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Gwen

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Until Kabir and Paul began on this project with Dr. Chopra, I hadn't thought much about my family's origins in the USA. But then I remembered "Bumpy," my great-grandfather who immigrated to the 'States from Flint, North Wales just over 100 years ago. He was a celebrated figure in our family and, as I am the only one who is a professional vocalist in the whole clan, we all give him the credit for passing down the famous Welsh singing ability. I never knew him, though. There is a hazy Super-8 movie of him holding baby-me, Christmas lights on the mantle behind him. I wish I had a memory that wasn't celluloid, but at least I have that.

His actual name was Joseph Hughes, a solidly Welsh name, and his town was actually spelled "Fflint," not just "Flint." (The Welsh love their consonants.) His saga is one of the proud stories in our family: chosen by Harrods Department Store (London) to create their display at the Arc de Triomphe for the 1890 World's Fair in Paris..this display is seen by merchant prince John Wanamaker...Wanamaker personally asks Joseph to come work at his famous Wanamaker's in Philadelphia...and, at the tender age of 21, Joseph comes to America. His window displays at Wanamaker's always drew rave reviews, including a notable Christmas display of the "Little Match Girl," which eventually had to be withdrawn because its poignancy had tears rolling down the customers' cheeks.

There are other stories of Bumpy: a bout with typhoid fever, singing in a men's quartet for charity events, moving to New York, moving to New Haven, CT, marrying my great-grandmother, who dies a half-century before him (he never remarries). He always emphasized he was "American" not a hyphenated "Welsh-American." I am told he rolled his "Rs" and dropped his "Hs." It would have been fun to have that Welsh accent to remember him by. I owe him so much. My family and I thank you for letting us post about our Bumpy -- he would be delighted and honored (and so are we).