Clabe and Leora Wilson, the couple just to the left of Grandmother Goff in her grass skirt, just a year earlier had five sons in the military, two of them missing in action. Three months later–August 9, 1945–their youngest son Junior was killed in a training accident.
Delbert, their oldest son, and his little family came to Iowa to lived with Clabe and Leora near Perry. Another daughter was born.
Wilsons knew nothing more about the missing sons until January of 1946, when the Army notified them that they had officially declared the death of Dale. And sent a telegram that Dan’s grave had been located, and that he’d been Killed in Action on the date he was MIA.
Leora Wilson’s mother, Laura Goff, also mourned Dale, Danny, and Junior. They had lived nearby in the small town of Dexter when those boys were kids, even then hoping to become pilots someday.
Grandmother Goff moved to Omaha during the Depression, along with two sons, and a niece and nephew–Maxine and Merrill Goff–who’d lived with Goff’s in Dexter after their mother died. Another Goff son also lived there.
“Leora, why don’t you and Clabe come out for Mother’s Day. You’ve got a good car, and Delbert can take care of your chickens.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Clabe has never driven that far.”
“Has he driven to Des Moines?”
“Won’t be much different in Omaha. It will be good for you to get away, and we’d love having you here.”
So they packed up and headed west on White Pole Road in their gray 1942 Plymouth four-door, 95-horsepower, Special Deluxe sedan, with concealed running boards.
They spent Mother’s Day weekend surrounded by family.
Three of Laura Goff’s sons served in WWI. Clarence served in the Navy during WWII, and two or three more worked in factories building military hardware. Clarence had sent his mother a parka from Newfoundland, and a grass skirt from Hawaii. This is probably the only chance she’d have to show them off, so she did.
Merrill Goff took this historic family picture. A Marine aboard the USS Pensacola (CA-24), he wasn’t yet nineteen when his ship was torpedoed in combat near Iron Bottom Sound in the Pacific, where dozens of American ships were lost. He next assignment was to learn photography, which became his life’s career.
And Clabe Wilson drove his wife on the longest trip they ever took–all the way to Omaha from Perry, Iowa.
They seem to have a quiet life. Do you know why Grandma Goff has a grass skirt on?
It’s toward the bottom: “Clarence had sent his mother a parka from Newfoundland, and a grass skirt from Hawaii. “