One of my brothers is a doctor, Trevor Paris, and he is quite busy with his practice and a mission he helps run in Haiti. Trevor came for a quick visit over the New Year’s weekend and brought a batch of old photographs. The photographs had been stored, and he thought it was time to go through them. Some are very old and very interesting. Among them was a real treasure.
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was sworn in. Confederate Gen. Pierre Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston. The Civil War began and lasted for four horrible years. Whale oil was the primary source of fuel for lamps. Oil refining began in Pennsylvania, which was a blessing for the whales. Telegraphy was established between the East and West coasts and thus ended the Pony Express. The hand-cranked Gatling gun was invented, and my maternal grandfather was born.
My grandfather was a surgeon and a doctor serving in the Navy. He had an amazing life, having traveled all over the world. He served in the Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Siege of Peking and at various ports during the Spanish American War. He was 60 years old when my mother was born. His first wife had died, and he then met my grandmother, who became his wife.
The treasure that was in the batch of pictures was my grandfather’s 1919 passport. At the time, he and my grandmother were living in Haiti, where he was stationed. The passport contains a picture of my grandfather in his uniform, and the photo is in remarkable condition. Even though there is a very clear image of him, a complete description is written of how he looked — large nose, medium forehead, fair complexion, round chin, large mouth, blue eyes, glasses and an oval face. There are lots of stamps and inscriptions in French by the Haitian government. It is a wonderful keepsake.
As for the very old pictures, some look very Victorian. Since no names are written on the backs, we’ll never know who they were. I guess this happens to many of us when we look at family photographs of long ago.
Rats lay siege to Paris
When the Eiffel Tower comes to mind, we think of romance, champagne and black berets worn jauntily on one’s head.
At this very moment, nine parks and green spaces in Paris have been closed because of rats. Rats have produced a crisis there and are running rampant. These are not the same species of rats that carried the bubonic plague that centuries earlier killed 100,000 Parisians.
The natural habitat for these creatures is underground in the sewers, and rats were once controlled by poison placed there. New rules put into place forbid poison in the sewers because it eventually ends up in the rivers and then the water supply. Now poison is placed around the parks in little capsules, but that does not seem to be working. It seems rats are very clever and, like most food conscious Parisians, prefer leftover baguettes and imported cheeses dropped by passersby. So be careful if you are planning a trip to the Louvre anytime soon. And watch your step.
Meet history face-to-face
The Coastal Heritage Society’s 2017 Night at the Museum will be held Jan. 21 at Savannah History Museum.
The museum is at 303 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in historic Savannah. Visitors will interact with characters from the museum’s exhibits — actors portraying Juliette Gordon Low, Johnny Mercer and Forrest Gump — among others. There are three performances.
Tickets are $12 per person. You must make reservations and may do so at bit.ly/NATM2017
The buzz about bees
I found a very cute quote I want to share.
A beekeeper was being interviewed for an article about his beekeeping prowess, harvesting honey and about bees in general. He grew a little weary at the end of the interview and proclaimed, “The bees aren’t making honey for us; they are making it for themselves.”
They are always busy at their task, and for us honey lovers, I am very grateful.
Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street or at firstname.lastname@example.org.