Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tales Told by Arthur G. Harrington (Installment #1)

Clockwise from lower-left: Arthur G. Harrington, Mary E. Harrington, Sgt. Lynn Harrington, Wilhelmina Hobert Harrington. This 1945 photo was almost certainly taken by my mother, Catherine Murphy Harrington, on her and Dad's first trip North from Atlanta to introduce her to the Harrington family in Upstate New York.

My father's oldest sibling, Margaret, died in the Spanish Influenza pandemic, near its end in 1920, when Dad was only five years old. My grandmother Harrington passed away the month before I was born. Thus, the grand old lady of the Harrington clan was always, to me, Dad's oldest surviving sister, Mary, who was born in 1901.

Never married, Mary spent her working career as an Earth Science teacher in Oneida, New York. She was the family's glue for many decades, carrying on voluminous correspondence with her many siblings and their children until her death in 1985. She was also her father's caretaker between the time of her mother's death until his, seven years later.

Her father, my grandfather, Arthur G. Harrington, wasn't much for writing, since he hadn't much schooling himself. He had enough to do, I suppose, providing for a family of eight children through the Great Depression, without spending much time on that sort of thing.

But he could tell stories. And Mary could record them. And she did -- for all of us.

In 1972, Mary presented each of Art Harrington's grandchildren with a fine little booklet called Tales Told by your Grandfather Arthur George Harrington. Mine, as you can see below, is copy number ten of a run of 20.

The first few pages of the booklet served as an introduction to Art for us grandkids, most of whom were too young to remember him other than as a big, old man wracked by age and wear. (In his prime, Art Harrington stood 6' 2" -- tall for his time -- and had a 20" neck, so thick that he never had a shirt that could button at the collar, but not fat. Evidently, he was a bull of a man, physically.)

Those first few pages also served as something of an introduction for us "kids" to some family history that most of our parents weren't particularly anxious to talk about much: Art's early separation from his father and his later determination to seek out his father, James McMackin.

This first installment of "Tales Told..." is presented in graphic rather than text form for two reasons: First, Aunt Mary's little booklet with its irregular, manual typewriter print and numerous handwritten bits doesn't work well with OCR software -- trying to use any of the packages I have available for that turns out to be more time-consuming than simply re-typing will be. But second, and more important, I want Adam and (I hope) others downstream in the gene pool to be able to see what the booklet looks/looked like, and to see how well-worn each of the 20 copies must be or have been. Future installments will be in re-typed, text format.

The pages below are stored on blogger in a big enough size to be read easily, but only if you click on each of them to see the larger, more legible image.

The marriage certificate and separation agreement to which Mary refers in the latter footnote can be viewed here and here. Also, to my son, Adam: it's interesting to note that the Truman Harrington to whom Mary refers was your great-great-great-great grandfather, or more than a third of the way back from you to Sir John Harrington and the court of Elizabeth I. My, how time flies. --SH

Mary and her little brother, Lynn, assist me in making cider, 1955.

Next week: We return to Remembrances of a Childhood, and see a
bygone era of deliverymen.


  1. My older brother and I often took a perverse pleasure in recounting the juicy circumstances surrounding our family name to anyone who would listen. Judging from Doug's middle name, I wager our Dad did as well.

    The generations before that..... not so much, I imagine.

    Time heals all wounds, eh?

    I hope we get to hear more about Uncle George and his "hot air".

  2. This is so amazing. Thank you for taking the time and putting in the effort to share this. Wow.