S: Every Picture Tells A Story ' tales of my family ' Jane Elliott Dorer deMilo
FC: Elizabeth (Libby) and John | Every Picture Tells A Story | ' tales of my family ' Jane Elliott Dorer deMilo
1: For years, I've been trying to get my mother to write down stories and memories of her and my father's life. To no avail. I bought her assorted sized memory books and journals. Not a word was written. Which is too bad because she had such a wonderfully warm descriptive style of writing. Mine is not nearly as engaging, but I'll give it my best. Top photos:John Elliott Dorer Middle photo: Elizabeth May Dorer Photos left: Fran, Richard, Jane and Robert in 1979. | The Family Our father, John Elliott Dorer Germanic, self-disciplined, organized, mechanically inclined, soft spot for his family, sensitive, big brown eyes, loved to golf, engineer, dog lover, provider, excellent math tutor (had the patience for it) horrible driver's ed teacher (didn't have the temperament for it), intelligent and sarcastic Our mother, Elizabeth Stevens May Dorer New Englander, close family, middle child, avid reader, engrossed in current affairs, student of history, optimistic, always there for her children, had "gift of gab", mother of four, human to seven dogs, always up to the present challenge, frozen food and heat it up cook, made delicious scalloped potatoes from scratch, intelligent and loving
2: Only | above Leona Hofker Dorer (mother), George Hofker (grandfather), John Elliott Dorer (baby) and his great grandmother | My moon is an only child I love my moon I love that's it's only My only moon shines on me goodnight My father was an only child I wanted children and children I have one child Goodnight moon and my only child My only father and my only child My only moon How blessed to be only Only can cure what once was lonely | Moon Child | Jane Elliott Dorer deMilo | my father | my child | my moon
3: Leona and Charles Dorer wanted children. I don't know why, but it took quite some time. And then, my father was on the way, arriving on the 19th of October 1917. They named him John Elliott Dorer. Leona (my grandmother) called my father Elliott. I don't know what my grandfather called him. I never met Grandpa Dorer. John was their only child. My mother says they wanted more, though, it wasn't to be. Yet, I know my grandmother only needed my father to make her a mother. He was more than enough and she adored him. | East Orange was not far from New York City. Leona had a close family. They all loved her little boy. Maybe she was overprotective, but not obsessively so. My father certainly had his share of male escapades in his youth. I don't know if he went into the city or not, but I like to think he did. I like to think that is why he was fine with taking us children to New York. | A Child for Leona and Charles
4: Charles Adam Dorer | Charles Adam Dorer,19 years (app.) | Grandpa Dorer, as I would have called him, died before I was born. He was born in New Jersey to parents that came from Alsace Lorraine. His father was Jean which is a French form of John. My father was John. I am Jane. You could say I was named after my father or my great grandfather or my great grandmother Phoebe Jane Elliott. The ancestry is a lot more German than French, but I always thought our names sounded better in French. | John Elliott Dorer, Leona Hofker Dorer, Phoebe Jane Elliott Hofker, George Hofker, Charles Adam Dorer, unnamed doggie and relative. | Charles Adam Dorer and John Elliott Dorer 1917 or 1918 | John, Charles and young woman
5: The Jersey Shore | Get a nice bowl haircut and head down to the shore with the men in your family. No bare chests in the 1920s. Nothing wrong with a man wearing a bathing cap. Later take a walk with your grandma. She looks really stylish in her long dress and feathered hat. | John Elliott Dorer with his grandmother Phoebe Jane Elliott Hofker | Cousin David Harwood, Jane Ellliott Dorer and Richard Sargeant Dorer on the beach in Brewster on Cape Cod in the 1950s. | Spend the month of July at the beach taking pictures of your family and surroundings. 50s bathing attire sure was more practical for sun and surf.
