Ann and Jay Stowell
The H.C. Stowells lived a few blocks away from where Grandma and Grandpa lived on the south hill of Spokane. As I persisted in reading through the account of Uncle Jay and Aunt Ann’s sojourn in Spokane, I came across this description of their visit to my Uncle Hollie and Aunt Jeanne’s home. I can relate to Jay’s description of his visit as I spent many enjoyable hours stopping there during my family’s summer vacations. Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Hollis were always very kind to me. (I had cordial relationships with Stowell cousins Richard, Janet, and Robert also.)
Uncle Jay continues on—“We were invited to dinner at the home of a nephew. It was a delightful occasion. We admired the modern, well-kept home, we inspected the garden, we enjoyed a delicious meal and we marveled at the workshop, which, with its many power-driven tools had crowded the car entirely out of the garage. In this shop many useful tasks had been performed including the building of a fully equipped modern trailer. I concluded that my nephew had inherited the mechanical genius of the Grandfather Stowell whom he had never seen. I enjoyed talking with him about his work in the postal service. He had made quite a study of Department regulations. He felt that one of the weaknesses was the failure to provide adequately trained supervisory personnel, and that efficiency was reduced when trivial matters must be referred to Washington D. C. for decision. He was active in the management of the postal credit union and seemed to be doing well in that field.”
Later, back at the C.H. Stowell home, Jay spoke with Grandpa Claude about Claude’s experience years ago with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. “He had operated a heliograph instrument at the top of one of the first steel towers ever used in connection with that work. He told of the lift which he used to get to the top of the tower, of the launch available for travel from point to point on the Great Lakes or to island stations, and of the difficulties involved in getting true readings for the accurate establishment of permanent markers on which the primary triangulation work of the survey could be based. The job had one advantage. On cloudy days it was not necessary to report for work. The Morse code was used and the dots and dashes were produced by intermittently cutting off the mirror reflection of the sun’s rays with a hand held cardboard. Some months later he had visited the world’s fair in St. Louis and found his picture and his work on exhibit there.” I had never heard about my grandfather’s visit to the World’s Fair so this was interesting to me.
Claude and Jay Stowell at the Bowl and Pitcher 1947
I knew that Grandfather Claude had helped remodel my Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Hollie’s house but I had never known that he had purchased bargain houses, and with modest alterations, had sold them at a profit. He had owned fifteen houses. Apparently my two uncles and my father had worked on the houses during vacations from school. My dad had never mentioned this to me.
Uncle Jay recalled that when in their boyhood Claude and he used to, the day before Decoration Day or as we call it Memorial Day, select companions and would drive into the country to gather lilacs and other flowers. Their best picking grounds were often the bushes around abandoned country houses. With their wagon loaded they drove to the Good Templers Hall and deposited their spoils. The following morning the women arrived to make bouquets and wreaths out of the mass of flowers. In the early afternoon there would be an address or other patriotic program. They all lined up with flower arrangements and marched to the cemetery to decorate the graves of their departed heroes.
He goes on, “One of the distinguished graves was that of my great grandfather. On his tombstone were carved names of the Revolutionary battles in which he had fought. It was also recorded that he crossed the Delaware with Washington and that he was the first man on the first redoubt taken in the battle of Yorktown. (So after all I would be eligible to be in the Daughters of the American Revolution organization. Not that I would want to be!)
At the conclusion of his account Uncle Jay had some of the same thoughts that I have had about life. He stated, “Man’s perversity has always been his undoing. There is a cure if we are not too proud and stubborn to accept it. (I would say that it is forgiveness of sins and receiving eternal life if we believe in Jesus.)…He continues; “If the human race could forget its anguished strife for power, domination and possessions for just a few minutes it might be surprised to discover what a really beautiful and comfortable world has been entrusted to our keeping—rent free.”
He also said, “As a child I was taught to love America. I did, genuinely and strongly. I still do. But the America that I once knew is gone forever. The new America has some things that are better and some that are much worse. Perhaps the greatest loss has been in our self-confidence. ……We still are benevolently minded toward the rest of the world, although our enemies point to our far-flung military establishment to prove the contrary. Perhaps the answer is that while powerful nations have usually sought tribute from subordinate powers, we have taxed ourselves to the danger point to aid them.”
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Uncle Jay’s tale. He reminded me of Father Tim in Jan Karon’s Mitford series. He sounds like a kind, orderly, Christian man who lived a good life, and set an upright example for us. When my family would drive from Virginia to Washington to visit the relatives in Spokane we would stop at churches on Sundays along the way. This is what Uncle Jay and Aunt Ann also did. So we either learned this from them or it is genetic. After I was married and we had young children, we drove from Seattle to Biloxi. We stopped at churches on Sundays for the worship services also. It is always good to go into the house of the Lord on a Sunday.
His closing word was a quote from Whittier:
“I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.” Whittier
He knew God who is a stronghold for us.