of birthdays, weddings & getting back to roots

by Alden Cole on June 11, 2015 · 0 comments

DayLily3ViewsWP“The family is the school of duties… founded on love.”
– Felix Adler (1851-1933)

Giacomantonio-MahonPhotoWPOn Sunday June 14th I’m heading to New England for a fortnight. While there I’ll experience a waxing moon in the country, and will celebrate the beginning of my 72nd year, completing my 71st on Thursday the 18th. On Saturday the 20th, the day before the solstice, I’ll be attending an “I Do” BBQ, the June-celebration in Dayton, Maine of last January’s wedding of my first-cousin twice-removed Bekah Giacomantonio and John ‘Jake’ Mahon, who live in Brooklyn, New York. Above, a close-up of the beautiful young couple, the next generation to shine. Bekah is the younger granddaughter of my first cousin Elizabeth ‘Lib’ Cole Curran (1936-1983) who was like an older sister to me in the family compound. Just a few days ago I discovered an interesting coincidence: one set of bride Behak’s 32 great-great-great-great grandparents – Dr. Eben Hurd (1816-1895) and Elizabeth “Betsey” Pierson Gordon (1814-1866) [my great-great grandparents) were married on another June 20th – in 1844, 171 years ago… Requiem in Pacem, Betsey & Eben; Bonne Chance, Bekah and Jake! Life is Good!

1948Lib&Aldy900“We are linked by blood, and blood is memory without language.” – Joyce Carol Oates (1937 – )

1948wLib&Marge1000At left two snapshots of a pre-adolescent Lib and myself as an urchin, at a 1948 family picnic; the second photo also includes Lib’s younger sister Marjorie Ann Cole [Thompson] (1940- ).

Over the years of perusing the family archives of old photographs I’ve gotten quite good at identifying older family members in their younger days. However I occasionally discover snapshots of people I don’t recognize at all, like the two young women below, who offer a tantalizingly playful glimpse of the rustic simplicity of ‘life on the farm’ in the 20s.

1930?TwoWomen??WPWho were they? and what ever happened to them? Were they visitors from afar? or were they distant family members whom I never had the opportunity to meet?

Other photographs, like the one below from the mid-’30s, reveal family members I grew up with and recognize. Seen in their younger days, a group of men takes a break from the summer activity of haying to say cheese, or at least HMMMM, for the camera, probably held in this case by my aunt Dorothy Tenney Cole (1910-1990). Left to right: my grandfather Harris Cole (1879-1973), an unidentified field-hand, my father Richard Cole (1910-2009), in-law Maurice Carvell (1912-1994), Robert Cole Sr. (1903-1992) with Bob Junior (1931- ) standing just in front, a second unidentified field-hand.

1935Takin'aBreak2WPBelow, a mid-’20s portrait by family photographer Gertrude Sherman Cole (1883-1979) that captures not only her husband and three daughters, but her mother-in-law, a sister-in-law, and two nieces, sitting on the porch steps of the 1923 farmhouse. Left to right: her mother-in-law Mary Weymouth Cole (1849-1937), niece Doris Marion Cole [Smith] (1903-1997), her sister-in-law Edeth Belle Waterhouse [Cole] (1880-1979) holding her second daughter Elinor Gertrude Cole [Rundgren] (1921-2005), her oldest daughter

1925Lee&FamilyVisitWPHelen Frances Cole [Hirschy] (1915-2012), niece Charlotte Cole (1905-2005), her husband Winfield Lee Cole (1872-1944) holding their youngest child Phyllis Grace Cole [Conklin] (1923-2005). Gertrude, rarely captured in photos herself, was the first of the amateur family photographers whose inventive and substantial record of farming life in rural Maine in the early 20th century has enriched my understanding and this commentary immensely.

TigerPopping2ViewsWP“Conscience is the dog that can’t bite, but never stops barking.” – Traditional Proverb

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