Valley of the Dolls

When Dad moved to Decatur, he had to have realized he was moving into a territory with lots of relatives. Dad’s father (the notorious Charles) was from the area and Charles had sisters (Aunt Bonnie and Aunt Josie) as well as a brother (Uncle Walter) living near-by. Dad should have been aware that he had lots of cousins and other relatives around, but I am afraid he was not. Either that or he just did not worry about it too much. One of Dad’s greatest qualities was to never get too worked up or worried about possibilities.

One day my stepmother Beatrice returned from her antique club with some new information.

I was speaking to Julie May.

she began.

and she asked what ailed poor Wesley?

Wesley was Aunt Bonnie’s son and he had died in his mid-forties of some respiratory illness.

How did you know Wesley?

Beatrice inquired.

Julie May said:

Oh, we’re kin. Although your husband doesn’t claim me. He is very rude.

Now our dad was not a rude individual, so of course, Beatrice had to know more.

What happened?

she asked Julie May. And so the story according to Julie May came out. She was walking on one of the Decatur streets near the courthouse and recognized my dad. She grabbed his arm (something my dad was none too fond of) and exclaimed:

You and I are kin!

to which my father replied:

I don’t think so.

as he walked away.

DollsBeatrice was just sick. Julie May had one of the most extensive doll collections in Illinois and she and her husband Jimmy had no children. Beatrice had hoped to inherit the doll collection when Julie May and her husband shuffled off this mortal coil. While Beatrice continued to be friendly and tried to be charming to Julie May, it was no use. Julie May never forgave my dad and she left all her money and antiques to a museum.

My dad didn’t care. He considered it one of his funny stories and he always said that Julie May should not have accosted him on the street. Dad was always wary of crazy people on the street and he thought she was one. I don’t think he ever changed his mind about that–not even when Beatrice told him how rich she was.

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