Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Uncle Dewey


The first family reunion that I remember clearly was in 1977 when the Gage & Shawver clan gathered for the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my great grandparents.  Before that time, I have images and some memories…but that is the first one that I remember the most detail from during my childhood.  I was 10 years old and probably a bit too precocious and lively as 10 year girls are.  I was enthused about playing with my godmother and Cousin Patti’s little girl.  I think she was about 15 months old and just the right size to play with.  I remember sitting on a blanket with her and playing peek-a-boo and talking to her.  It must have been my first experience with a baby that age.  I then engaged a bit tom foolery with an older cousin.  I dumped some ice down his back and he retaliated by grabbing my shoes, filling them with water and dumping that over my head.  We called a truce for a short time…and then the combat really started.  We found a stash of acorns and started throwing them at each other.  He was much older and was careful not to hurt me…but he also wasn’t going to let me get away with my pranks without some retaliation.  Evidently, my great great uncle decided that it wasn’t quite fair and joined me in attacking my cousin with the acorns.  I thought this was pretty remarkable at the time…because to me he was probably was an old man who I know was related to me but really wasn’t sure of his name…from then on, I knew he was uncle Dewey.

Dewey Dountain Shawver was next in age to my great grandmother.  He was born on 25 May 1899 in Decatur, Burt Co., NE to George Christian Shawver and Rebecca Jane Pitzenbarger.  I think he was named for a cousin of Chris Shawvers who lived back in West Virginia, because that is the only time that I have seen the name Dountain.    Chris Shawver’s older son left home not too long after he turned 18 – first to the military and World War I and then married moved to Montana.  Dewey stayed and lived near his father and helped him work the farm and was probably a partner as well as a son in many ways.  I know they were very close.   Dewey married Alice Elizabeth Davidson on 28 Sep 1919 in Lyons, NE.  His sister, Nettie had married Alice’s brother a few years before.   For the rest of their lives, they were never apart.  After Chris Shawver died in 1932, Dewey lived in Nebraska another 20 years before following his sister out to Idaho to Princeton where he and Alice made their home.

Shawver Family - Taken about 1905 - Dewey  is in the front with my great grandmother Florence behind him.
Jessie is in the middle, George is in the back and Chris Shawver has Nettie on his lap.
 I  think that this was taken after their mother died of  Tuberculosis in 1904.
Dewey worked as a logging truck driver from 1952 until he retired in 1965.   From what I have heard from others, Dewey was a great and skillful truck driver.  My memories of him are his gentle smile and kinda goofy looks.  By the time I knew him; he was bald and had a big nose.  He was an example of one those old men that my Mom always mentioned wearing bib overalls.  However to a little girl there was a sweetness and friendliness about him that made him approachable and certainly memorable.  I still remember him at his 70th wedding anniversary with all of his children, various nieces and nephews and his siblings about him.  He pulled my 92 year old great grandmother down on his knee and she put her arm about him and you could see the love and affection that had existed since they were children.

Dewey died at the age of 96 after spending his last few years in a nursing home.  He and Aunt Alice were at the point that they couldn’t take care of a home anymore.  I remember visiting him in the nursing home with my grandmother and watching how he tenderly held hands with his bride of 70 plus years.  She survived him three more years.  They both are buried at Freeze Cemetery near Potlatch, ID.  Whenever, I think of Uncle Dewey – I smile and remember that cool old guy who helped me trounce my cousin with acorns at that long ago family picnic.