For some reason, my birth family was not very big on family connections. On my mother's side, her father was not around much...from what I was told, he was around long enough to get my grandmother pregnant, and then he'd be gone. He did this enough times to cause four children to come into the world, many of whom spent a good part of their young lives in foster homes until my grandmother was able to take them all home again. Grandma even adopted a young neighbor girl, so that she wouldn't have to be put in an orphanage, I believe she was older, just not yet 18 and of legal age to be on her own. Family relations between my mother and her brothers and sister were not great, maybe because of the separation at such a young age. So, we had some Christmases together, but as I got older, those events faded into distant memories.
My father did not have a happy relationship with his mother...even up until her recent death at the age of 99! I had good connections with both my grandmothers, but sustaining them was not always easy, with such difficult circumstances. I remember when I was old enough to get my license and drive, my maternal grandmother would ask me to take her out to a diner for breakfast. We'd have strawberry crepes together, it was a wonderful time for both of us. And, as my paternal grandmother lived in Godeffroy, NY and I in Brooklyn, we at least had a good telephone relationship, although it was quite frowned upon by my parents...they said I didn't know her like they did...well, it didn't really seem to matter. Interestingly, both grandmothers were named Mary...and both were born on July 27th! They both had great leadership qualities, my father's mother was given the responsibility of raising her brothers and sisters when she was still a child herself.
I do remember my paternal grandfather...he died when I was pretty young, but he used to live near to us in Canarsie when I was little, and when he would walk into the driveway of our house he would grab me and lift me up into the air...and, all the neighborhood children would come running, yelling, grandpa!, grandpa! and he would pick them all up as well!
My brothers and I grew up under a lot of stress and conflict, and so family memories tend to be negative ones...not easy to maintain a good relationship with that kind of history...but maybe that can change...
So...why am I feeling silly? I feel like I want to adopt some distant relatives. I don't know if they are relatives or not, but it is entirely possible...so here are my two adoptees on my father's side of the family...
I found a facsimile edition of this book one day while looking for books for my young sons. Clara Tice...how amazing to see your own last name in print when you least expect it! I had asked my grandmother if she was a relative, but she knew nothing about her...given the predilection for art in my family, I've decided that she very well could be related...she actually does look like my cousin Suzan...
Clara (Louise) Tice was born in Elmira, New York in May 1888. Only a few years later her parents, Benjamin and Mary Eckenberger Tice, moved with her and her siblings, Sarah and Clifford, to New York City where her father had found a new job as superintendent for the Children's Aid Society. In this city Clara Tice spent most of her life. It took her only a short time until she and her art came to the attention of the city's inhabitants. In March 1915 the headline "Comstock Ban Brings Art Buyer" sparked the interest of the New York Tribune's readership. The accompanying article described how the anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock had visited Polly's, a well-known restaurant in bohemian Greenwich Village, and decided that some of Tice's works of art which were exhibited there were indecent and had to be removed. Before he was able to take any further action one of the diners bought the pictures and thus saved them. This was only the first occasion when Comstock tried to confiscate Tice's art - many others were to follow. Her art was the perfect target for him since her favorite subject were female nudes which she portrayed perfectly in oil as well as with just a few fast lines in her drawings. (Thanks to Patricia Guenter for that bio)
This next 'relative' I have known about for quite some time. I think my first awareness of him came through seeing his photographs of the Amish of Lancaster County, PA, which is where one of my brothers and his wife live now.
George Tice is one of the best known fine-art photographers in the nation and has authored 15 books. He has been making photographs for over 40 years. His prints are in many museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum, where he had a one-man show in 1972. The Afterimage Gallery has handled his work over 20 years.
Mr. Tice was born in 1938 in New Jersey where he still lives. His first museum sale was to the Museum of Modern Art in 1959. He has received fellowships from both the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His photographs have been shown all over the world.
It seems a bit silly, to be adopting people that I don't know, but I've always felt some kind of connection to them. My own love for photography and books and art seem to be reflected among these two people's works.
Maybe it's time to gather photos and stories from my brothers...sometimes I think being silly has it's own purpose...and leads one on to new discoveries.