Happy Birthday, Daddy

24 May

My dad, left, with family friend Hughart Wright. I have no idea where this was, since there were no beaches in Pittsburgh.

Gemini men. My favorite cousins — David Browne and Russell Williams — celebrate their birthdays this week. My ex-husband and fellow co-parent is a June Gemini. My late Uncle James, who stood in in the absence of my father in so may ways, would celebrate his birthday June 10.

And then there is my father himself, who would celebrate his 114th birthday on Tuesday, May 24. (No, that is not a typo!)

The  column below, which he published just after his 36th birthday in 1933, is part birthday lamentation and part history lesson. I had no idea that every territory of the British Empire celebrated Queen Victoria’s birthday. Back then it was called Empire Day.   (And we thought declaring Kate and Will’s wedding day a bank holiday in Britain was a little  much.) My dad apparently didn’t think much of “present horseman and apparently future bachelor king” Edward VIII —  even before he abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson.

Ebenezer also recalls a birthday party he’d had two years before. He notes that  the revelers included nine couples with  “a mother and linotypist thrown in.” His brother, Noel, was a printer in Barbados. I am guessing  Noel and their  mother, Malvina, came to New York for a visit. (This calls for a search of passenger ship records.)

He also notes that since that party he had dropped “Henry and Ster” after they began to worship “Sayville’s gawd.” I didn’t know what to make of that at first, until I found a reference to Father Divine, another person my father had little use for, on a webpage about the history of Sayville, Long Island:

“Father Devine aka George Baker was a black cult leader that set up his headquarters in Sayville. He commanded his followers to worship him as God incarnate. Their first communal dwelling, which they called heaven, was in Sayville.”‘

And back to the genealogy aspect of this endeavor, I found a 1939 column my father wrote shortly after he married his first wife, Lucille I. Manning. Don’t know much about her yet, except, as he notes, she  also was “Gemini born.” “We have much in common,” he wrote. “Difficulties too.”

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Happy Birthday, Daddy!

The New York Age, June 3, 1933

The New York Age, June 3, 1933

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