Darlene Evelyn Wilson

Twins Darlene and Dale were born to Clabe and Leora Wilson at Stuart on May 13, 1921. They had two older brothers–Delbert and Donald, and a sister, Doris.

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Dale and Darlene with their Grandmother, Laura (Jordan) Goff. At Stuart, 1921.

I know a few little stories about her growing up years: Darlene chipped a tooth at the Hemphill place while Dale was helping her get a drink from the water pipe that fed the stock tank. She must have bumped her mouth on it. Good thing it was a baby tooth.

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Twins Dale and Darlene, with Danny behind. About 1925, SW of Dexter.

Darlene got a doll for Christmas that said “Mama” when you leaned her over. Once when their mother Leora was gone, Doris could scarcely wait to tattle about the shocking thing her little sister had done. “Darlene took out the mama thing from her doll!”

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Darlene about 1927. Her mother made her dress and “pantaloons” out of feed sack fabric.

The Wilson kids enjoyed telling riddles. Darlene offered to tell one and described a brown animal that had tall legs. The other kids couldn’t guess what it was. “A groundhog.”

After Wilsons moved into town, Darlene enjoyed making the rounds of three neighbor ladies. She’d go to Nellie Neal’s and play her piano, even if they weren’t home. Mrs. Wilt told her stories about when she was a little girl in the old country. And once Mrs. Bruff let her take her twisted hair down and brush it. Darlene soon had a job of her own–taking care of Zedonna Neal’s boys. 

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Darlene with Jimmie Neal

One Fourth of July Darlene bought cherry bombs with some of her babysitting money. They let them under a tin can.

Darlene was good at finding pets. Pick and Pat were her first discoveries, but she was also the one who came home with news that the neighbors had a non-purebred puppy for sale. They named him Spats.

Their dad Clabe was the one who came home with a couple of orphaned squirrels. One gorged itself on peaches and didn’t survive. The other one, Rusty, was a fun pet for all of them.

Darlene with Rusty, October 1934.

After the older brothers had joined the Navy, their mother thought Delbert and Donald ought to know that Darlene had gotten taller than her twin brother.

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Leora’s letter to Delbert and Donald, May 1, 1935: “Dale didn’t want me to send you boys the picture of him and Darlene, as he is a little shorter, you see. I said you boys ought to know about it.” [No print of this picture–only found a negative, but it sure illustrates Leora’s letter.]
Darlene played in the band (which got to take a bus to Minneapolis in 1939 for winning an award), played basketball, and was a soloist in “Sunbonnet Sue.”

She was “Miss Dexter” in a beauty pageant.


Darlene Wilson Wins Title of Miss Dexter in Beauty Parade at Stuart

At the Beauty Parade held at Stuart Thursday of last week, Miss Darlene Wilson, former basketball star, won the title of Miss Dexter, wearing the ribbon of Pohle’s Appliance store. . . . Dexter Journal, Aug. 4, 1939.

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Darlene Wilson, 1939 graduate of Dexter High School.


  1. Enjoyed the stories and the pictures of Darlene, what a “Little Dear” is what Dad called his little sister. Thanks for being the Family Historian! I read everything I can about my Del’s family. We had 32 years together and I miss him dearly. Hope to see you soon. Elizabeth
    P.S. e-mail was created by Del when we spent our first summer camping in Arizona.

  2. who came home with news that the neighbors had a non-purebred puppy for sale

    My mother-in-law likes to tell the tale of how when she was five years old, her father took her to visit a neighbor about a livestock deal. To keep her occupied, the neighbor let her play with a litter of puppies. Halfway home, her father discovered the puppies hidden in the back of the truck.

    He drove back to return them.

    But they came home with a puppy.

    • Bet there were tears when they went back with all of them. When Wilsons got Spats, the non-purebred puppy, it was the older kids who cried that they couldn’t afford it! Their dad said he couldn’t stand for big kids crying, so said they could have it if they could get it for less. But later on, guess who enjoyed having a “hunting buddy” during the war, and there’s even a picture of him carrying the dog.

      Did your MIL say what she named the puppy? Bet she didn’t get invited along on livestock deals after that.

    • That’s what’s been fun. I’ve got the old letters they’d written to their “Navy boys” so knew stories behind the picture. The pictures were actually to be able to send to the older brothers, too. Thank you, Ginny.

  3. I sure enjoyed this story about Aunt Darlene, I have enjoyed all of your stories about the families.

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