Thank you Downton Abbey for reminding me of my blessed heritage with your beautiful season finale

Last night, Hubby and I watched the season 4 finale of Downton Abbey. Toward the end of the episode the staff has a day off at the seaside. The scenes were composed and shot simply yet beautifully—directing and cinematography done very well produce such stellar results (as seen below).

During these scenes at the beach, two characters (Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson) go wading in the chilly surf. The almost dialogue-free exchange was charming and heartwarming.

I know when I'm watching great television when I have the experience of being emotionally and/or mentally transported to something very personal. And this particular scene did just that. I found myself recalling old family photographs from albums over 100 years old of my great-great grandmother, Jessie Rae Munce, wading in the California surf with her granddaughters and daughter in the summer of 1910.

Jessie was 68 years old in the above photograph. And like the water that the characters on Downton Abbey were wading in, I'm certain that the Pacific waters were quite chilly on Jessie's feet (water temperatures along the northern coast of California are never really warm).

When I found this photograph of Jessie, I fell in love with its candidness and frivolity—a "pull up your skirts girls because no one cares" sort of attitude. It represents an interesting time in history when things were changing. I am certain that my transplanted Scottish grandmother, her daughters, and her granddaughters were right there leading the way here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their faces in the above photo tell me that. They're modern leanings are also evident in the fact that even though they weren't wealthy, they still had a camera with them at what seems like every family outing and then paid the money to have the film processed and printed.

Today, thanks to that wonderfully produced episode of Downton Abbey, my heart is full of gratitude for so much of what I owe to my incredible forebears.

Jessie and her husband, John, made difficult sacrifices to come to the U.S. from Glasgow, Scotland in the 1870s. John came first, leaving Jessie behind with 4 children. Jessie came later wrangling those 4 children on her own. John's job as a metalworker with a railroad company allowed them to work their way across the United States from the east coast to the west coast having 2 children along the way in New York and Indiana (how hard must that have been for Jessie?). Their last 4 children were born in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their youngest was my great grandfather, William Munce, who ended up marrying Elsie Pump (pictured above) and their oldest was my grandmother (aka Grammy) Elsie Munce (the kid playing in the sand not looking at the camera in the above photo).

It is because of Jessie and John that I can happily say I am a 4th generation Bay Area native. I was privileged to be born a U.S. citizen because of them. I was blessed to love the sea, the beach and the coast because of them. I am certain that I even owe my love of photography to them because of their love of it over 100 years ago.

Yes, I know I've witnessed great television when all this emotion and gratitude can be inspired by it.

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  1. Cindy,
    Such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing all of these familiar photos once again. We are so blessed.

  2. What a lovely story Cindy.
    I love the old photographs of your family, what wonderful treasures to own.
    You have inspired me to watch Downton Abby.
    My husband's family are from Scotland too but a little more recent, he is first generation Australian.
    It is fascinating to learn where the love for art and photography came from in past generations.

  3. Just wonderful! Great old pictures of your family...I love Downton Abby too!

  4. Oh Cindy what a wonderful tribute to your ancestors! I know they are smiling at your words...thank you for sharing your treasured thoughts with us. We adore Downton Abby at the cozy touches our hearts too.
    We treasure your long standing friendship....Karla

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  8. I just finished watching Downton Abbey on PVR today..there is that DA glow that carries on for a few precious hours...I'll miss it.

    Gorgeous photos of your family, those are priceless.



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