Sunday, 28 December 2014

History Takes Unique Curves

Being a 'retiree'....I have time to waste (so my wife tells me).

I've spent a couple of days redigging family history.  There are some footnotes, which I've come to add to the story.

Last year, I dug deep enough to go back to around the mid-1500s and fifteen generations of the family.  Presently, I've dug down to 1290 (John Hammond of Suffolk, England), and added four more generations onto the story.

But there are two curious references I've come across.

First, this guy who made the journey from London to the new world with his son....it appears that this wasn't really his first trip to the new world.  There are a fair number of bits of information to indicate that this guy (John was his name) was listed as a mariner, and had traveled a good bit via ships. It would appear that he was a ship's officer and signed various documents to which you'd need some education and authority to accomplish.

So this guy built up a career of roughly two decades....sailing back and forth in the 1640s and 1650s.  At some point, his first wife passes on.  Toward 1666, John makes up two decisions....one to remarry and the second to end the sail-life.  John is in his late fifties and marries up with a gal who was twenty-one years old.  In the spring of 1666....prior to the London fire, but in the midst of the plague period.....John takes his wife and his son with him.....leaving England for good.

The second reference which came up oddly.....is this group of Hammonds who settled up originally in the Norfolk area of England (a hundred miles north-east of London).....weren't exactly life-long English guys.

For a number of generations, they'd lived there and farmed off the local lands.  They were English by every standard you could imagine for the time.  However, there's not much on records or history to go past the 1300s.  However, there is this odd thing about old gravesites in the Kirby-Bedon region where they settled.  A fair number of the sites have markings related to the Normans (the French).

Around 1066....the Normans finally invaded England.  The French force?  It was made up of various Europe 'tribes' and a remarkable invasion force.  Epic books and movies have been made over the Norman invasion of England, and the British loss.

At the conclusion.....the Normans needed to ensure control over the new territory.  Most historians will agree that around eight-thousand Normans were brought in.....given title and property (land and farms) as part of their contribution to the war....but their bigger contribution was to control England and the losing party.

Kirby-Bedone?  It's a pretty rural area, and you can sit and imagine some folks arriving with some authority on their shoulders....and just setting up shop.

A written line to cover this period?  None.  I am left to an odd family line which seems to go past Kirby-Bedone, and might actually end up on the northern coast of Normandy and have a French connection.....preferring civilization and farming.

A Closure in My Old Neighborhood

For the 3.5 years I lived in Arlington....there were a hundred-odd structures that would get brought up in local conversations whenever you said "waste of money".  One of those included the Artisphere in Arlington.

It was a highly artistic structure over near the Wilson Blvd area of Arlington....generally referenced as being in Rosslyn (although the whole region is Arlington).  As best as I can describe the building....having walked around it but never entered.....it was a dome-shaped building of a significant size.  There was a bar and lounge attached to it.....although I can't remember anyone ever claiming they sipped a beer there.  There was a 4,000 square foot 'ballroom' for social engagements.  And there were five or six areas for art display or public displays.

Most folks in the Arlington knew it existed.....beyond that, I doubt if it ever had more than local school kids herded over to it, or the 500-odd artsy-crowd folks in the local art establishment that went to it monthly.  What the Arlington county council would admit.....they were supplementing the budget with around 2.5 million dollars a year.  The odd thing was that the county had twelve people hired up for the facility as full-time help and another twenty as part-timers.

The place, at it's peak last year.....with between 75,000 and 80,000 guests.....simply never made any type of pay-back to the community and was a magnet for public funds. Every election period.....this was fairly noted in the local news.

Well....this week, the county commission finally made a decision to dump the Artisphere.  They will discuss some alternate purpose for the building (mostly because there's a six-year period left on the lease and if they break it.....there's more cash involved).  Although it's hard to guess what function could be made out of the dome-structure.

The odd thing that always came up in conversations when people discussed the place?  It's the only pub/lounge in Arlington which WOULD NOT accept credit cards.  With almost three-hundred drinking establishments in the Arlington area.....this one footnote is the one that made me question the legit nature of the whole establishment.