Thursday, November 1, 2018



"He was a Renaissance man," his daughter Carolyn wrote to me when I reached her to find out more about my dad's cousin Traber.   I had heard of "Cousin Traber" all my life; as well as Cousin Percy, both of whom were sons of "Uncle Gaston."  My dad had left Colorado in 1930, and there were no relatives from his side of the family who followed.  Thus, when I started researching my family's history, everything "Dobbins" was new to me.

Traber was born in Las Animas, Colorado on November 25, 1896.  His mother died when he was two, and he was raised by his dad and stepmother, along with a half-brother, Percy Dobbins.  The Dobbins family were very musical.  Gaston and his brother, Scott, were both musicians, playing horns in the Las Animas City Bands for many years and also belonging to the Colorado Springs "Midland Railroad Band."  As an adult, Gaston worked as an accountant in the local beet factory, but his passion throughout his life was music, teaching music and leading bands.  Traber followed his father's footsteps in music, early learning to play the clarinet, saxophone and well as other wind instruments.

Below is a picture of Traber in the Las Animas band circa 1910.

Traber enlisted in the Navy in March 1918 and served as a musician, 2nd class, in the Naval Band at the Naval Hospital, Ft. Lyon, Colorado, until his discharge in February of 1919, according to his obituary.

But why daughter Carolyn called him a Renaissance Man was that over his lifetime not only was he active in the music field but he was interested and knowledgeable about  all wild life (particularly birds and wildflowers), and high school and college sports of all type (football, hockey, basketball, bowling, etc.); he received a medical certificate from the U of Mississippi in 1924, his BS degree from Mississippi State College in May of 1927, and a MS degree from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in May of 1932, having completed courses in entomology, bacteriology, pathology, physiology, chemistry and physics and at various times was an instructor in schools of higher learning.  In addition, in 1932 he was appointed a field aid in the Division of Fruit Insect Investigations, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, and in 1940 was assigned to the Japanese Beetle Labratory in Moorestown, New Jersey. 
He was still actively engaged in his many interests at the time he unexpectedly suffered a heart attack and died in 1952.  He left a wife, the former Vera Pruitt, and three children, Robert Norman, Carolyn and Beverly.  He was buried with military honors in the National Cemetery at Beverly, N.J.

NOTE:  Traber Norman Dobbins had a second cousin named Traber Norman.  Their Grandmothers, Nancy Corel Dobbins and Mary Corel Puckett were sisters.    My dad's grandma was also Nancy Corel Dobbins.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018



This is Kathy Fiscus, a darling little girl who lost her life way too early but in a way that probably more people in the United States knew of it than any other loss up to that time.  You will understand that by the time you read her story.

She, a three-year-old, her five year old cousin, and her 9 year old sister lived in San Marino, California, and on the day of August 8, 1949 the three of them were playing in a vacant lot near her home.  Suddenly the older two kids heard some faint screaming; Kathy was nowhere to be seen, but the kids ran toward the source of the screaming and discovered she had fallen through open hole - an abandoned well - in the ground, about 14 inches across and very deep, hidden by a clump of weeds and obviously long forgotten.  They ran home to alert Kathy's mother, who ran quickly to the hole and called Kathy's name.  She asked Kathy if she was ok, and her little daughter answered "Yes."  That was the only and last word ever heard from her.

The story of the her rescue operation, which lasted 3 days, is well documented in news and visual media and it is worth looking up and re-reading.  Television was in its infancy, and there is still a smallish group of people alive who sat glued to their new television set for three days, until her little body was finally brought to the surface.  She was pronounced dead on April 10, 1949, but it is felt she actually drowned in the water accumulated in that old well shortly after she spoke her last word to her mother - "Yes."

Everyone from family to rescue personnel to volunteer workers on large and small equipment, to movie studios who sent large floodlights were so hopeful of a good result, and as with them, we who watched this event on TV all ended with broken hearts.

There is no good thing that can be said to come from such a terrible loss, but there was one major law enacted across our nation - "Kathy Fiscus Laws" - that requires all abandoned wells to be capped and filled in.  

