VELMA JANE MOORE joined the Brown family when she married RONALD DALRYMPLE BROWN on June 30, 1926 in Economy, Nova Scotia. Ronald was the last male descendant of JOHN BROWN (~1595-1686) through his son BENJAMIN BROWN (1647-1736).
Ronald and Velma were my maternal grandparents, and although we had family visits on a regular basis, I never really knew either one of them. Unlike my parents, whom I knew had once been children, college students, and newlyweds, Ronald and Velma had never been anything other than grandparents, more specifically, my grandparents.
When I was twelve, Velma took me into her bedroom and gave me an amethyst ring she had received as a gift on her twelfth birthday. She made a point of telling me that she had waited to give it to me until I was the same age she was when the ring was given to her.
What makes the memory of that day so clear is that not only did she give me something that had been hers from that far-away time in Nova Scotia, it was the first and only time I had been allowed to cross the threshold of my grandparents’ bedroom at 27 Edgewood Road while they were alive.
From that time forward, I have been searching for Velma Brown.
The bare facts are that she was born in Economy Point, Nova Scotia in 1897, and she grew up on a farm. She then attended Dalhousie University in Halifax so that she wouldn’t have to remain in Economy, Nova Scotia and live on a farm. In her family history of the Moores, my mother writes of Economy:
I think Economy was at its peak at the time Velma was born and during her growing up years. The census of 1901 shows 805 people in 175 households. There were five schools at the time. Those who weren’t farming found work in saw mills and the woods, in shipbuilding yards with other men being in the crews for the ships, and fishing. . . . Many men fished for shad, which was very plentiful at that time but is no longer. (I remember Ronald going to Parrsboro for shad right off the boat for our dinner. Shad is the boniest fish I have ever eaten.)1
Not long after Velma gave me the amethyst ring, I mustered the courage to ask her what her childhood had been like. What I remember of her response was that life on the farm lacked modern conveniences, they churned their own butter, and, unlike the children of today (which would have been 1968 or thereabouts), she had only one doll, which had a painted porcelain head.
There was something about Economy, Nova Scotia, then.
When I was growing up, my notion of Economy was formed by a single photograph, which hung in one of the bedrooms of Velma and Ronald’s summer cottage in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. There was something about this picture–the small, white house with its four blank windows, the narrow dirt road–that just seemed so desolate, almost as if it were a road to nowhere. Years later, when the picture resurfaced in The Family Archives, it conveyed such a sense of sadness.
1Katharine Brown Gauffreau, The Ancestry and Life of Velma Jane Moore Brown (unpublished manuscript, 2013), 3.