Mom’s Memories Page 15 AKA Keepsakes Lost

For some reason I’ve been thinking of this topic this week.  (I know the reason, I’m just keeping it secret.)  The loss of one of my mom’s family keepsakes did not sit well with her.  I think she mentioned it to us when we were kids, but she definitely talked about it toward the end of her life.  It’s a shame that some of those negative memories aren’t the first ones to go when a person starts losing their memory.  Yet we are a result of our experiences good and bad.  And both kinds make for good stories for a blog like this.  

Mom’s memories p. 15 plus a bit more

I say that the loss of her keepsake didn’t sit well with her, but it doesn’t sit well with me either.  It’s something that I would love to see.  She mentioned it in her little book she kept when she was documenting the memories she wanted to remember.  Now that I think about it, she didn’t mention that my dad sold her baritone without her permission.  It’s something else she talked about with a bit of sass to her voice.  It was another thing that did not sit well with her.  She wasn’t bitter about it, she just didn’t appreciate how it played out.

From mother to daughter – four generations: Martha, Daisy, Myrtle, and Betty

But the loss we’ll look at more closely is the loss of the trunk that was left to her by her maternal grandmother.  Let me introduce all of the players.  My mom was Betty Lou Bucklin Landry.  She was born in Elton, Louisiana, on May 20, 1933, and died at the age of 83 on January 19, 2017.  Her mother was Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin.  She was born in Hathaway, Louisiana, on December 19, 1906, and died at the age of 79 on May 7, 1986.  Grandma’s mother was Daisy Henrietta Martha Keys Phenice.  She was born April 20, 1876, in London, England, and died at the age of 76 on July 29, 1952, in Elton, Louisiana.  My great great grandmother was Martha Ann Cook Keys.  She was born November 8, 1836, in Great Wigsborough, England, and died at the age of 59 on July 17, 1896, in Elton, Louisiana.

So let’s see what she wrote.  I’ll quote it and then discuss it.  “Mama somehow got the idea that Uncle Roy had a museum in his warehouse.”  The Mama mentioned her is my maternal grandmother Myrtle.  She was married to Fred Bucklin and Uncle Roy was his younger brother.  They lived down at the other end of Bucklin Road (where Ronnie C. now lives).  I don’t know anything about his warehouse.  Was it behind the house?  Connected to the house?  or at another location?   Uncle Roy died in 1999.

“At his funeral I asked Aunt Effie – she said he had a ‘collection’ – Mama had given him the gun collection from the Bucklins.  I had Martha Cooks antique trunk.  Grandma (Daisy) gave it to me when I was in high school.  It had some of her needlework in it.  It was no longer there + had been emptied on a shelf on the wall – So I guess MY trunk went to the ‘museum.'”  I’m not sure what the 1999 funeral and the gun collection had to do with the trunk, other than that was probably another time she had tried to track down its location. 

From what I remember, my mom had left the trunk at her mom’s home when she got married and moved to California in 1952.  They spent time there and in New Mexico before returning to Louisiana in 1956.  I think it was around this time that she noticed that her trunk was missing.  She probably was ready to retrieve it and it was nowhere to be found.

It wasn’t just any old trunk, and it wasn’t just the trunk.  “We liked to look at the needlework Martha had done.  It was in bad condition but I had cleaned it up.  It came from England when they moved here in 1887.”  So it was the trunk that my Keys ancestors used when they immigrated to the United States in 1887!  It probably even spent a little time in the chicken coop that the family lived in when they were waiting for their house to be built!

I first thought that the needlework that was in the trunk was by my great grandmother Daisy, but my mom specifically says later that the needlework was by Daisy’s mom Martha.  Wouldn’t that be something to see?!  My mom and her siblings enjoyed looking at it when they were youngsters.  But sadly, I will never get to see that or the trunk.

Yet I do have a piece of cross stitch that Daisy’s brother Leonard stitched in 1883.  I’ve shared a photo of that before.  I have another photo to share, too.  This one is a small photo that I have of one of Martha’s cross stitches that has survived all of these years.  I think I can make out that it was done in Feb. 1868.  It is in the care of one of Leonard’s descendants.   I love it!

Cross stitch done by my great great grandmother Martha Cook Keys in Feb. 1868.

