An Inheritance of Ghosts

Frederick William Wears and Mary Jane Carver

Posted in Frederick William Wears, Mary Jane (Carver) Wears, Mary Jane Carver by Gregg Mattocks on 28 December 2009

Revised 31 December 2009.

Frederick William Wears [14]

Father: John Thomas Wears [28]

Mother: Mary Elizabeth Raney [29]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Mary Jane Carver [15]

Father: John Morgan Carver [30]

Mother: Sarah Emaline Todd [31]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


Frederick William Wears [14] was born 4 May 1887 at Mt. Zion, Osage Township, Henry County, Missouri, the youngest of ten children of his parents. Attendant at the birth was M.B. Taylor of Brownington, Henry County.

In June 1900, Frederick W., aged 13, was living with his parents and three siblings at Butler Township, St. Clair County, Missouri. The census of that year recorded that Fred was employed as a farm laborer (probably on his father’s farm), and had attended school during seven of the previous twelve months.

As a young man, Fred learned the barber trade. An oration prepared for his funeral stated that he had “followed his trade for brief intervals in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas.” It is thought he must have worked in Colorado beofre his marriage, as his children do not remember him working there during their lifetimes. Fred may also have worked in Oklahoma prior to his marriage.

Fred joined the Brotherhood of American Yeoman as member number 164420 on 9 January 1909. The Brotherhood was a fraternal insurance society organized in Iowa in 1897. “The society was popular from the start, the founder evidently having formed a plan of mutual insurance that seemed reasonable and just and which provided for a surplus fund for reserve.” Headquartered at Des Moines, Iowa, the order had “an entertaining ritualistic ceremony of adoption, the work being taken principally from [Sir Walter] Scott’s ‘Ivanhoe.’” Members were known as Archers and the lodges were called Homesteads. “[T]here was a strong Christian element to the Rituals and Ceremonies, which also praised the Magna Carta and the English language.” In 1917, the Brotherhood changed its financial footing to assure greater stability. In 1932, it was transformed into the Mutual Life Insurance Company.

In April 1910, Fred, aged 22 and single, was living with his parents at Butler Township. The census of that year recorded that he was working as a barber in a barbershop. The census also revealed that, during the year 1909, Fred had been out of work for 12 weeks. 

Fred married, 9 April 1916, Mary Jane Carver [15]. The couple were married by James Madison Hawkins, a Minister of the Gospel, at his residence in Butler Township. Husband and wife were both recorded as residents of Lowry City, St. Clair County, at the time of their marriage.

Mary was probably born 16 September 1887 near Roscoe, St. Clair County, though the 1900 Census gives her birth as January 1888. Either way, it would appear that Mary was born out of wedlock, as her parents were not married until 23 October 1888.

As children, Mary Jane and her sister Della had two tomcats. The girls would play with the cats during the day, often dressing them up. At night, however, the two cats, who had gotten along so well during the day, had to be put outside at different doors or they would immediately begin fighting.

In June 1900, Mary, aged 12 and attending school, was living with her parents at Osceola Township, St. Clair County. Also in the household were Mary’s sister Della and her uncle Harry H. Carver.

In April 1910, Mary, a dressmaker, aged 22, was living with her parents at Lowry City. Also in the household was Mary’s sister Juanita.

Early in life, Mary united with the Baptist Church of Roscoe. On 4 September 1913, the Appleton City Journal reported that “Miss Mary Carver returned to her home at Lowry City Saturday, after a few days visit with the family of her aunt, Mrs. Harry Carver of this city.” At one time before her marriage, Mary Jane traveled to Nebraska with her “cousin” Ada [Delozier?], where both worked as seamstresses. The two — while still unmarried — also
worked at the Emery-Bird-Thayer department store in Kansas City, Missouri. Ada later married a Mr. Langford.

With World War I under way, Fred Wears registered for the military draft on 5 June 1917. His physical description at the time was given as tall and stout, with brown eyes and hair though he was bald. He was a resident of Lowry City and self-employed as a barber there. Fred claimed exemption from service on the grounds he had a wife and child to support. In the end, he did not serve in the military.

Fred purchased a new car some time during the First World War. The story goes that Fred bought the vehicle believing that his mother would be able to use it to get around a little better. Unfortunately, his mother became ill riding in the car. However, Fred’s sister Illa took a liking to the car and frequently drove it. Fred was one of many family members present when his mother died at her Lowy City home in March 1919.

In January 1920, Fred W., a homeowner and self-employed barber, aged 32, was living with his wife Mary, aged 32, at Lowry City. Also in the household were their children Doris and Glenn. Next door lived William R. Douglas, a distant relation, who was also employed as a barber. It is believed that Fred and William shared a shop together at this time. Also nearby lived Fred’s brother Thad.

According to Fred and Mary Jane’s daughter Doris, shortly after the census of 1920 the family moved to Higgins, Lipscomb County, Texas. It is thought that Fred’s brother George already lived there at the time. Higgins was located about two miles from the Oklahoma border “in the heart of the North Texas grasslands of the early cattle ranges.” The town was a stop on the Santa Fe Railroad, and by 1888 boasted a post office, school, saloon, hotel, livery stable, and several stores. It soon became a major cattle-shipping point and grain marketing center. Dust storms and tornados plagued the town. It might have been that Fred worked as a barber just over the state line in Oklahoma, as the oration prepared for his funeral stated that he had worked in that state for a brief time.

From Higgins, the family moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where Fred worked as a barber on Minnesota Avenue, one of Kansas City’s major streets. The Wears family lived in the lower level of a house, and the upper level was occupied by the family of Mary Jane’s sister, Juanita La Rue. Juanita’s young daughter Marjorie would sit on Fred’s lap at dinner every night. The family remained at Kansas City long enough for daughter Doris to attend kindergarten there. Then Fred’s father John Thomas Wears offered to buy his son a cow and pay him $10 a month, in return for which Fred would move his family back to Lowry City to take care of John Thomas. Carol Mattocks wrote:

I know approximately where the house was that he [John Thomas Wears] lived in after he moved to L.C. and Fred’s family lived with him. It was southeast of the center of L.C. There is a Moran farm that is on the south of it. I always thought from what Mom said I knew what property it was and Uncle Leo mentioned that the Morans (my aunt by marriage family, that is Gene Colley’s wife Mary) lived to the south. [W]hat I didn’t ask and don’t know if he owned the property…. The place they lived with him was big enough they had a cow and maybe more.

On 14 May 1925, Fred purchased some insurance from the Equitable Life Insurance Company of New York, New York. Fred worked long hours at his barber shop in Lowry City. On weekdays, he would open at seven in the morning and would usually close after dark. On Saturday nights, he would usually keep the shop open until after midnight. Son Glenn began shining shoes at the shop when he was about eight years old. Later on, the boy also sold popcorn. Sometimes after getting off work on Saturday nights, Fred and Glenn would go to the Osceola, St. Clair County, dam and fish until eight or nine in the morning. Granddaughter Carol Mattocks remembered that Fred worked at one time with Reed Douglas, who was also a barber, as well as being the son of Fred’s sister-in-law Effie Wears.

Fred’s father John Thomas Wears died in March 1930. According to Doris Colley, John Thomas left part of his couple acres at Lowry City to Fred. Daughter Doris remembered that, when her grandfather John Thomas Wears died in March 1930, he left his house to Fred because Fred was the only child who had paid back all the debts he owed his father. According to Doris, her family then lived at the house until just before her brother John was born.

In April 1930, Fred W., a barber, aged 42, was living with his wife Mary J., aged 42, along with their five children, on Fifth Street in Lowry City. The census of that year recorded that the Wears home was valued at $1500. Son Glenn described the location of the family home as “just east of downtown L.C., very close to the railroad tracks. Neighbors were Longs and Bond.”

Around this time, Mary Jane was diagnosed with tuberculosis and went to stay at the Missouri State Sanatorium at Mount Vernon, Lawrence County, Missouri, west of Springfield. The Sanatorium, located on Chigger Hill, was established in 1907 to treat the “White Plague” or consumption, common names for tuberculosis. The 200-acre site was chosen because of its rural location, pure air, available water, abundance of shade trees, its ability to supply agricultural and dairy needs, and its elevation. The original plan for the Sanatorium, which later came to be known as “The Hill”, “called for a total of 12 buildings to be grouped in the form of a Maltese cross, eight of the buildings, or villas, were to house patients with the remaining ones to be used for administration and support services.”

Pulmonary tuberculosis is a “chronic communicable bacterial disease.” Symptoms include blood-streaked sputum, fatigue, weight loss, fever, sweating or chills at night, chronic cough, and aching chest pain. The symptoms typically “do not alarm the host until the disease is far advanced.” Before the 1940’s, a diagnosis of tuberculosis “was often a death sentence.” In those days, many did not appreciate that tuberculosis was an infectious disease. It was thought to be hereditary, a “constitutional malady.” It is not known how Mary Jane contracted the disease.

A diagnosis of tuberculosis often meant impending death and the only known treatment for it was fresh air, sunshine, nutrition and bed rest. To keep the disease from spreading, patients were isolated from society.

Admission to the Sanatorium was limited to Missouri residents, but those unable to pay for their care could apply for free admission. The applicant to become a free patient first made an affidavit with his County Court, “supporting such application by statement of family physician, and by two residents as to his inability to pay for care at the sanatorium.” With the Court’s approval, the applicant then received forms from the Sanatorium, which would then decide if the applicant were acceptable. Free patients were given priority, but pay patients were also accepted, the rate in 1941 being $50 per month.

The Sanatorium kept a herd of Holstein cattle to produce milk for the patients and employees. “Colored” patients were treated in a separate villa. As part of the treatment at the hospital, the tuberculosis patients had to sleep at night on screened-in porches, even in the dead of winter. One twenty-five-year-old woman at “The Hill” wrote:

I feel like a different person…. I still don’t get to get up only twice a week when I take a bath and the nurse changes my bed, then I have to get right in a chair and sit there until she gets my bed made and then right back to bed. I get so tired. It will be five weeks Tuesday since I walked over 10 steps at a time…. from the way they are doing me I was surely in a bad shape when I came here.

While his wife was in the hospital, Fred took care of the children, making their breakfasts, and getting them ready for school. Daughter Doris had to help out a lot during Mary Jane’s absence. Doris resented the burden placed upon her, and came to feel at this time that her brother Glenn was her father’s “favorite”.

Miraculously, in a short time Mary Jane recovered, and, about 1935, the family moved to Vista, St. Clair County, leaving son Glenn with his Carver grandparents near Lowry City. Fred bought a farm at Vista and also worked there as a barber. Son Harold began school while the family was there. Unfortunately, Fred found he could not make a decent living at Vista. In 1936, the family moved again to Kansas City, Kansas. Son Glenn soon came to join the family there after his graduation from high school at Lowry City. In Kansas City, Fred reportedly used the last of the family’s savings to purchase a service station that he and Glenn operated. But neither Fred nor Glenn had much “mechanics knowledge,” so that venture was soon abandoned. Fred at first opposed Glenn’s desire to join the Marines, but — with Mary Jane’s support — Glenn soon got his way. Glenn enlisted in October 1936, leaving the family once again. Fred’s daughter Doris thought Fred may have worked for a time in Kansas City for the Works Progress Administration.

Fred and family returned to St. Clair County — this time to the town of Osceola — by September 1937 for, on the 22nd of that month, Mary Jane’s mother Emma wrote from Gerster, St. Clair County, to her daughter Della that “Freds folks was here sunday Doris was home.”

On 30 September 1937, the St. Clair County Democrat of Osceola reported on a contest:

A contest of children from 2 to 8 years old has been arranged to be held in connection with the play Coast To Coast, which is being presented October 1st and 2nd, under the auspices of the Tuesday club. Various merchants in town are sponsoring a child and ballot boxes have been placed in the store sponsoring the baby. Votes will be a penny each, and the vote can be dropped in the ballot box…. Each of the winners of the popularity contest will be presented with a Wright-Dayton airplane glider through the courtesy of the Quaker Oats Co., cooperating with The Democrat. There will be one for the boy winner and one for the girl winner.

Among the merchants listed as sponsoring an entrant was the Garrison and Wears Barber Shop, whose entrant was Paul Brown.

In a letter of 19 November 1937 to Della, Emma expressed her deep concern over the strange behavior of Mary Jane’s father John Morgan Carver. She went on to write that “[I] guess Freds will be down Thanksgiving or Xmas when doris can get off. they have 3 hens here we will have one when they come | Xmas if nothing happen.”

A few days later, on 23 November 1937, Emma wrote again to Della, elaborating on her trials with John Morgan. She also wrote, perhaps in reference to her daughter, “Mary and the children have all been sick with sore throats and her face hurts her so bad.”

The following day, Emma again wrote to Della, this time from Osceola, St. Clair County:

Dad [John Morgan Carver] has got so I cant stay at home with him So Bert [Todd] brought us to osceola to Freds this morning all they could do was to take him to the county home [or?] Jail, untill the sixth of Dec…. Mary is sick in bed Flue I guess…. Bert cried like a child, I and Mary left the room before they came.

On 29 November, Emma reported from Osceola that “Fred took Doris an me to See John yesterday…. when we started [to leave?] they helped him up stairs, he never new we was there I guess…. Mary is up now.” Emma returned to Gerster, where she wrote to Della in a letter dated “Tuesday morn.”

Fred and I went yesterday at 10oclock, to see if he [John Morgan Carver] could make his mark, he was in Bed. he seemed to understand what we wanted, and knew us, he called Freds name twice, but just talked about things he didnt know what he was saying, but able to raise up and make his mark by Fred helping him. when we started he said he thot we was going to take him, I said lay down we are going to the Bank to cash your pension check we covered him up, he never knew we was going I don’t think, after we was there the Dr went to see him…. they will notify Fred if any thing happens. I couldnt do him any good staying there any longer and they are so crouded and Fred fussing around trying to get things to going.

By 10 December 1937, Emma was at Gerster preparing for John Morgan’s release. About that time, Emma wrote, “Bert will take me to Freds sun morning and help Ben and Fred all he can.” On 22 December, John was still in confinement at Osceola. On that date, Emma wrote that “Bert went to osceola today saw fred. he had shaved the Dr. he said John was just about the same maybe a little weaker.”

When Mary Jane’s father finally died, she did not at first tell her daughter Doris the news, because Mary Jane wanted to spare Doris the expense of attending the funeral.

In a letter of 19 July 1938 from Gerster, Mary Jane’s mother wrote to her daughter Della that:

Earl Marton had been to see Fred. Fred is on Johns note for $160 Dollars for them sorrel horses. John sold them to Earl or Earl got the buyer for them and Johns best set of harness. John got $125.00 for them. he still owes Martin $60.00[.]

Apparently, Earl had visited Fred to collect on the $60 debt John Morgan Carver owed, as Fred had presumably provided security for the debt. Shortly after writing the above letter, Mary Jane’s mother became ill and was taken to the hospital at Weaubleau, St. Clair County, on 27 July 1938. Mary Jane, “of Osceola,” accompanied Emma to Weaubleau. Mother and daughter were apparently together when Emma died on Friday, 29 July 1938. That night Fred traveled to Weaubleau to bring his wife home. They undoubtedly attended Emma’s funeral the following Sunday at King’s Prairie Church in St. Clair County.

Fred and Mary were living at Lowry City by about June 1939, when the Secretary of the St. Clair County Agricultural Conservation Association sent to Mary Jane’s sister Della an application for a wheat parity price adjustment payment for Della’s farm. Under the 1939 Agricultural Conservation Program, the federal government was making payments to provide assistance to farmers who might have fallen on hard times because of floods, drought, and the poor economy. According to the information found on the application, Della, of Lowry City, had a one-third share in the farm, with the other two-thirds belonging to her brother-in-law Fred Wears, also of Lowry City. Two and one-half acres had been allotted on this farm for wheat production in 1939, but Fred and Della had for some reason been unable to plant any at all. (They had not planted any wheat in the preceding year either.) Fred and Della were therefore eligible to receive a total payment of $3.07 from the Price Adjustment Program. It is not clear if the application were ever submitted, or if payment was actually received.

The Lowry City house in which the Wears lived at this time would, in later years, become the home of Vess and Juanita LaRue (Juanita being Mary Jane’s sister). The LaRues would eventually pass the house along to their daughter Marj and her husband Warren Keeling. Eventually the house would be occupied by Gene Colley and his wife. Gene was the brother of Earl Colley, Fred and Mary Jane’s son-in-law. About 1942, it was reported that “Mr. Wears is a barber and Mrs. Wears finds pleasure in managing their six-acre farm and the livestock it supports.” About this time, their son Glenn, aged 23, was cited for his brave actions at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, during the attack of 7 December 1941. Fred and Mary Jane then had in their possession the citation earned by Glenn as well as his letters of commendation from Admiral C.W. Nimitz. On 29 Ocotber 1942, Fred, at Lowry City, signed an affidavit in registering for a delayed or special certificate of birth for himself. As supporting evidence for his registration, Fred submitted documents from the Equitable Life Insurance Company, the Brotherhood of American Yeomen, and an affidavit from his uncle [Sam?] Raney.

Shortly after registering for the birth certificate, Fred sold the Wears home in Lowry City and moved his family to the Fairmount community near Kansas City, Missouri. Fred began working for the Lake City Arsenal.