Although there are still a few of us who were alive during this time, it seems somehow improper to label little blond Kathy as an IMMORTAL NOBODY.  But my thinking is that once we leave this place, her short life and her name are simply apt to be forgotten.  So I gladly consider her a perfect candidate for an IMMORTAL NOBODY, and I would really encourage you to use the internet's wonderful resources to read and see the full story of Kathy Fiscus.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Clinton, Kansas - June 1917

"The fateful day, June 5, 1917, dawned hot and sultry, without a cloud in the sky.  Popular wartime songs such as "Over There" vibrated from Gramophones, and the Clinton Draft Board had set up operations in the Community Hall (formerly the Congregational Church).  Sometime after four o'clock, Merritt Woodward noticed a dome of angry clouds forming off to the west, and he decided to keep an eye on them.... Will Cummings, who had been injured by his horse, fretted in bed over his helplessness; the Monroe boy, whose parents worked for the Cummings, skipped to the Hout farm to get a bucket of milk for supper....

"Somewhat later, Merritt Woodward glanced again at the threatening cloud and discovered that its dark billows were swelling rapidly and soon would engulf the town....Suddenly the emergency was there, and no time was left for deliberation.  Emma Cummings ...somehow, with her young daughter, conveyed hefty Will Cummings down the basement stairs and were helping him into a chair as the tornado hit.  The Monroe boy, terrified, raced toward home, sloshing milk down his legs as he ran.

"Raymond's father, Green Monroe, also saw it coming, but it took him longer than he intended to lead the Cummings' four horses into the barn and tie them securely to a manger.  As the fury struck, he decided not to run for the house.  It was well he did, for although the barn was totally destroyed in the violence that followed, Monroe, the manger and the four horses were left unhurt.  Monroe's family was not so fortunate.  His wife, Lillie, was killed, as their house was shattered by the wind, and his son, who didn't quite make it home from Hout's, was struck by a two-by-four and fatally injured...."

The storm passed.

"The two Monroe victims were solemnly carried to the Methodist Church were Dr. Beach examined them and pronounced them dead.  There they lay in state for townspeople to view and remember as a grim symbol of the fearsome power of nature.

"Why the tornado destroyed one building and not another, why it killed or injured so few people, and why it missed Bloomington altogether were questions pondered by Clinton residents as they cleared away the rubble and began to rebuild their town."

From Soil of Our Souls: Histories of the Clinton Lake Area Communities" by Martha Parker and Betty Laird, Parker-Laird Enterprises, 1980.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


My Friend
Barbara L. Maineri

I normally do not use full obituaries for my Immortal Nobodies, but I am compelled to do so for Barbara.  I knew her as President of the San Bernardino Valley Genealogical Society, and we became friends there.  That group is not mentioned in her obituary, and I must confess that I had no idea she was so busy when she wasn't working to make sure our Society stayed functional and helpful!  I am sure you will be as dumbfounded as I was when you read about this fabulous woman.  I hardly knew her at all.  But she was bright, sweet and kind, and all of the SBVGS members are better folk for having known her.

