Tuesday, October 16, 2007


On our 1952 trip across the United States, one of the places we stopped was the Kansas City home of “Bachelor #2,” my father’s youngest brother, Seth. He’s the one who started out barn-storming in one of those little canvas and bamboo planes on the prairies and ended up flying transport and bomber planes in WWII, then piloting for TWA for the rest of his life. He was the one who made money and the one who married a glamourous stewardess, Josephine Sutherland, a Southerner whom my mother considered to be a true “steel magnolia,” a role-model.

Seth on the left, then my mother, then Josephine. A sun porch through the door.

Young Seth Thomas, the reason why bachelors marry and have children: so they will have an heir! Like Al Gore, it took three girls to get to the boy, but the family could afford it.

I’m never clear about which middle girl was Bonnie and which was Shirley, but I have a hunch this is Bonnie. I’ll send her this and find out! Jo is in the kitchen through the pass-through.

The children eat on the Sun Porch where I saw jalousie windows for the time time. Such elegance! A few years later my mother bought two wicker chairs just like these. I’m not sure she was conscious that they were just like “Aunt Jo’s” chairs. Here are (l.to r.) Mark, Paul, Shirley (I think), me up high and Carol Lee down low, and Bonnie (maybe).

Two “markers” of suburban affluence impressed us. One was this custom barbecue. My mother pressed the PTA into building one at our local public park, reasoning that if we had a barbecue like this in our backyard, none of the neighbors would EVER go home. The other marker was a riding lawnmower, which Valier residents consider one of the basic elements of life, rather like a dishwasher. I mean, you’ve GOT to have one!

Here’s the lineup before we all left. My mother and Seth on the porch. (Jo must have been doing something with Seth Thomas inside.) What has only dawned on us cousins gradually and recently is that this was IT. None of these children had children of their own, except possibly Paul, but his daughter was out-of-wedlock and therefore probably doesn’t even know he was her father, though he helped raise her for a few years. I never wanted children. Mark married a slightly older woman who already had children. Carol Lee never married and died young. Next is Paul, who died this March of a massive heart attack in his early sixties. The two little girls married but had no children. Seth Thomas (called "Tommy") ended up marrying but adopting two Chinese girls.

Both older Strachan brothers died of strokes at a relatively young age (sixties) even though Seth, as a pilot, had very tight medical review all the time. Both men tended to put on weight though they dieted constantly, to be red-faced, and late in life were irascible. I’m suspecting metabolic syndrome, a disorder in the proteins that circulate in the body, one symptom of which is diabetes 2. I have that and I rather suspect that Paul also had this syndrome, which means that some day his daughter may come looking for him. Mark seems to have a slightly different chemistry, more like my mother’s side of the family. My paternal grandmother struggled with goiter late in life and lost her first baby who was premature. One of my interests in this genealogical pursuit is putting these little wee pieces into the puzzle, including the Chinese girls, because heredity is only part of the story. Environment counts for another big part.


From the Hillsboro Journal, May 2, 1985

Mr. and Mrs. Seth Strachan

Miss Susan Blair Telfer and Seth Thomas Strachan, both of Barrington Hills, were married Saturday, March 16 at sunset (5:30pm) overlooking the ocean in Carmel, CA, in a private family ceremony.

The bride is the daughter of Mrs. James D. Telfer of Hillsboro, and Mr. and Mrs. Seth S. Strachan of Pebble Beach, CA, are the bridegroom’s parents.

The Rev. Elmer Gorman received the wedding vows in a setting enhanced by pink and white azaleas. Classical music was played by a guitarist and a flutist.

Given in marriage by Lloyd Hubbard of Stony Brook, Long Island, NY, the bride wore a floor-length, white, sleeveless gown of alencon lace and organza. Fashion details included a portrait neckline. She chose a bouquet of gardenias accented with heather and ferns.

Mrs. Kim Telfer Lohman of Hillsboro, sister of the bride, was her matron of honor, and was attired in a floor-length gown of organza in hues of pink. She carried a bouquet of purple iris, yellow tiger lilies, and pink heather, accented with ferns.

Mrs. Telfer’s street-length dress was of mauve and white crepe, and Mrs. Strachan’s street-length ensemble was of mint green silk.

Joy Moler of Phoenix, AZ, served as best man.

A wedding dinner was given by Mrs. James Telfer after the ceremony at the Highland Inn, Carmel. The bridegroom’s family entertained at a rehearsal dinner at the Monterery Peninsula Country Club on March 15.

The bride is a 1974 graduate of Hillsboro High School and earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing at Clemson University, Clemson, S.C., in 1978. She is a flight attendant for United Airlines and is based in Chicago. Her husband is a 1975 graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautics. He is a pilot employed by American Airlines in Chicago.

Following a wedding trip the Caribbean, Mr. and Mrs. Strachan are now at home in Barrington Hills.

from the Santa Clara Mercury, June 17, 1985:

Carol L. Strachan, 42, Santa Clara Schoolteacher

Carol L. Strachan, 42, a Santa Clara schoolteacher for the past 21 years, died in a Carmel hospice June 7 after a two-year bout with cancer.

“She was a person who had a tremendous love for children and a kind of mannerism about her where she could relate very well to them,” said Earl Davidson, principal of Westwood Elementary School on Saratoga Avenue in Santa Clara.

Davidson said a tree will be planted in the play area next to the classroom where she taught for many years, in recognition of her outstanding service to the school.

“She liked science, and it will be a living tribute to her memory. Her room was always a good one to be in,” he said. A plaque will be placed with the tree, Davidson said.

Miss Strachan, a native of Detroit, was a graduate of San Jose Sate University and the University of San Francisco. She was a member of Alpha Chi Omega and the California Teachers’ Association.

She is survived by her parents, Seth and Josephine Strachan of Pebble Beach; two sisters, Mrs. James Murray III of Santa Monica and Mrs. Gene Jacobson of Marina Del Rey; and a brother, Seth Strachan of Barrington Hills, IL.

At Miss Strachan’s request, no funeral services were held. Private inurnment was handled by the California Cremation Society.

Memorial donations to the Hospice of the Monterey Peninsula or to a favorite charity have been suggested by the family.

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