6: Leona Hofker Dorer | Leona B. Hofker was the elder of two sisters. Photographs show a close loving family. The father was George Hofker and the mother was Phoebe Jane Elliott. My mother told my brother Robert that Leona was a very strict parent. She was always warm to us grandchildren. Every Easter, we would visit her in East Orange. She lived in a shared house. I remember thinking the front door was beautiful with its large beveled glass oval. My sister loved the wide staircase. We stayed at the Garden State Motel. On Easter we went to dinner at a really nice restaurant called The Robin Hood. There was a large powder room adjoining the bathroom. I remember lounging on the chaises with my sister after we ate way too much of all the good food. | Leona Dorer and John Dorer | Phoebe Jane Elliott, John Elliott Dorer, George Hofker, Leona Hofker Dorer | John Dorer with his Aunt Madelin
7: Baby John | Grandpa and Mom and me. Aunt Madelin and other family members. Then there's me with my girl cousin who loves carrying me around and playing with me. And, of course, there is Grandma, who loves me. She takes me many places, sometimes with my Mom, and sometimes its just us two. I guess my Dad's taking the pictures because he's not in them or maybe he's at work at the electrical store he owns. It's his own small business — he's an entrepeneur. I think I'll be an engineer and build things. I'll let my Dad electrify them. | John Dorer and his grandmother | Grandpa Hofker, Leona Hofker Dorer, baby John, Aunt Madelin | John and his cousin
8: John Dorer growing up | Pose on your wagon to demonstrate great balance. Next hands in pockets and a tilt of the head to avoid the posed look. Sometimes mothers like to dress up their boys in silly clothes with big bows. A sailor boy look? You're not buying it. You put up with it for her sake, but you make sure to wear an expression that lets it be known what you really think. A nice pony ride on a cold winter's day is just the best thing. Now that's a Christmas card picture. | Daddy
9: Every boy needs a dog | High swimsuit fashion. A nice bodyhugging tight fit. Could probably swim the English Channel in this. Of course, a nice physique is what makes the look. Practicing that germanic, center of the frame, rigid straight, hands to the side pose. The toy prop and the stark shadows make it a winner.
10: Kenneth and Bunchy | They grew old together. Grandpa always taking polaroids. Grandma never wanting to be in the picture. Grandma loved having a fire and Grandpa made one most every cold night. They were a comfortably close couple. When Kenneth died, Frances was so sad and alone. My mother said to her, "You come into the world alone, and you go out alone." Grandma responded, "I didn"t." | My grandfather called her "Bunchy". She always called him "Kenneth". And the way she said it was just as endearing as his "Bunchy". Frances was her name. She had a twin sister Mary. As the story goes, Kenneth took Frances on a date and liked her very much. She was smitten. But he wanted to make sure he had picked the right twin, so, he took Mary out. Now that's being a cad, isn't it? And Maryâ€, she went! What was she thinking? Good thing Kenneth came to his senses and fell in love with Frances. I'd love to hear his explanation when he asked for the second date. He turned out to be a gentleman (not a cad) and married Frances. He was the person who could really make her smile and laugh. | a love story | Kenneth Sargeant May and Frances Osgood Stevens May | Kenneth Sargeant May and Frances Osgood Stevens May
11: Then down the street to the Eliot station. Father takes the MTA to work in Boston. Miggie (Margaret) goes off to school where she will meet and later marry her high school sweetheart Henry Harwood. Libby (Elizabeth) is off to school as well. She's very bright with a keen inquisitive mind and a love of reading. A bit shyer than her outgoing sister, but just as happy in her life. George, an endearing mischievous boy is more athletic than scholarly. He loves to play hockey. Mother's at home, probably arranging for the chores and shopping (she never drove a car). And then her loveâ€—reading. | Get up in the morning and go downstairs. A staircase winds down into a large foyer.The portrait of Aunt Frances hangs on the staircase wall. It's breakfast time and father insists they all eat a good healthy breakfast together. It's his favorite meal. They eat in the dining room with its beautiful linen tablecloth, fine china and silver, mahogany sideboard and antique chairs. Father relishes his children and his family life. He greets each child with a tickle and a hug. Mother watches with a big smile. She loves the man she married and the life they've made together. She's not nearly as affectionate as he, but he has more than enough for two. | The Mays of Massachusetts | oil portrait of Aunt Frances | Frances, Margaret, George, Kenneth and Elizabeth May
