Who was my mom that she let this happen? Mom—Mommy—Elsie Flavel came to the U.S. from England when she was four or five with her parents and older sister, Amy. She told me her father was French, and that her girlfriends thought he was handsome. As an adult I learned he was Welsh.
Elsie was close to her father, who was soft-spoken and sang in the church choir. Elsie “took after” her father, was soft-spoken like him, small-boned and delicate, though she could laugh and have a good time. Her mother was the disciplinarian in the family and ran the dry goods store they owned in Akron, Ohio.
When Elsie started high school, she saw her father crushed under their car while fixing a tire.
Elsie’s sister, Amy, was a flirt. When she became “with child” out of wedlock, their mother pulled Elsie out of high school in shame, though Amy was soon married. Elsie was forever embarrassed about not having finished high school and kept it secret, even from her daughters.
Still, Elsie had a good time as a young woman. She and two close friends, Helen and Evy, joined other pals for outings and explored lake beaches. She and a girlfriend went to the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.
She visited her Great Aunt Amy (her mother’s sister) in Canada, and met Jack, with whom she got along famously. Here she is with her aunt and Jack with Jack’s hot car.
But her mother said, no. You cannot stay in Canada with your aunt and Jack. You must come home.
She returned home and met John Paul Klink.
He seemed nice. He was the oldest of a big family: Esther, married, George, married; Warren, single; and Peg, the youngest, still a young girl. Paul’s mother was quite a good cook and had remarried after her first husband had abandoned them. Paul hated his birth father for abandoning them, but that was understandable. During the depression he had taught himself to drive in order to make money to support the family. Paul was kind to her.
His sister warned Elsie about his bad temper, but she didn’t listen.
She said, yes, when he proposed.