By: Verna (Cook) Weatherly


Denny was the oldest; I was the middle child; our sister Dana was almost four years younger than me.


I remember the day our sister was born.  It was April 20, 1940, and I was standing at the top of the stairs to the second story of the old Prairie City Hospital.  (Later it was rebuilt into a long brick, one story building).  Aunt Lilace was holding me by the hand, and I had on a pretty little dark blue coat, made from my father's old suit.  It had a red taffeta lining.  I was very unhappy at being away from my mother.  It was probably the first time I was ever apart from her.


Dana, our sister, was of a different nature.  She was an excellent student in school and a wonderful little girl.  Dana walked to and from school with me every day for several years, and I do not remember her ever being any trouble.  I would have to wait on her, as her legs were shorter, being so much younger.  We always slept in the same room.  I was always more possessive than she, and I didn't like other people fooling with my things.  She was never possessive and shared everything she had.


She loved light blue dresses, and with her golden hair, she was a picture.  She liked to play dress up, and Mom had a big old trunk she kept on the small back porch between the kitchen and the main back porch, before our Dad added on the upstairs.  He put the stairway where our old trunk had been.  The trunk was full of old dresses and hats.  We even wore high heel shoes and clanked around the floors.  It always tickled our mother when she saw the outfits we would come up with.


Dana and I played out in the woodshed a lot, using our Dad's split cord wood to make a pretend house or restaurant.  Mom and Dad always bought us a lot of toys for Christmas from the Sears and Roebuck catalogue.  I remember little aluminum dishes and a real electric cooking stove about 20 inches high.  Eventually the cord wore out and would smell funny every time we plugged it in.


She spent a lot of time playing with Rosalie and Billy Jo Greear.  They were the prettiest little girls.  Our mothers were very good friends. 


One day, after our mom had started working full time, Dana and I decided to stay home from school.  We had heard about hobo's on our car trips to Portland to visit our Aunt Vada and Uncle Laurel.  The hobos rode the trains, and we were excited about disguising ourselves to look like these wandering vagabonds.  We felt this gave us the liberty to walk any place we wanted without fear of discovery.  We wore Dad's old clothes, and a few of Denny's, as he was in school that day.  We blacked our faces with black from burnt wood, and put on our father's old brimmed felt hats pulled far down on our heads, covering most of our faces.


Dana was still pretty small, and with her golden hair it was not easy to make her look like a hobo, but we went ahead with our plan.  We walked all over Bates in these outrageous costumes, and felt secure no one would recognize us.  We didn't get into trouble in any way; we just walked around hoping to remain anonymous.


I remember one of the mothers mentioned to me a few years later that she had seen us out that day wearing funny clothes.  Our Mom and Dad never mentioned this to us.


Dana, like our mother, was very talented musically and played the piano and later played an instrument in the High School Band at Prairie City.


As I mentioned, Dana was quieter, and if I would say anything defining about her, it would be how much she loved her family.  I believe she just wanted to be with us.  It didn't really matter where we went, she never complained, but it was just important to her that we were all together.  She carried this quality throughout her life, and was deeply devoted to our parents.