A History of the Burns Family
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PART EIGHT: The Burns Disapora (1941-1943)  

Inspiration and Sources


The six stories of Part Eight are all based on contemporaneous and later letters, family photos and memorabilia, and family memoirs. I used family members' own words as much as possible, but as in previous parts, the best way to convey the wealth of information contained in disparate letters about a particular period was most often to tell a story from one person's vantage point at a time.

In March of 1941, Ada rode along as a passenger in a car bound for Michigan, visited Ebba in Cleveland for a few weeks, and took the bus back to Seattle. I used this backdrop for Story #1, which reviews the family's progress in 1940 and '41.

Story #2, about Ebba's marriage to Gerald Burke in 1942, is told in her own words.

By the end of 1941, Bobby is in college, Ebba is married and fretting about the implications of looming war for his prospects, Don and Helen have moved to Seattle and joined the family business, and Dave and Wilma have had a second child. Story #3 weaves all these elements into a retrospective on the year, told from a variety of perspectives.

Story #4 tells the tale of Ebba's move to Seattle in the summer of '42, and also the return of Bobby Burns, after a disastrous sophomore year at Whitman. Both threads are told from the point of view of Guy, who trained out to Cleveland to fetch Ebba, and made his own return to the town where he'd grown up.

The family escaped to Ames Lake on weekends, and Story #5 uses this context to examine events and relationships through Ebba's eyes. We know the characters in this story were actually there on the Halloween weekend described here.

In Story #6, we learn from Ada about the very grumpy Gerald Burke, who is now in residence in Seattle after his army service, and from Betty Matlock's perspective we find out about her early romance with Bob.