The newly revised second edition (2015) of One April in Boston: The Gift of the Spyglass contains a section called “The Journey Continues — Author’s Update 2015.” The following excerpt, which mentions my leaving the audio book of One April in Boston at Phil’s marker at Grove Cemetery, is from that section of the book.
“In late 2001, the audio book for One April in Boston was produced and early the next year I relocated from Connecticut to Boston. It was the place four generations of my ancestors had once called home. I became the first family member to live in Boston in nearly 150 years. On a return trip to Connecticut, a year later, I visited Phil’s marker once again. I was surprised to see that the spyglass I had left back in 2000 was still there. The wood had deteriorated and the metal had rusted but it was in the exact same spot. During this visit I left a copy of the One April in Boston audio book at the base of the marker as a lasting tribute to my childhood hero. A light rain started to fall and I took shelter under a group of trees and stood quietly, contemplating all that had taken place on my journey of discovery. What would Phil have thought about all this, I wondered to myself … or Ella … or any of the other people in my story who rest here?”
I was always struck by the fact that Philip Edwards had died so young, just 23 years old. When I was growing up, not a single photo of him existed but one wonderful story did. I mentioned this in my last blog post. Phil was truly amazing with children — like a “Pied Piper” of Naugatuck, they followed him wherever he went. He gave the neighborhood children rides aboard a horse-drawn wagon he drove while making deliveries for the local market in Millville. I could vividly picture the magical conversations Phil had with those children aboard that wagon and the gift he passed on to them through his words. Those moments became the premise for my book.
Since I was young I had always longed to see even one photograph of Phil, at any age, so I could glimpse the face of the one ancestor who captured my imagination more than any other. In 1997, a box was discovered in an attic by a relative. It contained a family photograph circa. 1905 that was clearly marked on the back so I knew it included Phil and his parents. Located in that same box was a photo of the Edwards home in the Millville section of Naugatuck, Connecticut. Another childhood photo of Phil, circa. 1908, was located as I worked on the book. (Phil can be seen on the right.) When I learned about Phil’s relationship with Ella, I wondered if a photo of them together might still exist. I felt Ella’s sister Doris was my best chance for locating such a photo but when she looked without success and eventually passed in 2004 I thought any chance was lost. I was wrong. What happened at Grove Cemetery less than two years later is nothing short of miraculous. Click the link below to “hear” the story.
Note: The photo at the top of this blog post shows a portion of the picture of Phil and Ella that was discovered in 2006. To see the full image, click on the audio link above.