12: Kenneth Sargeant May | The son of George Washington Niles May and Harriet Sargeant of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. His sister Mary, who was at much older than he, really brought him up. George was an elderly man when his son Kenneth was born. The family had moved from the Vermont homestead Mayfair before Kenneth was born. George had to leave his bank job unexpectedly. My brothers like to speculate, that he embezzled funds and had to "Get out of Dodge" quickly. I think it's more likely that he made a serious error and had to "exit stage left". | a hat man and he wore them well | Mayfair in St.Johnsbury, Vermont
13: down the Cape | That's me and my Mom and my Grandpa. We're on the beach at Brewster, Cape Cod. The May family started going to Brewster Park when my Mom was a girl and we all kept on going for generations. All the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren went to Brewster. | with the family | It's timeless and peaceful on Olde Cape Cod. Lazy days at the beach, afternoon siestas on the screened-in porch. Bugs buzzing, children playing. Makes you want to put on Nat King Cole, "Bring out those lazy hazy crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and beer. . . You'll wish that summer would always be here." | Fran, Grandma, Grandpa, Mummy holding Robert, Richard and me, Jane. | the Winslow Cottage, the Sun Pavilion in Brewster Park
14: Frances Stevens May | Frances loved cats | Frances with her daughters Margaret and Elizabeth | William Burnham Stevens married Amelia Josephine Hill. As often happened in the 1800s, she died in childbirth. Grief and pain existed beside the will to live on. Some years later William married a distant cousin, Williamine Greene. They had a son and named him William Flint Stevens. Pregnant with her second child, she took little William (who was now four) on a picnic. By a beach of the Charles River, she let him play in the shallow water. Looking away for what seemed like seconds, she turned and found him face down in the water. He had drowned in less than a foot of water. Another unbearable loss and one William never got over. Somehow, he found the strength to go on. Three daughters were born to William and Williamine. The eldest was named Josephine after William's first wife. Then the twins, Frances and Mary. He was ever vigilant in protecting the health of his daughters. He lived to see them all happily married with children of their own. | Auntie Jo and Grandma (Frances)
15: family | Frances's grandfather was William Flint Stevens (a physician) and his grandmother was Mary Jane Gould Burnham Stevens (direct descendant of Kings of England (from the House of Plantagenet). Yes. I am part French. I always knew it. William's sister, Frances, died of TB. A painful loss for the family. When he married, he named my grandmother for her. My sister Fran was also named for her and the Copley School oil portrait of 'Aunt Frances' hangs in Fran's entryway stairwell wall as it did in Grandma's home. | William went to Dartmouth and Harvard law School. He fought in the Civil War. He became a judge. His children adored him. He was loving and playful. My grandfather had had to drop out of MIT before graduating due to lack of money, a source of shame for him. He was nervous to meet "the judge". He shouldn't have been. Both men loved Frances and her happiness was what mattered. Kenneth was warmly welcomed. | William and Williamine (front right) in Yosemite | William and Williamine (front right) in Yosemite | Grandpa (Kenneth) with a horse and buggy | William Flint Stevens | Mary Jane Gould Burnham Stevens
16: Elizabeth Stevens May | At age eight, a serious tumble and a bad landing—teeth seriously injured. Root canal was unsuccessful and false teeth were needed. After that Elizabeth would rarely smile for a photograph. Her smile was fine, but she could never be convinced of it. Photos thereafter make her look serious or unhappy or sometimes just plain closed-mouthed. The photographic record will never be truly representational of her personality, | A smiling toddler Elizabeth with her sister Margaret. Cute little girls all dressed up for their portrait. Margaret really likes that big bow and Elizabeth prefers the understated look. Both girls followed in their mother's footsteps and attended Smith College. | Elizabeth (third from left, middle row) at Smith College | Margaret and Elizabeth
17: college and graduation | Lehigh University and Smith College | Lehigh in Bethlehem, PA. Once home to Bethlehem Steel in the days of "Captains of Industry" (as my mother would say). In 2006, the old steel plant was sold to the Sands Corp. A luxury resort of hotels, restaurants and casinos is being built (and not out of steel). I don't think my father would understand that. | He graduated in 1939 with a degree in engineering. Witnessing his father's struggles with a small business during the depression, John was determined to have a marketable skill set. He wanted a career with a large company. And he did work for E.I. duPont his whole career. | Northampton, Mass. in the Pioneer Valley. Smith was one of the "Seven Sisters" of women's colleges. The women in my mother's family were Smithies and she was no exception. She studied economics and graduated in 1940. Daughter, Fran, and granddaughter, Whitney, also graduated from Smith. Whitney was even in the same house (Ellen Emerson). | double-breasted frat men | John Elliott Dorer | Smith College | Lehigh graduation
