[Home]The Graham and Alma Little Family of Vallejo, California

by Travis Hardin

On Emily Little Gondola

Emily Little treeSearching in late 2012 for information on the Little family, I found a small tree containing Emily Little posted by her grandson Marc Lucca at this url: trees.ancestry.com/... 

Emily Little was the second child of Alma and Graham Little. Until now, I only knew of her and her siblings from a photo made when her family visited White relatives back in Alabama in 1942. 

Emily married Italo Gondola, a son of Italian immigrants. They  were born and died in Vallejo, in Solano County, California. There were two children: Anita Louise Gondola married Carl Lucca, father of Marc Lucca. The other was Larry Lee Gondola who died in 2005. I constructed the tree here from his obituary  and the Marc Lucca tree.

Marc Lucca and wife 2012I had a little correspondence with Marc Lucca, and what follows are some excerpts of his comments.

"I moved to Oregon to go to college, and I really liked it."

"Fred and Virginia Little moved to Oregon to be close to their daughter in the 80s when she went to college. They moved back, and then retired to southern Oregon. Aunt Virginia died a few years back, and her daughter Patricia might still be in the area. We don’t have contact with her."

"Emily, my grandmother ... was a phenomenal grandmother. She loved her kids and grandkids fully.  Fussy, pretentious (as a reaction to the poverty they escaped in Alabama and the early years in California), she was a consummate mother, as she was the oldest and took care of her siblings."

"Alma was really sweet to me (she lived until I was out of high school)."

"Aunt Alma visited us in Alabama in 1955 after I was married. I don't remember who she came with." -Ruth White Williams, 19 Sep 2017.

Interviews with Barbara Little Dugan

Marc Lucca put me in touch with his great aunt Barbara Little Dugan -- Emily's sister . Our two talks by telephone in January 2013 were pleasant and informative of the Little family and of the larger White family. 

What follows is a lightly-edited transcript of our two conversations. She spoke from her home in Warrenton, in northwest Oregon. The audio of the first interview is in the "Extras" folder.

Telephone interview with Barbara Dugan 2 February 2013
by Travis Hardin

Barbara Little tree

[about the 1942 picture of the Little children]  I was 12 years old (You're talking to Barbara). My younger sister would have been 5 – that's Clara. My brother is 5 years older than I, so he would have been 16 I guess. Then my older sister – that's Emily – Emily passed away last year. Fred passed away when he was 68. Clara is living up here in Oregon also. I am 81, and I'm in pretty good health. I have a little bit of a heart problem but I ignore that.

T. You sound very young.

Well, I'm 82. I don't know about that, but I love life, I guess it all comes about because I love the Lord. It makes things so much easier. We moved up here to Oregon in 89 from the Vallejo (Va- LAY-o) area. No, at that time I lived in Modesto. I think they all lived in Vallejo at the time.

Now what else can I tell you that you need to know? You were talking about the pictures. We were back there [to Alabama] in 1942. We drove back in a Studebaker. I can't remember, it was a few years old. It was during wartime. We could go only, I think, 45 miles an hour. It was an exciting time for me, being 12 years old. I look back on it. It was a great time to get to see everybody.

And now the only ones that are living is my younger sister and myself. My younger sister would be...

T: She was born 27 April 1937.
OK, right.
T. I've got your birthdays here. California was very kind to put those on line.

Emily's birthday was December 1st. Clara's birthday is April 27th. And my mother's birthday was September 3rd, ‘01. My dad's birthday was– oh, come on –
T: How about 14 January 1894?

T: I would love to ask about your parents a little bit. Did your father die in Hayward, California?

Yes. They were living in Hayward. And my mother, when she passed away, was living in Vallejo.

T: What did your dad – As I can piece things together, your father worked for Kaiser – What was it, building ships or submarines or airplanes or something?

Yes, he did during the wartime. He worked for Kaiser on Mare Island. They build ships. I think he was still working there when we came back from Alabama. And then, I remember when I was in high school, he worked as a carpenter. He was building a dam or something up in Napa County. Mom – my mother – mainly she worked in the canneries.

