Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dad's Family Secret

To get to the secret, I have to go back a bit...

To review:

Before she married George Little, Dad’s mother, Pearl Soltau, was the oldest of three children. Pearl, Elmer and Gladys. Until he was six years old, Dad lived with Pearl’s parents at the home place. Uncle Elmer and his wife Aunt Leone also lived in that big stone home, and they took care of Elmer's mother (who was a widow for 15 years) and farmed the farm.

Gladys was 9 years old when Glenn (Sonny) was born, so she was more of a big sister to him. According to Aunt Glad, Dad had a miserable childhood. George and Pearl were eeking out a living on a poor, sandy farm in the Wapsi bottoms.  They were always in some kind of argument with their neighbors, and they never spent an unnecessary nickel. The boys didn't get presents at Christmas or for their birthdays.

According to Aunt Glad,   Sonny was expected to work like a man from the time he was 6 year old and George made Sonny cry every single day.

Pearl and George's house was a shabby, unkempt mess -- when you walked into the kitchen, there wasn’t a spot on the table where you could put a cup of coffee. (not that they would have offered).  They were hoarders before anybody invented a word for it.
When Minnie Soltau died, the family farm was left to their THREE children. Even though Elmer had lived there and farmed that farm his whole life, and taken care of his parents, he could not afford to buy out his sisters. Dad was doing good in the construction business by that time -- so he offered to buy out both Pearl and Gladys (so Elmer could stay).  Gladys thought it was a great idea -- but Pearl refused. After a year of bitter argument, Pearl bought out her siblings (seems all that frugality created a nice savings account), and she kicked Elmer off the farm.

Pearl and Elmer never spoke again.

It took Dad a long time to get over that…but eventually,  he did.

In the 1970’s, after I got married, Grandma Little and I exchanged letters every week. That’s how I know that when she was sick, Dad was the one who visited her every day in the hospital. She wrote about Dad putting up a new Morton building for them. And in June of 1974, she wrote about how delighted she was that Dad hung modern cabinets in her kitchen and installed a new floor. Much later on -- we realized that during the summer Dad was remodeling their kitchen -- Pearl and George went into town to see their lawyer, and they wrote him out of their will.

Of course, nobody knew that happened until Pearl died. Dad was stunned. He had no idea…but, because of the shoebox full of my dated letters from Grandma Little -- I was able look back to see what was happening with George and Pearl the week they wrote Dad out of their will....

After Pearl died, Dad’s relationship with George was finished.

So -- fast forward…in 1994, my cousin Linda was visiting Grandpa Little, who was doing poorly. He was throwing away a bunch of photos -- mostly of our family. She knew I’d love to have those pictures, and she asked him if she could take them?

He said he didn’t care what happened to them…. As she was picking them up, there was a sepia tone picture of a tall, dark haired young man standing in front of the Soltau home place.

Linda  asked, “who’s this?”

Without hesitation, George said, “That’s Clint Heavenor. Glenn’s real father. Helluva nice guy…”


Remember the part where George and Pearl got married in December, and Glenn was born in March?

YIKES. So -- George was NOT Glenn’s biological father?

This was quite a shock. Nobody had ever hinted at such a thing.


1 comment:

  1. These stories are something. Parts remind me of my Dad's family - also mid-western, but Lacrosse, WI is their stomping grounds. I am puzzled, though. I have read this post and the next one twice, and I still don't know why they cut him out of the will.