Monday, February 14, 2011

Ghost Story

Norman's Sword and letter.

You know, my husband drove around with me on Saturday while I took pictures of St Henri locales, but he's not that interested in my Tighsolas Project.

But as I was going on and on about Dominion Textile and Royal Arthur School he remarked, "You know what is REALLY interesting. The story of how we got Norman's sword."

I agreed. But I haven't really stopped to think HOW FREAKY the story is.

You see, back in 2004, a few months after I first discovered the Nicholson letters, I wrote up a story about them for a Quebec Heritage Westmount.

Shortly afterwards, the webmaster of said website emailed me to say a couple in BC wanted to reach me, as the had Norman Nicholson's Masonic Sword and they wanted to give it back.

So I emailed them on the jump (that's an expression Marion Nicholson used) and they told me one WEIRD story.

A few days before the day I got the email, a Mrs. H, living in the Okanagan of BC and married to a geologist, looked up at her living room wall and saw the Masonic sword hanging there and wondered, for the first time ever, who that sword belonged to.

She pulled it from its sheaf to see the name Norman Nicholson engraved upon the blade.

Now, Mrs. H knew that the sword had been in her husband's family and that in the early 1960's the family had rented a house in Richmond, Quebec and that said house had a dusty attic and that her husband, then a young boy, of course, liked to play in the attic because if was full of mysterious boxes and trunks belonging to the owners of the house.

One trunk contained a lot of letters and the boy took some of them and cut the stamps out of others and pasted them in a stampbook.

The attic also contained a sword and a picture of an 'old man' in a funny uniform with the sword at his side.

The boy took the sword to his room and when the family moved, the sword and picture, and the stamp book, got taken along.

The boy grew up, became a geologist, married and moved many times around the continent, always taking the sword with him.

In his home in BC, he hung it on the wall... and then one day in 2004 his wife got curious..

And that's the weirdest part.

Mrs. H. decided to check out the provenance of the sword just a short while after I had written the story of the Nicholson letters for a website.

First she entered the name Norman Nicholson into the search engine, but a famous poet shares that name, so she got nowhere. Then her husband told her that he had a letter from the family in his stampbook (which he still had) so she looked and sure enough, there was a letter addressed to Margaret Nicholson, so she entered that name and immediately landed on the web page with my essay about the Nicholson letters and another picture of Norman Nicholson in his Mason Uniform.

So she emailed the website and within two weeks the sword and picture was back home in Quebec, if not in Richmond.

I put sword on the mantle.. and even more weird, a few days later I heard a thump in the living room in the middle of the night and I got up to find that a binder with Nicholson memorabilia had fallen off the coffee table and sprayed open and Norman's death certificate was on top.

The dogs, I guessed. What else could it be?

And then I went on reading, transcribing and researching the background to these letters for 7 years, without thinking to much about Norman's Sword which remains in our living room, standing up agains the wall under the picture of Marion in her white dress taking tea.