October 23, 2013

Sepia Saturday #200: Katie Revisited (an early Sepia Saturday post)




She was 18 when this photograph was taken. Home from Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she shed the young lady who was studying hard to make a career for herself as a teacher to indulge the little girl that was still there in her heart.

You can see how much she’s enjoying herself by the big smile on her face and the relaxed posture—the slight lean of her body. Note, how she loosely grips the ropes, how her arms hang almost slack and her feet dangle in their shiny black shoes and dark socks.

She was born in 1896 and died in 1990 at the age of 94.

In December, 1902, she got to sit on Marconi’s knee when he was in town to make the first transmission of a radio message to cross the Atlantic. Her father was the town clerk of Glace Bay and brought his six-year old daughter to see the event. (I wonder if a newspaper clipping exists somewhere?)

She was a life-long fan of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and there was even a rumour that she had a rose he had given to her personally on one of his campaigns.

She loved to watch the Montreal Canadiens trounce the Toronto Maple Leafs in ice hockey.

She wouldn’t say no to a drink of beer on a hot summer’s day.

Her only regrets in life were that she never learned to use a typewriter or drive a car.

She was my grandmother, Sarah Katherine “Katie” Harris (nee McNeil).

Kat Mortensen©2009 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape (originally Sepia Saturday #3)

Addendum:  I have just recalled this book that I came across in my mother's possessions which belonged to my grandmother.  It has an inscription in her handwriting on the flyleaf inside.  The book was from one of her classes at "The Mount" and is entitled, "Speech On Conciliation with America" by Burke.  Sounds pretty dry to me, and it must have been to her as well, for the inscription (after her name and address) is anything but:

Katherine McNeil
     Mount St. Vincent
                Halifax
1914-1915      Nova Scotia


The Ivy - - - Hope

Although we part with tears
        and pain
From those who hold our
         love
We know we'll find them
          all again
In the fields of light above.


A bit of research tells me this is probably a misquote of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, "The Reaper and the Flowers".  This is the original verse:

"And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
She knew she should find them all again
In the fields of light above."


I like who my grandmother must have been.


Be sure to click this tableau below and visit as many of the contributors (past and present) who are participating in this monumental event of Sepia Saturday 200.


48 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I must surely would have liked to have met your grandmother. All we ever hope is that we inherited some of our ancestors' genes. They were quite a hardy people. Enjoyed your post very much, made me think of my grandmother who died when I was 14 years old, I still miss her mischievous eyes and beautiful smile and warm hugs.

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    1. Thanks, Rosie. I was in my twenties when Katie died, but as she leaved the other end of the country, I didn't get to see her very often. I did manage to spend time with her the year before she died. Such a shame you lost your grandmother when you were a teenager.

      Thanks for the visit!

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  2. A great choice Kat. Sepia Saturday perfection.

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    1. Thanks, Alan. Simple, not too long and no links!

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  3. What a beautiful photograph of your grandmother.

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    1. Yes, Kristin, it's one I really prize in my small collection.

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  4. Katie,the woman with a child in her heart.

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    1. Very true, Tony. She could be a formidable woman though.

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  5. A perfect photo for Sepia Saturday.

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    1. I thought it would suit, Postcardy.

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  6. Delightful Kat; your addendeum must be included.

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    1. I think you are right, Bob. Put a word in Alan's ear would you?

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  7. I too had strong grandmothers - both of them. My poetry writing Nanna died in my twenties and the other much later. I am so glad I got to know spend a lot of time with them - a treasure so many don't have!

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    1. Very true, Jackie. It's important that children have connections to their ascendents.

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  8. Amazing - sitting on Marconi's knee! Well, as a child I once sat on Allen Ginsberg's lap - and lived to tell about it.

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    1. I know, Sean! Talk about your "brushes with greatness". Some folks probably have similar stories in their past --say an encounter with George Washington, or a great artist, but they will never be known to their ancestors for lack of documentation or memory. I find it pretty neat to be able to lay claim to such an event.

      Ginsberg, eh? Did you howl?

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  9. Your grandmother was a woman of spirit, Kat. Much like yourself!

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    1. Thank you for such a nice compliment, Martin.

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  10. Love those details about your grandmother. You have captured the essence of someone I've never met yet feel like maybe I have.

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    1. Thanks Wendy. I'm glad you feel that way.

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  11. As Alan said, Perfection! The line about Marconi was a powerful reminder that even though we may live in the age of computers, space exploration, etc., we are still only a short generation removed from people whose lives ran at a much different pace. I like how you've recognized the youthful vigor of your grandmother too. I have similar photos of my grandparents, and I often try to imagine what they were seeing in the glimmer of their eye. Who do you suppose is behind the camera for this photo?

