(Editor’s Note: I have selected some embeddable photos from Getty Photos and other sources that help illustrate scenes in the story, and may or may not be exact representations of the people and places mentioned. For example, the above photo is that of a hospital in London from 1912.)
This article is one of an 8-part series about Charlotte Fairbairn, and was written by our patron, John Fairbairn. To read the intro by the editor and see links to the other 7 parts of the story, refer to the Table of Contents page. On to the story—
Charlotte Francis Judd was borne in the Cook County Hospital in Albany New York on 14 March 1912. Her father was Trenor Park Judd, an entrepreneurial and very itinerant ‘businessman’ (read: “inventor”) of Scottish-English background, born and raised in Blandford, Chester Depot, and North Blandford in Massachusetts. He came from the line of “Deacon” Thomas Judd, who emigrated from Glasgow Scotland to Connecticut in 1635. One of the last of the ‘Yankee tinkers’, Trenor Parke Judd had an inventive mind but never quite could manage to make a business run properly.
“You have the most beautiful baby girl this hospital ever has seen!”
Upon being called to the hospital to receive the news, Trenor was told by an enthusiastic nurse, “Mr. Judd, you have the most beautiful baby girl this hospital ever has seen! Her laughing eyes and dark curls make her a real charmer.” Trenor, already the father of four other daughters (in descending age order, Florence, Ruth, Elizabeth, and Dorothy) and having been greatly desirous of a son, harrumphfed, “Yes, and she’ll be the last child in this family!” However, within ten seconds after she was put in his arms, the eyes and the curls had done their magic; she already was his favorite, a matter that later caused some strife between Florence and Charlotte. Florence and her husband never were able to have children of their own, although they tried desperately for them. However, because of this lack of personal experience and because of childhood episodes with helping raise four younger sisters, Florence never took strongly to the concept of nurturing motherhood.
Charlotte’s mother was a young Scots-Irish lass, a product of the Irish Convents and the schools of Massachusetts in the United States. Gertrude Anne (nee: Goodreau) was an offshoot of the Scottish Lyndon family of North Ireland, landed gentry who obtained estates during the Irish Plantations that were lost during the religious wars that followed.
Her mother … being a former teacher, saw to it that each of the girls studied and took pride in the accomplishment of learning.
When Charlotte was borne, her world was fast approaching the throes of the Great War, the ‘war to end all wars’. Most of her childhood was spent moving from one place to another as her father’s businesses started and failed. Any money Trenor made and any he could raise went into the next attempt to found a rock upon which the family could stand. Most were briefly successful, but all were built on the sand of a completely insubstantial and inadequate understanding of the realities of the business and financial worlds. Thus, Gertrude and her daughters took in washing and did piecemeal mending, ladies’ seamstery, and men’s tailoring to earn money for the bills.
Charlotte’s childhood was, nonetheless, a relatively happy one. As the baby of the family, mostly she was adored, spoiled, and pampered by her four older sisters, her mother, and the father she had charmed. Her mother, however, being a former teacher, saw to it that each of the girls studied and took pride in the accomplishment of learning. Each daughter, in turn, graduated with honors from high school, quite a significant accomplishment in those days. It was from her financially inconsequential father that Charlotte learned about her imagination. Her mother encouraged her to use it, but both taught her how to do so.
Editor here. I will keep my comments brief and let the story stand on its own merit. However, let me leave you with a brief glimpse of what’s coming next week. Next week, Charlotte will fall in love, get married, and have her first baby. Her baby will prove to be rather adventurous chap, and Charlotte calls upon the help of an unusual “nursemaid” to help her keep an eye on him.
Link to “Charlotte Fairbairn—Marriage, a Baby, and the Great War” to be published September 19, 2017