Monday, November 28, 2016


Dad, Evy, Mom, Roberta, Jay

In 1950, the five Stowell’s, mom, dad, Jay, Roberta, and Evy, left Seattle on a steamship sailing to Alaska.  We left behind, in Burbank, CA where we had been living for a few years, two cocker spaniels, Blondie and Blackie, and a white cat named Beauty.  All I remember about the trip to Alaska by water was that Jay and Evy got seasick.  I also recall that I talked Evy into dancing the hula around the lounge while Hawaiian music played.  I had learned tap, ballet, acrobatic, and hula dancing in my dance class in California.  Evy made an impression on the other passengers, as she was only 3 years old!  Several exclaimed about how cute she was. 

On the left front Aunt Evelyn, Evy next to me in my new parka, Mom behind me

Dick, Dorothy, Jay, Evy, me, 2 we don't remember

Jay, Mom, Dad, me, Dick, Dorothy, Evy, Aunt Evelyn

We settled in government housing in Fairbanks, Alaska where my dad was chief of the weather bureau. The most fun I had in Alaska was walking to my cousin’s house and playing in the gravel pits and woods behind their house.  Dorothy was my age and Richard 2 or 3 years younger.  On my way to their house I would steel myself to walk past some vicious dogs that would bark at me every time I went by.  After being mauled by our neighbor’s red chow dog in California I had learned to never run from a vicious dog. 

Our church

We had school and church activities to enjoy.  I remember memorizing the Alaska Flag song at school.  I still love that song.  I participated in a Tom Thumb wedding.  I was the tallest bridesmaid.  I also did an acrobatic routine during the half time of a basketball game.

A Snedden cousin bought the Fairbanks paper.  My brother, Jay, had a newspaper route.  He saved his money and bought a 22 rifle.

My dad would give the forecast every year for the scheduling of the weather bureau company picnic.  Each year he got it just about right.  It would rain before the picnic, and after the picnic, but not during!

Davy, Mom, me, Dorothy, Aunt Evelyn, Dad, Uncle Brad, Jay, Evy

The most important event while we were in Alaska was the birth of my next to the youngest brother, Davy.  My dad wrote a Christmas letter in April shortly after my brother was born.  I will attach it at the end of this blog. 

Jay, me, Mom, Davy, Evy, Dad

We left Alaska by air in 1952 headed for Washington D.C. area where my dad would work as the assistant to the assistant chief of the weather bureau. We left behind a white wirehaired terrier that had a brown teardrop on her forehead.  I had named her Teardrop Snow-white Stowell. The airplane was a non -pressurized flight.  We had several false starts and delays.  My dad coined the phrase “If time to spare go by air.”  Evy got airsick.  But we made it as far as Seattle and then to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm in eastern Washington.  We would travel to Virginia in October after attending the Four Lakes two-room school for a few weeks. 

Below is the letter my dad wrote in April of 1952:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


1955 Alexandria, VA Davy, Evy, Roberta, Jay

It is very easy to lose things when one owns a variety of possessions one believes are necessary for the care of ones family.  In our no bedroom trailer which housed four children, two parents,  one grandfather, and we were expectantly waiting for the addition of another child,  we had reached the bursting point.  We needed to add on a room to our abode.  We had delivered, to our lot in the park, one alumo room.  It needed to be constructed as one might assemble a new toy or furniture from IKEA.  With all of us working together we were able to install the room except for the door knob.  In the midst of all the wrapping and cratings the door knob was no where to be found. We had to use pliers to open the door.  As this was very inconvenient, tempers flared.  Grandpa got the blame for losing the precious item.  

Being the helpful person that I was I decided to write, produce, and direct a play called "The mystery of the missing door knob."  Our piano had been delivered from storage and was safely in the alumo room along with our parents bed, cedar chest, and dresser. (Davy successfully cracked his head open on the cedar chest when he fell off the bed as he was practicing his jumps.) Fortunately, the empty wooden piano box which had been used and discarded, made a perfect stage for my play.  After the performance, which included a singing and dancing commercial for "Poppie Woppies" sung to the tune of the Campbell soup commercial, the door knob was found. All was peaceful and harmonious--that is when everyone was asleep!

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Life isn't always like a box of chocolates-- you never know what you are going to get.  I think life is sometimes like a booster shot.  It may hurt for a moment but it will produce something good.

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, and because of so much suffering around the world right now, sometimes it is difficult to think of things for which to be thankful. One thing I am thankful for is that the 2016 election is over! I believe that God guided the whole thing and that His perfect will will be done no matter what!  Maybe Christians in the U.S. will be able to work and do business according to their beliefs now. I am praying so.

In looking back for other things for which to thank God I ran into this letter I wrote many years ago to the editor of our local newspaper. I share it with you now:

I am thankful for the movie "Forrest Gump." This year has been exceptionally difficult.  My husband and I lost two parents, we continue to deal with my chronic pain, our church closed, (it was a plant from Northshore Baptist.  The "Solid Rock" church was supposed to appeal to street people.  We met on Thursday nights.  The problem was that we were meeting in the Northshore church building and there weren't many street people in Kirkland, WA.), and also our dog ran away.  We think she went off somewhere to die.  She was blind and deaf.  We put up flyers and my friends helped us look for her.  We grieved for her like we would any family member. Our family is reeling from the emotional impact and the transitions we must make.  And so "Forrest Gump" cheered us and encouraged us to look up.

In the movie, when Forrest was in the swamps of Vietnam, the rain was pouring down, and he was cold, wet, and tired, he looked up and noticed how beautiful the sky was.  When he was failing in his shrimp business, he didn't wallow in self pity-- he just looked for the good and kept working and trusted God.  He didn't rollover and die when his girlfriend left him-- he started to do something and put one foot in front of the other and continued on.  

So we followed Gump's example and looked for the good.  For one thing, God has blessed the Northwest with incredible beauty-- in the scenery and in its people.  We are thankful for that.  Another blessing is that we had a special year with the Solid Rock church--the elders laid hands on me and prayed that God would heal me--our cat went into remission from his diabetes after that prayer.  A group from the church took our teen son to Mexico with them to build houses for those who were living under tarps.  It was a wonderful eye opener for him.  They supported us and comforted us through it all.  Even though this has been a year of loss, we count it as one of the best, because we learned to look up, and be thankful.  We, like Forrest Gump will look up to God, and trust in Him.