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The caption in the album reads “Bobby and Aunt Elsie having a grand time!” Taken in 1936

Another Women’s History Month has arrived and I can’t resist starting with this joyful photo of my Granny, Elsie (Mills) Oliver (1899-1993) with her nephew, Robert “Bobby” Hugh Oliver, Jr. (1930-1976). I can hear her laughing. This is an expression I remember well. And of course she’s holding Bobby’s dog, Snooky. Of course she is.

This is one of several photographs taken during the summer of 1936, presumably at the Landsdowne, Pennsylvania home of my grandfather’s brother and sister-in-law, Hugh and Claire (Loughney) Oliver. My grandparents, mother and her siblings were living in Beirut, Lebanon at the time, with three children between the ages of four and ten, so it was surprising to find my grandmother there without the rest of the family. But there she is with her mother, Mary (Hill) Mills. Elsie must have come from Beirut to visit her mother.

Elsie (Mills) Oliver and her mother, Mary (Hill) Mills

Mary Mills (known to her family as “Dear”) was 60 when this photograph was taken. She had been widowed a little more than ten years. After a lifetime in Baltimore, Dear was living in an apartment in Queens, New York not far from her son Jimmy Mills. This visit from Elsie was to be their last. Mary Mills died in Queens just a year later.

The third image is of the three sisters-in-law, presumably gathered for the visit from Elsie and Mary: Dorothy (Kay) Oliver, who was married to A. Douglas Oliver; Elsie, married to my grandfather, Kenneth Oliver; and Claire, married to Robert Hugh Oliver.

I had a delightful lunch last week with Mary Lee, who inherited this album that had belonged to her great aunt, Claire (Loughney) Oliver, wife of my great uncle, Hugh Oliver. I wrote here about Mary Lee’s and my first encounter over family photos, and am beyond thrilled that we got to meet (so much fun!) and look at photos together. More to come from this album, but today is for remembering Granny’s peals of laughter, her mother Dear, and “the Oliver Girls” in honor of Women’s History Month.

Thank you again to Mary Lee Witaconis for sharing these glimpses of the extended Oliver family.