Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A long-time reunion

An unusual reunion happened yesterday (June 13, 2011). Our cousin, Eleanor Grotjahn, who was here visiting, met William MacCrea for the second time, only sixty-five years after their first meeting. Eleanor had brought with her, her letter to her parents, describing that meeting. She visited the place while in Alfred in 1946, because the Clarkes (ours and Eleanor's ancestors) had sold the farm where William's son's family now lives, only two years before that first meeting. Eleanor wrote to her parents on April 11, 1946:
"Aunt Agnes [my grandmother] and I then went over to the grocery store to do the shopping for her nutrition class the next day. I soon had to scamper to meet Christine [another Clarke cousin, who worked at Alfred University Alumni Office] at 12:00.
Her car made it much more easily than the [Agnes and Ahva Bond's] Buick and we were soon turning into the driveway of the old farm. Just as we drove in, a woman came out the back door carrying a pail, so I approached her and explained who I am. “Oh yes”, she said, “I bought this place from Chester Clarke, who’s out in Oregon”. I corrected her on both counts, and she invited Christine, who had gotten out of the car by this time, and myself to come in. [Our grandfather Chester had died in 1925, and his son had sold it to her, and he was in Washington state]
The place isn’t in very good shape. The woman (whose name I’ve forgotten but Uncle Clarence should know) is living there practically all alone. Not quite, though – for there’s an old bearded man (who is or has been on relief) and her great-grandson [William MacCrea], who’s a boy in junior high school. (Looking back on it, “great-grandson” seems almost incredible, as if he must be her grandson instead, but I’m pretty sure it’s her great-grandson).
She and the old man are trying to patch things up, but have run up against that lumber shortage you’ve heard about. She has been unable to buy any lath for plastering or any lumber to patch up a number of small gaps in the – some only 6 or 8 inches long. Someone must have torn them out for some purpose and not have done a very good job of replacement.
Mrs. “X” insisted on our seeing every room in the house, although Christine only had a limited amount of time to spend. It’s certainly a big house: we couldn’t guess what the room which seemed to be the largest might have been in the old days – but Aunt Agnes later said that was the kitchen (facing down the hill). The place needs re-flooring, the front porch sags. We also saw the big room in the attic, which Laura or Mrs. B later told me was the cheese-room.
Mrs. “X” has fixed up the well and has running water in the house, has rebuilt the side porch (alongside the old kitchen), and there’s gas in the house."
The older photograph of the house is one which the MacCrea's have, and it dates from the period of the first meeting between William and Eleanor. William is in the foreground of that picture.