Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Eddie, I Hardly Knew Ye

The above picture is the only one I have of my father -- Edwin Lawrence Lynch -- that was taken before the day he married my mother on September 28th, 1940. (Actually, there is one that I'll hopefully be able to find, which shows him as a young adult, but that one may or may not have been taken before the wedding.) My current plan is to contact my Dad's sister Irene to see if she has any, and I'll report my findings here, sooner or later... but this is it for now.

My dad was raised in Auburn, Massachusetts, a town on the border of Worcester. His birth-date was variously reported as being September fourth, fifth, or sixth, 1916. There was a fire in the Auburn town hall that destroyed the actual records. We -- "we" being my parents, my elder sister Kathy (Kathleen), and myself -- always split the difference, so to speak, and celebrated on the 5th... although his headstone reads September 4th.

My father died when I was not quite twelve. He died in a work-related accident on September 26th, 1968. Therefore, interestingly enough (to me, anyway), the three most important dates in his life -- birth, marriage, and death -- all took place in September.

I know next to nothing about his childhood -- for that matter, I never knew him all that well growing up, due to his work schedule -- with the exception of three all-too-brief anecdotes which I'll share with you today.

But first, I want to make quick references to my previous "Sepia Saturday" post and my next one (which may or may not be next Saturday).

Because there's so little info from my father's side of the family pre-1940, my Sepia Saturday excursions will be heavy on my mom's relatives, the Hartman/Stremekes/Korsak side of the family. (And wait until you "meet" Joe Korsak, Sr., the uncle I regrettably never knew. The guy's kind of a hero in my mind, for reasons you'll learn about soon!)

Anyway, as I stated above, my knowledge of my father's youth is severely limited. I only have three actual stories, as well as a couple of cool facts which I'll tell you about first.

My father said he was acquainted with Dr. Robert Goddard, one of the "fathers of modern rocketry," who launched his first liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, in 1926.

If I recall correctly, my father claimed he'd had a paper route as an adolescent, and that one of his customers was Warner Oland, the first star of Hollywood's Charlie Chan films. However, my research shows that Oland and his wife made their primary residence in Southborough, Massachusetts, which is a good distance from Auburn and the adjoining city of Worcester.

So... Who knows? Maybe Dr. Goddard was the customer on his paper route. Which makes me wonder where Warner Oland fit in... but I oh-so-characteristically digress.

Here are the three "stories" I promised, such as they are:

1. My mother's side of the family was very musical, but until yesterday, the only thing I knew connecting my father to music was that he'd owned a banjo when he was a boy... a banjo which his younger brother, George, put his foot through. And I don't even know if that was an accident, or on purpose.

(Funny thing is, I recently contacted some of my cousins on my mom's side of the family, as I began the project of writing down my family history, and my cousin Joe -- son of the Aunt Josie whom I mentioned in last Saturday's post -- told me that my father played the piano occasionally. My dad couldn't read music; he played by ear. Interesting, thought I, remembering two years I spent learning (of all things) the glockenspiel in grammar school. I could read music, note by note, but as soon as I learned the notes to a particular song, I played the song from memory. I couldn't "sight read" music like my mom -- an accomplished pianist and organist -- could.)

2. When my father was in grammar school -- this was in the days when just about anyone had the right to dish out corporal punishment to other people's children -- he was spanked by the principal for some unnamed offense. Upon his arrival home, my father told his dad about it. As it happened, my grandfather had known and respected this old principal when he'd been in school. Figuring that my father must indeed have earned his punishment, my grandfather's response was to give my father a second spanking.

3. My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Gamble Lynch -- she once told me that she was very distantly related to the Gambles who started the Procter & Gamble Company -- once related a story about how my father had come home one day after it had rained, his feet soaking wet despite the rubber boots he'd been wearing. She sent him back outside wearing some sort of wet-suit, and he still came home drenched. She assumed he must have actually lain down in a puddle. When I repeated this story for my father sometime later, he defensively replied, "I was pushed!"

Doesn't sound like he was raised with an awful lot of understanding or sympathy, does it? Times were different then, I guess...

It'll be a while before I write about my father again, since I'll be doing this ongoing history more-or-less chronologically. Next time, fellow babies, I'll be showing you the earliest existing photo of my mother.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ I've noticed that some of the Sepia Saturday "players" are wondering if a certain photo or two of theirs would qualify, and even though the "rules" laid out in The Sepia Saturday Manifesto are very lenient, it's possible to work wonders with PhotoShop or (in my case) Picasa, as follows:

Or, if you prefer something that looks more like a "period" piece...


  1. I find family history fascinating!

    Your father not really 'knowing' his birthdate made me laugh because we celebrated my father's birthday on the 19th November then when he was 80 we found his birth certificate and his actualy birth date is the 20th November!

