Uncle Thom (Thomas) was my Grandfather John Willis Crabtree’s baby brother.
Letter to Dorothy Braunsdorf and her mother, Alice (Alice’s mother is Lily, Tom’s half sister)
dated December 1, 1992, Tacoma, Washington
Dear Dottie and Alice,
I see I have several letters waiting to be answered and felt yours is the most important we always enjoy hearing from you.
(Here he goes on about what they had for Thanksgiving dinner.)
Anyway we had a delicious dinner including turkey and dressing….
Thanks for the interesting or maybe I should say “cute letters” from our(1) great great grandma Goddard. I never knew her but I know our(2) grandpa Goddard was a character. I remember when he died. I was a kid 10 years old and he died a very painful death from gangrene of his foot I remember asking him how his foot felt and he said “it burns like fire”.
I recall a number of family members who return to our little house there and Bourbon so my little mom could nurse them through their final illness. There must’ve been six or eight of them through the years, uncles aunts and cousins. She was a woman whose heart was so big she just couldn’t say no to anybody who needed her care.
And I doubt she ever received a five dollar bill from anybody she helped. I feel sure you are aware that for several years she acted as the community midwife of Bourbon and I’m sure that during that time she rarely ever was paid for her services. And I will always remember getting up as a kid and asking about mom only to be told “Oh, Mrs. _____ needed her and they came and got her about 4 o’clock” (in the morning). Come to think about it if she was still living today (December 1) it would be her 128th birthday.
But enough of this.
I have one mother(3) that I wonder if you know about. Do you have any info about the life of my brother Ernest-commonly called “Pooge”? (4) During World War I while in the service he was assigned to a battery of engineers and shipped to Babylon, Long Island, New York. I have no idea how long he was stationed there possibly a year or more. During this time he met a nice local girl, fell in love and they produced a daughter.
For some time he kept this quiet and often he was shipped back from there he never wrote the girl. He had very little formal schooling (my guess would be around the third grade level) but somehow she got our address there in Bourbon and wrote to our mom. She immediately made Pooge fess up and tell her the whole story. I never heard anymore but I’m sure the mother never came to Bourbon and Pooge never went back to New York. And I never heard anything more about the girl so he so have no idea where she is or what became of her.
So much for any contribution to family history.
Considering the state of my health I am well aware I might kick off any time but we hope you and your mom will have the happiest Christmas ever and we hope the new year will be the best you can remember.
Take care and keep in touch.
Love always Tom and Dodie
P.S. thanks for all the info about family history. I do appreciate your efforts.
1-I am pretty sure that when Tom is talking about “OUR” great great grandma, he means Dorothy’s, because this is literally one generation talking to the two below him-his niece and great niece. He is referring to his MOTHER, Alice Rosaline Goddard Crabtree. The story I was told was when she needed to treat an illness she would go across the river (Merrimac) and buy herbs for medicine from the “Root Diggers” (native people in S.E. Missouri. In another Note from Thom he says: “For quite a long time she (his mother) was the community’s number one midwife and must’ve delivered 25 babies during that time. She was also the number one practical nurse during the time, and would never deny her help to anyone who needed her. Despite the fact she rarely ever was paid any cash. Mostly chickens or eggs or some kind of fruit or canned goods. In view of the life she lived in all the kindnesses she did for just about anybody who needed her, someone, maybe you, should write a book about her…”
2-When he talks about “OUR” grandfather, he is talking about HIS Grandfather, John Willis Goddard. So Thom would have been 12 when he died.
3-He doesn’t mean his literal mother-he means a mother in his files.
4-Ernest never married. He had a severe drinking problem and had difficulty holding a job for any length of time.
Note re. John Willis Goddard:
According to Tom, his grandpa Goddard was a very outspoken Republican, who served in the Missouri militia for a matter of some weeks, with ____ at Rolla, and at one time fired a Frisco locomotive between Stanton and Rolla.
Notes about Thom himself:
Tom was born in 1907, and somehow was able to travel from border to border and coast-to-coast by train, during the depression years in the 1930s. He said he enjoyed every mile of it. He said he rode in coaches (chair cars if he was lucky) and had meals in the diner car, which was quite a thrill for poor country boy. He and his wife Dorothy had no children, but he was very fond of all his nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews.
When I lived in Bangor, Washington, 1983-1986, my first husband, Brad, and I would go visit them for Thanksgiving Dinner. Uncle Frank, from Douglas, AZ was present at one of these dinners, and they gave me a copy of John Willis Goddard’s diary. I was reading through it, looking at dates when I discovered there were only about four months between the time when he married Hannah Parilee Gibson, and their daughter Alice Rosaline (Thom and Frank’s mother) was born. I said “Hey, wait a minute! My mom told me stuff like that didn’t happen back then!” and they ROARED with laughter.
Thom and Frank always had fun with the fact that Frank was born in 1897, Thom (his half brother) in 1907, and their older brother John’s boy John (my dad) born in 1917. That’s how they could always tell their ages, by how old the other one was plus or minus ten years.