     Barbara “Bobbie Nell” Maineri, 80 of San Bernardino, passed away in the early morning hours of February 6th, 2017. Barbara lost her seven-month fight with an extremely aggressive, very powerful cancer. Her passing was peaceful, without pain, and with her loved ones by her side.
     She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Ronald Maineri; son Paul Maineri (wife Karen Joy); daughter Susan Madden (husband Patrick); daughter Karen Maineri (husband Michael); grandchildren Paul Nicholas Maineri; Connor, Caroline, and Clara Mae Madden; Pria, Blessing, and Masterson Young; brothers Gary Madden, Wade Rowland, and Bobby Graf. She was preceded in death by her daughter Marianne Maineri Whitehall, mother Fleida “Mimi” Cross, father Wade “Jack” Rowland, and brother Michael Madden.
     Barbara LaNelle Rowland was born on October 11, 1936 in Houston, Texas. After meeting on a blind date, she fell in love with and married Cadet Lieutenant Ron. The two traveled the world together for 20 years, living in England, France, the U.S., and the Philippine Islands, and had four loving children along the way.
     After Air Force retirement, the family settled down in San Bernardino where Barbara became a Realtor, then later earned her bachelor’s degree in education and a teaching credential from the University of Redlands. She taught elementary school before teaching at Job Corps where she was awarded “Teacher of the Year”. Later, she taught at the San Bernardino Adult School for many years. After retiring from her teaching career, she partnered with Ron to operate their successful rare stamp auction house. She is being recognized this April by the International Philippine Philatelic Society with a Lifetime Achievement award.
     Barbara had a life-long love for sewing and was a passionate, prolific, and award-winning quilter. Quilting brought her great joy and was her creative expression. She was an active member of the Citrus Belt Quilters and held several offices including 1st Vice President. She enjoyed spending time with her quilting friends and always looked forward to their fun times creating together.
     A long-time member of the First Presbyterian Church of San Bernardino, she made many sweet friends and was active in the Corsairs Mariners fellowship group.
     When she was a young girl, her life dreams were to be a mother, a teacher, and to travel the world. She accomplished all these goals with love, grace, beauty, creativity, and humor. A friend to all she met, a protector to every stray animal, Mom and Grandmother to a fortunate few, and partner-in-life to one lucky guy.

Obituary from Citrus Belt Quilters.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018



There is one fact and one observation known about him.  This hand-tinted photograph was found in San Bernardino County, California, in the early 2000's loose among some boxes full of ephemera and given to the California Room of the San Bernardino Public Library.

There is an unusual story about these boxes.  Some people die as wards of the county, having no relatives, unable to care for themselves and/or who depend on county funds for their very existence.  When they die, the county sees to it that they are buried, usually in a Potter's field and mostly in an unmarked grave, and then cleans out the place where they were last living. Personal material such as photos, bibles and the like are boxed up and, in that time period at least, were sent to the California Room.  The thought was that perhaps there was something in these boxes that would be of historical interest relating to San Bernardino. It was a good idea, but in practice, the employees did not have time nor experience in opening and sorting through all the material in these boxes.   

I moved to San Bernardino County in 2000, and as a genealogist I offered to work in the California room.  That is where I saw some 30 boxes of such material in a back room, waiting for someone to care.  I cared.  Over the course of five years, I sorted through these boxes, and dispersed whatever material I felt of value, threw away things like pictures of pets (a most difficult job!!), and then made an attempt using genealogical research skills at finding someone related to this deceased person - by way of the internet.  I had some spectacular successes, a few times of reuniting some family item with a distant relative, and more than a few simply being thinned out and repacked.  

In among these 30 boxes, I found this lovely sailor photo lying loose, probably escaping from one of the boxes.  There was no identification on it, and it was not connected to any box.  However, it was someone's son, and I couldn't bear to throw it away.  I have kept it in my possession since I left San Bernardino County in 2005.

This much I have learned:  Whoever he was related to died in San Bernardino County, California, sometime between 1990 and 2004.  And if the fellow in the Veterans Club of Country Village, where I live, is correct, his uniform indicates that he is a Radioman/seaman apprentice.  

I have kept this picture safe since I brought it home, but there will be a time when that will not be the case.  I am trusting that by means of this posting on Immortal Nobodies, he will get the honor and respect that he deserves, and mostly, that he will be found by his family.  It's up to you who read this to see that this happens and that the picture will always be retrievable.

Friday, June 22, 2018


If you have ever been to Wichita, Kansas, you likely saw The Keeper of the Plains, a 44-foot steel sculpture (shown above) set at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers.  The sculpture is the most famous work of Blackbear Bosin, a Comanche-Kiowa sculptor and painter. 

Born Francis Blackbear Bosin on June 5, 1921, he was given the Kiowa name Tsate Kongia, which in English means Blackbear and was the name of his Grandfather, a Kiowa chief.  Frank, as he was called, was born in Oklahoma but after high school he moved to Wichita, which he called home for the rest of his life. 