  2. As I recall they still punished us in school like that ( and I'm talkin' mid-'70's ). Pop would have done the same thing to me. Too bad you haven't much to go on, here but's staring to sound like a rather intersting book :)

  3. It is so great for you to be able to recollect and reconnect with your family histories.

    Both my paternal and maternal grandparents are from China but my maternal granny kept telling us about her childhood and paternal grandpa made sure I knew exactly where he was from.

    Being a girl , almost the only granddaughter, a truly dotted one too, I do not recall anyone ever trying to spank me except once my school teacher slapped me and I , fought back, defensively. That is another story.

    Have you a great weekend.


  4. Very very interesting. And how tragic your father died so early in his (and your) life.

    I had much the same problem with my father's family, and almost total lack of information. His father had been the black sheep of the family (I'll get around to doing a Sepia Saturday about him eventually) and my father was cut off from his past.

  5. Well, you certainy have some entertaining stories there. I think it's great that you're getting into the family history...and we get the benefit of your research. :) It's too bad your father died at such a young age!

    My second grade teacher gave me a spanking for writing my 9's incorrectly. ...that was the '60's for ya!

    And..your musical talents didn't just end with your voice, huh...a little piano, too?

  6. I am really warming to the group of people who are participating in Sepia Saturday. It's bringing out a side of all of us that we don't normally see, I think.
    I am really pleased that some of us have been inspired by SS to start digging into our pasts and David, this post was a real delight to read.

    Isn't it typical that your grandfather would respect the principal and assume the punishment of your father was justified? What an education!

    My father was taught by the Christian Brothers in Belfast and they were known for the corporal punishment tactics.

    I'll look forward to the coming weeks over here and all the family history you're unearthing.


  7. I love the baby photo of your father, such a happy baby! It's a shame you have so few pictures or memories of him, losing him too soon as you did. Lovely post, thanks for sharing.

  8. People did seem to be a lot crueler back then. When did it change? Post war?

    I loved hearing these anecdotes. My own father was orphaned at the age of 7 and raised in a boy's home. I've been cobbling as much of his family history together as I can - which is difficult because he was a Smith!

  9. It sounds like your efforts for Sepia Saturday have prompted you to contact some of your family. It's had the same effect on me! Enjoyed your post.

  10. I love how you are piecing together this history of the father you hardly knew.

  11. As a girl, I loved splashing in puddles with my rain boots. One day, on the way home from school, I was passing by a construction site and saw the most delicious looking puddle. I jumped in, both feet in the air, hoping for a huge splash, and ended up in a hole up to my neck! My mother didn't believe my story, either.

  12. Sunny smile in the photo, despite the dress :) I don't think people were cruel then, just a no nonsense approach of an era when children were to be seen & not heard! Grandfather dishing out another spank was common; same thing when I was a kid growing up in the 50's 60's in PA. No one would dare get in trouble at school and expect sympathy at home. At best, one hoped word had not already reached home!

    Good sepia'd demo in response to those nervous about what's Sepia and what's not.

    Looking forward to reading more

  13. Your Father was a cute baby...such a sweet smile. I'm like you, I have very few old family photos. My sister & cousin have them all. I also am trying to get some to copy, but they seem to be holding on to them pretty tightly : ) Hope you have better luck with yours.

  14. Well! The dust has finally settled, and I'm all caught up with reading and commenting on everyone else's SS posts. I'm going to start answering your comments, two, three, or four at a time, and continue as long as my pain meds allow me to remain coherent and/or conscious!

    @Akelamalu: Yeah, it can be fascinating... and frustrating, too.

    @Subby: With one exception, which was almost done as a joke (long story), I don't recall any teachers ever laying a hand on me to punish me, and as you're aware, the start of my school years pre-dated the start of yours. Guess I was lucky, though, as I saw a few minor instances of other students' getting treatment of that kind here and there.

    And... "book?" Oh, crap, don't tell me I've walked into that trap again!

    @Shakira: Since you have Chinese ancestry, I wonder if you would be so kind as to give me some advice on an upcoming plotline for my other blog, Simpson/Lynch Studios: Pleasantview? If so, I'll send you a private email with details in a day or two. It would be greatly appreciated.

    @Barry: As you'll find out eventually, if you stick with me while I tell my own family history, there are some complicated reasons why info on my dad is so spotty.

  15. @Betsy: Well, my dad and (primarily) my mom had some talent in that regard, but although I can plunk out a one-fingered song on a keyboard, I was never able to use such a dubious "talent" in any of the bands that utilized me as their lead singer.

    @Poetikat: Yeah, it was an "education," all right! Hope my story -- my family's story, actually -- continues to hold your interest!

    @Mel: Luckily, once the 1940s come around in my narrative, the pictures of my dad increase somewhat.

  16. @Clever Pup: Maybe it was after WWII. I mean, look how horrified people are nowadays -- and this is a good thing, of course -- when a military strike takes out a few civilians. Back during WWI and WWII, civilian casualties were just a necessary evil of bombing raids and the like.

