Mr. Price & my Grandmother the Postcard CollectorFriday, August 17, 2018
|My grandmother Dolores Reyes de Irureta Goyena with my mother Filomena, uncle Antonio and aunt Dolores Nov 1919|
Many weeks ago I received a request through my web page to contact a gentleman called Mike Price. I noted that his place of origin had the initials MI so I assumed he was from Missouri (he is from Michigan). I do not know anybody from that State and his request for info on my grandparents simply made me ignore that first request. My thought was “Anything he might want to know I will not know as when I was young enough to ask these questions of my mother and grandparents, I was much too stupid to ask. And when I finally became curious I was an old man and all of the persons who could answer my questions were dead.
But Mr. Price persisted and he called me up. Imagine the surprise to find out that as soon as my grandmother married around 1910 she embarked on a postcard mailing blitz and had friends all over the world. I thought I knew my Abue (as I called her) well but this I never suspected and I even wonder if my mother knew.
Then Mr. Price sent a postcard with my grandmother’s lovely handwriting and his piece de resistance was my grandmother’s passport photograph taken in 1919 when she, my mother Filomena, my uncle Antonio and aunt Dolores left Manila for the Bronx via a Japanese steamer ( I only rememer the Maru part of the ship's name) that brought them to Vancouver, BC and from where they took a train to Montreal or Toronto and from there to NY City. My Abue often spoke of this place that had mountains and trees.When I am in downtown Vancouver I sometimes go into the old Canadian Pacific train station and sit in the cavernous hall and imagine the three (and Antonio in Abue's arms) walking across to their train platform.
Mr. Price, after seeing the photographs on my website told me that he had the suspicion I had inherited the talent from my grandmother who sang coloratura soprano and painted some lovely pastel flowers (with a Oriental touch to them) that I treasure. I told Mr. Price that Abue saved me from many spankings (chinelazos using a Filipino slipper called a chinela) by telling my mother that like her I was an artist and that she should allow for it.
In fact from kindergarten onwards could draw and paint very well. When we moved to Mexico City in 1954 I was told I was going to have painting classes. My teacher was an English man called Robin Bond. In WWII he had used his expertise in London as an expert on camouflage. In Mexico he earned good money interpreting for the b+w TV network Televisa the colours for sets that would best be seen on a b+w TV screen.
I took lessons until I was almost 14 and suddenly one day I told my mother I could not paint anymore. I told her I was no longer going to go to see Robin Bond. I remember well that at that age I was given a spanking. My grandmother must not have been around.
Here to illustrate this blog is one of my framed paintings from that period. I have two others, a wolf (that my rosemary says resembles a burro) and an eagle. I am choosing the cat because Rosemary’s cat Casi-Casi and I have been alone in this Kits duplex without her. She went with our two daughters to visit relatives in Prince Edward Island and in Brockville, Ontario. They return tonight. Both Casi-Casi and I will be very happy.
And thank you Mr. Price for proving that some pleasant situations in this 21st century could have never happened in the past one.
Hello! I sent a brief message through your photography website yesterday, but a now trying a direct email to your listed address. It's about your grandparents from the Philippines, mentioned in one of your blogs.
First I wish to say I looked through your on-line portfolio of portraits and found them absolutely marvellous.
I'm not a photographer myself, but own a most extensive collection of photographs from the Philippines, mainly from the years 1898 to 1946, altogether about 250,000.
I'm trying to contact you because in my Philippine photo collection I have some pieces relevant to your grandparents, I'll be writing something on that, and would like to talk with you about them.
Please write, email or call me anytime.
Thanks and best wishes,
Hello, many thanks for accepting my call yesterday evening, I'll try again soon. Meanwhile, attached here is an example of the many photo postcards sent overseas by your grandmother, front and back, so you can see what generated my special interest in her. And that's also why I suspected you inherited your love of photography (and art, as you said) from your grandmother, even if indirectly.
I recognize the location of this photo as along the facade of Binondo church in Manila.
Your grandmother evidently was unable to continue her overseas postcard exchanges when World War I began in Europe in August 1914 for obvious reasons, her correspondents that I know of were in Spain, France, Belgium, and the Ottoman Empire. She was obviously fluent in at least Spanish and French (plus English of course, and Tagalog as you noted).
Am greatly appreciative of your patience and narrative skills in telling me bits and pieces about your grandmother, and your extended family and experiences and connections.
Attached here is a passport photo of your newly widowed grandmother with her three young children, dated November 1919. In this photo, I can see a strong resemblance of her to you, judging from a few photos of you I've encountered among your blogs.
Maraming salamat ulit, Mike
Apparently she only began corresponding and collecting postcards after her marriage to your grandfather Tirso Irureta Goyena, a marriage probably around 1911, do you happen to know the exact date? He may have encouraged her. And/or the marriage may have given her the leisure time or the disposable income to facilitate a latent interest. I have not found any postcards mailed by an unmarried Dolores Reyes.
Best wishes, Mike
Michael G Price, Michigan Center, MI