Monday, October 24, 2011

Will’s Boys

In their nearly thirty-four years of marriage, William Stevens and his bride, the former Agnes Tully, raised six children—five of them boys. I never met three of those sons, so it was interesting to find pictures among their mother’s and sister’s collections to share—pictures introducing me to them in the prime of their lives, and even, for the younger ones, during their childhood.

Take this informal outdoor shot, for instance, probably taken some time in the late 1930s. Lined up at the request of an elder, no doubt, most likely during a family occasion or church event, are four of the five boys. John, the eldest, is to the left, making quite a contrast to his youngest brother, Gerry, next to him. Next-to-youngest brother Frank stands alongside Gerry. The line is completed by second-born child, Bill. The only one missing from this group is their brother, Ed, the fourth-born child, third of the sons, whom you’ve already met.

Will and Agnes were married in 1912, and with the arrival of their firstborn began a stretch of seventeen years between oldest son and youngest. Having such a span of ages within one family makes for a wide spread of experiences and observations about family life (and the current events encircling them), which I’m savoring now as I read through old family letters. Each son following his own path leaves such a variety of details about choices that have turned into the heritage each of their families now hold.

With the exception of the second-born, ironically it was the two youngest of the set that I never met. Sometimes, the legacy left behind for family is bittersweet.

Every one of them, now, no longer is with us. While too close to the present to qualify as “genealogy,” I’d like to take some time to remember—and honor—each of those five sons during this week.

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