A Phenice Keepsake: Painting by Grandma

I know, I know.  You all must be asking, “Another Phenice post?  When are you going to talk about my group?”  And you’re right!  I wrote about my grandmother three weeks ago and then last week I wrote about her father.  “What’s up with that?”  you must be asking yourself.

What’s up with that is that today is my Grandma Bucklin’s birthday!  Myrtle Sylvia Phenice was born on December 19, 1906, in Hathaway, Louisiana.  She was the third of seven children born to Harry Clifton Phenice and Daisy Keys Phenice.  And reportedly, she was a very pretty little baby.  I may have told you that before, but it bears repeating.  When my mom was a little girl, she won a contest for Gerber’s Cutest Baby.  (Or so I’ve been told.)  My grandmother probably bragged about that for a while.  Yes, my grandmother was known for bragging on occasion.  There are worse things a person can do.

But then my grandmother quit bragging about it when young Betty Lou (my mom) started to brag about it herself.  At some point Grandma must have started to answer with a comeback akin to, “I was known to be pretty baby, too, if I may say so myself!”  I never personally witnessed this exchange between my mother and grandmother, but Mama told me that it was a thing. 

I’m sure they were both very cute babies, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.  Otherwise I would be posting photos of them as babies and learn how to set up a poll on Facebook or something.  I wanted to share a keepsake that I have from Grandma.  I have a few keepsakes from her – a key, a puzzle, a carving – but those aren’t very impressive or personal.

Oil painting by Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin, date unknown

This is much more personal and I rather like it.  My mom gave it to me some time around 2014.   My mom wrote a little blurb on the back of it.  It says, “Mama painted this for Uncle Roy and Aunt Effie.  It was given to me after they died.”  Uncle Roy Bucklin died in 1999.  His wife Effie Hetzel Bucklin died in July of 2001, so she got it some time after that.

So I have no idea when it was painted or how long it was hanging in the home of Uncle Roy and Aunt Effie.  I’m also not familiar with any other paintings by my grandmother.  So if anyone else has any original artwork by her, I would love to see it.  Just a quick little digital photo would be sufficient.

Now I’m really curious to see if anyone is going to share something with us.  This is so much better than a vote for the cutest baby.  But for what it’s worth, I always thought I was a cute baby.

If I may say so myself!

A Landry Keepsake – Death Notice for Narcisse

My great great grandfather Narcisse Landry died in 1876.

Now here is something that you don’t see every day.  This is a death notice of one of my ancestors from 1876.  Imagine that!  A delicate piece of paper that survived over 140 years.  Yet I came across two copies of this same death notice less than two weeks apart.  I had never even thought to look for such a thing.  When I saw the first one, I was amazed.  Then when I saw the second one, I was even more amazed.

This death notice is for my great great grandfather Narcisse Landry.  He was born in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, on January 31, 1796.  (My dad had the same birthday.)  Narcisse was the son of Joseph Ignatius Landry and Olive Elizabeth Breaux.  Narcisse was married to Marie Carmelite Hebert on Feb. 13, 1819.  They had eight children together including Simon Alcide Joseph, who went by the name Alcide.  Narcisse died on November 19, 1876. 

I first saw this document on Facebook on August 17 in the group “Our Ancestors in Photos,” which is a group for people who have family or ancestors who lived in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.   A cousin named Debbie posted it, but it belonged to Jocelyn from Addis.  I mentioned her in a previous post because we descend from two generations of Landry brothers.  My family descends from Narcisse, while her family descends from his brother Elie (1790-1848).

Then, less than two weeks later, I got together with my cousins and godparents to exchange old photos.  After looking through several photos from Tricia’s Tin Can Collection and taking photos of them, it came time to look at Daphne’s Secret Collection.  And there in a binder with sleeves holding various ephemera was a group of old death notices that my grandmother had collected.  Imagine my surprise when I saw another copy of the death notice for Narcisse Landry.

This death notice is for my great great great grandfather Narcisse Landry.  He was born in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, on January 31, 1796.  (My dad had … yadda yadda yadda … Jean Trasimond, who went by the name Trasimond.  Narcisse died on November 19, 1876.

