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Bio. of Alice Louise Livingston Hall Trafton

Alice Louise at 9 years, w/ cousins Waneta & Winona Ackerman.
Alice Louise at 9 years, w/ cousins Waneta & Winona Ackerman.
Alice Louisa at 14
Alice Louisa at 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Alice Louise Livingston, December 8,1908 at the Dewey area homestead (near Anacortes, Wash); the youngest of 9 children.  Moved with her family to Snohomish, WA in 1918.  Met a boy (her first, we think) at a rodeo in 1924. She was 15. The boy

Alice Louise at 15 (1924)
Alice Louise at 15 (1924)

was 18, and many years later she said of  Donald Buell Hall: “he appeared to be a homeless, lonesome kid”. They ran away and got married in Seattle August 24,1924.

That first year found the young couple living and working for three different uncles of Don’s, in three different parts of Washington …and for practically no money.  Louise (as she liked to be called) came back to her mother (Harriet Livingston) in Snohomish to have her first baby (Lewis Buell Hall) on July 20,1925.  She was 16. Don didn’t come with her.

Louise, with her infant son, joined Don in California. Don was taking any work he could find, but not enough to live on. Fourteen months after Lewis was born, Louise returned to her mother’s house to give birth to Gladys May on October 27,1926. Gladys was born prematurely and was not expected to live, but (the story goes) Harriet fed her with an eyedropper and placed her in a shoebox on the warm oven door.  Gladys pulled though and lived to be 87 years old.

When Gladys was born, Louise was just shy of 18 years old. Now with two children, Louise returned to California with Don, and they moved around wherever Don thought he could find work. Louise wanted to return to Washington, and finally, in the fall of 1932, she took the children by bus back to her mother Harriet’s house in Snohomish.  Don didn’t come until spring of 1933. The family moved to Eastern Washington, Don still trying to make enough money to support the family.  Finally, in 1934, they settled in a construction town on the banks of the Columbia River, Washington, where the federal government was constructing the Grand Coulee Dam.  Don found work driving buses, trucks and limos.  He loved driving and was a truck driver for the rest of his life.

This is where Donald Robert was born on September 15,1935.  Eighteen months later, David Frederick was born on April 1,

Louise at 27 /w son Donnie (1936)
Louise at 27 /w son Donnie (1936)

1937, in the one room trailer house they called home.  Lewis (aged 11) and Gladys (aged 10) took turns staying home from school to care for little brother (Donald), and mother (who was recovering from scalding water burns), waiting for the birth.  Gladys was on duty the day of David’s birth, and she had to get the doctor.   Louise was now 28 years old with 4 children.

Louise with sons David & Donnie (1937)
Louise with sons David & Donnie (1937)

The family moved to Nespelem (an Indian reservation), then back to Grand Coulee in less than a year.  In early 1938 Louise divorced Don and went on welfare ($50/ month).   Things got worse.  Two of the children required hospitalization, then Louise had to be hospitalized.  Harriet (her mother) sent bus tickets, and the 4 children (the oldest 12, the youngest 11 months) boarded the bus for the 400 mile trip to Snohomish.  It was uncertain how long Louise would be in the hospital, so the children were sent to Anacortes to stay temporarily with two of Louise’s sisters.  Donald and David stayed with their aunt Ruth Trafton (and family); Lewis and Gladys stayed with their aunt Lillie Ginnett (and family).  It was several months before Louise could join her children.

Despite having no income, Louise was able to obtain a small house (on 5 acres of property) in Anacortes. The house had electricity, but no water (no indoor plumbing or toilet; all water was brought in by bucket).  She bought a cow and some chickens, and planted a large garden. This was the first real home she and her children had ever had. She got a used sewing machine and washer (no more scrub boards for cleaning cloths).  Life was looking pretty good.

In late 1940, Louise was introduced to Frank Ray Trafton ( uncle Henry’s brother) and they were married on January 11,1941.  She was 32 and Ray (as he liked to be called) was about 48. This was Ray’s 4th marriage.  It was a marriage of convenience. Ray needed a housekeeper and Louise needed financial support for her children.  Ray insisted that if he was going to raise her two young sons, they should take “Trafton” for their last name, so Donald and David were legally adopted.  Lewis (aged 15) moved to Eastern Washington to live with his dad.

