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Perspectives

Epictetus once said, “Man is not disturbed by events, but by the view he takes of them.”

This is true in genealogy as well. It is interesting how people of the same family or attending the same event have such different perspectives of things. My father has two siblings, both older than he is. Viv was born in 1927, Annette in 1935 and my father in 1936. My Aunt Viv had 8 years as the only child. Therefore, her perspective of things is different. She was a “Daddy’s girl,” although she recognizes the deficits that Fred had as a drinker. She was still his girl. My father on the other hand, did not see it the same way. He had a father that drank and probably caused his mother stress as a result. Fred died in 1950; my father was not yet 14 years old. So, he had an entirely different perspective.

Over the years, I have heard some stories about my grandfather. I know he was a gregarious outgoing man. He was probably the black sheep of his family growing up. He did not come home after the war. He landed in Chicago. There are documents to suggest that he was court-marshaled for an infraction. (I have sought his military records for verification of this. So I will post an update once the documents are received.) He was the third of four children born to his parents. His eldest sibling, George was a genius, attending Balliol University as a Rhodes Scholar. His other brother, Walter Joe, was more like his father; he stayed home after the war and went to work in the family business. His younger sister, Martha Ann, was the sole baby girl of the family. Their father, Walter Everett, was a very strict man, held his patriotism in high regard. Papa was a Georgia State Senator, Mason, Reserve Corps Major, Mayor of Carlton.

Fred seemed to be a bit of a cut up. Viv wrote that Fred always “remained docile to his strong father, although he had a way with Papa (Walter) that none of the other children had.” Martha Mae Whitehead Snelling wrote in the little book of Whitehead Family history that Fred’s “outgoing personality endeared him to all who knew him.”

There is another story about Fred that his sister wrote and included it in her booklet she gave her granddaughters. I wish to share it in her voice.

Fred gets double punishment

Fred was about 12 years old and in the 8th Grade at Carlton. They only had 10 grades, and all 3 High School grades, 8-9-10, sat in the same room.

Mr. Smith was the teacher.

He was having trouble with a 10th Grade math problem.

Fred, who was watching, held up his hand and said,”Mr. Smith, I believe I can work it.” Come right up,” said Prof. Smith.

Fred went to the black board and quickly solved the problem. But he didn’t stop there. He wiped the chalk dust off his hands and said “Aw shucks, twasn’t nothin’. All us Whitehead’s are good ‘rithmetickers”. (Not very good English.)

Prof. Smith pulled off his belt and gave Fred a good licking right there before everyone.

When Fred got home and told Papa about it, Papa gave him another good whipping.

PS Papa was chairman of the School Board.

PS2 Whipping was a very common form of punishment. Not abuse.

 

Aldous Huxley wrote, “What we perceive and understand depends upon what we are.”

I will end here with some great photos of Fred. So, the next time you think you are right and the other person is wrong, just think you are coming at things from a different perspective.

Until later, I will be exploring backwards.

Fred with sombrero

 

Whitehead’s on the beach

 

Fred Whitehead acting silly 001

Fred acting silly

 

Fred and Margaret

Fred and Margaret

Fred with his children

Fred with his children

 

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4 thoughts on “Perspectives

  1. Well done. A little too apologetic for wanting to reconcile the “two views” of Fred. I knew when I saw him in the other photos (the seated soldier and the family group with Papa Walt and Grandpa Gus) Fred was not only a “cut up” but dear to all.

    Alcohol is a great thief. I don’t blame Larry for being bitter. MANY men returned from war to CARLTON and never worked another day, lived on the bottom of a bottle. Who knows why. Mother was always very careful about alcohol, she said there was a taste for it in the family! She was talking about herself but may have been talking for her own father.

    Re perspective, one reason Joe could live in the same house with Papa Walt was that he was NOT like him. That letter we read with George congratulating Joe on his choice to “go into the mercantile business” was a clue to how hard it was for Joe to decide to remain in Carlton. Once decided, he could not go back. He became his father’s secretary, his gofer, his foil. Papa was Master and Commander. Joe was always First Mate. Even after Papa died.

    I may be just projecting my own experience with Mother and myself. However, I could not figure out how to live in the house with her. Maybe my grandmother smoothed the way for Joe to do so. Blessings and thanks for the additional photos. Sara

  2. Wonderful article about Uncle Fred.  I certainly followed more in his footsteps than perhaps JoeDaddy would have liked. Do you have any records or stories of his employment at the Palmer House hotel in Chicago.  I am not even sure if he ever worked there or not but was told that he did early in life.   PS I did tell you that I was Mayor of Carlton for several years in the late 70’s and early 80’s?   PS2 Papa’s brother Theodrick was a half wit who lived with the Whitehead family at some point. There was always sliced hoop cheese on the table at meal time.  Theodrick took too much and Papa said to him……. Theodrick, why don’t you just take it all! (to make his point).  Uncle Theodrick put the last few pieces on his plate.   JoeDaddy and Coco loved to tell this story.

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