1930’s postcard from Ogunquit Maine
I could write a long book about the memories stirring in me as I view this postcard from Ogunquit Maine.
1930’s postcard from Ogunquit Maine
I could write a long book about the memories stirring in me as I view this postcard from Ogunquit Maine.
A few years ago, 18 to be more precise, I wrote a memoir which I called 8 Countries, 62 years. Now at age 80 I plan to write the sequel and fill in a few gaps. Yesterday at church coffee hour I was asked the conversation starter question – how did you meet the man you married – or words to that effect.
It’s a long story – or a very short story.
Step 1 – we met in Kenya in August 1966.
Ian at the Nairobi Show, September 1966
What a fascinating book. My Seven Lives by Solveig Sedlet. A memoir published in 2005 by a Danish American woman – her childhood in Denmark, her life under the Nazi occupation in World War II, her early adult years working as a nanny in postwar London, emigration to America, marriage, widowhood, 2nd marriage, building a family, and finally coping with a mentally disturbed son. Solveig died last year at the age of 90. A rich life with its many joys and sorrows.
There are several photography blogs that I read either regularly or occasionally. Seattle Daily Photo is one, another is One a Day – Mostly Seattle, and Dublin Daily Photo. And from these blogs I occasionally branch off onto others. A rather fun way to indulge my photography and travel interests. Today I’ve been continuing the unending task of going through old photos and miscellaneous memorabilia and trying to find a place for everything, and put everything in its place.
I came across the above photo and puzzled over it for a long time. Is it Ireland, Dublin, Sandycove/Dalkey, near the James Joyce Museum and the Forty Foot? It was with other photos of that part of the coastline. I think the photo below was taken at the same time, looking toward the swimmers easing themselves into the water at the Forty Foot in the distance. another photo in the same group was this one – the pink mallows growing by the side of the road as you walk up the hill toward the James Joyce Museum. These photos would have been taken on Bloomsday, June 16 – sometimes a lovely day, some years cold and overcast.
In my Belmont High School Class of 1954 “chat room”, if you can call it that, a number of us have been sharing memories of our school days and classmates and our parents as they then were. We were very fortunate in Belmont in that we were a sort of dormitory suburb for numerous faculty members of Harvard and MIT. There were several quite famous people in our midst and we in our innocent youth didn’t even realize this. Now that we have reached the age and are well beyond the ages that our parents were then, we are getting quite nostalgic in looking back. One such famous professor was Harold Edgerton, known as Doc Edgerton at MIT. Now, thanks to the internet and google, I can find out more about him and his family and read many moving tributes to him and reviews of his many accomplishments. He was a good-natured friend to all – but to me, and many of us, he was the parent who came and watched our sports activities.
A few years ago when I was in London and either being a tourist or visiting family or attending a meeting, or some combination of the above, I was wandering about in the Victoria and Albert Museum and I just about fainted in the photography section. There was a photo on the wall – a photo with the caption Harold Edgerton, a photo of his daughter skipping rope, date 1940. Although I knew he was famous for discovering how to capture split-second moments in speed photography, I still was not expecting to find this memory reminder there on the walls of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. After all, my association with the family was in 1940’s Boston/Cambridge/Belmont. It was many years since I had left Belmont and/or thought about the Edgertons.
Now for the present. My memory of his son closest to me in age. was fixed in time for say the 1950’s. Now I find on Facebook, yes the famous Facebook bandwagon that everyone is joining, that this son is a member – and lo and behold at age 75 he is the image of his father. My image of the father now comes up on the screen as the image of the son. It was uncanny.
As a footnote, I’ll say that at my 50th reunion from high school, a classmate that I knew from kindergarten but hadn’t seen for maybe 35 years, exclaimed “you look just like your mother”. So I guess the genes are there and that’s the way it is. If you want to know what you are going to look like in 50 years, just look at your parents or photographs thereof.
from a site on the internet, I found this Harold Edgerton photo dated 1934
from another site, an Edgerton photo more familiar one to me
The best work, as well as the greatest joy of my life, has been the rearing of my four children to good American citizenship.
