Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Uncle Guy

This dashing young man is my Great-Great Uncle Guy. You have seen
his great photo over on my blog’s sidebar. He was born on this day,
April 9, 1885, in Howard Co., Indiana, to Palestine and Mary. Guy's
middle initial was "L" and it is assumed that it stood for Lorenzo, after
his paternal grandfather Joseph Lorenzo Dow. All the family members
who knew him have passed away, but I do know several things about
him from oral family history and from some personal research. He
attended The Indiana State Normal School for only one year in 1910,
because he contracted tuberculosis. There is a family story that tells
of Guy jumping into a frozen pond to save a young boy from drowning,
and contracting TB soon afterward. The doctors advised the family to
move him west for the benefits of a dry climate. So, in 1911, Palestine,
Mary, and three of their children, moved from Indiana to
Albuquerque, New Mexico. Guy was a talented photographer, as you
can see by this wonderful self portrait, taken in front of a mirror. The
dry western climate did not improve his health, and when his condition
was determined to be fatal, the family returned with him to Howard Co.,
Indiana, where he died at the age of 27 on March 16, 1913. His
obituary in the Kokomo Tribune says that he had a very large circle of
friends. It is quite sad that so many died as a result of various illnesses
that can easily be prevented today. I often think of Mary, his mother,
and have compassion for her, losing her handsome young son so early
in life.


Dirge Without Music
--- Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the
hard ground.
So, it is and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind.
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
with lilies and with laurel they go, but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, ---but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter,
the love,---
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses elegant and
curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in
the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

17 comments:

  1. Family history is so interesting. I don't know if you are like me, but I am sad that I wasn't more interested and had asked more questions when I was younger and those that knew were still alive.

    Funny coincidence-I wrote about my uncle on my blog last night.

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  2. Interesting story and handsome photograph. Makes you wonder what could have been....
    Happy Birthday, Guy! Liked the poem, too.

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  3. Thank you for sharing Uncle Guy's story with us. What a dreadful thing to die so young.

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  4. Interesting and sad story..You can only imagine what it must have been like in those days..life expectancy not very long with no cures for all sorts of dreadful diseases. The poem tugs at your heart strings...Thank you for sharing Uncle Guy's story...Dee Dee

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  5. Willow, what a sadness to contemplate on this grey rainy day...Your uncle was an incredibly handsome man. I clicked on the photograph to enlarge it and had a good long look at his face. He was so handsome, with his chiseled jawline, his beautifully shaped nose, and thick dark hair. About his eyes... there was a definite spark in them, a light of intelligence and humour. It's terribly tragic that he died so young...surely had he lived, he would have gone on to ever-greater accomplishments, and perhaps you would have known him and remembered him with great affection. As it is, you have the knowledge that he is part of you, and also these photos...they are a treasure, beyond price.

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  6. LL, I think he was incredibly handsome. I have this photo framed in my living room. Being born on this date makes him Aries, a fire sign...I believe you were right in noting that spark in his eyes!

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  7. Stevie...welcome to my blog! It's nice to meet you and I enjoyed yours, also. :)

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  8. So apt is this line from the poignant poem you posted:

    "More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in
    the world."

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  9. He is very handsome!! Family history is always so fascinating. You never know what you're going to find out. That's sad that he passed due to TB. It was a horrible thing to contract back in the day, it's amazing that today we don't even think twice about it.
    Side note about family history. My great great grandmother lived in West Virginia, and come to find out she was a mid-wife. Well she'd travel the mountains into neighboring towns when she had to deliver babies, and people would give her goats and chickens as payment. How cool is that? I think I'd be thrilled if someone gave me a goat as payment for a good deed now. But then again I would live in a barn yard if I could!!

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  10. Em, I love your gg grandmother story! Yes, isn't family history so incredibly fascinating? I love the quote from Anthony Hopkins, as John Adams in the film Amistad, "We are who we were". I titled my family tree file with that quote and now have over 4000 recorded ancestors, from our combined family.

    When we first moved into this place, 20 years ago, it was still country and I wanted chickens and goats! ;)

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  11. It does look like something is there, I'm just not sure what?
    I love the name of your house, I thought it might be haunted. Don't know why just got a hunch. I do hope your ghost isn't mean, and she's just a nice old lady?!

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  12. A beautiful poem and lovely post. I've never understood how parents are able to survive the loss of a child. It would be the most unbearable sadness.

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  13. Em, she's a fairly friendly ghost. Although my daughter was awakened one night to a good scolding by her!

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  14. Thank you for posting the heartwrenching story behind the mysterious portrait of your Uncle Guy, whom I must confess I've had a crush on since I first noticed his portrait on your blog! LOL!! He's so dapper and dashing. I'll bet he turned the heads of many girls back in his day. Happy Birthday, Guy!

    I love the Anthony Hopkins quote you mentioned. I very much feel that way. I'll have to post about my Woodhull/Jayne family from Brookhaven, NY. What an interesting bunch they were. I think you will appreciate their history.

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  15. Unfortunately TB is very much with us and becoming more drug-resistant all the time. Stay healthy everyone!

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  16. Dear Willow!

    I’m tagging you for a Six Word Memoir! Hope you play!

    Rules:
    1. Write your own six-word memoir.
    2. Post it on your blog (and include a visual illustration if you’d like).
    3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
    4. Tag five more blogs with links.
    5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

    Hee hee.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)