Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The all-too-short life of Emory Dale Dickson

In my research into my wife's ancestors, I came across an interesting relative - an older brother of her Grandma Charmaine named Emory Dale Dickson.

Emory was the second child and first son of the marriage of Charles Dickson and Valda (Honold) (Camper) Dickson. He was born in LaPorte, Indiana, on 10 April 1929, just six months before the stock market crash later that year. He is listed with his parents on the 1930 and 1940 censuses in Indiana, with nothing remarkable in either one. He was just an ordinary kid, as far as those records show.

However, on 26 May 1947, just a month and a half after his 18th birthday, Emory passed away. According to his death certificate, the cause of death was congenital heart disease. What struck me was the duration of the illness - "life." He had been born with heart problems, and those problems eventually killed him. That put a completely different spin on his life - instead of being just a normal kid, maybe there had been hospital visits, or sleepless nights for mom and dad, or worries about when he went out to play. Open heart surgery wasn't available during his life (the first successful open heart surgery was in 1951), but I'm sure doctors did all they could for him at the time.

One cool thing I found was some actual pictures of him from 1940 and 1941. He would have been about 11 or 12, and was a student at Star City High School (which apparently included kids from a lot younger grades than 9th). They're not the best quality, but they are pictures of him. He has a goofy kid's grin, much like I see on my own sons' faces all the time. I wonder if he knew about his heart problems then, and had any premonition that his life would be so brief. I kind of hope not, so he could just enjoy being a kid, making the same memories and doing the same things other kids did.

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