My Mother



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  The other half of my ancestry came through my mother, Beryl Knickerbocker, who I adored but with whom I had a difficult relationship all my life.

    Perhaps it was because we were so much alike in our temperament. When I asked Mother about her roots, she would say, "None of that means anything to me." And so I didn't find out too much from her.

    She had a vague idea of who her father's brothers were and who his mother was.

     All she would tell people was that her ancestry was part Dutch and part French, which was true. Her father descended from a Dutchman in New York and her maternal grandfather was either Dutch or German. Her father's mother was named Larguier (Lar-gay), a French settler in early Baton Rouge, LA.

     Beryl admitted she had been spoiled as a child, the third oldest of six children born to Hubert Delancy and Julie Catherine Opdenweyer Knickerbocker. Her birthdate was July 13, 1900, in Weatherford, TX, where her father was minister of the Methodist church there.

     Beryl's maternal grandmother, Julia Davidson, lived with the family and tutored all of Hubert and Julia's children at home through the 9th grade.

     Mother graduated from high school in Houston, Texas, in 1916. She later earned degrees from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and Rice Institute in Houston.

     She told me she had "lots of beaus" when growing up, but she turned them all away. She told me about visiting New York City, walking the streets alone at night without a worry. She always marveled about that, comparing the world of her youth to the mean streets in the latter part of the century.

     Mother lived at home with her parents until her marriage to David Macpherson on Sept. 23, 1930, in Dallas. She often traveled to Europe for arts pursuits. Even in her later years, she traveled to Germany and Austria.

     She stayed busy with the arts, reading, teaching English in high schools in Houston and Dallas, and enjoying classical music in every way she could. She fell in love with my father's voice, for he had a rich bass-baritone. She had hoped he would become a successful musician, but he was doomed to fail.

     Problems that my father had throughout his professional life probably affected my mother more than anything else. She dreamed of a world of classical music, living in New York perhaps. But instead she wound up in a dusty Texas oil town, helping her husband in his photography business. She settled for teaching the arts to the children of the town.

     Mother always said she didn't have the "technique" to be good enough for a career. Her father's gift to her at his death was enough money to buy a Steinway grand piano. She played piano until arthritis crippled her hands in her early 80s. She taught piano to generations of students.

     Mother was gifted not only with music but writing. In her 60s, she was hired as the Arts Editor of the Wichita Falls Times and Record News. She covered the plays and the musical events and wrote a Sunday column. After my father's death in 1973, she moved to Dallas where she enjoyed cultural pursuits until her death at age 85.