Fred and Mary Jane’s daughter Doris and granddaughter Carol Colley came to live with the family at Fairmount. Carol remembered that the house was very nice, and recalled a piano there which was played by Fred and Mary Jane’s daughter Helen. The enlarged family later moved to another home nearby that was located near some railroad tracks. According to Carol, every morning either Fred or Mary Jane would get up early and prepare biscuits for breakfast. These would be consumed with sorghum or with Karo syrup and butter. Also for breakfast, there would be bacon or other pork, and “grease gravy.”

The 1946 edition of Polk’s Independence (Jackson County, Missouri) City Directory listed Fred and Mary living at 9426 East 7th in Fairmount, Jackson County, Missouri. In reality, the couple had returned to Lowry City by fall of 1945. The 7th street address was the same as that given in the directory for Fred and Mary’s daughter Doris and her husband Earl Colley. Also listed in the household was Doris’s sister Helen Wears. In the directory, Fred was recorded as being a mach(inist) adj(uster) for the Remington Arms Company.

With the end of the war, Fred returned to the Lowry City area — leaving his family behind — and began construction of a new home on some property he had reportedly purchased “for practically nothing” at an auction several years earlier. He may have lived in a tent as he worked. He had no car and often had to settle for inferior building materials because of post-war shortages. Brother-in-law Bill Bagley helped with some of the interior finish work on the house. When the family finally moved in, there was still tar-paper on the floors. Fred sorted through the second-grade hardwood, utilizing the wood that had the fewest flaws in the living room, while reserving the remainder for the bedrooms. In the end, however, the bedroom floors were more pleasing because of the very flaws Fred had tried to avoid in the living room. Granddaughter Carol Colley moved to Lowry City with her grandparents but Carol’s mother Doris remained in Kansas City with her work. It is thought that Fred and Mary Jane’s daughter Helen also remained in Kansas City when the rest of the family returned to Lowry City.

Carol remembered that, while she was with her grandparents in Lowry City, the family was frequently visited by Fred’s niece Myrtle and her husband Weaver Church. Myrtle and Weaver “lived on a huge wheat farm in Kansas.” Carol recalled they had the first air-conditioned car she had ever seen. Carol also remembered going with her grandfather to the feed store owned by Arthur “Art” Armstrong in Lowry City. There, Fred would buy feed for his animals and also sell cream and eggs. Fred continued to cut people’s hair, working part-time at the Hinkle Barbershop in Lowry City.

Shortly after the birth of grandson Glenn Carver Wears in August 1949, Fred and Mary Jane visited their son Glenn in California, having photographs taken along the coast. On 26 August 1950, Glenn visited Lowry City. A photograph of that date shows the following people gathered together there: Fred; Fred and Mary Jane’s sons Glenn, John, and Harold; their daughter Doris Colley; Glenn’s son Glenn Carver; and Doris’s daughter Carol.

A photograph of 11 September 1950 shows Fred and Mary Jane with their sons John and Harold, their daughters Doris and Helen, Doris’s daughter Carol, Mary Jane’s brother-in-law Sylvester La Rue, and Harold’s future wife Gloria Hadsall.

About June 1955, Mary Jane joined her sisters Della and Juanita for a photograph.

Fred became ill toward the end of May 1957, and soon checked into the Clinton General Hospital at Clinton, Henry County. Frederick William Wears died at the hospital at 4:25 p.m. on 28 June 1957, aged 70 years, 1 month, and 24 days. Funeral services were conducted by the Reverend R.O. Scott on Sunday, 30 June 1957, at 2:30 p.m. at the Goodrich Chapel. Funeral arrangements were handled by the Goodrich Funeral Home of Osceola, St. Clair County, Missouri. Burial was at the Lowry City Cemetery. Photographs from the funeral show that a tent was erected over the burial site, and that the cemetery itself was on flat open ground. A tree was growing close by Fred’s grave.It was noted that Fred had worked as a barber throughout all of his adult life except for a short period during World War II.

Fred was a quiet, friendly man, well liked by those who knew him. He was a good husband and father and will be greatly missed, not only by the members of the bereaved family, but by a host of friends in the Lowry City community.

Photographs of Fred and Mary Jane reveal him to have been a tall, somewhat overweight man with long legs. His face was round and his expression benevolent. Mary Jane, thin and much shorter than her husband, had her hair combed back from her face and wore eyeglasses upon an arched nose.

Mary didn’t drive and the Wears farm was a considerable distance from town so, after the death of her husband, Mary Jane went to live with her daughter Doris in Kansas City They rented an apartment on East Twelfth street and Doris’s daughter Carol lived with them there for a short time before returning to Lowry City to complete high school. Later, Mary Jane and Doris moved across the street into a house at 5213 East Twelfth. In Kansas City, Mary Jane joined with the Church of Christ.

About 1964, Mary Jane inherited fifty dollars from someone. Mary Jane gave the money to a distant relative, Alvin Pilant, as “he wasn’t too bright and had a hard time making it on his own, I guess.”

During her last days, Mary Jane was living at a nursing home, the Kansas City Care Center, at 622 Benton boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri. In late March or early April 1969, Mary Jane was visited by her son Glenn Wears of San Diego, California.

After a long illness, Mary Jane Wears died Friday, 24 April 1969, at the nursing home, aged 81. Services were conducted by Rev. C. Willard Stevens at 10 o’clock on Sunday, 26 April 1969, at the Sheil chapel in Kansas City. Graveside services were conducted at 2 o’clock at the Lowry City Cemetery. Of her children, only Glenn was unable to attend the funeral, on account of ill health. Her granddaughter Carol Mattocks — who had spent so many years of her childhood in the matriarch’s home — traveled from Colorado to attend the services.

Children of Frederick William and Mary Jane (Carver) Wears:

  • 14.1. Doris Marietta [7].
  • 14.2. Leo Glenn.
  • 14.3. Helen Louise.
  • 14.4. John Edward.
  • 14.5. Harold Gene.


  • 1900 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T623-886-28B).
  • 1900 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T623-886-137B).
  • 1910 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T624-801-173A).
  • 1910 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T624-801-177A).
  • 1920 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T625-943-147A).
  • 1930 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T626-1221-143B).
  • —, “Appleton City Journal 4 September 1913,” at, accessed 3 January 2006, citing Appleton City [Missouri] Journal (4 September 1913).
  • —, Application for Wheat Payment, 1939 Price Adjustment Program, partially completed form for farm number 2193[?], Mrs. B.H. Settle and F.W. Wears, producers.
  • —, “B.H. Settle to be Buried,” unidentified Missouri newspaper clipping (circa 1938).
  • —, “Cited at Pearl Harbor,” unidentified and undated Missouri newspaper clipping (circa 1942), from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • —, “Civil War Veteran Passes,” unidentified Missouri newspaper clipping, (circa March 1930), from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, Delayed or Special Certificate of Birth, Number 17605 [Fred William Wears], Missouri State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, which gives his first name as Fred, not Frederick.
  • —, “Former Lowry Resident Dies,” St. Clair County Courier (1969, exact date unknown), from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, “[Fred W. Wears] Obituary,” unidentified newspaper clipping ([29 June 1957]), from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, Fred W. Wears funeral oration transcript (died 28 June 1957), from the papers of Doris Marietta Colley.
  • —, Fred W. Wears memorial card (died 28 June 1957).
  • —, “Henry County Missouri Birth Records 1883 to 1890,” at, accessed 20 December 2000, from Linda M. Everhart, Henry County Early Birth Records 1883-1890 (Blairstown, Missouri: SmallFarm Enterprise, 1996).
  • —, “History, Missouri Rehabilition [sic] Center,” at, accessed 16 September 2004.
  • —, John Thomas Wears Civil War discharge papers, from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, “Mrs. John Carver Dies,” unidentified and undated Missouri newspaper clipping, from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, “Mrs. Mary J. Wears [Death Notice],” unidentified and undated Kansas City, Missouri, newspaper clipping (25 April 1969), from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • —, “Obituary [of Mary E. Wears],” unidentified Missouri newspaper clipping (1919), from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, Polk’s Independence (Jackson County, Missouri) City Directory 1946 (Kansas City, Missouri: Gate City Directory Company, 1946), pages 78, 352.
  • —, Richard Dean Juchet and Helen Louise Wears marriage announcement (married 8 April 1956).
  • —, “St Clair County Democrat 30 September 1937,” at, accessed 3 January 2006, citing St. Clair County [Missouri] Democrat (30 September 1937).
  • —, “St. Clair County MO Database,” at, accessed 27 December 2009.
  • —, unidentified handwritten notes from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • —, “Yeomen,” at, accessed 17 September 2004.
  •, Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002 [database on-line] (Provo, Utah: Operations Inc., 2007), apparently from a record book of St. Clair County, Missouri, marriage licenses, circa 1916, page 136, (original data from Missouri Marriage Records [Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri State Archives, microfilm]).
  •, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line] (Provo, Utah: Operations Inc., 2005); draft card for Fred W. Wears; registration location: St. Clair County, Missouri; roll 1683565; draft board 0; registration number 121 (original data from United States, Selective Service System, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, M1509).
  • H. Allen Anderson, “Handbook of Texas Online: HIGGINS, TX,” at, created 4 December 2002.
  • Ray or John Roy Barber, genealogical notes in the possession of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • Dwight H. Brown, State of Missouri: Official Manual for the Years Nineteen Forty-one and Nineteen Forty-two (Jefferson City: Mid-State Printing Company, [1941]), page 707.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] “Mother” to Della and Ben [Settle], letter, 22 September 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] “Mother” to Della Settle, letter, 23 November 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] “Mother” to Della Settle, letter, 24 November 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] to Della Settle, letter, 29 November 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] “Mother” to Della [Settle], letter, 22 December [1937], from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] “Mother” to Della Settle, letter, postmarked 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah] Ema Carver to Della Settle, letter, postmarked 10 December 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] “Mother” to Della [Settle], letter, 19 July 1938, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] to Juanita [LaRue] (but delivered to Mrs. B.H. Settle), letter, 19 November 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • Doris Marietta Colley scrapbooks.
  • Dick H. Elliott, in “St. Clair County Queries,” at, posted 9 January 2000, perused the 1855 to 1889 St. Clair County Marriage Index and found that John Morgan Carver and Sarah Emma Todd’s marriage was recorded in St. Clair County, Missouri, Marriage Book F, page 280.
  • Helen Louise Juchet, Family Group Sheet [for Richard Dean and Helen Louise (Wears) Juchet].
  • Carol Lee Mattocks recollections, 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 6 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 9 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 10 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 11 September 2004, citing “the Lowry City book”.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 14 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 17 September 2004, citing “the L.C. Book”.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 19 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 19 November 2005.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 28 January 2007.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 4 February 2007.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, letter, 30 August 1992.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, telephone conversation, 5 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, telephone conversation, 10 September 2004.
  • J.K. Medberry, “Brotherhood of American Yeomen,” at, accessed 17 September 2004, from Compendium of History Reminiscence and Biography of Lyon County, Iowa (Chicago: Engravers and Book Manufacturers, 1904-1905), chapter 4.
  • Virgil N. Sapp to “Sir,” letter, 13 June 1939, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • Angela Burris Slaughter, “Lost Girl: A Struggle with Tuberculosis in the Missouri State Sanatorium,” at, created 2002.
  • Denise Smalling photo album, viewed by the author in 2004.
  • Ginny Sommarstrom, “St. Clair County Democrat 1935-1941,” at, accessed 20 May 2004, a transcription of “Mrs. John Carver Dies,” St. Clair County Democrat [Osceola, Missouri] (4 August 1938), page 1.
  • Harold Gene Wears, Family Group Sheet [for Harold Gene and Gloria Rae (Hadsall) Wears].
  • John Edward Wears, Family Group Sheet [for John Edward and Shirley Yvonne (Gooding) Wears].
  • [Mary Elizabeth Wears] “Mother” to George and Maud [Wears], letter, 17-18 July [191–], from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.

Luster Earl Colley and Doris Marietta Wears

Posted in Doris Marietta (Wears) Colley, Doris Marietta Wears, Luster Earl Colley by Gregg Mattocks on 26 August 2009

Revised 26 December 2009.

Luster Earl Colley [6]

Father: James Alvin Colley [12]

Mother: Vida Catherine Miller [13]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Doris Marietta Wears [7]

Father: Frederick William Wears [14]

Mother: Mary Jane Carver [15]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


Luster Earl Colley [6] was born at 11 p.m. on 7 October 1917 at Lowry City, Butler Township, St. Clair County, Missouri.  His weight at birth was nine pounds. The attending physician was Leo Wright. Earl remembered that Dr. Wright lived across the street in Lowry City.

As a child, I spent almost as much time with Doc as I did with my father. I still cherish the books he gave me. He was a better teacher than any I ever had at school.

Earl and his mother at Lowry City, 1917

Earl and his mother at Lowry City, 1917

Earl with his father, about 1918, apparently on the porch of their Lowry City home

Earl with his father, about 1918, apparently on the porch of their Lowry City home

The census of January 1920 records Luster E., aged 2, living with his parents at Lowry City. Earl’s father worked as a baker in the town.

Earl and his brother Gene outside their Lowry City home, 1923

Earl and his brother Gene outside their Lowry City home, 1923

Earl with two unidentified youngsters

Earl, his brother Gene, and an unidentified youngster

Earl and his brother Gene

Earl and his brother Gene

Earl fondly recalled growing up, and especially cherished the meals he shared with his parents and brother Gene. “One of the things that made it pleasant,” he wrote, “was that my parents often told stories about their lives together before I was born.” As Earl said, he grew up in a “Make it do, wear it out” time and place. This frugality was a trait that stuck with him all his life. He considered it a treat when his mother made rice for breakfast. “Potatoes we grew ourselves; rice cost cash money,” Earl wrote. “And cash money was rather limited in my early days.” As late as 1994, Earl was still trying to “imitate my mother’s cooking as best I can.” One of his mother’s tricks was to make oatmeal using apple cider instead of water. Certainly cider might have been no more difficult that water back then, as Earl recalled “[t]he only source of water in the kitchen was a water bucket.” Late in life he wrote, “I often think, while having a hot shower, of getting the old washtub out, heating water on the kitchen stove, bathing all cramped up, and then having to empty the water.”

By 1926, Earl was at Lowry City Grade School, with Helen Dawson as his teacher.  All through his school years, Earl was in the same class as his future wife, Doris Wears.

Grades 4, 5, and 6 at Lowry City School in 1926-1927.  Earl is next to the right end of the third row.  Doris is probably in this photograph as well, perhaps one of the girls sitting at a desk in the center.

Grades 4, 5, and 6 at Lowry City School in 1926-1927. Earl is next to the right end of the third row. Doris is probably in this photograph as well, perhaps one of the girls sitting at a desk in the center.

Another photograph of Earl from Lowry City School, apparently the gent in the back.  I wonder if the boy sitting in front of him might be Earls brother Gene.

Another photograph of Earl from Lowry City School, apparently the gent in the back. I wonder if the boy sitting in front of him might be Earl's brother Gene.

Earl at school

Earl at school

The 14 November 1929 issue of the Lowry City Independent reported that seventh graders Earl and Doris had been placed on the honor roll for making “90 in all but one subject” “during the first quarter of school work.”

But it was not all about schoolwork. Earl wrote of the fun he had back then:

When I was a kid, we would cut a short length off a small branch of a box elder tree. We used a wire to dig the soft pith out of the stick. Then we whittled a plunger to fit the resulting tube. We then chewed a wad of newspaper into a couple of wads of pulp. One wad served as an airtight gasket for the rammer plunger and the other was used as a missile. We were able to achieve a respectable muzzle velocity and a fairly flat trajectory. There is nothing quite as hilarious as hitting an unsuspecting adult in the back of the neck with a soggy, disgusting missile soaked with kid spit. Fortunately, I was a fast runner.

That also reminds me of the cigar box containing flashlight batteries and a model T Ford ignition coil that I wrapped in pretty paper. But that is another story….

Earl, school photograph

Earl, school photograph

In April 1930, L. Earl, aged 12, was living with his parents on Sixth Street in Lowry City. At that time, it was recorded that he had not attended school since at least September 1929.

As a boy, Earl apparently played the saxophone with the school band. In later life he wrote to his granddaughter Melody:

Playing in the school band was one of the best things I ever did when I was your age. It gave me a chance to make a lot of friends, go a lot of places, and do a lot of things that I would probably have missed otherwise. I often played at dances, and part of the time I goofed off from the band and danced with some of the girls. Almost all of the girls wanted to dance with someone who played in the band. It was great! 

But acting was not Earl’s thing. Though often asked to perform in the school plays, he had “lots of other things to do” that he enjoyed more. When nearly eighty, Earl wrote of his teenage years.

Actually, I had a happy home and liked being a teen-ager so well I wasn’t really sure I wanted to grow up. Even now that I am over 6 feet tall, I don’t think I am all the way grown up yet. I used to think that when I could grow a moustache I would be grown up. Now I am not so sure.

What seems to be the school band.  Earl is probably the lad behind the right shoulder of the band leader.

What seems to be the school band. Earl is probably the lad behind the right shoulder of the band leader.

Earl on saxophone, brother Gene on trumpet

Earl on saxophone, brother Gene on trumpet

Earl and Gene withe their parents

Earl and Gene with their parents

A young Earl Colley

A young Earl Colley

As a young man, Earl sometimes hired out to do farmwork. In 1995, he wrote of the experience to his daughter Heather.