He was essentially a self-taught artist, starting with crayons early in the reservation school in Anadarko, Oklahoma, where he was exposed to the paintings of the well-known “Kiowa Five,” a group of Indian Artists about a generation older than he was.  In his teen years, which coincided with the Great Depression, he peddled small paintings door to door, selling them for a dollar or so.  As an adult, he served in the U. S. Marine Corps during World War II.  There was never a time in his life that he wasn’t involved with art; his first solo art show was in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1945.  At that time he combined a Southern Plains flat style painting with surrealism.  His painting style later evolved through many years of searching out the real lives and histories of the various Indian tribes so he could accurately represent them.

Of special interest is the attractive logo he designed for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation.  His other artwork is in many collection.

My connection with Blackbear has a distant family link.   It is easiest described in this way:  My My Uncle Marvin and Aunt Florence Kimble lived in Wichita for many years.  They became friends with Frank “Blackbear” Bosin and his wife, Nola.  Nola and Florence had been best friends for years, and the husbands knew each other well.  My Aunt Florence died in 1979.  Blackbear died in 1980.  And long-time friends Marvin and Nola married in the early 1980s.  When Jerry and I went to Wichita to do some genealogy on my Kansas families, we visited Uncle Marvin and Nola, who were busy with the Blackbears. Ltd. Indian Jewelry Store.   By that time Uncle Marvin was almost blind, and Nola was lovingly caring for him.  It was then that we went to see the “Keeper of the Plains” and it was as beautiful a sight as one could hope to see.

June 5, 1921 - August 9, 1980

Sunday, April 22, 2018



The high school I attended (Poly High in Long Beach, CA was large by any standards.  I graduated in the class of 1953, and there were about 900 in that class.  I took what was then called the “college prep courses” but my real focus was in journalism.  And it was the kids in the journalism classes during those three years who became my closest friends.  Bill Warch was one of them.

He was one of the funniest kids I ever met – funny to be with and funny to listen to.  He could take anything and turn it into something that would cause all of us laboring away under a deadline break into laughter.  I was always afraid he was going to tell us we were too deadly serious, but no, he just had a knack for making anything funny.

As I recall, we had a short period of dating, but I really was not focused on my social life, so we just remained very good friends.  Our journalism classmates probably were “grinds,” an early “epithet” for kids who were way too focused on work, rather than “play” – but Bill kept us laughing.  He remained a special friend.

Finally we graduated, spread out to the various schools of higher learning and started our adult lives.  I saw Bill again at our 5th High School Religion, and at that time he was engaged to be married and had already graduated from Long Beach State College.  He was also studying with the “Players Ring” Theater in Hollywood, already starting to pick up some acting roles.   He and I had met again at the reunion committee planning meeting.  He was still funny, but with a little charm by this time.

When planning began for our 10th reunion, he phoned and asked if I’d like to ride with him to the committee meeting, as at that time both of us lived in Orange County and the meeting was in Long Beach.  It seemed like a good idea; the big shock was that a very handsome 27 year old knocked on my door.  I was still expecting to see the kid I graduated with, slightly pudgy and kind of funny hair, but age and experience had done a very good job on him.  Yes, he still could turn things into laughable stories, but it was like we both finally had become adults.  And we had, of course!  That was the last I ever saw him.

I didn’t go to the 20th reunion because I had shortly before then divorced and wasn’t in any kind of condition to go to such an event.  At the time of the 30th reunion, I had just married again, and had no desire to attend a reunion.    

One evening in 1979 I opened the evening newspaper and in the obituary column saw that Rev. Bill Warch had died.  I read it carefully and yes, it was the same Bill Warch that I knew, my funny friend – who at some point had left the acting profession and was now a well-known fellow in Anaheim who had actually founded a church he called “Church of Christian Living.”  Furthermore, he had written books and handbooks that are still being sold today.  His religion was not of a standard variety but you’ll get the idea when I quote from one “”If you are getting tired of being called a sinner yet you want to know yourself and God better, you are about to experience the most fantastic revelation in your life….”  I could tell that Bill had channeled his own smiling and positive approach to life – the very same kind of mirth that I remember from those high school days – into his life’s work.

