Inside a box stashed safely in a suitcase filled with photographs made over a lifetime is an envelope. Tucked inside is a memory, a memento of a father's love and devotion to his little girl.
Here is the cherished birthday card that Alex Artway handmade for his 'Dear Jeanette' while away from home onboard the Merchant Ship, the Northern Sun. While Artway was often away from home Jeanette felt her father's love was ever present. Father and daughter remained very close throughout his life - not the same could be said about mother and daughter.
Artway sailed as a Merchant Marine for twenty years and in the early years of this career he enjoyed the constant movement. Then Alex met his future wife, Josephina, while working in Philadelphia. She became pregnant with Jeanette and shortly thereafter Alex moved permanently to Philadelphia.
Jeanette describes her home life as 'progressive'. She was 13 years old when she attended her parent's wedding. She recalls, "It was all very Bohemian."
Alex and Josephina had what you might call an 'open marriage' - quite unusual for the 1940's.
Jeanette says that her mother taught her "how to be free and what to do with that freedom" - her father taught her how to love books, music, and language... although Alex would not permit her to learn Russian ('If you speak Russian you will spend your life with Russians"), it was essential for her to study piano..."All Russians play the piano."
At 16 Alex told his daughter, " You can stop doing 'church stuff'." And, "Never marry for sex, Do not be beholden to any man."
Jeanette was 21 when her father died suddenly. Alex Artway had made provisions for her college education. Her parents had been living apart. Alex and Josephina were about to be divorced - the papers arrived a day after his death. Jeanette would have inherited the family home, not her mother, but as the divorce papers had not been signed everything went to Josephina - except his photographs. Jeanette rescued a couple of suitcases. "I knew they were more than significant for my father - they were emblematic of his rich life, his story. They have become my touchstone."
In my next post we will see what Alex saw when he sailed the deep blue seas.....