Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January 8

Today is the anniversary of my father's birth. He would have been 102 today, as he was born January 8, 1912. He lived a healthy, active life until about 80, when consequences of bone cancer began to impinge on his lifestyle. (He had to give up tennis and competitive sailboat racing at about that age, but he continued driving and did some woodworking for a few more years.) He died in the autumn of 1996, age 84.   R.I.P. Nick.   Nathan P. Nichols (1912-1996).

January 8 is also the anniversary of his parents' 1902 wedding. William Stanley Nichols (born 5-4-1872) married Nellie Eusebia Johnson (born 12-11-1874) on January 8, 1902.  They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary fifty years later in Danvers, MA, and I remember a few details about the occasion.
My grandparents "Nana" and "Granddaddy"  1952

My sister and I were dressed up in matching gold dresses and attended a ceremony and reception at a church in Danvers.

I thank my cousin Dave Brewster for scanning old Kodachrome slides taken by his father David and his uncle Dudley, and sharing these images with me. I had not seen these photos before.  I do remember, clearly, that the fancy dresses were a bit stiff and scratchy. "Skritchy" is the word that instantly comes to mind as my body shudders in remembrance. I was never very comfortable in dress-up clothes. My sister may have been more comfortable; look at this wonderful photo of Jean:  

Here's a photo of my father, all dressed up for his parent's Golden Anniversary, which coincided with his 40th birthday: 

My mother, Janet Cutler Nichols, was 39, approaching her 40th birthday in a few months. Here she stands with Nana (her mother-in-law, Mrs. William S. Nichols): 

I do not remember anything about a special dinner at Pine Knoll in celebration of this Golden Anniversary, but the photographs taken by the Brewsters prove that we were there at the formal dining room table as Granddaddy --with gold crown on his head-- carved turkey. His son Edward Holyoke Nichols (my father's older brother) can be seen in the foreground. 
 Note the golden candles on the tables in this large Pine Knoll dining room:    
Although the picture quality is poor, I am delighted to see this documentation of the Pine Knoll dining tables decorated with golden grapefruit (a very traditional beginning of any dinner at PK) and golden candles for this anniversary dinner. Note the large China cabinet in the distance. There was a fireplace to the right (not visible in this view) and a row of south-facing windows on the left, usually filled with plants, making this basement room quite lovely.


Mark Svendsen said...

Was William S. Nichols a minister?

Sandy said...

Yes, my grandfather was a Unitarian minister. He served churches in North Andover, MA; Montpelier, VT (from about 1919 until retirement in mid 1930's); and later was called back from retirement during WWII to lead one in Marblehead. I believe his portrait hangs in that church. He is even a descendent of the 1st minister of that church!

I found this bit of history today: "Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead began over 280 years ago, when the congregation split from the First Congregational Church, now called "Old North Church." The split happened because Old North selected the more conservative of two candidates being considered for settled minister.
A group of parishioners, who favored the more liberal pastor Rev. Edward Holyoke, invited him to lead a new church across town. Thus was born the Second Congregational Church of Marblehead, which joined the Unitarian movement in 1820..."
We are descended from Rev. Holyoke.

Mark Svendsen said...

I'm working on a history project in North Andover, maybe you can help me. Your grandfather was the first Boy Scout Scoutmaster in the area. (one of the first in the country) he started troop 1 at the North Parish Church in 1910 (the year scouting was founded in America).

Do you have any information on his scouting activities, I think his two sons were also involved with the boy scouts.

I'm also looking for an early photograph of him from around 1910, would you possibly have one?

I have found some information out about William Nichols in the North Parish archives, which I would be very willing to share with you.

Sandy said...

Thanks for this added information. I had not known much about his life in North Andover, nor his Scoutmaster role. I'd be glad to learn more. One of my cousins has just scanned some pages of a 1975 book titled "The Firm and Ancient Vow" -- including a good photo of W.S. Nichols on page 216. Have you seen that book?
If not, I could forward the image to you.