Unfortunately, it was a short life for him.  I cannot remember the cause of death but it seems that it might have been something like leukemia.   I am sorry I could never have  told him how much fun being his friend was, not only for me but for the others in our little journalism group.  The best I can do is to name him as one of the Immortal Nobodies that I never want to forget!

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Date of death - August 6, 1998
Big Lagoon, California

Miv was a writer.  My path crossed hers (thought she didn't know it) when back in the mid-1970s I decided to change from the very-conservative newspaper in Orange County (The Register) to the LA Times, which was right up my alley - in all ways.  And I always read it cover to cover.

It wasn't long before I discovered that my favorite of all things I read was her weekly column, "Writing for Yourself."  I never knew what she would have to say each week, but it was always interesting, touching, surprising and special.  Whether it was about family, houses, music or hobbies, after I finished reading it I always had something to think about.  Her column reminded me that this kind of writing is what I always had wanted to do.

I can't pin down the year but it was probably in the late 1980s that I went to a talk she gave at UCI called "Writing for Yourself."  I sat spellbound as she shared how it was that she came to write such a column and why it was important to her to do it.  It was far and away the most life-changing talk I'd ever heard.  I knew she was talking to me.

I have always written.  I think I had a pattern to follow: from my earliest years I can remember my mother at her old typewriter "writing."  In my files I have a copy of a 1941 letter of acceptance sent to her by a religious publishing company for an article that would appear in a handout to Sunday School children.  Along with this letter was clipped a crisp $1 bill.  This was the only thing she ever published, but she kept on writing all her life.

She also told me of my great-grandma Louise Hall Ryland being the ghost writer for a book on Caldwell, Kansas, where she lived.  The family was very proud of her (although later critics called it 'purple prose.)

My younger sister also was a writer; her first recognition (and last) was winning $200 at a Forest Lawn-sponsored writing contest while a student at George Pepperdine College.  She was far better than I at writing, but she had no drive for it.  Yet when I did my self-published Istanbul cemetery book she edited it for me and it was oh, so helpful.

I have always written.  The other day in tidying up my files I found once again all my school report cards from 1st through 12th grade, which had been bundled up and saved by my mother.  I looked through them again and was shocked at how many of them had teachers' notes to the effect that I was "a good little writer." (Well, in the later years they didn't use "little"!)

It was Miv Schaaf who gave me permission to write for myself without waiting to publish.  My first husband, who was lazy, always nagged me to write a novel so we could have more money.  I don't think in "novels".  Non-fiction was always my love.  But I felt there was not much of a market for someone as mundane as I was, and I certainly was never a "creative" writer or thinker.  But oh, how good I feel when I write something I like!

I think my kids are "sort of" aware that I do a lot of writing.  I hope when I'm gone they will want to tackle some of it to see just who their mom was.  But alas, I suspect I will fall in the category of Rev. Abner Peet as expressed in Edgar Masters' Spoon River Anthology.

I had no objection at all
To selling my household effects at auction
On the village square.
It gave my beloved flock the chance
To get something which had belonged to me
For a memorial.
But that trunk which was struck off
To Burchard, the grog-keeper!
Did you know it contained the manuscripts
Of a lifetime of sermons?
And he burned them as waste paper.

Nevertheless, I owe my pleasure in writing directly to Miv....her legacy to me was making me understand that writing for myself was OK!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


9 Feb 1930 - 11 May 2004

In the late 1980s I was at a Family History Center on my lunch break, hoping to get a photocopy of some old marriage records on microfilm, showing 3 Puckett men marrying 3 Corel women in Tazewell County, Virginia in the early 1880s.  I wanted to take these photocopies with me when I went to a Corel family reunion in a few weeks.

