My mother & the Longfellows

Just an afterthought to previous post : I share a bit of family lore regarding the Longfellows.

The poet Henry W. Longfellow was no stranger to sorrow and tragedy.  His line "into each life some rain must fall" is an understatement in his case (he was widowed twice; his first wife Mary died after a miscarriage; his second, Frances, after burns suffered in a freak accident).

Longfellow was endeared to his six children; his old classic The Children's Hour christens one of them "laughing Allegra".

Allegra eventually married and had children of her own.  One of her daughters married a doctor from Texas, and they settled in a house on the River Road, in Minneapolis, next door to my grandparents - where my mother Mary Ravlin grew up, with her brother and sisters.  My mother became friends with their children (Allegra's grandchildren).  She relates the story that once, when Allegra was visiting her family in Minneapolis, their furnace backed up and filled the house with smoke.  The Longfellows migrated next door until the problem was fixed and the house aired out; Allegra spent the night at my grandparents'.

A few years later, the Longfellows invited my mother (who was about 12 at the time) to accompany them on a vacation to Maine.  They took the train from Minneapolis, and eventually reached the Longfellow home in Portland (now a museum).  There the Longfellows brought out some little glasses of sherry, and my mother had her first taste of alcohol - which she took with great trepidation, since both her parents were absolute Iowa teetotalers.

The Longfellow House (Portland, Maine)

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