Rachel "Sparks" Blackman (seattlesparks) wrote,
Rachel "Sparks" Blackman

Accumulated Posts

Ack. I noticed just after I posted the last one that my fingers somehow automatically wrote 'beth' instead of 'berth' in Narberth. I think I'm just too used to referring to 'Beth' the name! Unfortunately, the phone was needed, so I can't really correct it; I'll just note it when I get to log in next and post this.

I got to meet a few of the neighbors -- both moved in within the past few years, since the time grandpa died -- who were outside while I went out for some fresh air. They all had their own stories of my grandmother to tell, which was nice. One told about how grandma used psychological warfare to get him to stop smoking, and the other about how when she had just moved in and got locked out with her then-infant son, and couldn't get the locksmith to come let her in, grandma called around and raised hell, and when no locksmith could be found, grandma -- with all her engineering know-how -- grabbed a screwdriver, marched off up the neighbor's driveway, and jimmied her kitchen door to let her in, then rather acerbically sent the locksmiths back on their way when they arrived. I can so see grandma doing that.

We've been looking through more things. We've found letters from great-grandparents sent to family who moved here, found all of Great-Uncle Fred's letters to my grandmother when they were younger and he'd moved away to Texas, and he found out that grandma was getting married. (It's sort of a family tradition in each generation to ignore the advice of parents and just run off and get married, get lectured, and then bring the new spouse into the embrace of family. My great-grandparents did it, Fred and Kay did it, grandma and grandpa did it, mom and dad did it.) I wish sometimes I'd gotten to know Great-Uncle Fred; his letters to his baby sister about her marriage were wonderful, and the family stories about him are great. (He moved to Texas and got a job digging ditches, and upon returning home once, great-grandfather lectured him about "You have a college degree, and you're digging ditches!" Fred replied calmly, "Yeah, dad... but they're damned fine ditches!")

We also found stuff like grandmother's notebooks when she was part of the Manhattan project. (Grandma was one of the few female scientists involved with that, and devised several parts involved in the whole process.) Grandma never threw /anything/ out. I'm going to come back to Philadelphia sometime in a few months with some equipment, and Aunt Sally and I are going to digitally capture all the photos, letters, notebooks and so on, and restore them, then make a family archive. Because we still have all of great-grandmother's stuff, and she had stuff from /her/ parents, so we have letters and notebooks from the 1800's around this house, and it would be a shame to lose them all.

Mom's cousin Mark showed up with his family. Mark is Great-Uncle Fred's son, the branch of the family that's in Louisiana right now (though is from Galveston and still has a place near College Park, in Texas). Mark was very interested in the family archival project, and so I'll be sure when everything's ready, he gets a copy. Mark showed up to say hello before the memorial.

The memorial itself is sort of hard to describe. I can't really say how Marion Meetinghouse always makes me feel. It was built in the 1600's, and is where William Penn used to go. The meetinghouse still has stables for hitching horses and stowing a carriage, and the graveyard beside it has graves of revolutionary war soldiers. The inn just at the bottom of the meeting's driveway, the General Wayne, was built in like 1704 and is a very haunted building, where battles of the Revolutionary War were planned. There's this feel of /history/ to it, as the meetinghouse is still in many ways like it always has been... and also of family history. Small dolls and bits of artwork that grandma made are everywhere, and everyone in the meeting remembers me from when I was little and used to visit grandma in the summers. I was told by a lot of people that, like my mom and aunt, I have the 'face of the Bates women.'

There were many people there, who had a lot of things to say in memory of my grandmother. Everyone, though, seemed to talk about how she was a teacher... each person had a moment where she taught them something -- either through lesson, or example -- which they say changed some of their life and shaped who they were. I wanted to say some things, but I couldn't stop sniffling long enough to do so, so Aunt Sally and I just sort of huddled on the bench with each other. After the meeting, we met a lot of the people. I met Aunt Sally's old riding instructor, a lady who bred horses all her life... she was almost deaf and mostly blind, but quite a character about it, and turned it into a joke. ("Hello." "Eh?" "Hello!" "What's that?" "Hello!" "Ah! Hello! Nice to see you again! *squint* Do I know you?")

Before we left, I walked with dad to the family plot in the graveyard to pay respects to my grandfather, my Uncle Bob, and Uncle Gordon, and to the empty space next to grandfather where grandma will rest. And to Elliot and Louise, whose graves are right next to the family plot.

Then we came home.

Well, I'm going to call surubee to arrange a get-together this evening after I dial in to check e-mail this morning, and then I'm going with my father to the University of Pennsylvania archaeology museum to look at stuff. My head is horribly stuffed up -- grandma's house is wonderful as always, but it takes like a week to acclimate to the dust and the fact that the plaster is so old that it has animal hair in it to add strength.

We watched 'Lost in Translation' last night; there's no DVD player here, so I used my Powerbook as a DVD player; I went to Radio Shack and picked up the cables I need to hook it up to a television to play video. Worked quite well, actually.

Anyway, I better get going. I'm going to dial in to check e-mail and stuff briefly, then I'll post this, and head out.
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