Sunday, March 21, 2010

James Forman and Mae Estelle (Nickerson) VanAmburg

Eighth Generation You already have met Jim and Mae (my Nana & Pampa) in 3 blogs that are archived and can be reached from this page. They include their wedding, the sea captain’s exploits and since there are more stories to tell, I will take the liberty of doing just that!

First a post script to the story of “Cable or Catch” from a transcribed audio tape made by Jim’s son Robert:
“Owners responsible made the captain deduct the expenses of ship’s lost gear, food, etc. One time off the coast, Georges Bank a little further south, trawling, they pulled the Atlantic cable, nets were snarled, James as Captain ordered crew to take an axe and cut the cable, men refused one by one, James took the axe and cut the cable, saving the equipment to the tune of several thousands of dollars. Saved the trip. He couldn’t say it was mutiny.”
Also: “ he told me, regretfully of being in a hayfield, cutting, saw a fox cross the meadow to the shore, ran down with a pitchfork, killed the fox and always regretted it (no reason why he should have, but he did.)
And the first time he ever heard his father swear: Lenley had a cow, very young and temperamental, Sunday morning James was in the barn to milk the cow, got half a pail of milk when she put her foot in the pail, kicked James and sent him flying into a pile of manure, he swore like nothing ever heard before, said she can’t get away with that, went back in and milked the cow.

Mae Estelle (Nickerson) VanAmburg, my Nana Van, was a very unusual woman. She was erect in posture, even in her old age. Calm of nature I never ever heard a cross word from her - rather a mild reproof - (to her son) “now . . . Robert.” or a nod of her head, and that was all that was ever required. We used to play duets on the piano and sing our hearts out - “Oh where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy - - oh where have you been Charming Billy? I have been to seek a wife, she’s the darling of my life - she’s a young thing but cannot leave her mother”
The Nova Scotia and Massachusetts families often visited back and forth and Nana and Pampa made their home with us in Medford, Massachusetts on two occasions. Their Cape Sable Island property was home to three generations (J.L. & Ruth Nickerson, Mae & Jim VanAmburg, and upon his retirement, my father & mother, Robert & Gladys VanAmburg, whose story will follow.
But back to Mae: An adventure when a younger woman, as told in a letter from her father (J.L. Nickerson to his wife Ruth when she was away assisting in the birth of a new grandchild):
“I arived home on Tuesday in time to put up the Mail and May was glad to see me as the office work took all her time she got along all right with but very few mistakes one thing she did do she not only put the money order money in the Bank but all I had with it She thought that all that was in the safe belonged to the money order business but as it happened she had payed some Money orders so I was able to balance the account.”
“ Jim (Mae’s husband) came home Friday evening an all the Crew left to spend Christmas no doubt he will lose 2 or 3 days fishing on account of it. . . . . dont worry about the work home if May wants the help I will get it “
Interesting because it is a very small vignette of family life and I have recently received more family letters with mini-looks at life as it was in the first quarter of the 20th century on Cape Sable Island in Nova Scotia.