I wonder if my grandparents knew…

Harry Albert Espy c. 1895

Today, March 19, 2020, is the first day of Spring.  It’s the earliest arrival of this romantic season since 1896!

My grandfather, Harry Espy, was not yet twenty years old in March of 1896.  He was a student at California College in East Oakland, California, and he, like his older brother and younger sister, were boarding at the home of Dan and Annie Richardson.  And Harry was smitten!

The object of his affections was the oldest Richardson child, seventeen-year-old Helen Medora.  She was beautiful; he was handsome. Their courtship took place under the watchful eyes of her mother or in the company of good friends.  Except, maybe, once. In the Spring of 1896.

“Mama” – Helen Richardson, 1896

Many years later, my grandmother would tell me about taking a ferry from the dock in Berkeley and going clear over to Marin County for the day — to Muir Woods for a picnic  They took a large hamper with cold roasted chicken and sliced ham and potato salad and lemonade.  They ate under a large oak tree.  “Our tree” she still called it.  It was there that Harry proposed and carved their initials in the trunk of the old tree..

I’m not quite sure whether they were escorted that day.  And I would bet dollars to donuts that they weren’t aware that Spring had come early that year…  no doubt, just for them!

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