Robert Erwin Thomas (1887 – 1965, who went by “Erwin”) was the sixth of seven children of my great-great-grandfather Horace Luther Thomas, and was the beloved uncle of my paternal grandfather, Fred Thomas Jr. Erwin was born in Winooski, VT on 26 Jul 1887, and married Claire Maria Muncy (1890-1973) on 12 Nov 1912 in Burlington, VT. Over the years they also lived in Essex Junction, Milton, Rutland, Brandon, and Morrisville, Vermont.
As I wrote previously, after my grandfather Fred Thomas Jr. was taken back from his aunt’s home to live with his father, he often felt left out of the new family dynamic. As a result, he spent a lot of time with Erwin, who became almost like a father to him.
My father wrote of Erwin and Claire, and their daughter Lois Thomas Soderberg:
I have hazy memories of Lois, I seem to remember that she was petite and quite pretty. Erwin and Claire played an important part in my father’s life. He was never quite accepted by my grandfather’s new wife, she favored her own sons and especially Charles [Charles Fogg Thomas], so my father spent much of his childhood in Essex Junction living with Erwin and Claire. The two of them were both kind and gentle people, so it’s no wonder my father felt comfortable with them. The last time I saw Erwin was my junior year at college, he was with a firm that sold meat and groceries to restaurants and institutions and my fraternity was one of his clients.
Today “Uncle Erwin”‘s great-grandson, Tom E. Soderberg, sent me a batch of photos of Erwin and Claire. I thought I’d share them here:
And a bonus… riding in a genuine Fringe-Top Surrey!
[Note: I believe this photo was staged to look “old” and was probably taken sometime in the 1960’s. Claire looks the same as she does in the photo above from c1965, plus the careful observer will note that they appear to be in front of a backdrop based on the shadows in the right corner behind the right front wheel.]