steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Locked in the Garage with Uncle Sam

A few days before she died, my mother asked me to go into the garage and see if I could find the portrait that her great uncle, Samuel Parkes Cadman (early radio preacher and even now the only member of my family to have a New York street named after them), had had made by John Singer Sargent. It wasn't the original, of course, but "Uncle Sam" had made copies for all his nieces and nephews, including my grandmother. I remember the portrait hanging in the house during my early childhood, before my mother - whose main memory of the sitter was being told to "Shush" when he visited Wrexham, because "Uncle Sam was praying" - mustered the courage to consign it to the garage.

Anyway, I had a bit of a rummage, but couldn't at that time find the portrait. Instead, I came up with some old bottles of fruit wine that I had made in 1981, just before going to Uni. They didn't look too appetising, but they brought back nostalgic memories of my winemaking days. (Who could forget the terrible accident with the marrow rum?)


Today, I went back into the garage and found the portrait quite easily. I now feel a bit guilty that I was so easily distracted by the wine, and failed to fulfil what was, if I had known it, virtually a dying wish. That said, she didn't know it either, and I'm still not convinced I'd want this on my wall.


Next to the portait was a suitcase full of her old Magnets from the 1930s (with a few from the preceding and succeeding decades). She always half-joked that this collection about Greyfriars and Billy Bunter would be our real inheritance, but I have my doubts. Still, they certainly offer an insight into the comics of what we must now, I suppose, admit to be yore.

Tags: family history, real life
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