18: Hartford | Libby was Elizabeth's nickname. Her younger brother, George, couldn't pronounce Elizabeth—he said "Libbabeth". Hence the shortening to Libby or Lib. She was always a good liberal. Maybe Lib was the perfect name. The manager/housemother/matchmaker type decided to fix up two of her officer army men with two of her young ladies. The matchmaker's initial hunch was that Libby would be perfect for the other lieutenant and not my father. She was wrong (as matchmakers quite regularly are). The double date ended in the beginning of a courtship between Libby and John. Elizabeth also worked in the hat department of a major department store in Hartford. I don't know when or why. But hey, I love hats. | next stop | John joined the Army Air Corps after college. The European War against Nazi Germany was bound to need the help of the United States. A large percentage of young men signed up for military service. He was in Hartford for a training course with other officer enlistees. They were staying at the YMCA. | Elizabeth moved to Hartford to start her first job at an insurance company. The woman who hired her was also named Elizabeth May. Libby thinks that was the deciding factor. She had a room at the YWCA. Single women often lived at the Y. There were other young singles and a manager/housemother type in charge.
19: let's date | Elizabeth seemed nice. She has a cute shy half smile. Kind of alluring really. She works in insurance — must have a head for figures. And she has a nice figure too. You like a woman with meat on her bones. Not hugely full figured, but a nice feminine curvaceous shape. You decide to 'give it a go' and ask her out. | John. was a lot of fun. He has those sweet big brown eyes. You've always been drawn to them. And he's seems so sensitive and at the same time fun loving. A good combination. He's kind of skinny though. You'll have to learn to cook to help him fill out a bit.
20: in the now | We're aviators. You can tell by the airplane pins on our caps. Plus look at how we hold our arms up in mid-air—no leaning on anything for support. Army Air Corps tough and light (hearted and armed). | Men seem to always maintain some juvenile male humor. 'You can't choose your face, but you can pick your nose.' Thank goodness for women. | you're
21: setting the date | You've been dating for a few months. It's been good. You decide to 'take the plunge', and 'pop the question'. Elizabeth says yes and you both 'set the date'. | Hartford is now behind you. You're embarking on a trip to Georgia with your family and on a new life with John. Wedding date is March 7, 1942 at the Turner Field chapel in Albany Georgia. It seems a bit fast, but it's wartime and decisions must be made quickly. So exciting really. You're smiling.
22: the wedding day | Elizabeth and John | When in doubt, go with the hat. That's my philosophy. See that cute half smile of Elizabeth's in the avec chapeau pic? Then sans chapeau, Elizabeth has a full fledged (teeth showing) smile. And it looks great. John seems to have the exact same 'look on' and 'tilt to' his face. How did he manage that? | October 2, 2011 In July, I visited my mother. In her room, I discovered a "Wedding Chimes" book. While she was dozing off (and she does that a lot these days), I looked through the book. I had all sorts of questions for her when she awoke. She couldn't answer them. She looked at me and said, "Weren't you there?" I responded, "Mummy. I wasn't born yet." Then she started laughing and said "Of course, you weren't." She knew. | My parents Elizabeth Stevens May and John Elliott Dorer
23: reception dinner | family and friends | the guests. follow the names in order around the table. the list starts with Margaret (sister of the bride) to John's left. continue clockwise. | It's wartime and you're far away. Not too many guests. But family is there and that's what really matters. Charles Dorer didn't make it. Why? Perhaps he couldn't. He has a heart condition. Leona is there and your parents and siblings, along with Miggie's husband, Henry.
24: early married life | houses we lived in | games we played | poses we struck | the dog we got | From the awnings of Albany, Georgia to the midwestern never-ending flatness of Seymour, Indiana. Army life, Officers' club receptions and Wives' club activities. Colonel, the English Setter, loved to dig holes in the backyard of the Seymour house. Libby kept an eye out for the landlord driving by as she filled them in.
