Yarnapalooza Winner #21
Today is Leslie's Fischgrun's lucky day! Congratulations to our Yarnapalooza Winner #21!
And today's photo is a scan of the flipside (clearly damaged) of the New Zealand postcard I posted a few days ago. Apparently this was written by my Greatgrandfather Charles to my Aunt Dede (Edith), the daughter they (euphemism alert) "left behind" in England. Just so you don't get the wrong idea (I mean, the reality was unpalatable enough), Dede wasn't sold into indentured servitude or anything. She simply became the companion and daughter-substitute of older relatives who were willing to pay for my Greatgrandfather's escape to New Zealand in return for Dede's company.
It set up a strange family dynamic. Dede became the outsider. My Grandma El and her brother Cass shared incredible adventures in Auckland. (Can you imagine what NZ must have been like at the beginning of the 20th century? Can you begin to imagine the culture shock my family experienced going from Edwardian England [barely out of the Victorian era] to the relative freedom and glorious beauty of NZ? It must have been intoxicating.) Dede lived in a big stuffy old house with stuffy old relatives and a highly predictable existence. She was also tall. Tall wasn't a good thing for a young woman to be back then. My grandmother was short and strawberry blonde and a flirt. Dede was tall, blonde, and reserved. I swear to you my grandmother continued to tease Dede about things that happened seventy years ago right up until the day she died.
Funny thing: they spent their childhoods living apart but spent the last twenty-five years of their lives living across the street from each other in Elmhurst, Queens in NYC. At one point Dede had had enough of my grandmother's smart mouth (a family trait) and she barred my grandmother from stopping by without an expressly tendered invitation. They fought like warring armies defending a dying civiliation and were in the middle of one of their "I'm not speaking to her ever again" periods when my grandmother died in 1989 at 89 years of age. Dede lived another two years. She was 93 when she died. I remember clearly the thunderstorm we had that night. My father telephoned me and said, "Hear that? Ma and Dede must've found each other."
There's so much to tell you. During the early 1960s Dede had a long relationship with a Lebanese delegate to the U.N. A man named Sully who took her out dancing and to glamorous eateries (don't you love that word?) like Top of the Sixes. Amazing to see my reserved and veddy British aunt turn into a tall, blond geisha around the man she loved.
Of course there's more to the story. But then you knew that, didn't you?