Clabe Wilson: Mid 1946

Some poignant glimpses of Clabe Wilson after the loss of all three younger sons:

He had nightmares. One was of backing into Joy with the car in the driveway, and gravel getting all through her sweater. He was reliving an accident that had actually happened. The toddler had heard the car start up and escaped from the porch to get a ride with her grandpa. Clabe stopped as soon as he heard the thud at the back of the car. His little granddaughter was okay, but the episode still haunted him.

Many times when Clabe sat down at a meal, he could not eat. And when he tried to rest, it only brought him memories and tears. “Oh, those dear boys. Why did God take them?” So Clabe kept busy. It sure helped to have Delbert’s little family there with them, but he was still depressed. 

And one day, both of the dogs that Clabe had bought to keep him company when he hunted were killed by the train that ran not far from their home.

Mother’s Day Omaha

Standing: Friend of Collis Jordan, Merl Goff, Clabe Wilson, Laura (Jordan) Goff, Collis Jordan (younger brother of Laura’s), Clarence Goff, Jennings Goff. Seated: Maxine (Goff) Allgood with Donna Allgood, Greta Goff (Merl’s wife) with Phyllis Goff, Leora (Goff) Wilson) Jean Goff (Merrill’s wife) with Michael Goff, Mrs. Foss (Jean’s mother) with Gail Allgood, Bernadine Goff (Jennings’ wife) with Ronnie Goff. Laura Goff is wearing a parka from Newfoundland and a grass skirt from Hawaii, both gifts from her son Clarence Goff.

Mothers Day was the first time Clabe and Leora had gotten a break from farming, to drive as far as Omaha. Three of Leora’s brothers were there: Merl, Clarence, and Jennings. She got to meet her niece Maxine’s husband and her little girls. To meet her nephew’s wife and son. She had never met Merl’s wife and daughter.

Leora grew some large dahlias, with blooms as large as saucers. Clabe remarked that “only God can make something like this.” He took her hands. “And these little hands helped.”

Such telling episodes that give me a small understanding for a grandfather I never got a chance to know.

 Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook, also as an audiobook, narrated by Paul Berge.

It’s also the story behind the Wilson brothers featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa. All five served. Only two came home.




    • He grew up with an alcoholic father, and a mother who’d been divorced and had an older son (who lived with the grandparents). Clabe had four younger sisters and, as his mother was widowed and worse mentally, Clabe diapered the little one! I noticed in photos with his own youngsters, Clabe is holding the baby. Would like to explore his life some more.

  1. I was marveling at Laura’s outfit and thought it looked like a grass skirt – then I read your caption.

    Clabe sounds like a sweet man who shouldn’t have had to endure such loss.

    • Mom and I went through microfilms of old newspapers and found clippings, too. For the Depression Era (and even earlier) stories, a lot of memories are Mom’s and Uncle Del’s. (Just finished the third draft of the Depression Era stories.)

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