The Clan

Over a century ago, in the mystery of time, a Frenchman and an Englishman emigrated to the United States. The Englishman brought along his Australian-born wife and some children. The Frenchman came as a boy and grew up in New England and married into an old New England family with roots in Scotland and England. The years went by and the two families settled in Queens County, New York, where the Englishman’s youngest son met the Frenchman’s second daughter and a marriage took place. Roy Lawrence Webber, the Englishman’s son, unlike his older brothers and sisters, most of whom never finished high school, went to college and then to seminary and became a priest in the Episcopal Church. The Frenchman’s daughter, Hortense Marie Basquin, started college but had to drop out because of illness and never finished.

In the course of time four children were born. The two sons became priests while one daughter became a college professor and the other a registered nurse. They, in their turn, married and produced a total of ten children who became, among other things, an insurance executive, a college professor, and a trainer of horses. Most of these also married and produced, to date, fifteen offspring ranging in age from two seniors in high school to others just learning to walk. The first generation died and their descendants have spread abroad to Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Kansas, and California. The last family reunion took place over twenty years ago and spanned three generations.

This year, on the Labor Day weekend, the clan (still three generations, but a new one at the bottom to replace the departed one at the top) assembled on the shore of an Adirondack lake called, appropriately, Paradox. The mid-western branches, having borne the smallest children, were unable to attend, but those who did come, with their spouses, made up a goodly gathering. In the brief moments when everyone was seated at the same time there were thought to be twenty-four in attendance out of thirty-seven children and grandchildren and spouses.

Why? Does one need to ask, if a good time was had by all as it assuredly was? Perhaps not, but human beings are incurably curious so I can suggest two answers.

One: if you want a younger generation to value family, don’t preach about family values, let them see an alternative to the disfunctional families in the news.

Two: encourage ambitions. My most enduring memory may be the sight of the youngest member of the clan, two-year-old Eli, working with his shovel and bucket to alter the shoreline of the lake. If the universe has a purpose, as I believe it does, our role is to work with the Creator to make a difference. Eli has all the right instincts and this last weekend gave him – and all of us – opportunity to move a few grains of sand in the right direction.


ralphSeptember 6th, 2007 at 8:36 am

Great photo & article!!!

CarolineSeptember 20th, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Ah, yes, the ambitions of a 2 year-old are a wonder to behold!

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