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|Main Street Roswell, New Mexico|
In my Tossing It Out posting from yesterday I mentioned that I had relatives in Roswell, New Mexico. The following is what I know of this part of my family according to what I was told to the best of my recollection. There may be some inaccuracies and if there are perhaps I will be able to rectify these later. To my knowledge the information is at least mostly true if not totally true.
My grandmother was a twin. Lessie Nell and Essie Dell Wilson were born in 1903 near Morgantown, West Virginia. In the early 1920s, shortly after the sisters graduated from high school, their family decided to move to Sweet Grass, Montana. My grandmother chose to stay in West Virginia and marry Paul Hough Trevillian. Also staying behind and marrying were two other sisters, Flossie Lanoe, and Lovie Ethel. My grandparents lived in Morgantown until my grandfather died in 1972. My grandmother remained in Morgantown for several years after that, later moving to Philadelphia to live with one of her daughters--my aunt.
But this story is about my Great Aunt Essie. After moving out west she only returned to West Virginia once in about 1935 with her husband and two children. My mother, who would have been about seven at the time, vaguely recalls the visit, but does not remember how they got there. She's pretty sure they came by car--probably from Montana--but she can't say for sure. Other than that the sisters never saw one another again as far as I know.
I'm not totally sure why they moved, but I would imagine it was for economic reasons. Perhaps Mr. Wilson was taking advantage of the oil boom that was starting up in Montana in those days. Essie met Roy, the man who became her husband, after moving to Montana. I'm pretty sure that Roy ended up in the oil business as he and Essie eventually uprooted their young family first to Wyoming and then finally to Roswell, both places with strong ties to the oil industry.
I don't know whether they moved to Roswell before or after the alleged UFO crash in 1947 that has brought such fame to the city, but it was probably somewhere around that time when they settled there and lived for the rest of their lives.
During the eighties when the show I was managing had yearly bookings in Roswell, I would always find some time to visit Aunt Essie. Her husband Roy had died in 1983, so since I never met him I know my visits started after that year. My wife, daughter, and I would go to the house where she lived with her son, Roy Jr., who was probably about sixty years old. We would always be joined by Essie's daughter Phyllis and her husband.
We'd share stories about the family members in the east and the west who rarely had opportunities to see each other. Aunt Essie would pull out photo albums to show me a pictorial family history of the side that I rarely heard anyone on the more familiar side of the family discuss. These were pictures of strangers who had been separated by distance and time.
It was kind of funny that though Essie Dell and Lessie Nell were twins, they were not identical twins. They looked nothing alike and behaved in very different manners. My grandmother Lessie was a tall, thin woman who looked dignified and spoke like an intellectual. My Aunt Essie was short and had a down-home air about her. They both had keen senses of humor and were just as sweet as they could be. If you'd met them you'd never known they were from the same family.
Visiting Aunt Essie and her family became a yearly event for me and my family. I don't remember ever going to see the UFO museum in Roswell. In retrospect I wish I had brought the UFO crash topic up with my relatives to see what their take on the story was and if they had anything to add to what I'd heard about it. Folks in Roswell probably find the tourists' focus on UFO aliens a bit amusing, but I'm sure they welcome the influx of dollars spent in the community.
My last visit to Roswell was in 1988. My grandmother died not long after I visited Aunt Essie. That visit would be the last time I would see Essie and her family. After that final tour we would settle down in Tennessee for a few years. A second child had been born to us and our oldest was now of school age. The road life had ended and so had our yearly visits to my various relatives around the country.
Aunt Essie died in 1993 at age 90. I would imagine that Roy Jr. and Phyllis still live in Roswell, but I don't keep in touch so I don't know for sure. It seems like an odd place to end up, but if you've been somewhere for years why move? It's kind of a shame that I haven't kept in touch.
Sometimes it happens. Families move away and drift apart. It's like branches being cut off a tree and replanted elsewhere to grow new trees. One family tree is the beginning, but then it turns into a whole bunch of family trees growing all over the country. Throughout the country I have family that I know about and probably some that I don't even know exist.
The nice thing about traveling was that I got to see some of those kinfolk sometimes. The bad thing about not traveling is not traveling, just being at home, missing those family times. But I guess that can be a good thing too. You just take the good with the bad and then realize that the bad isn't really always all that bad. Nothing stays the same anyway.
Next Saturday Susan Kane from thecontemplativecat and Susan Kane, Writer sits down for a fun and informational chat with me. I think you'll like this interview a lot.