18 May 2011

Family history by the book

Charleston, S.C.

I moved a bookshelf this weekend, emptying the dusty shelves onto a bed, throwing out Budget Travel magazines from ten years ago saved "just in case".

It's almost as good as reading a diary going through old books. The pile on the bed was a snapshot of interests that took me so far back into my childhood I tumbled down a rabbit hole of memories.

I shared common interests with my grandfather and have some of his old books. He loved art, music, birds and magic. I spent many an hour in his library drawing from sketchbooks, learning the escape secrets of Houdini and pondering hypnotizing my siblings to my advantage. I still have his books on British witchcraft, figure drawing and water colours of ships at sea.

I spent time as a kid, studying the faces in the "Beautiful Children" prints by the old masters, fascinated that the odd little people in the paintings were considered beautiful in their time. Through the years I added calligraphy and bird carving books which he would have liked, and I know he'd be proud of the magic and science tricks for kids from when my children were little.

My grandfather came from Scotland as Alexander Cameron Auchinachie. When no one in Canada could pronounce his Gaelic name without it sounding like a double sneeze he finally legally dropped it and went by his clan name Cameron. I am pleased to have at least one book signed before the name change.


  1. You are so lucky to have such treasures ... once when I was faced with possibly losing everything, my biggest fear was losing my books. Fortunately, I was able to keep them and have them to this day.

  2. LeeAnne - I have got rid of a lot and hadn't looked through these for years. I don't have any cookbooks anymore since I get all my recipes online. Sad in a way.

  3. Namrata3:12 AM

    Please preserve your grandpa's books,etc..Those hearken back to another age,another era.The word "Auch" reminds of a person of another Scottish clan with a variation of the same prefix,spelt as" Och".I'm referring to David Ochterlony who came to India before he was 20 of age to serve the British East India Company in 1777.He served well and made inroads for the British in Nepal.He served as a Resident in the court of a Mughal King and had been influenced by the Mughal lifestyle to such an extent,that he is beleived to have kept a harem of Indian concubines(not known to have married any White woman).He remained in India till his death.The Ochterlony Monument in the Esplanade of Calcutta was built by him.Memories also go to schoolgirls in Shillong who instead of choosing their Khasi mother's clan name, had chosen to write Scott as their second names indicating their fathers.I wonder how many people or families in Shillong, still indicate their partly Scottish origins by name?

  4. Joan, I'm the opposite. I collect cookbooks but I don't cook! Psychologists would have a field day with that one ... :)

  5. Namrata - I am firming up plans for a November visit. Looking forward to checking all these things you have been mentioning.

    LeeAnne - I do love them but don't need to buy them anymore. If the internet was down I wouldn't be able to cook though!


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