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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Some Family Photos

My son has been going through my large box of photos. (I have never to been good at keeping things in good order.) Unfortunately, most of my photos of my youth are on slides. So far I don't think you can go from negatives to digital positive photos on a personal computer, yet. Perhaps, I will have some of the best printed into photos. If I can get my scanner going, I may scan more pictures to save on the computer.

Parker just emailed the photo's below.

This is my maternal grandmother, Lavinia Beeston, (nee Whaley). I fondly refer to her as the little old Methodist lady. She was what is known in Britain as "chapel": not of the established Anglican church. My memories of her are as a kindly, quiet, gentle woman who always had some candy in her purse as a treat for us when she came to visit.

She had become a teacher when at 16 she was the best student in the class they made her the teacher. She always had little words of wisdom to teach us. I thinks this is where I learned such expressions as. "A penny saved is a penny earned." Take care of your pennies and your pounds will take care of themselves." "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"." My favourite which I only heard once but found it memorable. "When you are feeling down, remember you are part of the British Empire!" (I guess she caught me at a depressed moment). Even at my young age I found this a little preposterous.

Not everything was postive, she held some negative views of the Irish, not uncommon for her generation. It has tainted my view of the Irish which I have tried hard to resist all my life.

My grandmother and grandfather came to Canada from England in 1903. To do this they left three of their children behind until they got established. My mother and her youngest sister were born in Canada. We were all British subjects, myself included. It was not until the late '40's that Canadian citizenship was formalized. It took my grandmother about thirty years and three trips back to England to finally decide she was a Canadian.

My grandparents successfully had, and raised, five children, a son and four daughters. My uncle, Charles Beeston became an architect and moved to the US marrying an American. This is where I came to have American relatives, which now includes cousins, second cousins. my brother and his family and even my son Parker, who was born in Cambridge, Ma. and holds dual citizenship.

My grandmother died when I was 12 or 13, I think. Her death was a kind of coming of age event for me as I was asked to be one of the pall bearers, along with adult men of the family. Her death was the first of many deaths of close friends I experienced at a young age. My teen years, dealing with death, I think contributed to my interest in religion and ultimately, the ministry.

This is a picture of the three of us: my little brother, Richard, 3 years younger; my sister, Penny, 2 years older, and me. I think I was 9 or 10 here. I just remembered that this was taken when we travelled to Connecticut to visit my Uncle Charlie. My cousin Jane took this picture. This was a great adventure for us a year after my father learned to drive. We crossed New York State on Route 20, for there was no New York Thuway. I remember Howard Johnson, Chicken in the Basket, and Burma Shave ads along the way.

My parents had a first girl child, who died as a SIDS baby. I was always vaguely aware of this. My parents did not talk much about it in front of us. My sister, the replacement child, was more affected apparently.

(click on photo to enlarge)

This is my mother, Bessie Robinson, (nee Beeston) elegantly sitting on our front stoop. She was in her early 30's . She was a wonderful mother, who has affected me more than anyone else.


This was the modest house I grew up in. My parents bought it for $8,000 in the late forties. They paid in off over 20 years at 4% interest. I am not sure who the kids are . My sister, with the pigtails is standing and the tow- headed one is my brother, Richard. The older person seated could be my Aunt Billie, my mother's youngest sister.

There next house, a more stylish ranch style house, was on the street behind, which you cannot see though the trees as the street had not been put through by then. Our house was in the woods and really quite rural. We lived here for several years without a car. We walked. I can still remember as a very young child coming out to the house with my father when it was being built and walking two miles up to Cooksville over the electrical permit and then two miles back to the house. My father walked the mile to the train to go into Toronto to work as an electrician. We came to attend the Presbyterian Church because we had a neighbour who offered to drive us.
Otherwise. we would have gone to the United Church. (the union of Methodist, Congregationalists and half the Presbyterians in the '20's)

This was a great place to grow up with the woodlands to explore in. My sister even got lost in it once. As more families located in this area there were lots of baby boom young children in our neighbourhood.

We never worried about safety. Our house was never locked and we came to roam widely to play in creeks and the river and even down in the small town of Port Credit, on the lake. Our walk to school was 1 or 1 1/2 miles. My first day of school I fearlessly walked home at noon thinking it was over for the day. Sadly, it was longer and I had many years to go. I don't ever remember being afraid of strangers. I still am not. My first reaction to strangers is curiousity. My experience and my mother's open acceptance of people different from us has left its mark on me.

It is interesting how a few photos can refresh one's memory.


At 11:12 a.m., Blogger Loretta said...

Wonderfull old pictures. I enjoyed them very much. Strange how pictures can make forgotten things so real again.

At 2:31 p.m., Blogger KGMom said...

Philip--you are right: photos can jog our memories most powerfully.
I like the photo of the house--all the people to the side almost as an afterthought. And one person looking the camera square in the eye, while the other folk are occupied.
In the young boy photo of you, I can see your grandson. Ah--genes--they tell on us, don't they.
Thanks for sharing your memories.

At 6:47 a.m., Blogger possum said...

What an enjoyable post. It is interesting the events and people that form our lives so early on. Even our prejudices... I had an Irish step-father. He taught me fear, he was a violent man and very proud of being Irish! Consequently, I have a moment of discomfort when someone starts going on about being Irish!
And I, too, remember not having to lock one's doors. We even used to leave the keys in our cars until recent years.
Thanks for a trip down your memory lane. Enjoyed the pictures!

At 9:33 a.m., Blogger Gattina said...

Wow ! you were absent quite a long time, nice to read such family stories and the picture of Heidi with the little cat is too cute.
I never scan pictures, I just make a photo and it comes out better than the original ! I find it quicker too.

At 6:22 p.m., Blogger Sis said...

Thank you for sharing, Phillip. Great post. Hope to see more of the same.

At 5:10 p.m., Blogger Kahless said...


I am researching my ancestry at the moment. I wish I had the photo's that you had!

At 8:44 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

I love the picture of your mother and also your words describing your relationship.
The "modest house" gives me a good feeling too.

At 12:04 p.m., Blogger amelia said...

Love your pics. It's funny I still leave the door unlocked all the time, day and night. My hubby is not so trusting!!

At 6:23 p.m., Blogger Old Wom Tigley said...

Hi Philip
I have been and seen this post twice now but been called away or disturbed before I could comment..

This really is a nice post and one I enjoyed reading very much.. thank you so much for sharing these.


At 10:44 p.m., Blogger Mary said...


Beautiful photos...treasured memories. Your mother was gorgeous.

I certainly enjoyed learning more about your family and your upbringing.


At 3:36 p.m., OpenID daffy said...

Philip I loved reading this and I loved meeting your family. How cute were you as a youngen' ;o)
What a lovely post to be treasured. Thanks for sharing.

At 6:06 p.m., Blogger Paul said...

It's always enjoyable to read when one reminisces and see old B&W photos.


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