Opal Whiteley
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The oldest of five children, Opal Irene Whiteley was born to Charles Edward ("Ed") and Lizzie (Scott) Whiteley in Colton, Washington on December 11, 1897. A logging family, the Whiteleys moved as Ed's work demanded. "When nearly five years of age we moved to Lane County, Oregon," Opal wrote for the Cottage Grove Sentinel in 1915, "and when nearly six years of age we moved from near Wendling to my grandfather's farm at Walden station, about three miles from Cottage Grove."

It was here the events of the published diary took place, and here that Opal said she recorded them. A precocious child who could form words from a primer at age three, she entered Walden school at five, and passed two grade levels her first year. But she was a dreamer as well, and often enough paid the price for it. "She was always a queer girl," said her grandmother Achsah Scott in 1920. "When she wasn't chattering or asking questions, or reading or writing, she would be looking at nothing with big eyes, in what some people call a 'brown study,' but what I call inattention and absentmindedness."

Nor would Opal respond to the punishment of the day. "Switching didn't seem to make her any different," her grandmother said. "She would climb up in a big evergreen over the pigpen, and get to studying about something, and drop out of the tree into the mud. Lizzie would spank her or switch her, or if Lizzie wasn't feeling up to it, I would."

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