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.
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.