Ancient History

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Great, grand, father

This is Jay. He was my mom’s mom’s dad. He lived in California and worked for the Los Angeles Times.

He was married to my clever, happy great-grandmother, Clara. They divorced and he married Berthe, a tiny French woman I towered over before I was out of elementary school. I’ve posted photos of Berthe looking very stylish.

Jay seems not-so-stylish, but loads of fun.

My great-grandfather, Jay Bice

Jay and Berthe lived in the same apartment building as William Frawley, who played Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy. Frawley was not a friendly man, I’m told.

I can’t decide if I remember meeting Grandpa Bice. He died when I was a young child, around age 4. When I picture him, I picture the photos of him holding me. Not him. Not the way he smelled or the sound of his laugh. It was beyond my ability.

Whenever I worry I take too many shots of the kids or sunsets or skylines, I think of my stack of old family photos. I thank the person who snapped them for slinging a camera around his neck, for loading the film, for having them developed.

Nothing is more optimistic than an old photo preserved forever. It means you expect someone to see it. You hope someone will love it. It’s like blowing a kiss into the future. It’s caught, pinched between two fingers, flipped over to see if there’s a date written on the back.

Squiiiissshh! He called me "Chickadee"

(October, 1971)

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