A History of the Burns Family
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PART FIVE: Cuyahoga Falls, 1926-1932  

Inspiration and Sources


 

 

The six years covered in Part Five follow the family's solid successes leading up to 1929, and their attempts to deal with the aftermath of the crash. Because this period marks the start of an extended period of separation for Ada and Ebba, letters abound and provide many details for the stories in this part. We also have later correspondence to draw upon, as well as family memoirs, photographs, and memorabilia. Where possible, family members speak for themselves, and not through me! Sometimes, however, the letter record is too scattered to tell a coherent story about an event or period, and then I have used my imagination to convey ideas and feelings via a particular person's viewpoint.

Stories #1 through #3 are transcriptions of a flurry of correspondence that was exchanged by Ebba and Ada when Ebba worked as a nanny and housekeeper to the Steere family in Mitiwanga, Ohio during the summer of 1926. The letters reveal the close and loving relationship between mother and daughter, one that continued until Ada's death in 1974.

Story #4 covers the exit of the older two children from the nest, Ebba to nursing school at Western Reserve University and Don to Ohio State University. The story is pieced together out of excerpts from letters the two of them wrote home during early fall of 1926 plus Don's memoir. Story #5 continues the tale with letters exchanged between Ada and her two older children during November of that year, enhanced with recollections from Don's memoir.

A wonderful letter on "Opportunity" from Ada to Ebba provides the theme of Story #7, which illustrates the family's adjustment to the departure of the two older kids. Details from this chapter are taken directly from letters of January-April, 1927.

Story #7 focuses on Dave and Bob, the homeboys, and Story #8 on Ebba and Don, the birds who've flown the nest. I've tried to use excerpts from correspondence or memoirs to tell the story wherever possible, but Ada's perspective knits them all together and relates them to the family as a whole.

Story #9 is told from the perspective of Bobby Burns, because his memories from this period are vivid and numerous, and paint a picture of a family at the height of its success.

Guy's point of view informs Story #10, about the looming financial catastrophe in the wake of the crash of 1929. I chose to use his voice because it was he who was most devastated by the events that followed -- losing his job and eventually his home. For a proud and self-made man like Guy, this would have been a bitter pill to swallow as he entered what was probably seen then as late middle age. Ebba and Don's own words demonstrate their compassionate and supportive reaction.