I descend from Narcisse twice.  His son Alcide was the father of Robert Joseph Landry, Sr.  He in turn was the father of Robert Joseph Landry, Jr., my own father.  Narcisse’s son Trasimond was the father of Marie Therese Landry Patureau.  She was the mother of Germaine Erie Patureau Landry.  Erie was my dad’s mom.  You can see on the paper from Daphne’s collection that it identifies Narcisse as the father of “Trasamond.”  That suggests that it was passed down through my grandmother.

But my grandmother was born in 1895, which is almost 20 years after the death of her great grandfather.  So someone held on to this paper when it was printed in 1876.  If it was Trasimond, he didn’t keep it for long because he died in 1879.  Marie Therese was only 8 years old in 1876, so I wouldn’t think that she would have been the one to save it.  It’s more likely that Trasimond’s wife Marie Amelie “Belite”Bujol kept it safe for many years.  Mee Maw must have inherited it when Grandma Belite died in 1924, since her mom Marie Therese had died in 1909.  Mee Maw was very much interested in family history and held on to it until her death in 1973.  Aunt Germaine must have gotten it at that point, and now Daphne is the keeper of the Secret Collection which contains the keepsake.

Jocelyn from Addis’s family tree shows our Landry connection. We also connect through the Leveque, White and Gassie ancestors shown on her tree.

The other copy passed down a different trail of the family.  Narcisse’s brother Elie’s family to be exact.  Elie had a son name Jean Joseph Trasimond Landry.  He was married to Marine Emelina Landry.  Yes, those names are too similar. Since Narcisse died after both of them, the document that Jocelyn from Addis had in her possession must have been originally saved by their daughter Marine Anna Landry.  Her daughter Aimee Delahaye probably had it in her care for a time.  Aimee’s son Joseph Myhand was the next caretaker for this document, but eventually it came into the hands of his daughter Jocelyn from Addis.

And now that document is in my hands!  That’s right!  Jocelyn let me have that paper that has been protected by her family through several generations.  Thank you, Jocelyn.  Thank you, Joseph.  And you also Aimee, Marina, Trasimond and Emelina.  I will try to take good care of it and share it with others.  See?  I’ve started already.

A Keepsake Letter – A Message From Susan

When you first read this title, you may have thought that I was referring to my great great grandmother Susan Stanbrough Hine on my mother’s father’s side of the family.  Although I do in fact have a letter (two letters now) from her that I intend to share later on, I am writing about a different ancestor named Susan.  This one is Susan Jackson Phenice, my great great great grandmother on my mother’s mother’s side of the family.  Her son was Samuel Phenice who fought in the Civil War.  Her grandson was H. C. Phenice, who was the Phenice that brought the Phenice name to Louisiana.

And H. C didn’t just have one grandmother with the name of Susan – both of his grandmothers were named Susan.  I’m pretty sure his other grandmother’s name was Susan Penrod Foster.  ( Correction – now I am absolutely sure that his other grandmother was not another Susan.  Her name was Anne Magdaleen Milliron Foster.)  I’m not certain about that other Susan, so in the meantime we will look at Susan Jackson Phenice and the letter that she wrote to us.

Well, it wasn’t actually written to us, but we can take some of her sentiments to heart.  It was written on April 16, 1877, to her daughter-in-law Ida Fitzgerald Phenice, who was married to son Abraham Phenice.  They had a small daughter named Emma Maud (maud in the letter) who was about three years old at the time.  Susan talks about some of her children, though she doesn’t mention Samuel by name.

Let’s take a look at that letter now.  I have spent some time cleaning up the scan of the letter so it would be more legible.  But I will go ahead and transcribe it for you.

First page –

April the 16, 1877

Well Dear Ida I suppose you think/ by this I dont intend to write to/ [indecipherable words] I should/ and would have writen before but/ when I heard from when ever you/ wrote to Abram (her son Abraham) in particular after/ I was informed of your condition/ I sympathize with you very much/ for I have experienced such times/ but be of good cheer and in good heart/ keep up your courage and dont/ dispare for he that puts on the/ burden – can take it of again all/ that we must do is to look to Jesus/ and he will help in times of need/ how soon do you expect to be/ back to work  you could be here/ before that time  we would all/  (continued on page 2)

