Tag Archives: Etta Howes Handy

a tale of … (which two cities)?

 

 

I have been corresponding with a second cousin of mine from my mother’s side of the family. My second cousin lives on the West Coast.

We are catching up on genealogy, mostly. But I have shared a few tidbits (stories). We never met before, although I had some correspondence prior to his passing with my second cousin, Margaret’s, father.

 

 

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August 20, 2020

Dear Margaret,

 

Aunt Etta [my mother’s aunt; my and Margaret’s great-aunt] used to spend Thanksgivings with us. I always looked forward to it. You might enjoy my blog post about Thanksgiving at

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2016/03/17/thanksgiving/

 

Near the end of her life, Aunt Etta missed a Thanksgiving. She had moved out of her apartment (I think near Copley Square [in Boston]) to an assisted living place that was very nice. I said to my parents after dinner: I miss Aunt Etta. I am going to visit her. My younger brother went with me. We took the family car. Aunt Etta looked frail but otherwise okay. She was very pleased to see us and appreciated the visit. It was the last time I saw Aunt Etta. [I sensed this, had a premonition.]

 

 

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August 21. 2020

Dear Margaret,

 

 

A couple of stories about Aunt Etta.

She used to always say “extry” instead of “extra.” I think my mother was her favorite niece or nephew. She liked my mother, and why not? My mother was gracious and just plain nice to everyone. I talked about this aspect of her in one of my blog posts. May I share it with you?

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2020/02/25/some-people-arent-interested-in-people/

 

My mother was annoyed that Aunt Etta belonged to the DAR because of its anti-Black stance. My mother was very pro civil rights. But they did not come to blows over this. Aunt Etta was justifiably proud of her great-grandfather William Handy and had an interest in genealogy and local history. William Handy’s revolutionary war experience is covered in my post at

 

https://rogersgleanings.com/2017/04/18/my-revolutionary-war-ancestor/

 

In the 1950’s, Aunt Etta — who was always thoughtful and people-oriented, and who seemed to have values much like my grandfather Ralph, her brother (who died when I was an infant) — invited my older brother and me to spend a weekend at her apartment in Boston. She went out of her way to make it an enjoyable visit.

On a Saturday, she took us skating on the Boston Common. My brother was a good skater, I wasn’t. Aunt Etta did not go skating herself. I remember her lacing up our skates in the freezing cold. Her fingers were numb. She was a very un-self-centered person. It did not seem to be a nuisance to her to have to wait for us in the freezing cold.

When we got back to her warm, cozy apartment, we were watching TV or reading magazines and we somehow mentioned Elvis Presley. My brother and I were Elvis fans. Aunt Etta said she didn’t quite know what she thought about him, but, she said, he sure had long “side whiskers” (her word for sideburns). Little things intrigued her.

Aunt Etta brought out a plate of brownies she had baked. They had pecans in them. I meticulously removed all the nuts before eating my brownie. Aunt Etta thought that was so funny. I spent all morning chopping up those nuts, she said. She wasn’t angry, just highly amused.

I believe this was true of my grandfather Ralph, from what I was always told, it was certainly true of my mother; and also of Aunt Etta, whom I knew well, but not intimately — they were all modest and the opposite of pushy, and just plain decent, as well as nice.

 

 

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August 27, 2020

 

Dear Margaret,

 

A story or two which I just recalled.

The one time I met Uncle Rob [Robert S. Handy, my grandfather’s brother and mother’s uncle; he was a cranberry farmer on Cape Cod], he said one thing to me that I remember distinctly. He told me to buy a house at the first opportunity. He said that that was the best move I could make to ensure financial security.

I was single, probably in my early twenties. I had just graduated from college. The thought of buying a house seemed hard to grasp for me then.

Aunt Etta, as you no doubt know, was frugal and money conscious. She gave me $2,000 on Christmas 1967. It was a bank book with $2,000 in the account. It seemed like a huge gift. She told me — then, or around that time — how she had opened her first bank account when she was young and her father [Henry T. Handy] had advised her to do so and keep her money so it could grow. She wanted to give me helpful advice. I listened but did not pay that much heed then. I was kind of the starving poet type.

 

 

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September 14, 2020

 

Dear Margaret,

 

I thought you would find this memorial tribute to Jill Jillson [daughter of my mother’s cousin Carol (Handy) Jillson] of interest.

Jill and I were about the same age and we would see her and her siblings on visits, usually to the Cape, with my mother’s cousin Carol and her husband Jack.

Somehow it got mentioned to me once that Jack Jillson [Jill Jillson’s father, husband of my mother’s cousin Carol] was a Harvard grad, like my father. I said to my mother, he went to Harvard, really? He was quiet (soft spoken) and self-effacing, and he didn’t seem quite like a “blue blood” (not that my father was) or intellectual.

He hides his candle under a bushel, my mother said.

In my freshman year in high school, the Jillsons were visiting us in Canton [Massachusetts]. My father and Jack were on chaise longues in the back yard. It was a hot day. I was reading Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities” for English class. I mentioned this, and either my father or Jack said, what two cities: Baltimore and St. Louis? They both thought this was very funny.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   September 2020

 

 

Etta H. Handy (Aunt Etta)

 

 

Robert S. Handy (Uncle Rob)

 

 

Henry Thomas Handy (1845-1916) of Cataumet, MA

 

 

 

 

great-grandfather-henry-t-handy

 

 

Posted below as a downloadable Word document is an article about my mother’s paternal grandfather Henry Thomas Handy (1845-1916).

 

— Roger W. Smith

 

 

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