Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Group Writing: Connecting the Years

 

My parents first met in Worcester, MA, after my father returned from World War II. He was a translator in the Army; he’d learned French in high school so “translator” must have seemed like a logical assignment. His first name was Carlton, but everyone called him Tex, after a baseball player named Tex Carlton. As a teenager, he was a skinny kid and his friends called him “Tweet.”

Mom was pretty much a loner named Shirley, but she and my dad made a connection after the war. When they decided to be married, they had a large wedding with lots of family and friends. But when the photographer went to develop the photographs, they were somehow lost or destroyed.* The only testament to their wedding was a movie that was taken on 16mm film. Years later, when my uncle who had the only copy offered to share it with them, they learned that the projector needed to play the film wasn’t readily available. So, the film sat in a drawer.

Finally, a friend was able to convert the film for them so that it could be played! (I have no information about the technical details; I only know that we were going to see a wedding film of my parents’ special occasion—finally!)

So, one afternoon we all gathered to view this special occasion, which at that point had taken place 30 years earlier. It was a silent film, of course, and showed lots of people we didn’t know, although we could pick out a few relatives we had gotten to know over the years. The highlight of the viewing was when my mother and father walked down the aisle together—we all called out, “Jim!” The man who had my mother’s arm was the spitting image of my brother, who was about the same age as my father was that day. We played that segment of the film over and over again. My dad/brother shared the same sheepish grin, walk, and posture. It was so shocking, but delightful at the same time.

* * * * *

After all these years, I have no idea where that film now rests. My parents passed away some years ago. But thinking about that film, I’m reminded that in spite of the distance between my brother and me and our infrequent communication, we are connected by the same blood, the same heritage, the same parents. That connection is in one sense a superficial one, and tenuous at best, but it is also deep and lasting in other ways. We share a history, various versions of the same stories, our recollection of good times and bad. And when I think of that wedding film, I am also reminded of the remarkable links of nature and genes that will always be with us. In a sense, the people walking down the aisle were my father and brother, my mother, and me. I am always amazed at how resemblances are passed on, from one generation to the next.

* My husband and I are pictured above since I have no photo of my parents

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  1. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce CawardJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My God are you two lovely! What a striking photo – you feel like you totally want to know these people.

    • #1
    • August 11, 2020, at 6:37 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    My God are you two lovely! What a striking photo – you feel like you totally want to know these people.

    Oh my gosh, that is so sweet @brucecaward! Well, you know one half of the duo pretty well, I think. Wow, 46 years ago and counting. Thank you.

    • #2
    • August 11, 2020, at 6:43 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Richard Fulmer Member

    Susan Quinn: he was a translator in the army; he’d learned French in high school so “translator” must have seemed like a logical assignment for him.

    The word “logical” doesn’t always apply to the military. My oldest was a Staff Sargent with the Marines. His best friend, Dan, spoke Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish like a native (his mom was Brazilian). Dan wanted to learn Arabic and work as a translator, but the Marines gave him an aptitude test and “learned” that he had no ability to learn foreign languages, so they assigned him to a mortar squad. 

    • #3
    • August 11, 2020, at 7:05 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. Dr. Bastiat Member

    Absolutely LOVE the tux!

    • #4
    • August 11, 2020, at 8:07 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. EB Thatcher

    I have always loved seeing that picture of you two. It is just beautiful!

    • #5
    • August 11, 2020, at 8:14 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Rodin Member

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    My God are you two lovely! What a striking photo – you feel like you totally want to know these people.

    Ditto. 

    • #6
    • August 11, 2020, at 8:16 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Absolutely LOVE the tux!

    Isn’t it a kick! And he picked it out himself!

    • #7
    • August 11, 2020, at 8:19 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Old Bathos Moderator

    Those connections are special. Over the weekend, I watched my toddler grandaughter exhibit the same poses and gestures her mother did at the same age. Grandsons who catch snakes, frogs, turtles with the same zeal their dad exhibited. A niece whose walk and manner is identical to that of my mother and my mother’s sisters. I can sometimes feel my speech and manner becoming my father’s the older I get. I don’t mind that a bit.

     

     

    • #8
    • August 11, 2020, at 12:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: he was a translator in the army; he’d learned French in high school so “translator” must have seemed like a logical assignment for him.

    The word “logical” doesn’t always apply to the military. My oldest was a Staff Sargent with the Marines. His best friend, Dan, spoke Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish like a native (his mom was Brazilian). Dan wanted to learn Arabic and work as a translator, but the Marines gave him an aptitude test and “learned” that he had no ability to learn foreign languages, so they assigned him to a mortar squad.

    After WWII, one of my father’s law school classmates was a guy who had been taught Japanese by the Army during the war. After the war, he was assigned to occupation duty. In Germany.

     

    • #9
    • August 11, 2020, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas PrattJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Those connections are special. Over the weekend, I watched my toddler grandaughter exhibit the same poses and gestures her mother did at the same age. Grandsons who catch snakes, frogs, turtles with the same zeal their dad exhibited. A niece whose walk and manner is identical to that of my mother and my mother’s sisters. I can sometimes feel my speech and manner becoming my father’s the older I get. I don’t mind that a bit.

