Sunday, April 08, 2018

Tattie, maternal great aunt, queen of the pop-beads

Dorothy Palmer Barber Bliven
#52ancestors #15

Dorothy Palmer Barber Bliven was born on 7 April 1895 in New London, CT where her father, J. Fred Barber took a job as a barber (hairdresser) and moved his wife Ellen (Nellie) Schofield Barber and his other two children, H. Josephine Barber (my grandmother) and Harold Schofield Barber (my great uncle) from their native Westerly, Rhode Island where he had also been a barber.

My grandmother told me that her first memory of living in New London, was of a parade for returning soldiers from the Spanish American War. (April 1898 – August 1898) She was such a pretty brunette haired, brown eyed little girl that one man stopped and asked her father if she was Spanish! J. Fred's store was on State Street which was probably shut down for the parade. By 1900, the family returned to Westerly. 

Dorothy was petite and blond in contrast to her siblings. As the baby of the family, Dorothy was not "rough and tumble" like her brother and my tomboy grandmother. 

Dorothy was smart, outspoken and good at math, and was the scholar of the family. She lived the rest of her life in the Westerly area.  Her eyesight and hearing were poor but it didn't hold her back. For a time, she did the bookkeeping for her father's automotive business, J. Fred and Son, she also was a stenographer for the Red Cross. Always employed, she was an office manager for the Narragansett Electric. I attended her retirement party hosted by her co-workers.

She was married and divorced from Henry (Harry) Bliven, a young man from nearby Stonington, CT who was an automobile parts salesman. They had one child, Gloria Josephine Barber who died at the age of ten. 

My mother told me that her brother, Evans Stewart, Jr. couldn't say "Aunt Dot" and it came out Tat, so she was known from then on to family as "Tattie". I was also told that she had an out of wedlock child, before he married Harry, a boy, given up for adoption.

I can't prove this and had to coerce this information out of my mother. I asked my father if her knew about this but he shook his head no. He looked surprised. It is a mystery.

After selling the house she lived in, Tattie lived in two apartments before she died. Her friends, Harry and Mary helped her move and as he was an attorney, he took care of her estate. My mother, her niece, was not named in this obituary so I assume a non family member or the funeral home wrote this all too short obituary.

She always came to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with us. When we had the beach house at Bonnet Shores, she would vacation with us. When she gave up driving, my father's family would bring her from Westerly to Cranston and for that I am grateful. My husband and daughter remember her and we say out loud on her birthday, "Oh man, Oh boy it's Tattie's birthday!" as it was her favorite saying and beige was her favorite color. I remember her fondly as a fun, talkative, friendly person.

On 16 Dec 1981, she died in the Westerly Hospital at the age of 86. She is buried at River Bend Cemetery with her father, mother, brother and his wife Martha and of course, her little girl. My parents are buried in the same section along with the paternal grandparents I didn't know.

No comments: