Tom Selleck Or My Great-Great-Great Grandfather

HWC Folk and His Famiily, ca 1876

At a glance, most Americans or those familiar with American television and film stars might think the older man in this photo was actor Tom Selleck all dressed up for his next movie role. I saw the likeness the first time I came across this photograph of my great-great-great-grandfather, Henry William Capers Folk with his family.

The younger boys on the right and left sides of the photo became physicians like their father, HWC Folk, the Tom Selleck look-alike. The boy to the right of his mother, grew up to be my great-great grandfather, William Nicholas Hemeter Folk who is also the adult male you see in the image below. Standing at his knee is my great-grandfather, William Obed Folk.

Mahala Clementine & William Nicholas Hermeter Folk With Their Children, Mikellah & William Obed, ca 1899

Willam Obed, grew up to marry Annie Claire Mattox, my great-grandmother pictured below. I still have a few gifts she gave me when I was a little girl and some of my earliest memories are being small enough to walk under her heavy oak (I think) table in a darkish dining room.

I wish I had known her when she was a young woman or could find more stories about her now. She looks so sure of herself in the image below. I think she looks like she’s smiling with her eyes even though her mouth is set in a straight line. She’s got a sassy look about her that I like.

I do know that she had an interesting history prior to meeting and marrying my great-grandfather and it was very unusual for the time. She had a first marriage that was annulled according to my mother’s research although I had always heard she was divorced. For the daughter of a Primitive Baptist Minister and a woman born in 1879, I’m sure either would have caused a bit of a scandal.

Annie Claire Mattox

Annie Claire and William Obed had three children, one being my great-aunt, who was christened William Michael Folk, a name which evolved into Wylly Folk with the addition of St. John after her marriage. The baby below with ” Willy Mike ” as they called her, is my grandfather, Walton Obed Folk.

Walton, Wylly & Minnie (Her Doll)

Walton as a baby with older sister, Willy Mike.

Here you see my grandfather, Walton with my great-aunt Wylly and their baby brother, my great-uncle Johnny. ( Photo was hand colored by my sister Margaret )

My great-grandfather, William Folk with his boys, Johnny and Walton around 1928.

My grandfather Walton grew up to marry Elizabeth Procter shown in the photo from the 40s above.

Their only child was my mother, Elizabeth Judith who was born in 1940 and is shown here with her father, Walton.

She married my father, Gene Harper in December of 1959.

Gene & Judy Harper With Daughter, Elizabeth - 1960

Nine months later I was born. That’s me, Elizabeth Elwyn Harper when I was about 12 weeks old. You can find out interesting things when you spend time searching through your family history.

I had always thought I was the fourth Elizabeth in a row in my family, but it turns out my great-grandmother Bess Proctor was not an Elizabeth after all, but a Bessie making me only the third Elizabeth and not the fourth as I have always said when telling stories about my family history.

What about you, have you ever discovered some bit of family history that you’d thought was true that actually was different from what you’d always believed?

 

Extra, Extra, Doc Martin Is Back In Cornwall

Port Isaac is sometimes home to the cast and crew of the hit British television comedy, Doc Martin and as I discovered yesterday, will be again this summer.

Whenever John and I walk in on the coast path from Port Quinn, we can usually see people posing in front of the cottage below which is used for both Doc Martin’s home and office or doctor’s surgery, as they call it here.

Doc Martin’s Cottage

This is the flyer I spotted in my doctor’s waiting room when I went for an appointment yesterday.

A copy of my last headshot, a memento from my acting days.

When I was working as an actor, which really means when I was auditioning for work because that’s what most actors do the bulk of the time, I used to get sent out on auditions for a variety of roles such as Police Woman, Firefighters, Moms, and Waitresses. Once I went to an audition dressed fairly provocatively under a long overcoat for the role of a ” New York City Street-walker ” and ended up being cast as a ” Butch Lesbian ” instead.

Cast as a Butch Lesbian

I think it was the military training listed on my headshot that actually got me the callback for the ” Butch Lesbian ” part as they assumed the army had taught me hand to hand combat and the role called for my character to get into a physical fight in a jail cell. The director saw me during the callback and thought I might be ” too little ” to pull it off, but my tough girl swagger convinced him that size in this case, might not matter.

Getting an agent

Getting an agent was a necessary step to finding work as an actor and you can read more about how I did it in the post, ” Picking Up Steps “ on my first blog if you’re interested.