Well my folks were not well off. In my opinion they were really quite poor. When I grew up they lived in Strathmore, which was a little tiny town. Mom and Dad both worked in the packing house, packing oranges. Dad picked oranges. I remember he used to talk about going out to smudge. Do you know what that is? I guess smudging was setting – it's a fire, they call them smudge pots. I can't think of what was the name of them, really, but he started those whenever there was a  – when it got really cold they'd go out and start these pots, and that's what kept the oranges from freezing. A very cold job. Probably nothing like it would be living in the Middle East, or something, but we were definitely not well off. We had a little tiny house.

When we lived in Strathmore, I remember we had a little house. I remember on the back of the lot there were ant hills. It had a kitchen, a living room, and a back porch – screened in.

T: In Tulare County?

Being from the South we pronounced in tu-LAHR-e County [short a]. Most people called it Tu-LA-re County [broad A].

T: Did you know any of the other Whites? Did you know Ernest or Jessie?

Yes, I knew Ernest and his wife Hester. In fact, I lived with them for a little while. I lived with them – me and my dad -- and this is why I'm talking poor – whenever they moved up to Vallejo there was nowhere to live. We lived in the tent for about six weeks. I'm talking dirt tent. We lived in a tent for six weeks whenever we first moved up to Vallejo. My aunt and uncle were Ernest and Hester, and would be ... your uncle?

T: Did you know that Hester died in March of this year?

I was going to ask about that. I always liked Hester. I thought she was the nicest person.

My mom did not get along with her brothers at all. It was Ernest. She and Ernest didn't get along.

T: These Whites have trouble – patchy ...

Does your family have grudges?

T. Yes.

 I'm wondering if it's not inherited?

T: I wonder that too.

Praise God I don't have them. I refuse to have a grudge against anybody. If you can't forgive you can't be forgiven. That's what scares me. I know that my brother Fred had a terrible grudge.

T: Against? ...

I know his grudge was so bad that when he passed away he had never even seen his grandchild, because he wouldn't talk to his daughter.

T: Oh my God.

Oh, it was awful. And my mom did not like her brother, she didn't like her sister-in-law. Now my brother was in the same boat. Emily would hold a grudge for awhile; eventually she got rid of it. But my younger sister – oh my goodness – I don't get to see her very often because I can hardly stand to– she– she holds grudges. It bothers me very much, because some of those grudges are against my loved ones.

T: I'm sorry to hear that. You know, I'm composing a letter to Mark. He mentioned something on that subject. I'm composing a letter telling him a little something about the strange personalities over here.

Oh, I didn't know that it -- This is very interesting. Maybe it's a good thing I find this out, because it has really disturbed me. I remember I had a clock on my sister one time. She said, well she has to ask me to forgive her. I said "no, she doesn't have to ask you to forgive her -- you have to forgive her." It doesn't matter that you're asked or not -- That's a grudge.

T: The thing about the grudges, it's amazing, it must be something in the genes, rather than the environment, I don't know.

I kinda wonder sometimes. Personalities are passed on. That's kind of scary.

T: Now let me ask you – I don't want to overtax you –

Oh I like to talk about the past.

T: I was wondering what you know – the person I know the least about is Jessie White, Jessie Jones.

I didn't know a lot about her either. We didn't see her very often. Now Melvin – did you know her son Melvin? When I got you I thought you were...

T. No, I know their names, but I don't know where they are. I don't know them, I cant find anything else out about them. Do you know where any of them went to?

I had some information I was looking at the other day. When I lived in Modesto and we lived in the country and we have a big reunion, Jessie didn't come. Melvin came. Her son came, and his wife. Now he would probably be, if he's living, he's almost the age of my brother, so he would be almost 90 now. I thought that's who you were talking about. You're talking about your grandfather?

T: Yes, the Melvin who is over here in Alabama is my great-uncle. He would be Jessie's brother. Melvin White is Jessie's brother, and my grandfather is Ausie White, also Jessie's brother, and your mother's brother.

Your grandparents – no, they couldn't be living.

T: My mother's dead and my father and my grandparents. I'm looking and what I have on Melvin Jones was that he was born in 1926.

OK, that would be almost the same age as my brother. He (Melvin) had polio when he was a kid. He couldn't use one of his hands  – it was kind of useless. She had 2 other – She had four children. One was Cecil...

T: Annie Laurie?

Anna. Yes, there was an Anna. I think that's the third child. First was Cecil. Then there was Eunice. Yes. Eunice was the second one and Melvin was the last one.

