Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Do As I Do Not As I Say

Those of us who have heard the recording "The Lavender Layd" know of  "Aunt Cam."  In a loving reference to her father's sister, Camilla Moorehead, Agnes speaks of her by relating a couple of anecdotes about her.  First the peculiar nature of her speaking voice and second of her concern about her nieces desire to become an actress. "John, she'll get her name in the paper." 

Truthfully I had not considered "Aunt Cam" as a great influence on Agnes.  It's obvious that she spent a great deal of time around her but she never really spoke about her with the exception of her one woman show.  So color me surprised when I turned back to the family tree to finish some things I had started ages ago.  I had always been told that "Aunt Cam" was a spinster but ummm, not so much.  Not only was "Aunt Cam" not a spinster but there are creepy similarities between her and her famous niece.  I have to call them creepy because they are practically identical save one or two small things.

Camilla Urso Moorehead was married to Harold Webster Bay on May 17, 1912 in Muskingum county Ohio.  Not unusual to be married, no sir it surely isn't.  What makes this unusual is the age of the groom and the date they chose to be married.  You see May 17, 1912 was Harold's birthday, his twenty first birthday. Camilla was 14 years older than her groom.  She was thirty five. 

Okay, creepy on two, no, three levels. 
Level One:  Agnes married her first husband on his birthday.  True, although she was not but two years older than him...but still, his birthday, really....was she following her aunt's lead?  I think so.
Level Two: Agnes began divorce proceedings against Jack Lee two weeks after their nineteenth wedding anniversary.  "Aunt Cam" divorced Harold Bay and she did it after exactly nineteen years of marriage.  By December of 1931 Harold had remarried.
Level Three: Hello, is it a coincidence that "Aunt Cam" married a man 14 years her junior and her niece's second husband was 17 years her junior or if you choose to believe Agnes' assumed birth year of 1906 11 years her junior.  There are no coincidences here.

It is more than common for one generation to follow the example of another.  Sometimes we rely on the older generation to point the way.  Agnes spent a whole lot of time around her Aunt.  I am absolutely sure that none of the similarities are accidental.  She relived what she had witnessed bad endings and all.  I am of the opinion that neither woman should have married.  I think both of them did it for the very same reasons.  It was expected of them.  Both women were the only daughters of their respective parents.  Both women were substantially older than the norm when they married and both women were unable to establish a marriage that lasted their whole life through.  I cannot speak to whether "Aunt Cam" had romantic friendships with any female companions because she was spoken of very little and her life is remarkably free of documentation.  I have found no letters or books to indicate how she felt about anything.  I can tell she had no children and her niece had no children.  This is really odd considering their reasons for marrying...because they were the only girls and they had to.  You would think they might feel compelled to have at least one biological child but no.  In fact the only one of Robert and Hannah Moorehead's children who had biological offspring was John Moorehead.  Of his two girls one survived and never had children of her own.  There are no direct decendants of Robert and Hannah Moorehead.  The line stopped with Agnes.
There are cousins, mostly distant, like myself, but nothing directly.  I think Agnes was imitating her Aunt.  The whole "Do as I do not as I say" thing is ironic when you consider "Aunt Cam's" concern about Agnes being infamous and in the papers.  I wonder if "Aunt Cam" ever considered what people thought of her marrying someone so much younger than herself?  I know Agnes never even discussed the age difference between her and Rober Gist.  It seemed natural to her as she followed "Aunt Cam's" lead..."Do as I do not as I say."  "John, she'll ger her name in the papers!"

No comments:

Post a Comment