My maternal grandfather, Dave, as a young paratrooper. 'Granddaddy' was originally an anti-aircraft gunner in a Pennsylvania German battery that guarded the Dutch refineries on Curacao in the Caribbean for a while. I believe this photograph was taken shortly after he had completed jumpschool at Fort Benning, Georgia before shipping out for Great Britain sometime in 1944 and later France. A soft-spoken and gentlemanly soul, he actually volunteered for both paratrooper and glider training! Amazingly, he lived to tell the tale.
My late grandmother, Vivian, or 'Granny' as my sister, cousins, and I called her. I believe this photograph was taken around about the same time as my grandfather's above. The two photographs were always displayed together in a hinged frame that I finally replaced a few years ago, so we could hang the two photographs on the wall more easily.
My grandfather's parents, Myrtle and Tom, or 'Mother and Daddy Stokes' as everyone always referred to them. Tom always wore a white shirt, jacket, and necktie, with pressed pants and shined shoes even in old age according to my mother. Myrtle was a true lady according to what I have been told over the years by various family members. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she was sent to finishing school and then to teachers' training college. She was known all over Davidson County, North Carolina as an effective and understanding teacher, and if you talk to people old enough "down home" her name still sparks recognition and kind words. This photograph was taken in the late 1950s, not long before Myrtle died.
This morning, I finally got around to digitizing these old portrait sized photos, which hang on the wall along our staircase to the second floor here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold. My maternal grandparents -- David Lewis Stokes and Vivian Jessie Bennett (nee Roberts) Stokes -- and one set of great grandparents, my grandfather Dave's parents -- Thomas Baxter Stokes and Myrtle Maud (nee Surratt) Stokes.
My grandfather, who hailed from a family that arrived in central North Carolina sometime during the early 1700s, was a paratrooper during WWII. Somehow, he managed to survive, come home, and reintegrate into society without difficulty and ended his working life in the early 1980s as an executive in a large building materials corporation headquartered in Manhattan. My grandmother was first generation, the daughter of a family who came first to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from Cornwall in England to work the mines outside of Calumet before later making their way to North Carolina where the two 20-somethings met while working in the same Asheville, NC department store during the late 1930s. Granny worked in the business office, Granddaddy as a sales clerk on the furniture floor.
I spent the vast bulk of my childhood and teenage years in my grandparents' home in southeastern Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and remained close to them until I was 39-40 when they both died within a year of each other. I still think of them everyday in various contexts.
And our own Christmas 2016 family photograph -- actually taken the Sunday of Thanksgiving Weekend -- from left to right: The Grand Duchess, the Young Master, and yours truly.