The fellow at the History Center, of whom I had requested them, insisted that I come with him into the adjacent LDS church because there was a fellow in the church whose last name was Puckett – and he thought we should meet.  I advised him that I was on a lunch hour and needed to hurry back, but he was insistent.

Rather grudgingly I followed him into the church, where I saw a man vacuuming the carpet.  “Brother Puckett, I have someone you’ll want to meet.  She might be a cousin!”  and with that, he introduced me to Don Puckett, a man volunteering some time at the facility. 

Don said his Puckett was from Virginia, and I said mine was too.  He then said his Puckett was from Tazewell County….and surprising both of us, I answered “Mine too.”  I began unfolding the photocopies of the marriage licenses I had asked for, while Don, now wide-eyed, said “If you say his name is William Puckett, I’m going to faint.”  In a kind of unchurchly-type voice I said, ‘No, Don, but it IT IS William’s wife, Louisa Corel Puckett that I’m looking for” and I handed him the papers showing that William Puckett and Louisa Corel were married on Dec 18, 1842.” 

That made Don and me instant cousins, and after we gained our composure over such a fortuitous discovery, we exchanged phone-numbers and from that moment on, Don and I, and our spouses became fast friends and constant researchers.  Every find we made in the Puckett and Corel families for the next 15 or so years  was sheer fun….for him, it had religious connotations and for me it was a great hobby.  Those differences never stood in the way of the wonderful kinship we had discovered.

Don was a smart, dedicated, charming and very funny man, who turned every genealogical “hunt” into a great event.  We spent lots of time on the phone puzzling over a half-dozen Nancy Pucketts and which family they belonged to.  We shared problems and we shared finds.  All were made with more laughing that I’d ever done before or since.  Don was a great cousin, a great friend and a fantastic researcher. 

I am so thankful that the little man in the Family History Center overrode my desire to get back to work on time. (I was only a little late that day!).  

Don passed away in 2004, and I am so thankful that we shared “cousinship” for those 15 years.  

And in case you are wondering, we were 4th cousins  -  the very best kind.

Monday, February 26, 2018


July 6, 1923 -  April 30, 2013

When you come late into a person’s life, you rarely have much of an idea about his or her background.  I met Blanche in 2000, when I retired at 65, moved from Orange County and joined the San Bernardino Genealogical Society, of which she was a long-time member.  I came to know her as a friend and mentor who was knowledgeable about everything San Bernardino-ish, having lived there as an adult for about 50 years. 

She died in 2013, and it was in her Obituary I learned about her “other” (than genealogy) life.  She was born in New Mexico, and at the age of 4 contracted polio, which left her crippled in spite of many treatments, surgeries and exercises.  She spent her life in braces and crutches, but that didn’t stop her from becoming salutatorian at her high school and then graduating from University of New Mexico with a BS in Biology.  In 1948 she passed the California State Board Exam for Clinical Medical Technologist and subsequently the exam for Microbiologist.  Her first job, which she held for 10 years, was at the San Bernardino County Hospital, and then she spent another ten years as a microbiologist at Saint Bernadine’s Hospital, also in that city. 

During this period of time she married Albert Elwood Tompkins and they added two sons to the family, Walter and William.  Albert had served in the US Army during WWII, landing in Normandy on Utah Beach in September of 1944.  He proceeded through France and Belgium and into Germany, meeting the Russians in Berlin.  

In San Bernardino, Blanche was active in the Presbyterian Church, serving as a Deacon, member of the Session, Moderator of Circle of Hope and Presbyterian Women.  And she was the one who invited me to a most interesting "Kirkin' O' The Tartans" service, after she learned that my distant ancestor in 1804 was ordained  a Presbyterian minister. 

Blanche was a lovely woman, warm, helpful, and smart.  She knew every square inch of the California Room at the San Bernardino Library.  I was lucky to spend five years of working with her as a volunteer; I did not know her background then, as she didn't spend any time talking about herself.  She was there to help others.

