Several years ago – I found a number for Geneva Hansen. She was the daughter of Joe Friddle and Bessie Silver. I called her and made plans to drive to Coue d’Alene, ID which was where she lived. At the time I met her she was in her 90’s – still living at home and still very sharp. She was a bit puzzled as to why I wanted to talk to her, but there was definitely a great reward.
Geneva was old enough to remember living up on Grouse Flats with her parents and grandfather, Albert Friddles. Albert was my great grandfather’s older brother and was probably the closest father figure that he had. Albert was actually 34 years older than Pop Friddle (David Carl Friddle, my great grandfather) and was the one who encouraged him to come out west and homestead up on Grouse Flats which is in Wallowa Co., OR.
Geneva recalled when she was a little girl she thought that Uncle Carl (Pop Friddle) was her favorite person in the world. Whenever he was around, Geneva would follow him around like a puppy. She loved is deep voice, big laugh and hugs. My mother used to say that Pop Friddle gave the best bear hugs. I’ve always heard stories from my mother and my great uncle about Pop Friddle, but it was great to hear stories from someone else who had a completely different perspective.
Geneva told one story about a Christmas when she was young – probably about 1920. Evidently they were having a Christmas party at their church. Pop Friddle being a large and husky man must have been the obvious choice to play Santa Claus. So, he dressed up in the red suit and beard and made an entrance at the party. He looked nothing like his normal self. Geneva was one of the younger children who they were trying to surprise with Santa. Geneva said that she took one look at the man in the red suit and went running towards him shouting “Uncle Carl, Uncle Carl” - They weren’t able to trick young Geneva and she was so thrilled to see her favorite uncle.
|Pop Friddle as he must have looked around 1920.|
Geneva told me that that Christmas was one of her favorite memories as a child. They didn’t have much but they did get oranges and nuts and perhaps a toy at Christmas. They were much simpler times and Christmas was a simpler celebration…but that Christmas party so long ago was still very fresh in Geneva’s memory.
Geneva passed away a few years ago at the age of 94. She was the last of her family – her 3 other sisters, parents, and husband had all preceded her in death. She spent the last few years of her life living in Everett near her daughter. What a lovely lady – I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet her.