Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Oh! If thou wilt not give thine heart, Give back mine own to me..."

Memories from Barton Academy 

My maternal grandmother grew up in Mobile.  Years ago, my mother gave me her scrapbook.  Even though, unfathomable to me, my grandmother didn't "journal" in it, one can get a sense of her life as a young woman in the first quarter of the 20th century through the invitations, newspaper clippings, photographs.  The most poignant discovery I made is this poem written by a young man named Bennie Cosio (he signed it "B") who'd once been my grandmother's "beau," as she would've called him.

En Passant

Oh!   If thou wilt not give thine heart
Give back my own to me
Or bid thine image thence depart 
And leave me lone, but free.

Yet no!  This mournful loss of mine
I would not from me cast!
Let me but dream t'will win me thine
By its deep truth at last.

Can aught so fond, so faithful live
Through years without reply?
Oh!  If thine heart thou wilt not give
Give me a thought, a sigh.

Underneath the poem, he wrote, "I am reminded of the verses I wrote in your Graduation Book. Do you recall or have you forgotten?"

I knew about Bennie before I got the scrapbook, because my mother gave me a pearl necklace that he'd given as a gift to Mamie Clark (known to her grandchildren as "Mimi").  Besides the poem, there are dance cards (some of the dances were held at the Battle House) with his name on them, with their tiny pencils still hanging from their tiny strings, and this picture of Bennie, croquet mallet in hand.

My mother told me that Bennie's mother hadn't allowed him to marry her, because she was Catholic.

Left to right:  
Carolyn Falck, my grandfather, James F. Maury, Jr. and my grandmother, Mamie Clarke Pugh.

When my mother gave me a handful of my grandmother's pictures from, I'd guess, the mid-1920s, and I asked her to tell me about the people in them, she said, of this one, that my great-grandmother had wanted  her daughter (my grandmother, Mamie Clarke) to marry Jim Maury.  Mamie Clarke wasn't particularly interested, so her mother (my great-grandmother, follow me?) talked her daughter's friend, Carolyn, into flirting with Jim and getting him to like her to make Mamie Clarke jealous.  I guess this little bit of manipulation paid off, because Jim Maury was my grandfather.

This is my great-grandmother.  She looks like a woman accustomed to being obeyed.  They called her The Club Lady.  I'm not sure who "they" are, but that's what my mom said.  The portrait was in my Dad's dining room for awhile, but he had it taken down. I think The Club Lady made him nervous.  My husband and son had kind of the same reaction.  'Fraidy cats.


Anonymous said...

I had to read through this post twice, because it is such a sad and at the same time beautiful story.
I can not imagine how heartbroken she must have been, but just thinking about it makes me want to move back in time and try to replot her future.

Madeleine Doak said...

It's bittersweet, isn't it? The upside, though, is she married the man who would become my kind, gentle grandfather.

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