Louise worked very hard; maintaining a large garden, a cow, chickens and even pigs. And of course the house took a lot of maintenance.  She gave a lot of love and attention to her two youngest sons; reading to them every night; sometimes children’s stories, sometimes romantic westerns. Often in the morning she’d read aloud from Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”, the text book of Christian Science.  ( Her mother Harriet’s religion )

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor December 7,1941, the day before Louise’s 33rd birthday.
Soon after WWII started, Ray got a good job (as head foreman), on a government wooden ship building project in Anacortes.  They were able to buy a used refrigerator.

Louise’s eldest son Lewis joined the Navy in late 1942.  He had to have his mom’s permission because he was only 17. Gladys, the daughter left home at 17, met a sailor, and married Edward (Bill) Rider in 1944.  Louise’s front door sported a banner with 2 stars, indicating 2 sons were serving in the war.

In the mean time, Louise was raising the two younger sons and working very hard to maintain a good home for them.  She gave Donald and David much more attention than she ever could with Lewis and Gladys, even taking on leadership responsibilities (PTA President, Cub Scout Den Mother).  She very likely felt that she had let her first two born down, and wanted to make up for it with her two younger sons.

Lewis’s ship was sunk off Okinawa on May 4,1945.  Louise told Gladys that she saw him in the water, and the water was on fire.  Incredibly, she described what actually happened to Lewis …when it happened.  He was badly wounded, and needed several months in California to recover. Then he came back to Louise’s house in Anacortes for a few months.  Gladys and Bill came to live in Anacortes after Bill’s discharge from the Navy.  Gladys gave birth to their first child (Roseann Louise Rider) on May 8,1945 (just 4 days after Lewis’s ship was sunk).

In 1946 Louise was persuaded to sell her little ranch and move to a better house (with indoor plumbing and running water).  No more chickens or cow to take care of, and a smaller garden.

Louise and family lived in the house on 33rd Avenue for about 6 years. Then, in 1951, Ray decided he wanted to convert an old school house (that had stood vacant for 20 years) into living quarters for the family.  This was not a popular decision with the rest of the family.  But, the move was made.  Donald and David finished high school living in the “Old Dober School House”.  With more land, Louise planted a large garden again.  Goats and rabbits (Ray’s idea) were raised, potentially to make some extra income. Ray didn’t participate in any of the “farming”.

Shortly before David finished high school (1954) and moved out on his own, Louise decided to make some life changes.  She persuaded David to teach her how to drive, and obtain her own car.  With only an eighth grade education and no work experience, she started looking for a job.  Her first job was in the cafeteria of the local plywood mill.  Next, as a waitress at a small local restaurant. Soon however, she demonstrated her skill at cooking and was promoted to Short Order Cook (more pay). She changed her name from Louise to Alice (her birth name). At 46, Alice was starting all over.

Alice in her new home, with her piano (1957
Alice in her new home, with her piano (1957

By 1957, with the youngest boys on their own, she moved out on her own and divorced Ray.  She purchased her own small house in town and converted the entire front yard into garden. She and a girlfriend took a big risk and started their own little coffee shop in a nearby town, featuring Alice’s homemade pies.  After about a year, they had to close.

Next, she got a job on the Washington State Ferry system as a Short Order Cook.  This was very demanding work (long, irregular hours), but she worked there for at least 9 years, until she had to retire. (probably 1968)

In retirement, she maintained a beautiful garden all year around, and helped her family whenever she was asked.

In 1972 her youngest son David was killed in a plane crash, just short of his 35th birthday.

Alice (1969)
Alice (1969)

Alice was devastated.  She said: “I never expected to outlive any of my children, but to lose my youngest, I just don’t understand”.   David had been very good to her; teaching her to drive, gifting a very nice red Dodge Lancer to her, taking her to England and Denmark with him and his wife.  Right after the crash, Gail (David’s wife), cut off all contact with Alice, and that hurt her deeply.

Alice stopped driving in 1991 (she was 83), sold her car and house, and moved to a senior living center in Anacortes.  In 1994 she had to have a knee replacement and had to move to an assisted living center in a near-by town.  A few years later, in 1998, Alice had  a pace maker implanted, (against her better judgement), then she was also diagnosed with colon cancer but refused to be operated on.  She just wanted to hang on for her 90th birthday (3 of her sisters had lived beyond 90).  On December 8th, 1998 Alice celebrated a wonderful 90th birthday with her 3 living children and many of her grandchildren.  Alice died on August 18th,1999, just a few months shy of her 91st birthday. Gladys was holding her hand and reading aloud from the Bible. At the time, besides her 3 living children, she had 9 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren, and 15 great-great grandchildren.

Alice at 83
Alice at 83