Wednesday, December 9, 2015

More Treasures: Photos of Amanda Orr and Daughters

Grandma Mary's sister, Amanda, is the only one of her sisters that I can remember--and we didn't see her often. We called her Aunt Mandy. I wasn't particularly impressed with her. She was big and plain and I don't remember that she ever paid any attention to me. But that didn't matter. That's the way it was. My grandparents and aunts and uncles didn't gush over us, nor play with us, nor try to entertain us--except on the 4th of July when the uncles set off fireworks for us. At our family gatherings, the women had work to do getting the meal on the table; the men had macho things to talk about as they sat and smoked in the living room before and after dinner, which the noon meal was called. The evening meal was supper.

We children had cousins to play with. We didn't expect attention from the adults. There were too many of us--nineteen grandchildren. I was number eleven, the sixth girl--not a particularly auspicious position. We children ate at a separate table until we became teenagers. Then we could eat at the adults' table.

Aunt Mandy was just another one of the adults. Actually, she was not a part of any of our family gatherings, that I recall. We saw her at other times when she was visiting Grandma. The photo below shows her with her nephew, John Waggoner, the first born of Emery Waggoner, her brother. John came to live in Hartington, Nebraska, where Amanda lived, and was buried there. The young woman in the photo is one of Amanda's daughters, either Reba or Geneva according to a note on the back of the photo. (Thanks again to Lee Nelsen for these photos.)
John Waggoner, Amanda Orr, Reba or Geneva Orr. 

I love studying photos to see what I can learn, so I put my limited sleuthing skills to work on this photo and the next to see if I could figure out which daughter is shown in the first photo.

My conclusion: it's Geneva. I'll tell you why.
Reba Orr and her husband, Donald Torppa.

Notice the tree in the background of both photos, the identical curve of the branches to the right, and other landscape features. This make me think the photos were taken at the same outing. If that's the case and Reba is positively identified in the second photo, then the woman in the first photo is Geneva. They're wearing different outfits, the woman in the first photo appears to more slender than Reba in the second photo, and their hair is parted on opposite sides. The shadow of the photographer shows a woman wearing a skirt. Did the same woman take both photos? Or did Geneva and Reba take turns behind the camera? One could argue that the faces look much the same. If the photos are not the same woman, the two sisters looked a lot alike.

After all that, I must confess my bias in this study. I wanted this to be Geneva because I have no photos of her other than the grainy ones from the news stories of her murder (see link below).  I still think my evidence is valid that it's Geneva.

Next, here is another photo of Reba again with her husband, Donald Torppa. Reba and Donald eventually moved to Spokane, Washington, where they lived in 1960 and were both employed as teachers in the public schools.[1]
Reba and Donald Torppa, 1945.

For my original post on Amanda, click here.
For the first of the stories on Geneva's murder, click here.
[1] U. S. City Directories, 1822-1925, Spokane, Washington, City Directory, 1960; digital image ( : accessed 8 Dec. 2015); citing Donald Torppa and Reba Torppa.

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