interior painting and carpeting. The plan is to put the furniture in the garage and stay at the farm while the work is being done. But it’s not a simple process as far as I’m concerned. Cleaning my clutter out of this house will be an horrendous amount of work for me, and a major interruption in my life. The thought of it – well, the thought of it is probably why the muses are missing. It constitutes an upheaval in everything that’s dear to me, and that’s stress – and those spritely muses hide during times of stress. KW

Tuesday, April 6, 2021


I thought that a nice finish to our remembrance of Aunt Pearl and Uncle Al Sanders would be a post about their son, Stanley.

One day in March 1996, I opened the local newspaper to see an obituary for my cousin, Stanley S. Sanders. I was startled. I hadn’t heard from him in several years, and while we weren’t close, I felt badly that I hadn’t known he was sick. Even though he was 29 years older than I and we didn’t have much in common, were we not family? Did we not have some kind of bond by virtue of the fact we had the same grandparents? I guess not. The obit ended with a simple statement: “Survivors include a cousin, Shirley Johnson.” (That was Shirley Jean, and within a year, she was gone, too.)

Aunt Bertha with Shirley Jean & Stan, c. 1927

Stan lived in Dallas, Oregon, for many years where he worked as a machinist and played guitar in professional bands, according to the obit. He moved to Clarkston, Washington, in the early 1970s and worked for Omark (Blount, ATK, now Avista), a sporting goods manufacturer, as a draftsman. When he retired in 1987, he was superintendent of the drafting department. I think he also taught drafting at the local college.

Occasionally Stan would drive to Orofino and stop in at our house. He never stayed more than an hour or two. Daddy would invite him to stay to dinner, but Stan would quietly say, “No, I have to get back for a meeting.”

Betty, Aunt Pearl, & Stan at farm - 1944

Stan married Betty Penney in Portland in 1943. My half-sister Harriet said that when she was a student at the University of Oregon in 1952, she spent a weekend with Stan and Betty and had a wonderful time. Betty died in 1958, according to Stan’s obit. A second marriage ended in divorce and wasn’t mentioned.

One day when I was a teen-ager, Stan came with a suit box full of photographs. “Dorothy, I wonder if you’d like to have my mother’s pictures,” he asked, as he handed her the box. We were delighted. He didn’t have children, and he knew that these photos would just be tossed if he didn’t gift them where they would be appreciated. As I wrote these posts, I have blessed him, knowing that so many of the Sanders’ photos came to my collection through him.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have attended the funeral except that Harriet called and said that she and my other sister, Joni, were going and would I join them. I did, and I was impressed that Stan had found a family through that Baptist congregation. Later, an acquaintance told me that she had played pinochle with Stan. He had friends who loved him and had taken care of the arrangements when he passed. KW

Saturday, April 3, 2021


Spring seems to be here. Perhaps all danger of frost is not past, but there won’t be long-term freezing temps. So, Mike and I went to the farm on Wednesday (March 31) to de-winterize the farmhouse – always an adventure.

Mike proceeded to follow the recommended step-by-step de-winterization process. Once he was ready to actually turn on the water, he sent me upstairs to turn off the faucets. I know the drill. As I made for the main bathroom, I recognized the sound of gushing water coming from the master bath. I ran there to find water spewing everywhere. “Turn it off! TURN IT OFF!!!” I screamed as I sought the origin of the problem. Thankfully, Mike shut the water off immediately.

“Could you hear me?” I asked Mike later.

“I couldn’t hear what you were saying,” he said, “but I knew it wasn’t good.” Besides, water began to seep through the light fixture in the kitchen ceiling and then through the ceiling itself, a phenomenon with which we are well familiar.

Signs of Spring

The problem was quite obvious. The “shark bite” valve to the lavatory fitting had blown off under the pressure. Once we had mopped up and regained our composure, we agreed that this should not have happened, so Mike called “Big Mike the Contractor” who had shepherded us through “The Great Water Debacle of 2018.” He said he could come the next day (Thursday, April 1). We agreed to return and meet him at the farmhouse.

Long story short, Big Mike agreed with us that the valve should not have failed, and to our great relief, he agreed to take on the work, which involves repair to the kitchen ceiling as well as the valves under the lavatory. He will also pull the vanity out to ascertain if there is damage behind it. The work has already commenced.

Mike and I have made arrangements to have the interior of the modular home repainted and recarpeted in May, and our plan is to be at the farm while that work is done. Hopefully, this farmhouse repair will not cause delay. KW

Snow lingers in the mountains

Wednesday, March 31, 2021


Change can be so subtle that in the midst of it we barely notice the effect on our lives. As I reviewed the 1950s, I thought to myself, “Wow! Our family was changing rapidly.”

This photo of an extended family reunion was taken in 1950.  Those of my grandparents’ generation, including Al and Pearl Sanders, are the senior citizens of the group. My parents are middle-aged, and another photo (not shown) includes Mother’s teen-aged children. My dad is holding me, not yet a year old. In the next ten years, many of the older generation would leave us, sometimes quite unexpectedly. It had to be difficult times for my parents. By the time 1960 rolled around, Grandpa Portfors was about the only elder left.

