Clara with Dorothy and Carole Clara and Alfred Ridste
Clara didn't want her girls growing up. They both developed early so she made them wrap their breasts and they weren't allowed to date either. When Carole left at age 16 it was really hard for Clara. I think it was a feeling of abandonment due to her husbands leaving and she didn't really understand Carole's strong will spirit and determination to go out and fulfill her dreams. Clara became strict with Dorothy especially when she fell in love with my grandfather Walter. Not only did Carole elope but Dorothy took off with Walter and got married at 17. After not speaking to Dorothy for a while Clara made amends when she saw how good the two were together and that Walter took good care of her daughter. I think Clara was a stubborn women due to her situation in life and really didn't want her daughters to go through the same hardships. She was set in her ways and it took awhile for her to let some things go and just realize her girls turned into independent women who learned from their mother. As time passed she became a grandmother and enjoyed having grandchildren around. It was a second chance for her to love on the babies and see young children grow up. She was robbed of a lot of the joys of parenthood. She now could enjoy the time she spend with them all. Clara kept busy with Carole and she was very supportive of her life and what was going on in her daughters career. One of my favorite stories is that Carole came home from the studio to find a house full of servicemen. Great Grandma was cooking up a storm and told Carole "They needed a little piece of home". Of course Carole was tired but she loved giving to the men who were serving our country. They had a nice meal, went swimming, and were driven back.
Clara would go out with Carole, enjoyed the attention, and was proud of her daughter. Carole spoiled her and wanted to take care of her because she knew how hard Clara worked when she was a child. This was Carole's way of paying her back. They enjoyed shopping and having lunches, and of course Clara would live with Carole. That was a winning situation for them both. Carole loved having many animals (you could say a mini farm was in her house) and when she was gone doing the U.S.O. tours Clara would be the caretaker of the house and the pets. And I think Carole really needed her mother to be with her. It was a safe and comforting to know her mom was there. When Carole passed away she was so broken and really didn't know what to do. She and my grandmother really didn't believe she had killed herself. You can only imagine how she felt losing three children and Carole was the "baby" (that was Carole's nickname from her mom). Even though Carole had at other times written what I call "attention suicide letters" and I believe them to be only that, Clara and Dorothy did not feel this was one of those times. They couldn't prove it was foul play and there was a lot of circumstances that played a role in that, which I will address elsewhere on this web site.
~ Written by Tammy Powell, Carole's great-niece and Clara's great-granddaughter
Clara with her grandchildren