I’m skipping ahead in my posts on the Cuba/Panama papers, but back 110 years in family notes.
Cousin Mabel, whose life overlapped mine by 20 formative years, wrote to her mother as she and her father sailed from Cuba after their family gathering there, to New York, from which they apparently would sail home on another line.
What interests me most in this letter is the date note: “Easter 1907.” Easter came on March 31 that year, and I am surprised Cousin Mabel mentioned the holiday instead of the date. The Potter branch of my family maintained a social and community-service membership in the Unitarian Church. Their religious orientation was most likely, like many of our New England forebearers, deist, or maybe agnostic, rather than Christian. One didn’t discuss matters of faith in our home. I don’t know whether even Easter eggs were part of the early 1900’s culture, although spring flowers certainly were. I know Christmas gifts were sent between the Massachusetts and Iowa branches of the family (shipping time: two days by train), but the “Christ is born–Christ is risen–Christ will come again” belief was absent. The Parker/Hobby branch, at least those in Iowa, seem to have had even less interest in churches.
So, even with “Easter” noted on the heading of the letter, the content concerns only the voyage and their probable arrival date:
A line from Brunswick may reach you ere we do—I’ll risk it to let you know of our departure… We could scarcely expect better passage than thus far—tho rolling a little now—and tho’ not feeling ill I did not want to think of dinner—and sat on deck…Have been in Gulf Stream all day, beautiful color—gulf weed floating, a few Portuguese men of war, flying fish, porpoises—Florida coast barely in sight—Large number aboard—Have a little Atlanta girl for roommate to Brunswick—
Father is writing notes—and talking of a deal with the men who can give experiences on the island—goes to three meals and eats!
We are due in N.Y. Thursday—if late, shall probably stay over the night and Friday—but of course if we can shall get boat Thursday night—so you’ll have to be prepared for our reception on Friday—Father had a wild dream of stopping off at Newport en route—but as we’ve both rather more baggage than we can carry think he’ll have to come on!…
Much love & hoping to see you soon. Mabel
Easter 2017: Besides the fact that Easter is the most important religious celebration for us, and we revel in bells, candles, and alleluias, the cultural differences amaze us. From Mom-and-Dad-and-two-children (including me), or Mom-and-Dad-and-four-boys (including Skus), with baskets of decorated eggs, candy eggs, and one chocolate bunny per person, we celebrate now with a gathering of four generations, a dozen or so of the young ones hunting something over 200 plastic eggs with assorted prizes, a bountiful potluck including New England, western barbecue, organic, Hispanic, and Turkish specialties. We enjoy (of course) the loveliest grandchildren in the full spectrum of coloration from Nordic blond to President Obama’s coffee color, not to mention the variety of tattoos and neon hair colors! Cousin Mabel wouldn’t believe her eyes! For that matter, when Skus and I are astounded. I can only respond with tidbit of song from Burl Ives, “Praise God in the wilderness and glory be. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost through all eternity.
Another day, I’ll post my detective work on the port of Brunswick and steamship lines of 1907.