Sunday, June 20, 2010

This is my Grandfather Charles Joseph McIntyre as the public saw him:

It's got some funky blurring on it and the marking on the back explains why: "1:30am Jan 20, 1962 taken in front of 8 Tyler St. Taken with a Poloroid camera developed in 10 seconds."
The technology of instant prints must have been pretty new and exciting for it to be worth mentioning how long it took to delelop the shot.

This is how I remember him:

This shot was taken with a Poloroid as well but, a couple of years later. Apparently the technology was not so exciting any more because nothing is noted on the back of this one. My grandfather passed away when I was 7 or 8 years old and the few memories I have of him are of being instructed to "go kiss your Grandpa Charley goodbye" after visits to the house where he sat in his chair in the dining room, smoked his cigar and watched TV while "the women folk" visited in the adjacent living room.
I really can't remember a single word he ever uttered but I do remember he would give me a little smile and present his cheek for a kiss without taking his eyes off the TV.
That was about all I had of my Grandpa Charley but it was enough, to this day whenever I smell a burning cigar, I think of him.

A customer came into the cafe today and after I made his drinks he gave me his credit card to ring them up while he added milk and sugar and what not. I was a bit surprised by the unusual credit card and even more surprised by the name one it,
Charles E. McIntyre.
We had a little chat about spellings of McIntyre and what my Charles J. McIntyre did for a living.
Then Charles E. took his card back, took his take out tray and headed for the incredible Cape vacation that he was surely on his way to with the fam and thier very special (1/2 caf, splash of Chai, cafe au lait....) coffee drinks.
I thought about Charles E. after he left and the only other person I've ever seen use that kind of credit card (Joe Perry from Aerosmith) and wondered for a brief moment what Charles E. does for a living and why couldn't we all be decended from him and his black card lifestyle, then I thought some more about that duct taped leather chair that sat in the dining room for at least a year after Charles J. was no longer sitting in it.
I thought about the scent that hangs in a room long after hundereds of cigars have been smoked there, and that "Yeah, I'm watching the game but but the kids here smile".

We are collectively the product of where we come from and since I am pretty happy with who I became, I'll keep my memories and tho it might be tempting to day dream for a moment or 2, I really wouldn't trade tip jars with Charles E. for anything in the world...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kilroy was here...

My Grandmother Claire (Cummings) McIntyre is not the bride but the maid of honor in this picture. The Bride is Ann Kilroy and her high haired betrothed is Frank Keenan. Tom Kilroy is the best man and the picture was taken approx 1936 or 1937.
I know this because the picture is such labeled on the back in the handwriting of Claire's sister, Catherine (My great Aunt "Kay").
I absolutely love my Grandmother's gorgeous velvet dress, the flowers, the snazzy gloves on the men but what I really like about this picture is that it was labeled.
Even tho the portrait was obviously an important occasion, by the time this picture came into my hands, there really was no one left to ask the question, who were all these people?
My Grandmother Claire (aka Cecilia or Celia) passed away in 1967, 3 years before I was born. Although it is nice that my Mother is available to readily identify her own Mother in pictures, she had no idea who the other people were and without the label, this lovely portrait of a rather important time in thier lives could be completely lost.
I'm going to ramble a bit here and I would like it if you would hang with me for a paragraph or two because my point is one that I think is important.
There have been 2 significant fires in my life.
The first destroyed my Father's home nearly taking the life of my sister and her Mother along with it. The second occured a few years later in the house where I had grown up but had not lived in for about a decade.
Both homes were total losses.
That is to say, everything was destroyed either by fire or by the water used to fight it. Both of the families living in those homes at the time of those fires lost everything.
It is very easy to say,
"But they kept the most precious thing of all, thier lives."
And yes, thankfully, very thankfully, all of the people living in those homes at the time of those fires, survived without serious physical injury.
But think for a moment about what they really lost, not just things but thier entire history, thier original birth certificates, thier children's first teeth, and all of the photographs that their parents and grandparent had lovingly preserved in albums for future generations, gone forever in less than 12 hours.
Generations of history, just gone.

This is also related to my point,
trust me for just a little bit longer...

My Paternal Grandmother (Ruth (Simmons) Pearson collected post cards for decades that she would pick up in antique and trinket stores along the routes of her many travels. One one night a couple of years ago while browsing through her old albums, I took it upon myself to Google the name and address of one of the recipiants of a post card that had caught my eye. I found a link to a geneology page for a decendant of the adressee and contacted him about the card. I asked if he was indeed related to the recipiant, amazingly enough he was and I was able to scan the card and email it to him.
You never really know where things with your name on them will wind up after you are gone...
My sister Sarah made a pretty great family hisory discovery when she was only about 15, knowing that her Grandfather (Roy Pearson) had writen several books and had a habit of inscribing them for friends and family on special occasions, she searched "Roy Pearson" on Ebay and Amazon and found some of his books for sale that were inscibed by him to friends and co-workers.
I have since found a few more of his books and and with every one we dig up out of the modern web, it's like a friendly little note from the past saying,
"Hi, I was here."
The point of this whole ramble is this:
Most of us are taught from a young age that modesty is becoming and shouting to the world in big flashy letters just how magnificent it is that a person born bearing our name turned out to be as great as we think ourselves to be is unelegant and distateful behavior.
I, a formerly extremely shy person, have now to seriously beg to differ...
If we don't shout our names to future generations by labeling every possible passing thing that we come into contact with, "I WAS HERE" than what will become of our memory?
Sure, your decendants will save every scrap they can but what if that all that care and hard work goes up in smoke?
What if somewhere along the way, you had the misfortune to lose a home?
What if there is a picture somewhere of your ancestor, completely unrelated to the owner of the photo who happens to get on line one night and Google your ancestors name in the hopes of finding someone else out there looking back for the same person?
All I can think is how wonderful it would be if someone contacted me with a photo of my family that I had never seen before.
Who knows if the modern Kilroy family is even insterested at all in thier own ancesators, maybe they were real jerks at heart and best forgotten. Who knows?
I will try in my spare time to hunt down the modern Kilroy's (such a common last name, I might not have much luck but then through the generosity of my friend Elizabeth, I found a modern McIntyre cousin, 5 times removed, in NH so stranger things have happened...)
So, the whole point of my ramble is,
I know who those total strangers are because someone took the time to tag this photograph,
"Kilroy was here."