Page 2 –

feel better satisfied to be/ together there  none of us can count/ on many years at the longest/ and why not be with each/ other while we are here  it is the Joy of my heart when the children / comes home  you wanted to know/ if Abe was as good a son as he was a husband/ he is  I am/ very proud of him and/ all the rest but better boys than/him and harper is cant be/ found every day.  I expect we will/ move to petrolia this week or the/ first of next  if you come out here you/ will be handy the catholic church/ Just quit(e) a short distance from where/ our house is and the methodist/ church is handy too  I think Willams (another son)/ family will be here soon.  Just as/ soon as we leave the house Daughter/ Kate will be quite handy and [blob]  (continued on page 3)

Page 3 –

That Dear little boy of/ yours (Abe) went to petrolia (in Butler County, Pennsylvania) to work/ this morning as lively as a cricket/  he is in good heart   work is/ plenty  they can get all they do/ can do  all they have to do is to work/ and they will money no doubt/

well Ida I have nothing of/ importance to write to you/ as Abe writes so often he tells you/ all the news  the family is/ all well  I dont feel very rugged to day  my head aches/ considerable but it will soon/ be better  I am going to make/ myself some coffee and that/ will straiten me out   I suppose/ I trouble myself to much about/ moving  the boys scolds me/ for it  that Abe and Harper they think I have no need to worrie  (continued on page 4)

Page 4 –

Ida Dear remember me in/ your prayers that I may obtain/ a home in heaven  Oh that/ we all will meet at the right of god/ and walk hand in hand in/ the new Jerusalem where there/ is no sickness nor sorrow  all is/ peace and happiness  let us try to/ meet the Dear ones gone before us/

I will stop by bidding/ you good by for a while/ kiss maud for me  this is her/

from your mother

Susan Phenice

the family all sends their love/ to you and maud

(end of letter)

Isn’t that a sweet keepsake to have?  I remember Mama having a copy of it in her collection of family information.  I don’t know how she got it.  Maybe her cousins provided her with the copy.  I’m grateful to whoever did.

My favorite part of the letter is from page 2 when she says “it is the Joy of my heart when the children comes home.”  I’ve even used it as cousin bait.  That is a term I’ve read in genealogy circles (trust me, they’re out there) that doesn’t sound very sweet.  It just means a little enticing tidbit that you share with a cousin to tempt them into responding to you.  I did that with cousin Mona and it worked!  I edited it to fit my message by altering her quote to “It is the Joy of my heart when the children come together.”  I think it has the same meaning and I’m sure Grandma Susan would approve of my intent.

And if I was actually having a conversation with ol’ Susan, I’d also like to ask her about “the Dear ones gone before us.”  Because I don’t know the names of her parents or grandparents.  I do know that she was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, in 1806, and then she died in Petrolia two years after she wrote this letter.  And it’s obvious from her writing that she has strong beliefs and that she really cherished her family.  Good things to know.

My mom’s family tree. Her mom was the Phenice, so you can follow her line up to Susan Jackson (Phenice).

Music in the Family Part IV – Patureau Keepsake

I thought I should have a Keepsake version of Music in the Family.  Especially since I was wanting to showcase this instrument for a while.  I tried to find photos or audio files of it in action, but no such luck.  I do have a few photos of it though.  So here you go.

1928 Vega tenor banjo

This was my dad’s banjo for many years.  He played it at Shakey’s sometimes with the family band in the 1970s, but it has a longer history than that.   Daddy left me a document about the banjo that he wrote on January 15, 2005.

Besides playing it with the family band, he also stated that he played it with some Dixieland bands in Lake Charles.  He also played it in the orchestra pit with a ‘pit band’ for Lake Charles Little Theater productions.  But he wasn’t the first owner of this Vega Four string Tenor banjo.

Vincent Maximilian Patureau, Jr. circa 1922

Daddy inherited it in 1956 when his uncle Vincent Maximilian Patureau, Jr. passed away.  Daddy was 27 years old at the time and Uncle Vincent died at the age of 54.  He was my Mee Maw’s youngest brother.  Uncle Vincent had it for many years and played it with a band in Baton Rouge.  That’s about all I know.  I’m not sure when he lived in Baton Rouge.  Probably in the 1920s and 30s when he was in his twenties and thirties.