A farm friend that I sometimes worked for bought a mustang straight off the western range. She was so mean that he would not even let me hook up the tugs. I worked that animal in a 3 horse team between two rather placid part Belgians that were much heavier, and gave them the advantage when I set up the three horse evener. Even then, that mustang set the pace. I plowed a lot of ground that way with a 16 inch walking plow. Not many people alive today ever walked behind a plow.

We didn’t have things like 4-H in my day, but the State of Missouri had a law that you could not get a high school diploma without a specified amount of vocational agricultural courses. So we did much the same things you are experiencing, except that we would have a good laugh at anyone riding an English saddle, and we wore bib overalls most of the time.

Earl also wrote of visiting the farm of his uncle Ted Wells.

When I was a boy, Ted Wells, aunt Emma’s husband, owned a huge ranch in the neighborhood of Ponca City, Oklahoma. They had a 10 room house, bunk houses, barns, etc. way off the road in the middle of the ranch. My cousin Betty was nearest my age, and we used to ride all over the place.

Earl graduated from Lowry City High School in 1935.

Earls high school graduation photograph, 1935

Earl's high school graduation photograph, 1935

Earl’s daughter Carol wrote that, during the Depression, her father went to Chicago, Illinois, to attend “Television school (to learn to build them, I assume).”  It seems to me likely that Earl attended the American Television Institute.

American Television Institute

American Television Institute

1937 ad for ATI's home correspondence school

1937 ad for ATI's home correspondence school

1935 application to attend the American Television Institute

1935 application to attend the American Television Institute

In the years before World War II, Mr. [Ulises Armand] Sanabria formed and was the principal stockholder and president of American Television, a four year national correspondence school and a four year residence school in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles. Doctor Lee De Forest was a consultant to Mr. Sanabria and the school.

It is not clear why Earl did not attend the much closer First National Television school in Kansas City. Perhaps Earl’s choice of the Chicago school was made because American Television was apparently offering to pay its students to manufacture television-telephones.  Or perhaps more likely Earl had taken ATI’s correspondence course and, as stipulated in the contract, he was taking advantage of the offer to receive four weeks of “free” training at the school.  Students also made monoscopes and CRTs (cathode ray tubes) as part of their training.

ATI's 1936 class manufacturing television-telephones

ATI's 1936 class manufacturing television-telephones

Earl married first, 3 July 1938, Doris Marietta Wears [7]. The marriage certificate reported that the couple was married at Wheatland, Hickory County, Missouri, by A.T. Mahaney, minister, though in 1992 Earl seemed to recall that he and Doris were married at Hermitage, Missouri. The certificate gave Earl’s residence as Chicago while Doris was living at Wyandotte County. Witnesses to the marriage were Dewey C. and Mildred Greenwell. Apparently in an effort to help keep the marriage secret, the certificate listed the groom as “Luster Colley” and the bride as “Marietta Wears”. Neither of these names were those commonly used by either Earl or Doris. 

Earl and Doris, apparently on their wedding day, 3 July 1938, by the Sac River in or near Osceola, St. Clair County, Missouri

Earl and Doris, apparently on their wedding day, 3 July 1938, by the Sac River in or near Osceola, St. Clair County, Missouri

Doris was born 11 January 1917 at Lowry City, the daughter of Frederick William and Mary Jane (Carver) Wears.

Doris with her aunt Juanita (Carver) LaRue

Doris with her aunt Juanita (Carver) LaRue

In January 1920, Doris, aged 3, was living with her parents at Lowry City.

Doris with her father

Doris with her father

Soon thereafter Doris moved with her parents to Higgins, Lipscomb County, Texas. From there the family moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where Doris attended kindergarten.  By the time Doris entered first grade, her family was back at Lowry City. Doris remembered that her cousin Imogene Settle, who was the same age, was a grade ahead of her in school because Imogene hadn’t had to attend kindergarten.

Doris and her brother Glenn

Doris and her brother Glenn

One of Doris’s closest childhood friends was a girl named Nina Simmons.  By 1926, Doris was attending grade school in the same class with her future husband Earl.

Doris at school

Doris at school

In April 1930, Doris M., aged 13, was living with her parents on Fifth Street in Lowry City. The census for that year recorded that Doris was not attending school at that time.

While her mother was in the hospital being treated for tuberculosis, Doris remembered that she had a lot of work to do, keeping the house clean and helping to take care of the younger children.

Lowry City High School

Lowry City High School

Commencement progran, Lowry City High School, 1935

Commencement program, Lowry City High School, 1935

Doris and Earl graduated from Lowry City High School in 1935. Commencement exercises were held on Thursday, 16 May, at 8 o’clock at the Electric Theater. Shortly after graduation, Doris moved to Kansas City, Kansas. There she lived with her Uncle William and Aunt Uilla Bagley and worked at a dime store. Later Doris found employment taking care of a couple’s children. That family’s religious beliefs were not “mainstream,” as Doris’s daughter Carol Mattocks remembered, and they may have been Seventh Day Adventists.

Doris went to work for the Hallmark Card Company in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. Doris worked in the airbrush department. She apparently lived at Kansas City, Kansas, with her aunt Illa Bagley during her employment with Hallmark.

Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, Missouri

Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, Missouri

By 1934, employees of Hallmark were enjoying retirement pension funds, medical aid, life insurance, and vacation pay. In the following year, Hallmark became one of the first American companies to offer coffee breaks to its employees. In 1936, with nearly 800 employees, Hallmark moved its company headquarters to 25th and Grand Avenue in Kansas City. Innovations such as offset printing, gold stamping, silk-screening, and cellophane wrapping were introduced at this time.

Doris (right), with Robert Wilson and Marjorie LaRue, at the weddiing of Imogene Settle

Doris (right), with Robert Wilson and Marjorie LaRue, at the wedding of Robert Wilson and Imogene Settle in Kansas City, Missouri

In April 1936, Doris attended the wedding of her cousin Imogene Settle and Earl Wilson at Kansas City, Missouri. Doris’s parents were living back at St. Clair County by September 1937. On the 22nd of that month, Doris’s grandmother Emma Carver wrote from Gerster, St. Clair County, to her daughter Della that “Freds folks was here sunday Doris was home.”

In a letter of 19 November 1937, Emma expressed her deep concern over the strange behavior of Doris’s grandfather John Morgan Carver. Emma went on to write that “[I] guess Freds will be down Thanksgiving or Xmas when doris can get off. they have 3 hens here we will have one when they come | Xmas if nothing happen.” Another letter from Emma at Osceola to Della, dated 29 November 1937, revealed that “Fred took Doris an me to See John yesterday. he looked better out of his eyes but has’nt got any mind at all, he never paid any attention to me, seemed to realize Doris was there, but never ask a word nor said one word….when we started [to leave?] they helped him up stairs, he never new we was there I guess.” Doris remembered visiting her grandfather John Morgan Carver in what she called the “poor farm.” She recalled that the old man acted very oddly. When John Morgan Carver died, Doris did not learn the news for some time, because her mother kept the information from her to spare Doris the expense of attending the funeral.

After her marriage in July 1938, Doris continued to work for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, in the airbrush department, but kept her marital status a secret to avoid being fired from the company.

When Earl returned from school in Chicago back to Missouri, the news of their marriage was announced. Doris quit Hallmark, and the couple moved to Lowry City. Earl later reported that from June 1934 until January 1942, he was often self-employed, working as an electrical contractor and servicing radios and appliances. Earl and Doris also worked at his father’s bakery. Doris remembered that their diet at this time consisted substantially of “flops” from the bakery.

World War II brought a sugar shortage and the bakery was forced to close. Earl and Jack Bray bought a service station in Lowry City where Earl worked for a time. Doris remembered that Jack and Esther Bray lived by Brown’s Ford Bridge in St. Clair County. The Bray family had a reputation for being dirty. Doris would sometimes go to the Bray home and wash dishes for them for hours.

Earl fishing

Earl fishing

Earl and Doris would go bicycling and fishing with another couple (the husband of this couple being named Woody). After one fishing excursion, the women waited and waited for the men to return. Finally they appeared. They had been kept at bay for hours by a threatening bull who did not leave them until its owner called his cattle home that evening.

Earl also remembered fishing with his father.

Dad used to be part owner of a big seine. A big party of families would go camping down on the Osage and we would seine out bushels of fish. We would pick out a few that we wanted to keep and put the rest back in the river. The women would cook the fish over a driftwood fire and we would eat them with fried potatoes and onions, corn bread, and coffee made from the river water. Any time I smell frying onions it brings back fond memories of the fun we had.

Doris was at Appleton City, St. Clair County, in January 1940, when daughter Carol Lee Colley was born.  Earl had wanted to name the new baby Carol Susan, but he was overrruled.  Nonetheless, Earl called his new daughter “Sue” and the nickname stuck. Earl remembered that the night that Carol was born was one of the coldest nights he could remember.

The Colley family moved to Platte City, Platte County, Missouri, where Earl worked at a car dealership “for some of the Lewis family.”  They also lived next door to the Lewises. John W. and Eunice (Armstrong) Lewis had lived in Lowry City at one time but had removed to Platte City where John and his son operated “an implement and automobile agency.” I believe that John W. Lewis was the same man who lived with Earl’s father Alvin Colley in Butler Township in 1910, suggesting that the Lewis and Colley families had strong ties.

Earl and Doris with daughter Carol

Earl and Doris with daughter Carol

In later life, Earl reminisced about how he and Doris would hold young Carol’s hands and swing the child between them, with Carol giggling gleefully.  Of Doris, Earl recalled “what a handsome woman she was and how people took notice when she walked into a room.” Years later, Earl recalled hunting for doves around this time. He wrote to his daughter Carol that “[y]our mother roasted them in sage dressing and I remember how well you liked them.”

With the entrance of the United States into World War II, Americans were called upon to make sacrifices for the war effort.

Doris with her parents and siblings.  Her brother Glenn is in uniform.

Doris with her parents and siblings. Her brother Glenn is in uniform.

Doris had every reason to be proud of her brother Glenn’s heroic actions as a Marine at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.  Earl was eager to make his contribution as well, but in the early days of the war, the military was not interested in this underweight young man.

Instead, in January 1942 Earl found work as a civilian with the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant at Independence, Jackson County, Missouri. The plant had begun operations in October 1941 and was owned by the Remington Arms Company. “From September 1941 to August 1945 the plant produced more than 5.7 billion cartridges.”

Earl and Doris found a house nearer to Earl’s work and moved with their daughter Carol from Lowry City, St. Clair County, to Buckner, Jackson County, Missouri. Earl and Doris’s parents also seem to have moved to this area for the duration of the war. The ammunition plant ran buses to Buckner to bring its employees to the factory. While in Buckner, the Colley family lived in one half of a house. The other half was occupied by a disorderly and unclean old man. Much to Doris’s dismay, Carol was often found in the yard sitting on this grubby man’s lap. During the family’s time in Buckner, Doris worked at a grocery store.

As the war wore on, the demands on the ammunition plant continued to grow. There was a shortage of labor, and what workers there were – many of them women – were required to work twelve-hour shifts.

In the midst of these events, Earl, as he told the story, came up with an idea for a mechanism which would monitor the ammunition manufacturing machines so that humans would not be required to perform this work. On his own time, working from a shop in Lowry City, Earl built a prototype of his invention.

The managers of the plant were loath to interrupt production to test the new device on the actual machines. Finally it was agreed that Earl could try out his invention one Sunday night at midnight. He was given until 8 a.m. to have his gadget installed and running. The contraption worked, so it was ultimately patented and incorporated into the regular production line.

Earl claimed that the invention was his idea, but that he was forced by the Remington Arms Company to share the credit for the idea. The patent for the “Machine Control Means,” which was applied for on 28 October 1942 and granted on 22 August 1944.  The device is described as follows:

Drawing of Earls Machine Control Means

Drawing of Earl's "Machine Control Means"

This invention relates to a stopping means for machinery, and particularly, to a light sensitive or photoelectric cell stopping system for ammunition making machines.

In the manufacture of ammunition, machines are used to assemble the various component parts and it is frequently desirable to have a safety means to stop the machine in the event a component or part thereof is absent at a particular station. The usual machine has a transfer means to move the component from station to station. The absence of a component may be caused by the component being gripped by the forming tool at a station and erroneously removed from the transfer means. Another piece may then be carried underneath the tool and when this latter occurs, the tool, upon its next reciprocation, will carry the erroneously engaged component onto a new component with resultant breakage or stoppage of the machine.

Earl and his father (and perhaps Earls setter Nubie as well) at the old Colley home in Lowry City, 1943

Earl and his father (and perhaps Earl's setter Nubie as well) at the old Colley home in Lowry City, 1943

A photograph from 1943 shows Earl and his father after a quail hunting trip standing in front of the Colley family home in Lowry City.  Around this time Earl owned an English setter named Nubie who, in addition to being a joy to daughter Carol, was undoubtedly Earl’s faithful hunting companion.

… I am like a bird dog I used to have. She loved to hunt. If another party in sight or hearing was finding birds, and we were not, she left us to hunt with the other party. She went where the action was the most exciting.

Earl at Lexington, Missouri, 1944

Earl at Lexington, Missouri, 1944

By 1944, Earl had apparently taken up piloting, as there are photographs from this date, taken at Lexington, Missouri, showing Earl standing next to a single-engine airplane. 

Earl in uniform

Earl in uniform

Earl was eventually admitted into the service, and Doris and Carol soon went to live with Doris’s parents at 525 Brookside in the Fairmount community just east of Kansas City, Missouri, in Jackson County.

Earl, about 1944 or 1945

Earl, about 1944 or 1945





Earl, a resident of Jackson County, Missouri, enlisted as a private in the Army on 23 March 1944 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He enlisted for the duration of the war plus six months, receiving serial number 37732889. At the time of his joining, it was recorded that Earl had attended four years of high school and was married. He reported his civilian work experience as “gunsmith (armorer) or diesel mechanic (automobile mechanic, diesel engine) or camera repairman (camera repairman, still camera) or instrument repairman, nonelectrical (instrument maker) or utility repairman (mechanic, general) or equipment maintenance man, motion picture (motion picture equipment repairman) or radio repairman (radio electrician) or office machine serviceman or electric motor repairman or refrigeration mechanic or shop maintenance mechanic or master mechanic or locksmith or calker.” Earl served with the Army Air Corps.

Earl with his daughter Carol

Earl with his daughter Carol

Doris and Earl with daughter Carol

Doris and Earl with daughter Carol

Earl with his daughter Carol and Carols grandparents

Earl with his daughter Carol and Carol's grandparents

Earl and his brother Gene were both stationed for a while near Lake Tahoe, California, (perhaps in Nevada), a time of which Earl later had many fond memories. Earl wrote:

Used to land a small airplane at the old Tahoe airport, which was something of an adventure. The lake was at one end of the short dirt runway, and a cliff at the other.

Earl was serving as a private, but hoping for a promotion, when he received a letter from his mother on 2 January 1945. The letter was addressed to the 101st A.A.C.S., Reno Army Air Base, Reno, Nevada, and had a return address of Buckner, Missouri.

Am glad you found a camera. We talked to Jack [John Lewis?] Sunday and he said he didn’t have any film now but I’ll keep asking. You need not bother about the 116 for us for Gene sent two some time ago & we haven’t used them. Let me know if I sent the right picture the last time. Know the film was the one you wanted. You will appreciate the pictures you take now, in later years. We enjoy looking over ours and wish we had taken more. We sure did enjoy the verses you sent. Didn’t know you had that in you. Dad liked the one about the coyote best but I tho’t they were both good and we are so proud of you and your accomplishments….

Sunday was my birthday so now your Mother is 53 years old. Dad took me down tot he coffee shop for dinner. We drove over to Fred’s to take Doris and Carol Christmas. They were not home so we went back to Fairmount to the show. Fred told Dad last night that they went up town to the show. Dad had told them we would be over one day but didn’t tell him when. He said Carol was having a time with the blackboard. We gave Doris Bath powder in a pretty pink box with a bail on it, like a bucket.

Earl and his father shooting clay targets, Lowry City, March 1945

Earl and his father shooting clay targets, Lowry City, March 1945

Earl eventually attained the rank of sergeant. While in the Air Force, Earl served as an electronics technician, and worked on the installation and maintenance of electronic aids to air navigation and communication. In March 1945, Earl was in uniform at Lowry City shooting clay targets with his father.

Earl, the marksman

Earl, the marksman

Earl and, I believe, his brother Gene

Earl and, I believe, his brother Gene

Earl at work

Earl at work

Earl at play

Earl at play

After Earl’s enlistment, Doris and Carol moved with the Wears family to 9426 East 7th in Fairmount, a home that Carol remembered was located near the railroad tracks. On 19 May 1944, Doris found employment with the department store Emery-Bird-Thayer. Doris had applied for a position as a shoe salesperson, but when it was learned that she had experience on business machines, Doris was placed instead in the store’s auditing office.

On 20 December 1945, Doris appeared at the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court before Judge James H. Breaddus, seeking a divorce from Earl.

Now on this day comes plaintiff in person and by attorney and defendant, although having heretofore filed entry of appearance and waiver of rights and under the Soldiers’ and Sailores; Civil Relief Act, now fails to appear.

Doris’s petition for divorce was granted.

It is further ordered and adjudged by the Court that the costs be paid by plaintiff and that she recover of defendant and have therefore, execution. It is further ordered and adjudged by the Court that the plaintiff have the care, custody and control of the minor child, Carol Lee Colley 5 years old born of said marriage relation. It is further ordered and adjudged by the Court that defendant pay to plaintiff for support and maintenance of said minor child, the sum of $10.00 per week, beginning today and payable weekly, and that execution issue therefor.

