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Tag Archives: Muriel Croy

The Gift of a Doll

My doll and I learning love.

My doll and I learning love.

When I was born my Uncle Muriel placed a doll along side me in my crib. A doll was a singular companion in those days. They didn’t come by the basketful, made on an assembly line, stamped out in a far off country, one of dozens to overload a child’s bedroom. They came alone, to be loved.

She was my only toy companion for many years, and I valued her. As I grew, I learned to cuddle her, care for her, protect her. Carried everywhere, taken on picnics, dressed, and fed cookies and tea, she entertained me. She sat while I read to her, endured my pampering, and listened while I cried or vented my frustration. I am sure I mimicked the nurturing I received from my parents, but it was more than that. I gifted her with what I desired…to be cuddled, cared for, protected, pampered, listened to, love. I learned to give what I needed. I learned how to love.

A constant companion.

A constant companion.

In this season of gifting, I think of her. I’m reminded to cuddle my grandchildren, pamper my husband, listen to others, and care. My desires are few. In our stamped out material world, I hope we receive less and value it more. I hope what we give and get does not teach us isolation, but teaches us how to love.

By the way, I still have that doll. It sits in a chair now, not cuddled much but protected, its job complete. So, here is one more wish, that we cherish our past and learn from it.

Cherished still

Cherished still.

Treat #4 for a New Year: Ralph Lewis Croy as a boy

Here are two pictures that show Ralph Lewis Croy, my father, as a little boy.

Muriel, Ralph, Calvin Croy

Muriel, Ralph, Calvin Croy

The first, thanks to a special relative, shows Muriel in his WWI uniform and Ralph and Calvin dressed to impress, all for a studio photograph. With hair neatly parted and combed, they stare solemnly into the camera. The photographer shot this picture in about 1917-8, the approximate time that Merle “ran away to join the army.”

The next photograph is a personal favorite. I had searched for it unsuccessfully some years back and recently found it tucked away inside an inconsequential piece of paper.

Ralph Croy, circa 1920

Ralph Croy, circa 1920

Taken perhaps a year or two after the first, it shows Ralph Croy as the resourceful, outdoor loving person I knew but residing in a child’s body. Never leave a card or envelop unopened! Treasures are everywhere.

Muriel Croy, 1903-1980

Muriel Croy and Florence Swanson married about 1924

Muriel Croy and Florence Swanson married about 1924

My uncle Muriel (pronounced Murel) mesmerized my brother and I with fabulous stories. We made a point to wake early when we visited his Clear Lake, California home to drink coffee, ours heavily laced with milk and sugar, and listen to his tales. Little did I know how much of his own life was an intriguing mystery to solve. Aunt Helen and my dad, Ralph, always said he had a son, name unknown. The picture above, with the note my father wrote next to it, sent me on my own investigation. The note said, “She sent this picture and the picture of his son to Mom. They were never heard of since.” Dad had dated the photographs, to the best of his ability, as 1923.

Muriel went to work in the coal mines by the age of 13, about 1916. It seems he soon tired of that life and joined the army, stationed at Camp Travis, Texas.

Muriel Croy, Camp Travis, Texas about 1920

Muriel Croy, Camp Travis, Texas about 1920

Somehow, from there, he ended up in Harvey, Illinois. This information came from the photography studio information on the pictures’ covers. Using the federal census, I was able to find a boy named Floyd Croy living with a Swanson family in Harvey in 1930. He was listed as the grandson of the head of household John P. Swanson. The only female child listed in that census was a 27 year old named Florence. With a little more work, I found her. Illinois death records show Florence Croy born February 13, 1903 in Harvey, Illinois dying on October 19, 1933 at age 30 in Bremen Township, Cook County, Illinois. She was buried in Thornton, Illinois. Her occupation was given as an elevator operator, divorced from a “Merrill” Croy. Her father was John Swanson, immigrant from Sweden, and her mother was Mary Matheson from Norway. She left her son, Floyd N. Croy who was born on September, 7, 1925, an orphan at age eight. Floyd continued to live in Illinois. Yearbook records show that he was a great first baseman. Social Security records indicate that he worked for the railroad and died in Harvey on July 22, 1989. Here is the picture she sent to Grandma Mollie Croy.

Floyd N. Croy, about 1926

Floyd N. Croy, about 1926

By the time Florence died, Muriel had remarried. The 1930 census shows him living with a “Dala” in Oklahoma and then, in the 1940 census, in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I found little on her but the 1940 census shows two nephews living with them, Armand and Raymon Odom whose mother’s maiden name was Schoopman. I have no pictures of her. Eventually, Muriel married Velma Truss  with whom he lived for the rest of his life.

Muriel Croy and Velma Truss marry in about 1943

Muriel Croy and Velma Truss marry in about 1943

But, for me, with all his flaws, he will always be the great storyteller…even better than Dad. When I found this photo, I was sure I had found the spirit of Uncle Muriel.Muriel Croy