“Most people are on the world, not in it – have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”
A short while ago, my beloved Googliebear and I were out having lunch at a restaurant we don’t frequent often. Before we left, an old picture, hung unnoticed on a wall and lost amidst all the other knick knacks present, made me aware of it’s presence. No, it did not jump up and shout, nor talk in tongues, or burst into flames for simple enjoyment. It seemed to just whisper “look” as my travels made us cross paths. So I stopped. So I stared. So I took a picture. So I was wonderstruck.
Armed with this photograph, now safe forever in my smartphone, we went on our ways physically and mentally. At least my beloved did, my mind was still firmly entrenched staring at the one framed piece of time I now possessed. Disappointment followed later that day, when the clear image my mind’s eye still recalled became a fuzzy shadow of itself in the reality of a subpar smartphone camera. With a little convincing, I managed to score a return trip for us very shortly after, this time with a digital camera of much better power and clarity. A new better picture of an old great photograph soon entered my life.
With this memory now secured, and the of 150th post of Scoops Mental Propaganda fast encroaching, a plan was enabled. For this anniversary entry right here, the 150th as I mentioned already, I hope to entertain, enlighten, and possibly educated you. Sounds very daunting, probably even presumptuous on my part, and I am extremely sure this has been done before, online and off, for decades on into the past. What I shall endeavour here is a creation of my own, and all of you can come along this journey of yesteryear. My knowledge of this family is an absolute and complete zero, so I am going to imagine them into existence. Who and what they are, and how their time period and upbringing makes them people. They were real once, now they will be real again.
To start with is the setting. My firm belief is that they are in my home city Toronto. A picture of a family from here, taken here, displayed here, and found here makes this whole drama feel so palpable and destined. They are all born and bred right where I come from. We are cousins under the skin. I like that.
As for the time period, their dress and mannerisms speak of the late Victorian age. In my mind, this is clearly the year 1900, a nice round number, halfway between here and there. Change has already happened, some causing much consternation for them all, but more, much more is still awaiting, with clashes galore in their collective futures.
The next piece in the puzzle of them is a family moniker to hang their group identity on. Many names populate my tongue, but none seem to fit easily. The name Stone finally settles in. Nice, reliable and speaks volumes of the elders looks and stares. They feel like a family in which it was not always easy to grow up in. Poetic I know, but it just feels right in my bones.
So it is the year 1900 in the great Protestant city of Toronto and the family Stone have gathered their grown children into the front parlour of their house located in the present day Annex area. It has taken some cajoling, but they have all followed dictates and arrived at the appointed hour.
So who are the Stone family members? Starting cross the back from left to right, we have Christopher, Henry, Reginald, Jedediah Jr, and Tyler. The front row is made of Alice, Jedediah Sr, Margaret, Elinor, and Victoria.
Jedediah Sr, and please do not call him Jed, and Elinor are the patriarch and matriarch here. Married for over thirty years, they are both firm supporters of the Crown. Queen Victoria is the Monarch and their allegiance to Her Majesty is automatic and preordained. Both come from a long line of Loyalists, dating back to 1776, a traditional they are immensely proud to have in their blood. Jedediah is a lifelong member of the Orange Order and marches every year in the parade, side by side with his sons. Elinor spends quite a bit of time finding suitable young ladies for her unmarried sons, along with a proper gentleman for her only daughter. It is not right for them to not be wed, and this situation will have to be remedied quickly, if not sooner. Frustration from both of them at the fact none of their sons have enlisted to fight in the Boer War also generates conflict. The boys are loyal, but not loyal enough to transverse the globe for Her Majesty.
Alice and Victoria are not the children of the Stone’s, but rather daughters through marriage.
Christopher settled on Alice just to please his parents, a fact she and everyone else is fully aware of, and sometimes murmur about at family gatherings between courses. It is rumoured he is cruel to her behind closed doors, especially after his investment business faltered, but that is very acceptable at the time, even encouraged in some quarters. Alice seeks solace by volunteering at several hospitals, hoping for salvation of some kind.
Tyler is married to the vivacious Victoria, to whom he is always trying to prove himself worthy. It is well known she is smarter than all the Stone’s, and even knows French. She does truly deeply and completely love Tyler, and readily encourages him to enter medical school.
The sole daughter of the Stone clan and the youngest at the tender age of 15 is Margaret. Books are consumed by her at an impressive rate, often surreptitiously supplied by Victoria. Parental disapproval of this practice of learning has been made extremely clear to Margaret, but to no avail. Having already breezed through all the works of Dickens, she is now immersed into the world of Joseph Conrad with The Heart Of Darkness. This is done, by the way, late into the night well away from her parents prying eyes and most certainly shocked morals. She also has a crush on the young man at the general store, but he is Catholic, so that is out of the question and best be forgotten.
Virtually always proper and right is Henry. Once a tiny bit of a hellraiser, with a bar brawl or two under his belt, Henry decided to trade in split lips for a real purpose and career. Now he is all right with the world and staunchly on the side of goodness as a decorated Firefighter.
Another with an accomplished career is Reginald, who brings pride to the Stone’s by running a bustling pharmacy. Well liked by his clientele and determined to fulfill his important duties, he is a parental favourite. Reginald is funneling much needed funds to Tyler for his upcoming medical school studies.
Much the loner is Jedediah Jr. He supports himself doing odd jobs on a farm far outside the city proper. Jedediah Jr dislikes his parents old fashioned ways and makes this clear to his siblings, but he nonetheless obediently comes along when asked or commanded. Moving out west seems a very option to him.
At this moment we now have the complete mental picture of the hows and whys of the Stone family as of 1900, according to my vivid imagination and sense of time. Some of them I would love to meet and talk and be around, others not so much. Personal conflicts have already arisen and more will creep into their lives. What will occur when Alice and Victoria do the accustomed practice and produce children? How will this effect the family dynamic and sense of balance? With this inevitable seismic change of the next generation leading the Stone family towards World War One and Women’s Suffrage, will the old ways vanish with progress? Yes, I am longcasting here, but that is how much this old photograph activated my thoughts and feelings.
I supremely doubt the true family will ever be known to me, and that reality does not bother my sensibilities. The Stone family with all their loves and hates and triumphs and foibles now exist here on Scoops Mental Propaganda for all eternity. It feels good to make this family, both real and imagined, immortal this way.
Hello Stone family, it was my immense pleasure to have met you.