Doris’s divorce lawyer operated out of the Prudential Building in downtown Kansas City, across the street from the department store.  Some gossiped that the divorce was caused by the influence of Doris’s mother Mary Jane Wears.

The 1946 edition of Polk’s Independence (Jackson County, Missouri) City Directory listed Earl and Doris living on East 7th in Fairmount. In reality, the couple had separated by the time this directory was published. This address was the same as that given in the directory for Doris’s parents.

In 1945, with the end of the war, Doris’s parents returned to Lowry City in time for Doris’s brother Harold to begin attending his senior year of high school there. Doris remained in Kansas City with her job, but sent her daughter off to Lowry City to live with her maternal grandparents. Doris soon became a supervisor of the auditing department at Emery-Bird-Thayer. At one time, Doris’s sister Helen worked under Doris at the department store. Doris and Helen lived together in a Kansas City apartment for a while.  Doris continued to work for Emery-Bird-Thayer for many years.

Emery-Bird-Thayer Department Store, Kansas City, Missouri

Emery-Bird-Thayer Department Store, Kansas City, Missouri

By the 1890’s, the size and population of Kansas City reflected decades of growth. Emery, Bird, Thayer Company constructed a giant building on 11th Street, encompassing the entire block from Walnut to Grand. This building, with its arcades, neo-Romanesque capitals, and brick construction was a triumph of Victorian architecture, and a centerpiece of downtown Kansas City throughout the first half of the 20th century. Its walls, designed by the architecture firm of Van Brunt and Howe, imitated the style of Paris buildings.

The store became known for what it pledged to offer in a 1924 public statement: “This great store will be here every day, striving to please you with reliable merchandise combined with excellent service”. Buyers traveled throughout Europe and Asia for goods to send home to the store. Employees of the store were reputed to be the most helpful in town.

A typical employee of the store was a woman is the shoe department who could name three generations of several families to whom she had sold shoes. A look at the membership of the “Quarter Century Club”, swelling in 1935, shows a list of various employees who had been with the company for over 25 years: A window trimmer, a buyer who started as a porter, cooks, an advertising manager, a carpet layer, a carpenter, a candy-maker, and sales staff from various departments. Perhaps most interesting, the company’s officers were all on the list, as well. In its heyday, Emery, Bird, Thayer drew its leadership from within. It was a store run by Kansas Citians and owned by Kansas Citians.

The bright life of Emery, Bird, Thayer continued through the 1930’s and ’40’s, when Petticoat Lane drew crowds to Downtown Kansas City every day. Again, Emery, Bird, Thayer drew its success from transportation. It was easy to get to Kansas City by train, then proceed downtown by trolley, electric street car, or motor bus. Tea parties for girls and their dolls took place in the elegant Tea Room, Christmas shopping was a celebration in itself, the store offered a place to eat, rest, and purchase all necessities and frivolities. The store saw new years, presidents, and world wars arrive and depart.

The downtown district where Emery-Bird-Thayer was located was a magnet for shoppers.

It’s just a two-block strip of 11th Street between Main and Grand, but for many years and for many Kansas Citians it was the heart of the downtown experience. As the hub of the downtown retail district, Petticoat Lane was an important and familiar facet of the lives of at least six generations of city residents. From well before the turn of the century to the late 1960s, the stores on Petticoat Lane provided not only goods and services to local shoppers, but vivid, lifelong memories as well. The warmth of the Tea Room at Emery, Bird, Thayer, the scent of new linens at Woolf Brothers, and the feel of a crisp new blouse from Harzfeld’s are merely a few of the associations Kansas Citians have of this beloved district.

The post World War II years brought change to Emery, Bird, Thayer, as they did for the entire city. In the winter of 1958, the African-American community in Kansas City boycotted and picketed five Downtown department stores, including Emery, Bird, Thayer, for refusing to serve black people in their cafeterias. The protest came on the heels of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott; Downtown theaters had integrated in 1955, and hotels the following year. By the Spring of 1959, the Downtown stores had integrated eating spaces.

We know that Doris’s sister Helen was living at 4415 East Ninth street in Kansas City by about 1950.   Apparently this was the address where Doris and Helen lived together, as Doris was at this address several years later.

On 26 August 1950, Doris’s brother Glenn visited Lowry City. A photograph of that date shows the following people gathered together there: Doris; Doris’s father Fred; Doris’s brothers Glenn, John, and Harold; Glenn’s son Glenn Carver; and Doris’s daughter Carol.

A photograph of 11 September 1950 shows Doris with her parents, her daughter, her brothers John and Harold, her sister Helen, her uncle Sylvester La Rue, and Harold’s future wife Gloria Hadsall.

About November 1951 or 1952, Doris was honored by Emery-Bird-Thayer, as its Woman of the Month. At that time, Doris was characterized as a “very efficient” supervisor of auditing. She was a “charming woman” who enjoyed reading, and who visited her daughter each weekend in Lowry City. It was noted that Doris had just returned from a visit to St. Louis, Missouri, where she had helped install the audit system in Scruggs, Vandervoort, and Barney’s Clayton Store, which had just opened.

Doris took a vacation in June 1954. Upon returning home, she discovered a letter had arrived from her former husband Earl. Earl wanted his daughter Carol to come visit him in Syracuse, New York. Doris wrote back:

Don’t know what to say about Carol going with you as I won’t see her until next week end and want to discuss it with her.

Am sure she would like the idea if it weren’t for changing trains but don’t know what she’d say to that as she’s never done that.

Glenn and Irma are in Quantico and want her to come there for a visit this summer and I wondered if she could get a train from you live to Wash. D.C. They could meet her there and we were planning to go to Quantico Aug. if nothing happens and it isn’t too hot.

Could you find out about trains and let me know so I could write them?

Just don’t know how she’ll feel about going and am sure she won’t stay too long but think it would be awfully nice trip for her.  Thanks so much for asking her & I’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Have to quit as this pen is out of ink. 

A week later, Doris once again wrote to Earl:

Talked to Carol about the trip you suggested and she’s very pleased and wants me to thank you but decided she’d rather not ride the train home alone.

Also after checking trains and finding out she has to change she just doesn’t feel like she is ready to do that alone.

I’m sure she would enjoy it but don’t feel it wise to push her into some thing like that….

Thanks again for the offer. Maybe after our trip this summer she’ll feel different.

Doris and Carol did travel that summer to Quantico, and to Mount Vernon, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., reportedly staying about a week. They visited with Doris’s brother Glenn and his family while there.

When Doris’s father died in June 1957, Doris was reported to have been living at 4415 East Ninth street in Kansas City.  Her sister Helen had married by this time and was no longer living with her.  After her father’s death, Doris’s mother Mary Jane came to Kansas City to live with her daughter. Doris and Mary Jane rented an apartment on East Twelfth street and Doris’s daughter Carol lived with them there for a short time before returning to Lowry City to complete high school. Not much later, Mary Jane and Doris moved across the street into a house at 5213 East Twelfth.

Doris continued working at Emery-Bird-Thayer, if I remember correctly, until it finally closed its doors in 1968. The demise of the store was attributed to changing shopping patterns.

The 1950’s saw automobiles begin to heavily influence the way cities were designed. Freeways cut through cities, suburbs sprouted up and sprawled out on the edges of town. People flew from city to city in airplanes, and the airports in the urban core did not offer enough space for jets. This time, however, Emery, Bird, Thayer did not benefit from the era’s dominant mode of transportation. The company attempted to open stores on the Plaza and in the suburbs, but the magic of the Downtown building was fading. In 1968 the store closed. Nearly 800 employees lost their jobs, and Kansas City lost its most historic business.

The beautiful old building which had housed Emery-Bird-Thayer was razed in 1971.  After working at Emery-Bird-Thayer, Doris went on to work for Macy’s department store, then in the office of a bank, and finally for the Jackson County courthouse.

Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City, Missouri

Jackson County Courthouse, Kansas City, Missouri

Shortly before April 1969, Doris and her mother were visited by Doris’s brother Glenn Wears of San Diego, California. Shortly thereafter, upon the death of Doris’s mother, daughter Carol traveled from Colorado to attend the funeral services, “and spent several days with her mother.”

After retirement, Doris lived briefly in Raytown, Jackson County, Missouri.  She then moved to Gresham, Multnomah County, Oregon, to live with her daughter Carol and Carol’s husband Chauncey Leon Mattocks.

Somewhat later the three moved to Ocean Park, Pacific County, Washington, near the town of Long Beach. While living in Ocean Park, Doris volunteered to work at the local Chamber of Commerce’s information center. She also attended church regularly, hosted card parties for her friends, and attended AARP meetings. While living on the coast, Doris was often visited by her brothers and sister and their spouses. When Doris’s nephew Gary Juchet died about February 1995, Doris, Carol, and Leon traveled back to Missouri to attend his funeral.

In the summer of 1996, Doris’s son-in-law Leon was diagnosed with cancer. This meant that Leon and Carol had to spend a good deal of time visiting doctors and hospitals in Portland, Oregon, often staying with their son Mark for days at a time. Doris’s former husband Earl Colley wrote of the time:

That means that she [Carol] is unable to take care of Doris. I have the impression that neighbors and Doris’ fellow church members are helping by caring for Doris. Doris had her turn caring for her mother for years, and it looks as if Carol will now have the same situation a generation later. If Doris had remained childless, she might be in a nursing home by now. 

On 20 November 1996, Leon wrote about his mother-in-law’s schedule the following morning:

That’s about the time that Nana goes to exercise class. Yep, you heard that right! I mean like: Hup! Hup! Hup! Poke em out now girls. I sed Poke em out!! Oh well, gives her something to do and it might even do her a little good!

After Leon’s death, Carol and Doris returned to Gresham.  At that time, Doris entered a retirement facility on Powell Boulevard.  After this facility closed, Doris moved to the nearby Courtyard Fountains Assisted Living Center in Gresham. Doris lived there until she took a fall in September 2009. After being hospitalized for a time with a broken rib, Doris was transferred to the Village Nursing Home in Gresham, just a few blocks away from where her daughter Carol lived.

After his divorce from Doris, Earl Colley married a second time, probably about 1946 in California, Jane “Jeanie” Kathryn Maury.  Jeanie was the daughter of Earl Joseph and Rose (Wall) Maury. By Jane, Earl had a son, Michael.

Jane outside the Bunney Hospital in Fairfield, California, winter of 1945/1946

Jane outside the Bunney Hospital in Fairfield, California, winter of 1945/1946

About the time of her marriage, Jane worked as a nurse at the Bunney Hospital in Fairfield, Salina County, California.  Fairfield is between Sacramento and San Francisco. Earl reported living for a time at Fairfield. He recalled once driving down Highway 1 to Long Beach, California, in a Model A Ford.

Jane in front of her home in Fairfield, California, about 1945

Jane in front of her home in Fairfield, California, about 1945

Jane at Fairfield, California, summer of 1946

Jane at Fairfield, California, summer of 1946



Earl at San Bernardino, circa 1946

Earl at San Bernardino, circa 1946

In the year 1946, Earl was at San Bernardino, San Bernardino County, California.  San Bernardino is near Los Angeles, and quite a distance from Fairfield.  So it is unclear whether Earl met Jane in Fairfield, in San Bernardino, or elsewhere.  It is also not clear why Earl was in California.  I would assume his military service took him there. Earl served with the Air Force until May 1946. From that time until December 1946, Earl continued in the same line of work but as a civilian.

Earl and Jane with son Michael

Earl and Jane with son Michael

Earl, Jane, and son Michael at the Gillilan home, Long Beach, California, about 1946

Earl, Jane, and son Michael at the Gillilan home, Long Beach, California, about 1946

Earl later wrote his son Michael about a hobby that he and Jeanie shared.

A long time ago, I borrowed a big cut film camera from a friend to make some pictures of our family. It was a  happy time. That was before color film was available to amateurs. Photography was our favorite hobby. We had the bathroom in our apartment rigged as a dark room where we would develop and print our own pictures. Jeanie loved to use photographic tint to color our prints. We spent most of our spare change on this hobby rather than going to movies and that sort of thing. 

From January to June 1947, Earl worked in Riverside County, California, as a radio engineer. He was an assistant to the chief engineer for a large law enforcement radio communication system used by federal and local agencies.

Earl soon divorced his second wife. Many years later, Earl wrote to his future daughter-in-law Nancy Hori that “[i]f I could start over, I would never marry any woman who had any reservations about sharing my interests and traditions.” Was he thinking about Jane when he wrote this? Or Doris? He did not say.

Jane and son Michael

Jane and son Michael at a park in San Bernardino about 1947

It would seem that Earl tried to maintain contact with his former wife and son, but apparently Jane’s mother intercepted all the letters and gifts that Earl sent, so that Jane nor Michael never saw them.

Jane remarried, about 1952, John Bysinger. By July 1967, Jane had re-established contact with Earl, and wrote him a letter from Moline, Illinois.

 Thank you for the decent & prompt reply but I must set you straight. I went to work after we parted company & did not have access to the mail deliveries & knew of only one gift you sent Michael & then too late – it had been returned before I even saw it. I guess my Mother thought she was doing the correct thing and about all I can say is that was before ecumenism or any idea of aggiornamento came into existence. I’m sorry – as you must have had hurt feelings & Iwould not knowingly set out to hurt you or anyone. There were many times I wished to hear from you & discuss things with you – but you know I was very childish in many ways and influenced by others. Sometimes it was wise – sometimes not so wise – but somehow we wade thru a rose garden with muddy boots, “crushing rose buds with our feet.” Pope – I think – Alexander.

 Anyway, Michael was nearly always a good person – once he said “damn” & confessed it to me as if I were Mrs. God or something superior. He gave me little trouble & I tried to raise him in the love and fear of God as best as I knew how. He is & always was closer to me than any person in this world. He was a very thrifty person – that is a quality of yours he inherited. Once when he had a paper route & was saving for a new bike (2 speed new Schwinn) he told me he spent 6¢ for candy that particular week. He had one great failing – he was always late for everything – a born procrastinator. He was late so many times for 1st yr. high school I had to go before the board of education once & face a very stern supt. of schools. Now, the lovable stinker & I can look back & laugh but it wasn’t laughable at the time….

When Michael was about 4-1/2 to 5 yrs. old I remarried – a Bohemian – good character honest – hardworking – love for family & home – 44 mos. – South Pacific – & a stabilizing person in my life. Knew him 2 yrs. – we had 3 boys & four girls.

The folks helped us in the purchase of an old but good house – large lot – 5 bedrms, but so much work needed to make it home. Boy do I know city code inside out & upside down. We are located in a good residential area – thank the Lord – close to 3 Hospitals – on a hill – not too far from nor too close to “pub”, schools, bus line, bank – chiropractor, hardware shop – & small businesses, not a shopping center. Everyone knows everyone else & we have neighbors – even the one that complained to the FCC that are wonderful. Oh yes Earl – I still smoke like an old pot-bellied stove & enjoy my beer – but with restraint. One must be careful of the example one sets when others are involved – to say the least.

My husband John works as a machinist – piece work – at International Harvester East Moline Works. We have had a great struggle – but I think as a few more years & no more children roll by we will survive – still owe a little on the house.

I don’t think you knew it but I was always a farmer at heart – I have had for many years – a nice garden & its mine from planting to reaping – weeds, dirty feet, back aches and all. I have for past 3 yrs. come up [with] first ripe tomatoe. As for flowers – if it grows & blooms, I have it & share my fruit of labor [with] my neighbors. I set out 5 Maple trees & one Ash this spring & all are doing well. Mike obtained a beautiful white lilac for me about 5 yrs. ago.

Sounds like an autobiography, doesn’t it?!? You know though – we never had harsh feelings for each other. I wish you would fill me in on some of your years – So many times I thought of Carole – her mother & you & your present status.

Michael grads. from “Boat” sometime mid Aug. Family & friends are encouraged to attend. My husband will stay home with the small children – Paddy[?] (my oldest sister) & I will be going – just who else I will take I can’t say yet – perhaps a couple of little girls and if you wish to attend you will be welcome but reservations must be made in advance….

When I told Mike – before he left – that I contacted Gene concerning you – he seemed uneasy about meeting you – a stranger, yet not a stranger – he wondered what he would talk about. Being a mature adult I felt you would be well able to handle the situation – you certainly have some common interests. He is not a chatterbox – at least when he left here. I do expect a great change in him in some ways. 

Earl in front of his University of Missouri housing on 122 H Street, Columbia, in the summer of 1947

Earl in front of his University of Missouri housing on 122 H Street, Columbia, in the summer of 1947

In the summer of 1947, Earl Colley was photographed on the campus of the University of Missouri at Columbia, Boone County, Missouri.  Earl began engineering classes there in this year.  His daughter Heather gave the following recollection of what her father told her:

As the war was ending, there were a whole lot of men going into the work force that had no employable skills. Going to College to get a degree took 4 years. These men needed a job now. So the president of the US decided (or maybe it was the university president, I have to check on that) that colleges would have classes to give men an employable skill (Vocation?). so the University of MO at Columbia asked my father (maybe he applied first?) to teach some classes there. He said “yes, if I can also take classes”. So he became an instructor and a student there. That’s where he met my mother.