    And looking for the correct Smiths must be a real chore!

    @Stephanie: That and my mother's recent death have indeed done that. It's a good thing. I may even be put in touch with an older cousin (or two) whom I've never even met!

    @Vickie Lane: It's a fine line I'm walking, trying to speculate based on the evidence, without delving into outright fanciful imaginings. That's the drawback of writing so much fiction, I suppose.

  17. @Willow: Gee, I'm sure glad you didn't drown!

    @Pat transplanted to MN: The outfits they gave boys to wear in those days sure would bother me, if I had to wear one! I've read many accounts of that era's older adolescents getting a big charge out of their first pair of "long pants!"

    @LadyCat: Once my mom's side of the family hit the 1920s, the volume of photos increased dramatically. And I've recently re-established contact with my cousin Joe, and my sister & I plan to visit him when my health has improved, so we can go through tons of photos which he has, and we have.

  18. My dad's birthdate also was never firmly fixed--for a long time we celebrated his birthday on January 26, but later in his life he insisted it was January 25. Those are some interesting anecdotes from his boyhood, even if only a few.

  19. comment from earlier didn't post or has vanished.

    I don't remember what I said.

    Oh well .

    ::makes a face at the Internet::

  20. No, wait, wrong post...never mind. Whoops.

  21. My nana (great-granma) didn't know her birthday either. So she celebrated it whenever she felt like it. Which was never. She was a hard woman.

    Now I'm feeling bad about spoiling Kat's good feeling...


  22. @John: Yeah, unfortunately for us poor souls doing research, there were a number of factors which contributed to confusing us today.

    @Megan: Awww, Kat'll forgive you, Megan. She's nice like that.

    @Cake: Well, if nothing else, you're consistent. So, how'd you like this post, anyway? ;-)

  23. I remember being told that if I was punished at school so too would I be at home...

    I have almost no older family pictures and so don't participate in Sepia Saturday except to read.

    I'm sorry you lost your dad at such a young age, but unearthing as much family history as you can and re-connecting with your cousin sounds lovely, if a bit frustrating at times. I look forward to your future posts.

  24. Oh, I hope that you are able to find more pictures of your father!

  25. @E: None at all? That's sad. As I said in an earlier comment, the photos I have definitely increased in number soon after my mom was born, and for that, I'm very grateful.

  26. @E: Sorry, I see that you said "almost no older family pictures," but still...

    @Mama Zen: Yeah, me too. In fact, there's a rumor that a much larger version of my dad's baby photo (which was actually a postcard advertising that the photo studio made enlargements) existed at one point, but if anyone has it now, it would probably be his sister Irene, his last surviving sibling.

  27. It's too bad you didn't have the chance to get to know your father better. He sounds like a hard working man.

  28. @Steviewren: Yeah, he was. I have a feeling he was more complex than I knew for my first twelve years, too. I think I've grown to know and understand him more since he died than I did when he was alive, just by applying my own life experiences to my interpretation of his life. Admittedly, there's a lot of conjecture there! Eventually, I'll get into all of that, but not for quite a while.

  29. In the best Silver Fox style we not only get this weeks' story but a substantial taste of the delights that lie ahead. You know how to tell a tale - and how to make it compulsive.

  30. I remember myself being battered & Clattered By Teachers when I was a kid."Never Did Me Any Harm "(*twitches*)!
    It sounds like youve some more info to come on your Dad.Good Luck with further enquiries.

  31. ha! I bet he was sick as a dog over that 2nd spanking incident!

    knowing so little about your father, it must be great to build up more of a picture bit by bit. And this is a cracking baby photo!

  32. It's funny- you look just like the guy who used to live across the canyon from my Uncle Dale in the Hollywood Hills. When one of my aunts came to visit she watched every morning to see him go out to get his newspaper in his pajamas. (She must have used binoculars.)Of course you're the real deal and I think he was just an impersonator. I've been enjoying delving into my family history through and I find myself being almost as interested in all of these stories on SS as I am in my own. I can't wait 'til your next installment.

  33. BTW ~ I majored in music/piano in college! :)

  34. David,
    The loss of family history is EXACTLY why I've been writing about my life through my little blog. Even though I've told my daughter a bunch of "important" stuff, once I'm gone, much would lost forever. I wish you had more about your Father to share...Paul Howley

  35. @Alan: Thanks for the compliment. Really!

    @Tony & Lettuce: Well, I'm getting a good start...

    @Barbara: Funny, I keep getting compared to that other guy you mention.

    @Betsy: Love to see you tinkle sometime!

  36. @Paul: The next couple of times we "see" my dad -- although it may be a while -- I'll have a lot more, as it deals with his marriage to my mom, and his years in WWII.

  37. I agree, fascinating family history.

    I'm sorry your dad had a short life, he certainly looked happy as a baby.

  38. Dearest SF,

    Sure, if you like and I hope I can really help.
    Email me at



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