Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Family Shattered by WWI


Yesterday I combed through all the Nicholson letters, about 1000 of them to see if I could find the first page of a certain interesting 1919 letter from Biddie McCarty to Edith Nicholson.

I'm transcribing the Post War 1919 Nicholson letters now.

The WWI  'storyline' reached its climax in 1918 with the death of friend Percy Tucker at the Front and the survival of his younger brother Herb Tucker, Flora's war time boyfriend in another late war battle. He only gets shot in the finger and feels quite embarrassed about it.

Biddy McCarty is a family friend and appears to have been attached to Percy. Hers is the first letter I have from 1919 and she says she can hardly believe she won't be hearing from him.

 Biddie and her father took off on the trip  in early 1919. She writes that she got a nice letter from Mrs. Tucker and she sends all her love to 36, which is the address of the Tuckers.

The Tuckers appear to be a family truly shattered by war (and the Spanish Flu.) Haroldine, a teacher at William Lunn School like Flora (and perhaps the reason by the Nicholsons know the Tuckers) died in 1918, 6 months before her brother Percy, I'm guessing from the flu.


The Tuckers on the 1901 Census. Herbert is 2, so that he is 7 years younger than Flora. This was never a match to be. Perhaps they kept their wartime love affair secret. They aren't on the 1911 census. In that census daughter Gwendolin is attached to another family in Chambly, Henri and Francis and Arnoline. All very strange. But the Censuses are all full of mistakes.

In another 1919 letter Flora writes her Mom that she has visited the Tuckers and they 'that family is not the same anymore."

In a 1920 letter she writes "Gwendolyn is getting married today." It doesn't appear that she is going or she would have written so. And she was invited, I have the invitation. It's in the picture at top.

And going through the 1921 letters, I found one from from January  Herb Tucker to Flora. He is at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Vancouver.  He says there's no girl in sight for him. (He's only 22!). He says he has been a long time in replying to her letter - that he started to write her many times but got cold feet. He signs off "Your old Sidekick."

He's wondering about Biddy, where she is.

A family shattered by war!

Here are a few travel details from Biddie's California Letter. I have only page 2 of the letter.  Another page either was lost by me or tossed out a long time ago. Perhaps Edith destroyed it.

Flora Nicholson second from right with her friends.  From the dresses, it's the 20's. 

  We got to Frisco Monday morning. Got "John" and motored all through Golden Gate park - went down the coast to San Jose, one day nice trip, stayed around "Frisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda, a week going around seeing people Dad knew.

This PM we went up the coast to Santa Barbara on see the largest grape vine in the world. They have taken 10 tonnes of grapes from it this season. It sure is huge.

We expect to leave here about the first of March thru Texas and the Southern States to Florida and then up to New York and Home. Some trip, eh?

PS. Forgot to tell you Dad and I were up in an aeroplane last week. 5000 feet from the earth. Went over the city of Venice and the Pacific. It was great!

Well, it seems they were not far from Santa Barbara, close enough to go up the coast in a car in 1920. 30 miles an hour the most? 2 hours the most. Under 70 miles away anyway. Oxnard??