Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love In A Time of Roosevelt... PART II

Yesterday on the blog I wrote about the storied love affair of my great-grandparents Matthew Campbell Govan (1890-1958) and Esther Louise Brown (1891-1956), a couple of kids from the South Side of Chicago who met in church as kids, fell in love, married, campaigned for Teddy Roosevelt, opened a little printing press business and then, as people in love do, started making babies.

So here you go...Matthew and Esther...the next twenty years in pictures...


On February 2, 1913, in their home at 6940 Wentworth Ave, in Chicago Esther gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Esther Lillian.  The photo above, showing Esther Louise holding daughter Esther Lillian was my grandmother's favorite portrait of her mother and she kept a small copy of it in her top dresser drawer in a tiny envelope and she would pull it out and show it to me every so often and we'd sit on her bed and talk about her childhood.

So given that history you can imagine how tickled I was to find this gem in a drawer...the original birth announcement of my great-aunt Esther.  Someday if I have kids I will be Adobe Photoshoping the writing off of this one and replacing it with my own kid's information because frankly I cannot imagine a more beautiful birth announcement and if you are an attentive reader of my blog you will know that I love anything in the art nouveau! 

Esther Lillian's Birth Announcement



If you will notice Esther Lillian at six months isn't much smaller than her mother Esther Louise.  That is because Esther Louise stood only four feet, ten inches tall, weighed 98 lbs soaking wet and wore a size 3 shoe.

When I found this picture above of my great-grandmother holding my great-aunt Esther the first thing that caught my attention was not how adorable they are, rather I was drawn to the painting of the border collies above their heads.  I still have that painting, its actually a page from a calendar that my great-great-uncle George (Esther's brother) cut out and framed and now it proudly hangs at the end of the hallway of my parent's bed & breakfast in Yosemite.  

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Matthew and Esther lived in a big house with Esther's brother and mother on Wentworth Avenue in Chicago, just a block over from Yale Ave and sent their girls to Yale Elementary School.   Apparently Esther was quite gifted when it came to needlework and decided to show some PTA spirit a little early by making a Yale Bulldogs throw pillow for the couch.  And if you will draw your eye up to the right you will see a banner for Guelph, Ontario, the hometown of Esther's mother Elizabeth Norris.  Apparently, Guelph was the popular stopover for Scottish immigrants trying to get the promised land of Chicago. 


Matthew and Esther also apparently wanted to encourage their little girl to be excited about Guelph as well...though she doesn't look that enthused.  I guess that she, like me, thought, "where the hell is Guelph?"

A little over a year after Esther gave birth to Esther Lillian she gave birth to a second daughter, Helen Elizabeth on December 3, 1914.  And after that Esther and Matthew decided that two babies under the age of two was quite enough.  But luckily for me...they had a little surprise seven years later...but we'll come back to that in a minute.
Esther Louise with Esther and Helen circa 1918
According to my grandmother her father Matthew, who she referred to as "Daddy" until the day she died, liked to take his girls to the park and once again, take photographs of them.  Doesn't this just look like the cutest little family ever?


On the other hand, here they sort of all look like they're thinking, "Take the damn photo already!"  I know Esther must have been thinking, "Gee I can't wait until November so I can vote!"

Seven years after the birth of their second daughter came my adorable little grandmother Dorothy Mae!  Now I found a real treasure in the attic recently when I came across one of her original birth announcements, which you can see below.


My Grandma's legal name was Dorothy Mae,
though you will notice that her own mother
 spelled her name Dorothy May.  Apparently,
so the story goes, she was always supposed
to be Dorothy May but the nurse at the hospital
 or the clerk at city hall spelled it wrong and
thus Grandma was forced to be Dorothy Mae.  

Helen, Dorothy & Esther (Circa 1923)

Here are Helen and Esther Lillian holding the hands of my grandmother Dorothy Mae or "Dot" (at 18 months).  Once again I will ask, have you ever seen a cuter little family?

My adorable grandma (Circa 1926)

Here is Matthew with his three daughters
and some friends from church enjoying Lake Michigan.


Matthew & Esther with Esther Lillian, Helen Elizabeth and Dorothy Mae (Circa 1928) 

There is still another thirty years to cover in the love story of Matthew and Esther but I think I have made my point.  They seemed to have that sort of simple uncomplicated love that you only see in Hallmark Hall of Fame movies on Sunday nights.  Esther passed away in 1956 and Matthew followed her a little over a year later in 1958 and they were both laid to rest side by side for all eternity at Memory Park in Phoenix, Arizona







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