Posts Tagged ‘Norma Harvey school teach portland’

27 years have passed since that awful December of 1917. A lot of things have changed in the little Melrose family: Dale’s father, Philip G. Melrose, died in 1934. Little brother John grew up and got married to Emma Ada Robinson, and together they have three little girls: Phyllis, Donna, and Mary Lou (my mother). There are no letters relating back to Dale between 1918 and 1944 – and then…

004The script is large and precise, with a flair for the artistic. A photograph is tucked into the envelope, carefully wrapped in the stationery.

It is a letter from Norma Harvey, that girl from Newberg oh-so-long ago. It is this letter that makes me sit up and say, “oh!” Dale’s death broke more than the hearts of his immediate family – it forever changed Norma’s life.

Newberg, Oreg.

Sept. 24, 1944

My dear dear Mrs. Melrose,

     I can not begin to tell you how moved I was at the sight of your writing or how touched that you remembered after all these years. I can not forget your beautiful script; – an 005envelope that you addressed to me early in 1918 is here in my dresser with a lock of Dale’s hair and his baby picture.

    As you see, I never married. Twice I almost decided to, but thoughts of Dale’s ways:- his cleverness, ambition, kindness, and devotion made other men dull and uninteresting, – yet, was I wise?

    We still live in Newberg but since 1925 ( have taught in Portland coming home for holidays and week-ends.

    One Friday evening <on the bus to Newberg> some years ago, I fell into conversation with a man who used to know you in Perryville.* He had lost touch, he said, 006but he believed that you had moved to Eau Claire. I do not know the man’s name.

    Newberg has not altered greatly with the years. Many of the Presbyterians who were active in the church while you were there, are still functioning.

    Miss Jessie Britt – you remember her? – is as active and indispensible as a person can be.

    Mrs. Maggie Patterson, (very deaf, even in 1912) celebrated her eighty-ninth birthday yesterday and taught her Sunday School class today.

    Mr. and Mrs. Craw <and Violet> are both dead, but the younger daughter Nellie teaches in Newberg.

007    The Sandermans continue active or were until this spring when Mrs. S. broke her hip.

    Ethel Andrews is working in Portland, – has a civil services job and her own apartment. She will be glad to hear of you.

    My parents are living, but Dad aged 87 is not well. He, until last year, was brisk and hearty in every way but early in June he had a slight stroke and hasn’t been like himself since. His memory is so poor. Right now I am greatly worried over the problem of finding a woman to help Mother.

    I am very sorry about Mr. Melrose. Was he ill for long?

    How strange to think that little John has a family!

    Write me again, won’t you? A week from Tuesday is Dale’s birthday**, isn’t it?

    Very lovingly, Norma

*Perryville? I think she means Caryville. ** Not a question – Norma knew Dale’s birthday: October 3.


July 1944       This is Ella Best (white hair) and I, taken at Jessie Britt’s Home. Ella was in the group to which Dale and I belonged. She now teaches in Winnipeg, Manitoba.



The following is a long thank you list to all who helped me put these letters together:

My brother, Terry, who researched Whitman College, Dale’s theater professor, and more. He also hunted down information on Norma Harvey:

Her photo upon graduation from Pacific College (now George Fox University) and upon being crowned May Queen in 1917.

The Coronation News. Remember that she asked Dale not to congratulate her at the time.

Location of her grave in the Friend’s Cemetery in Newberg. She died on November 9, 1970. I snatched a photo of her headstone from Find A Grave. 1893-1970.


Terry also found the military photo on Ancestry.com. It was attached to a ‘steenth cousin’s family tree – I need to go back and email the gentleman who posted it to let him know we are related. He has a more comprehensive tree than I do.

Thank you to my Aunt Donna, the middle daughter of Grandpa John Melrose. She pointed out to me that photos were not common “in those days” and it was “unlikely” that there were any of Dale. I didn’t think about that. We forget so much of how our ancestors lived just a century ago!

A shout out to my cousin, Wendy, one of Aunt Donna’s six children. Wendy shared her online photo  albums with me and I was able to find the same photos in my collection (unnamed) to match hers (named). Because of Wendy, I know I have a photo of Dale as a baby, quite possibly the same photo that Norma Harvey alluded to as kept in her dresser with a lock of his hair.


I am going to take a short break from the blog in order to answer another pressing genealogy question. A gentleman emailed me from Ancestry.com regarding the Palmer side (up my father’s grandmother’s side) and I need to answer his questions – and ask him some!


Read Full Post »