Archive for the ‘Forestville Connecticut’ Tag

JULY 14, 1914 AFTER THE PARADE   2 comments

I try to keep things brief, suspecting that many of you may be like me, preferring the short and quick. So I’ve divided the July 14, 1914 outtake into two. I hope you will enjoy this end of the perfect day that began yesterday with the parade.

Like an animal’s tail, the crowd of observers and proud parents, most holding picnic baskets, hustled along behind the end of the parade to the cemetery. In the distance could be heard the last strains of the marching band as they headed straight to Forestville center and the waiting trolleys to move on and perform at the Bristol parade.

As the parade came to an end before the dais at the cemetery, the elementary school band broke into “God Bless America.” It was the rare person who didn’t sing along. Carl did.

Long-time residents sought out their family’s burial sites. The rest found inviting grassy spots to spread their blankets and distribute the contents of their picnic baskets. Carl, scooting into a sitting position, looked around, hoping to see the Andersons — Jennie, if truth be told.

He spotted her. Had he been looking in a mirror, he would have seen his smile pop open while his cheeks turned pink. Jennie was as good as a looking glass as her face did the same thing. He’d sit with her after courteously enjoying Hilda’s food.

But first, the speeches were starting. Forestville’s “mayor,” chosen by the businessmen primarily for his popularity and contribution to the welfare of the village, spoke first, lauding the patriotism of everyone he could think of. Some people listened, especially parents trying to set a good example of courtesy for their children.

The second speech, delivered by a patriot of apparent importance, made no lasting impression on Carl whose senses were all focused on his plan to join Jennie after finishing lunch:  goat cheese sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, pieces of cold korv, carrot sticks, thumb print cookies, milk in its original glass bottle and coffee in a cleaned milk bottle.

Later, he sat cross legged by Jennie’s side, ignoring clouds closing in occasionally, bringing darkness. Always they opened again, revealing more sunlight.

 

OUTTAKE: FOURTH OF JULY PARADE, 1914   2 comments

Back to posting outtakes from MY FATHER’S HOUSE

You do realize, of course, that I wasn’t actually there in 1914, but I had fun researching the possibilities. I think this is about as accurate a picture as I could come up with. I even had fun sitting at lunch with friends imagining what it might have been like.

And I hope I’m not repeating myself here. Anyway, this is it. July 4, 1914

On June 28, only a month after Carl’s graduation from Upsala College, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. At first it raised little alarm in Forestville. This side of the Atlantic seemed so far away from European stress. Carl reminded himself how happy he was to be at such a distance from European wars and rumors of wars.

What seemed really important to him was the celebration of America on Saturday, July 4. 1914. The weather was chilly in Forestville, and rain threatened, but nothing could spoil the brightness of spirits. Emil, Hilda, and Carl set chairs out on the corner of Church and Washington Streets, a perfect spot for watching the Independence Day parade. Paul and Eddie, now enjoying the freedom of ages 12 and 14, joined the ride- by of bicycles whose wheel spokes were strung with red, white, and blue streamers.

By 9:45 a.m. there was a sea of patriotic color, even dogs had special scarves around their necks. Not a house in sight was without a flag hanging, sometimes blowing a little heavily in the damp and mild breeze.  Children darted back and forth despite the efforts of their grown-ups to restrain them while babies in arms squealed, cried, or just wiggled with excitement.

At 10:15, the restless crowd hushed to the distant sound of the Bristol High School band, bringing their performances of “The Liberty Bell March” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever” into view as parents beamed with pride and Carl’s eyes teared. Close behind came the flag with its thirteen stripes and forty-eight stars proudly borne by the boy with the highest academic average from Sarah E. Reynolds followed by the representative from Greene Hills School struggling to keep the Connecticut State flag off the ground.

Polite applause greeted the titular mayor of Forestville waving from the passenger seat of a red, white, and blue draped automobile displaying a “C.V. Mason & Company Motors” sign as it turned east onto Washington Street, thence south on Central Street toward the cemetery on Circle Street.

Enthusiastic applause and shouts greeted Miss Liberty and her entourage coming next, wrapped in white sheets and crocheted red, white and blue shawls, the winner and runners up of the essay contest, “Why I want to be Miss Liberty in the Independence Day Parade.” Uncle Sam followed, having won the honor by writing the best seventh grade essay on “Why I want to represent Uncle Sam in the Independence Day Parade.”

At a respectful distance, sitting tall in the saddle, appeared the chief of the volunteer fire department, trying to convince his recalcitrant horse that marching in a parade was an honor to be enjoyed. Following in proud contrast was the newly acquired, enthusiastically cheered steam-driven firetruck. Civil War veterans were next, proud and victorious as they received the cheers and applause of the crowd, followed by the local chapter of the recently created and uniformed members of the Boy Scouts of America.

A few hay wagon floats straggled through, giving Carl a chance to return the chairs to the house and fetch the picnic baskets. He returned in time to see two uniformed members of the Bristol Police Department carrying a large sign. “The End.”