Maybe at the age he is in this photo.  I got this photo recently from my dad’s cousin.  (Thanks again, Sis!)  He may have honed his craft for a few years, then decided to buy himself a nice Vega banjo.  That would fit with the timeline of when this banjo was produced.  According to Daddy the serial number places it as being put together in 1928.

I got the banjo in August of 2015 when we moved my mom and dad into Assisted Living in Lake Charles.  I encouraged him to keep it because there was room for it in the apartment that he had, but he wanted me to take it.  So I did.  I’ve always thought it was a beautiful instrument.  And now it’s back in Baton Rouge, where it first came into our family.

1928 Vega tenor banjo

1928 Vega tenor banjo

A Patureau Keepsake: Grampa’s Got a Gun

Grampa's Got a Gun

Grampa Max’s gun

I’m not sure when I heard about this keepsake.  I’m thinking that it was last year at the high school graduation of my second cousin once removed in Plaquemine.  Now I don’t go to all of my distant cousins’ graduations, but it just happened that I was there.  I went with Chuck to his nephew’s graduation from St. John in Plaquemine and one of the Barkers were graduating as well.  To clarify who the Barkers are to me, I’ll explain.

My grandmother Erie Patureau married Robert Joseph Landry, Sr. and they became my Mee Maw and Pee Paw.  One of Erie’s sister Sylvie married John Walter “Son” Marionneaux.  So Erie and Robert’s son was my dad Bob.  His first cousin is Melwyn who is the daughter of Sylvie and Son.  Melwyn married Will Barker and they had seven children.  Mom and dad only had six children including me.  Melwyn and Will’s son Walter is my second cousin and his son Walter, Jr. is my second cousin once removed.

And it was Walter, Jr.’s graduation that I ended up attending.  I looked around during the commencement services and saw a few cousins.  Then after the service we went to the reception.  Of course, Melwyn was there as well as several other kinfolk.  Somehow we ended up talking about family history (how that happens I never know), and she mentioned that she had the pistol that belonged to Erie and Sylvie’s father, AKA Grampa Max.

I was told that when Grampa Max was a practicing veterinarian in Lafayette from 1917 to 1933, he carried this gun around with him.  He wasn’t carrying it for protection, of course.  Everybody knows that there was no crime in little Lafayette a hundred years ago.  No, he brought it with him in case one of his patients needed to be euthanized.  He did what he could for people’s pets, livestock, and farm animals, but some animals could not be saved.  Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Grampa’s Colt was made in Connecticut

So when I started to do a few of these Keepsake Series posts, the gun from Grampa Max was high on my list of things to photograph and share.  I went to Plaquemine to see Melwyn last week and we had a very pleasant visit.  She’s sharp as a tack.  She knows a lot of family history and she’s glad it is being shared.  She has this gun mounted, framed, and hanging in her house.  It’s a Colt series No. 2 derringer from somewhere around the 1870s or so.  I’m no gun expert, but that’s what my research found from the details in the second photo.

I would love to know the whole history of this gun.  I’m not sure how much more our family knows.  I was surprised to know of its existence when I first heard about it.  With the little bit that I know about it, it is a priceless family keepsake.

Grampa Max on a horse call. “Look sharp, girl, or I’ve got a surprise for you in my pocket!”

1893 – A Letter From a Friend

This is a letter that my great grandfather Louis Charles Bucklin received in 1893.  It was written on Mar. 14, 1893, by his roommate from the previous semester Charles Mollett from McClure, Ohio.  I referred to this letter in another post about another letter I got, but thought that I’d post the whole thing here.

I obtained both of these letters on June 3, 2017, from my mom Betty Lou Bucklin Landry’s first cousin Julie Phenice Campbell.  She had found them in a pouch with some old letters that her father had saved.  Which is kind of strange since Julie and her dad have no familial connection with L. C. Bucklin.  They are from my mom’s mom’s side of the family while the letters have to do with her dad’s side of the family.  Thankfully, they held on to them and kept them in good condition.  Take a look.

 

 

Mar. 14, 1893 letter, page 1

Mar. 14, 1893 letter, page 2

A Voice From the Past – Sammy Got Run Over

I’ve got another keepsake that I want to share with all of you.  I found this last year when I was going through some of the things I collected from my parents’ home when we cleaned it out for selling.  I’m not talking about the photo that I’m posting with the keepsake.  The photo is part of a promise that I made on here a few weeks ago.  I said that the next thing I’d post for Addie would be a photo of her smiling.

