As a youngster my grandmother, Mary Lavinia Coker, traveled from Texas to New Mexico with her family in a covered wagon. As an adult she moved on to Oklahoma where she married and gave birth to twins, Lavinia and Virginia. Her husband abandoned her and the children and went to Hollywood, where he thought he would become a cowboy film star. He didn’t.
My grandmother left Oklahoma and moved to Missouri, where her brother, my uncle James, and my father Don Doman, Sr. were born. She married another man, Marshall Cummins, and gave birth to another daughter, Betty and then her only son James.
My father went to high school with Lavinia and Virginia and then along came World War II. My dad courted Lavinia but soon joined the Merchant Marine and sailed from his base in southern California to the South Pacific, transporting oil to our warships fighting the Japanese. I have my father’s ship’s log. I can tell you when my father was on leave and returned to Nevada, Missouri, to marry my mother. I was born nine months later.
My soon to be Uncle Randall Whitworth joined the army and fought the Germans in Italy. He did his boot camp at Fort Lewis and fell in love with the area. I was born in November just months after the end of WW2. Randall returned to Missouri and married Virginia and then they moved to Tacoma, near where his brother had a farm. Randall and Virginia gave birth to a daughter, Lavinia Lou Whitworth.
The migration to Washington State and Pierce County began at the end of the First World War. Ollie Whitworth and wife Sybil moved here from Missouri after WWI. Ollie told his cousin Oswald he should move to Puyallup for the wonderful dirt in the Puyallup Valley. Oswald and his wife Pauline followed suit and came out here to farm the soil. I remember fun times on the beach at Ocean Shores with the Whitworth family. Ollie and Sybil gave Lindy their upright piano after Lindy played made-up songs on it every time she visited them in Tacoma.
My father had no intentions of living in Pierce County. He wanted to move from Missouri to Southern California where he had enjoyed the weather during the war. We drove from Nevada to Tacoma so Lavinia and Virginia could see each other again and admire each other’s baby. Once reunited, there was no way the twins would be separated again. Luckily, my parents didn’t have much money, so my dad got a bookkeeping job and found a house to rent temporarily. We never moved to California. We lived in Tacoma and then moved to Lakewood and then to Ponders Corner.
Virginia’s new baby was named after my mother, Lavinia and nick-named Lindy or Lindy Lou. Lindy had three brothers but no sisters. I had two sisters, but no brothers. We grew up the best of friends and always had a shoulder to cry on . . . and someone to get in trouble with. In the early 1950’s we rode to Nevada in a Greyhound Bus with my mom to visit friends and relatives. Lindy and I slept on the screened porch. We weren’t used to the Missouri heat and bombarding insects. Each night we watched lightning and listened to thunder.
Back home and in school we were a year apart. Lindy attended Puyallup High School and I went to Clover Park. We compared notes and we even joined the Columbia Record Club together.
In my junior year at Clover Park, I signed up for classes in speech and drama, even joined the drama club. At our first drama meeting we had a speaker from the Clover Park Television Department. I signed up immediately and spent the rest of the year learning about video production and participating in anything involving recording I could find.
A friend had his own radio broadcast program via Clover Park Voc-Tech. I was interviewed a number of times as different people and once even hyped the production of “Most Happy Fella” as a character from the Clover Park all-school musical. I shared my experiences with Lindy.
In college I had drama/acting classes at Olympic College and the University of Puget Sound and enjoyed them, but didn’t go as far as Lindy. She left town, which broke her mother’s heart, and attended Central Washington University in Ellensburg. Before leaving she was a bridesmaid for the wedding of Margaret (Peggy) Harrington and me. Lindy loved the theater and learned all she could. Peggy and I drove over to Central to see her in a live production – Joan of Arc – and she was superb. She ended up a grade school teacher but one year was enough for her.
Lindy turned to acting and joined the always excellent productions at the fledgling Empty Space Theatre in Seattle. She blossomed and eventually moved to Detroit where she performed, directed and managed the Attic Theatre for nearly twenty years. In her spare time she did TV commercials. She received the Michiganian of the Year award (a very big deal in Michigan). She married fellow actor Harlen and had a baby girl, Jaime, who followed in Lindy’s acting footsteps, even when she was just a few years old. After the Attic Theare closed, Lindy then taught Acting and Directing at Detroit’s Wayne State University before retiring and moving to Lakewood with her college professor husband James Hart, who died during COVID. Last year she returned to Detroit to direct a special Shakespeare production.
Lindy traveled the world learning more and more about acting, directing, and production. Ocean Shores had been a favorite place for our families to campout in the early days. In our older days we preferred hotels. On one trip Lindy came to our hotel room . . . possibly looking for a bacon sandwich. Peggy and I love bacon sandwiches. I knew Lindy had just acted and played the part of the mean Violet in “August: Osage County” in Detroit. She was just sitting on the foot of our bed and I asked her to give us a sample and perform the scene where the mother, Violet, talked about being a teenager and wanting a pair of brown boots for Christmas. She received a pair of old work boots, complete with cow excrement. I had tears in my eyes and can still see her face in character. Vile, but perfectly done. It was a “wow” performance.
Peggy and I have been writing reviews of local theater productions from Olympia to Seattle for a number of years. Two years ago, we asked Lindy to join us. We’ve had a ball.
Lindy had never seen a “panto,” a pantomime, an annual Christmas show put on by British working men’s clubs for their kids. Some silliness and sly references go over the kid’s heads but the adults love them. We had been praising CenterStage in Federal Way for years for their hilarious, dumb and just plain funny pantos. We finally got Lindy to see the “Sleeping Beauty” panto at CenterStage this last November. It was more than two hours long and just plain fantastic. We saw it twice and would have liked to have seen it one more time . . . maybe two more. With Lindy we reviewed a number of Seattle plays, the Harlequin in Olympia, Lakewood Playhouse, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Dukesbay Productions, and the one hundred plus year old Tacoma Little Theatre.
We feel it is a shame that Lindy is moving to Los Angeles to be closer to her show biz daughter Jaime. We are heart broken, but we understand. Jaime and her mother have a great time together and remain the best of friends. Jaime is a kick and we love her, too. She has done voice/over work, acted in numerous sitcoms (Mrs. Goldfeder in KC Undercover on the Disney Channel), and has been traveling across the U.S. teaching about delivery, timing, and more. She has been called a “legendary comedic character actress.” We have memories of many fun events and family parties. We will see Lindy more as time goes by, and we remain grand friends and relatives forever. Only our Uncle James, now living in Alaska, remains our connection to our far back history and memories . . . but don’t worry. He and his wife Natalie have lots of stories to tell and share as well as a large family.