Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Matt and Me

Indulging obsessions captured the mind for over an hour this morning as I browsed StAndrews and Panama City memorabilia. I try seldom to go there lest I disappear into that other world for a lifetime, like the Pevensies into Narnia, but unlike them, cannot find my way back through the trees to the wardrobe. Can one vanish into one's past, or only into another world, a different and parallel creation? 

This morning progressively, I was in Jacksonville with a cousin and family for the 1940 census, again with them for the 1930 census; then, still in Jacksonville, with my great-grandfather R H Weller and family for the 1885 census, Pop, my grandfather, in the large family household at age 13. At the time, Pop’s father, who died in 1903, was rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, today the cathedral of the Diocese of Florida. 

A significant part of my family stayed on in Jacksonville, including Pop’s brother Horace Look Weller. His grandson Matthews Weller, a child and then a teenager in the two census lists above, was the other Episcopal priest in my generation (I think I count eight of us altogether?). My sister and brother did, but I never knew Matt, who coincidentally served at St. Thomas by the Sea Episcopal Church, Laguna Beach several decades before the five years I served there, 2004-2009. Fr. Matt died at age 70 some twenty years ago, back home in Jacksonville.

I might claim Jacksonville as ancestral home, but my heart is StAndrews and Panama City and standing here at 7H porch rail looking south across StAndrewsBay, beyond Davis Point and over Shell Island into the Gulf of Mexico.

Top, the dawn pic, not mine but borrowed, thanks PB, stretches beyond RedFishPoint with its Lonesome Pine out the east-west width of the Bay into the Pass, and may be the best I’ve ever seen. Below

Harrison Avenue at 4th Street c.1940 is from the treasure of memorabilia from Mike McKenzie. I remember Brake Hardware (seems to me they also had a funeral home) and Chavers-Fowhand Furniture. Couldn't enlarge clear enough to see what’s on at the Ritz Theatre, but unless I blurred it too much enlarging, the dark colored car parked in front of the Ritz is a 1939 Plymouth sedan. Parked next to it on the far side, the white Ford Tudor (Ford cutely called his cars Fordor and Tudor sedans) is a 1941 Ford (or 1942, 46, 47, 48 identical but different grille and trim). One way to help date a picture is by automobiles, the pic cannot be older than the newest car parked or in the street. For example, recently I watch and loved the movie “Empire of the Sun” historically dating in China before and during the Japanese invasion and WW2. Chief car in the picture was the enormous, elegant pre-war Packard belonging to the star’s father and chauffeured by a Chinese servant. But the otherwise careful dating of the film's shooting was betrayed to me when I spotted a 1946, 47, 48 Dodge sedan in a supposedly wartime scene. 

Again I ramble. Here’s StAndrewsBay from 7H about 6:10 this morning. 

The top pic from PB407 at Cherry Street corner EBeachDrive is stupendous, mine rather grim -- hopeful perhaps, promising, as the sun rises on my last day of being eighty, but, unlike me, solemn. 

Same era, Harrison at 5th Street, Marie Hotel, across, Canova Drugs which I remember but I do not remember the restaurant on the corner. That red car is a 1940 Ford. To our left, the Ford's right, the car sticking out is a Lincoln Zephyr.


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