Thursday, January 8, 2015


First I must thank my Canadian friend Dale Lee for telling me about Clock, a complicated solitaire game with a small chance of success. International friendships are wonderful!

I made a mistake on the first day, mistyping the date, so that I thought I was beginning on the sixth with Grandma's entry for that day, but really it was her entry for the seventh, so I've been a day ahead. Today I will skip posting her entry and tomorrow I will be back on track.

Instead, today I posted a photo of her father, Elmer Grant Willyoung, known in the diary as Papa. I didn't know a lot about him, except that he was smart, had a business in NYC, and died early in an auto accident. His death put an end to my Grandma's education at Wellesley, where she was a member of the class of 1920. Family legend has it that there wasn't money sufficient for her tuition, and so she left school.

I found a piece of a photo, a casual group shot from the University of Michigan class of 1888, torn from a larger print. Ernest, wearing a bowler hat, full mustache and stern expression, is centered in the fragment. I called the UofM Alumni Association to see what I could learn about his degree, and was told that, although they didn't keep records that far back, I might find help at the Bentley Historical Library. A voice message later, my call was returned and I was told that Elmer Grant Willyoung received a BS in 1888 from the College of Literature, Science and Art. At that time there were four fields of study, and if I sent a written request I might get further information. When I asked if it needed to be a hard copy request, she said, "Oh no, just send me an email," which I promptly did. I should know more within the week.

The internet is a wonderful repository! I have found so many links to his name, learned so much about his life and business. By the time Dorothy began this diary, her father had sold a successful business in Philadelphia, moved his family to New York, opened another business, secured at least five patents, presented scientific papers that are now included in The Tesla Collection, and fathered five children. At some point he went to law school and became a counselor and patent attorney.

Years ago I was in communication with my second cousin John, who is the grandson of John C Willyoung, Dorothy's younger brother, number four in the lineup. I called him and was pleased when he returned my call. He's got all sorts of information about Papa, but was on his way to a meeting, so we couldn't talk long.

It must have been a nice, quiet life at 5 N. Fulton Ave, orderly, with meals at set times, music lessons, dancing class, Sunday School, rides with friends on bicycles, trips to the library.

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