Artifact: Photograph of Daughter Ginny, 2000

 

Description: Rick Wheeler shares a photograph of his daughter Ginny, age 9. In the photo, taken July 2000, Ginny is trying to flying a kite at the Wheeler family home, “Rest Harrow,” in Somesville. The little island seen in the photo was christened “Bali Low” by Wheeler’s father (as opposed to Bali Hai) due to it being total mud at low tide.

 

 

 

Oral History:

 

 

Oral History Transcription:

This is Betsy Hewlett (BH). I am interviewing Rick Wheeler (RW) for the History Harvest on August 7, 2018.

BH – Okay Rick, could you just tell me a little bit about what you brought in today?

RW – This is a picture of our daughter, Ginny at roughly age nine. It’s July. Her birthday is July 16th so this would probably be just after her birthday. We bought the kite as a birthday present. This is the first time she ever tried to fly a kite. This was taken at our family home in Somesville, which is called Rest Harrow. If you know Somesville Harbor, it’s the southwest cove, so if you came into Somesville Harbor by boat, on your left is a point and the cove is right there. This is our hayfield that goes down to the cove. There’s a garden here to your right. This is probably taken late in the afternoon, looking at the shadows. If you look closely on the left, there’s Norumbega Mountain. This whole cove has about eleven feet of water at high tide and it’s total mud at low tide. My father, when he was alive, christened that island, “Bali Low,” as opposed to Bali Hai. One memorable moment was when my brother and I were little boys. My father, who was a golfer, would take all his old golf balls and tee them up. He would hit them out as far as he could toward the island. Our job was to go out to the island and collect whatever golf balls we could.

I just thought that this is a nice example of kids in the summertime, just showing the unbridled exuberance of having fun with a kite. 

BH – Rick, has your family had this property for a long time?

RW – Yes, my parents bought the property in 1956 from the Nicholas Ludington family, who were great friends. They literally gave it to my parents for a song. And it was turnkey – sheets, furniture, everything came with it, including the decorations. It is a wonderful house. My brother and I shared it. Then last year we bought our own house, and he bought my half of the Somesville property.

There is a little guest cottage on the left, where my parents stayed. To the right of the photo would be  white farmhouse that we called “the big house.”

BH – And do you still own the island?

RW – No, we never owned it.

BH – Or is that like un-ownable. Is it like in public…

RW – I don’t know its official status. Our neighbors on the other side, the Tysons, used to call it blueberry island, which is kind of odd, because you might find six blueberries on a good year. Our family just called it Bali Low.

BH – The picture of your daughter, you said her name is…

RW – Ginny

BH – How old is Ginny now, so we can put a date on this?

RW – Ginny just turned 27. She became a very good student. She graduated Summa
Cum Laude from Amherst and just finished her master’s at Oxford in Roman late
antiquity archaeology. She’ll be starting a Ph.D. program this fall.

BH – Congratulations. It sounds like she went through some challenging times and now she
is sailing.

RW — Yes, you might say that she’s flying her own kite. She’ll be coming up here on Monday for a month.

BH – So, does your family still fly kites?

RW – We were never a kite-flying family. Probably when she was nine, a
typical day for her would be up around seven. We’d drive over to Northeast Harbor, where she
would go to sailing class at the Northeast Harbor Fleet. She became a good sailor and
eventually  taught sailing at Seal Harbor Yacht Club for a couple of
summers. Sailing class would go roughly to from 9am to 11-11:30. Since we kept her bike
in Northeast Harbor, she would bike over to the tennis club and swim club. In the afternoon, we would go for a hike, or we might go for a sail if we found somebody with a boat.
I’m pretty sure from the pictures of that time her grandparents, my wife’s parents were
there. And so we probably do something with them in the afternoon.

It was actually my mother’s family who were the original summer residents. My mother’s grandmother came up in the 1870s. Her name was Sturgis and then she
married someone called Edgar T. Scott. They lived in Bar Harbor on Cromwell Cove
and so she grew up in Bar Harbor in a house called Chiltern.

You know Mike Kennedy? Mike’s my first cousin. His mother Anna Scott Kennedy was my mother’s
sister. Mike can give you more background
because he was alive at the time when Chiltern was torn down. My grandmother died in the fall of ’41 and the house was to go to my uncle or
Warwick Potter Scott, for whom I was named. My full name is Warwick Scott Wheeler. He was killed in the war in the Pacific and at that point none of the other
siblings needed or wanted a big house so it was torn down.

BH – Do you think Ginny is going to be coming back for summers here?

RW – I think she’d like to. I think she’ll probably live in Europe. She’s totally fluent in
Italian. She has a French boyfriend. My guess is that if that materializes they’ll live in
Europe.

We now have a house in Bernard, which we just bought last summer. I think
she really likes it so if she and her brother can find a way to keep the house, they will. Our son, Nathaniel, who’s 21, is a senior at Rensselaer Polytech. He’s a computer science
guy so we’re banking on him bringing in the cash flow to keep the house.
The Roman archaeologists generally are not long on cash flow.

BH — It’s a wonderful picture; just one last thing I want to ask you: what is in the lower
corner? Is that part of the garden?

RW – Yes, that’s part of a sundial. We kept the sundial and the garden as originally designed.
BH – Well, we appreciate it very much. Thank you for bringing it in.

Resourceful Links:

Click Here to Download the Photo in High Resolution

Wheeler Oral History Transcription.pdf