Rohde siblings, then and then

Rohde children from left: Edgar, Wilma, Robert (behind), Glenna, Betty.

Rohde children from left: Edgar, Wilma, Robert (behind), Glenna, Betty.

I never knew any of these folks except my grandmother, Wilma Caroline, which I feel as a big loss now that I have entered my second half-century. I’ve heard all of their names throughout my life, and it’s possible that some of them may have met me when I was very small on one of our trips back east, but if so I don’t remember them. They are all gone, of course.

The oldest of the Rohde siblings was Robert Harmon (June 7, 1910 – November 9, 1985). Next was Elizabeth Laura (November 2, 1912 – February 23, 1991), then Wilma Caroline (March 23, 1914 – March 5, 2009), then Edgar Glenn (December 8, 1915 – May 28, 1991), and finally Glenna Lucille (March 18, 1917 – September 16, 2008). Elizabeth (“Betty”) married Edgar Wheeler. My grandmother Wilma married John Lewis Dowell Jr., and Glenna (“Glennie”) married George Schucker.

The Rohde siblings in 1983, left to right: Wilma, Robert, Glennie, Betty, Edgar.

The Rohde siblings in 1983, left to right: Wilma, Robert, Glennie, Betty, Edgar.

Seeing several photos of a group of people across time encourages an assumption of closeness, although I don’t know much about what the relationships were like among this family. When my mother knew him, her Uncle Bob, the eldest sibling and in both photos the tallest, worked in his brother Edgar’s grocery store in Reisterstown. Wilma and Betty, sisters close in age, maintained something of a rivalry throughout their lives. Glenna or “Glennie” was the baby of the family, and I think her playful stance in the second photo and her position between the two older sisters speak volumes. In fact, the arrangement of subjects in the second photo makes me wonder whether there was an intentional effort to recreate the arrangement in an earlier image (such as the one at top) or whether the family just naturally tended to group itself this way.

I don’t have a date for the first photo, but given that the youngest child was born in 1917 I would put this somewhere between 1919 and 1921. A note in the scrapbook in which these two photos are pasted says that the second photo was taken in September, 1983. I was in college then. It seems impossible to me that they were all alive at a time when I was an adult, when if I’d wanted I could have travelled to Baltimore to get to know them. But I couldn’t even have named them all. I did not visit Maryland between 1973 and 1992, and most of my grandmother’s siblings had died before I returned. If they were alive now, of course, I’d give a king’s ransom to spend ten minutes in their assembled company. – mdf

Image archive IDs:

About the physical photographs:
Edges scallop–cut by hand, photos pasted onto scrapbook page.


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