Earl with his moustache

Earl with his moustache

Of teaching, Earl once wrote:

My experience in teaching has been that an ignorant student is not so regrettable. Curing ignorance is not an impossible task. That is what teachers are paid to do. But disinterest, or actual hostility to learning, is something I have never found myself competent to cure.

Earl also wrote:

The ability to write well was a major advantage to me. Many engineers were capable of great ideas, but could not express them in a way to arouse the enthusiasm of others. The combination of these skills made it possible for me to gain favorable notice in proposing and bidding on contracts.

As a teacher, Earl organized a non-degree program in electronics, wrote lab manuals, obtained materials and facilities, and taught courses. In addition to being a teacher and student, Earl also served as a research assistant and research technician while at the university.

Earl married, as his third wife, about 1948, Aldine Ruth Ahrens.  Aldine was born 19 August 1926 at St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Frederick Henry and Laura Dorothy (Werder) Ahrens. Aldine grew up in the St. Louis, Missouri, area where her father worked as a plumbing contractor. In April 1930, Aldine, aged 3 years and 8 months, was living with her parents and two brothers at 4511 Natural Bridge Avenue in St. Louis.

Modern view of Natural Bridge Avenue, near where Aldine lived as a child

We know from Earl’s correspondence that Aldine took calculus in college and got an “A” in the subject.

Aldine worked as a medical lab technician in the Health Center at Stephens Female College in Columbia, Missouri. Earl and Aldine met in Columbia. Earl wrote, “It was quite a joke around Columbia about the big iron fence around Stevens [sic]College. There seemed to be a consensus that the fence was not high enough to serve its purpose.”

Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri

Earl and Aldine’s wedding was attended by both of their parents.

Earl and Aldines wedding, with their parents

Earl and Aldine's wedding, with their parents

Earl and Aldines wedding

Earl and Aldine's wedding

The 1951 issue of the University of Missouri’s yearbook, the Savitar, revealed that Earl was an engineering student there.  He belonged to two honorary engineering societies, Tau Beta Pi and the exclusive Eta Kappa Nu. Earl was also a member of the Engine Club and the Missouri chapter of the American Institute of Electrical Engineering amalgamated with the Institute of Radio Engineering.  Photographs of these organizations seem to suggest that Earl was older than most of his classmates.

Tau Beta Pi, 1951. Earl is fourth from the right in the top row.

EXTRAORDINARY ENGINEERS were those selected for Tau Beta Pi, honorary society which offers membership to all branches of engineering. These elite handlers of the slide rule were chosen on the basis of outstanding scholarship and exemplary character. Other Tau Bet awards are dangling from the key chains of alumni who have reached a lofty place in the field of engineering.

Eta Kappa Nu, 1951. Earl is third from the left in the top row.

EXCLUSIVE is the word for Eta Kappa Nu, honorary scholarship fraternity for engineering students, which this year found only four men scholastically eligible for initiation into the ranks. Activities weren’t limited to such intellectual matters as engineering lab exhibits, but also included two banquets and a picnic.

Engine Club, 1951. Earl is second from the left in the middle row.

PRESENT SLIDE RULES is the order of the day for all engineers as they head for Destination Moon 301 and other classes. But hard work and long hours bring the outstanding sophomore each year a special slide rule – the gift of the brother engineers.

ST. PATRICK WAS AN ENGINEER – as a matter of fact, he shows up for the festivities occurring on his birthday each year. Coming incognito, he appears at the Engine Ball at the last minute for the high spot of the evening – the crowning of the Queen. Other features of this Engine Club-sponsored St. Pat’s week include a beard-growing contest, a knighting ceremony (with St. Pat in charge) and the famous “no women allowed” Hamburg Show.

The Missouri chapter of the American Institute of Electrical Engineeering and Institute of Radio Engineering, 1951. Earl is third from the left in the middle row.

SENDING 25 MEN to the national convention at Oklahoma City, the Missouri chapter of the American Institute of Electrical Engineering, amalgamated with the local Institute of Radio Engineering, spent the year sparking interest in those particular fields. President Dick Wood engineered such activities as a picnic and a banquet with the Rolla School of Mines branch of AIEE.

Earl graduated from the University of Missouri in June 1951with a degree in electrical engineering. Earl later wrote that he also studied some German while he was in college.

While living at 122 Sanford Avenue in Columbus, Missouri, Earl and Aldine received a letter from Earl’s mother. Vida mentioned Aldine’s recent trip to St. Louis. Also mentioned was Aldine’s recent operation, from which she seemed to have recuperated, but the operation apparently had kept Aldine from accompanying Earl on a trip to Lowry City. Vida also wrote, “Would surely hate for Earl to leave the State but wouldn’t know what suggestions to make.”

A summary Earl made of his work experience shows him working for General Electric in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, beginning in June 1951. At first he was employed as a field engineer in the Transmitter Division under manager M.R. Duncan. In this position he designed and installed “modifications to time-multiplexed multi-channel microwave long-haul relat communications systems.” In June 1952, Earl became a design engineer in GE’s Commercial and Government Equipment Division, working under R. Williamson. His new responsibilities included designing “components for digital multiplexers and modulators applied to multi-channel microwave communication and control systems.”

GE building at Electronics Park near Syracuse

GE building at Electronics Park near Syracuse

The first General Electric plant opened in Syracuse in 1942 in a converted streetcar repair shop. It produced the SCR-584 S-band radar, an anti-aircraft gun laying system, delivering 900 of these sets by the end of the war. Soon after, GE built a $16 million facility in Syracuse to manufacture destroyer escort propulsion turbine generators. By May of 1943, 4,000 GE employees were producing radio and radar equipment throughout the city. Because of its diverse workforce, its proximity to suppliers, and the presence of Syracuse University for research, GE began construction of its Electronics Park complex where various electronics technologies were developed and manufactured as an outgrowth of military products. It was here that FM receivers were manufactured for buses, along with mobile radio equipment, radar products, and various consumer products from toy phonographs to television consoles.

GE employment in Syracuse, which peaked in the late 1950s, stabilized in 1970 at approximately 18,000 people. At the time, 27.4 percent of a total workforce of 251,718 in a three-county area around the city was employed in the manufacturing sector, with the majority working for GE, Carrier, Crouse-Hinds, and General Motors. Manufacturing in Syracuse began to decline in the mid-1970s as globalization encouraged major companies to move their plants south or offshore. ln 1994, when Lockheed Martin completed the purchase of its radar division, GE had approximately 2,300 employees in Syracuse. As of 2005, Lockheed continues to design and manufacture radar systems in one small part of the once illustrious Electronics Park, which GE generously donated to the city.

While working at GE, Earl engaged in training programs in professional business management, computer applications and programming, probability and statistics, logic design, and the statistical theory of communications.

It has been said that Earl and Aldine moved to North Syracuse in late 1952, though Earl was obviously working in New York before that time.  Earl began attending Syracuse University in 1952. It was perhaps at this university that Earl joined the honorary societies Pi Mu Epsilon and Sigma Xi.

When their children were young, the family lived in a house on Keith Avenue in North Syracuse. Earl recalled his daughter Barbara sitting on his lap as a young child as he read the newspaper and how, even when quite little, she was able to identify the smaller words. Later in life, Earl would take advantage of every opportunity to read to his grandchildren.

From June 1953, Earl worked in GE’s Commercial Equipment Division as a systems engineer. He listed his duties at this time as: “Formulate systems specifications, conduct design reviews, integrate system components and design interconnection of components, develop digital processing equipment to interface with system to perform customer functions.”

In 1956, Earl was transferred to the Heavy Military Electronic Department under N.R. Shumway, where Earl served as a project engineer. Earl was “responsible for assigned sub-systems of the General Electric Mod II and Mod III Radio Guidance Systems, particularly integration of the Company produced components with the Burroughs computer.” These guidance systems seem to have been used in surface-launched guided missiles.   

Earl and Aldines children Barbara and David in front of the home on Keith Drive, February 1958
Earl and Aldine’s children Barbara and David in front of the home on Keith Drive, February 1958
Earl and Aldine with their children Barbara, David, and Edward

Earl and Aldine with their children Barbara, David, and Edward

As his family grew, Earl began construction on a new home for the family.  Located on Wells Avenue in North Syracuse, the house was built entirely by Earl (with his family’s help).  Earl recalled that he would set the nails in the subfloor boards and his young daughter Barbara would finish nailing them in, sitting on the floor and tapping “a hundred taps per nail” until the nail was secured. Earl remembered his children running and dodging between the bare tstuds as the construction was in progress, and they would often draw crayon pictures on the back side of the gypsum board. Never did Earl go into debt to build his new home, but rather he slowly added to the house as each new paycheck rolled in.  Earl called the house on Wells his home until his death.

Aldine’s father died in 1957 in St. Louis. It is not known if Earl and Aldine attended the funeral.

Earl at work on his new home on Wells Avenue

Earl at work on his new home on Wells Avenue

Earl’s father Alvin visited his son in New York around July 1958. Alvin enjoyed being around his grandchildren and wished he could have stayed on to help Earl build his new house.

Earl and Aldine with their children and Earls father, photo apparently taken in North Syracuse

Earl and Aldine with their children and Earl's father in Syracuse

In 1959, Earl transferred to the Defense Systems Department at GE, under the supervision of W.T. Chapin. As a project engineer, Earl was:

responsible for management of a multi-department technical team of the “‘COMSAT” program; directed, reviewed and contributed to proposals, made customer presentations and provided marketing support for a Company effort to enter the Communications Satellite business area. This effort terminated at the time it became evident that the present “COMSAT” business would be dominant in the business area.

Earl then went on to provide “technical direction of 1 to 4 people doing research and development of algebraic digital codes for modulation of radio guidance radars.”

 Developed algorithm for calculation of time-phase characterisitics of a GALOIS field derived pseudo-random code sequence and published result in IEEE Transactions on Computers. Advanced state of the art in areas of Code Correlation, majority logic and detection. Responsible for Electronic’s Laboratory contacts and developments in the area of high speed digital logic. Delegate to General Electric Learning Machines Council.

Earl was an amateur pilot, and his daughter Heather recalled that, when she was young, her father owned two airplanes.

Earl with a pontoon plane

Earl with a pontoon plane

Earl would often take his children camping, fishing, hiking, and bicycling.  He also served as a Boy Scout leader.

Years ago, our whole household often rode out bicycles together. It was great fun. At that time, a new highway was being constructed in our neighborhood. When it was all paved, it was a long time before it was opened for automobile traffic. On our bicycles we had exclusive use of the whole road, and could ride for long distances with no traffic to interfere.

Earl, Aldine, and their little Scouts

Earl, Aldine, and their little Scouts

In 1962, Earl’s work with GE caused him to become the project engineer for the redesign of a peripheral computer for the NUDETS system. NUDETS is an acronym for “nuclear detonation” and seems also to be used to describe a U.S. system for detecting, locating, and reporting nuclear detonations in the earth’s atmosphere and in near space.

Earl continued to work with GE on various projects in the Special Information Products Department and the Heavy Military Electronic Department.

Work involved real-time computer application, system modeling and error detection and correction codes. Utilized such computers as the Packard-Bell 250, Varian 520 i mini-computer and General Electric 605. In working with inter-computer data links developed a new parameter measure for channels with non-gaussian noise. 

The following letter was addressed to Earl on 27 February 1970, from G.R. Nelson, GE’s manager of Advance Technology Projects, Heavy Military Electronic Systems. The letterhead revealed that Earl was working in Building 4 on Court Street. 

This will confirm our discussion concerning the business outlook in Heavy Militray Electronic Systems. Because of the forecast declining activity, it has become necessary to declare a lack of work in certain salaried occupations.

As I advised you today, your position is one of those affected. Therefore, effective February 27, 1970 you are given four weeks notice that you are surplus due to lack of work.

Should you have not found placement by March 27, 1970, we will again review your situation to determine if salary extension is justified in accordance with HMES Instructions 6.2-46 dated April 17, 1967.

It is indeed unfortunate that business conditions leave no other course of action. We will make every effort to place you in a suitable position within the Company. Meanwhile, I suggest that you too use this period to actively seek employment on your own initiative, but always keeping me and Personnel currently advised on your plans and activities for in-Company placement.

I sincerely hope that our combined efforts will prove successful in placing you within the General Electric Company.

In April 1970, Earl was indeed laid off by GE. He was variously unemployed and self-employed  for a while. Earl worked at servicing digital equipment used in money-handling equipment. He also provided “100 man days of consulting engineering to Syracuse University Research Corp. and Syracuse Police Department in the area of transmission and processing of data.” During this time, Earl also worked as a volunteer for the Syracuse Area Volunteer Engineers, Scientists and Technicians Association. Earl later wrote:

Engineering is an enjoyable line of work, but is sort of a feast or famine profession. At one time you will get a daily phone calls [sic] offering all kinds of inducements to leave your present job and come work for someone else. A few months later no one will hire you at any price because you are overqualified.

In November 1972, Earl was re-hired by General Electric and was transferred to Roi-Namur in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. Earl was once again working in the Heavy Military Electronics Department, this time under managers C.E. Fehlau and L.A. Branaman. Earl described his duties on the island:

Engineer – responsible for support and design of modifications to customers requirements for a special purpose radar signal processor system at site, Roi-Namur, Marshall Islands. Work included general site work as ditigal [sic] logic designer, designing systems interfacing with Data General Corp. mini-computers, Control Data Corp. 6600 computer and other associated devices. Generated diagnostic and control software programs applicable to hardware design and applications.

Roi-Namur, Marshall Islands

I have heard that Earl worked in the Marshall Islands tracking satellites. Four large radars are located on the island of Roi-Namur. Roi-Namur was also the home to the U.S. Kwajalein Missile Range. Many missiles with nuclear capabilities were tested in the Kwajalein Atoll over the years. Earl undoubtedly witnessed many of these tests and was probably involved in them. His daughter Carol remembered hearing that no visitors were allowed on the island where Earl worked. The island was small and probably had a population of no more than 200 persons. Earl wrote that “[f]or the year and a half I worked at Roi-Namur island out in tha pacific ocean, I had more free time than I had in Syracuse.”

My room-mate out on Roi-Namur had a really good sound system, and played good music. I usually went to bed earlier than he did and at first he volunteered to plug in his head phones. I told him I preferred to go to sleep to the sound of good music. Thank goodness I didn’t draw a room-mate who plays rock and roll.

Earl lamented that Christmas never seemed much like Christmas when he was in the Pacific Islands. I remember as a child receiving postcards from Earl as he traveled and in the Marshall Islands and also as he traveled in Southeast Asia or China.

Sprint missile launch, Roi-Namur Island, 1970

Sprint missile launch, Roi-Namur Island, 1970

Earl, perhaps during his stay in the Marshall or Mariana Islands

Earl bicycling, perhaps in the Marshall Islands

Sometime before the death of Earl’s father in 1974, Earl, Aldine, and their children visited Lowry City, Missouri.  There is a photograph of them there in front of the Lowry City Christian Church, along with Earl’s father James and Earl’s brother Francis Eugene.

As Earl was reportedly still working at Roi-Namur in March 1975, it is not known whether he was able to return to Lowry City in November 1974 for his father’s funeral.

Colley family in front of Lowry City Christian Church.  Earls father Alvin is in the picture, as well as Earls brother Gene, Genes wife Mary, and assorted children of Earl and Gene.

Colley family in front of Lowry City Christian Church. Earl's father Alvin is in the picture, as well as Earl himself, Earl's brother Gene, Gene's wife Mary, and assorted children of Earl and Gene.

Earl in the Colorado Rockies during his visit to his daughter Carol, circa 1975-1976.

Earl in the Colorado Rockies during his visit to his daughter Carol, 1975.

In 1975, Earl and Aldine traveled to Aurora, Adams County, Colorado, to visit the family of Earl’s daughter Carol, as well as their son David who was also living there. This was apparently the first time that Carol had met her stepmother. While in Colorado, Aldine had cooked for the Mattocks family, and I especially enjoyed her apple dumplings. Carol thought that, at the time, Earl and Aldine may have been returning from a trip to Salt Flats, Utah, where she thought Earl may have been looking for employment.

In April 1975, Earl seems to have been back in Syracuse, where he worked at completing GE’s full-time software engineering program. In September, Earl joined the STR Test Software team. As part of this group, Earl produced varied test programs, both in Datacraft and Fortran assembly languages. He later did work utilizing IBM’s advanced signal processor.

Aldine presiding over the Thanksgiving table, 1976

Aldine presiding over the Thanksgiving table, 1976

On 28 September 1976, Earl was at the courthouse at Platte City, Platte County, Missouri, examining and copying genealogical material.  Two days later he was at the courthouse in neighboring Clay County, Missouri, doing the same thing.

Earl and Aldine were home for Thanksgiving in 1976, and at least some of their children were with them.

In the summer of 1977, Earl and Aldine’s son Ed was stationed with the Army in Germany. From correspondence I have read, it seems that both parents were contemplating traveling to Germany at this time to visit their son and daughter-in-law. In the end, only Aldine made the trip, and then not until the fall of 1978. It was about this time that Earl developed bursitis in his shoulder. Drugs and a chiropractor could not relieve the pain, but finally an orthopedic surgeon “pushed a long needle into the top of my shoulder and into the joint” and Earl got some relief.

About this time, Earl bought a new Ford Maverick, but it was not used much that winter, because he did not want the car to suffer from the chemicals that the “highway people” put on the roads to melt the snow. Instead Earl drove his old 1961 Ford while Aldine drove a red Pinto wagon. By March of 1978, Earl reported that they had received over twelve feet of snow that winter with more expected.