When you first get an agent you generally will have to work a few times as an extra before being sent out on a proper audition. It’s a good way to become more comfortable on a set where there’s no time to waste with the untrained. I did it a few times before Joan felt I was ready to represent her agency in front of a casting director.

Extra work and Kevin Kline

Because I had been working as a principal for a while, I was surprised one day to receive a call asking if I was interested in doing extra work on a movie being filmed in Atlanta. Just as I was saying, ” Joan, you know I don’t do extra work anymore … ” she cut me off with the words, ” Kevin Kline is in it.”

” Kevin Kline,” I said, with the next words being, ” Will he be on set while we’re shooting? ”  Now, I’m not usually one to go starstruck, but having loved Kevin Kline since his brilliant role in Sophie’s Choice, I said, ” Yes,” immediately after hearing her answer.

Never mind that it also had Kevin Spacey and Forest Whitaker in it, I was totally focused on the possibility that I might get to see Kevin Kline at work. And see him I did, as I stood next to him in a scene where he and Forest Whitaker were seated at a table in a bar. There’s more to that story, but that’s all I’ll say here. It’s nothing shocking, so put down the phone number for The National Enquirer or The Daily Mail. It does involve Kevin Kline and it adds to the story, but I’ll save it for another day.

You can see me clearly in two shots in Consenting Adults, ironically the extra work I initially didn’t want gave me the most visibility on the big screen.

I actually worked a good bit for a part-time actor who also had a busy day job in the pharmaceutical industry, but much of what I did as an actor was not very exciting and was often an industrial training film like a two-day shoot I did for UPS.

Doc Martin

Next week, I’m going to take a ride over to Port Isaac to see if I can do a little work on the next season of Doc Martin, a quirky comedy about a London surgeon who develops a blood phobia and ends up working in a small fishing village in Cornwall.

Martin Clunes character has no bedside manner and isn’t as charming as Hugh Laurie’s character in House, M.D., but I find him screamingly funny and I hope they’ll find my American face  ” Cornish ” enough to spend a bit of time on the set.

Do have a look at the video below if only to see more of Port Isaac. It’s about ten miles from where we live and interestingly where the main office or Doctor’s Surgery is located for the doctors I see when I need one.

The Shadow Of Hope – Thinking Of Japan

I took this photograph two days before the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan with such devastating consequences.

The hillside in Cornwall was brown and lifeless and easy to pass by, but the shadow on the dirt wall drew me in for a closer look. As I scanned the area searching for the origin of shadow bloom, I realized that it was one from last year’s season of growth that had dried in place.

I photographed the dead husk of the flower and the shadow bloom on the wall together as I did, thinking it would be a good to use to herald the coming of spring, but now I find it a more fitting memorial for the Japanese tragedy.

In the middle of so much death and physical destruction it feels overwhelming even to me even from such a distance to see the possibility of life after recovery, and I have to wonder how the people living through it can bear the pain and loss.

I am unsure of the best way to offer support and while I can send money, I want to do more somehow, to offer something other than just an anonymous check, something more like a sympathy card.

While I cannot begin to understand the fear and heartache the people of Japan must be feeling, I do hope that somewhere they can see the memory of new life waiting in the shadows.

 

Finding Funds When Your Money Tree Has Been Cut Down

In the US, you can sometimes overhear parents telling their children that ” Money doesn’t grow on trees ” so imagine my surprise when I noticed a money tree that had been cut down and left along a walking path here in the UK.

Never having seen one before, I decided that I must have just grown up in the wrong part of the world for money trees. Judging by what you can see below, I’ll agree that it might take a while to accumulate enough for a major purchase seeing how most of the money looks like pocket change.

I’m usually just fine these days with what I have in life and grateful for the things I own. I feel fortunate on many levels, but sometimes I must admit to coveting the occasional ” want ” or some item that not really a need.

Recently I woke from a dream with a clear memory of a bicycle. It was red and retro with a perfect little basket and even in my sleep I wanted it.

Yesterday, John and I walked into a store near where we live and there it was, the bike in my dream!  Okay, it was missing the basket, but I have one already that’s been waiting for the right bike.

Given the price, it’s going to take me some time to save up my money because I have other places I need to spend it now. Plus, it’s not really a need and I’m not going to die if I don’t get it, but like a child whining for candy in the checkout line,

I waaaant it!

 

Hmm … I wonder if I can remember where we saw that money tree.

