I received a bulky package in the mail today from my one and only Uncle Mike! He was going through papers from his father, my grandfather, John Jerome Murray. The package contained dozens of letters that I wrote to him and my grandmother in the mid-1970’s…when I left home at 18 I didn’t really ever go back, but I wrote a lot in those days. I could never have told you that I wrote this much, but I was far away and my life was somewhere between the one I was born to and the life that I made. Writing kept me connected to Buffalo, from Arizona, New England and the old England, Virginia and points in between. And I loved my grandparents! I suppose that I wanted them to know that I was doing well and was looking for their approval as I took a different path from the one expected of me. I’m proud of that me for being so diligent!
It’s a bit emotional to read the words I wrote in those days…missing family and girlfriends, struggling financially, expressing great hope as each new chapter unfolded, describing the life in an English country pottery that might have appeared exotic to the folks back home. But the coolest thing so far is this: an excerpt from a letter I wrote on Oct. 14 1973. It was my first semester of college (the first of three institutions of higher learning I attended)…I’m sure every potter has answered the question…”how did you become a potter?”. Well I have been telling the same story for a very long time and right there in my youthful and awkward writing on a yellowed piece of ruled paper is that very story in my 18 year old words.
” Tom (Dowd) showed me how to make a pot out of clay in the ceramics studio. I made one small little one. He takes ceramics for one of his courses. I might next semester” And I did!!! Standing in drop/ad lines to force my way in. Why I was so motivated by that one small pot I have no recollection… for several years I just figured that it would be a nice hobby. It really wasn’t until I walked in the door of the Winchcombe Pottery in the winter of 1978 that I knew I could be a potter. God knows what would have become of me if I hadn’t found that place?
One day I’ll write the story of getting to England and all the almost unbelievable connections that led me there. And then there is the 5 years between this letter and that. Those years have their own particular charm! But in the meantime, I’m completely pumped up with this discovery! It moves to the front of the archives.
I am fascinated to to know that my grandfather kept everything I sent him…show notices, business cards, articles, letters, postcards etc. I inherited that gene…I have kept almost every piece of personal correspondence I’ve ever received. Drop me a line!