Spending winters in Orlando, Florida, in 1939 I was attracted to the Poetry Club and, although I had never before written any poetry, I found I could really turn out something with rhyme and rhythm.
The greater number of these poems were written for the Club before I left Orlando for Daytona Beach.
I hope, dear reader, that you like them and become my friend as I am yours.
How could you help but be proud of and have great fondness for this grandmother of mine. A grandmother I did not see all that often, in fact only seldom, and who lived far away from where I grew up.
My grandmother in fact outlived her son by 5 years. She passed away in 1954 at the age of 91. I can only remember her through photographs, a few letters in the family archive, and what my sisters now in their 80’s are able to tell me about her.
A poem she wrote To The Half-Century Club (At State College, Albany, New York, June 1941) on the occasion of their 60th reunion.
To the Half-Century Club
Half-Centuryites we are here today
To look back along the way
We trod together for awhile
Only a short, but lovely mile,
And gather up from here and there
Some recollections we may share,
So short a time it was, you know,
Only two years, that long ago
That teachers did their sturdy part
To us their wisdom to impart.
In seventy-nine I came to wait
For knowledge at old New York State,
In June, ’81, I left its hall
But where’er my footsteps fall,
In all my life, I’ll ne’er forget
The lessons learned, the friends I met.
I recall that building, old and gray,
Where Dr. Alden held full sway,
I still can see, as I saw of yore,
The faculty filing through the door
To seat themselves in solumn style
Upon the rostrum for awhile,
While Marsh, the temperamental dear,
Made music to delight the ear;
His eagle eye cast ’round the ring
Making sure that each should sing.
Today could Dr. Alden see
What his school has grown to be
A certain pride he’d surely know,
But other things would shock him so
He’s shed a tear and tear his hair,
Perchance, forsooth, he’d even swear,
Full well I know the dancing class
Would make him cry aloud, “Alas,”
Once on the carpet I was called,
Across the coals well overhauled,
Because one evening forth I pranced
Broke every rule and danced and danced.
Enough of this, we stand today
In life’s twilight, cold and gray,
Our work near done, our faces turn
To where the sunrise glories burn,
For well we know this life to be
Only a link in the chain which we
Make complete when, our lessons learned,
Last life lived! last body spurned,
Strivings over and hardships past,
Perfect peace is ours at last.
So from Daytona’s Beach I send
Greeting and farewell to each friend
Until next year shall bring our way
Another glad Alumni Day.
I just love what she has written. So long ago now. My grandmother on the occasion of her 60th reunion from college – and only recently I celebrated my 50th reunion from college, relatively near where she was born and went to school. Middlebury Vermont, Crown Point New York, and Albany New York are not all that far apart. She went to the college (I guess what would have been called a Normal School or a Teacher Training College) at the age of 16. Attended for the requisite 2 years. Graduated in 1881 and then married in 1882. The little known family fact – to me anyhow – was that she had even gone to college at all.
The news is snow, snow, snow. Well, not here in Seattle so far today but I’m thinking of all the family on the East Coast and picturing them out there shovelling their driveways, etc.
Here’s a photo I found of a bit of snow we had in January 1985 when we happened to be in Dublin, in between assignments further afield. This is Ailesbury Lawn and I was able to use my skis which had been stored in the garden shed. The caption on the back of the photo reads “1st time on skis since 1966”.
My glamorous sisters pictured above in 1950 are now in their 80’s. In fact Ruth just attained her 85th birthday and Nan is only a little over a year behind.
