Seventy years ago today my big sister Carol Lynne Thorpe died.
I never knew her. She died before I was even conceived. But I can’t help but wonder how the dynamic of our family would have been different with her running point and me sliding into her slipstream as the next in line.
Like me, she lived with our folks, Ray and Paddy Thorpe, in my grandparents’ apartment at 545½ 2nd Street in Webster City after she was born.
She was baptized at the United Brethren Church. There were no Episcopal churches in Webster City at the time. She is wearing the Thorogood baptismal gown. The first grandchild and the first in her generation to do so.
My dad was a WWII veteran and attended Iowa State College on the GI Bill. To start out, the family moved to Johnston, Iowa, where Dad took classes at the Camp Dodge campus.
They lived with “Grandma and Grandpa Standers” their landlords.
In the summer of 1947 they visited my Dad’s sister and her family, which included their new son, David, who were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the time.
In the fall my dad returned to classes at Iowa State, but this time he took those classes on the main campus in Ames. They lived in married student housing in Pammel Court.
There were lots of little Baby Boomers around and Carol Lynne was one of them. My mom worked at the Student Union.
Sometime in the fall, Carol Lynne got sick and died October 27th. We don’t know exactly what she died of. Who knows? SIDs maybe. But 10 years later my youngest sister Lisa had similar symptoms when she was a little older than Lynne. Her problem turned out to be hypoglycemia, kind of reverse diabetes. Hypoglycemia was not very well known in 1947. It only took a glucose drip to bring Lisa out of her coma. What a shame if it could only have been that easy with Carol Lynne.
My folks were dirt poor students when they were in Ames. They didn’t even have enough money to get her a grave stone. In 2001 my brother and sisters chipped in and we bought her a modest stone. We drove over to Ames. The cemetery worker had located the grave for me and cleared out a patch the size of the stone. I laid down a bed of sand and placed the stone.
Today, my wife Karen, my sister Lisa and I drove over to Ames again to honor her on the 70th anniversary of her death.
We laid a rose on her grave.