Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Taking The Train To The Past"

This is a wonderful painting by Henri Matisse called " Open Window".
You COULD say that the window opened onto the nearly new 20th century......
Matisse was one of the celebrated group known as " Les Fauves" ( wild beasts) who exhibited in Paris in October 1905.
Last summer, I met an amazing fellow called George. I was delighted to meet him. His daughter is a very good friend of mine. On Monday, George died peacefully; he was 101.

George was born in April 1905. He lived through much of the last remarkable century and also through seven years of this one.
He lived through a history we merely glimpse in black and white, a history we read about in library tomes, a history we scan on the worldwide web.
George lived through a changing world; one which both gained and lost precious things.
And George saw all this in the making.

The year George was born strikers were murdered in St Petersburg by Russian troops.
Albert Einstein produced his Theory of Relativity.
Anna Pavlova danced " The Dying Swan" with the Imperial Ballet.
The Blues thrived in Memphis.
And the Wright brothers flew...for just 38 minutes!
The year George was born, over 10,000 died in an Indian earthquake.
The writer Jules Verne died.
And believe it or not, pizzas appeared in New York, brighter light bulbs arrived, and over 700 million postcards were delivered in Britain alone...( how many post cards do YOU get nowadays??)
My own father, who died fifteen years ago, was also born in June 1905. ( And my 1st grandson EXACTLY a century later in June 2005)
AND Through chatting with George last summer, we discovered that it was quite possible that he'd known my father ( in their twenties in the 1920's). Both young men were keen to " get on" and both travelled to night school at college in Liverpool via the now defunct ( but much loved) Liverpool Overhead Railway.
George told a hilarious tale how one evening, several of the lads on the train decided to skip night school and go ice skating instead. This certainly sounded like my father's cup of tea...
The Overhead Railway, built in 1893, was demolished in 1956.
BUT I have dim memories of my brother and I taking a trip on it with an aunt and uncle; this was a special treat before the railway finally closed.
It was great meeting George and also making that wonderful connection....


Blogger Carole said...

This made a fascinating read. I can't add to your statistics for 1905 but I can say that just over a year before George was born, Chekhov's 'The Cherry Orchard' (which I'm studying at the moment)was performed at the Moscow Arts Theatre. Amazing with our knowledge and hinsight as to what was to happen in the next year.

5:06 pm  
Blogger dinzie said...

I'm compiling my family history..I oftent think of the changes my gradparents and geat gandparents witnessed over their lifetimes... Probably more changes of such a magnitude than anyone else now or in the future....

As a lad My mates and I also bonked off school and spent days in liverpool catching the train in chester :O)

8:12 am  
Blogger Lee said...

Connections, often haphazard, are fascinating, illuminating, chilling, aren't they?

12:39 pm  
Blogger Philippa said...

How weird that your grandson was named George! I hadn't realised that George was born exactly 100 years after your father (my Great Uncle Phil)
Yes, I frequently think about all the incredible things our parents must have witnessed. If only I'd been a little older when my father died, I would have asked him SO much, like what happened in the blitz (his parents, my grandparents, both died within 4 months of each other in the East End during the blitz)My father would have remembered the depression, the outbreak of war, Churchill's rise to power, Suez, etc, etc, but I was too young to ask. Maybe I should start my autobiography........

9:14 pm  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Amazing to have lived that long and to have seen so much change. My Dad died at the age of 48, and I often wonder what he would think of the world now and the changes since 1968 ... HUGE changes when you think.

8:43 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks, Carole:It's like being able to fly over rooftops, stare into houses isn't it ( ie having the towering chance to see what will happen) ...something I thought I'd be able to do once I was " grown up"...
Dinzie: A couple of times, I left my school in Chester at lunchtime to go to the Cavern in L'pool..Never did catch the Beatles though!!
Lee; AS you say CONNECTIONS can be any number of things... The city I live in is small enougfh for connections to be RIFE...!
Philippa: I remember my mother saying that your father came from Romford?? ( Was that right??) George ( my grandson) lived off the Romford Rd for the 1st year of his life.
I remember listening to your father's East London accent in wonder; your mother had a gentle Middle England tone ( soft and rather lovely) and I thought your dad's was really exotic!!
AND yes, I so wish I had talked more with my relations in the past. They had the key to so many memories. You can imagine how thrilled I was meeting elderly George and making that possible connection with my father.
CB: Yes, and I think Dinzie right in saying the changes are of tremendous magnitude..

4:27 pm  

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