Archive for April, 2014
“It is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or building not in decay or to see fair timber tree sound and perfect; but how much more to see an ancient noble family which hath stood against the waves and weather of time- for now nobility is but the act of power, but ancient nobility is the act of time.” Bacon’s Essays, XIV
Thursday night of last week ( and before I so rudely interrupted the “Lorain History” flow – with my own personal “history”) a group of Charleston Village volunteers and bloggers stopped in to open the box and maps from the Gillmore family history.
It was truly , for me, like watching children on Christmas morning, the excitement as each map was unrolled, the archivists with their gloves carefully holding corners and gently handling the items as if they were thousands of years old . Greater care could not have been taken if they had unearthed a treasure from ancient Egypt . This was Lorain’s history , young though it is, in the grand scheme of time. Delight- as some recognized their family information in the first phone book, the street maps and city directories telling of long forgotten family history .
Newspapers, crumbling, but still telling a tale ,
Writing back of Gilmore home photo O . H. Gillmore 403 Oberlin Avenue , Lorain Ohio
4th and Oberlin Elizabeth McKay Gilmore and children Frank ( lin?) Aura (/) McKay on porch and dog Pug (?)
A little shade tree planted with care
was still growing there – but no longer – taken down April 2012 to make way for the utilities
all spread out under the eager and shining eyes of those that care for the history mystery that is unraveling and telling a forgotten tale …. to be continued
I am not sure what I am supposed to be feeling – Today at noon there was a wedding – all the hoopla and happiness that goes with it ……. The wedding of Angela Marie Lombardi Ritchey( Murphy)
to another Chris , Christopher Murphy.
lets dress him in his blue shirt and silver tie in the coffin,
and wanting so much to have his coffin at the funeral home to decorate,
is in her element I am sure decorating and dressing having hair and make up done and the whitening of the teeth……
In the normal way of things – had that family not caused so much pain , distress and ugliness as my son died – I would have wished the “daughter in law” well. But that wasn’t to be – Instead I wonder as she walks down the aisle at St. Johns -making further promises – whether she will remember a young man with a winning smile and a naivety as to what that family would do to his … ………. so I wish them “conscience” ………………………
Yes I am angry and bitter- they took our son , caused so much pain to his family by doing so – and there his remains – remain…. it was a despicable callous and
cruel act in the worst time any parent or sister could have .. by those that once again get on their knees and make promises in a well decorated church celebrating “love”—- they know not the meaning of the word.
I have become a hoarder of memories………..
T.s. Eliot;Andrew Lloyd Webber;Trevor Nunn
I sang that particular number, once a upon a time, in my days of theatre. I always identified with the lyrics – even more so now that my son has become a fading memory to the majority . The lines in bold – hold for me – a meaning of my life as morning dawns.
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
The time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Every street lamp
Seems to beat a fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the street lamp flutters
And soon it will be morning
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning A street lamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning
It’s so easy to leave me
All alone with my memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You’ll understand what happiness is Look, a new day has begun
Some times I wish I had selective Alzheimer’s so that certain people and the cruelty of those days are lost.
As my own memories have become more about my life today, I have discovered I have an affinity with others and how precious their memories are and were.
How I wish I could ask my grandmothers more about the stories they used to tell, how I wished I had paid more attention , how I wished I had asked about their mothers, fathers and grandmothers as they “remembered.
I did have my mum write her memories down- but mum being mum wouldn’t write about the scandals of the day and to me the “more interesting” memories of “naughty stuff”. She has stored those way back in her attic memory and refuses to let me in…..
To Be continued …………….
In my previous posts I have been talking about Lorain’s history , especially the homes and occupants forgotten and sent to the landfill, it is a subject I will continue next week. However, whilst writing the posts on Peggy and seeing her “home’s possessions” piled up each Monday night for trash pick up Tuesday morning I am reminded this will happen to each and everyone of us sooner or later.
We are only “alive in memory” as long as someone cares to remember . Our precious artifacts of our lives are usually only ( unless they are worth money of course) as important to others who share those memories.
This was brought home to me when I had to clear out and move my mother into this house. My mum thought she would live out her days in the apartment, belonging to my brother-in-law, for the rest of her days. Because he is , in my opinion, an ingrate – that did not happen.
