Recently, I received these photos from my aunt Barb. As I am a very patient person, I didn’t wait for her to confirm who these people are in the photos. I’ve guessed, then emailed and am waiting for a response. I know for certain that the last one is of my grandfather and his parents. The one in the middle has me flumoxed as I am not sure who the wise looking man is that is sitting on the right. I want to believe with all my heart that this is Joseph Green, the man that sailed his family on a small ship across the Atlantic, in search of a better (or at the very least, different ) life. I have not seen a photo of Joseph before so if this is it, well bless my stars, that would be something quite spectacular for me.
I have been re-reading excerpts from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Across the Plains.” He would have been on a train that travelled very close the my family’s farm in Otoe, Nebraska. I like to think of him, Mr RLS, on his journey through the plains, possibly glimpsing the Green family farm, Edward’s farm, in the distance. Well, that parcel of land would not have been settled by Edward for another ten or so years after Stevenson’s first trip across the states in 1879. But still. I like making connections and links, no matter how tedious.
Here are some quotes I’ve lifted from the Robert Louis Stevenson website:
“For many years America was to me a sort of promised land; ‘westward the march of empire holds its way’; the race is for the moment to the young; what has been and what is we imperfectly and obscurely know; what is to be yet lies beyond the flight of our imaginations. [. . . ] England has already declined, since she has lost the States; and to these States, therefore, yet undeveloped, full of dark possibilities, and grown, like another Eve, from one rib out of the side of their own land, the minds of young men in England turn naturally at a certain hopeful period of their age”
(RLS, The Amateur Emigrant, The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Swanston edn, vol ii [London: Chatto and Windus, 1911], p. 80)
The train makes its way across the plains of Nebraska: “We were at sea – there is no other adequate expression – on the plains of Nebraska. [. . .] It was a world almost without a feature; an empty sky, an empty earth, front and back, the line of the railway stretched from horizon to horizon, like a cue across a billiard-board; one either hand, the green plain ran till it touched the skirts of heaven” (RLS, “Across the Plains”, The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Swanston edn, vol ii [London: Chatto and Windus, 1911], p. 115). In the evening, the train stops at North-Platte, Nebraska, so that passengers can have their dinner.