Wednesday, February 18, 2009



I wish I had known my grandparents. Albert died before I was born and I met Therese only once when I was a child. There are so many questions I would ask them, if I could!

There is one conversation with my father that I remember very clearly. I asked him about his father's experiences as a soldier and how he became a Lieutenant. (I had been reading a history book that spoke about the negative influence of class privilege in the British army in the early 20th Century. I wondered if it was similar in Belgium.) My Dad said, "No, he joined up as a private."

I replied,"Well, wasn't that a bit unusual for someone from an upper middle class background?"

At that point, he revealed something that to me was quite extraordinary. He told me that his grandfather, Jean Gaspard III, had had a mistress in Brussels - their home was in Jalhay - and had refused to educate his four children because they were in sympathy with their mother over the matter. Thus, my grandfather's need to enlist as a private.

Both photos are of my grandfather: in the first he is holding his infant niece Emilie in 1901; in the second he is a young boy. My grandfather was born in 1875, his wife Therese in 1883.

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