This past weekend was spent in Maryland. I don’t have an internet connection there and I didn’t take a single photograph. I did have access to old books and letters and odd scraps of black silk dresses bundled up in plastic bags or tucked in boxes. The cleaning goes slowly. I found a tiny clipping that described how to properly put on a girdle (lying down), a list of who got fruit cakes in 1957, and so many unlabeled photos. Also, yellowed with age, dated October 2, 1897 was this:

Daniel Webster’s Last Days

His Touching Farewell to Things He Loved. (Chicago Chronicle)

An aged husbandman at Marshfield, Mass., who remembers Daniel Webster in his latter days very well, has given someone a very interesting reminiscence of the statesman as an agriculturist, and incidentally drawn a touching picture of his farewell to the acres and the possessions he loved so well. Webster, according to this ancient, loved every tree and flower on the place. He knew all the stock and could tell the name of every animal upon the farm, He was an enthusiastic breeder, and was a fine judge of everything pertaining to farm life and live stock, although he never made a financial success of them. When the end came, and everyone including himself, realized that he had but a few days more to live, he ordered the relator of this incident to drive up to the farm-house all the stock two by two, and there he reviewed them, passing his hand lovingly over the smooth, glossy coats and patting their flanks affectionately. When the last had passed by he turned with a sigh into the house, giving one longing look behind and never spoke again. Unconsciously the old farmer has given here a picture worthy of a painter or a poet.

. . . . . .

A little later on Saturday morning I went out for a few odds and ends and stood in line for coffee. The woman ahead of me was holding a mocha latte with caramel drizzle, and said into her cell phone, “I have to get a massage at twelve thirty.” This made me smile. Is there anything left to say? Actually I’m still smiling.

. . . . . .

While I vacuumed up years of dust, the girls carefully stepped into the dresses of their great-great aunts. This child of mine is coming into her own and if her ancestors were here to see her they would recognize her as one of their own.

photo by Elisa

6 thoughts on “line breeding

  1. Anna, Daniel Webster is supposedly a relation of mine. My paternal grandmother was a Webster. I love that beautiful story. And next time, if you are feeling up for a new face, tell me when you’re in Maryland. I am getting attached to your voice and would happily travel to Baltimore to meet the rest of you.

    1. Meagan, That means you are related to my daughters. My husband’s last name is Dallam but he is more Webster than anything. The house I am working on belonged to Josephine Webster Dallam. A visit would be great.

  2. Love this post. Elisa looks as if she were painted by Whistler, or perhaps John Singer Sargent (in a barefoot pose). http://www.johnsingersargent.org/Italian-Girl-with-Fan.html
    I cannot imagine what Aunt Josie’s house must be like. I think you must be sweeping up the dust of the ages.
    We are packing to move to Maryland this Thursday, leaving the dust of DC behind. It will be nice to be a bit closer to you and yours.
    –Wendy in Washington, still

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