I have an old address book here, and once in a while I dig it out when I'm looking for an old address. And I think it has an address in there for ... Eunice or some information about her. The reunion had to be – we moved up here in 89, so the reunion was 85 – somewhere between 85 and 89.

T: What I'm doing is, I'm trying to get a history of the family together, who's kin to who and a little something about their history, and that's all.

I think it's very interesting. The thing about the grudges I found very interesting. I've been wondering where this came from.

T: Well that I will keep in the back of the – This will not be something I put in the genealogy. But it'll be something that is interesting.

I understand but when I find it happens this way and when I meet other families – my husband's family never had that problem. I look at some of these things and say, "Oh my goodness. What is this? Is this something that's contagious or is this something that comes from our genes? I'm still looking here in the old address book. Sorry about the shrieking. I have a hearing aid and sometimes it doesn't like for me to put the phone up there...

T: Isn't that interesting. I hear that Fred was hard of hearing.

He had a hearing problem. My mother, she couldn't hear. By the time she passed away she couldn't hear anything. She also couldn't see any longer. The problem was partly hers, because she had one cataract removed and she wouldn't have the other one done. So she completely lost her sight.  She wouldn't have the other cataract removed because somebody told her you don't have to have the lens removed – oh, no, she said  "You don't have to have an implant." I said how could you not have the implant? You're taking out the lens. She wouldn't do it. I don't know who told her that, but it was an old wive's tale.  I'm still looking.
T: By the way, her brother Melvin White is quite hard of hearing, and so is one of his daughters.

I didn't have any problem until maybe four years ago. Oh, I've got another book here. Maybe it's in this one now. I was reluctant to get a hearing aid. I'm so glad I did. It's so much easier on my family. And I don't want to miss out on anything. OK, this book is a little easier to look at. It's in alphabetic order but I can't come up with her last name.

T: Who are we talking about?

We're talking about Jessie's family.

T: OK, there's a Stadtmiller.

Stadtmiller. That's what it is. Now here it is. And Eunice. My goodness I don't know if they would still be there. I even have a phone number for them.

T: Well here's somebody who'd be alive. Gloria Darlene Stadtmiller is the name of their daughter. She was born in 1939 in Tulare County.

My goodness, I've never heard of her. Where is she?

T: I don't know. She was born in Tulare County. I can see all the births on the Internet. I looked previously and I copied it over to my genealogy records.

Do you have the address of Oral and Eunice Stadtmiller?

T: No

Oral was an electrician. I remember that because when he came to visit us he was looking at our house and I said something about I'm looking for an extension cord. He had an extension cord and he fixed it for me.

T: Wait, Barbara. She died – Eunice Stadtmiller died in 2006 in Redondo Beach – maybe this a different one? Did she ever live in Los Angeles?

Yes, she lived in Redondo Beach.

It's 246 Paseo de Granada, Redondo Beach, California. I don't know if her husband is still there – I only saw him once after I got–They weren't at my wedding, so I don't know when I saw them the last time except when they came to see me. They are the only people –Wait, Melvin came too, I think -- They're the only people that came to the reunion. I think Melvin came too, or maybe he was telling me something about Melvin. He didn't get married until later in life, so I don't know if he had any children.

T: I'm going to click on something else here. I'm going back to Eunice's father and mother. OK, we're talking about James Melvin Jones? I have that he died – you'll have to tell me if this sounds right – he died in 2009 in Lubbock, Texas. Does that sound right?

I wouldn't know that because I completely lost track of him after – I guess my older sister had some information on him, but I don't know what she had either.

T: This could be somebody else.

No, I think it's the same person. I wouldn't be a bit surprised. I don't know where he worked, but -- where did you say, Lubbock Texas? -- Seems to me there was something to do with the government, but I'm not sure -- or building something.  

T: Do you have children?

I have two sons. That's the reason we moved here [to Oregon]. We moved here because the children were here. My oldest son just turned 59. My youngest son is 57.  

T: May I put those down in my records? Would you give me the name of the oldest son?

Ronald Dugan. He was born April 16, 1952. My youngest son – this sounds so funny calling them the oldest and the youngest – my youngest son was born in 54.He would be 58. They both live up here. My one son lives right across the lake from me.  Yes, a nice lake. I love having him there, and that's the reason we moved up here. I said "Let's move to Oregon" and he said OK, let's go.

