As we have thought back over our lives, growing up with these aunts and uncles as our role models, our guide, our family, we wanted to share some memories of them. These write-ups have been a tribute to the six SANDERSONS all born during the early 1900’s – 1926. They lived through WWI, the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties plus WWII. Talking it over, Cousin Mary said to me when she had the idea, “Their lives stuck in our minds. They dropped little jewels and stories. We learned from what they lived.” She wanted me to just write about them from my point of view. It would be a series, a story of growing up and learning from them. Maybe you have known some of them or had family members like them. They were pillars in their community. They were our family foundations. They came from strong, solid stock.
Uncle Wayne had a black dog named Smokey who chased cars and later a black dog named McGee. He worked hard all his life and enjoyed his farm on White River later in life, calling it Green Acres. He liked dancing also and attended several dances in his later years. I didn’t know until many years later, after he had passed away, that he and one of the family’s neighbors,Gene Thomas, were great friends. Uncle Wayne talked baseball with Gene who didn’t quite understand it all.
My mother, Ella, was the second born arriving on December 12, 1914, although Grandpa SANDERSON got the date wrong and she always had trouble with her birth certificate for some reason. The day she was born, the doctor came out to their rented farm with a team and sleigh riding up over fences on deep snowdrifts. There seem to be many more baby photos of the two first born than the other four which most new parents usually do. She was named after her parent’s mothers- Ella Elizabeth. She is a part of me now and always.
Melvin Eugene came next in 1916. He had his father’s same initials, but a nickname stuck and he was Jeff for life. He and his wife, our Aunt Irma, volunteered to help their community of Murdo unselfishly on countless projects and in many ways. Too many to list. They gave back in volumes.
Aunt Helen was born next and always loved life to its fullest seeing the glass half full. She loved children, having four of her own, the most of the six SANDERSONS. (When we got together for reunions, we other cousins thought Bobby and Blake were cute and world wise. They were cool.) I still have some of her recipes as she was a good cook. She always looked slim, trim and neatly dressed and coiffed. She was a selfless giving person.
Aunt Loretta came next and thinking that she would be their last born, Grandpa called her Babe. She could be fiery hot with a temper, or quietly contemplative at times. She intrigued me yet scared me. I had never known anyone like her. She was probably one of the first successful and unique business women in Murdo. Stories about her abound within our family. She kept cash in her refrigerator lettuce drawer, she kept family and cousins working at her motel, she called people with one line of gossip then hung up…”So and so is pregnant.” Boom.
Aunt Elna was born in 1926, last and certainly not least. The family came back from a trip to Iowa when Elna was small. Her parents gave her a gift when they got home. She opened the box and inside was a puppy. She got scared and cried. That gift didn’t work out. As she grew up in Murdo. Elna enjoyed driving uptown checking out the motels or going out for coffee. She would go into places just whistling a tune or humming a sweet song. Even into her later years, she worked, helping at the Range Country. She was a joy to know.
They aren’t gone. The SANDERSON cousins, 12 of us, and dear Stephanie in heaven, have them living with us, the good memories and some bad ones maybe, living inside our minds, our hearts, however, some memories slowly fading as we grow old, still a part of us. We come from good stock.
Below is a slideshow of some old family photos…