#52 Ancestors Week 11 - "Lucky"

Even though my life has taken some weird twists and turns, I sure feel lucky. This was my first thought when reading the prompt for the week. In many ways how you feel about luck is a choice. I've always been a "glass half full" type of person. Having a feeling of gratitude creates abundance in your life. I've been independent of my family; parents, brother and sisters, since I was very young.  I have always trusted my instincts and tried to remain optimistic. It is more nature than nurture that makes me tick. That's one of the things I like about genealogy.  I feel oddly attached to some of my ancestors who seem like they would have been kindred spirits 👻 For my "lucky" post I chose to write about my grandfather, who lived a very fortunate life. He is also lucky to be the only child in his family who lived past their 20's...

Section "C" Grave Inscriptions for Bev's siblings
Archibald Beverly Park II (1900-1946) was one of five children born to Alberteena Thompson (1862-1944) and Archibald Park (1856-1942).  He died at age 45, when my father was 20 years old. I have only heard stories about him, and many were not very flattering. He apparently had some issues with the booze and was not a very attentive, engaged parent.

My grandfather, Bev, as he was called,  was the fourth born child. All the others had died, apart from his older sister Evelyn, before he was born. First born son Charles Archibald Park (1888-1895) was just six years old when he died of diphtheria. Hazel Thompson Park (1891-1898) died three years later of typhoid fever. Evelyn was a 16 month old baby. It must have been overwhelming. Bev came along 2 years later followed by a daughter, Jean Ferguson Park (1902-1902), who was stillborn. Evelyn died at 23 years of age, just 14 months after she got married, leaving her husband and infant son behind. They are all buried at the Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham. 

Archibald Park Sr. owned the Chatham Engine Works along with his two brothers. Their father, David Park, founded the company in 1877 after emigrating to Canada from the UK.
19 Dufferin Avenue, Chatham, Ontario
He sold the business to his three sons when he retired. The foundry was very successful. Archie Park's family lived in a big 3 story house with all the bells and whistles. There were large reception rooms, four bedrooms, dumb waiters, a carriage house, ice house, even servant's quarters equipped with an air pipe intercom. The 1873 Victorian house is still standing. The exterior has remained the same over the years.

Following the paper trail, I see that my grandfather enlisted on September 6, 1940 and
served in the Kent Regiment during World War II.  In 1929 he went for military training with the Simcoe Foresters. He was listed as a student living at home in the 1921 census. The impression that I got from my family is that Archie didn't want his son to work. He wanted him to be a "Gentleman".  To that end, he built Bev and my grandmother a beautiful house as a wedding present in 1923. It is pictured below and you can click the photo to enlarge it.

This is where my father and his three siblings were raised. The home is featured on an annual tour of heritage houses in Chatham. The sketch and notes are from the tour booklet from 1992.They also had one of the first cars in town, and from all appearances were living the good life. In the context
of the times, the Depression Era didn't seem to have an effect on the Parks financially. Maybe my great grandparents doted on Bev to compensate for the loss of their other children? I don't know, it seems like idle hands might have been a problem. I don't think that either of my grandparents were really ready to take on the responsibility of raising four children. My dad rarely spoke about his childhood. When he did it was mostly about his dogs. I remember his best dog's name was Nick, but I don't remember him ever talking about fun family outings, or father and son bonding moments! He never spoke poorly of him, he just never talked about him. When I look back on the type of parent my father was, I can see shadows of how he must have been raised. 

I didn't grow up in an extra privileged environment. My dad was a workaholic and provided a stable life for my family of 6. My mother was able to stay at home when I was young and was very involved in my life. I look back at my childhood with much affection. I loved growing up when I did and where I did. Can you imagine being a child today? No thanks.
Now that I'm older that I see my family's dysfunction without the rose coloured glasses. I guess we are all out here doing the best that we can. I hope I have instilled an attitude of gratitude in my own kids. I think so. They have been through a lot and are pretty terrific guys. Pretty lucky if you ask me! 🍀

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  1. Very interesting and I like your interpretation of this week's "Lucky" prompt. I'll have to read more of your story :)

    1. Thank you Anne...Luck is a state of mind, isn't it? You can have everything in the world and still be a miserable person. The reverse is true, too. It's all about your attitude, I think.