Frances Bell

home at last – for all the mes

Archaeology of family life

Diving through the layers of ‘stuff’ in our home office that was virtually unusable because of all the ‘stuff’, I found this  lovely artefact in my late aunt’s Scrabble set. It is a diary that reveals two layers. The diary dates from 1965


My aunt Celie was a civil servant and she had acquired this 1965 diary in her working life. It reveals glimpses of her 1965 working life when she was 53 (having been born 6 weeks after the Titanic sank as she liked to remind us).
The next layer is her Scrabble games with my mother Elise Richardson who married Celie’s brother Vincent in 1940. Celie and Elise were very different but became friends and their relationship survived the death of both their husbands.


I love the way that their Scrabble scores from the 1970s/1980s overlay the 1965 diary entries.
For me this multi-layered evidence reveals my aunt and my mother and the life that they had that extended beyond their official relationship of sisters-in-law.
They were two different women who shared a poverty – stricken background, connected by a brother/husband, separated by temperament and political views. But they did connect and enjoyed each other’s company.
I celebrate and miss them both – Elise and Celie, I love the bones of you.


francesbell • January 24, 2015

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