Sunday, September 9, 2018

Searching Through Old Photos Produces An Unusual Find

This Summer while visiting family back East, my father had several boxes of old family photos ready for us to look through when I arrived.  We reminisced about some photos, wondered who some of the people were and why my grandparents had these and I listened to stories my father told about people, the memories sparked by the photos.  A wonderful experience!  I was so grateful he had saved them for us to look at.  Somewhere within one of the boxes was a small note card.

Terry Billard Ella notecard 1

If you are familiar with the northeastern end of Long Island the Plum Gut Lighthouse is a common site.  Then I opened the notecard and saw the following:

Terry Billard Ella notecard 2

I skimmed the note card and realized it was from Ella to my paternal grandparents Agnes (King) and Olin Warner, Sr.  This makes sense.  Ella (Terry) Billard was my grandfather’s maternal aunt.  If you have followed my blog posts about Carrie’s letters (see post Carrie’s Letters) you know that I have over 150 letters written by my paternal great-grandmother Carrie (Terry) Warner.  The majority of the letters were written to her sister Ella.  I was so happy to know that my grandparents were still in touch with my grandfather’s Aunt Ella some 45 years after his mother Carrie had died suddenly in 1910.  Then I carefully started to reread this note card:
                                                                                                                                                                        Oct 23, 1955
Dear Agnes and Olin,
So sorry to have missed you this afternoon.  So long since you had been here, do wish you had come to Natalie’s or if Irv. had called up.  I would have come home, doing nothing in particular but looking at Sunday papers and taking a nap in a big chair.  Eleanor was home with her hubbie and baby who is just as cute as it is possible for a baby to be.  Irving says you are in the chicken and egg business and not to the exclusion of ducks, Eh?  Hope the young folks are fine and getting along nicely with the best and the most beautiful baby ever.  Do try and come again some time, many thanks for the candy. 
Much love,
Aunt Ella

At first read I thought, that’s a nice note.  Sounds like my grandmother Agnes to take a box of candy when she and my grandfather went to visit Ella.  Then I looked at the date.  When I looked it up Oct. 23, 1955 was a Sunday.  Of course it was a Sunday.  My grandparents liked to go for rides on Sunday afternoons, often to no place in particular.  I always enjoyed the times when I was able to go for one of those rides with them.  Ella was 82 years old in 1955.  ‘Irv’ was Ella’s son Irving Billard.  ‘Natalie’ was Ella’s son Ellis’ wife and ‘Eleanor’ was Natalie’s daughter Eleanor Billard Carter.  This all made sense and then I thought about the 2 babies mentioned but no names listed.  Hmm.  Once again I went back to the date…Oct. 23, 1955…  Finally, I realized that the “baby who is just as cute as it is possible for a baby to be” refers to my third, and recently found, cousin Rebecca.  (See post 
The Joy and Blessings of Meeting Cousins) As I looked again at the date and the reference to my grandparents I realized that “the best and most beautiful baby ever” was referring to me, their first grandchild who was just a few months old at the time and the ‘young folks’ referred to my parents.

The genealogical significance:
      there really isn’t any new information here.  I know who the people are and I have their birth, marriage, death dates.  The significance to me is the everyday information that it gives me.  I now know that my grandparents stayed in touch with Ella.  I know they were taking their Sunday drives even back in the mid-1950s and bringing candy.  I know that Ella knew about me and was bragging not only about her great-granddaughter but also about me, her great-grand niece.  For Rebecca and I it showed a family connection way back then. 

I don’t know why my grandmother kept this little note card but I am very glad she did and that it has survived some 63 years.  The significance to me is mainly sentimental.  Taking the time to reread and think about this ‘ordinary’ note was what I needed to do.  We shouldn’t just judge the information by a quick look and by it’s ability to add just facts to our family trees but in the story it helps us tell about our families’ lives. 

I am so happy to have found Rebecca (see post Exciting News: Carrie’s Letters) and look forward to many more tea times and to exploring all those boxes of ‘stuff’ from Ella and Natalie.  What other treasures will we find?  Take the time to investigate those ordinary notes and letters.  Look for the little treasures as well.  What a treasure you may find!

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

P.S. My grandfather never did raise chickens just ducks. (see post Labor Day: Four Generations of Duck Farmers)  Not sure how that was misconstrued.

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