|Irwin camel Amphora, ceramic circa 1900|
The camel is from the Amphora factory in Vienna Austria circa 1900, so identified for me by an appraiser and markings on the bottom. It is 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide measuring from the tip of the nose of the camel to the farthest part of the tail, mounted on a base that is 7 1/2 inches in depth. The grandfather JR Irwin made his wealth building railroads and hauling iron ore on the Great Lakes. They acquired many unique items on their travels, some of which adorn our home today.
Our Irwin Camel, a museum quality piece is prominently displayed on our mantel, inherited from my Uncle John Irwin whom I’ve written about before on this blog and on Sepia. http://patonlinenewtime.blogspot.com/2010/03/our-red-dragon.html John married Mom’s sister, my Aunt Virginia, Jinx, in about 1954 and life was never the same again in the family. Actually my aunt divorced him and remarried him later. I thought he was one of the funniest people I’d ever met, and I spent my childhood and adolescence laughing at him; most of his in-laws and other adults took issue with him because he was ever so fond of his whiskey shots and kept himself satisfactorily tuned. His imbibing put him at odds with everyone from my grandmother to his own mother, Jessie Ayers Irwin. I never knew him to be drunk, just enjoying life and living it his way. While I do not condone his habits, he was always someone I could talk to and despite his human flaws I loved him dearly.
|Irwin camel about 1955|
Jessie died suddenly in 1963 while visiting her daughter, Margaret, John’s sister in Ohio. Margaret ended up with Alzheimer’s’ and this left Uncle John, surviving and thriving and still tipping the bottle regularly. Posey, Margaret’s daughter found Uncle John as funny as I did, I learned a couple years ago talking with her. We laughed that it was good we were not together as young girls in our fits of laughter at Uncle John’s antics while the rest of the family shuddered and tsked, tsked. Posey also was faced with the disposal or sale of many of her mother’s acquisitions to help subsidize care. She knew the family history, that her mother had acquired most of the Irwin estate.
|About 1960 Margaret, Jessie, and Uncle John|
Notice the camel behind them
In 2004 Aunt Jinx determined that I should take the camel home on one of our visits. She said that John was vehement that I have it and she wanted to ensure that happened lest he haunt her for the rest of eternity. So the camel came to the Morrison’s home in Minnesota where it is admired and its story is fondly told. When Posey and I talked she asked me if I had the camel and when I said I did, she said she was glad that it had been John's wish it come to me. I asked her if I could return it to her or her children but she assured me she had more than enough and I should keep it and enjoy it.
The camel story is not yet done; there is another twist. About a year ago, I received a mysterious email about Uncle John. I knew he had been previously married and had a son who was taken and raised by the wife’s family when the wife/mother of the boy died quite young. John was drinking then and likely never stopped. I repeatedly asked my aunt if she had any contact with John’s son who had come to John’s funeral but few words were exchanged. She had no idea where he was nor if he was alive. In 2009, when my aunt died I tried to find John’s son again, no luck, there had been no contact for too long. But that mysterious email turned out to be from John’s grandson. We have met and he is a nice young man. I’ve been thrilled to give him many items from his grandfather that I had. There had been a vicious estrangement between his father and John; he never knew his grandfather. He holds no ill will but we have talked about imagine how it could have been. The twists that life takes are so many. So I have designated that the camel go to John’s grandson in our will, returning to the Irwin family. I think Uncle John would approve that it reside with an Irwin once again, I think he would have liked to have known his grandson.
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