Mourning the loss of an old friend – many years later
By Ruby McFarland
Special to the Appeal
I finally finished reading Emma Nevada Barton Loftus’ diaries. I’ve been mourning ever since. Emma’s diaries, beginning in January 1917, stopped abruptly on Dec. 1, 1958, but I had known long before she was ailing.
In 1956, she lost a couple of days, and, by her own admission, didn’t know what had happened. I suspect, although I’m not a doctor, she may have suffered a small stroke. It was downhill after that.
People who saw Emma in her front yard who didn’t know her well described her as a mean old woman, but she was anything but that – it was about that time she started to fail. She was suffering then from terrible pains in her legs and feet, and found little relief from medications the doctor gave her.
After the 1956 episode, she was sporadic in keeping up the daily diaries until 1958, when she missed days and weeks at a time. She was 84 years old and getting lame, saying she wasn’t able to do what she wanted.
Chester and Helen, her son and daughter-in-law, kept her in their home as much as possible. She would go to her nearby home to spend time because she didn’t want to lose touch with the past. Emma loved her home and hated to see the yard and home deteriorate, but knew she couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Emma spent her entire life doing for her family and the community. She was proud of Chester’s generosity, and often noted what a good son he was.
My view of Chester is that he was a magnificent rogue. I have learned to love them both.
You can’t have read 41 years of a person’s life without knowing a little about his or her personality. I like Emma – there were times and things that I didn’t like, but I think we could have worked that out. I hope her nephew, James Parker, and wife, Darlene, finish printing out the diaries so they might be shared with the public.
In 1958, Emma was placed in a rest home at Steamboat Springs near Reno.
Little is known about her health from then until her death on Jan 16, 1966. Emma was born Oct. 2, 1874. She was buried in Yerington in the family plot.
Her son, Chester, died Oct. 1, 1973, in the same home. He, too, is buried in Yerington.
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The Dayton Museum is lon Shady Lane and Logan Street in Old Town Dayton. It’s also the location of the Dayton Chamber office. It is open during the week at random hours and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Check out daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441.
The Dayton Historical Society meets at noon on the third Wednesday of the month at the Dayton Valley Community Center. Visitors welcome.
• Ruby McFarland is a 17-year resident of Dayton, a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.