Leora Wilson writing in her Diary

Leora Goff Wilson, Guthrie Center, Iowa, writing in Diary Book. Sept. 24, 1976. Taken by Delbert Goff Wilson of Fremont, CA
I’m thankful that Uncle Del took this photo of his mother. I’ve posted it several times, but just recently remembered that I’ve become the “keeper” of her diaries! Inside the cover of the1976 diary, she noted that my sister Gloria gave it to her for Christmas in 1975.
Another note said that she had been to patch at the hospital 318 times from 1957-1976, 42 times during 1975.
Grandma Leora began September that year by cleaning and making up the bed in the basement, spading a spot for planting 30 bulbs, walking several blocks to the post office to mail birthday cards to two of her five Goff brothers (she remembered everyone’s birthdays), dug around the seedless ash to add wood chips, and watched the parade for the Guthrie County Fair.
Son Delbert and Evelyn arrived from California on the 6th, to stay for three weeks. Delbert fixed so many things in the house (basement light, sunroom door latch, bathroom fan, caulking), even stretched his mother’s clothesline. Friends and relatives came to visit with Delbert and Evelyn. A week later, Donald and Rose (and dog Mitzi) came for a week. (They slept in the basement.) Leora relished all the visitors, phonecalls, going places. And capturing it all in her orange diary.
“Seems like a dream,” she wrote, “to have all here.”
On the left are Donald and Rose Wilson from WA. Sam and Darlene (Wilson) Scar, Dexter, Iowa. Leora is in the middle. Then Warren and Doris (Wilson) Neal, Dexter. On the right are Delbert and Evelyn Wilson from CA. Taken at Darlene and Sam’s September 19, 1976
Former classmates (1933) and shipmates (1930s) Howard Benz, Donald Wilson, and Delbert Wilson. Diamondhead Lake, Guthrie County, Iowa, September 1976
They spent one Sunday at Darlene and Sam’s at their home at Diamondhead Lake. Leora’s brother C.Z. Goff, and nephew, Merrill Goff, came from Omaha. Howard Benz, high school classmate and shipmate (USS Chicago CA-29) also stopped to see Del and Don.


September 20, the four siblings drove to Monteith with their mother to see the house just west of town where Leora’s mother grew up. Clabe and Leora also lived there when they first married, in 1914. The group also visited the nearby pioneer cemetery, where Leora’s Jordan grandparents are buried, as well as her Grandpap Goff.

Delbert, Darlene, Doris, and Donald Wilson

After all this whirlwind of visits, Darlene left with Delbert and Evelyn on the 26th, to visit a son in Colorado. It was a Sunday, when Grandma felt more lonely after church. Doris and Warren drove up from Dexter to take her to church, then to The Port on the east side of Lake Panorama at Panora for for dinner. “Sure helped me from getting such a lonely feeling after Delbert & Evelyn & Darlene left.”

The last week of September, Leora went to a funeral, canned a little tomato juice, cut back the peonies and iris, filled three clothes lines with all the bedding she’d washed (and hauled up from the basement), and went to the hospital to help patch with the Rebekahs. (They still have a small hospital. That group of ladies volunteered regularly to patch hospital gowns, sheets, anything else that needed sewing. Leora was in charge of the treadle sewing machine.)

What a sturdy and courageous woman at age 85! I’m so blessed to be her oldest granddaughter, and the “keeper” of her stories. 

Leora’s Letters is the story of the Wilson family during World War II. All five brothers served. Only two came home.

Leora’s Dexter Story takes place during the scarcity years of the Great Depression.

Leora’s Early Years tells her childhood stories, also Clabe Wilson’s, their marriage and first seven children.


  1. Joy, you are indeed blessed to have such a family who knew the importance of holding onto things that most people would refer to as ephemera and to hold the awesome privilege and responsibility to being the keeper! Most families–including my own–rather operate on the principle of “if you ain’t used it in the last five years, toss it into the garbage or donate it to charity!” It does us good to see your preservation efforts!

    • I don’t know whether they though of it as being important. Living in one house for several decades makes it easier not to get rid of things. (I also have all of my mother’s diaries, and my own.) Son Dan isn’t interested in any of it, but maybe someday Granddaughter Kate might be! (Especially since the Leora books are dedicated to her.)

    • You’re the second person to ask, so maybe I should explain it! It’s a small county hospital. That group of ladies volunteered regularly to patch hospital gowns, sheets, anything else that needed sewing. Leora was in charge of the treadle sewing machine.

  2. I am so glad that you are the keeper of her stories as well. It is a blessing for those of us who get to hear these stories. She must be so proud of you from heaven above! I loved the stories from this orange journal and I loved the photograph of her writing in it. 🙂

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