Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fathers, Part 5

(Alfred and his mother, Florence, in Holland, March 1930)

While visiting his brother’s mining operation in Seattle, Alfred enrolled at the University of Washington. He met a girl named Dorothy McCully, from nearby Bainbridge Island, and married her. They had a son, whom they named Alfred Parker Burroughs Jr., in September of 1925, and Alfred continued on to law school.

Alfred and Dorothy (right) were my grandparents. They died in 1983 and 1986, respectively, and the reasons for the breakup of their marriage in 1929 went with them. Their son – my father – was just 4 years old at the time of their divorce, and he would begin an odyssey around the country and Central America, accompanying his mother and her new husband – a Navy man – and visiting his father, who would seek adventure and fortune in Mexico.

The market crash of 1929 undoubtedly depleted the wealth that A.H. Burroughs had accumulated but had not obliterated it. However, Alfred would see little of what remained, having been for the most part, disinherited.

In 1930, the newly-divorced Alfred and his newly-widowed mother departed for Europe. Their tour of cities like Cairo, Venice and Amsterdam was a voyage of distraction, a time to forget, an opportunity to start anew.

Without the financial advantages of his older brothers, without a father to offer guidance, without a wife to lend support, he would need to make his way independently. But that, of course, was what his own father had done, and his grandfather as well. Independence was becoming a theme in the Burroughs line.

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