Mabel Clara Goulet, my maternal grandmother, was born in 1889, in Woodburn, Oregon, the only daughter and oldest child of Florence and William Henry Goulet. She was quite beautiful, and was known in the family as “the belle of Woodburn.” Her education consisted of eight years of elementary school in the Woodburn public schools. Even though she was half French, she never learned to speak the language. As a teenager, she was a member of the Rebecca Lodge, a local women’s organization.
In 1910 she married Olin Love, who had recently arrived in town from Michigan, and was working in his family real estate business. The Woodburn Independent reported on the wedding:
“The marriage of Miss Mabel Clara Goulet and Mr. Olin Wayne Love was solemnized last evening at the home of the bride’s parents, Dr.[an honorific title] and Mrs. W.H. Goulet, this city, Rev. Alexander R. Maclean officiating. Only relatives and one or two friends were invited guests. Four rooms were decorated in pink, green and white, a bower in the parlor being of ivy and white asters. The effect was beautiful. The pretty ceremony was at 8 o’clock. Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” was played by Miss Lucy Moreom as the bridal party approached the bower. The bride, carrying a bouquet, looked beautiful in white net over white silk trimmed with messaline. The bridesmaid, Miss Mabel Livesay, gowned in white silk, was also much admired. Mr. Will Goulet was the groom’s best man. Congratulations and a fine wedding luncheon followed the ceremony. The bride is one of Woodburn’s popular young ladies and the groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. W. Love and in the real estate business in this city. They will make their home in Woodburn. Mrs. Love will be at home to friends after December 1. The bride was the recipient of a number of gifts from relatives and friends. (Love-Goulet)
Mabel Love gave birth to a daughter, Alvis Ruth Love, on October 14, 1911, after a very difficult home delivery. As a result, Mabel was unable to have more children and suffered continuous ill-health (Alvis Whitelaw).
During the first several years of her marriage, Mabel traveled extensively with Olin throughout Oregon, Washington, and California, accompanying him in his work as a traveling salesman. They sometimes took their young daughter, Alvis, with them and otherwise left her with Mabel’s parents, Florence and W.H. Goulet, in Woodburn.
In 1917 the family moved to California, living in San Diego for a year and then on a ranch in Livingston, California, which Mabel called “Sand Blow Rancho” because of the heat and the dust. Living conditions were primitive, with neither plumbing nor electricity. This was a great change for Mabel, but according to her daughter Alvis, Mabel “never buckled” and did not make Olin feel guilty for bringing her there. She maintained standards by insisting that Alvis wear white stockings and hair ribbons at all times. Mabel was active in the Farm Bureau Exchange, and was Chairman of the Woman’s Home Demonstration Department. (New Officers in Farm Center) Mabel’s poor health, and the declining health of her father, caused the family to relocate to Woodburn in 1921.
In 1925 the family moved to Portland, Oregon, so Alvis could attend high school there. Mabel kept house while Olin traveled up and down the West Coast working as a salesman for a stock and farm company.
Her husband Olin’s early death in 1930 when she was 41 required Mabel to make major changes in her life. She had no experience in living independently, having relied on first her father and then her husband for all practical and financial matters. They both had adored and protected her, but after her father’s death in 1924 and her husband’s in 1930, she was on her own. Neither had provided for her financially over the long term, and this was a time before Social Security. Mabel’s older brother, Bill, lived with her for a year. Then she sold her house and lived with various family members, including her daughter, Alvis, who graduated from college in 1932 and was working as a welfare administrator.
The events of this period precipitated a permanent breach between Mabel and her younger brother, Glenn, as he refused to use any of their father’s estate to help her through this difficult time.
Sometime during the early 1930s she married Fred Hannon and together they managed an apartment building in Salem, Oregon. Although she later divorced Mr. Hannon, she learned during her marriage how to manage apartments, an occupation that would support her for many years. By 1943 Mabel was the manager of the Edgewood Hall Apartments in Portland, near what is now Portland State University. (Polks Portland City Directory, 1943-44)
During her later years she continued as manager of Edgewood Hall and shared her life with Douglas Hennessy, who is listed in the Portland City Directory as a tenant at Edgewood Hall Apartments off and on starting in 1950. He was a driver, a shipping clerk and later a foreman for various manufacturing companies in Portland. She married Doug in 1957 in Skamania, Washington.
