Monday, December 05, 2005

The Wall of Ancestors

I've been meaning to hang all the pictures I have from the collection Jeannette compiled of generations of Littlefields and St. Germains. Today was the day. It gives the hall a different feel to have all those faces staring out of their frames into the eyes of some long-forgotten photographer. The only person represented there that is still alive is Jeanne-Marie, and most have been in their graves for many years. There's Getrude Campbell and Arthur Littlefield, Gertrude's mother Carrie, and her father Edgar. There's Grandma (Milfred Edgerly) holding her son Glenn as a baby. He died in World War II in Africa and his purple heart citation hangs beside a picture of him holding a kitten. There's a picture of Grandpa, Ross St. Germain Sr. in his law office in Bangor and his framed license to pratice law. His father Joseph's naturalization papers are there,too. He became a citizen of the United States in 1866 and fought in the Civil War. Then there's Jeannette and Daddy (Ross Jr.). One picture shows Daddy with his father and his brother Wayne, who committed suicide in the late 50's. There's Faith Fellows, the aunt who was most familiar to me. Also represented are some great aunts and uncles I know nothing about except that they once lived. I have many other photos tucked in the chest at the end of the hall, and maybe I'll add on eventually. Adding a contemporary touch, I put Carrie and Jesse on top of the chest, along with a picture of my father taken not too long before he died.

I find I like looking at them all. When I look at myself in the hall mirror, my own image is there among them, surrounded by them, as it properly should be. They were an interesting group, from what I know of them. The men were lawyers and woodsmen, news reporters, bookkeepers, carpenters, soldiers, psychologists and artists. Until my father and mother's generation the women stayed at home, kept house, and raised children. The notable exception were my great aunts Minnie and Nettie on my mother's side, who evidently were "ladies of the evening." They were all strong women with personalities to be reckoned with. At least from what I have heard from my own parents, many of these woman had a sadistic streak and held their husbands and children in check with an iron hand. By comparison, the men were mild-mannered, un-ambitious, and often, drunks. They held jobs, sometimes prestigious ones, where they performed well enough to support their families. They had dreams, but without the enthusiasm to go after them. They were moral and socially conscious, always on the side of the underdog.

Seeing them looking at me with their steely expressions makes me feel like part of a compatible group. The only one smiling is my mother. Despite everything else she was, she knew how to laugh. Posted by Picasa