Addie Hine Bucklin

Addie Mae Hine Bucklin circa 1937

For those of you who don’t know who Addie is, she is my maternal grandfather’s mother Addie Mae Hine Bucklin.  (mother of Fred Bucklin, grandmother of Betty Lou Bucklin, and great grandmother of Van Landry)  In most of the photos I have of her, she has a rather severe look on her face.  I thought it was time to share a photo of her smiling since the story in the post is a happy one.  Yes, Sammy did get hit by a car, but he recovered quite well as you’ll hear Addie explain to you.  That’s right, you’ll be hearing the story of Sammy the dog in Addie’s own voice from around 1944.

Addie’s oldest daughter Mary was married to Sylvan Phenice.  He was a sound engineer and one of the things he was able to do was make recordings with a turntable using a cutting needle.  And I thought it was tough when I was a youngster recording conversations secretly using a reel to reel tape recorder!  Somehow he was able to record a conversation with Addie going into detail about her dog falling in the wheel track.  (It must have been a dirt road with deep ruts from the wheels of the cars and trucks.)

Sylvan’s wife Mary can also be heard in the conversation.  I wouldn’t want to get that one too excited.  Her voice would be piercing!  The other people in the recording are Roy Bucklin and his wife Effie.  So find a quiet spot, click on the link to the site that has the recording, close your eyes, and let yourself be transported back to 1944 in rural southern Louisiana.

Sammy Got Run Over – as told by Addie Mae Hine Bucklin.

I thought I’d go ahead and put the transcript of the recording on here in case there was anything you weren’t able to make out.  I am very thankful to aunt Loris who is the one that was able to recognize the voices in the recording.  Mom had it labeled, but I didn’t know which voice belonged to which person.  Thus begins the transcript:


Roy Day Bucklin:  Effie’s a gardener.

Addie Mae Hine Bucklin:  That was the morn… that was the morning that uh Sammy got out in the road and got run over.

Effie Hetzel Bucklin: (at the same time) Yeah, I’ve been trying but I’m afraid that uh it’s not going to amount…

Roy: Did Mr. Compton die?

Mary Bucklin Phenice:  Who’s Sammy?

Addie:  Our little dog.

Mary:  Your little dog?

Addie:  He followed me to mailbox and just as I got out there, there’s a, a pickup went by and he run out to bark and he got too close and it run over him.  And uh, I don’t know if it knew it hit him or not;  it didn’t stop, it just went on and there Sammy was layin’ right in the wheel-track, you know, just all drawed up.  And he commenced makin’ the funniest noise.  Now I was afraid to go and pick him up.  And uh, I stood there and looked around and I thought I heard Roy out in the shop and I said, uh.  Went and called him and I said, “Come here!” and he come, looked at him, and he said, “Oh, I’m afraid he’s done for.”  And we just stood there and watched him.  We’d speak to him and he wouldn’t let on like he heard us.

After a while, why I guess he was kinda commencin’ to get over it, and he’d raise up and look, you know, but he, you could tell that he didn’t know what he was lookin’ at.  So I looked down the road and I saw a car comin’ and I said, “Well, Roy, let’s get him outta the road.  There comes a car.”  So he picked him up and really just puttin’ him out of the track.  Well he just took him on in to the yard.  He laid there.  We’d talk to him.  Still he didn’t know what we’s sayin’.  I guess we musta stayed there fifteen minutes just lookin’ at him, you know.  And we couldn’t see any place was hurt, only just the blood dropped out of one eye – just two or three drops.  Then uh..(cough)…so like, like uh, when we got ready to go to the house, like we said, “Come on, Sammy!  Let’s go!” and he got up and followed us to the house!

Mary:  He’s alright?!

Addie:  And he laid around all day that day, though, Roy was workin’ out with the cattle and he didn’t pay any mind.  He just laid around.  After that, well he seemed to be alright.

Mary:  Shocked him, I guess.

Addie:  Broke… broke the collar off of his neck.  He had… he had a leather collar on.

