Archiver > PACAMBRI > 2001-05 > 0990041527

From: "james miller" <>
Subject: [PaCambri] Troubles in Camelot/ Epilogue
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 13:32:07

want to wind this up with a story

On a trip to Loretto, I visited the Chapel House, where Gallitzin used to
live. I was speaking to the person who worked there, who was telling me
about all of the presences encountered there. These were the Things that
go bump in the night kind of happenings that seem to lack any physical
explanation. There would be footsteps suddenly heard, and just as suddenly
stop, when no one else was in the house. And other unexplainable events
were implied. It came as no surprise that Gallitzins house should house a
few resident spirits. But I was surprised to actually hear someone speaking
of it.

During my visit, I happened to mention that one of my ancestors, Joshua
Parrish, had the same birth and death years as Demetrius Gallitzin. They
were both born in 1770; both died in 1840. Gallitzin died in May of 1840;
Joshua Parrish passed away in October. This coincidence of their birth and
death seemed to jog the memory of the person telling the stories. The story
ran that a person had died in the parish shortly after Gallitzin. This
person had been a good friend of the Russian priest. The burial was being
conducted in the churchyard out back. One of the party of mourners about
the grave happened to turn around toward the house. Standing at some
distance from the other mourners was a solitary, dark, shadowy figure. Not
wanting to seem to stare, the mourner again turned around toward the grave.
However, curiosity got the best of this person, so they again turned around
to see if they could make out who the shadowy person was. But that person
had vanished. Somewhat shaken by all this, the mourner related this to one
of the other mourners standing nearby. The other mourner simply replied,
Oh, that was Gallitzin.

I like to look at old stories like this as almost mythic in character. A
common idea of myth would see
these stories as old tales not worthy of belief. I have no idea whether the
little scenario presented above
ever happened, but I personally have no problem believing in spiritual
presences [ghosts] . An older idea of myth that has been around for quite a
long time sees these tales as the expression of an idea using the vehicle of
a story. The story itself is not the main thing; what is important is the
idea being expressed.

If we were to sit 10 people down and tell them this little story, they would
no doubt come up with 10 different versions of just what meaning was being
expressed here. But this is the way myths are . Their meaning has nothing
to do with the digital, left-brained, sequential logic where meaning is
usually sought. They are very much like the dreams we have when we sleep.
Anyone who wants may come up with their version of what meaning is being
expressed by the little story above. It could be an interesting experiment
to see how one story could mean so many different things to different
individuals. In the meantime, Ill pass along two meanings that the story
has for me and why I brought it up here.

First it suggests to me that there are occasional episodes when the non
physical realm bleeds through into what we consider the hard-bed reality of
physical existence. This implies the existence of that dimension however
one wants to define it. Secondly, the little story carries the idea that
there were those among our ancestors who had differences in life, but did
not go to the grave harboring the resentments and angers that were part of
daily existence. They had the ability to learn from life and move on.

There has always been one key phrase or expression motivating my interests
in history and the past. It is that old quote attributed to Lincoln [and
others]. Those who are ignorant of history are destined to repeat it. I
have not tried to reconstruct some of the quarrels among our ancestors for
the purpose of inciting a reenactment. . . . My concern has been to try to
understand what happened then, and hopefully to learn something .

In going through the material currently available concerning the Troubles
in Camelot, I get the impression that some heavy damage control took
place in the ensuing years. Large portions of the story were erased, swept
under the carpet, and otherwise made unavailable. My point is that we are
really not going to learn much from that kind of sanitized,
politically-correct, revisionist, skewed, version of history. The lives
that our ancestors lived should be available to us so we can learn from
them. To allow anyone to take this past from us is simply unacceptable. We
will never learn from a past that we do and cannot know. Events as
momentous as the Holocaust in 20th century Europe or as remote as the
squabbles up in the hills of early Cambria are events that no one has the
right to revise and sanitize.

Whether it has been through individuals and families trying to protect the
reputation of their ancestors, the Church trying to tidy up unsightly
incidents, or a political agenda that some group is trying to impose on
events, large areas of what we might call the useful past have been made
unavailable. I call it the useful past because it is there to teach us a
lesson. On a much larger scale, think what it might be like if the whole
Civil War had been quietly covered up. Valuable lessons learned at great
expense would not be available to the country today.

I am not silly enough to think that we will be able to arrive at a total
reconstruction of bygone days. But I am romantic enough to believe that
enough shreds of the fabric of the story of early Cambria are still
available to allow us to reconstruct a useful past from which we can learn
lifes lessons.

I can imagine cold winter nights when these stories were passed around in
front of the fire passed on through the generations. It is not hard for me
to believe that remnants and shreds of this discourse, this oral tradition,
are still out there, perhaps lurking in the mental archives of senior
citizens who had been told as little children that such things should not be

And I can imagine bundles of old letters and papers packed away on the attic
in trunks in old farm houses
that hold yet more of the pieces of the story. And there are probably old
family bibles out there with stray papers stuffed between the pages . . . .

I have been amazed what patience and perseverance can produce. There was
a time when I did not know the name of my Gr-gr-gr-gr- grandfather , Daniel
OHara. I now know the names of two of his horses, Tom and Dick. I am
hoping that as time goes by -it probably wont happen immediately- enough
shreds and pieces will come to light from which we can put together a
useful past.

I write this to encourage those out there who are holding parts and pieces
of the puzzle some of the shreds of the fabric of the story of early
Cambria, to bring them to light again where they can become part of the
useful past. And I am writing to encourage those who know where to look
for these parts and pieces to go out and do some digging. Think of it as
making a quilt. There are a lot of pieces of old fabric out there that
alone do not amount to much. But when they are put together by someone
skilled in quiltmaking, they become much more than the sum of the parts, a
beautiful, useful object. Pieces of information are at times like bricks.
A couple of bricks alone are not good for much, maybe a door stop or a paper
But if you get enough of them together and assemble them correctly, you have
a house, a place where life can be lived, a family raised again, the whole
is more than the sum of the parts.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////// jim miller

<A HREF="">Jim's art website</A>
********************** jim miller/621 grove st
********************** greensburg pa 15601

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