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27 Our first daughter, Jane Dale, arrived prematurely on September 30, 1942, at Toronto General Hospital. Had she come on schedule, in late October, my delighted father would have not been able to hold her in his arms or bring a crib to my hospital room filled with convalescent port for me and champagne for his granddaughter ’s christening. Daddy had brought his gifts to my hospital room himself. The exertion had taken its toll, for he had not fully recovered from a prostate operation earlier that summer. After resting awhile in the armchair near my bed, he ­rose and declared with his old exuberance, “Jane, you’re not returning to Houston in an ordinary way. I am going to the train station to exchange our return tickets for a private Pullman car to take us all home.” He embraced his granddaughter and me with tenderness, then took up his cane and gray felt hat. I never saw him again. He died of a blood clot to his great heart on the sidewalk outside the train station. The loss of my father on October 22, 1942, was my first experience of grief, a profound and prolonged mourning for the kindest man I would ever know. ChaptER 3 The Sixth Generation 28 New Harmony, indiana The joy of caring for and nursing my firstborn gradually comforted me, and my thoughts returned to Indian Mound. My mother believed that I was captive to a lost cause. She could not fathom why anyone would trade “boom town” for “doom town,” but added, “If you are still determinedtopursueyourdamnfool ish dreams in New Harmony, Jane, you will need the help of George and Annie Rawlings.” Wiser advice was never given. When I first met George, he was a master gardener on a Can­ adian estate that I had visited before my parents acquired our summer­house Ste. Anne in 1939.1 My days at Hamilton House ­were spent more happily at the Rawlingses’ cottage than at the manor ­ house, where no laughter was permitted from the kitchen wing. George’s wife, Annie, was an ornithologist without knowing the meaning of the word; she would recognize native birds by their calls before sighting them “in the feather.” I can still see her clearly, the delicacy of her features and her luxuriant ­red-­brown hair neatly gathered in a knot at the nape of her neck. She and George, both Yorkshire-­ born, had immigrated to Canada after successive crop failures in that land of bleak moors. “Speak Yorkshire for me, Annie Rawlings,” I would beg. Her sharp brown eyes softened as she gave me a few words of caution: “Don’t fall in a­ slap-­ hole and get in a blather”—Yorkshire for falling in a puddle and getting wet and muddy. Several years would elapse before George and Annie came to my aid in New Harmony. On July 22, 1944, Kenneth and I ­ were blessed with the arrival of a second daughter, Caroline Campbell. She was born six weeks prematurely, almost in the car that rushed me to the small hospital in Cobourg near my parents’ Ontario farm, which we visited annually in summertime. Thanks to prayer and the wits of a country doctor, Carol, fragile and exquisitely Robert Lee Blaffer, ­1941. Blaffer-Owen family photograph. The Sixth Generation 29 formed, won her battle for life. She became for her family (and for all who define love as the total giving of self without expectation of reward) the embodiment of love and concern for others. Carol’s first love was for Janie. We owe the closeness that our daughters enjoyed throughout their years together to the wisdom of their En­ glish nurse, Joyce Isabella Mann, who came to assist me in December 1943. “Ninny” (never “Nanny” to rebellious Texans) charged Janie with the responsibility of introducing her sister to all worshipers at the ­ egg-­ shaped crib that had rocked their father. The pride and plea­ sure this assignment gave an elder sister left no room in her heart for jealousy or fear of replacement in parental affection. When Janie turned seven and Carol five, we remained in New Harmony for the fall of 1949, rather than returning to Houston. We ­ were reluctant to leave New Harmony’s golden yellow maples, the scarlet oaks, and the campfires that warmed the hands and coffeepots of my husband, Jane Blaffer Owen with Janie and Carol, ­1946. Blaffer-Owen family photograph. 30 New Harmony, indiana his posthole diggers, and fence...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253016638
Related ISBN
9780253016249
MARC Record
OCLC
903357020
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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