Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Mother's Brother

          Herbert Solon Chiles, called Solon, was born in Village Springs, Blount County, Alabama on 13 September 1907, third child of Herbert Sanborn Chiles and his wife Josephine Pauline Bickert.  His father was born Solon Brown Wandell, but was adopted as Herbert Sanborn Chiles at age ten. He gave  his only son both his names.

This photo was taken in Village Springs, Alabama in fall 1907.  From L to R:
William R. Chiles, Josephine Pauline (Bickert) Chiles, Julia Louise Chiles, Herbert Sanborn Chiles (aka Solon Brown Wandell), Herbert "Solon" Chiles, and Bessie Katie Eugenia Chiles.

The next picture we have of Solon is my favorite. It was in a small silver frame when it came into my possession:

          A portrait was made of the four oldest Chiles children:

Bessie Katie Eugenia Chiles (top), Julia Louise Chiles, left, Leonora Josephine "Babe" Chiles (Aunt Bebe) (center)  and Herbert Solon Chiles (right).


My mother, Helen Marietta Chiles was born 11 October 1911 after the family had moved to Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida.

Some of these pictures are from photocopies of the originals in the possession of Mrs. Sylvia Danner.

The five Chiles children, Solon reaching for baby Helen

          Some mementos of Solon include postcards his father wrote to him when away with the railroad, and his final report card.

          In 1915 a couple of the Chiles girls came home from school with the dreaded diptheria.  They recovered, but after Solon received a dose of medication from the home nurse, he took a turn for the worse and died on 15 January 1915.  He was buried that same day in a newly purchased family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery. Josephine always believed that the nurse had given him too much of the serum.

          Every day after Solon's death, my grandmother Josephine P. Chiles would walk with my mother Helen to the cemetery to visit his grave.  

          When I was growing up, this urn held Solon's large collection of antique glass marbles, and stood near the piano in the living room of the family home at 406 East Francis Avenue in Tampa.  We children were never to touch it or its contents.  

          My sister Sylvia (Mrs. B.C. Danner) inherited them and I took these two pictures in her home in Norman, Oklahoma.  The vase has since been broken, and the marbles are in another container.

             Mother lived to the age of ninety-four, and passed away in her home in Cocoa Beach, Florida on 11 February 2006.  

          She had expressed her wish to be buried with her parents in Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery in Tampa, but there was only enough space for a cremation urn, so she chose this option.  

Mother was buried at the foot of Solon's small grave.

          In her last days, Helen was heard to ask, "Who is that cute little boy over there?  He's smiling at me."  I choose to believe it was my mother's brother Solon, come to walk her home.  

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