Grandpa’s wife, Arla, passed away at the age of 42 from a prolonged battle with, what we believe, was cancer. She left 6 children, the oldest, Lad, my father, who was 19 and the youngest, Dave, who was 8 at the time. She left a void that would never be filled, especially as Grandpa and the older boys struggled to earn enough money to support the household and repay the tremendous outstanding debts incurred by Arla’s illness.
These are a few of the letters of condolence received by Grandpa after Arla’s death. They provide a glimpse of Grandma Arla as a friend in addition to the view we have had as a wife and mother.
July 6, 1933
Dear Mr. Guion and Sons,
The members of the Webster Club wish to give you it’s greatest sympathies upon the death of your dear wife. You have been of invaluable assistance to our club both in teaching us and giving us experience in the ways of public speaking.
Stanley Higgs, Sect.
FRANCIS K. DRAZ AND ASSOCIATES
13124 Shaker Square
Dear Al –
We received your note, telling of Arla’s death, yesterday evening, both Dorothy and I extend to you and your family our heartfelt sympathies.
We wish it were possible to be near you at this time to do what little we could to help you.
At a time like this, while we may be materially separated, thoughts and the spirit span this great universe to comfort you and keep you on steadfastly.
Believe us as ever Al –
Your sincere friends,
Dorothy and Fran
July 6 – 1933
July 6, 1933.
My dear Alfred,
Blanche and I were greatly shocked as well as grieved to hear of Arla’s untimely death. It must have been an awful blow to you, and those children. They surely have lost their best friend. Had Arla been sick or was it unexpected? I live so far away that we do not see you often.
Hoping God will bless you all, we remain
Yours sincerely, friends,
Blanche and George
July 7, 1933
Dear Mr. Guion:
Any words of mine at a time like this would be inadequate to express my feelings for you and yours. I just want you to know that I am thinking of you with the kindest of thoughts and in sending you my sincerest sympathy and friendship.
Dorothy M Seeley
11 ROCKRIDGE ROAD
MT. VERNON, N.Y.
My dear Alfred:-
The sad news of Arla’s death reached me Friday and I would have written immediately but we were getting ready to go away over the fourth. Frank joins me in sending our sincerest sympathy to you and your dear family. I was shocked to hear the news from Helen McVickar and to know what you must be going through. She was so needed for her family and was so well loved. I thought a lot of her myself.
I nearly lost my own life this winter, but thanks to our wonderful Dr. Anne Frank’s giving me such good care, I am alive today and feeling very well, except for one leg which still bothers me. I presume you heard from Elsie (Duryee) that I had pneumonia and a heap of other things. I was three months in the hospital and am just getting around again. Frank was a peach while I was sick and spent every cent he had for me to get well. With many regards and heartfelt sympathy from us all, I am sincerely,
Edna M. Lee
NEW CITY, ROCKLAND COUNTY
TELEPHONE NEW CITY 9 – W
Mother (Aunt Anne Peabody Stanley) told me about Arla the other day, when I went over to spend an evening. It was a shock. You are facing the possibility but somehow facing it and meeting it when it comes also completely different, and if it hit me hard – it must have been terrific for you and your family.
There’s nothing I can do, of course; and words are so awkward at a time like this; but that can’t affect the wish that my deep sympathy for you all might help to lift a grain of your burden. If it can, you know it is yours. Arla’s sweet courage (and Kemper told me how deep that must have been) is a real memory for which I shall be indebted all my life.
Tomorrow, I will begin posting letters written in late 1944. The holidays are fast approaching and Grandpa is facing them for the first time without all of his sons far from home.