But other changes took place as well. Those teen-agers graduated from high school and college, married, and began to establish their families. By 1960, my parents had five grandchildren. It was a decade filled with ceremonies – graduations, weddings, funerals.

But I digress. This is a story about Aunt Pearl. The photos show that she was there at the reunion in 1950, but she died in Seattle on November 5, 1952, just after her 60th birthday. Her brief obituary just says that she passed after a year’s illness. Her death certificate indicates heart and kidney disease. She was buried at the Gilbert Cemetery not far from the homeplace where she grew up.

This picture of Ina and her remaining five children was taken in 1953. I was there, and I remember my dad putting cushions on a stool so that Ina would be comfortable. My almost 4-year-old self didn’t think it looked like a place Grandma Ina would sit, and to this day, I doubt she was comfortable.

Of course, Uncle Albert returned to his life in Seattle. A year later, he married Blanche Wrigley of Stettler. Who could blame him, after all? He might live another 20 years, and he didn’t want to be alone, but his remarriage was a blow to the family nevertheless. “Honey, that’s a man for you,” I can hear my mother-in-law saying in her deep southern drawl.

But Blanche was not a fit with the family, and when Al brought her to the family circle, probably for one of the many funerals, she was graciously if not warmly received. There was an edge to Blanche, and according to my mother, she said things that ought not to be said. For instance, she wondered aloud who might be the next to go. Well, my young mind wondered the same thing, but Mother said such things ought not to be said, and I wisely kept my thoughts to myself.

Unfortunately, the next to go was Uncle Al. He left suddenly on March 29, 1957, the result of a heart attack. I don’t remember anything about it, but records show that he died just prior to Grandma Ina, who passed April 6, 1957. He was buried next to Aunt Pearl at the Gilbert Cemetery, and their son Stanley, who died in 1996, is buried there, too. KW

Photo identification:

1) From left: My dad, Vance Dobson, holding me (Kathy); Aunt Pearl peeks around Daddy's shoulder, and my mother, Dorothy, is next; Grandpa Charlie Portfors in front, and the man behind in the white hat is Uncle Roy German; Aunt Muriel Sanders German; Aunt Bessie Sanders Wood; Grandma Nina Sanders Portfors; and Dona Marie German.

2) Aunt Pearl; Dorothy, my mother, holding me; Aunt Bessie; Grandma Nina Portfors; and Aunt Muriel.

3) Ina Dobson, center, surrounded by her children, taken the summer after Aunt Pearl's passing. From left: Myrtle, Earle, Vance, Ethel, and Shirley.

Monday, March 29, 2021


Myrtle Dobson & Pearl Sanders (sisters) at the Gilbert Homestead, 1942*

In 1935, Albert Sanders lost his bid for a fourth term in the Alberta Legislative Assembly. Since he had apparently become unhappy with this service, I’m surprised he even ran, but perhaps his motivation was financial. As distressed as they were in the ‘30s with all the hardships on the farm, they still didn’t see their way clear to move until the ‘40s. Well, Uncle Al and Stanley (now in his early 20s) would need employment if they moved.

Pearl & Aunt Ida Patchen

Also – in moving back to the States, Pearl, Al, and Stan had to petition to become U.S. citizens. She probably began the process by getting a birth certificate, and she was lucky because her parents were alive and able to sign for her. By the way, the certificate states that Pearl’s birth was attended by Mrs. John Brock, now deceased.

Ina & her daughters, 1947

You know, it was a trial when people were suddenly required to have documentation of birth, and the battle to get everyone registered went on for some time. I remember a childhood friend of my mother’s asked my grandfather to verify the facts of her birth by signing her certificate, and he wouldn’t do it. “I wasn’t there when she was born,” argued Grandpa. “But Pop,” Mother countered, “she just needs someone to verify her information, and there isn’t anyone left but you!” I’m not sure she convinced him.  

Grandma Ina & Aunt Pearl

Documents show that Aunt Pearl came into the U.S. at Blaine, WA, by stage on February 2, 1942. She lists her present address as Seattle. She declares that she is a British citizen and not a citizen of the U.S. She says she has one son, and that he lives in Dallas, OR, so apparently Stan had already settled in the U.S.

Aunt Shirley, Grandma Ina, & Aunt Pearl, Seattle

Anyway, Pearl, who was born a U.S. citizen and lived in the U.S. until she was 24, had to make application for U.S. citizenship and take a test. She was relieved when she passed it. I’m sure she was just relieved to have it behind her.

In 1945 or '46, Jack and Ina both spent several months in Seattle. Jack was in failing health, and the family was worried. Pearl wanted them to stay with her so that she could care for them. However, they returned to the farm. KW

[*This is one of the few pictures I have looking to the south toward the canyon. Note the tree on the right side of the photo, and behind the gate you can make out a building.]

