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.
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!
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!
Oh. My. Gosh. There is entire novel in this! Loved it!!
I so agree with you, Margaret! How I wish I could rewind the hands of history, that I could swap stories with her over (at least one) afternoon tea…
My father’s first car was a ’47 Ford. (It was also the last Ford he ever drove.)
Wow, your great aunt had such an interesting life! I can see another writing project in your future…
That’s the only part I can’t confirm–the model year for her grand prize. ’47 doesn’t exactly fit, given that the war ended two years earlier. So I suspect the historian was off in this one detail, even if the other things were documented and verifiable. In any case–great story! Great aunt! I’d love to learn more…
Another great story, Melodye. She does sound a lot like you. Uwanta Lunch – great name for a restaurant!
Perfect branding, right? No mistake as to what they’re selling. There may be ambiguity, however, about whether certain other things were bartered or sold. 🙂
I just love the name after they opened back up. And how fun of a storey might there be behind that raid.
Thanks for the slice. 🙂
Your old friend.
I heard tell that there were other suspicious activities that led to the raid. No confirmation, though, so we’ll have to leave that chapter unfinished.
So good of you to stop by, old (longtime, forever) friend!
I didn’t know Nana had a sister! Eleanor, love her name. What interesting photos, as well. Good sleuth work, Melodye! xo
Yes! Nana had 4 brothers and 7 sisters. She was the second youngest of the siblings.
Thanks — I sure wish I would’ve known Eleanor. I think we would’ve gotten on famously, don’t you?
Very cool to discover these snippets about your kin. Loved picturing you as nancy Drew!
It’s a way of life for me, these Nancy Drew adventures. I’m always peeking into dark corners and small spaces, looking for…whatever! 🙂
OMG I’d loved to have ridden with her!
Me, too, Linda! I’ll bet there’d be no shortage of wild adventures– and oh, the stories in their aftermath.
What a girl!
A mighty girl! 🙂
What an engaging tribute to your great-aunt. Your stories, along with the posted artifacts, paint the portrait of a lively woman living in times that are just outside of my own experience, but nonetheless fascinating.
I loved every single word (and picture) of this post, Melodye! Your grandmother sounds every bit as sparkling and resourceful as her granddaughter is.
The “Golden Rule” name change made me laugh out loud. We used to live in a house that had a hidden room in the cellar. Neighbors told us it was where the still was kept during Prohibition.
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