Saturday, November 07, 2015

My Aunt Marjory

The girl in the center is my father's younger sister, Marjory Lynn Hopper (1910-1950)
I don't know who her friends were, but the picture was taken near Portales, New Mexico 
or Yuma, Arizona before 1920. When the family left Portales, New Mexico, 
where my father was born, Grandad was looking at 40 (? not sure) acres in Yuma, 
where there was a new irrigation project and 10 acres near/in Los Angeles 
with an established citrus orchard. They moved to Yuma. . .
Here is what I remember being told about Aunt Marjory--I must have met her, 
but do not remember anything about that. She was beautiful, everyone says so, and many photographs substantiate it. She became a school teacher, like her mother and sister. 
She was married, then divorced. After she died (of breast cancer) 
her ex-husband, Max McCarthy, often left flowers on her grave.
Someone even told me he left a letter, but that may be a fairy tale. 
She left no children. My father, her brother, kept her picture on his bedroom dresser 
as long as I can remember. It was framed in a leather frame 
with lacing around the edges. In the picture, Marjory wore
her long hair in a braid which she coiled on her head like a crown.

Marjory is the girl in the almost exact center of the group in a slightly darker dress 
and with her distinctive thick shiny dark hair, blunt-cut above her ears. 
She would have been seven or eight in this picture. (Born 1910.)
And she is not that much older in the one with two friends above. 
I have tried to find out where this school was and am still not sure, 
but I am leaning toward New Mexico. If my father was 11 when they moved 
(source:unreliable memory-trace) it might have been after this school year,
which was almost 100 years ago now!


It was years before you could climb
back up over the fallen stalls, and knock at
the Hawkines' old door.

                                        ---they were gone,
you could just look in from the road.
Field after field.
Your eyes looked two ways at once.

                                              Under the fields,

the dense tongue of the cow---
and the horses eyes---
and the water from the hand pump in the sink,
races as horses race.

Jean Valentine

The New Yorker, March 9, 2009

Jean Valentine is a poet of my generation, having been born only a year before I was,
and still alive! Yet she has managed to capture very well in an elliptical fashion,
the lives of my parents in their rural fastnesses in Arizona and New Mexico.
And od so many others who worked this land of ours.

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