Earl was looking forward to getting his garden planted that spring and harvesting the leeks and parsnips he left in the ground over winter. One of Earl’s favorite dishes at that time was onions and parsnips fried crusty and chewy in bacon fat. At the time, Earl said he was trying to get his weight down below 200 pounds and was willing to do anything “except exercise or cut down on eating.”

That year my brothers and I received three matching quilts that Aldine had made for us. They adorned our beds for many years.

At this time, Earl was part of the engineering team working on General Electric’s TACTAS program. TACTAS, short for Tactical Towed Array SONAR, was a military system that provided passive detection of enemy submarines, allowing the user to detect, classify, and track a large number of contacts at increased ranges. It was basically a long cable full of microphones that was towed about a mile behind a ship.

Earl’s employment with General Electric soon led him to travel to Daytona Beach, Florida. Earl was among six or seven employees of the Heavy Military Electronics Engineering Department temporarily transferred from the Syracuse location to Florida. There, the employees would work on the NASA Apollo space program in the Simulation Area at GE’s Ground Systems Department.

Compared to earlier programs, Apollo-Saturn required drastically more coordination…. The Apollo program added scores of contractors, labor unions, and government organizations. The new relationships brought conflicts. There were differences of opinion with contractors and struggles for power among the NASA centers – divisive tendencies that were balanced by the unifying urge of the lunar goal.

NASA Headquarters, unable to handle the many integration requirements of Apollo by itself, sought help from an outside source – the General Electric Company. NASA asked GE to do three things: develop checkout equipment for launch operations; assess reliability, which was largely the reduction and analysis of data from various tests; and perform the integration role….

Due to the broad nature of the contract and because it appeared to place the General Electric Company in the position of supervising or directing other NASA contractors, the House Committee on Science and Astronautics gave the GE contract considerable attention during the authorization hearings on the fiscal 1964 budget. In March 1963, the Manned Space Flight Subcommittee conducted hearings at GE’s Daytona Beach, Florida, office…. NASA finally resolved the dispute in August [1964]. The centers and stage contractors prevailed; GE would not manage space vehicle development. OMSF would rely on a review board to help control and integrate the Apollo program, using GE as a management consultant and data processor. GE retained the reliability assessment and checkout roles.

Earl in the General Electric parking lot at Daytona Beach, Florida

Earl in the General Electric parking lot at Daytona Beach, Florida

While Earl was stationed in Daytona Beach, GE agreed to furnish a one bedroom apartment with full room service, a rental car to be shared by three employees, and $14.50 per diem to cover meals, laundry, and lawn care. Earl was to be allowed a trip home every three weeks if not joined in Daytona Beach by any of his dependents. Alternatively, his spouse could join him on the trip. GE would pay for transportation costs, two nights’ lodging, and meals for three days, both to and from Syracuse, for the employee and his spouse.

Earl’s records indicate that he flew to Florida on 5 May 1978. Aldine joined him there on May 25. While at Datona Beach, Earl focused on the IRAN Digital Processing System. His responsibilities included writing the requirements and design specifications, coding in Fortran, and testing “a diagnostic program to produce test patterns on an image processor system.” Earl’s Daytona Beach office was located in GE’s Building 1, Room 1355.

With Earl’s work in Florida complete, he and Aldine returned to Syracuse on 30 June 1978. Early in October, Earl made a business trip to Rochester, New York, to attend a computer software seminar. Later that month, he traveled to San Francisco, California, to take Hewlett-Packard’s KTE-M Course.

Aldine soon left for Germany to visit her son Ed and his wife Kathy, and to be there for the birth of their child. Aldine wrote to Earl of her visit.

We have been to the farm where the cat[?] is several times. The first time I petted the pretty bunnies, then went in and ate a rabbit dinner.

Colley Family 1979 Baldwinsville NY

Earl and Aldine with their children and grandchildren in the summer of 1979, in front of daughter Barbara’s home at Baldwinsville, New York

Gene and Mary Colley by their mobile home in front the Wells Avenue home of Earl and Aldine Colley, August 1979

Gene and Mary Colley by their mobile home in front of the Wells Avenue home of Earl and Aldine Colley, August 1979

In August 1979, Earl and Aldine were visited at their Wells Avenue home by Earl’s brother Francis Eugene “Gene” Colley, and Gene’s wife Mary.

Earl and his brother Gene

Earl and his brother Gene

Late in 1979, Earl and Aldine’s son David came home for a visit and the family got together to celebrate. 
Earl, perhaps at his retirement

Earl, perhaps at his retirement

On 12 January 1980, Earl wrote to his brother Gene who was apparently wintering in Texas, that the weather in Syracuse was very nice, with less than two feet of snow and the temperature rarely dipping below zero. If it had not been for his work obligations, Earl wrote that he would be tempted to put his suitcases in the car and pay his brother a visit.

Earl wrote that he was expecting his son Ed’s family to stop by that day. Earl and Aldine thought of Ed’s wife Kathy “as our own daughter.” Earl was alos looking forward to the marriage of his daughter Heather to Larry Antonacci. The Colleys had Larry’s parents over for dinner one evening and liked them “in spite of the vast difference in our backgrounds.”

Earl also wrote about his work, saying that he had received an 11% raise, which Earl lamented was not enough to keep up with inflation.

In discussing it with my manager, he said he just had so much allocated to distribute among the staff, and that I got a little more than an even share. We are short handed and the recruiters are trying to get young Engineers, stating offers this spring look like about $20,000. But they will not pay the older people well. They are supposed to be getting a young fellow with about 4 years experience in to help me. I told the manager that when I get him to the place where he can take over, I am going to give very strong consideration to retiring.

Earl did indeed retire from General Electric in 1980 after thirty years of service. He was still working for GE in March of that year when he was invited to a company party to celebrate the “25th anniversary of the highly successful General Electric Radio Guidance Program, which was originally known as the 8014 Project.” Employees who had “provided a measure of dedicated service” to the program were invited to the party. As best as I can determine, this program was devoted to the development of the Atlas ICBM guidance system.

In 1982, Earl and Aldine traveled to Washington State for the marriage of their son David to Nancy Hori. During the trip, Earl and Aldine also visited with Earl’s daughter Carol and her family in Gresham, Oregon.

Earl observed that “[r]etirement is great except that you have to get so old to do it.” On 24 April 1983, Earl wrote to his brother:

We have rain today that has taken away almost all of the remaining snow. When it drys up a bit I should get some garden planted. I have tomato and pepper plants growing in a sunny window. After a thaw a while back I got a couple of rows of spinach planted. Cold and snow do spinach no harm. It comes along quicly [sic] after the snow is gone and we really like the young, tender leaves in early salads after having mostly head lettuce salads in the winter.

With winter almost over, neither of us have all our planned winter products done. Aldine is going to be showing some of her winters work at a Craft Fair next week. 

Strawberries also grew in Earl and Aldine’s garden, but it was difficult to get to them before the birds did. Earl reported that he had frequent visits from Ed and his family, as Ed was stationed in nearby Rochester, New York. While daughter Barbie and her husband Frank went on vacation in California, they left daughter Karen with Earl and Aldine. Heather’s children also stayed with their Colley grandparents while Heather was moving.

About this time, Earl’s son-in-law Frank offered to sell Earl his RV. Earl considered it for some time, but finally declined the offer. He realized that, “with the limited traveling we do, staying in hotels in the long run is more economical.” Earl was satisifed visiting the lakes in his own area, and was of the opinion that “it is difficult to find a more comfortable place in a summer day than my own yard.”

Earl had re-shingled the south side of his house the previous summer and planned on doing the north side in the coming summer. He worked at his own pace and erected scaffolding to make the job safer and easier.

About October 1986, Aldine was planning a trip to visit her son Ed and his family at Huber Heights, Ohio. Earl did not accompany her on this trip.

Earl co-authored a genealogy book with fellow researcher Timothy P. Hart of Lexington, Massachusetts. The two published the 234-page Rule Families and Connections: A Work in Progress in 1998. Earl wrote the body of the text while Tim composed the table of contents, introduction, and index, and “did all the mechanical work.” The book had a very limited production and was given away free to libraries across the country. As best I can tell, Tim produced the book on a commercial-grade printer he owned. As of this writing, the only library listed by the online WorldCat database as having Earl’s book on its shelves is the Kentucky Historical Society Library in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Tim and I had great hopes that the Rule book we printed and distributed free to a number of libraries would bring us letters from lots of eager Rule researchers. We were much disappointed when that did not happen. We had planned to print another edition of the books in a relatively short time. I have a number of biographies ready for such a sequel.

In 1989, Earl and Aldine were scheduled to go to Dayton, Ohio, to attend their son Ed’s graduation. Ed was accepted into the Air Force’s PHD program and was relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Apparently this was the occasion for a family reunion at Christmas, with Ed being visited not only by Earl and Aldine, but also by the families of his siblings Barbie, David, and Heather.

About October 1990, Earl went into the hospital for surgery, probably for his prostate. He wrote that “the pretty nurses were so good to me I almost enjoyed some parts of my stay.” The nurses saw to it that Earl received extra large portions on his food trays.

Aldine went to visit her son Ed’s family in Monument, Colorado, around February 1991, but Earl did not accompany her. It was probably around this time that Earl’s prostate problems made it difficult for him to travel. Misty reported that Aldine and Ed made window coverings during Aldine’s visit.

In a letter from November 1991, Earl wrote that he spent a lot of time with his computer. Frequently, he would walk to the local library, and sometimes would ride the bus to the downtown branch and spend the day there. He wrote that enjoyed fixing things, but complained that they broke faster than he could fix them. Aldine did most of the cooking, but Earl would try his hand at it when she was away.

Christmas of 1991 was spent with son Ed’s family in Monument, Colorado. During this trip, Earl and Aldine were also able to visit some of Aldine’s family in nearby Denver, Colorado. It would appear that Aldine stayed on for a time after Earl returned home. In February, Earl wrote:

One of Aldine’s friends from her quilting club came over last night to get some more quilt batting. The quilting club is making children’s quilts for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. They had run out of batting. It comes in huge rolls, although it weighs very little. We stuffed a roll into the back seat of her car. I was glad to see it go. Our house looks like a warehouse, with batting, bolts of fabric, etc everywhere there is an otherwise unoccupied space. I expect that Aldine will be surprised that the quilt club is alive and well while she is absent.

Aldine made another trip to Colorado the following May.

In 1992, Aldine tied for third place with a quilt she entered in the New York State Fair. The prize was $4. Aldine was also elected president of the local Quilt Guild in this year.

Around August 1992, Earl’s brother Gene and Gene’s wife Mary came to Syracuse for a visit.

In September 1992, Earl was diagnosed with diabetes melitus but this diagnosis did not slow him down any. Thanksgiving was spent with daughter Barbie’s family. Heather and her children were also present, and Earl noted that it was the first time he had seen Heather in three years.

Christmas season of 1992 was again spent with son Ed’s family in Monument, Colorado, and also at an Ahrens family reunion in Denver, Colorado. Aldine’s brother Fred handed a paper to Earl, an old photocopy that had been found among the papers of Fred and Aldine’s mother when she died. This paper, with its old German handwriting, started Earl on a quest to find out more about Aldine’s heritage. On 25 January 1993, Earl wrote of a medical emergency which occurred while he and Aldine were at Ed’s home.

I woke in the middle of the night, gasping for breath. Ed lives out on a dirt road where the antelopes graze. Fortunately, he had snow chains in his car. He rushed me to Penrose hospital in Colorado Springs, where the Dr. on duty called in a surgical team. They did a quick tracheotomy. The hospital did a culture on me and the infection control specialist found that I had fallen victim to a bacteria that usually affects small children, and is very rare in adults. As a result, I was unable to travel for some time. We just got back a few days ago. The hole in my throat is beginning to heal closed and I get better every day.

In the summer of 1993, son Ed’s family descended on the Colley home in Syracuse prior to moving to Germany. Earl had lots of fun with his grandchildren.

We rode the big municipal bus to the county library a couple of times or so. We went to the “Hands On!” science museum. We picked berries. We played baseball and Alan participated in some pickup basketball games at the Pit. “The Pit” is our neighborhood park about a couple of blocks away. We skate there in the winter and play basketball in the summer. But basketball is not my game. For baseball, I am permanent pitcher and umpire.

That summer Aldine made a trip to Washington State to visit her son David and his family. While in Washington, she also visited Earl’s daughter Carol and Carol’s husband Leon at Ocean Park. It was a rather strange visit, in that Earl’s former wife Doris was living with Carol at the time. Aldine was gracious however, as I have always known her to be.

Earl decided to give his old Ford Maverick to his granddaughter Melody and drove the car down to Virginia to deliver it to her. While there Earl learned that Melody could use a new computer, so when he got home he pieced together some stray parts. Aldine was planning on attending a quilt convention in the neighborhood, so she delivered the “new” computer to Melody.

Around this time, Earl was hospitalized and put in intensive care. He recovered well.

Earl and Aldine made a trip to Germany late in 1993 to spend Christmas with their son Ed and his family who lived in the town of Heltersburg. Earl wrote:

It sounds extravagant to go to Europe, but we caught an off season Airline price war, and took advantage of the Senior Citizen discount. The air fare was less than a ticket to many places in the US. And room and board are free at Ed and Kathy’s. With their own family of 8, two more at the table they could not even notice on the grocery bill. 

Earl and Ed visited three Evangelical-Lutheran churches in Germany where Aldine’s ancestors were recorded in the church books.

… Ed and I visited the Evangelical Church at Nienburg. We were welcomed most graciously by an 86 year old German man who says he has been working in the church records without pay for 24 years. He has sort of a family history library of his own, where he keeps records of families that are descended from church members. He read the old document that I showed him in much less time than it took for me to read it. He was immediately able to go to the old church record books, and made extracts of many of the family records for us. Ed had his camera with him. The old volunteer allowed us to take macro photographs of some of the pages. Ed has processed these images in his dark room and they came out great. There was no Xerox machine at this church office. This old gentleman took us for a tour through the church. I think I recall that it is about 900 years old. It was an eerie feeling to view the old baptismal font where the ancestors of my children were christened so long ago. We spent the whole day there, and found that the Ahrens family had come to Nienburg from a nearby small village of Drakenburg. And we found that the Henze family had come from Stolzenau.

The next day, we went to Drakenburg. We had telephoned the Pfarrer of the Ev.-Luth. Church in Drakenburg, but could get no answer. So we called on him in the morning at his parsonage. We told him about the old gentleman at Niemburg, who had suggested that we call on him. At first the Pfarrer was rather curt. “That old man must think I have nothing else to do.”, he said. But he finally said he would help us if we came back at 3 PM. In the meantime, we looked in the telephone book, and found a FRITZ AHRENS, who runs a heavy equipment sales and repair business in Drakenburg. We went over there and spoke with one of the employees, perhaps a son of the owner, who said the boss was eating his breakfast. As is true of many German businesses in small communites, The business is in one end of a building, and the owner’s residence in the other end. The employee went in to tell the boss that he had callers. When Fritz had heard our reason for calling, he heartily invited us in to his house, where we were treated as honored guests by Fritz and his wife. Fritz brought out his family records and we spread out all our records. We soon found a common Ancestor in Jobst Ahrens, several generations ago. Seems that the Ahrens family have been blacksmiths for many generations in Drakenburg. One son would always take over the family blacksmith business, while other sons would leave for other trades. Fritz was the current descendant who had modernized the blacksmithing trade into a heavy equipment repair facility. A while before 3 PM we took temporary leave of Fritz and his wife and went over to meet the Pfarrer. He was rather civil and allowed us to copy items that he dictated from the Church Books that are in his care. There was no copying machine available, and under the somewhat strained circumstances, we did not ask to make photographs. It was helpful, but an inefficient way to collect data. When we felt we were no longer welcome, we went back to Fritz’s home with the new material we had learned. Fritz says that the old Pastor is near retirement age, and in a couple of years or so there will probably be a young Pastor there who will hopefully be more cooperative.

Then we went to Stolzenau to look for more Henze ancestors. At the E.-Luth. Church office we found a most pleasant lady clerk. She brought out the Church record books and put them on a table in her office. We were allowed to sit there and use the books while she went about her regular duties. There was a Xerox machine in another room. She made copies for us of two pages that were of particular interest. She also helped us when we had trouble reading the old handwriting. We found much additional data but, as usual, there is never enough time to do everything of interest. At Stolzenau, we found that the Henze family had come there in previous generations from Einbeck. Bu that will have to wait for another expedition.

 Christmas was spent with the Rüter family in Kiel.

When Earl and Aldine returned to their home in New York, they came back to a mess.

When you return from being away from home, all the troubles you would have had on a daily basis if you had stayed at home will hit you all at once when you return. It SNOWED here before we got home. The big village snow plow had pushed a huge bank of packed snow into our driveway. Barbie hired a professional snow-plower to clear the end of the driveway up to where we had left cars parked. Then Barbie shoveled a path so we could get into the house. Barbie has a Nordic Track exercise machine at home. But I’ll bet she did not need it after she got that snow shoveled. Barbie also turned our refrigerator on and shopped for the necessary supplies we would nedd to survive until we could shop for ourselves. She also left us a pot of home made Cream of Broccoli soup. We heated that, ate it all, and went straight to bed. It is a long day traveling from Frankfurt, Germany to Syracuse, NY.