25: the war years | John was in charge of maintenance of the aircraft at the air field. His mechanical engineering background was ideal for learning and understanding the workings of airplanes. He oversaw work assignments and personnel. His attention to detail and his overall organization skills made him a good fit for the post. He was also involved in the training of personnel when needed. With John in charge, everything ran efficiently. He was a straightforward 'see the overall structure' kind of guy. He didn't see any overseas duty until the very end of the war when he was sent to New Guinea on a clean up mission. 'Tidy up loose ends' and get equipment and personnel home.
26: New Guinea | WWII | New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. Situated to the north of Australia, it was a strategic base for Japanese forces and the campaign to take it by the Allied forces was long and grueling. | The island was and is inhabited by close to a thousand different tribal groups, speaking nearly as many languages. It was once called Papua and the independent country of Papua New Guinea is the eastern half of the island. A major mountain range cuts across the island's center from east to west, making it nearly impossible for large units to cross. On the windward side of the mountain range, where most of the ground fighting took place, it rains as much as 300 inches a year. One veteran recalled, "It rains daily for nine months and then the monsoon starts." | The war campaign in New Guinea was one of "grinding attrition" and "classic maneuver". Australian forces carried the bulk of ground combat during the war of attrition, while the American forces were readied for the maneuver phase. Under General Douglas MacArthur, sustained surprise amphibious attacks on Japanese air bases were highly successful. Having broken Japanese codes, the Allied forces knew the plans of the enemy, including where the Japanese thought the Allied forces would attack. General MacArthur skipped the larger more fortified airfields in favor of smaller less protected ones. It was a winning strategy. | Source for this page: The U.S. Army campaigns of World War II by Gordon R. Sullivan, General, United States Army Chief of Staff | Jungle Fighters, Arawe, Pacific, by David Fredenthal Army Art Collection | Our father, John arrived in New Guinea in 1945 on a clean-up mission. Though I don't really know all what means, I can only imagine there was much to clean up. Looking at his pictures of tribal natives, I hope the island clean-up was thorough. What must the natives have thought of these soldiers attacking each other with guns and grenades and strange looking ships coming out of the water. | New Guinea artifacts
27: Our father, John, took this picture in New Guinea. It's one of three I have. He must have taken more, but these are all that remain. This particular one is beautifully composed. The angles—more literally, the triangles—I see them everywhere. The children, one behind the other going from foreground to background—beautiful. The balance, the light and shadow—wonderful. His photography was quite good when it came to candid 'recording the moment shots.' He had a good eye for it. Every now and then he took a real gem. I like to think that most of the time, he looked and let the picture come to life. Move to the picture until you see the photograph.
28: in the land of 'the lake effect' | Buffalo, New York | The one thing you really need to know about Buffalo is that it is really really cold in the winter. It's also windy, but not as windy as Chicago. Both cities are on the shores of one of the Great Lakes. Chicago on Michigan and Buffalo on Erie. Since Buffalo is east of both lakes, it experiences 'the lake effect'. Winds blowing from west to east cause Buffalo to get huge amounts of snow piled in large drifts. | After the war, John was offered employment by several large corporations. He liked the offer from duPont best. One of his offers came from a Boston firm. Libby would be closer to her family then, but she was up to the new adventure and happily moved to 294 Huxley Drive in Snyder (suburban Buffalo). She and John bought a house for $13,000 on the G.I. Bill. It was a modest house, but it was theirs. | Frances Stevens Dorer had joined the family on September 14, 1944. She was born in Newton, Massachusetts and spent a year of her life there when John was overseas. The three of them and the dog, Colonel, started the family phase. Three more children would be born in Buffalo, Richard (1947), Jane (1950) and Robert (1953). | John, Elizabeth and Frances Dorer, Kenneth S. May | Elizabeth and Frances Dorer, Frances Stevens May
29: Quietly in her sleep around three this morning, our mother passed on. For the last few days, she has felt that her mother was beside her. As Robert said, maybe someone does come to get us. It's definitely comforting to think that someone would be my mother when my time comes. | October 8, 2011
30: Elizabeth May Dorer May 8, 1919 - October 8, 2011
31: a last picture I took of my mother, July 2011 | John Elliott Dorer October 19, 1917 - October 20, 1982
32: Mummy | Daddy | Two plants David and I picked out on October 8th, 2011. I planted them in the hillside garden outside my bedroom window.