Friday, March 21, 2014

Rest In Peace, My Dear Alva

Copyright 2014, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Earlier today I learned of the passing of a cousin and special friend, Alva June Trumbo Wood.

Alva was one of a kind, let me tell you!  She worked in Washington D.C. for years and always had to dress to the nines, so when she retired, you would think that might change.  Well, NOT for Alva.  She never left the house without her nails properly polished, her makeup done, hair coiffed perfectly, in a dress and high heals and frequently wearing a hat!

Here she is in 2006, strolling down the street in Harrisonburg, no hat, but heals, hose, nails polished, hair done, makeup done.  Alva - - styling - -

Alva used her retirement years to thoroughly research our branch of the Trumbo family tree, starting with Benjamin Trumbo of Rockingham County Virginia.  I descend from the first wife's lineage, Alva descended from the second wife's lineage.  I helped Alva now and then with her research on the clan.  My contribution was minor compared to hers.  Alva retired and moved to the county seat of Rockingham County, Harrisonburg.  She haunted the library and the courthouse.  She could walk to both, as she lived just blocks away.  She gained access to files. She dug and she dug and she dug some more.  She was well known around that library and courthouse. And, she was known at the "Artful Dodger", a local coffeehouse and cocktail lounge.  Alva would spend hours there, writing, visiting, being Alva.

This is one of the outside walls of the Artful Dodger, taken sometime around 2003.  Alva was such a good patron, she was painted into the scene.  Can you pick her out?

Alva's 75th birthday bash was held, of course, at the Artful Dodger.

Here she is sitting beside the wall, with her hat, in 2003.  I'll bet you can pick her painting out now, eh??

Alva would send me tidbits of information she was finding while researching our Trumbo lines.  One time she sent me a page from a local book by a local genealogist.  In that page it is claimed that Benjamin was rumored to have fathered 52 children.  I wrote about that incident back in June of 2010 - - Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - A Prolific Dad, Well, Maybe - - - 

I will never forget Alva's outrage when she wrote me, something along the lines of, "How dare he?", (referring to the local genealogist that reported the 52 children story). Her outrage was real.  Never doubt that, her outrage was real!  I however, was hysterical with laughter over the absurd statement.  I laughed and I laughed.  And, then, I had to write her a letter (remember when we wrote real letters and posted them and waited for a response?).

Knowing how livid she was, I had to find a way to give my opinion - which was that it could be possible, that Benjamin fathered 52 children, although highly unlikely. If somehow it was true, then, a large number of the local population of Rockingham County had really, really messed up lineages - and I had to give that opinion without insulting her.  Oh, it was hard.  We chatted about it several times over the years, she did not hold it against me. But, she never, ever, stopped being outraged at that sentence, that one short sentence.

You will be missed dear Alva.  Your contribution to the world of family research is real and lasting.  Thank you for taking me along on the ride, it was grand, just grand!



Joan said...

What a wonderful sendoff! Classy, poignant and oh, so, real. Thanks for sharing Alva with us.

Anne Kruszka said...

So sorry to hear of her passing. Relatives like that are real jewels.