 

Vintage Dresses And Wedding Day Dreams

Vintage 1940s Wedding Dress (click to enlarge)

Like many women, I’ve had a box that has moved with me many times over the last 25 years. Even as I write that I can’t believe the contents have been with me for so long. In 1986, I bought a vintage wedding dress from an antique store in Athens, where I was in the middle of my third year at the University of Georgia.

I’m not sure why I longed for a wedding dress from another era, but when the shop owner carefully helped me into the dress she’d brought out from a safe place in the back of her shop, I felt like I had stepped into a black and white movie. She guessed the age of the dress at 1940s, and I liked that it had a history before me.

I wondered if the bride who wore it originally, felt as elegant in the candlelight colored satin as I did and I loved that it had a rich weightiness to it that modern-day dresses did not. The delicate glass beadwork that circled the neckline added to the simplicity of the dress, making it seem like something from Walt Disney’s, Snow White.

While I looked much larger than my petite mother, Judy, I was an American size 9/10 (Probably more 10 than 9) when I wore the dress which was long enough to allow my  5’5″ self to wear heels with it.

Vintage 1940s Wedding Dress (click twice to see glass beadwork)

I spent much of this weekend recovering from a virus of some kind and during moments when I felt well enough, I read up on Etsy and Ebay sites for directions on how to sell items online.

After my daughter reconfirmed that she did not want my professionally cleaned and stored dress, I decided 25 years was long enough to keep it locked away. I’m putting together a sale page to move a few things on to a new home and hopefully, this will be one of the first items to go.

If you know a bride who is looking for a dress that is true vintage and not a reproduction, something that will be a unique look that she won’t find variations of in current Bridal magazines and will make her feel special without taking too much of her wedding budget, please send her my way for details.

Feeling Puny

In the American South, where I spent much of my life, to describe one’s self as ‘feeling puny’ meant you were sick or ill in some way and not your usual self. That’s me today, feeling puny even after sleeping eight hours and having had a nap the day before. I have so much I wanted to do today, but with a throat that feels as if it’s on fire and an overall unwell feeling, I think I’ll just go back to bed … at least for a few hours.

For the record, that’s not my bed in the photo above. It belonged to the master of the house at Lanhydrock. Although it does look inviting, I rather be snug in my cozy bed below. I may be back later today with a book review I’ve been working on, or I may not. I hope your Saturday is more productive than mine appears it’s going to be …and Donna, if you’re reading this, ‘ Thanks for the hostess gift. ‘

Seriously, I do hope she’s feeling better. After leaving us on Thursday, she began to feel ill by the time she made it back to London and according to an email, she felt even sicker on Friday. Being ill away from home makes it much worse and I’m grateful for my warm bed and my sweet husband who’s close enough to check on me now and then.

By the way, the online dictionary I use does not define puny as having anything to do with feeling ill so I’m guessing it’s just a southern thing.

Fast Talking Our Way Around Cornwall

Donna Freedman Arriving In Cornwall 2011

 

How much can you squeeze into a short 42 hour visit and still catch a few hours of sleep? John and I had a chance to find out when Donna Freedman rolled into our Cornish community on Tuesday afternoon.

I’ve included only a few pictures from our short time together and I have to add that while I took quite a few pictures of Donna, I did agree that I would not post them without approval. I understand that completely as I’m that way too and it’s a promise I make a lot so people won’t be put off by my documentary style of shooting.

Here’s an outline of what we managed to see and do while she was in Cornwall.

DAY 1:

After a quick sandwich and luggage drop at home, we made a mad dash over to Port Isaac to see a Cornish fishing port that also serves as a part-time set for the television show, Doc Martin.

We had a good walk around the village, stopping to pet a few dogs, eat some Cornish ice cream, and tour an art gallery located in former Methodist church.

On the drive there and back, we passed through a few villages complete with churches that looked a lot like the church in photo below. They’re everywhere here even though they are rarely full these days. Churches in England suffer from a lack of members as my friend Alycia points out here and it’s a struggle to keep them up.

During our drive, we met an oncoming car in one of our narrow lanes and John whipped it into reverse backing up so fast that I think his speed surprised Donna in much the same way it did me when I came over the first time. He should have been a race driver as good as he is behind the wheel.

Driving across the moor in the dark, we came upon a group wild ponies hanging out in the road and Donna wondered aloud as I often do whether they might move for the car. I always hope the moorland ponies will be visible when people come to visit and was pleased to see them.

