Monday, August 31, 2009

Who Do You Remember?

Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings posts a regular Saturday Night Fun challenge. (Highly recommended.)

So Here Goes:
  1. Write down which of your ancestors that you have met in person (yes, even if you were too young to remember them).
  2. Tell us their names, where they lived, and their relationship to you in a blog post, or in comments to this post, or in comments on Facebook.
Father: Porter Tirrill Dickie, known as Pete, loved chemistry and sailing. Living between 1912 (St. Louis, MO) and 1999 (Seattle, WA), he found it necessary to choose between them to make a living, going back and forth between the paper industry and the U.S. Navy until family made the decision for him. To the world he was Mr. Nice Guy. To his family he had troubles that only they saw. The middle child between a bad boy and a girl genius, he was the only one to have kids, the only one to get torpedoed at sea, the only one to travel on foreign soil, and the only one to make it within a hairs breadth of the 21st century. When he and his gay son each lost the love of their lives during the same year, they finally came together in love and understanding.

Mother: Donnabelle Moodie Dickie, known as Donnabelle (thank you), insisted on pronouncing my first name as spelled (Tirrill), not as pronounced by those who had born it for twelve generations before me (Turrell) . She also refused to be a military wife or to live on the East Coast. When her son came out of the closet, she refused to acknowledge him. Yet she taught me how to hug like a bear, to say "I love you" a million times a day, to love plants and animals, to pay attention to historical events happening daily. Born in 1916 (Bellingham, WA), she saw a lot of change during her lifetime. At the time of her death in 1994 near Portland, Oregon, she was learning how to use the computer.

Paternal Grandfather: John Tirrill Dickie, known at Turrel, took a sales job at a paper company and moved from Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri to be near the girl he loved. He sold wholesale paper most of his life and hated it. World War II was his blessing in disguise as the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston set up a War Ministers program with Uncle Sam. He served that higher cause the rest of his life. I remember him as having the patience of Job under a surface of "hail fellow well met." He passed when I was eight years old.

Paternal Grandmother: Isabella McCully Dickie, known as Isabel, was the youngest of her troupe of McCully kids. She told her own kids of peeking between the banister rails at her parents' 25th anniversary party in 1892. She looked like a Gibson Girl when Turrell fell in love with her at a Presbyterian cotillion. She had a great sense of humor and perfect pitch. She lived only five months following my birth in 1946, so I don't remember her personally. I have the china she painted and the cutlery she chose for her wedding. She had exquisite taste.

Maternal Grandmother: Cora Anna Smith Moodie, known as Coral, raised her kids next door to the Dickies on Mercer Island in Seattle. Both husbands were intent on becoming Christian Science practitioners but worked other jobs to keep those kids in oatmeal. (Mr. Moodie taught high school biology.) She was born a Methodist in Sioux Falls, Iowa in 1885 and moved to the Idaho panhandle to teach school, where she met Mr. Moodie. I recall her as staunch in all things, including reading the riot act to my mother for hiring a person of African descent to babysit her granddaughter. (My dear mother didn't let me know that detail until after I was over thirty for fear of tainting my memory of her.) She was a great cuddler. She passed when I was going on five, my introduction to death.

The apple truly does not fall far from the tree, yet we are sometimes surprised by the direction of that fall. Seeing what joys and sorrows my forebears experienced, whether doled out by circumstance or brought on by themselves, I see a lot of my life repeated in theirs. I became a teacher, traveled, struggled in my spiritual and economic lives, and found a great love. I also never had children, lived on the East Coast, and became a Jew. I could see them all spinning in their graves had they not all been cremated!

Turrel Dickie (left) Accompanies McCully Ladies to Church (Isabel in white)

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if you're still working on this blog or not, but just in case, I thought I'd let you know that I have a copy of the marriage certificate for Porter Tirrell Dickie and Donnabelle Moodie. I volunteer as an indexer for the Washington State Digital Archives and stumbled across it. If you want a copy, e-mail me at, and I'll try to get it to you.