|Hildreth Velvet candy is |
essential to our tale.
Barbara Cain Froman,
of Nelson Hildreth,
for sharing her wonderful
collection of cards
and pictures with me,
and allowing me to
with you on this blog.
When it became apparent last year that the COVID lockdown was going to last not days or weeks but months, I committed to three goals.
First, I wanted to give Innovation on Tap a fighting chance, so I did as many Zoom presentations and podcasts as I could, casting my fate to the wind (and face to the web), from Boston and Florida to California and the Philippines.
Second, I wanted to survive open-heart surgery, which I’d put off until my cardiologist at Beth Israel made me an offer I couldn't refuse. As I wrote about here, in January 2021, I got a pig.
And finally, I decided it was time to read my grandmother’s journals, more than thirty years of daily entries beginning in the late 1950s through her death in 1993. I’m pretty sure I was the first, and almost certain I will be the last person ever to take on this task.
And therein--goal number three--lies my tale.
“Wuz I Robbed?”
If I was expecting to read all about me in those journals, I was sorely disappointed. Oh, I showed up now and then with a broken leg or maybe a new job, but I was one of a flock of grand, great and great-great grandchildren, and more or less, in literary terms, an appendage to my mother. Her generation got all the love.
In reading the journals, I was committed, as the biographer Robert Caro advised, to “turn every page” on the off-chance that Nana, as we called my maternal grandmother Baker, would drop her guard and really let loose. This reading strategy was tedious and yielded many school committee meetings and trips to the supermarket, but also an occasional juicy tidbit.
For example, I learned some things about my grandfather I. did. not. need. to. know. And then there was the relative who abandoned his wife and then returned, all while I was trying to master long division in second grade. (Who knew?) There were also the elderly great-relatives, always nice to me, maybe because, most days, they were three sheets to the wind by noontime.
|My grandmother's journals. Robert Caro said, "read every page," so I did.|
"Eva’s brother was Lester. He lived in Needham. He was a stockbroker. He married Myrtle Hildreth. Her father and her uncle invented the machine that made saltwater taffy. Someone gave them a big story and talked them out of it. Then he turned around and sold it. Aunt Myrtle used to cry over it."
What? Invented the machine that made saltwater taffy? Aunt Myrtle? Who was Aunt Myrtle?
Had I been denied my rightful inheritance and life fortune by some skullduggery that happened long before my birth?
Wuz I robbed?
This required an investigation.