Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Sunday, 100 Years Ago

My paternal grandparents, George Albert Lynam and Bessie Lucille Duncan were married 100 years ago today. This is their wedding photo. They each were 23 years old when they married which seems a little old for that era. When I drove the senior citizens' bus in the late 70's, I had a passenger - a contemporary of my grandparents - tell me that my grandmother had been engaged before George but that her fiancé had died in the flu epidemic. That was a story I had never heard. Then when I stopped to think about it my grandparents married in 1914 and the big Spanish Flu pandemic, which in the U.S. alone killed more than a half million, (mostly young adults), didn't begin until 1918. I decided that if the story was true, the person telling me probably had gotten my grandmother mixed up with her younger sister, Agnes (Babe). That made more sense to me at the time so I never did ask my grandmother about it. Now I realize Babe married in 1916, also before the flu pandemic. So, was there any truth to the story? I'll probably never know.

Just as I cannot verify that Grandma Bessie may have been previously affianced, I do not know if this table and buffet of theirs is 100 years old. i.e. Did they begin their married life with this set in their dining room or is it something they purchased years later? All I know is that it is the dining room furniture they had for many years and Grandma had up until I received it in 1979 when Aunt Leona cleared Grandma's house prior to it being torn down. I could hardly believe it when she asked if I would like to have the set. I also got four chairs at that time - only two which matched and were from the original set. I tried to match my new chairs to the period of the table and buffet.

This is one of the original chairs. It and it's mate are now in the kitchen of the restored Johnny Carson birthplace house in Corning. Grandma Bessie was a fan of The Tonight Show. I think she would be thrilled that her chairs are now in the Johnny Carson Birthplace.

Grandma Bessie, Baby Betty, Ronald, Grandpa George and me with my back to the camera. I don't have many memories of Grandpa. He died when Betty was two and I was four. But I do have very distinct memories of visiting Grandma when she still lived on the acreage on the west edge Corning. Those memories involved playing underneath her dining room table. She would give us spools and buttons to string. Under the table was our own little world. Who cared what the adults were doing?

George, Bessie and young son, my Dad, Louis. Grandpa and Grandma had three children.

Louis was eight when Leona was born. He was six when his sister Evelyn was born.

Evelyn Lois was born two days after Louis' sixth birthday. She only lived four days. It was a long, long time before I even knew Dad had had another sister. I never heard anyone talk about her. I always put some kind of dainty little flowers on her grave each Memorial Day.

Grandma lived forty years as a widow - seven years longer than she did as a wife.

Grandpa and Grandma had seven grandchildren. I'm not certain how many great-grands there were - fourteen, I think. My son Douglas was the first great-grandchild for Grandma Bessie. I love this four-generation photo of us - Grandma and I have matching eye-wear!

A professional portrait of the young Lynam family before Aunt Leona. Different glasses for Grandma, but no less stylish.

One more photo of Grandma Bessie with her Grandmother Aggie. (Agnes Hull Richardson) I wonder what wisdom Grandma Aggie was imparting. Or was she telling a story? Granddaughter Bessie seems to be listening intently.

I wish Grandma's table and buffet could talk. I'd love to hear some of the stories of the people who sat around the table, know what foods were served from the buffet and just how the indentation on that one corner of the table got there.
I feel privileged to sit at Grandma's table and enjoy its beauty each day. I hope the set survives another 100 years.


  1. What a moving post, Mom. I'm so glad you're sharing these pictures and telling these stories. And, like you, I would just love to know what Bessie and Aggie are talking about.

  2. Your comment "Who cared what the adults were doing" reminded me of when my parents and I crossed to road and mother and daddy played cards with the Mitchells, but me and their kids drew pictures and entertained ourselves.