T. What was the reason you moved?

Because our kids were here. They took our grandchildren up here, too – how do you like that? (Laughing),. One son has four children. The other son, the youngest son, has six children.

T: I'll get that from you later, but what's the name of your youngest son?

His name is Donald. Donald Dugan. My daughter-in-law says, "Barbara! Why did you name your kids Ronald and Donald? We've had some good laughs on it, because there wasn't a Ronald McDonald when we named them.

T: You're in good health. Your husband has died, has he?

Yes, he passed away April 17th, ‘99.

T: Mark has Astoria Oregon is where he died?

Yes. He was born in Minnesota. I met him when he was in the Navy when we lived in Oakland. We were married for 48 years.

T. I was married 20 years then I was single for 20 years then I'm married again. (She laughs) I enjoyed the independence because I didn't quite experience it when I was younger.

Well I have absolutely–there's no way I would get married again. ____ for that anyway, but I have no desire. I don't want to take care of somebody. And I certainly want them taking care of me.

T: I've talked with Ernest White's son and his name is Orville. But he calls himself–

He doesn't like to be called Orville. He likes to be called O. J.

T: That's what I gather. I finally got enough information that I figured out where he was. He's in Fresno. He's been in Fresno all his adult–

I haven't seen him in –oh, my goodness... probably... When we lived in Modesto my mom and I went on a trip back to the old places where we lived. We drove around, and at that time we visited Orville and his wife. I haven't seen them or heard from them since. We were in Modesto, so that would be before ‘89. I haven't heard from him or anything. Have you talked to him?

T: Yes, look up his wife's Facebook page and they've got lots of lovely pictures...

Oh, that would be interesting to see.

T: ...and that's how I got in touch with them, and I talked for about 10 minutes with O.J. and he was busy. It's tax season and he's a CPA – tax – so I said "I'll call you back after April."

(Laughs) So it's Orville, and I forgot what her name was.

T: His wife's name is Patricia L. and that's the way ...

I know they have two children, a boy and a girl.

T: The girl is a lawyer, and the boy is president of a wholesale fruit company. His name is David and her name is Melissa. I didn't talk long to him but I was able to find a little about... They're pretty well documented on the Internet.

Orville if I remember correctly is pretty cut and dried. He tells you what you need to know and not any more. (Both laugh) He doesn't really want to talk that badly, I guess. I don't know.

T: What I got out of it was that he is an ambitious person who encouraged his children to study and work hard and succeed in life. He said as much to me.

I guess he has grandchildren by now.

T: Apparently Melissa in unmarried, but David has a lovely daughter and a son. They're teenagers – young teenagers. Look at her Facebook page if it's still public -- It was public when I looked -- and you can see her pictures. Type in "Patricia L. White."

This computer thing is just – I"m going to start another computer class I guess a week from Monday. I haven't taken a class yet. I know how to do a lot of stuff, but there's so many things I think I'm missing. I want to find out more.

T: Yes, people of a certain age, like us, have trouble with this.

I've always liked office work. I just need to learn more about that, too.

T: May I call you back and talk some more another day? I'm going to be hours taking down what you've said.

I can't think of anything else right at the time that would help. I told you all about Emily and Fred and my family – my Dad. I'm trying to think if there's anything else we need to talk about. You can email me too. GRAMMADUGGIE@Q.COM

T: I'm going to put out a DVD. I hope to get it out in a few weeks. It's not complete but it's got a lot about the White family. I'll add some of the things I've learned from you, and I'll get your address and send it to you if you'd like a copy. What's your address?

T: I was simply looking that he [Graham Little] was working for Kaiser, and you know that was a company which began very early the health insurance for employees. Very few companies had that at the time of World War II.

That's right, I forgot about that. The Kaiser Insurance. Oh that's right, I remember he did go over to Kaiser Hospital on occasion. I forgot about that. I don't think he was working for Kaiser. He wasn't [or might have (unclear)]working for Kaiser later on.

Like a contractor?

Yes. That was when the war was going on. After that – I remember we moved to Napa because he didn't have a job, and that was when he started doing some carpentry work. One of the dams in the area, Mendiceno or something like that.

[Monticello Dam is a dam in Napa County, California, United States constructed between 1953 and 1957. ]

T: I'll send you what I come up with to proofread and correct.

