Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Strong Heart Always Succeeds

I took a line from the letter by John T. Van Dyck Jr to James Moran IV because it has special meaning in this context.  John is congratulating Jim on his appointment to Annapolis and says "a strong heart all ways succeeds, some day you will command..."  But that didn't happen.  Jim went to Annapolis with the hopes and dreams of the Moran family on his shoulders, a mighty weight indeed.  While at Annapolis he did well in many subjects including Engineering but French was his Waterloo.  After three years he resigned from Annapolis. We think he worked as an aide to a Congressman in Washington for a few years before moving to East Tennessee where he worked in Engineering at Eastman Kodak.

According to a quick search on John Thomas Van Dyck Jr. was born July 30, 1913 in Paris Tennessee to John T. Van Dyck Sr and Fannie Fisher Giles. John Jr died July 3 1989.  And I'm not sure who Mary Tenny but she obviously made an impression on John and James.

Paris, Tenn
June 18 (some time in the 1930's)

Dear James,

I supose (sic) you are at Annapolis by now.  I sure was glad to hear about you receiving the apointment (sic), I saw your picture in the Evening Appeal, perhaps it will not be the last, for a strong heart all ways succeeds, some day you will command one of our country's greatest warships.  I reckon Mary Tenny won't be the only one of the old class to finish school, but maybe you were mistaken about her being stuck up for you know she used to condescend to help us with our Latin and Math.

Well there isn't much that I can say about myself except that I am working hard and regular, and that I have
grown considerable since you saw me last.

You may not get this note for a good while for I do not know your new address, but I guess you will get it some time, if your mother will be kind enough to send it on to you.  If you ever have time write and tell me all about Annapolis.

Your friend
J.T. Van Dyck Jr.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Through Their Eyes

Whenever I look at Moran Place it's always through the eyes of the modern world and I wonder, what did it look like through their eyes?  Candle light and oil lamps reflecting the crystal and  mirrors.  In the winter the glow from the fireplaces was more than a glow it was the only source of heat.  Open windows in the spring and summer to let in the breeze.  How did they keep the lawn mowed?  I think of the servants carrying water up and down those narrow back stairs to fill a bath tub.  A line from Downton Abbey comes to mind when I think of Moran Place.  Lady Mary is speaking to fiance Richard in regards to how they would furnish a new home, she says "Your lot buys it, our lot inherits it."  The Moran's certainly left a rich legacy.

This beautiful cut glass trinket box, at least that's what I think it is, was always in the upstairs front room and each time I visited that was where Mrs. Moran allowed me to stay.  To be sure, it's seen better days.  Most of the silver has worn off and there is a nasty crack in the lid but it's no less a treasure to us.  I photographed it using a dark cloth backdrop, lights off with just the light from a flashlight.  I was hoping to get the reflections that would do it justice. It really brought out the floral pattern in the lid.  It's the same pattern of many other pieces in Moran Place.  We believe it dates to the 1890's.

Back in December 2011 I wrote an entry about John W. Moran's Perfection Student Lamp ca 1880's.  It's still in working order and is all original.  Unlike many of those lamps which people electrified this one still uses oil.  Surprisingly it puts out a very nice glow but I can't imagine trying to do any real work at night with just this lamp!