Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Callers - Sentimental Sunday

Things were fine at the Doyle Farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, in July, 1932.

The July 2, 1932 issue of The Record-Argus of Greenville, Pennsylvania, reported that Gust Doyle and his son, Lee, my father, visited Wheatland.  The newspaper gives no reason for the visit.  The distance between Stoneboro and Wheatland, west and slightly south of Stoneboro, is about 30 miles these days.  No doubt it would have taken longer than today's 30 minutes to in 1932. 

That same issue of The Record-Argus reported that Lee and some friends had motored to Pittsburgh one night that week.  Pittsburgh is directly south of Stoneboro.  Today's routes give the distance as 70 miles, probably a two to three-hour drive in 1932.

Life was going okay in early July, 1932, but by October there was a problem.

The October 26, 1932, issue of The Record-Argus reported that Gust Doyle had been on the sick list.

From my vantage point of 2014, my heart begins to weep because I already know the outcome of that illness.

Lee's mother, Beulah (Gerner) Doyle, had died when he was but a few weeks old in April, 1913.  His father remarried several years later when Lee was five or six.  Gust's new wife did not like her new stepson:  Lee needed the protection of his father and his grandparents, William and Tressa (Froman) Doyle, from her mistreatment of him.  At the time his father fell ill, Lee was 19:  still young enough to need his father's love and support but old enough, strong enough, and capable enough for his step-mother to imagine he could manage the farm with the help of his grandfather.

Sometime after Gust's first illness in October, 1932, it was determined that he had colon cancer.  Surgery did not help and possibly made his situation worse.  I've always imagined that time as a very difficult time for my dad:  a father dying, a stepmother who didn't like and mistreated him, possibly took advantage of him, and only his father's parents to rely on for strength and help. 

During his childhood Lee had had little contact with his mother's family, as reported by one of his mother's sisters.  They tried to visit but his stepmother made it nearly impossible for them to see him.  When I saw these two newspaper articles in the August 25, 1933, issue of The Record-Argus I was pleased to learn that not all ties with his mother's side of the family had been lost.

"Sunday callers at the Gust Doyle home were Mr. and Mrs. John Gerner, of Bessemer; Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Gerner, of New Middletown, O.; Mr. and Mrs. Roy [Ray] Davis, of Lousiville, O.; Mrs. Leota Riss, of Struthers O."


"Mrs. Gerner, of Bruin, and daughter, Mrs. Babel [Mable] Double, of Erie, were recent callers at the Gust Doyle home."

Lee's mother's relatives mentioned in these two notices are his grandmother, Mrs. Elvira (Bartley) Gerner; and Beulah's brothers and sisters, John Gerner; Warren F. Gerner; Mrs. Brendice Davis; Mrs. Leota Riss; and Mrs. Mabel (typed "Babel" in the newspaper) Double.

It did my heart good to know that even though members of my Dad's mom's family weren't able to stay in close touch during his younger years, they had not forgotten him completely, had not given up trying to visit him, and made the effort to visit him during this time of great need.

Gust died a few weeks after these visits on October 4, 1933.

Aren't those newsy, gossipy old newspapers grand?!



  1. I'm so glad that these newspaper clippings have given you a brighter view of Lee's life. So often our impressions of an ancestor's or relative's life are molded by the stories that get repeated, stories that are selected and edited by the teller who repeats what he heard or embellishes certain details. I like it when a new version comes along that challenges what I've heard or believed.

    1. Hi, Wendy --
      All of the stories of my father's childhood come from one of his maternal aunts who, with her sisters, tried to visit him and weren't able; and from one of my dad's half-sisters who saw first-hand how her mother behaved to my dad. I don't doubt for a minute that my dad was remembered by his mom's family. I was thrilled to see that they were finally able to visit, even if it was on (nearly) his father's deathbed. The same aunt who told about trying and being unable to visit helped my father when he left the farm by giving him a place to stay and helping him find a job.

      It is exciting to get a different perspective on events when we learn "news" from newspaper articles or other sources.


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