John made a turkey chili for dinner while I handled the salad and dessert. Since it was Shrove Tuesday, we had pancakes with a baked apple/pecan mixture inside and vanilla ice cream and maple syrup on top.

After that we rushed off to a neighboring village so Donna could see bell ringing practice and try her hand at it as well. John went the pub next door for a pint instead of church and we stopped in after for a minute before heading for home.

Once home, Donna and I stayed up talk, talk, talking, sitting side by side on the sofa, holding our laptops and sharing our stories until my eyes began to close. I went off to bed and she stayed up to finish some writing and managed to post to her blog while I was getting some rest.

Day 2:

After breakfast on Day 2, Donna and I walked to the village shop so I could post a letter and pick up some pasties for lunch. While there, she had a chance to see how helpful folks are here as I asked someone in the shop about what I thought were locked church doors. ( There’s a roster of folks who open and close it each day)

After two phone calls, Margaret determined the church was actually unlocked already and that I just needed to go back and put some muscle to the door. Feeling slightly silly for having been too fragile about it, we walked back to the church where I gave the door a push so we could have a look around. Our village has one of the prettiest churches around with parts of it dating back to Norman times although it was transformed in the 15th century.

Around noon, John and I took about an hour or so to join some others from the village attending the funeral of our next door neighbor who died a week ago Sunday.

We went home for a quick pasty lunch and to pick up Donna before heading out to see Boscastle, a fishing village that was ravaged by a flash flood in 2004, but has since recovered. It’s a good place to pick up the coast path and I was focused on getting Donna on the coast path at least once even with the limited amount of time she was with us. You just can’t come to Cornwall and leave without a walk on the coast path!

We made it back in time for me to make a couple of blackberry cobblers with berries I picked and froze last summer. Saving them for dessert later, we walked down to the pub for dinner and quiz night.

We Won!

We joined friends, Jeff and Robert, teaming up to WIN the pub quiz while Donna very kindly treated us to dinner. I was chuffed that Donna was here and part of the win.

I had a yummy, faceless, veggie burger for dinner while John ordered a meal that stared at me the whole time he was eating it, plus I could see its teeth. Donna had a more traditional meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, veggies, and yorkshire pudding.

After dinner, we celebrated our quiz win with a dish of  blackberry cobbler that was topped with Cornish ice cream. Donna and I stayed up late again talking, changing subjects quickly as we tried to cover more topics than we had time to do properly.

The Final Day:

This morning we were all up early as Donna had an 8:06 train to catch back to London. Donna was very much like her blog persona which I find reassuring in a way. I tend to think people are who they say they are which can be a bit naïve, but I’ve been lucky when it comes to meeting blogging buddies who really are as they appear to be online when we meet face to face.

42 hours with Donna was as fast paced as an episode of The West Wing, mixed with the energy of newspaper office full of journalists, much like those I’ve seen in the movies listed on this Top 10 Newspaper Movies list.

Do have a quick look so you’ll know what I mean. Not surprisingly, some of the very movies I had in mind were on the list. Donna’s career as a journalist was very apparent in our conversations and her sense of humor, and John and I both enjoyed her visit.

We talked a great deal about writing as you might imagine and she was kind enough to share some helpful tips along with answering my questions on editing and publishing.

I began this post after she left this morning, but partway through decided to take a quick nap. Clearly my subconscious was prodding me to finish it because while I was sleeping, I woke from a dream hearing Donna offering an editorial suggestion to the piece I was supposed to be working on instead of lazing around in bed.

I’m sure it came from observing her writing discipline while she was here and it did not go unnoticed that she was able to meet her deadlines while still having fun.

Walking into Port Isaac

Another view on the path to Port Isaac, but looking back in the opposite direction.

The harbor in Port Isaac with the old school on the hill in the distance.

This is St Breward Church where Donna had an opportunity to ring the bells.

While Donna is not in this blurry shot of some bell ringers in action, I do have some video of her learning how to control the rope.

In the shot above, you can see the two tiny figures of John and Donna off the left of the image about half way down in this photograph of Boscastle. (click twice to enlarge)

I’ve never noticed Rosemary with blooms and snapped this as John walked into my shot.

I love this photo of John near the harbor entrance at Boscastle.

Winchurch Family - Boscastle 1930

After John saw today’s blog post, he gave me this photo that his dad took 80 years ago when he was 16 on a family outing at Boscastle. I had to add it so it could be seen with the photo of John that I took yesterday.