Saturday, July 31, 2010

SEPIA SATURDAY- Grandma Gilbert

My paternal grandmother- Della Mae (Mefford) (Finwall ) Gilbert

Some of you have heard about her early hard life in a previous post.
The Finwall family before my father was born.

 Her husband, Petrus, was killed when a speeding fire truck's tire flew off and hit him in the face.
This was while he was driving with his family. My uncle, who was 11 years old, steered the car to the side of the road.

After this Della was unable to care for all of her children and work at the same time. She had to place 3 of them in an orphanage. This was the only thing available to working women at the time.  Her oldest son, Glenn (the one who saved them) went to live with an aunt and uncle.

The accident happened in 1918. In 1920 the census says she was working as a checker in a mail order house. I wonder if this might have meant "proof-reader". If so Nancy and I have something in common with her (besides genes) because in our many years in advertising and publishing we've done our share of proof reading.

I don't know how she got the money to buy a boarding house but this is what she ended up doing.
Maybe the fire department (or city) gave her something to repay her for the accident.(although I doubt this). Or maybe it was after she married her second husband. Anyway she got her whole family back together and lived happily ever after.

Della and her second husband, Jack Gilbert. (this wasn't her wedding picture).

She was an amazingly positive person. She became a Christian Scientist which might have explained her positiveness. She put two of her sons through college. Lost one of them in the 2nd World War.
Another son, my father, got rheumatic fever while in college and died at an early age (42).  Her oldest son (the little hero) lived into his 90's and was a wonderful artist. The second son became a fireman.

Two quotes of hers have always stuck with me-
When we were little kids she always said "You are God's perfect child". I'm not the least bit religious now but I think her repeating this so often in my youth gave me some lasting confidence.
The other quote was "Nothing is ever lost, it's just misplaced." Every time I misplace something, which is daily, I think of this comforting thought and calmly continue my search.

Click here for more Sepia Saturday stories.


L. D. Burgus said...

That is quite a story. My wife has a friend that was put into an orphanage when she was young, for much the same reason. It is a varied and rough life she had to overcome but did it well.

Eric S. said...

Wow, what a hard life. She must have been a strong woman, for she obviously struggle through and came out on top. I love the second photo! So much fun going on there.

Martin H. said...

Your grandma was a strong woman and, she obviously continues to have a positive influence in your life.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

My uncle's father was adopted from an orphanage and I learned from Uncle John that it was a common thing to place children there; Little Orphan Annie was popularized as many folks related to that experience. I think my favorite isyour grandmother with her 2nd husband posed, faces, in what must have been a set up; they look like they are enjoying themselves.

Tattered and Lost said...

Wonderful tattered photo, showing its age. And the last one is priceless!


DELLA was certainly god's perfect child if she managed to remain positive through it all. i love this last pic. too funny!!

susanna said...

Ohhh, I enjoyed reading this post. What an inspiring woman your grandmother have had so much heartbreak and stress and to make it through that with a positive attitude intact. The photo of her with her second husband is priceless.

Nancy said...

What a tragic accident for her and the children to witness. Was your grandmother able to keep in touch with the children at the orphanage, or were they "lost" to her forever. It's great that she was able to succeed against such odds, and with a great attitude about it. I love the first and second photographs. Wonderful!


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