Roy (interrupting): Must, he, must, car musta hit him on the neck.  That collar was layin’ where the car had hit him.

Mary:  It shocked him.

Addie: It’s a shock, I guess. Long, oh for several days he, he wouldn’t bark at cars.  He’s got over it now. He runs out.  This next time he’d catch it harder and it’d be the last of him.

A Keepsake Letter: Much love, Myrtle

This letter has been on my mind the past few days, so I thought it would make a good post in the Keepsake series.  My cousin Mary texted me a note about the song “Amazing Grace” that was played so wonderfully at my parents’ funeral by a family friend Marcus Davis.  She also talked about how it had been Grandma and Grandpa’s favorite song.  That put me on a quest to find this letter that I had acquired a few months earlier.

It came from a stash of some of my mom’s treasured mementos.  It is a letter that my grandmother Myrtle Phenice Bucklin wrote to her childhood friend Emily Brown Stothart.  It was written a couple of months after the death of my grandfather Fred Bucklin.  They had been married for almost 54 years.  That should be enough information to set you up to read the letter I’m posting.  It mostly speaks for itself, and thankfully she had nice penmanship as well.

I think it is a wonderful letter to have.  So touching and sweet.  There is something that I want to accentuate, though.  She kind of casually makes the statement, “A person can’t help but grieve…” and continues on.  Grieving is not the same as, “I shed a few tears” or “I felt a bit sad.”  After witnessing firsthand the grief of someone losing their spouse of many decades, I’m sure it was a powerful feeling and experience for her.  And this letter was one of the ways that she dealt with some of that grief.

It is also interesting to see her talk about some childhood experiences.  I really liked how she talked about fixing their hair in the “new styles” that they had seen on their favorite blog (Oops, wrong time frame.  Must have been from magazines.)  In another letter her friend talked about riding the buggy to school and sometimes Myrtle’s brothers Henry and Orville would ride horses to accompany them.  Oh, the good old days.

A Keys Keepsake

I thought I’d do something a little different for the start of the year.  I’m not stopping the vintage photos with stories, but I thought I’d do something different from time to time.  I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while and now is a good time to start.  So this the the first of the Keepsake Throwback Thursdays.  The more I talk to people about family history and such, the more I find out about different treasures that have been passed down through the generations.  I am hoping to take photos of some keepsakes that other people have so they can be shared with the family.  Just like the old photos, you can share them and keep your treasure at the same time.

This week I’m going back to the 1880s in England.  It was a time before all of our modern conveniences.  It was a time before this branch of the family had left Europe.  It was a time of myths and legends, kings and castles.  Yes, you heard that right, castles.  (You also heard the myth part, too, right!?)

In 1883 my great great grandmother Martha Ann Cook Keys had a problem on her hands.  Her second son Leonard, who was 10 at the time, had come down with diphtheria.  It is a very dangerous disease and in fact a few years earlier in England, two members of the royal family had died from it.  So it was a scary situation.

She called a doctor to see to her ailing son, but the doctor just wanted to know if her husband was home.  When she inquired as to why he was asking this, the doctor said that Leonard would probably die that night.  The doctor left without offering any hope, but Martha did not give up.  She decided to take the situation into her own hands, literally.  She put a finger down Leonard’s throat to break the membrane that can form and kill a person.  It was a risk, because this could also lead to hemorrhaging.  She was fortunate that it did not and Leonard began to recover.

Cross stitch

Cross stitch by Leonard Keys from 1883 in England

His recovery took a while, so Martha sent him to stay with her Aunt Jane for a while.  She must have been a very important person because she lived in a castle.  Or so goes the family legend.  I have not been able to find any resources that proved that the family owned a castle at one time.  But I haven’t found any that proved that we didn’t either.  My mom always seemed to believe that there was a family castle, so it must be true. It was while he was recovering in the lavish luxuries (minus modern conveniences, of course) of the family castle that he did this cross-stitch sampler.

For those of you a little older than me, you may remember this item hanging in the house of Daisy Keys Phenice.  Mama said that is was hanging in her house for YEARS before it was given to her by her grandmother Daisy.  And that is why it is still in my family.  It was given to my great grandmother by her brother because he undoubtedly wanted her to have it.  For those younger than me, one day I will pass it on to someone deserving.  Or at least desiring!