The first day of that “moving out process” I had mum with us to sort through what was important to her . We had to fit 6 rooms into 2. I realized after the first day this was not going to work, the things she had gathered around her in the 27 years she lived there ” were ALL important”, there were the gifts and memories of her life , some of which she had had through three moves across two continents and had kept safe during the blitz . As the morning wore on, I realized this sorting through her life and what to throw away was much too stressful for her then 92 years.
I had to sort out her things alone and make the decisions for her . But even then, although I knew most of the story behind most of the objects, some that were very important to her still ended up on the tree lawn. To this day she will say:
what did you do with such and such- your Aunt Maudie gave me that?
And I thought I KNEW what would be of greatest importance . It breaks my heart that she had to see her life as trash bags on the tree lawn. And I will never forget her pain or forgive the cretin who caused such angst and sorrow.
My daughter has requested we take pictures of all the walls and things in this house we have accumulated and let her know where we want anything to go, or the story behind each possession. But inevitably, we too, will end up on the back of the garbage truck.
My son’s possession were also given away and dumped by the then”in laws” soon after his death .
They are now someone else’s in laws and for that family they have my sincere condolences-
time will tell …….
Much to the amazement of Chris’s family, who did love and cherish him , Lombardis and co dumped him as quickly as they could apparently . After all, he seemingly wasn’t very important in their lives- he was but a nuisance, a bump in the yellow brick road , a bullet of illness to be dodged with a sigh of relief – but they kept the money and took his ashes and any closure from his grieving family!
Ahhh there it is…. money , profit and control. It is that caliber of thinking which is also reflects the historical homes of Lorain- unless there is money, grants and profit “kicked to the curb and on the back of the truck to the landfill”. The stories of “lives ” lost probably to be pondered over in some far off century as archeologists dig in the garbage dump of Lorain and wonder “what is the story behind this object ” ………..
The Restoration of Ancient Inscriptions
Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774), The Citizen of the World, Letter V:
Naples.—”We have lately dug up here a curious Etruscan monument, broken in two in the raising. The characters are scarce visible; but Nugosi, the learned antiquary, supposes it to have been erected in honor of Picus, a Latin king, as one of the lines may be plainly distinguished to begin with a P. It is hoped this discovery will produce something valuable, as the literati of our twelve academies are deeply engaged in the disquisition.”
So what was most precious to Peggy – her family’s history – ( or what is left of it) resides in my dining room for the moment . The papers are fragile and faded , newspaper articles and hand written notes crumbling . How much more ended up in the garbage of house clearing doesn’t bear thinking about. What will happen to her house is in limbo for the moment. Some time in the next few days we will gather and go through what little was left to see what we can catalogue and keep.
It is par for the course as Lorain’s and Lorain County ‘s history makes another trip to the landfill.
Thanks to Col. Matt Nahorn and the New Indian Ridge Museum
not everything goes to the landfill. Little bits of history are carefully preserved –
Col. Nahorn stands in the space that the front door once occupied at the Capt. Aaron Root House.
Photo Source New Indian Ridge Museum
“We were able to salvage an original stair tread from the front main staircase; handmade bricks from a chimney; square nails; a couple of wood pieces from the wood lath; an old metal light fixture; a while porcelain door knob; some slate from the roof; some molding; and two oak thresholds from inner doorways.
Many of these items will comprise a new display at the Museum and act to document this local historic structure. We are very excited to report that we will be able to use the stair tread that we salvaged from the main staircase in the Capt. Aaron Root house, in the restoration project for the staircase in the Shupe house. (Of course, the tread will need much work with sanding, staining) So, soon we’ll be walking upon one of the steps that the Roots walked upon!”
There are so many houses now trucked off to the landfill whose significance and historical worth to this community are now buried with the plastic bags full of a throwaway society- all in the name of progress.
TO BE CONTINUED
Peggy Gillmore has, like most of us will and those who have gone before, ended up with but a few lines in a local paper
Yet there is so much about Lorain, and the founding of Lorain then Black River, Charleston Village in those few lines
“Ms. Gillmore was a sixth generation member of the Gillmore family who came from Massachusetts to settle in Lorain in 1810. Peggy loved researching the history of her family and Lorain”
Yes, she was the last living descendent in Lorain of one of the founders of Lorain.
now known as Veteran’s Park” – first a parking lot in the 1970’s and then Condos for Cole and John Veard and Foltin in 2005-6.
