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Those Photos That Tell A Story - Your Story
Around 1750 Dawson Wade left Wales and settled in Virgina, though, perhaps 'settled' is exactly the wrong word . . . Dawson Wade, "bear fighting partner of Daniel Boone", left family in Kentucky who would continue the move west. Not the least adventurous of the Wades was Dawson's great granddaughter . . .
My life has very largely been defined by remarkable, beautiful, special women . . . and my story starts here. This is my great grandmother, the heart of my mom’s family, the Edwards. And my earliest memory of how remarkable, beautiful, and special my great grandmother was, is her name . . . no one else had anyone in their family with a name anything like Pansy Maud Essie Burton Wade Edwards.
I had no grandmother or grandfather to visit, and Maud was my mom’s grandmother, so I just called her ‘grandma’. I remember a ludicrously puffy bed, high off the floor that, as a little kid, I had to struggle to climb up out of a cavern of blankets and comforters to escape from a nap. I remember sitting with my sister in a fig tree in her backyard, nibbling on figs. And I remember with every visit to grandma she would emerge from her bedroom with a Sears clothes box, that was making that familiar sound . . . as she reached me, she would lift the lid and let me pick-out one marble – her late husband, Ford, had collected marbles or merely still had some from when he was young, and with every visit I got a Cat’s Eye, a green Aggie, a Boulder, etc.
I came to know that Maud Edwards was a strong, beautiful young woman who undertook a great adventure – but as a child, I knew her as a Walt Disneyish Grandmother . . . sweet and demure, but lively.
The story of this vehicle looms large in my youth and in the story of the Edwards family - this represents the adventure that Pansy Maud Essie Burton Wade Edwards undertook. Pansy Maud had vowed she would never take her children where her own mother couldn’t be a part of their lives, but when her mother passed away in 1924 work began on the continued move west. The back of an old farm delivery truck was rigged to replace the manufactured back-end of this 1922 Model A Ford and Pansy Maud, her husband Ford, and her (then) five children left Kansas and followed the Oregon Trail heading for California. As Maud put it “The days of the covered wagons were past, but what we went through on that journey would have done credit to the pioneers”.
To the left and in front are my great uncles and aunts, Kenneth & Janice and David & Olive, Maud is in the middle and her oldest son Wade, my grandfather, is to the right. My grandfather died two years after I was born and I have no memory of him, but I remember my Aunt Janice and am told that she had a great affection for me.
Wade's Delicious Do-Nuts - once in California the family livelihood centered around the donut shop . . . to the left is my Aunt Olive with her son Michael, in the middle is my Aunt Janice helping their father, Ford, my great grandfather.
Now, this is Pansy Maud’s first grandchild, my mother Gail Edwards. Always the smartest, strongest, most independent, most decent, and prettiest person in the room. I can't advance this next statement without explanation; I am my mother’s son . . . not that I am always the smartest, strongest, most independent, most decent, and prettiest person in the room - but that my mother and I are much alike, I hold no one in higher esteem, and I am who I am very largely because I am who she raised me to be.
My father, Benjamin Ward, left when I was weeks old, I have no memory of him, except . . .
What happened to that part of me,
The part I now can never be;
He tied my shoe when I was three,
I think I vaguely remember his knee.
My mom thought I needed a father, so she married a very nice man and good friend, Dick Haist. The Pansy Maud I remember was at that wedding at, I believe, my Aunt Janice’s home.
. . . as was my beautiful sister Melanie, our Aunt Chrisy, me, and our Uncle Brad.
Meanwhile; The D’Agostino family had moved to Pennsylvania from Italy. Dick Haist and my mom were good friends and they remained good friends, but their marriage didn’t last. Bill D’Agostino, the second from the left, would be my mom’s great love. His father had hand-made boots for Mussolini’s army and when he came to America he made boots for the Pennsylvania state police.
And this is how I ended-up in Pennsylvania. My mom met and fell in love with Bill D’Agostino in California and when he returned to Pennsylvania we returned with him . . . where he gave us my little brother Jon.
I remember one time, in Santa Rosa, seeing a Black man – in Harrisburg, we lived on ‘the line’ . . . everything east of 18th street was White and everything west of 18th street was Black. My first day of school most of my classmates were Black and my teacher was Black – I moved from California and The Beach Boys to Pennsylvania and James Brown . . . and, it was 1964.
The first time I brought a school friend home our porch was filled with neighbors screaming “Get that little nig_er out of our neighborhood! You don’t know what it's like here!”. I looked at my friend, he had tears on his cheeks and he was scared. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Then my mom, Pansy Maud Essie Burton Wade Edwards’ granddaughter, reached from behind the front door and pulled out a broom answering the mob “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do – the last one of you morons off my porch is going to be running home with my broom sticking out of their ass”.
We were the odd family from California, my mom was the ‘divorced woman’, and I was the 'nig_ger lover' – but the 1800 block of Park Street became the best place I ever lived.
Eventually we moved to a suburb of Harrisburg, eventually I met Pixie and everything in the world changed . . . eventually we got married and eventually had six kids and twelve grandkids – but that’s all for the next hub . . .
All photos used in this hub are personal photos taken by myself or family or friends.
. . . next -
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