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.