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It has been an interesting weekend. This is a long story of a water leak, an old photo, a twitter search, and a family who once lived in my home in Cambridge, MA during the last pandemic. It begins with this photo, front and back:
On Friday, we had to open up the ceiling of my son's 2nd floor bathroom due to water damage. Our house, built around 1840, is beautiful but old and cranky. Above the ceiling, we found a small attic space on the 3rd floor, cut off by previous owners with new closets. 2/
There we found, amongst the debris, a photo of a distinguished man leaning on a railing, a red tinted drape and chair behind him. I might have left it there, but with time and confidence in the talents on twitter, I posted the photo asking for guidance. 3/
Twitter delivered, by the 100s. Lots of speculation about the print, the card stock, and the tinting. It was Chris Dunham, @Maine_Genealogy, who put the pieces together, in 30 minutes. The writing was hard to read but there was clearly an "Annie." 4/
Chris found where I live (is it that easy?), searched property logs, and determined that this was a photo for Annie McCue, the wife of Charles McCue. They lived here from 1917-1919.

We knew a little about the house. Thanks @CambridgeHist, the owners after the McCues served dinners here. This ad was in the Cambridge Sentinel in 1924. Before this pandemic, our (1/2 Lebanese) home had a similar policy, always people in and out. Always. #daintilyprepared 6/
For a few hours Friday, the hunt for the McCues continued. Maybe this was a photo from Charles to Annie? Charles, a salesman, was very involved with the local high school, then called Rindge HS, and served on the school committee. He was a leader in the Elks Lodge. 7/
In the first of many ironies, Cambridge Rindge is now Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, one of the oldest public high schools in the US. It is where my kids went or attend as well. @CRLStweets 8/
Annie McCue was born Annie Davies and her parents lived down the street. Annie and Charles had 2 children. A son, born in 1900, died in 1902 from spinal meningitis. They had a daughter. Charles died in 1935, his obit describing him as a "valiant spirit."
And then the story got surreal. Thanks to Sarah Leslee, @Echo2Zs, I learned about the daughter, Elizabeth Letitia, who also attended Rindge. Known as "Jack" to her father, Letitia was his frequent companion to Elks Lodge and to sales trips West. Here is a photo:
Now the weird part.
Letitia died in January 1919. In our home. The funeral was also held here. @Maine_Genealogy found the death certificate. She died in the 3rd wave of Spanish Flu pandemic, just as it began to die down. Her death certificate simply says cause: Influenza
They were a distinguished family. Governor Coolidge, who would become President, "was one of the first to send his sympathy." The family moved out soon after, and bought a house on Prentiss Street. Here is her obit:…
By Friday night, twitter was looking for living family members. @Echo2Zs found one by the time I woke Saturday: Annie McCue's great niece, Margie Bogus @autumnNewEng. Margie believes the man in photo is not Charles, but instead Annie's father and Margie's great grandfather. 13/
Annie had left the picture of her father as they abandoned the house after Letitia's death. His name was Henry George Joseph Davies, born 1847 in England. Here are other pictures of Davies men: Annie's grandfather and her brother. Margie has none of Annie's father, Henry.
Margie, who happens to be her family's keeper of its history, lives in Connecticut. I am mailing the picture to her today. You can catch the backs and forths and links on our twitter exchanges. 15/
Annie died alone, a widow, in Cambridge in 1962. She had lost a son to a childhood illness and a daughter to the last great pandemic. I've been distracted and amazed about all of this since Friday. 16/
I'm probably supposed to give meaning to this now: the irony of a modern family, stuck at home during this pandemic, finding a picture of a family that suffered during the last one. If you believe in karma, you might find it here. 17/
Or the irony of my work, so much about Coronavirus now, circling back to these walls that protect us, my 3 healthy children, here. Or about this platform, that I try to use responsibly but that can also be so destructive, delivering closure in some ways. It's #goodtwitter. 18/
Or about the known progression of pandemics, Letitia's death a warning that misery comes in several waves.

Or about two mothers, one who suffered incalculable loss, the other, blessed through this pandemic, who still has days she can barely keep it together. 19/
This morning, Sunday, I sent the photo to Margie. And then I stared at some of the names of the nearly 100K dead on @nytimes front page, a modern loss so overwhelming we aren't processing it. Each one of them has a name, a story, and a family too. 20/
Maybe there isn't much more to this except that I live in a rambling and cranky old house that has seen much since it was built in 1840. Our home. The McCue's home. The two pandemics that unite us. And the house that still stands. 21/
To Annie and Letitia McCue. Thanks #goodtwitter for the detective work and story.
Be safe all. And #WearAMask
The end.

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