|Section "C" Grave Inscriptions for Bev's siblings|
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|
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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