Then the troubles started. The kitchen faucet had been unused for so long, it would not work. So I shut off the service valves, and Aldine’s kitchen was back to what we had in Lowry City in the old days. The only source of water in the kitchen was a water bucket. Women of today are just not very well adjusted to that kind of life. To get rerpairs, I needed transportation.

When Ed was sent to Germany, he left his Ford here with us. That was parked on the driveway. Beside it was our little Ford Ranger pickup. I decided to dig the pickup out of the snow pile first, so I would have a car on the road. That required a lot of shoveling. When I finally got it unwedged from the snow, I got Aldine to start the engine and warm it up. It started and ran great, so I told her to back it up a few feet so I could get around it better to clear away more snow. When she did that, it revealed a big puddle of oil on the driveway. We shut down the engine immediately, if not sooner! I had visions that the engine was surely ruined. But a closer examination showed that nothing was wrong except the calcium chloride used on our roads had corroded a hole in the oil filter can. When the engine was running, the oil pump was pumping crankcase oil out through the hole. So, it looked very simple. Just screw on a new two dollar oil filter. I had a spare oil filter and I had a brand new oil filter wrench that I had bought, and had never been used. So I crawled through the snow under the truck, and the new oil filter wrench was just slightly too small! You will not believe all this. If it had not happened to me, I would not believe it. I had to walk to the closest auto supply store, where I bought a larger wrench. That wrench fit, but I guess that slush had accumulated under the old oil filter and had frozen there. Our temperature was as low as 21 below zero. The second wrench collapsed under the strain. I finally got to another auto supply store where I bought a real brute of a wrench. Then another crawl under the truck finally broke the old filter loose. The rest was easy. Now the truck is running and Ed’s car is also dug out and operational. With the exception of a few things too dreary to mention, things are getting almost back to normal.

In October 1994, Earl wrote to his brother Gene.

You write that you do better at walking than at sitting. I am much the same. I often walk 4 times around our half-mile circle. But if I sit too long in one place, I hurt. I have a tree that is between my house and the house next door. It has grown so tall that I am afraid the top limbs might cause damage to either my house or the neighbor’s. So I have been cutting out the top limbs. People who see me doing that assume that I am in perfect health. They don’t know that I have to frequently climb down to make an emergency trip to the bathroom. My Doctor just gives me one prescription, to drink 64 ounces of water every day. That is a cheap prescription, but it is sure a nuisance. 64 ounces in means 64 ounces out. And I have to plan ahead to stay close to the plumbing facilities. Aldine, Barbie, and the girls went to Germany this past summer. I would like to have gone. They went with Ed and his family in their big van to Italy, France, etc. The typical tourist thing. I knew they would not schedule the frequent pit stops I need. When Ed and I travel together, we stop often. As Ed says: the Germans drink so much beer and coffee that they have to provide lots of places to give it away. And Germans are a lo less embarassed about the necessity than are Americans. I have to adjust to my limitations. For example, I can travel on big airplanes with lots of bathrooms, but not on small planes.

I have been spending a couple of days a week at a library where I have lots of good friends. I spend a lot of time mending cars and household repairs. I spend some time with my computer writing letters to my children, doing what Aldine calls “counting my money” (actually trying to keep some to count) and exchanging messages on my computer net. I like to read, both English and German, especially history. I ride my bicycle and walk quite a bit for exercise and to do errands. One of my favorite hobbies is eating, but my participation is limited by my doctor’s admonition to keep my weight to 185 pounds. I love salads, but only when they are well lubricated with rich dressing.

Typical way I spend my time – Aldine just issued a distress call that she has a problem with her sewing machine. After an hour or so of taking it apart and cleaning away the fuzz off the fabric that accumulates in the mechanism, it works again. I must have done that a hundred times, and about 99 of those times I didn’t know what I did to fix it.

Aldine spends a lot of her time making quilts, traveling to quilt shows, shopping for quilt fabric at the malls, playing bridge, going to dinner theater, running the roads, going on cruises, and on rare occasions doing a bit of housekeeping. She takes a lot of pills, but they seem to be a good investment, because they keep her engine running. And that is better than the alternative. Of course, she is just a youth of 68 years, and she may not be so well when she grows up.

On the second trip to Germany in 1994, Earl and Aldine flew United Airlines. Of the trip, Earl wrote:

While we were in Germany, we avoided the cities and the tourist traps. We usually slept overnight in private homes of German families. They put up a little sign in front of their house saying “zimmer frei,” which literally translates to “room free”. That means they have a guest room they are willing to rent. They don’t have any foolish laws there about having to rent it to just anyone who comes along. They look you over and may say they don’t want to rent it to you. But we must have looked friendly. One farm house where we stayed charged us 10 marks each for bed and breakfast. And what a breakfast. […]othcen, cheese, wurst, butter, eggs, preserves and coffee. Much of it they made themselves. Any place you sleep you always have breakfast. No German family would even think of having you leave their home hungry. And these farm homes are spic and span clean. You get the sweet smell of barnyard to let you know you are in the country, but everything is clean.

While in Germany, Earl did a good deal of research into Aldine’s family history.

Ed and I went over into what was a short time ago the Russian zone of Germany. We went to read some of the old church book records of Aldine’s family before they came to the US. This is a rural area, and most of the people there had never seen an American. The Pastor of the Church called the two local daily newspapers to tell them about us. Both papers sent reporters out to interview us and took our pictures. The[n] they each put our pictures in the local paper with an article about what we were doing there. The people regarded us as a curiousity [sic], but they were very nice and hospitable. Some of the old communist buildings are still there, but there are a few new things that have been built by outside capital, and they are a definite contrast with the old buildings.

Ed had planned a big Christmas gathering in Heltersberg that all of Earl and Aldine’s German friends were expected to attend.

Earl and Aldine returned home on 12 January 1995 to much less snow than the previous year. Daughter Barb had stocked their refrigerator with food prior to their arrival.

Aldine enjoyed attending craft fairs. One of Aldine’s specialties was a “quillow”, apparently a quilted pillow, which she would sell at these fairs. At other times, Aldine would make strawberry-themed items for strawberry festivals, or she might make hats with a Buffalo Bills theme for the local football fans. Her sunflower hats also sold quite well. Sometimes Aldine would be accompanied to the craft fairs by her granddaughter Sandy, who would sell homemade hair ornaments. Earl once tried to interest Aldine in participating in a couple of the computer bulletin boards that dealt with crafts, but Aldine was not particularly interested and claimed that trying to read the screen hurt her neck. When not doing sewing or at one of the craft shows, Aldine would play cards with her friends, attend the quilting club, shop at the numerous malls in the neighborhood, and eat at restaurants. Aldine was by all accounts a pretty good cook herself. Earl wrote that she made a delicious fish soup from a family recipe provided by their daughter-in-law Nancy Hori. Nancy and her husband David would often send Earl and Aldine salmon from their fishing trips in the Pacific Northwest, which Aldine would roast in the oven and Earl would thoroughly enjoy. Earl especially loved Aldine’s Dampf-knodeln, claiming that hers were even better than the ones he had eaten in Germany.



In August 1995, after returning from Germany and while waiting for their new home to be completed in Los Angeles County, Ed’s large family stayed with Earl and Aldine, while Ed was in California.

It was almost impossible to walk anywhere in our house, what with all their luggage and Oma’s stock of quilt supplies. Kathy had a bedroom for her and Matthew. Carolyn and Misty slept in the fold-out sofa bed. The rest of them slept anywhere they could find a place to stretch out.

Later that year, Aldine visited at Ed’s new home in California. Meanwhile Earl was at home dealing with an especially rough winter. He reported that he had received about 100 inches of snow so far that season “and I have shoveled it, every bit!” Aldine just narrowly missed being caught in a big storm on her way home and being stuck in Philadelphia. As Earl noted, “That would have been a terrible blow to the bridge clubs and quilt club.” Earl wrote at this time:

I am renovating the laundry room. The hardest part was getting the old washer/dryer out. It was put in place before that part of the house was complete, and it weighs a ton. I had to take it apart to get it out. I will remove the old floor that is rotten from standing soapy water. I would like to put down solid floor covering to resist future damage, but the room has so many irregular crannies that I don’t think I could ever do it. So I suppose I will have to use plastic tile again, and hope for the best. Just for the two of us, we don’t do as much laundry as we used to, and I hope to keep the spills mopped up better this time.

Later, in 1996, Aldine, along with her son Ed’s family, paid a visit to Aldine’s daughter Heather in Virginia. Then Aldine and Ed’s family traveled to the Carolinas. There Ed took his family and headed off in a van for their home in California. Aldine was left with Ed’s Ford LTD to drive, taking it to visit some friends of hers and then driving it home to New York. This meant that Earl and Aldine once more had a car to use. Earl wrote that his “last car was the old rusty Ford wagon [1980 Fairlane] that was handed down from Barbie when she bought a new car. I finally sold it for $150.” Of this wagon, Earl wrote:

The only part of the old wagon that was not in good operating condition was the battery cherging mechanism. Being a typical tightwad engineer, I put in about 50 cents worth of fixed resistors in place of the defective voltage regulator. I kept a voltmeter plugged into the cigarette lighter. When the battery voltage got too high, I turned on the headlights to increase the battery drain.

Earl did most of his commuting on foot or by bicycle, even trips to the grocery store.

In August 1996, Aldine attended a craft fair at Seneca Lake, New York. Late in 1996 or early in 1997, Aldine traveled to Washington State to visit her son David and his wife Nancy. After the trip, Nancy wrote to Aldine that, “when you get you [sic] samples ready, we’ll be happen [sic] to show them at the store we went to.”

Earl’s stock investments did “surprisingly well” for him in 1996. He bought himself a car, a little green Saturn.

It is so small that Oma [Aldine] will not take it because the old ladies that she hauls to bridge parties, restaurants, and quilt parties would not be able to get in and out of it. But I never need to carry any passengers, so it is no problem to me. Once I get intot he drivers seat there is lots of room for just one person. It does not use much gas. It probably would not go very fast, but the speed limit from here to the library is only 40. And I am not your usual wild driver. 

In April, Aldine traveled to Branson, Missouri, to spend a couple of weeks attending country music shows there. While she was gone, Earl wrote to his granddaughter Carolyn.

When you need to share with someone some of the reasons being a teen-ager is so hard, tell me about it. I probably can’t fix it, but telling someone may help you to understand how to fix it yourself. 

Earl was proud of the large “tribe” which made up his family. He signed off on one letter to his brother Gene:

It seems I have reported most of the best and worst about my branch of our tribe. I always enjoy your stories about your branch of the tribe. Since I have the advantage of quantity, you are going to have to really bear down on quality to keep up with me.

Shortly after his eightieth birthday, in October 1997, Earl wrote me to tell of the celebration:

My birthday was predated a little bit to Sunday, since everyone has more time on Sunday.  Aldine and I went over to Barbie’s house for my birthday party.  Barbie made ham loaf and all the fixins that I like and my birthday cake was a black raspberry pie.  Barbie knows what I like.  When everyone was full of good food, they brought out a heap of mail from my descendants, that they had been saving.  They demanded that I read it all out loud and pass around the pictures.  I never had so much mail all at one time and had so many say such nice things about me.  Fathers usually have to be dead to get so much favorable fan mail.  It was so much fun I would like to be 80 again next year.

I have a new status symbol as a Family History Expert.  I have been working as a substitute at the Mormon Library for several years.  Just recently they gave me a promotion, and I am now a member of the regular staff.  There was no pay raise.  Everyone on the staff gets the same pay, nothing.  But I feel well paid in fun and being able to associate with the nicest, smartest people in the whole world.

I have been working on several projects.  One project is to gather data for an eventual history of Butler Township, St. Clair Township, MO.  A lot of your ancestors came from that place.  I doubt I will ever live so long as to write the book, but maybe you and your mother can take over where I leave off.

I have a working version of a program I wrote in “C” language that I hope will combine census records in a new useful way.  I have entered a lot of data from the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census of Butler township in a raw data base.  I hope to do the 1880 census for Butler Twp this winter.  The new idea of my program is that it will combine a sorted version of the combined censuses so the people will be grouped together.  That way, you will be able to see on a single screen how a person ages and how their situation changed as the decades pass.  I also have entered a lot of WW1 draft data and a lot of marriage records for Butler Twp and other parts of St. Clair County….

I hope your mother can soon get her life back on track and have time to pursue our mutual interest in family history.  She tells me that property values in the peninsula are so poor that she expects a difficult time in selling her house.  We have the same surplus real estate situation here, and I would have a difficult time selling my house.  I would really like to avoid the tribulations of being a home owner and move back to Columbia, MO.  The Missouri Historical Society is there and the MO University Library.  As an alumnus of the University and an ex-teacher, I would be eligible for using a lot of the School facilities.

Tell me about the computer you are now using.  I still have my old 386 DX machine.  For a long time I also had another machine on my desk based on a 286 mother board that I bought second hand for $29.  But I could not run WINDOWS on that.  I resisted WINDOWS long after most of my friends were using it, but almost all software now requires windows.  When JUNO (no cost internet access) was offered it was the last straw.  JUNO requires WINDOWS.  Being too much of a tightwad to pay for “Intel inside”, I upgraded to a K5 processor made by AMD.  It works great, and I don’t see how paying the price for a Pentium would have given me any better service.  Other components are also gettig cheap, so I have 32 Meg of ROM, a slow PC disk reader, and a 2.5 Gig hard drive.

I really make good use of having two computers side by side.  I do a lot of writing.  I use the old 386 as if it were a dedicated word processor, and use the K5 machine to look up data as the subject of my writing demands.  It is possible to switch windows on a single screen to get that result, but my system allows me to have two full screens visible at the same time.

For Christmas 1997, Aldine went to Los Angeles to visit with her grandchildren. Earl stayed at home, with a pork roast “sizzling and crusty in the pan” and a baked sweet potato on the side. Earl wrote, “It doesn’t get any better than that.” 

In July 1999, a Colley family reunion was held in the Adirondacks Mountains of New York.  Many of Earl’s family were in attendance.

The Colley clan at the family reunion held in the New York Adirondacks in July 1999.  Perhaps Earl was the one taking the picture.

The Colley clan at the family reunion held in the New York Adirondacks in July 1999. Perhaps Earl was the one taking the picture.

The Colleys in the Adirondacks, July 1999

The Colleys in the Adirondacks, July 1999

Earl at work in his garden at his Wells Avenue home

Earl at work in his garden at his Wells Avenue home

Aldine enjoying her grandchildren

Aldine enjoying her grandchildren

In September 2004, Earl was continuing to volunteer at the Latter-day Saints Family History Center, assisting patrons with their genealogical research. Earl enjoyed working at the center, claiming that the people there were “very nice, very intelligent, very friendly, and they avoid the use of unpleasant expletives.” At one time, the library director wanted to put Earl formally on the “payroll,” but the committee wanted to limit the number of non-Church members on the staff. Earl was often consulted at the library for his expertsie in Southern research.

Earl wrote me that “Aldine often nags me to write an autobiography and a biography of my father and I have long intended to do that. But the hours and days pass too fast.”

Earl and Aldine

Earl and Aldine

Santa (Earl) and grandkids

Santa (Earl) and grandkids

Earls 90th birthday

Earl's 90th birthday

In the spring of 2009, the healths of Earl and Aldine began to markedly decline.  Aldine went to a nursing home.  Earl ended up in the hospital, where he developed an angioma (a benign tumor) on his forehead.  Eventually he was released to live with his daughter Barbara.  On 31 May 2009, Barbara wrote to Earl’s famly to let him know about his current condition.

Dad continues to hold his own.   He has more strength than when in the hospital/nursing home.   He is able to lift his head off the pillow and do leg exercises.   The main source of pain is the arthritis in his shoulders and neck.   He has an on-demand pain medication (Lortab) that he can take as often as every 4 hours.   In the hospital/nursing home, he was asking for it as often as possible.  However, since he’s come to my house, he has only been taking it once or twice a day.  He doesn’t like to take drugs unnecessarily and only requests it when the pain is at its worst.

The Hospice nurse came on Thursday morning for the weekly checkup.   Dad’s blood pressure is excellent, his heart sounds good, and his stomach seems to be processing fine.  The lung cancer doesn’t cause pain – it only causes the cough.   It seems to me that the cough is a little better these days – perhaps the radiation was beneficial.   On the morning before the nurse came, Dad treated himself to part of an apple fritter.   When he confessed to the nurse, she told him he should eat WHATEVER he wants, WHENEVER he wants it – not to worry at all about the sugar.  She said that anything that tastes good is fine.  But that advice didn’t seem to change his eating habits – he still worries about his sugar intake.   When I told Mom what the nurse had said, her eyes lit up.   I quickly reminded her that the same advice did NOT apply to her!

On Monday, Dad’s next door neighbors from Wells Ave came to visit him.   They brought a bouquet of beautiful irises from their yard.   They are absolutely wonderful people.   They have been clearing Dad’s driveway and mowing his lawn for years.  In return, Dad keeps their gas can full – a minor expense!

On Friday, Doris Hildebrandt (a good friend from church) made a delicious dinner and delivered it to our door.  I invited Mom to come over and share it with us – it was the second time she had seen Dad since she moved into her apartment on April 11.   Mom sat by the side of his bed but they had very little to say to each other.   Dad asked “How are things in your castle?”  Mom replied that she was working on a quilt.   That was about the extent of the conversation.   They sat in silence most of the time, with Dad staring at the ceiling.  He’s not able to turn his head to the side very well.  When I talk to him, I usually stand over him with my mouth close to his ear.   Of course, Mom’s not able to stand for long so she couldn’t do that.   As they sat in silence, Mom looked very sad.   I wonder what she was thinking – maybe about when they were young and newly married and deliriously happy?

