There were two Aarons on the farm when I was growing up, a living one and an ancestor. The living Aaron, my mother’s younger brother, was 19 years old when I was born and seemed more of a cousin than an uncle. My mother taught me to spell “Aaron” by reciting – “Big A, Little a, R-O-N.” This may have been my first spelling word.
Although named after the stately and historically significant Aaron Hall, Esquire, my Uncle Aaron was happy-go-lucky and full of fun. He and my mother shared an infectious sense of humor, and loved a good joke. In this photo from Thanksgiving, 1977, they’ve dissolved into giggles, my uncle trying to keep the turkey in his mouth with his napkin, and my mother laughing until the tears ran down her cheeks.
My Uncle Aaron died in 2005. He never attained the level of seriousness or accomplishment of his namesake ancestor, but he enhanced my childhood with his joy for life and his love for his family. And he kept the ancestral Aaron alive for us through this name association.
A portrait of Aaron Hall, Esquire, hung in the parlor of the farmhouse. This is where I remember seeing it. My brother remembers it hanging in the living room. It’s possible we’re both right, since my grandmother liked to move the furniture and pictures around every few years. It now belongs to my cousin Patti, Aaron P. Hall’s daughter.
The inscription on the back of the portrait says:
“This picture presented to Wm E Hall by his cousin Elizabeth Upham Jan 11, 1902. Aaron Hall son of Asahel Hall born Nov 11, 1760. Died Sept 29th 1839. Served in the revolutionary war and participated in the battles of Germantown and Monmouth.”
How different this eighteenth century Aaron Hall was from the Aaron I knew. The curly-haired boy who grew up to become my uncle fought in no wars and farmed no land of his own, although he lived just across the lane from the farmhouse and was always on call as an extra set of hands. He lived in different times, and they shaped him just as his ancestor’s times shaped his long-ago life. More about Aaron Hall, Esq. next week.
On Wednesday: Out on the Sidewalk