Mar 6, 2008

Hal Totten, 1927-2008

Dot's good friend Hal—or Harley Totten—has passed away at the age of 80. Hal was Dot's next door neighbor during the time span of these diaries. Especially during 1945, Hal and my mother spent a lot of good times together, and Hal evidently acted as a sort of big brother to her.

I was lucky to have the pleasure of meeting Hal in the summer of 2007. My sincere thanks for this go to Dan, a crossing guard at the time, who recognized my mother, and realized that his uncle had married Hal's sister. Dan then located Hal here in Chicago.

Hal of course was surprised to hear from Dot's son. I think it had been awhile since he thought a lot about those days. He was a bit quiet and reserved at first. But then he seemed to open up, and laughed a lot. We went out for a hamburger and a beer, and for a couple of hours, I listened to him talk about his life, his Navy days, and his work with horses. He proudly showed me photos of his family. Although he had some vision problems, he got a kick out of the pictures of him that my mom had saved, and the diary pages I'd printed out.

Sitting across from him at the table, I was star-struck and happy, thinking about how he and my mother used to do the same thing, at Parnell or in her own kitchen, and it felt like a circle had been completed. I hope my mom would have liked that. I know she loved Hal's company, just as I did on that day. —Dave


  1. Anonymous5:56 PM CDT

    Hal was one of Dot's best friend. How come there are no comments about him? What happened to the rest of Dot's friends, and family? Maybe you have a surprise for us at the end of Dot's diary wich I don't want it to end. Will you post more pictures in the scrapbook? Pictures of how friends and family look today? Just curious
    Wonderful memories you have about your mom!!!

  2. Unfortunately, I guess, most of Hal's contemporaries simply aren't around anymore to comment. I wish I'd been able to do this ten or twenty years ago, when his acquaintances could have shared their thoughts here.

    I do plan on posting more photos in the Scrapbook, including some from the years after 1945-46. They'll be posted during the summer.

    Thanks for reading! --Dot's son

  3. Anonymous11:27 PM CDT

    Thank's for the reply. I'm a huge fan of Dot's diary and when I read her daily entry I feel like traveling back to that time even though I was born in the mid 70's.

  4. Anonymous10:18 AM CDT

    hi its carol back.we found the old neighbour.where your mom lived,no old street lamps,but i think i stood where your mom stood near her home in the old old cars modern times.Im glad your mom married dave he is handsome, and your mom was pretty too. you must be nice looking too.I will be very sad when the diary ends,but there will be more memories from the past i hope to see later,and is dots brother still alive,sonny.this is carol from ontario canada signing off for now and thank you for sharing your moms life with me.

  5. Carol: I'm really touched that you went to Dot's old neighborhood. It's wonderful that she moved you to stand where she did back in those days. Thank you.

    Yes, Dot's brother, Lou, lives near Chicago. In fact, he, his two children and I, are going to Wrigley Field today for a Cubs game. My grandfather was a Sox fan, so I hope he forgives us! :)

  6. Anonymous10:44 AM CDT

    Hi again dave its carol from st. thomas ontario canada. are you train dave is that your picture. I read your moms diary every day.Are you married do you have kids of your own. Maybe we can see a picture of sunny as she looks today. keep the diary going as long as you can and thanks again for letting me share your moms life bye take care.

  7. Carol:

    "Train dave" is not me, but he's collected some interesting photos.

    I was once married; no little ones tho. Yes-I'll post some later, more recent pictures of several people--after the diary entries end next month (Oct.), including Sunny.

    By the way, I'll be visiting Sunny and her husband of 60 years, Bob, in November.

  8. Anonymous4:36 PM CDT

    hi dave its carol fickling from ontario canada again. dave will you include a photo of your self .have you ever thought of putting your moms diaries down in book form id buy one. viola ficks name is similar to mine.could you include a picture of sunny and bob older now.youve included a movie site where you can purchase old movies i bought some there. the news articles from day to day are a great touch.keep the diary coming thank you carol.