    I’m thrilled when my kids start delving into the family history, looking for connections. I wish we hadn’t had them quite so late in life, so they could have known their grandparents a bit better, but reading old letters and geneaological notes has become an interest.

    They are a lot smarter than I remember being.

     

     

    • #10
    • August 11, 2020, at 12:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    What I most regret is that I know very little about the background of my parents or grandparents. It wasn’t that they were intentionally withholding; I just didn’t ask. Sure wish I could go back in time.

    Yes, I know I could research them, but it’s not the same as having the conversation. Not near the same, in my view.

    • #11
    • August 11, 2020, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    Those connections are special. Over the weekend, I watched my toddler grandaughter exhibit the same poses and gestures her mother did at the same age. Grandsons who catch snakes, frogs, turtles with the same zeal their dad exhibited. A niece whose walk and manner is identical to that of my mother and my mother’s sisters. I can sometimes feel my speech and manner becoming my father’s the older I get. I don’t mind that a bit.

    I’m thrilled when my kids start delving into the family history, looking for connections. I wish we hadn’t had them quite so late in life, so they could have known their grandparents a bit better, but reading old letters and geneaological notes has become an interest.

    They are a lot smarter than I remember being.

    Some of my kids are into genealogy and my family tree has 4500 members.

     

     

    • #12
    • August 11, 2020, at 2:37 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    Some of my kids are into genealogy and my family tree has 4500 members.

    Now that’s impressive!!

    • #13
    • August 11, 2020, at 2:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    What I most regret is that I know very little about the background of my parents or grandparents. It wasn’t that they were intentionally withholding; I just didn’t ask. Sure wish I could go back in time.

    Yes, I know I could research them, but it’s not the same as having the conversation. Not near the same, in my view.

    My mother lived to 103 and loved to tell stories. My kids spent much time with her, even flying to Chicago to spend a week. She would register in a downtown hotel so they could go shopping and sight seeing. She was quite a character. She lived in three centuries, born in 1898 and died in 2001. I took her to see “Titanic” when it came out. She was 14 when it sank. She laughed at the sex scenes in the movie. She was no prude and had an active social life in the 1920s but said 1912 was not that way.

    Here she was in 1928. She was in California then. She had stories about taking the Great White Steamship to Catalina and dancing in the Casino until dawn. The steamship would stay at Avalon all night and they would go back in the morning and take the Red Cars to back to Hollywood. The highlight of her California 3 years was dancing with Victor McLaughlin.

    • #14
    • August 11, 2020, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  15. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    Some of my kids are into genealogy and my family tree has 4500 members.

    Now that’s impressive!!

    I have a few Revolutionary War ancestors and a possible British soldier deserter in 1812.

    • #15
    • August 11, 2020, at 2:52 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Old Bathos Moderator

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    What I most regret is that I know very little about the background of my parents or grandparents. It wasn’t that they were intentionally withholding; I just didn’t ask. Sure wish I could go back in time.

    Yes, I know I could research them, but it’s not the same as having the conversation. Not near the same, in my view.

    I am fortunate that there were chatty, curious people in several ancestral lines so we have a lot of anecdotal info to go with the ancestry.com data. For example, my Georgia kin recounted how my family tried to talk their buddy Ty Cobb out the silly idea of investing in a little known company that sold sugared water (Coca Cola). 

    • #16
    • August 11, 2020, at 5:08 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. Midwest Southerner Member

    @susanquinn What a beautiful story! The last line really resonated:

    “In a sense, the people walking down the aisle were my father and brother, my mother, and me. I am always amazed at how resemblances are passed on, from one generation to the next.”

    I’ve been cleaning out and organizing boxes in my office closet and have found some real treasures, both photographic and film, of my parents and four younger brothers. I was adopted when I was just one month old, but was given the gift of meeting my birth parents when I was 28. So, my photographs are quite a mix of bio and non-bio connections.

    I’ve always considered my Mom and Dad, my “real” parents, to be the ones who raised me, changed my diapers, took care of me when I was sick, disciplined me, pushed and encouraged me, celebrated my wins, and helped me learn from my failures. Yet, there’s something unbreakable about those blood connections. Looking at all of these photos has been a lovely (and at times bittersweet) reminiscence of my 53 years on this big blue marble.

    And yes, the two of you are just LOVELY!

    • #17
    • August 11, 2020, at 5:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Midwest Southerner (View Comment):

    @susanquinn What a beautiful story! The last line really resonated:

    “In a sense, the people walking down the aisle were my father and brother, my mother, and me. I am always amazed at how resemblances are passed on, from one generation to the next.”

    I’ve been cleaning out and organizing boxes in my office closet and have found some real treasures, both photographic and film, of my parents and four younger brothers. I was adopted when I was just one month old, but was given the gift of meeting my birth parents when I was 28. So, my photographs are quite a mix of bio and non-bio connections.

