Sepia Saturday: Uncle Will
Last week I introduced you to "Aunt Carrie", the eccentric great-great-aunt who strolled through the neighborhood late in the night. This is her husband, W.R. "Will" McCarty in May 1865. It was a few weeks after Booth shot Lincoln, Will had likely come home alive and victorious from the Civil War.
This "photo" has always fascinated me since my Great Aunt Goldie pulled it out of a trunk in her spider webbed strewn attic in St. Louis. "Oh, would you want that? It's so old, why would anyone want it?" I've never been brave enough to remove the gold framing and glass to get a better scan of the photo. But perhaps it's more fascinating as a series of shadows, a true ghost. There is a youthful grace to young Will's post, what looks like a light beard and his elegant white shirt and what I assume to be a dark velvet jacket. Was he all dressed up as his family greeted him back home after defeating the racist bastards of the South?
It is also just a few years after Leaves of Grass was published and his future wife, Carrie, was about to begin kindergarten.
Although I feel lucky to be the heir and steward to this heirloom, it makes me a bit sad and reflective that although Carrie and Will apparently had a loving marriage and a daughter, they lost her when she was just eight. So any heirlooms went to no direct descendants. I plan to remain a good steward of this and make sure it stays in the family, but it raises questions I've toiled with in recent years about family and bloodlines.I remember my mother and other relatives worrying that I had reached a point in life where I would never produce my own heirs. There was a fear that by being "alone", I would have a lonely life. Yet I look at the story of Carrie and other relatives who had spouses and children that they lost and when alone were so bereft that they didn't know how to survive. I remember my own father after the loss of my mother and wishing I could pass to him the skill of coping while living alone, that being single was not a state of despair. It was a skill I foolishly thought a child could teach a parent, but it never took.
I wonder what Will was thinking about life and the future at the time of the photo, and why he waited another 25 years before marrying Carrie. We know only tidbits about the two of them, some of it blurred by legend and neglect. What has also been a treasure is the inscription inside by my great grandmother (Carrie's sister-in-law, if I remember correctly) and the imprint for Holmes, Booth and Haydens.