Not too long ago, early last autumn, Ruth and Nan took a memory trip and they tried to find the old camp, Wild Wiffus as my brother called it. They searched and searched those back roads of the Lake Winnepasauki area. Screech, Nan suddenly shouted – there it is! Sure enough, there it was but hardly recognizable. It had been all modernized and there was a paved road leading to it and all in all it was looking very much like a suburban bungalow. They, of course, poked around and looked in all the windows, etc., in good Ruth and Nan style. They subsequently found out that indeed our beloved camp is still in family hands. It is now owned by Uncle Don and Aunt Gladys grandson and it is he who has modernized it. Their slightly older cousin Phyllis is still alive and has filled them in on some of the details.
Over the past 10+ years I have been working on the problem of writing some sort of memoir. A while ago I felt I was near to self-publishing my opus 8 countries, 62 years. But then we started on this move from Dublin to Seattle and then the manuscript went back and forth between disks and computers etc. And I got the idea of adding photographs. And all the possible photographs were in the shipments. So time is still ticking on. I have been blogging to keep the writing fires burning but really I must finally polish something off and move on. Do the final editing. Now that we are proceeding with the unpacking more photographs and more archival material is coming to light and I keep going off on tangents. I feel under a lot of pressure – totally self-imposed- to finish this first volume off and then I can move freely off on these other tangents. It’s like having a term paper or a thesis – do the final polishing and hand it in! In my case it will be to the printer or to Original Writing back in Dublin.
In conjunction with my Irish language study, every day for the past year or so I have been writing the word/phrase for the day in a little notebook, the Murakami Diary 2009. This is a lovely little diary which I bought because I liked the illustrations and the quotes from Murakami’s various books. Well, here is what I found this morning – an excerpt from Murakami’s lecture “The Sheep Man and the End of the World”, delivered in English at Berkeley California USA on November 17 1992.
According to Murakami –
“The most important thing is confidence. You have to believe you have the ability to tell the story, to strike the vein of water, to make the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Without that confidence, you can’t go anywhere. It’s like boxing. Once you climb into the ring, you can’t back out. You have to fight until the match is over.”
Then Murakami goes on to say that that is the way he writes his novels, and he loves to read novels that have been written this way. To him, spontaneity is everything. He believes in the power of the story. The power of the story to arouse something in our spirits, in our minds – something that has been handed down to us from ancient times.
Well, I’m not trying to write a novel – but I am trying to write the story of my life and to make sense of it and to make it interesting and informative for my children and grandchildren. I am struggling in getting the introduction and in winding it up. I think I have the bulk of it written but I just have to fit or make the border – up to this point in time – and my time frame keeps moving on relentlessly. Happy New Year Everyone!
A first draft has been in hard copy for some years. But it needs polishing and more careful editing – and then the confidence to release it for public view. I have been a bit shy and lacking in confidence about this. Somehow bits of what I had written were too private and I wanted to hone those out. And I also wanted to eliminate some of the boring bits which only had meaning to me as a memoir and really wouldn’t be of any interest to anyone else ever. And there were a few points I wanted to develop further. And I wanted to somehow tie the whole thing together in a carefully crafted way. But now I’ve just reached the point where I feel thwarted and it is becoming a nightmare where I am trying to get somewhere and keep getting interrupted or having to turn back.
I tend to read other people’s memoirs. I am particularly impressed by several friends who have written about their lives and have self-published. Here I want to cite Betty Nunan who wrote about her experiences in Bhutan. Betty was in the creative writing class that I took for several terms. Just as an aside – I took that class with the intention of having it help me in the writing of the memoir. The class was good and I found it stimulating and I made a number of friends. Unfortunately though the teacher wanted us all to be poets and she tended to disparage the idea of a memoir. Happily though my classmates were encouraging and helped me along when I felt that my efforts were not necessarily appreciated by the teacher. I might add though that I liked her a lot and feel that we are friends.
Three other local Dundrum/Dublin friends have also written nd self-published their work – Richard Cox’s research into his father’s early life – This Father I Never Knew. A man who lives in Sandyford has published a memoir on his years in Uganda and Kenya. And a bookselling friend has published a book about his time in Uganda when Idi Amin came to power.