    I’ve always considered my Mom and Dad, my “real” parents, to be the ones who raised me, changed my diapers, took care of me when I was sick, disciplined me, pushed and encouraged me, celebrated my wins, and helped me learn from my failures. Yet, there’s something unbreakable about those blood connections. Looking at all of these photos has been a lovely (and at times bittersweet) reminiscence of my 53 years on this big blue marble.

    And yes, the two of you are just LOVELY!

    What a wonderful history to share, @midwestsoutherner! It’s terrific the way you appreciate your biological and adoptive family, and give them both credit. Thank you. Unfortunately, I have no photographs. My mother talked for years about organizing hers, but when I’d bring it up, even offering to help, she put it off. I suspect from what I know that there were good as well as traumatic memories captured in those photos.

    • #18
    • August 11, 2020, at 6:12 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    Here she was in 1928. She was in California then. She had stories about taking the Great White Steamship to Catalina and dancing in the Casino until dawn. The steamship would stay at Avalon all night and they would go back in the morning and take the Red Cars to back to Hollywood. The highlight of her California 3 years was dancing with Victor McLaughlin.

    She must have been one hot babe, @michaelkennedy. The casino was a landmark, and it’s fun to think of her dancing there.

    • #19
    • August 11, 2020, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • Like
  20. Southern Pessimist Inactive

    That photograph looks like my high school prom. I had a tuxedo that looked just like that and I had a beautiful date except she had her hair proofed up in a hairdo that she never wore again. Good times.

    • #20
    • August 11, 2020, at 6:49 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White MaleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Midwest Southerner (View Comment):
    I’ve been cleaning out and organizing boxes in my office closet and have found some real treasures, both photographic and film,

    Let me just take this opportunity to implore everyone, if you’re cleaning out closets/houses and find photographic negatives, do *NOT* throw them away. They scan/digitize much better than paper photographs do.

    • #21
    • August 12, 2020, at 5:16 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    Here she was in 1928. She was in California then. She had stories about taking the Great White Steamship to Catalina and dancing in the Casino until dawn. The steamship would stay at Avalon all night and they would go back in the morning and take the Red Cars to back to Hollywood. The highlight of her California 3 years was dancing with Victor McLaughlin.

    She must have been one hot babe, @michaelkennedy. The casino was a landmark, and it’s fun to think of her dancing there.

    She was 40 the year I was born and 43 the year my sister was born. She got a lot of living in. She had stories of bathtub gin and parties.

    • #22
    • August 12, 2020, at 8:11 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    Here she was in 1928. She was in California then. She had stories about taking the Great White Steamship to Catalina and dancing in the Casino until dawn. The steamship would stay at Avalon all night and they would go back in the morning and take the Red Cars to back to Hollywood. The highlight of her California 3 years was dancing with Victor McLaughlin.

    She must have been one hot babe, @michaelkennedy. The casino was a landmark, and it’s fun to think of her dancing there.

    She was 40 the year I was born and 43 the year my sister was born. She got a lot of living in. She had stories of bathtub gin and parties.

    My great uncle told me stories about his riding shotgun on beer trucks. Then he showed me the shotgun.

    • #23
    • August 12, 2020, at 8:24 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Old Bathos Moderator

    Percival (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    Here she was in 1928. She was in California then. She had stories about taking the Great White Steamship to Catalina and dancing in the Casino until dawn. The steamship would stay at Avalon all night and they would go back in the morning and take the Red Cars to back to Hollywood. The highlight of her California 3 years was dancing with Victor McLaughlin.

    She must have been one hot babe, @michaelkennedy. The casino was a landmark, and it’s fun to think of her dancing there.

    She was 40 the year I was born and 43 the year my sister was born. She got a lot of living in. She had stories of bathtub gin and parties.

    My great uncle told me stories about his riding shotgun on beer trucks. Then he showed me the shotgun.

    I heard stories from an old man in the Finger Lakes in NY who said his older brother rode shotgun on trucks allegedly full of grape juice from the supposedly closed wineries.

    • #24
    • August 12, 2020, at 8:46 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Charlotte Member
    CharlotteJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    A lovely post, and truly the most magnificent bowtie I have ever seen.

    Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

    I am 46 and am somehow becoming an exact replica of both of my parents. I could do a lot worse.

    • #25
    • August 12, 2020, at 4:39 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    A lovely post, and truly the most magnificent bowtie I have ever seen.

    Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

    I am 46 and am somehow becoming an exact replica of both of my parents. I could do a lot worse.

    I know what you mean, @charlotte. I wrote a post about becoming similar to my mother, a woman with whom I had difficulty for many years. When we reconciled, I came to admire her and all the good qualities she had passed on to me. Thanks!

    • #26
    • August 12, 2020, at 5:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Of course I have to approve of the bowtie. It seems to me fortuitous that the 16mm film reel was misplaced for some time, preventing its wear and tear in occasional viewing until it could be converted to a digital format and viewed on modern screens.

    This post is part of our August theme: “Reeling in the Summer.” Stop by today and sign up today.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #27
    • August 12, 2020, at 6:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like