Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fate and the Fortunate



My grandfather had four brothers. They were all born in east Boston and lived in a brownstone with their two sisters. Their father was a furniture maker and they being by this time second-generation immigrants from England were doing pretty well.
It’s just that it seems fate had strange things in store for them. All of them except for my grandfather, who always seemed to live a charmed life.
A train hit the first brother at the age of twenty.
The second disappeared while driving a horse and buggy over a bridge on a sunny afternoon. He, the horse and the buggy were never found! The third brother also disappeared, however he did this disappearing of his own accord. According to my mother, when the second brother met his mysterious end, his fiancé thought that the third brother should take his place at the alter. So did her parents. So one night he just disappeared and was never heard from again. Although every time the phone would ring just once, my Grandmother was certain it was him.
Now the fourth brother was fine and graduated from a very good school for pharmacology. He then became addicted to Phenobarbital. He ended up a prison dentist out on an island in Boston Harbor. I always imagine him sitting in his dentist chair with the windows open to the fresh sea air, while he spun slowly around, stoned out of his mind. Was this because just because it was a new drug and they perhaps didn’t understand the dangers? Or was it the stress of waiting for fate to find him?
My Grandfather as you may have guessed by my being here to write this, did not die an early death or disappear. He came close once to being in harms way. While waiting in line to board a ship for Europe during World War 1, he was tapped on the shoulder and told to report to the fingerprinting department. There he was asked if it was true that he was an artist, which is what he had written on his records. He said that it was true, and was promptly made chief finger printer for the duration. He never left Boston until the end of the war.
He made money from his drawings all through the depression, for the racetrack or for the fights. All the gangsters loved him! He met the Archbishop of Canterbury who was in town visiting, while weeding his garden. They wrote to each other for many years. He was friends with Jack Benny, Jack Dempsey and Bobby Orr. But he never had more then one beer a week and he always looked twice when crossing the railroad tracks.

13 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Do you have his correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury? I can't imagine what they would have discussed. It seems he lived in an era that was less cynical in some ways.

Beverly Hamilton Wenham said...

Yes, I do. There is a lot of talk about gardening. Also about sports. It's all very pleasant, but a bit dull. No shop talk.

aishoka said...

What about the two sisters?

Jimmy Bastard said...

An interesting and somewhat intriguing blog.

I liked it. In fact I liked it a lot.

Ana said...

You continue to surprise. And I'm with Aishoka... what happened to those girls?! Trains and buggies and gardens... oh my!

Beverly Hamilton Wenham said...

Well, one became a nun. They changed her name to Sister Agetha. And see was placed in a convent in Maine. The other married a man who soon after the wedding had his arm torn off in a machine at G.E.!

And thank you Mr. Jimmy (not such a bad guy) Bastard!

SILVER said...

I am really enjoying your writings, Beverly.

kate said...

I LOVE these new non-fiction ramblings about your family! Keep them coming!!

Peter N said...

What a checkered history you and your family have, and WILL have. That's a promise.

I'm looking forward to part three of "you know what." Have a wonderful weekend, my blog friend.

Pete

the projectivist said...

gosh!
great story. i'm dying to know what happened to those brothers.

i think it was the fiance in the library with a dagger.

FrankandMary said...

This isn't a blog entry, it is a rough draft for a treatment of a book. I'd go for it if I were you.
Seriously. ~Mary

laughingwolf said...

fab story, beverly... thank you :)

is it possible to get an agent and have the correspondence put in book form?

Ana said...

I agree with Mary -- absolutely. I think you should give the other a rest and start. But don't stop blogging! ;-)