I am glad I was counted as a friend and she certainly fits well in "Immortal Nobodies."  I surely won't forget her.

Monday, January 8, 2018


Rudolph Onderwyzer

     If I had to characterize my first impression of college, I would have to be honest and say that my matriculation to George Pepperdine College, which took place in the fall of 1953, was the real beginning with my love affair of Progressive Jazz.  

     I did not know of Mr. Onderwyzer, who over time was the owner of three jazz clubs - Shelly's Manne Hole, The Lighthouse, and Hop Singh's.  But what I did learn yesterday is that it was he who brought the venues into being featured progressive Jazz in Los Angeles.  It was new, and trendy, and cool, and it touched my soul then and has stayed there for well over sixty years.  

     I was lucky that my college was so close to these venues.  I saw musicians like Shelly Mann, Charlie Bird, Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Cal Tjader, Oscar Peterson, Chet Baker, Chico Hamilton, Herbie Mann, Freddy Katz - and others make music that is still my choice of listening pleasure.  I'll venture to say that there are many others beside me who still feel that cool jazz running through their veins.

     Mr. Onderwyzer later was aware of the changes in the music market, and when the cool jazz market changed, he retired as a Jazz club owner.  

    I did not know of Mr. Onderwyzer until his picture and bio ran in the Los Angeles Times yesterday announcing his death on October 10, 2017.  I wish I had been able to tell him what an impact his life and love of music has made in my life. His family, should they accidentally stumble over this blog as they nose around online, will understand my feelings for Rudolph Onderwyzer and it is true, as his obituary ends with.. "He will be remembered by not only his children, but all the people whose lives his Jazz clubs and the music touched. You will be missed, Rudolph Marco Onderwyzer.  Rest in Peace."

      Mr. Onderwyzer really is not an "Immortal Nobody."  He definitely is a Somebody, but I just didn't know it.  

Thursday, January 4, 2018



20 May 1904 - 15 October 1997

               My dad's older sister, born in Las Animas Colorado, became the family storyteller.  I'd like to share a bit of her written legacy - bits and pieces of what it was like growing up in the dry land farming area.

               My parents, Maude McConnell and Scott W. Dobbins, were married December 28, 1898, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  They met the year before when Papa and his brother Gaston were members of the Midland Band in Colorado Springs, playing during the summer in Stratton Park.  His family lived in Las Animas, Colorado, his father a rancher.

                The wedding was held in Colorado Springs at the home of Lillie McCammon, Mama's widowed sister, with family and friends present, her mother Frances McConnell, brother Bert, Aunt Lillie's children, Hazel age 10, Floyd 8 and Frank 6.  Papa's brother Gaston was there.  His parents were unable to come because of illness.  The young couple would live in Las Amimas on the ranch.


               Ranch life was a new experience for Mama, different from farm life as a child and city life as a young woman.  She would become an expert in the ten years they lived there.  I arrived on the scene May 20, 1904, Dorothy Caroline, and was born in town rather than the ranch.  My grandfather had died early in 1904 and Grandma soon moved back to Kansas to live.  Uncle Gaston married Sophie Swanson in 1901.  She was born in Sweden, came to Omaha, Nebraska when she was 22 years old.  She had a friend in Las Animas whom she visited and that is how they met.

                Papa raised hay and grain for the stock, and garden vegetables and melons.  Mamma's very graphic accounts of ranch life never failed to entertain us, the one most exciting was of a bull snake who shared the kitchen with the family for a very short while!  It was an adobe house and over the kitchen door was a hollowed out place where he lay at times.  Mama's ultimatum was "Either he goes or I go", so Mr. Snake went.  There was a pet goat and sheep always into some sort of mischief.  One year Papa raised some prize melons which he planned to enter in the county fair.  A day or so before the fair opened the goat got in the melon patch and took a bite out of every one of the choice melons!  Papa was so angry he could have killed him.  By the time he caught up with him his anger had cooled.  Lucky goat!

