Greatest family friend Dorothy Little passed away last week. When Mrs. Little and Dr. Little had a celebration in 1999, they asked friends to contribute reminiscences. Which I did. And append here.
Thinking back, I guess my parents met the Littles due to the good grace of Grandma Maude Little. We lived a few doors down from her on Augusta Street -- we were new to Racine having come from Boston to work for Johnson’s. I was too young to know but I think Dorothy and Bill and Mary and Bill were just coming then to Racine having gotten out of the service. Maude thought that Dorothy and my mother Mary would find friendship together and this was exceptionally astute and true.
So ensued many years of wonderful friendship much due to Dorothy's bigness of heart. If my mother was on the phone in tears with laughter I knew she was talking to Mrs. Little. All the holidays -- Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas as I recall -- we had together. Billy and I would be out quickly after dinner (the kids ate at a separate table) and we would be playing rocket ship, recreating Flash Gordon, in the blue Pontiac with Chief Pontiac alit amber in some kind of acrylic on the hood. When it was Fourth of July my father would put a sheet on a wall in the yard and after dark everyone would watch home movies including films of volcanic eruptions we brought back from Hawaii. And when the film ran out, with the projector still going, flickering, Billy and the girls would act out silent movies -- 'you must pay the rent -- I cant pay the rent -- I'll pay the rent' said the hero. The kids would make fun of our Bostonian pronunciation of words like podaado chips, and cahh.
When my sister was sick Mrs. Little was there to help out. One Thanksgiving dinner I will always remember. Was somber because Kathy was not there -- she was in the hospital in a coma. She'd been hit by a car and thrown from her bike at Shorecrest shopping center. God it was scary. We worried, and at dinner it was just kids this time -- Doctor Bill and Dorothy naturally at the hospital. But we lit up in glee-ed relief when Mrs. Little came in late and said that Kathy was coming out of it. She'd spoken a word. It was as I recall "Cuba". This I think had been lately in the news.
We took vacation as families at least once together and once the Littles took me to join them on vacation -- I think near Lake Delevan. I still recall this brilliantly because I got to go go-karting. Great joy. When I went back home on Sunday, I recall the news in the newspaper and on the radio was that Marilynn Monroe died. -- so maybe it was 1962. Quiet Grandpa Bill drove me back to Racine and we stopped to inspect a bowling green. Lawn bowling -- a rarity. We looked at the surface grassed green, the boundaries hedged green, and wondered what the rules were.
Always there was Dr Little and the work. After dinner one Sunday night he took Billy and me to see Lawrence of Arabia. Fifteen minutes into the movie a page comes from an usher for Dr. Little down the aisles. T'was ever thus. He got back for the end of a movie -- which was not only in 120 mm technicolor but was also four hours long. So many calls to help so many people. So many dinners or backyarad picnics called away from. I remember so many times when the phone would ring and he's say "I'll be there." And Mrs. Little would say 'Isn't Doctor So-and-so on call?" And there'd be this long pause and some kind of mumble. And Dorothy would say I'll make a sandwich or something like that. This was part of life.
These are things from old times that happened as I recall. For me they hold oceans of meaning on which sail our lives.When Manson was on Life, or whatever, the natural stance among most was to see him as the devil. I can’t forget that Mrs. Little broke into a youths’ conversation to say ‘Well what do you expect from someone that was brought up without any love?’ Referring to Manson’s tenuous cathouse upbringing. For my family, strangers in the town in the 50s, if you will, all this great openness of the Littles meant that we had a bigger family although we were far from home. This more than anything was what made Racine home. And all this I hold as cherished remembrance. Which I offered in a snapshot 50th anniversary book. As well as prayers of thanks and my respectful best wishes. Jack Vaughan, 1999.
Dorothy A. Little