Saturday, March 27, 2021


Photo 1

“Well, let’s talk about hard times some more,” Ina might say.





Photo 2

In October, 1935, Ina wrote to her sister, Mabel: “I don’t know whether Pearl and Al will pull up stakes or not. They are very discouraged. Their crops got frosted and their wheat will only sell as feed, most of it in Alberta is like that. Their garden got badly bitten the middle of August when we had a frost here.”

Photo 3

December, 1935: “I feel sorry for Pearl. She has trouble with her right arm and hand. They think it neuritis and she has so much to do all the time. She has been knitting mittens for the men folk. They use the knit ones as linings in the others. She loves to knit, though. She also makes gloves of deerskin and is making Myrtle and Shirley each a pair of gloves. They are made just like any glove and are very nice. She had a pair she’d made when she was here in ’33. She says she loves to make them.” 

Photo 4

February, 1936: Reports from Saskatchewan are as low as 55 degrees below, Montana 40 degrees below. I dread to think of Pearl [living the farm life in Alberta]. They were on a little trip to Stettler in January and got onto ice and nearly had an upset and then couldn’t get the car out of ditch, so Al had to go for help half a mile. Pearl stayed in the car at 31 degrees below. They go for Christmas trees, etc., in such weather in a sleigh.” 

Photo 5

In 1935, Uncle Al ran for a fourth term in the Alberta Legislative Assembly and lost. It seems as though he was tired of it, but he did run. I’m sure they felt the loss of whatever income came with the position. For whatever reason, they decided to remain in Canada for the time being. I wonder if their health would have improved had they moved sooner, but it was a different era – and they were poor.

Photo identification:

1) From left: Nina and Charlie Portfors; Roy German standing behind Stanley Sanders; Muriel German; and Albert Sanders holding Dona Marie German. Nina, Muriel, and Al are siblings.

2) Stanley, Albert, and Al's mother, Alice Sanders at the farm in Alberta.

3) Nina, Albert, and Muriel (siblings)

4) Alice Sanders with her four children: Bessie, Albert, Nina, and Muriel

5) Alice Sanders surrounded by her children: Muriel, Nina, and Albert. The elderly man is one of Alice's brothers (Tom or Will Sanders).

I suspect Pearl was the photographer. I would not have these precious pictures of my great-grandmother, Alice Mary Stinson Sanders, or my maternal grandparents, Charlie and Nina Sanders Portfors, were it not that Aunt Pearl had a camera and took pictures. At that time, remember, these are pictures of Al's family.

[I worked hard to format this post, but Blogger will do as it likes.] KW

Thursday, March 25, 2021


Pearl & Albert Sanders with Stanley, 1920s

As Stanley, Pearl and Al’s son, grew older, his behavior became a challenge – at least, in Ina's eyes. Pearl’s lack of control was the talk of the family. But beyond that, Stan contracted osteomyelitis (at one time called tuberculosis of the bone). His condition deteriorated throughout his life and he became really quite crippled. It was heartbreaking.

Albert Sanders and Stanley (l.)

In July 1933, Pearl and Al visited at Orofino and Gilbert. Pearl was 40, and Al 44. Before the trip, she had been ill, and Ina observed that Al was thin and needed rest. It was tough times on that Alberta farm, and in her letters to my dad, Ina tells about it.

Pearl is the same old Pearl. It was like she’d just been gone a few months. She was quieter or seemed so this time, and Stan’s behavior has improved though there is still room for lots more. He gets around with only a cane now, but his hips and back are not strong.”

Pearl & Ethel, Stan & Shirley Jean, '31

Ina continues: “Pearl says she looks for the bank to close them out any time, but it won’t as long as they will stay and dig up for it on the farm, but they can never pay out, and Al is getting fed up on long cold winters and the political game. He does so much for his constituents that he never gets any peace or rest. Pearl is interested in the government work and has a good head for such things, but she’d be glad to let go up there.

“We had a good crop of strawberries, and Al and Pearl surely enjoyed them, both eating and picking them.”


Al Sanders & Stanley; Junius & Julian Dobson -- c. 1933*

A year later, September 1934, Ina wrote: “Got a letter from Pearl yesterday. They lost most of their good crop by hail but will have feed for stock and maybe chicken feed. She said the root vegetables were not damaged though potatoes have been hailed twice and frozen twice. Wouldn’t you just love to live there! Pearl’s health is poor and the letter very depressing.”

December, 1934: “Pearl said she couldn’t send presents. Nothing to sell though they have vegetables, fruit, beef and pork and of course plenty of milk, butter, so they’ll do. Stan seems to be learning to play his guitar and sings some at programs. Pearl taught him that old folk song, ‘The Fox,’ and he sang it and got an encore. (You can listen to Peter, Paul, and Mary’s rendition here.) KW

[I can't identify all the men in the photo. It was taken on the front steps of the farmhouse, probably in 1933. Note the cane in Stan's right hand. And the dog is Dick.]