I met Peggy when we moved into “my” “this old house” just 6 houses down the block.
We shared a love of history, neighborhood, theatre and art. I spent many hours over the years on her front porch and on the phone chatting about Lorain. Peggy, knew all the stories of these old houses , who was who and spoke of people long ago as if they still walked and lived in the neighborhood she knew so well.
Peggy wanted to do more and
“I must get to that trunk of papers in the attic” “I have to get this all down” I need to get this house on the Historical Register
but age and ill-health precluded her from accomplishing that goal . Her house has become just another old house destined for what is unknown- although Peggy wanted it maintained and kept in the family, it is now unclear if that will be the case.
So why should we , in Lorain, care about just another old house.
We don’t care about the Wilford- Bartenfeld House,
They , their links to heroism , contribution to country are not embraced by the majority of this community . They too, like the contents of previous owners lives are kicked to the curb.
Those items, precious to those that live with them and their memories, become just trash to be disposed of as quickly as possible. It broke Peggy’s heart to see what was happening to her beloved trees, in fact just few days after her death they came and cut down the ones she was fighting to save. Their stumps mute testament to her loss of the fight.
All was not lost, although I know there was and is probably so much more that has ended in a landfill, what is left is just a few items of Lorain’s history reverently guarded by the last of Gilmore’s of Lorain are taking up a small space in my dining room.
TO BE CONTINUED ……….
Changes , some happen quickly and some take years. I have given a lot of thought lately to this old neighborhood- old by US standards but just a baby in the life of other communities. 207 years isn’t very long in the grand scheme of “community history”- But that doesn’t make Lorain’s history any less worthwhile or fascinating than ancient or medieval history.
history (n.) “relation of incidents” (true or false), from Old French estoire, estorie “chronicle, history, story”
Modern French histoire),
from Latin historia “narrative of past events, account, tale, story,”
from Greek historia “a learning or knowing by inquiry; an account of one’s inquiries, history, record, narrative,”
from historein “inquire,” from histor “wise man, judge,” from PIE *wid-tor-, from root *weid- “to know,” literally “to see”
Readers of this blog, know for years I have been trying to get something done about an “old house” on 4th and Hamilton.
The house, empty and decaying for many decades, was still owned by the same family whose forefather built the structure approximately 130 years ago.
HIS story and those of the family are gone now. It was bitter-sweet as I watched the house from my den window being taken down – an empty shell that had met my gaze these 40 years . I watched, through the seasons, as time and weather took the toll on her. Finally once again, the land where she stood for 130 years is now as it was the day before her foundations were dug into the virgin earth as part of a growing village.
I wondered, as the bulldozers and dumpsters were positioned to receive this old home, why the owner had apparently not respected the home leaving it open to the elements and decay for decades . This dwelling was part of his story and history too apparently wasn’t important enough to preserve or care about. But then- I have also wondered why Lorain and her “story” is only embraced by a few and even then not until the late 70’s and 80’s did Lorain have any formal group gathered to preserve anything from her birthing.
Black River Historical Society Now Lorain Historical Society
I suppose coming from England, where it was part of my growing up, to know and be taught our history and local history – celebrate our “story”, the homes and dwelling places of our heroes and the not so heroic it is part of who I have become . I am part of the heritage of my kind and I have great pride in the story. .
Lorain has become for me on par with “American Tea”. Sorry, but maybe it was because you dumped the tea in the harbor and so it was considered “traitorous” drink 😦 Whatever the explanation the majority of Americans fail to make a decent cup of tea…. dunking tea bags and tepid water does not a decent cuppa make.
Lorain’s homes of “story” have become that beverage in my mind…..tepid water and weak – a mere semblance of what should be – preferring the new beverage of “moving forward ” coffee.
As more of Lorain’s “tangible” past disappears or is lost to memory and archives – I am saddened.
Recent events within this – Lorain’s oldest neighborhood – and the treasures of one becoming tomorrow’s trash to others both in my personal experience and also the loss of the last living history connection to one of Lorain’s founding fathers has deeply saddened me…..
To be continued …………..