If my genealogy research is correct, my maternal grandmother and my husband Ian’s maternal grandmother were born in the same year – 1863. My maternal grandmother was born in Crown Point New York. Ian’s maternal grandmother was born in Coleraine Northern Ireland. Ian and I married in 1968 in Nairobi Kenya.
Here I am up at 5 a.m. to do some writing. The 300 word biographies are due today. I finished Ian’s a couple of days ago. Mine is somewhat incomplete. The first half is o.k. but the 2nd half needs to be altered. Instead of writing about my work experience I want to write more my other interests.
Nice as life was in St. Lucia, there were lessons learned in how to keep one’s spirits up in a monotonous hot climate. When we were anticipating going to Fiji, I decided I wanted to learn to weave. In Nimble Fingers, a toy shop in Stillorgan in Dublin, I spotted a small children’s loom made by Spears. It was packaged in a small box – perfect to add to our packing for Fiji. Yes! Months later when we were finally settled in our house in Suva I unpacked that Spears box and I embarked on my weaving career. Weaving on that small loom soon lead to a wish for a bigger tableloom, which I could order from New Zealand. And months later I ordered a heavier floor loom from New Zealand. Finally I was set up to weave floor rugs. And I had sources in New Zealand for buying the necessary yarn and other supplies. I was becoming a real weaver.
The Fiji Arts Club, of which were members, had exhibitions several times a year. These were very popular events. I had joined this club partly because I attended a Tuesday morning outdoor painting group. An exhibition was coming up and for the first time they were going to include crafts. With fear and trepidation I submitted 5 rugs. Much to my surprise they sold like hot cakes! I was launched!! One person in particular was raving about my rugs. Jill was a popular artist and we became friends – a friendship which has lasted for many years. One of her paintings is hanging in our apartment here at Ida Culver.
to be continued
This is a snippet of a memory – I wonder if it’s true. My sister Ruth once told me that when our brother Bob was 12 years old, our father put him on a train going to Chicago and asked the porter to look after him and be sure he returned. I’m not clear whether this was in Boston or New York. I wonder………. July 20 would have been Bob’s 96th birthday, sadly he died at age 67 in June 1992. He is buried in the grounds of the Episcopal Church in Rutland Vermont, where he and his wife Lillian were married in 1953. Lillian is buried there also along with her sister Dottie and her parents. Rest in Peace Bob, Lil, Dottie, John and Cecilia
This is getting serious. An autobiography in 300 words is the assignment. I met someone who said she had written 330 words and the editor returned it to her. She gave it to her daughter to eliminate her excess words. Strictly 300 words or less is the rule/assignment.
So I will start again and eliminate all those random memories!
She came into this world in the final month of 1936. Born in Boston at New England Baptist Hospital, weight 5 lbs 11 oz. Taken home to Belmont in due course. A happy loving family – mother, father, an older brother and 2 older sisters; a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood. But when she was 12 years old her childhood changed abruptly. Out of the blue, her father died – it was a coronary thrombosis.
The family dynamic was changing. The 3 older siblings were now adults and were leaving to get married. The years passed and soon Janet left too. She went to Middlebury College in Vermont, graduating in 1958. She went on to Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois to earn a Master’s Degree in Urban Geography.
Her first job as a graduate was in Seattle. But it wasn’t too long before she returned to her native Boston to work for Arthur D. Little, a prominent management consulting firm. After 3 years, she transferred to the San Francisco Office. She could’t resist the lure of the University of California in Berkeley. She enrolled in 1964 to study economics. In 1966 she went to Kenya to do the research for her PhD thesis.
Shortly after arriving in Nairobi in August 1966, she met Ian, her husband-to-be. They married in 1968. From Kenya they moved to Dublin Ireland for Ian’s job with An Foras Forbatha, The National Institute for Planning and Construction Research. Three sons were born in quick succession.
This young family proceeded to roam the world because of Ian’s work. Two years in St. Lucia in the West Indies, 2 years in Fiji in the South Pacific, 5 years in Bangladesh, 2 years in Bhutan in the Himalayas, 1 year in Ghana in West Africa, and back to Kenya in East Africa for 5 years.
These 3 sons are now all married and we are blessed with 9 grandchildren.
That’s about 400 words and I haven’t written about my various jobs. Needs editing!
As I was going about my business this morning, suddenly a totally unrelated memory popped into my head. It was a memory I hadn’t had for years and years and years. It was a memory of the day my father died. He died at noon in March 1949. I heard him die as my sister Nan and I waited anxiously in another bedroom. Later my mother and I sat on the living room sofa and she told me the sad news. We sadly proceeded to have lunch in the kitchen. In the afternoon I was taken out to Hartwell Farm to get some of their special heart warming soup. I can’t remember who took me – possibly my brother Bob and sister Nan. My sister Ruth would have stayed at home to help my mother with all the things that had to be done.
Cross Country With Phil and Miriam and Rachel
It was the middle of June when they left Seattle in 1960. She can’t remember very much about this trip. Janet had a 4 door Ford which could easily accommodate a passenger. What car did Rachel have?? Rachel’s parents Miriam and Phil were wonderful companions.
