Family Secrets Lurking 2.0
Robert and May Stephenson Minor were reported to travel extensively, and I have always presumed it was due to wanderlust and adventure. The Donald Minor Postcard Collection (1906-1910) contained examples of photo cards from Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Charleston, West Virginia and Markleton, Pennsylvania; postmark ink lent support to the family recollections. The notes from these same cards offer a different explanation, however, particularly when read after the 1941 exchange between Robert and son Donald.
In a card postmarked from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on 24 March 1910, Robert writes:
Arived here all right – feeling fairly well to day can’t tell you just where to write yet or less you write to the saint Charles hotel. I would be there. On my pill every day. R. M.
Robert writes again on 5 April 1910:
Donald are you well and enjoying yourself. Is rover all right. I would like to have you over here to be with me for company. we might go a hunting with rover. I am not feeling very good I have the headaches prety bad to day. What are the folks doing. Could you wright to me. From Papa
Donald was just shy of his eighth birthday when his forty year old father sent this card, inviting the boy and his dog, Rover, to come hunting. Robert’s headaches must have been a debilitating, chronic fact of life which even a young child would have known about. I am not sensing adventure in the travels of 1910; Robert, it seems, suffered from migraines that took him on a search for relief, not a journey of adventure. The card’s postmark reveals the clue about where he sought relief that spring of 1910 – Markleton, Pennsylvania. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, this town was home to a grand health resort.
Robert Minor traveled a lot in 1910; Donald’s postcards indicate that Robert was in Pittsburgh in February and March; Markleton in April; Buffalo in May and June; Pittsburgh in September; and Markleton in October – with Donald.
This card was sent to Donald by his uncle John P. Minor, Robert’s eldest brother.
Donald how are you geting a long ar you having a nise time dont you get lost in the mountans from Uncle John P Minor
Don’t get lost in the mountains, like the secret of Robert’s condition.
I wonder how long Robert suffered from headaches. Was Robert hospitalized in 1941 for the same chronic condition? When did his headaches start? What events precipitated his incapacitating condition? And how did these absences affect little Donald?
The secret lurking in my work room is become sharper, easier to imagine and envision.