Showing posts with label Irwin camel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irwin camel. Show all posts

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sepia Saturday Week 70 Camel (Click here to the Sepia Sat site)

Irwin camel Amphora, ceramic circa 1900
I have a camel to share and though the photos are not Sepia, the camel itself is dating back to the early 1990’s when the John R Irwin’s, grandparents to my Uncle John Irwin, traveled extensively. Somewhere in London they had contacts and possibly a stopping by home from where they traveled all over Europe.

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.   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
This is the oldest photo I have of the camel and it is not very clear. Uncle John loved this camel which had long been in the Irwin family, but his mother determined in her utter disgust with John's fondness for alcohol that he would not inherit any of the family artifacts. Well, Life the Muse has been ever known to turn and tilt from best laid plans. John was quite unhappy about this because he had grown up coveting that camel.  He told his mother in strait terms that it was the one thing he really wanted, but Jessie would not budge. She vowed that if he would relinquish alcohol he could have his pick, but John was insulted and uninterested in the bargain.

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
Posey believed John should have some things so she contacted him and he and Virginia drove to Ohio to take their picks. The first thing John took was the Irwin camel, and as he told me later, he laughed all the way back home to Pennsylvania! I can still hear him chortling, “Hah, I’ve got it now! The Irwin Camel! Mother, you said I could not have it,  I showed you! And it will not be in the Irwin family again! “ I was awestruck by this camel the moment I saw it and listened raptly as John told about it and how he had fixed his will to ensure that when he died the Camel would not return to the Irwins. He laughed each time he said, “I only wish I could live to see the Irwin’s fussing or rolling in their graves when I kick the bucket and camel is not with an Irwin! Patty, that camel is to go to you!” I never thought too much about it until later years after Uncle John passed and I would see it in the house when I went to visit my aunt. I often wondered what I would do with it when it came to me as she reminded me it would.

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.

As usual click on the title to this post to go to the Sepia Saturday site and enjoy others' contributions.