 

ANOTHER LEG ON THE JOURNEY TO MY NEW HOME   7 comments

Since I closed on the sale of my townhome on August 30th, I’ve had a wonderful time living first with my friend and neighbor Jean in the unit across the way, and then Dianne, two units down. Now it’s time to leave here and move in on my son for a few days before we take off for the South American cruise we arranged to help me kill time – and find food and shelter – for another segment of the journey to the Waters of Excelsior. I’ve seen my unit twice, now, the second time to request some modifications. I love my apartment — can hardly wait to move in. But I have to wait for my scheduled move-in day — December 3.

In the process, my life has become a rather disorganized – albeit pleasurable – mess. But I have managed to stay on top of “My Father’s House.” At the suggestion of MaryCarroll Moore in the course I took at Madeline Island, the 900 some pages are being divided into separate books. The first one, with the working title “My Father’s House: Book One – from Tursås, Sweden to Forestville/Bristol Connecticut,” is about 300 pages long. Now I’m looking for people – preferably who don’t know me – to review it before it gets another editing — and then, probably, another. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate hearing them, and I’m happy to attach a “Word” copy to someone who’d like to commit to the task/pleasure. This is the time when I need people to be honest in their comments.

A good thing about e-mail is that it follows pretty easily wherever I go. I can even get it sporadically when I’m at sea (literally as well as figuratively.)

My regret is that I haven’t eked out the time to fulfil my middle-of-the night intentions to blog about my hopes and fears for my country and my part in it. In a nutshell, I long for decisions based on hope, compassion, and love. I dread choices based on fear, isolation, and hate. In the sleepless hours I’ve read Olivia Hawker’s “The Ragged Edge of Night.” (I do recommend it.) It’s the story of ordinary German’s working to live, love, survive and thrive in the shattering results of Hitler’s fascism. As bombs drop in the nearby city, and personal destruction threatens, they frequently ask the question, “When could we have acted to stop it?’ I ask the same question now – “How can we stop it?”

Like the characters in the novel, I know I have to work at staying alive, happy, and productive to avoid the potential for inaction and despair as I can’t avoid exposure to political smear tactics. My father and his house saw many terrible periods in our history, but I am sure there wasn’t the desire to destroy those in the opposition even after victory has been won.

So, I wish healthy, productive, and satisfying survival and growth mechanisms for all of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT WOULD MY FATHER THINK?   13 comments

At this point in writing my father’s story, I am deeply immersed in the years 1910 – 1912. Before my father went off to college supported by the money he had saved working for two years on a job he didn’t like. Before the first World War that killed his first – and maybe only—best friend and Best Man at my parent’s wedding (June 6, 1917.)

Some few people in Forestville/Bristol Connecticut were buying cars, enough so there were six automobile dealers and retailers listed in the city business directory. He walked to work past private homes whose green lawns were enhanced by gardens of asters and chrysanthemums. On Sundays he walked to Bethesda Lutheran Church to participate in the Swedish service, singing in the choir, having practiced there on Wednesday evenings.

I imagine peace, quiet, and hope when I spend time there. But on 9/30/1910, three days after my father arrived in the United states, the newspapers reported a terrorist bombing of the Los Angeles Times. Twenty people were killed. The source I read didn’t give any details about the bomber or motivation for the carnage. But it awakens me to the fact that we have never been without terrorism.

So what would my father have to say today if he were here about the most recent terrorist attack? Maybe that’s when he’d say of his life, “I’m glad I’m on my way out.” I know he’d feel sadness, dismay, and probably disgust that people or groups choose killing as a way of solving problems. I’m quite sure we would be discussing it at the dinner table, searching for possible answers.

I know he wouldn’t jump to conclusions about motive, while he would relate it to the spate of killings to which we have, sadly, become accustomed. I know he wouldn’t scapegoat.

Was the Orlando attack part of an organized plan by an organized enemy? Apparently not, according to FBI reports. Was it hatred of the LGBT community? Was it the perpetrator’s personal illness – bipolar disorder? Was it the killers confused battle with his own sexuality? Was it a combination of some or all of the above?

Whatever lay behind the horror, he’d know it can’t be explained by simplistic assumptions. He’d worry that some might not understand how complex the situation is and would choose to rush into inappropriate reactions. My father wasn’t opposed to emotions, but he did favor rational consideration when it comes to understanding and responding.

Looking over all the terrorist attacks, domestic or externally motivated, from Columbine to now, he’d see, as we can’t help but see, that the one common denominator is not only the use of guns, but more basically the choice of violence.

On today’s news I heard that investigators are suggesting a psychological factor uniting them all – that the killer(s) were trying to gain control. My father’s youngest daughter (me) finds that highly reasonable. Having control over one’s own life is basic to being fully human. To oversimplify, it comes from expressing one’s own individual abilities and strengths and feeling rewarded and respected for them. When one doesn’t receive that gift through life situations or genetic givens, then shame may encourage debilitating depression, or, with more energy, blaming and gaining control over others. Demagoguery is one control route, but not for all. Enslavement is another, as is killing, whether organized or individual.

I think my father would say we’d better be careful before rushing to violent conclusions of our own, and take a look at the complexity of life under any circumstances, but certainly in a democracy. It may not be immediately satisfying, but solutions that stick in the long run usually aren’t quick and easy.

 

 

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