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    1. I know what you mean, Mike. Along the same train of thought, I often think about how we really are not that far removed from World War II. I was born in '61, and it dawned on me one day that only 15 years prior, the war was just ending. I often think about what life was like for those who came before me who were affected by the theatre of war.

      By the way, I wish I knew who had taken the photo. My guess would be one of her sisters, my grand-aunts.

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  12. I love that picture of your grandmother and her wonderful highbutton shoes. She sounds like a very interesting person.
    I'd rather have been sitting on Marconi's knee than the one in my picture. I wasn't really sitting on his knee. If you look very closely you can see the back of a chair behind me. Not that a little of that didn't go on in those "Mad Men" offices.
    Barbara

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    1. I really enjoyed your "Mad Men" post, Barbara. I will never see a headline for that show again without thinking of you.

      Yes, my grandmother was a pretty interesting person. Especially considering she came from a very small town on the coast of Cape Breton Island.

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  13. I missed this first time round, so thank you for introducing me to your grandmother. I can see why you like her character so much, and that’s a lovely photo too. Spot on for the 200.

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    1. Thanks, Nell! I'm glad you got to see it, since you had missed it previously.

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  14. I also missed this wonderful post. I love how you left us hanging about who that pretty lady was. What an interesting life she led.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. I remember the post just evolved that way, but I suppose the build-up is effective, so I'm glad it turned out as it did.

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  15. I remember her on the swing and the delightful commentary.....she would fit in as a recognized character (Tony Z's Post) What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. Yes, I think she would!

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  16. What a sweet tribute to your grandmother, Kat. I love the photo. She looks so very happy. She sounds like a strong lady.

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    1. She does look very happy, doesn't she. Mom thinks that my grandfather may have taken the photo, as they met around that time. Sadly, my grandmother lost her beloved spouse too soon.

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  17. You really brought this lady alive with the details of some of her interests which you provided. A good example of how to write a post for this group.

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    1. Thank you! I just go on my gut, really. The pictures evoke lots of emotion and memories and contemplation. Writing it down is the tough part, isn't it?

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  18. Love those old rope swings, they gave the best rides. Great post for Sepia Saturday 200!

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    1. Very true, Doug. I need to find one around here, and have a swing myself. Thanks!

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  19. Indeed Kat this is a perfect choice indeed. That photo is so rich in telling a tale as well, besides your own special accounting. Life was harder in those days, but also pretty darn wonderful. We still have an old rope swing that we hung out here when my children were younger, and now their children swing on it too. Yes, it's the same old piece of board too!

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    1. Karen, you always say the sweetest things! I had no idea that you have grandchildren; you look way too young for that!

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  20. A special photo and a special lady. Thanks for sharing.

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  21. She must have been a remarkable woman. Her smile in that photo is infectious. Love it.

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    1. Thanks, Mr. Fox. She was quite remarkable. Too bad I didn't realize it at the time she was alive.

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  22. Terrific memories and a wonderful tribute to your grandmother.

    We take driving for granted but neither of my grandmothers drove either. You reminded me of that.

    Thank you

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    1. We do take it for granted, but I rather miss those days when there were fewer cars on the road. Thanks for your visit, Sharon.

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  23. As I read your piece I kept wishing that she was your relative. I was pleased to see that she was. I have photos of a great grandmother that are such a mystery to me and am in need to find the right person to reveal more to me about her. I have her old quilts and she looked like a hardworking woman from on the planes. Otherwise I know so little. Your work and photo are wonderful.

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    1. Thanks, L.D. Oh yes! She was my relative, that's for sure! I have a mystery-photo too. It literally haunts me everytime I see it on my family tree page on Ancestry. I don't have any way of knowing who the woman is. All I have are theories. I often wish we could time-travel to interview our ancestors, don't you?
      Thanks so much for you comment.

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  24. You must have been named after her? What a great picture and story, Kat. I'm glad that you guys were able to enjoy her company for so long. She sounds like a wonderful woman.

    Kathy M.

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  25. Ah grandmas!! What would we do without them.
    I was fortunate to know one of mine and she also left this world when I was in my 20s.
    I was the one who told my mom about it though...
    Not the best moment of my life.
    But i remember letters my grandma and I exchanged when I was a teenager.
    she seemed the most sensible person in the family,
    and she had quite a sense of humor too...
    :)~
    HUGZ

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