I know very little about my Great Aunt Eleanor, but these artifacts sure paint an interesting portrait!
Eleanor (“Nelly”) was born in Nottingham, England in 1887. She–along with many of my maternal grandmother’s family members–emigrated to West Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1916. Years later, Nana told us stories later about the WWI German submarines that chased their ship across the ocean, but at the time of their passage, the United States hadn’t yet entered “The War to End All Wars.”
People described Nelly as “high-spirited” and “adventuresome.” She and her husband, Allen T. Godfrey, were nothing if not enterprising. That’s what I heard tell.
When I steered my Nancy Drew roadster down bumpy roads, I found evidence of that.
The Golden Rule Lunchroom, about 1927 (via West Brookfield, MA Archives)
She died the year before I was born, which makes me wistful in this remembering. I think we might’ve shared some things in common. And oh, the family secrets we could spill, over afternoon tea!
Allen and Nelly Godfrey, 1946
Although she fashioned herself a writer, Nelly didn’t leave to future generations any poems, journals or books. She did, however, enter lots of contests, many of which she won. “Duz Does It All” was my great aunt’s award-winning slogan for a laundry detergent company.
Wartime was hard for everyone, with more than enough hardship to go around. Gasoline and groceries were rationed, and money was scarce. Few people owned automobiles in the small town where she lived. But there were whispers down the lane about a certain relative who very much enjoyed rumbling through the streets of West Brookfield, honking and waving to pedestrians from the driver’s seat of a shiny new Ford. It wasn’t common, back then, for women to slide behind the wheel. But Nelly being who she was, I suspect she felt entitled, being the Grand Prize Winner and all.
I’m picturing all this in my mind’s eye this morning, and oh, what a happy portrait it paints!
1947 Ford, via OldCarAdvertising.com