I took Mom to see the doctor on Thursday.   He told her a little bird had called to say she had not been taking her medications as she should have.   He seems to be very caring.   He made some minor adjustments to her meds and the schedule and wants to see her again in 3 months.   If I could figure out a way to get her to do her exercises, she would be so much better off.   Ideally, she should do them twice a day, but getting her to do them once is like pulling teeth (bad analogy I guess).   I asked the doctor to write a prescription for physical therapy thinking it might help if she had to report her schedule/progress to someone else.

One of Dad’s complaints is an itchy back.   I frequently give him back rubs (which is a little difficult when he’s laying on his side).   The nurse said she would try to get a prescription for an anti-itch oral medication.   I haven’t heard back from her – I’ll follow up on Monday.

Please keep your emails coming!   They are the bright spots in Dad’s life.   Michael sent a great email about his assignments at work – I felt as if I was reading a different language to Dad.  He thought it was great!   Kathy sent a long email describing their family activities and Lance sent a letter along with photos of mountain climbing and Boy Scout activities.   All the letters, emails and photos spark memories and stories.

Ear with, I think, daughters Barbara and Heather

Earl with, I think, daughters Barbara and Heather

On 5 June following, Barbara wrote:

Dad rallied over the last couple weeks, but started slipping yesterday.   The Hospice nurse was here this morning and estimates that he has less than a month to live.

His chest hurts more than in the past – he often likes to lay with a heating pad on his chest.  The cough is no worse, in fact I think the radiation helped a little.   When he begins to cough, I put hot washcloths on his face and change them when they begin to cool.   It relaxes him and breathing the moist air through the hot washcloth seems to help.   With this treatment, the cough subsides pretty quickly.

When he first wakes up, he talks jibberish, but after he’s awake for a while, he is still quite coherent.   When he awoke earlier today, he told me to “be sure to keep that molecule full of words that have the letter “e” in them”.

On 24 June, Barbara updated:

Dad is going downhill.   He slept very little on Sunday night.   He was very restless and agitated, talking nonsense and trying to get out of bed.   He’s very weak but he managed to get his legs over the side rails and insist that I get him up.   Neither Dad nor I got any sleep that night.   On Monday, he was restless in the morning but better in the afternoon.   Monday night wasn’t too bad – he got me up 3 times which is typical.   Tuesday he was very calm and quiet – often he seemed to be in a daze.   The Hospice nurse will be here tomorrow (Thursday) for her weekly visit.   Last Thursday, she said she had no idea how much longer he might hang on – maybe a matter of days, maybe a matter of months.   He eats 1/3 of an apple fritter with cream cheese and coffee each day but almost nothing else.

Dad almost never makes sense any more.   He’s very confused about everything.  He frequently asks about the whereabouts of his clothes.   Yesterday, he thought we needed to get to the airport.   Over the weekend, he wanted to know if we had all done our homework.   (I told him we had.)   The one thing he remembers is that I am caring for him.   He calls my name when he needs anything.   It seems odd that he remembers to call for me but can’t make sense of anything else.

David – Thank you for your email to Dad describing your attempted climb of Mt. Rainier.  He was astonished at the altitudes you mentioned – he wanted to know what our altitude was so I checked the Internet to learn we are at 420 feet.   About a half hour later, he was talking to me and thinking we were in Washington state.

Mom isn’t doing very well.   She had been experiencing nausea and/or vomiting every 3 – 4 days.   Lately, it’s been every 1 – 2 days.   I have been in continuous contact with her doctor via email.  He has been eliminating one medication at a time in hopes that we can get her turned around.   She has an appointment to see him tomorrow morning.   Hopefully, we’ll have more information then.   I’m really worried about her.

Two days later, Earl had deteriorated even further.

Up until now, Dad has been taking Vicodin every 4 hours to ease his pain.  It is no longer giving him enough relief at night so as of last night, he is now taking morphine as well.   During the day, he sleeps much of the time and is relatively comfortable.   But the nights are difficult – he is restless and hurting and in need of a lot of attention.   I don’t get much sleep at night … I told Karen that I’m practicing for January!

When the nurse was here on Thursday, she took his vitals and the numbers looked pretty good.   She says though, that the numbers don’t always tell the whole story.  Other behaviors make it seem that he cannot continue to live much longer.   Unfortunately, she has no way of predicting the timeframe.

I took Mom to see her doctor on Thursday.   He gave her a thorough exam and ordered a chest x-ray and complete blood work-up.   The good news is that things look fine.   He was suspicious that the nausea and vomiting might have been caused by something other than the medication, but he now believes it IS the medication.   He has been eliminating some of her drugs and as a result, she hasn’t thrown up in a record 3 days!   He prescribed an acid reducer in hopes that it will help as well.   It looks like we may be close to getting Mom straightened around.   She has another appointment in 2 weeks.

Luster Earl Colley, aged 91, died 30 June 2009 at North Syracuse, New York.  Earl requested that there be no funeral services and his remains were donated, by his wish, for scientific research.  Arrangements were handled by Gates Funeral Home, Baldwinsville, New York.

After Earl’s death, his daughter Barbara wrote:

It was an honor and a privilege to care for Dad the last couple months.   Every time I look in the dining room, it’s surprising to see a table and chairs instead of a hospital bed and all the paraphernalia we used to keep him comfortable.

I gave him his last dose of morphine at 7:30 Tuesday morning.   His breathing was very shallow and it looked like the end was very near.   A few minutes later, I checked and his breathing was even more shallow.   As I sat and watched him, his breathing became more and more faint.   He passed away around 7:45.

I really miss him but for his sake, I’m glad he is gone.   He wanted so much to get out of bed and finally on Tuesday morning he did.   After his passing, the Hospice nurse came to pronounce the death.  Afterwards, the funeral home picked him up and transported him to Upstate Medical Center where his body will be used for education and research, something he arranged many years ago.

Dad was so proud of every one of us.   He often talked about his descendants and all the DNA he had passed on.   Although he sometimes had an unusual way of showing it, he loved us all.

Back in 1991, Earl wrote a lengthy letter to his granddaughter Misty in which he waxed philosophical about many things. Among his reflections was a paragraph on family.

I am glad you are studying about your ancestors. Partly, you are studying about me, because I am your ancestor. You are my descendant. For thousands of years, people who were descendants of the same person lived together in tribes. Everyone in the tribe helped everyone else in the tribe. So there was usually much love and affection among the people of the tribe. We are two members of the same tribe, so we have a very special reason to have love and affection for each other. I am always very happy to have someone in my tribe do something good. Because a part of you is just like a part of me, when you do something special I can be just as proud as if I had done something special myself.

Only child of Luster Earl and Doris Marietta (Wears) Colley:

  • 6.1. Carol Lee “Suz” [3].

Only child of Luster Earl and Jane Kathryn (Maury) Colley:

  • 6.2. Michael Earl.

Children of Luster Earl and Aldine Ruth (Ahrens) Colley:

  • 6.3. Barbara Ruth.
  • 6.4. David Earl.
  • 6.5. Edward Alvin.
  • 6.6. Heather Ann.


  • 1920 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T625-943-147A). [LINK]
  • 1920 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T625-943-149B). [LINK]
  • 1920 United States Census, St. Louis, Missouri, transcription, Enumeration District 570, Sheet 8, from the Luster Earl Colley genealogical collection.
  • 1930 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T626-1221-143A). [LINK]
  • 1930 United States Census, St. Clair County, Missouri, (T626-1221-143B). [LINK]
  • 1930 United States Census, St. Louis (Independent City), Missouri, (T626-1238-22B).
  • —, 1989 Christmas home video of a Colley family gathering at the home of Edward Alvin Colley in Ohio, VHS format, found among the genealogical papers at Luster Earl Colley’s death in 2009.
  • —, Certificate of Birth, Bureau of Vital Statisitcs, State of Missouri, Registration District Number 763, File Number 53987 [Luster Earl Colley, born 7 October 1917].
  • —, “Cited at Pearl Harbor,” unidentified and undated Missouri newspaper clipping [circa 1942], from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • —, Commencement exercises announcement, Lowry City [Missouri] High School, 1935, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • —, “Comprehensive Hallmark Timeline,” at, created March 2002.
  • —, Decree of Divorce (copy), Doris Marietta Colley v Luster Earl Colley, Jackson County Circuit Court, Book 625, page 329, number 504823 (20 December 1945). 
  • —, Doctor’s Invoice 859940, James A. Dispenza, North Syracuse, New York (doctor), Luster E. Colley (patient), dated 10 July 1992, from the loose papers of Luster Earl Colley’s estate.
  • —, “Emery, Bird, Thayer,” at, accessed 29 September 2004.
  • —, “Former Lowry Resident Dies,” St. Clair County Courier [1969, exact date unknown], from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, “[Fred W. Wears] Obituary,” unidentified newspaper clipping ([29 June 1957]), from the papers of Carol Lee Mattocks.
  • —, Fred W. Wears funeral oration transcript (died 28 June 1957), from the papers of Doris Marietta Colley.
  • —, Fred W. Wears memorial card (died 28 June 1957).
  • —, General Electric ESD-SY Expense Sheets, Form ESD 6049, various expense forms completed by Luster Earl Colley during the year 1978, from the loose papers of Luster Earl Colley’s estate.
  • —, General Electric Individual Experience Record, a form completed by Luster Earl Colley, completed in typescript 21 May 1974, with handwritten notes made at a later date.
  • —, “L. Earl Colley [obituary],” at, accessed 27 July 2009, originally published in the Syracuse Post-Standard (2 July 2009).
  • —, “Lowry City Schools Honor Roll,” Lowry City Independent (14 November 1929), transcribed at “St. Clair County Schools,” at, accessed 26 August 2009.
  • —, “Machine Control Means – Google Patent Search,” at, accessed 22 March 2009.
  • —, Marriage Certificate, Luster Colley and Marietta Wears, 3 July 1938, Hickory County, Missouri, from the papers of Doris Marietta Colley.
  • —, “MISTRAM – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia,” at, accessed 14 December 2009.
  • —, “Mrs. Mary J. Wears [Death Notice],” unidentified and undated Kansas City, Missouri, newspaper clipping [25 April 1969], from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • —, “Petticoat Lane Exhibit,” at, accessed 29 September 2004.
  • —, Polk’s Independence (Jackson County, Missouri) City Directory 1946 (Kansas City, Missouri: Gate City Directory Company, 1946), page 78.
  • —, “Roi-Namur – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia,” at, accessed 15 December 2009.
  • —, “Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia,” at, accessed 15 December 2009.
  • —, “Woman of the Month,” from an Emery-Bird-Thayer newsletter, circa November 1951 or 1952.
  • —, “Zwei Amerikaner in Dallmin: Earl und Edward Colley wälzen die Kirchenbücher,” Der Prignitzer [Brandenburg, Germany] (4 January 1995). 
  • Heather Antonacci photograph collection.
  • Heather Antonacci to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 29 August 2009.
  • Charles D. Benson and William Barnaby Faherty, Moonport: A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations (NASA Special Publication-4204 in the NASA History Series, 1978), Chapter 9, page 1.
  • William E. Bladsell (Project Manager, Data Systems Engineering, General Electric) to “Office”, letter, 6 March 1978.
  • Jane Bysinger to L. Earl Colley, letter, 10 July 1967.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] Mother to Della and Ben [Settle], letter, 22 September 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] to Juanita [La Rue] (but delivered to Mrs. B.H. Settle), letter, 19 November 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • [Sarah Emma Carver] to Della Settle, letter, 29 November 1937, from the papers of Denise Smalling.
  • Aldine Ruth Colley to Earl Colley, letter, 29 September 1978.
  • Doris Marietta Colley scrapbooks.
  • Doris Marietta Colley to L.E. Colley, letter, 27 June 1954.
  • Doris Marietta Colley to Luster Earl Colley, letter, 5 July 1954.
  • Edward Alvin Colley to Mrs. Aldine Colley, letter, 10 June 1977.
  • Francis Eugene Colley to Earl and Aldine Colley, letter, 29 November 1995.
  • James Alvin Colley to Mr. and Mrs. L.E. Colley, letter, postmarked 22 July 1958 and dated “Tuesday”.
  • James Alvin Colley to Mr. and Mrs. L.E. Colley, letter, postmarked 16 or 18 August 1958 and dated “Monday”.
  • Luster Earl Colley, notes from his genealogical collection.
  • Luster Earl Colley, pedigree chart for Aldine Ruth Ahrens, 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Alan Colley, letter, 8 October 1986.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Alan Colley, letter, 10 January 1996.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Aldine Colley, letter, 26 May 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Brock Aaron Mattocks, et al., letter, 14 May 1994.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks and family, letter, March 1978.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 6 February 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 3 March 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee and Gregg Leon Mattocks, letter, 14 March 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 18 June 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 28 September 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 5 November 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 7 December 1992.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 6 February 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 13 July 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 13 August 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 9 October 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 26 October 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 27 January 1994.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, letter, 25 December 1997.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carol Lee Mattocks, e-mail, 24 December 1998.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carolyn Colley, letter, 25 April 1997.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Carolyn Colley, letter, 29 April 1997.
  • Luster Earl Colley to “Colorado Springs Pulmonary Cons. PC”, letter, 3 February 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to David Earl Colley family, letter, 3 February 1994.
  • Luster Earl Colley to David Earl Colley, letter, 16 March 1995.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Edward Alvin Colley, letter, 21 June 1994.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Edward Alvin Colley and family, letter, 13 January 1995.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Francis Eugene and Mary Colley, letter, 15 December 1979.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Francis Eugene and Mary Colley, letter, 12 January 1980.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Francis Eugene and Mary Colley, letter, 14 December 1995.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Francis Eugene Colley, letter, 24 April 1983.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Francis Eugene Colley, letter, 21 October 1994.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Francis Eugene Colley, letter, 24 October 1995.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Francis Eugene Colley, letter, 24 August 1996.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Frank and Ione Brown, letter, 25 January 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Mr. and Mrs. Franklyn Brown, letter, 21 January 1994.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Gregg Leon Mattocks, letter, 14 October 1997.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 6 October 1998.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 16 September 2004.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Heather Antonacci, letter, 14 December 1995.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Melody Antonacci, letter, 17 November 1990.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Michael E. Colley, letter, 4 July 1995.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Michael E. Colley, letter, 31 October 1997.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Michael E. Colley, letter, 24 December 1997.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Misty Colley, letter, 4 March 1991.
  • Luster Earl Colley to “Mountain Medical Building”, letter, 29 January 1993.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Nancy Hori, letter, 4 May 1981.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Nancy Hori, letter, 19 November 1994.
  • Luster Earl Colley to Nancy Hori, letter, 19 February 1997.
  • Michael E. and Barbara Colley to Luster Earl Colley and others, letter, 19 December 1989.
  • Michael E. Colley to Luster Earl and Aldine Ruth Colley, letter, 4 October 1992. 
  • Michael E. Colley, “Dad’s Pictures,” at, accessed 25 August 2009.
  • Misty Colley to Luster Earl “Opa” Colley, letter, 24 February 1991.
  • Vida Catherine Colley to Luster E. Colley, letter, 2 January 1945.
  • Vida Catherine Colley to Mr. and Mrs. L.E. Colley, letter, postmarked 10 February, no year but in or before 1952.
  • Early Television Foundation, “ETF – American Television Institute,” at, accessed 29 August 2009.
  • Early Television Foundation, “ETF – Ulises Armand Sanabria,” at, accessed 29 August 2009.
  • Early Television Foundation, “ETF – W9XAL,” at, accessed 29 August 2009.
  • Federation of American Scientists, “AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array SONAR (TACTAS),” at, accessed 14 December 2009.
  • Patrick Graupp and Robert J. Wrona, The TWI Workbook: Essential Skills for Supervisors (New York: Productivity Press, 2006), page xxi.
  • Nancy Hori to Luster Earl Colley, letter, postmarked 11 February 1997.
  • Henry Lehmann (General Manager, Military Electronic Systems Operations, General Electric) to Luster Earl Colley, letter, 4 March 1980.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks recollections.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 6 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 9 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 10 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 11 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 14 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 17 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, e-mail, 19 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, telephone conversation, 5 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, telephone conversation, 10 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, telephone conversation, 12 September 2004.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, telephone conversation, 27 August 2009.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Luster Earl and Aldine Ruth Colley, letter, 22 October 1975.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Luster Earl Colley, letter, 17 February 1992.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Luster Earl and Aldine Ruth Colley, letter, 7 August 1993.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Luster Earl Colley, letter, 19 August 1994.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks to Luster Earl Colley and family, letter, 17 February 1995.
  • Carol Lee Mattocks, List of Places Lived in Order (list made for Gregg Leon Mattocks, circa 1999).
  • Chauncey Leon Mattocks to Gregg Leon Mattocks, letter, 20 November 1996.
  • Gregg Leon Mattocks recollections.
  • National Security Space Road Map, “USNDS (U),” at, accessed 15 December 2009.
  • G.R. Nelson (Manager, Advance Technology Projects, Heavy Military Electronic Systems, General Electric) to L.E. Colley, letter, 27 February 1970.
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  • John Pike, “Lake City Army Ammunition Plant,” at, created 1 January 2003.
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