My mother, Vincent Munson Ivers, confided in me that her father, Lewis S. Munson, had had an eye for the ladies. As owner and manager of a dry goods and grocery store, he must have been in a position to meet and converse regularly on a daily basis with the women of the town. A large, well-built man, with dark, expressive eyes, he was not only physically attractive but also held the position of a successful businessman in the small Iowa town of Washta.
Alice Orser and Lewis Munson had married in 1890, and had three daughters; Maude born in 1891, Ethel born in 1893, and Vincent born in 1897. The relationship may have already begun to show signs of strain by the time the family moved to Washta in 1903. Alice was a pious woman, who read her Bible daily and said a precautionary prayer over her family members each time they left the house. This last was related to me with some impatience when Mother was in her forties and had left her with some lack of sympathy with the religious life, though she was dedicated to her church. Her creed, as she expressed it, was that each must just do the best we can to live a good life.
When Lewis was a little past forty years of age, there was a noticeable change in the marriage. Alice and Lewis became so affectionate that the girls, now in their teens, found it embarrassing; especially so, since it was such a change from what they were used to. The next August (1910), Paul Lewis Munson was born, thirteen years after the birth of Vincent, who was the next youngest child.
Paul was a precocious child. I remember seeing a newspaper clipping describing his ability to read the Bible at the age of four. Alice sent for materials designed for parents to teach their children at home. It was my mother’s responsibility to hurry from school each day to rock Paul to sleep so that Alice could have a nap. Mother sometimes wished for a little more freedom, but she enjoyed the sweet boy and took pride in his accomplishments, being especially gratified when he learned to play the piano.
Paul died on May 15th, 2003, at the age of 92. Last year it was brought to my attention that his son suspected that Paul was the result of a hushed-up pregnancy of one of the two oldest sisters. Maude would have been eighteen and Ethel sixteen at the time of Paul’s birth, so the possibility certainly would have been there, except for the true story that Mother told me over sixty years ago.
“This may not qualify as a ‘skeleton in the closet,’ but it is a little different than the usual biographical material found in The Munson Record, or other genealogies.”