Visiting my parents always puts the tug on the family ties.
As they get older, their connection to relatives they remember from their youth become a lifeline and an anchor to who they were, who they are, and where they come from.
These are people I either never knew because they were long gone by the time I made an appearance on the scene, or some that I only knew while I was a small child.
It’s funny the perspective we gain with aging.
Who I only thought of as “those old people” I now realize were likely no older than I am now!
I visited these family photographs that hang on the wall in my dad’s house while in Arizona. The photo at the top of this post is my Grandmother, my dad’s mother as a baby.
Seeing these photos at my dad's, makes ME remember, and long for the time my Grannie called me “Bonnie Belle” and I would in turn call her “Grannie Belle” and we would laugh and love. I felt safe with her. Like no matter what was going on in my life, she would love me regardless, just as I am.
Grannie and my Dad.
My dad was a toe-headed cutie pie and he still is. I see this picture, look at the child my dad was, and I still see that twinkle in his eye, even as a toddler. Dad got Grannie’s blue blue eyes, and then passed them on to me. I passed them on to my son Jeff.
When Jeff was little, at bedtime – before saying goodnight, I’d kiss him and hug him and say “Hey you, give me my blue eyes back!” And he’d say “No! You give me MY blue eyes back.”
It’s funny how memories of family flow from one thing to another. My Grannie, my dad, myself and my son Jeff all have the same blue eyes. I love that.
A few years later along came my uncle Fred.
This photo was taken during WWII while my Grandpa served in the Navy. Notice the sailor suit?
There is another photo that always resided on a side table at Grannie’s house in Minneapolis and I would stare at it endlessly in wonder, and turn it over to read what was on the back side – a clue into where my roots lay.
When Grannie passed, the photo came to live with my Dad, and I look at it in wonderment, just the same way I did as a young child.
These things I am familiar with as “items” but really, what is the story and connection behind them?
Who were these people that were my Grannie's relatives, and in turn my Dad's, mine, and now my son's?
I remember thinking that this house MUST be haunted, wherever it was. It looked spooky to my young self, and if you look closely, there is a woman and a man in the upstairs window. Who were they?
The story continues on the back of the photo:
The caption on the back of the photo of Dowdeswell Manor is written in lovely penmanship gone sepia with age. It tells the story of the family line on my dad's mother's side. The caption was written to my great-grandfather, Frederick Malcolmson my dad's maternal grandfather. It reads:
"This is Dowdeswell Manor 5 miles from Cheltenham Gloucestershire England and is the home of your great-grandfather Edward Arkell who was born at Whittington Court September 10th 1792 and died at Dowdeswell Manor 1864.Well, the photo can’t speak, but the internet can.
Your grandmother, Fanny Arkell-Wood and your mother Emily Lavinia Wood Malcomson were both born in this house.
Dowdswell Manor was built by Lord Dr. Lile in Queen Elizabeth's reign." If only this photo could speak!
I no sooner posted this on instagram when I started receiving replies that some knew this place, it was close by, and they could get me photos of what it looks like today.
My heartfelt thanks to Sue Watters for taking this little trip for me!
Dowdeswell Manor, Jan 9th, 2017.
Same urns on the gate posts! Same design on the gate! My heart is pounding at this point! And there are the windows where the “spooky people” were standing in the old photograph.
Dowdeswell from behind.
From the side of the front gate, looking toward the other buildings.
I wish I had known how close I was to this place when I was in Birmingham England for the Quilt Festival a couple of years ago. I was VERY close!
Our family lines have taken many twists and turns over the centuries. How many distant cousins do I still have residing in this area of England? Could I have walked right past them at the Birmingham Quilt Festival? Oh, it gives me goosebumps!
Crypt at Dowdeswell Church
My mind is in a whirl.
These are my roots.
**UPDATE!!** Sue also sent along the following email! I think she's found my long lost cousins many times removed!
Bonnie I have had a lovely morning with a Jenny the current owner of Whittington Court. The Arkells were tenant farmers at the court and the court originally belonged to Sandiwell Park which is pictured below.
Funny enough this is now split in to rather nice apartments and 5 years ago I looked at buying one there but in the end bought a new house. The other buildings are the farm buildings around the court.
Their are still Arkells in the area in fact the one I know of Is an estate agent and auctioneer.
I need to go to England to hunt up my Arkell relations, don't you think?
This is my own kind of "Downton Abbey" story.
The back of the photo never said that my family members "OWNED" the manor, just that they were born there, and died there, much like the histories of all the families who lived in such places.
As I get older, I too long for the connection with those who came before me. I want to know them. I wish they could know me.
And this is a Quilt-less post because I didn’t sew last night. I started packing the car for my trip to South Carolina tomorrow. I did some clean out and re-org of the quilting area, and of the vintage machine storage area in my basement. I got dirty and grimy and it felt so good!
Some days are for sewing, and some days are for straightening things up and moving things out so you can better sew tomorrow.
Quiltville Quote of the Day!
Sometimes, if something isn't working all we need to do is change our approach. Vintage string quilt found in Chandler, Arizona.
Have a great Tuesday, everyone!