Sonny and His Sisters and Brothers

This is another story about my dad in his early years.  This one is about his brothers and sisters and his relationships with them. When starting these stories one thing that became glaringly obvious was there is really no photographic record of the Walters clan.  I don’t have any pictures of my aunts or uncles or even grandparents for that matter. They just didn’t seem to do pictures in those days. Maybe they were just too expensive? I inherited all the memorabilia of my parents and included in that was just a handful small photos and few legal documents. So, these posts on dad are pretty much just words. I don’t know if the lack of pictures was a generational thing of not? Anyway, on to the story of “Sonny”

Dad was the youngest member of his family. He had two sisters who were several years older than him and two brothers. One brother, as seems to be somewhat typical of that generation, died at a young age. I really don’t know from what? His two sisters, Opal and Dorothy were the outspoken ones in the Walters clan. Aunt Opal was a large woman in stature and she was also large in voice.  She died when I was maybe a teenager so I don’t remember much more about her. She lived her life within twenty miles of her birth.  Opal married a man of diminutive stature and she seemed to rule the household. I’m not sure that I ever saw her husband talk in Opel’s presence. I guess she did enough talking for both of them.  But when he was just with the men he could talk your ear off. They had a farm, I’m not sure how big it was, but it supported their lifestyle.  They had one son who was probably 30 years old still living at home and didn’t seem to have any ambition to do anything else.

Dorothy, like Opal, married a farmer in the area and lived a town over from her birth. Her husband raised several thousand chickens at a time.  They had a daughter who was born three days before me who I had a kindred relationship with in my early years but I lost track of her many years ago.  Dorothy was a very typical farmer’s wife. As I remember it, and I may have remembered it wrong, but her life revolved canning and taking care of the family.

Robert, dad’s brother, was much like dad. He never talked much and I really remember little about him.

Bucky Walters - baseball palyerNow getting on to “Sonny”, that was dad’s family name. He was the youngest and therefore Sonny. I don’t think many people knew dad’s first name. To his family he was Sonny all his life and after the war he was Bucky. He kept the “Bucky”  moniker throughout his life. As I remember the story he was named Bucky by his army comrades because he looked similar to “Bucky Walters” who was a baseball player of the times.

Next time I will get into dad’s traumatic war-time experiences. Like many others who have been exposed to the killing in war he was forever changed by those years.

Anybody out there want to tell a story about their parent’s families??

TWiG 1

4 thoughts on “Sonny and His Sisters and Brothers

  1. My Dad came from a Minnesota farm family of 11 children…2 girls and 9 boys. There would have been 12 but a set of twins died in infancy. Grandpa was Norwegian and Grandma Swedish. Altho they were the first generation born in America they grew up in insular farm communities and English was their second language. Grandpa and the sons were typical stoic Norwegians. Not much for hugging or kissing or sweet talking,etc…. Most photos show the sullen serious faces on both men and women. However, they did have their sense of humor…you just had to know how to recognize it. When I was young…like 9 or 10 and we went to visit Grandpa would say things like (picture a Norwegian accent) “Ya, ya, Yaney, how goes life in the big city?” or “So, Yaney, are you married yet? You don’t want to wait too long or you’ll be an old maid.” He would have a hint of a smile and a quiet chuckle. He always called me “Yaney” … that’s how “Janey” came out.
    On leaving after our visits Grandpa would give all the grandkids a candy bar and a silver dollar. We looked forward to those special gifts. Grandpa always chewed snuff so we would give him a can of Copenhagen. For many years Grandp had pretty bad tremors in his hand that made eating and drinking coffee kind of precarious. To my knowledge he never treated it and I never heard what the diagnosis was … if he ever had one. Other than that he was strong and healthy. He lived to be 96. Grandma was quiet and of course the typical farm wife…altho they moved to town in later years. She did quilting and canning and always made homemade bread. She walked to the store and church. Only Grandpa drove and when he did it was at about 15 miles an hour so it was faster to walk! Everyone loved Grandma.

    My Dad was an unsuccessful farmer, moved to the big city (Minneapolis) in the 40’s and worked in a paper factory. He married my mom at about age 39. He didn’t know it but my Mom was 5 years older than him. She lied about her age most of her life…as a result the date on her tombstone is wrong. Her mother was the same…vanity I guess. They were both pretty and could get away with it. Oh well. Mom and Dad were heavy drinkers and smokers. Mom died when I was 11 and Dad went on to become a full fledged alcoholic. After a few years he lost his job, our house, and I went to live with an older half brother and his wife until I finished high school. Dad went thru rehab 3 or 4 times over the next years and kind of straightened out. He never had a job again…did remarry to a poor but wonderful lady. She supported him for the rest of his life until he died at 85. Amazing he lived that long with liver damage, heart issues, and finally cancer.

    My mother’s mother was English. She was born in Kendall, England and came here sometime after the turn of the century. She was married 3 times. I never saw my Grandfather…they say he was killed in a car accident. I also never saw a picture of him or my Grandma’s other 2 husbands. Hard to know what to think…did they all die or was she really divorced and too vain to admit it? That side of the family was not close to each other. My mother was married at 18 and had 3 sons with an abusive alcoholic until he disappeared one day. She divorced and met my Dad sometime after that. I was probably an unplanned event…altho being a girl I was a novelty! We called Grandma “Nanny”. She was not a cuddly cozy woman. She even slapped me across the face once because I wouldn’t stop crying over something. I never forgot that.

    Anyway, this got really long….my apologies…feel free to not post it if it’s too much. 😐


    1. Oh Jane, what a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it. It is exactly what I was hoping for. Now if we can just get others to share their stories too.

      We have a lot of similarities in our families. My mom had her first child at almost 16 and then had three others by different husbands over the next twenty years. I think she was married 4, maybe 5, times. No one really knows. She also had many different birth date years over her life. She was really only concerned with herself so any relationship with her was difficult and mostly one-siede. Dad’s side of the family was English also but they were here several generations before him. Dad always liked to say that his great grandfather opened up the State of Indiana. I know his grandfather married a Shawnee so that just might be possible.

      My wife’s family is also primarily Norwegian from Northern Wisconsin. She still has aunts and uncles who are in their nineties and very much as you describe.

      Thanks again for sharing. It was always fun to discover how similar we all are to each other. If we just shared more maybe more of us would quit being afraid of “those people”…


  2. Have you thought of looking more into your mom? A girl who has a baby at 15 is probably a child of abuse or neglect. Did you know that it was extremely rare for a woman to get custody of her children after a divorce, even if she was older then 18 and financially stable?
    Just seems the issue continues to come up with your posts. Might be worth looking into instead of family lore of the self centered girl who ran away?
    Looking forward to hearing more about your dad. Did he do all of your care or did you grandparents share in your care?


    1. Hi Janette, thanks for the comment. First of all, yes, there will be quite a bit more about mom in future posts. Since I have had almost no contact with anyone on mom’s side most of my knowledge of her comes from personal experiences, not from family lore as you call it. I don’t know what made her as she was but a very strong dose of narcissism was always there all of her life. I know her brother I did meet on only one occasion seemed like a nice guy with a strong family.

      One thing I maybe haven’t made clear is that I loved my mother and was the only one of her children who maintained a relationship with her, especially during the very difficult final years of her life.

      As I mentioned in these first few posts dad’s parents both died before I was a teenager and had no part in my care except for a few vacation days with them.


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