After her retirement from managing Edgewood Hall Apartments in 1958, Mabel and Doug rented a house at 3830 S.E. Grant Court where they lived until Mabel’s death in October, 1963. She died of colon cancer at Emanuel Hospital, in Portland. Her tombstone at Belle Passi Cemetery in Woodburn, Oregon.
Mabel’s grandchildren, my siblings and I, remember her as a skilled needlewoman. She knitted sweaters and hats for us, and crocheted elaborate bedspreads and tablecloths. My sister and I sat at her kitchen table while she gave us home permanents, which involved many small plastic curlers and papers, and strong- smelling solvents, which had to be left on the hair for periods of time and tested frequently to see if the curl had set. She took hours to carefully comb out my sister Nancy’s long hair after it became thickly matted during an illness.
She always looked very well, though she had limited resources. Our mother said she could squeeze a nickel better than anyone, and she used that skill to keep up a very smart appearance. My sister and I loved to sit at her dressing table, with its side mirrors that allowed you to see the back of your head, and its drawers full of hairnets and hairpins, cosmetics and jewelry. She had a round container on the dressing table with a small hole in the top, in which she put the hair that she pulled out of her hair brush. The hair could later be formed into “rats” for use in creating bouffant hair styles.
She loved to dance, and had a collection of ball gowns and large dinner rings which she wore at the Crystal Ballroom, a local dance hall. She and Doug would dance around their living room to the music of Lawrence Welk. We stood in awe as she showed us how she could kick her leg over her head when she was in her 60s.
Mabel had French tastes in food; I particularly remember that she would buy shad roe in season, saute it in butter and eat it on toast. She knew this was a delicacy, but since few persons thought to eat it, it was very cheap.
She was not a demonstrative grandmother, but she always appeared at birthdays and Christmas with excellent presents, arriving in her little blue Morris Minor, accompanied by her Chihuahua, Mr. Murphy, and her partner, Doug.
How you are related to Mabel Clara Goulet
Mabel Clara Goulet is located on your personal Ancestor Fan. She is the mother of Alvis Love Whitelaw, and the grandmother of John, Susan, and Nancy Whitelaw. Mabel’s maternal and paternal grandparents were all pioneers who came to Oregon from Michigan. Mabel’s mother, Florence Beach Goulet, came to Oregon with her father, Amos Beach. Mabel’s father, William Henry Goulet, was born on a wagon train that brought his parents, Samuel and Marcellisse (Duval) Goulet to Oregon.
Love-Goulet The Woodburn Independent, Woodburn, Oregon, Oct. 27, 1910, p. 1.
New Officers in Farm Center; More Join Exchange. Livingston Chronicle, Livingston, CA, Oct. 8, 1920.
Polk City Directory for Portland, Oregon. (1943-44) Mabel Hannon, Edgewood Hall Apartments, 1881 S.W. 11th. p. 480 and 2312.
Polk City Directory for Portland, Oregon (1957, 1958) Douglas Hennessy, 1881 S.W. 11th, and (1959, 1960, 1962), Douglas Hennessy, 3830 Grant Ct.
State of Oregon, Center for Health Statistics. Certificate of Marriage, Olin Wayne Love and Mabel Clara Goulet, October 26, 1910, Woodburn, Oregon.
State of Oregon, Center for Health Statistics. Certificate of Death, Mabel Clara Hennessy, September 30, 1963, Portland, Oregon. Woodburn, Marion County, Oregon.
U.S. Census (1900) Mabel C. Goulet Woodburn, Marion, Oregon.
Whitelaw, Alvis. Oral History. Recorded by her daughter, Susan Whitelaw, from 1990 to 1996, in Oregon and Michigan.