Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Most Memorable Letter Continued

A couple of months ago, I introduced you to Edith Mary Madeline Ternes. She wrote a wonderful series of letters to a younger relative, who was interested in the family history. In those letters, she offered some very sage advice, which I like to remember when I'm researching genealogy:
If any family tree is shaken hard enough I am sure it will produce stories of heroes and horse thieves. Lives to be proud of, lives to imitate and some to regret. Your family tree, no doubt will be the same, so I think it is wise to remember that we are totally responsible for ourselves and our lives but we owe no debt to the past.
She also provided personality sketches of her adopted family that show her flair for description writing talent.

About her adopted mother:

Your great grandmother whom I call Mother Ternes was a beautiful, able, capable woman who seemed to bend but never break. Under great pressure she would often say, "Well, we'll just have to make the best of it," and she did. She was never mean or petty or critical. She had never learned how. Her greatest fault was that Orrin took advantage of this. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was willing to believe that everyone did the best he could.

About her adopted brothers:

...Orrin vanished from our lives. Where he went or why we never found out. Mother and I felt very sorry for Bernadine and Charles but I, especially hesitated to ask too many questions. I thought it was Bernadine's right to tell us what she chose. If your grandmother Perrin chooses she may tell you more. I know absolutely nothing about it. I am afraid I cannot deal too kindly with your grandfather because I watched his mother's eyes change from incredulity to hope, to resignation and finally to despair. I've told you all this just to tell you that I don't know where your grandfather is or if he is alive or not. If he is alive he would be about 73 years old.

Norman had two children, Jack and Patricia, and he himself had been terribly ill. He was hospitalized for about a year and the penalty for that prolonged illness was very harsh. He recovered but was addicted to the use of drugs. This plagued him for the rest of his life. Norman was a capable young man who worked for his Uncle George Ternes in the coal office in Dearborn. He was also an accomplished pianist and sometimes played in a dance group with his brother in law Hugh Jack.

Uncle George Ternes

And a little about herself not long after she was married:

In 1938 Elmer and I were married and both our mothers came to live with us on Morrow Circle in East Dearborn. We each had a mother in law. It sounds like a strange household, I know, but it really wasn't. For us it was ideal. Neither of us had to worry about leaving our Mothers alone while we were at work, because each of them had a companion and a place to play house all day. They didn't have the major responsibility of running a house and they got along exceptionally well together. Elmer worked as assistant traffic manager of a major oil company with offices at Trenton, Michigan and I taught school in Dearborn. We were both secure in the knowledge that our mothers were not alone. I must admit that I was pretty badly spoiled. They both assured me that they had to have something to do all day and so they did the washing, ironing, dishes, dusting, mending and minor cleaning. They set the table, prepared the vegetables and let me do the shopping and the cooking. I couldn't have asked for more.

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