Her name was Edna Stokes
Actually it was Edna Pearl Stokes, oldest daughter of Annie Lamare and Albert Warren Stokes. The two married after meeting on the Ferris wheel at Willow Grove Amusement Park way back in the 1890s.
Edna was the first of their daughters, Ida followed and then Eve. They lost Eve as a baby and then Ida, who passed away in her 30s of cancer.
Mother, my namesake, was born in the summer of 1899, married my father Ambrose Burnside Hoffman in about 1920. Ambrose had a heart condition and never served in the military during World War I. He had what in those days was unusual, a high school education and was an excellent typist. He could also take shorthand which got him the job as secretary to the head of the Philadelphia Navy Yard which back then was called Hog Island. Daddy also taught dancing, which was how he met my mother, Edna.
Edna didn’t finish high school; instead, she went on to study music and became an excellent piano player and teacher. It had been her plan to continue teaching after she married, but the depression hit and people weren’t paying for piano lessons
Instead, she went into working as a salesperson at Strawbridge & Clothier where she stayed until retirement, probably about 35 or 40 years Daddy passed away at a relatively early age from throat cancer. He had been a pack a day cigarette smoker most of his life. Mother continued at S&C and the story of how she met my stepfather. Charles Rutherford is interesting, if not unusual.
A friend of mine was a girl whose last name was Rutherford. My husband and I were expecting our fifth baby and had sold our home in Roslyn. Our new home was an older 12 room house in another town called Ambler and when I looked up movers in the new area there was that name Rutherford. I thought it was a sign of something or other — you know we pregnant women — and called to set up the move.
I’ll never forget that Charles showed up early and I hadn’t had a chance to clean out the refrigerator. He insisted I sit down in a chair while he did that chore, packed everything and had us on our way to our new home in record time.
Of course, a short time later my mother decided to move close to us, and she hired Charles. I think it was love at first sight, and a few years later my husband, Don, Sr., and I stood with them as they took their vows. There’s a story here, too.
They had set up having a minister to one of those little chapels that large Presbyterian churches often have. Mother played the organ for them, and liked their young minister. The church had two of those chapels and some how the parties involved got mixed up. Charles, Edna, Don and I went to the one chapel, the minister to another in another small town.
Panic ensued. I called my minister who informed me that he couldn’t perform the ceremony until he had had time to give instructions to the soon to be couple. I laughed, explaining that these two were grandparents, not kids, but he still said no. Instead who got in touch with a retired minister who filled in at the main Presbyterian Church who was only too happy to oblige. It was done in the pastor’s living room with the four of us, the minister and his wife.
Charles and mother had a great life together before she lost him. We had a laugh planning her funeral when it was discovered that while there was a space next to my father, Ambrose, there wasn’t one available in the cemetery next to Charles. I announced to one and all that Charles already had one wife beside him, he didn’t necessarily need two. She was buried next to my father. Mother had lived to be all of 96, a good ripe old age. I’m trying to see if I can beat her record.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer. She may be reached at email@example.com.