My kids will be very interested in this, especially about the grudge thing. Because we've wondered about that. That's kind of an interesting thing.

T: We've had  – My mother and her sisters, they've been miffed at each other many times, and they have cut each other out of their photographs.

Oh my! Really.

T: Is that news?

Yes. My sister got hurt one time whenever she was visiting me. We always have each other's keys. Whenever I have to go to Portland I'll stop at her house and go to the bathroom. She comes to my house and [if] I'm not home, well just come on in and do what you want to do. So we had a key. I gave her my key – Well she got angry with me. When I wouldn't get angry with my granddaughter she got angry with me. She said, "I want my key back." I said, "I won't give you your key back, and I don't want my key back and I won't accept it. Because I'm not going to cut you off.." We are at least seeing each other once in a while now.

This grudge thing I don't even understand. It doesn't sound like you've got it.

T: It doesn't happen so much in my generation, but in my mother's generation it was always a grudge with one of the other brothers or sisters. So strange.

Well I know my mother did not like -- She and Ernest would get together and it was immediately something would bug her that he said. He really knew how to pull her chain, and he seemed to like to pull it.

T: I have a picture–

So it was an interesting thing anyway. And this has been great. I don't hear from Marc very often, but when I heard from Marc I thought, Oh my goodness, I've  gotta call about this one. Thanks so much for calling me back.

T: You're welcome. I will show you a picture–

I don't think I gave you an address. 1517 SW Oak Avenue. Warrenton, Oregon 97146.

Second Telephone Conversation of Barbara Dugan
and Travis Hardin, 11 Feb 2013

Barbara, now age 83 and very conversational and pleasant to talk to,  says she did not have a career, but she did work at times, which included about five years at Litton Industries as a secretary. Her husband Kenneth Dugan's career was with 3M Company where at his retirement in his 50's he was in management. Earlier he had sold copy products for the company. He loved to sell.

They lived most of their lives in southern California in the Los Angeles area, then moved to central California, and much later to Oregon.

I asked her about early memories of her ancestors. I was not over four when Jim White died (she says). When my parents lived in a rented house in Strathmore in Tulare County Uncle Ernest and my grandfather came to see us. Ernest wore a black hat all the time. Ernest read me a book. I remember the name of the book" "The Little Red Hen Found a Wheat Seed."  I would say "Wheeet" with a rising pitch every time I said it.  I guess they thought that was cute, because I remember them laughing every time I said "wheeet."  Ernest was tall. Jim White was shorter. I don't remember very much about my grandfather Jim White. He died before I turned four.

I remember being told a story of how my parents (Alma and Graham) met (Barbara says).  They were both on the boat. One lived on one side of the Coosa River and the other on the other side. (At my prompting she believes it was a ferry. She did not remember more about the story, but I told her the Whites in 1920 lived at Hokes Bluff on the east side of the Coosa at Croft's Ferry Road. She registered some memory of Hokes Bluff.)

Her mother Alma had five children. The firstborn  child died at about 18 month. They had named him Ralph.

Barbara's parents and siblings visited the Alabama relatives in 1942. That's when the pictures were made, the pictures that Theoria and Connor had in which Barbara is 12 years old. She remembers Aunt Vassie–how she chewed tobacco and spat "way over" on the stove from where she sat a distance away. She remembers spending the night at Vassie's house, which was a very humble wood-sided house with cracks. It was in summer. Barbara remembers waking up with itching mosquito welts all over her. Baking soda was rubbed on the bites.

Barbara did not recall visiting Melvin White nor the stone house, but she remembers visiting Ausie White. She remembers the name Theoria.  Instead of using a bank, Ausie said, he kept money in a can in the back yard. He showed her a pile of cans. He pulled one out and showed her the money inside. His idea was, Barbara said, that no one knew which can it was in so it was safe. She remembers something about a gun and that Ausie "handled a gun dangerously."

Her father also was not careful with a gun, and no one would hunt with him.   

Barbara's husband Kenneth Dugan took up sculpture as a hobby some years after he retired. He made bronzes. It was expensive to cast bronze items. He sculpted some horses in particular. He sold about ten or twelve pieces. A lot stayed in the family, (says Barbara) and I have several that I'll give to my children and grandchildren. I have ten grandchildren. 

Notes dated April 6, located later:
My parents went to the Nazarine Church.
Mother said some ancestors lived in a big house.