                We had two dogs, Beppo, a large shaggy spaniel type, and Tatters, a little short-haired Mexican dog.  Both were my constant companions.  One day I took a walk down the road, wandering too far.  When I was missed, Papa got on his horse and found us near the river!  That was a no-no; a whack on the seat of my pants was a reminder not to venture so far away again.


               Nearly every Saturday night Papa and his orchestra played for country dances held in various places.  Papa played the cornet, Ed Simons the piano, his brother Clyde the violin.  Everyone young and old were there.  The little ones were bedded down at one end of the dance hall, older children amused themselves or watched the grownups dance.  Hazel was about sixteen when allowed to dance.  The boys thought it was boring, Mama said!  Papa didn't dance.  Mama said she always had plenty of partners for dancing. 

                The years passed.  Papa decided to give up ranching and moved the family in town in the early summer of 1908.  A new baby was expected; my brother Scott Walter was born July 1st.  Everyone was happy.  Mama said I went to all the neighbors, telling them about my baby brother.  I called him Buzz, as did the family.  He carried the name on into late life, he is still Buzz to me.  As a little boy he had curly golden hair and brown eyes.  As he grew older his hair was dark brown.  My hair was brown and straight as a string, my eyes brown.  Mama had black curly hair, brown eyes and fair skin.  Papa had blond or light brown hair and blue eyes.  I think I resemble his family and Buzz our mother's.

                Papa continued playing in the orchestra.  They did the dances and in addition they played at the moving picture theatre five nights weekly.  When we were old enough to go, our friends envied us.  We got in free.  Papa worked in a furniture store for several years and later was in real estate for dry land farming.  I remember going with him in the horse and buggy out south of town to see some of the farmers.

               Grandma McConnell (Bonnie) came to visit us in Las Animas often, usually staying a month or so.  She always brought her featherbed rolled up, wrapped in canvas and tied with a rope.  What a treat for Buzz and me to snuggle up with Bonnie in that feathery heaven.  Once in a while Grandma Dobbins came to visit while Bonnie was with us.  There was some rivalry between them but they usually enjoyed each other.  Since we saw more of Bonnie we felt closer to her.  Bonnie lived in a little three room house half way up the alley from the Wheelers. Uncle Charlie owned a lot on the street north of them.  He built a house to sell and on the back of the lot he built Grandma's house.  I spent many happy vacations visiting them.

                We had a variety of pets, dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, chickens, ducks, fish, guinea pigs, polliwogs who lost their tails and became little toads and hopped away.  One summer the little ducks followed the dripping ice wagon and we had to gather them up and take them home.  Hortense, a large black and white mongrel whose favorite pastime was climbing a tree in front of our house.  A nameless cat I loved to dress in my doll clothes and wheel about in my doll buggy.  One episode ended when a strange dog came along barking, scared the cat who jumped out of the buggy and climbed up the nearest light pole, clothes in shreds.  During the melee, dog barking, me yelling, cat yowling, Papa came to the rescue of the cat.  Then my ever-patient father lost his patience and I got a spanking but good.

                A favorite chicken, Josephine, grew up to be a beautiful rooster, who any time the screen door was left ajar, came in and made himself at home on the couch.  Wow! that made trouble for chicken and kids.  Towsie, a beloved mama dog who kept us supplied with puppies, a mama cat who abandoned her five babies and we were unsuccessful as foster parents.  Freckles was a battle-scarred reddish cat that was really a rogue.  He would be gone for days, dragging himself home to recuperate.  Mama would nurse him back to health, only for him to repeat the performance time after time.  Our last dog followed Buzz home one day.  He named her Sport.  We soon learned she would be having puppies.  She was a beautiful tan and white, short-haired, nondescript breed, a big dog with a happy disposition everyone loved.  She followed Buzz wherever he went.  One Saturday night he went to the picture show and when he came out Sport wasn't there.  When he got home Sport was having her puppies.  By morning there were four darling puppies looking much like their mother.  They thrived with Sport's loving care and the attention of family and boarders.  We had no trouble finding homes for them.  

(Watch for future installments.)