The Rest of the Story of the 1942 Plymouth

McDonald Drug store in Perry, where Doris worked, sold Evening in Paris Cologne, which shoppers could sense as soon as they entered the store. Whenever any of the Wilsons were in Perry to shop or sell eggs, they honked their “party line” phone ring–long, short, long–near the store so Doris would know they were in town.

During her break she would join them in the Plymouth to read the latest letters from her three brothers who were serving by the summer of 1942.

Doris also had a little mishap when trying to back the car out of the garage on the farm. (Chapter 3 of Leora’s Letters)


Junior Wilson, leaving for the AAF. Clabe (holding grandson Richard Scar, who turned 80 last month), Junior, Leora (wearing Dale’s pilot’s wings on her coat), Darlene (Wilson) Scar. With the Plymouth, Autumn 1943, Minburn, Iowa. (Yes, Junior’s brothers kidded him about the way his jacket is buttoned.)

The next Wilson brother to join the military drove the car to Des Moines when he left. The next youngest brother drove it home. When Junior joined, their father drove the car home from the Capital City for the first time.

As the brothers came home on leave, the Plymouth took them to Edmonson’s Studio in Perry to have photos taken of them in uniform.


Mom (Doris) returned (from Marfa, Texas, where Dad was stationed) for my birth, which was at Dexter two days before D-Day. When I was 10 days old (standard for new mothers to stay in the hospital in those days), we rode home (the Minburn farm) in the 1942 Plymouth.

With all five sons in the service, Clabe and Leora could no longer keep up with the landlord’s farm. They bought an acreage near Perry and moved there that October. Clabe cut down a crate so they could haul Leora’s chickens to the new place in the trunk of the Plymouth.

To the right is the Plymouth with the chicken crate sticking out of the trunk. House at the Perry acreage, October 1944


Dad was ordered to Biggs Field, Texas, the summer of 1945. Families couldn’t be with the B-29 crews, so Mom and her toddler came back to Iowa to stay with Grandma and Grandpa (Leora and Clabe). Mom didn’t practiced driving during that time and took her driver’s test with the Plymouth.


The Wilsons drove to Omaha, which was Clabe’s longest trip with the car, for Mother’s Day with Leora’s mother and other Goff relatives. After Clabe Wilson died that fall, it probably became the family car for oldest son Delbert and Evelyn. They moved back to Iowa after Junior was killed, and Leora never learned to drive.

I wonder who eventually bought the 1942 Plymouth. There’s no one left to ask what happened to it.


Warren Neal with daughters Gloria and Joy, with the Wilsons’ Plymouth. Acreage at Perry, 1947

Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II



    • Thank you, Nancy. I’m the oldest granddaughter and am the keeper of all the letters, photos, telegrams, Purple Hearts, even Grandpa Clabe’s driver’s license!

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