They reached Yellowstone National Park and marveled at Old Faithful. Rachel knew Yellowstone well as she had worked there several summers before as a laundry girl with Lucy another mutual Middlebury friend. The foursome carried on across the plains to Minnesota where she parted company with the others. She stopped in Grand Marais Minnesota to visit with a couple whom she knew in Cambridge.(when she worked as a secretary at A. O. Wilson Structtural Steel Company). From Grand Marais she proceeded alone to Newark Ohio to visit her sister Nan and family. After a few days she headed for Boston. She had a new passenger – nephew 7 year old Bobby, Nan’s oldest son. Bobby was going to visit his grandparents in New Britain Connecticut. A brief stop to deliver Bobby and then finally home to Belmont Massachusetts. Another cross-country trip completed – her 4th in 8 months and not by air.
Here we go – this will be challenging. Where are all those files of resumes we wrote together over the years?
He was born at home in Belfast Northern Ireland on October 30 1933. His home was within a stone’s throw of Stormont Castle, the center of government in Northern Ireland. In 1934 when Ian was 8 months old his father died following an operation performed on the kitchen table. His father had been severely wounded in the First World War but had recovered and married Ian’s mother in 1927. A baby girl was born in 1929 but she only lived for 6 days. A baby boy was born in 1930 – Stanley is still alive age 90. You might say that Ian grew up in the shadow of the tragedy of the First World War and the relatively primitive stage of medicine and medical procedures at the time.
In my previous entry I got as far as Seattle in my travels at age 22.
While in Seattle she visited the Geography Department at the University of Washington. She had applied there to do her Masters Degree but she never heard back from them. She had also applied to the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University. The University of Washington was her first choice. Northwestern was her 3rd choice but they offered her a tutoring position and that was attractive financially plus giving her some valuable teaching experience. Hence Northwestern.
She asked the Head of Department at U Washington what had happened to her application – he had mislaid it!! On such action her life path hinged. One wonders what would have happened if …………..
He asked what she was doing then and she explained that she was just traveling and looking for a job. He suggested she contact John Nordmark at Puget Planners. And that’s what she did. She was offered a position. She can’t remember the title – Research Planner? Anyhow when she queried her salary she was told that despite her qualifications she would be paid the same as the female secretary. Those were the times…….
She accepted the conditions and it was agreed that she would start in 3 weeks time, after she had gone back East to collect her belongings. It was exciting to have the prospect of a job doing urban planning research in Seattle!
Her friend Rachel helped her find accommodation. Rachel knew of 2 teachers living in Magnolia looking for a third. She was interviewed and accepted to live with Jody and Mary Ann. She could travel by bus to work at Puget Planners on Dexter.
She boarded a Greyhound bus to travel back to Boston. It helped to make her realize just how big this country is. And this was before the Interstates. By the time she finally reached Boston she was beginning to regret the plan. Did she really want to return to Seattle?
to be continued
Graduation from Middlebury College, Middlebury Vermont, June 1958Aunt Libby, Cousin Betsy, Jan, my mother, Lil my sister-in-law
Janet was born on December 7, 1936 in Boston Massachusetts, daughter of the late Joseph Buckingham Miller and Dorothy Friend Miller. She grew up in Belmont, MA and after graduating from Belmont High School she went on to Middlebury College in Vermont to study French and Geography and to ski, her favorite sport among many. At Middlebury she scored out the “et” -on her name badge and from then on she was known as Jan.
From Middlebury she went on to Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois to obtain a Master’s Degree in Geography. In the summer following graduation she took a 2 month trip to Europe. She flew Tiger Airlines. It took 14 hours with stops in Halifax Nova Scotia, Gander Newfoundland, Shannon in Ireland, and finally London. And then she spent a month cycling and staying in Youth Hostels in England, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Along with 2 other girls, Betty and Miriam, she then traveled by train to Geneva Switzerland where Betty picked up a brand new Volkswagen. The 3 girls spent a month driving in southern France and Spain and western France to reach Paris and fly home to New York in August.
Her travels were not over. She then rode in another VW with her Middlebury friend Lucy to go to Chicago/Evanston to attend a mutual friend’s wedding. Middlebury classmates, Ginny and John, She missed the wedding. She met a Northwestern classmate/friend who was driving to California. He was leaving almost immediately and had room in his car. Off she went on Route 66 with Mohammed, Bob, and Helene. Next stop Palm Springs California. Followed by a camping trip to a lake in the mountains east of San Francisco.
Still footloose and fancy free she traveled by bus from San Francisco to Seattle, again to visit another Middlebury friend, Rachel.
The above Middlebury friends are still close over 60 years later.
I think I’ve exceeded my allotted 300 words. To be continued.
I’m having 2nd thoughts on “WrIting my biography in 300 words”. That’s the assignment for the residents here at Ida Culver House Broadview (ICHB). I think this is like writing one’s obituary – which would be helpful for the family left behind. My sister Nan passed away at the end of January this year and I have a copy of the obituary here before me as I write. And a nice picture. Nancy Richardson of Middlebury, Connecticut, April 18, 1927 – February 1, 2020. “Loving mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother. The obituary was beautifully written…… I don’t know when and by whom. I’ve counted the words and actually in about 300 the essence of her life is there for all to read. So here’s my example of how to write my 300 words. Thank you Nan or her sons – probably her sons. Somehow I don’t think Nan would have written this. More likely her 4 sons clubbed together to produce the finished piece.
Nan and her sister Ruth on the Ile de France, about to sail to Europe for a 2 month adventure, April 1950