There are a lot of children playing around this gas station.

Perhaps the attendant on the right is instructing the child that he may be run over, and he should collect his sibling and head along home, if he knows what’s good for him. You’re the Johnson Boy, aren’t you? I know your pa, and he wouldn’t be happy if you were hit by some hot-rodder screeching up to the pumps.

There's also a nicely dressed affluent couple who are taking this moment to examine the plans for their country manor. Or perhaps they're looking at a map. Yes, that's it. The attendant is showing them were to go. Maybe those are their kids? No; they look too old.

What's the time? What would you say the day and time might be?

More from that Family Bible.

I don’t know who these people are, but I’m the result of them meeting.


It’s from the enormous family bible, which is at least a foot thick. My cousin-in-law knows who they are, I think.

To my surprise, the portrait studio was in Canada, from where a few relatives on my mother's side originated. So I'm part Canadian. Explains a lot.

Another shot:

A note on the back:

William H. Dane, who'd later move to Toronto to ply his trade.

The last hand in the book to record the births and deaths would be hers:

My Grandma. She recorded the births and deaths and other things of note. She saved a flower. It’s been pressed in the dark for half a century. There’s a fascinating piece of paper from a religious publication that addresses the prophecies floating around the culture in those days, and they have to do with the belief that the Kaiser was the antichrist.

Ah, this fellow, him I know.


Charles Newton.

I can barely remember Dad’s notes on geneology, even though I have them down somewhere in audio files. He could barely remember, and not because he was getting soft in the pan; it was long ago for him, and it was someone else’s story.

Thing is, I can write it here, and I can convert all these pages to pdfs and upload them to the internet archive, and it’s still not as permanent as the bulk of that Bible.

My sister and I were wondering who takes on the onerous responsibility of taking The Bible, which will mean nothing to our kids. Can’t blame them. Great-grandparents are abstract entities. Great-great-grandparents? No. I mean, I feel no connection to these people, except for the fact that they lived on in this enormous volume that sat in the living room of a house now gone. I had walked where they walked.

There’s a note on the frontespiece, in the corner, written by my cousin in a mischievous mood:


He didn’t get the chance. Had a car wreck. I found a picture of the accident in a folder in my dad’s stuff, a folder where he also put my mother’s brother’s funeral program. My cousin was a smart fellow - he was always the funny, bright guy. Think Chevy Chase without the smirk or the attitude. An agronomist, and a musician. Complete freak accident - from the looks of it, someone drifted on a two-lane, and that was that. I remember his funeral. I remember him, from the last time we met; at another funeral, held at the old country church, Maple Sheyanne, where my dad and mom are buried. He was a good man.

All that from opening up a big book that had been kept in a closet untouched for 14 years.




It's 1910.

Busy, busy world:



  The most interesting story is at the bottom, noting a visit from a Count Von Bulow, “cousin of the former Chancellor.” I remember the name from another context - the conductor Hans von Bulow, who married Lizst’s daughter, who later left him for Wagner.
  What a gormless sourpuss he was.

Anyway. Here's the reason for our visit here today:


New Church. Big deal. Streets thronged, silvery trumpets blasted.


Crisps barmy odds and sods it's the dogs bollocks eton mess upper class, we'll be 'avin less of that Kate and Will bovver boots biscuits, tosser Union The White-Robed Pure Children about to Warble Angelically:

The Church, by the way, was this structure, which of course still stands.

You can’t say “of course” except when you’re talking about old churches.The reason I clipped this:

  No, we're not here to talk about the right Rev, fine fellow though he may have been.

That’s the work of Carl Weldell Rawson, one of the finest newspaper caricaturists - if the word applies - of his era. He worked at the Tribune from 1906 to 1915, so this is right in the middle of his tenure. He had an uncanny knack for quick portraiture, although his subjects are always grave and betray no inner thoughts. The bodies are always smaller.

The architect is the man in the middle. Edwin Hawley Hewitt.

He was married in 1900 and went at once to Paris, where he entered the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in May, 1901 where he became a member of the Atelier Pascal. In October, 1904, he returned to the United States, but he had completed his work at the Ecole. Arriving in Minneapolis, he was almost immediately offered a commission and at once started in on private practice, not having an opportunity to return to Paris for over eight years.

As time went on he realized the importance in architectural work of the allied science of engineering in all its branches, and in September, 1910, he formed a partnership with Edwin Brown under the name of Hewitt & Brown, architects and engineers. Hewitt was instrumental in the work which culminated in the completion of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He was president of the Minnesota State Art Society. He became a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1913, and was president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.[3] The practice of Hewitt and Brown continued until Brown's death in 1930. Hewitt resumed private practice, but as business declined during the Great Depression, he closed his office and became the chief architectural supervisor for the Federal Housing Administration for the Minneapolis area. He died on August 11, 1939.

He designed some of my favorite buildings around here, and I pass his name daily, right here.

On the corner, engraved a hundred years ago. Hewitt & Brown.



Another batch of City Fathers:

We need one more, Carl.”

“It’s past quitting time, Harold. Do you really need it?

“Just do it fast.”

“Oh, I will.

Mr. Christian, staring off towards some ancient regret:


Sometimes the heads got a bit too big, if you ask me.

Enough of the distant past; let's rocket forward into the exciting, high-tech world of the Eighties! See you around.




blog comments powered by Disqus