Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who Was Thalia Twiss?

I love ephemera, and a few years back I bought a box full of late 19th/early 20th century stuff. I ran across it the other day and started going through it, looking for a few Valentine's Day pieces to decorate the house with. In amongst the various bits of advertising, holiday cards (including Valentine's Day!), and diecuts, I found a calling card for a woman named Thalia A. Twiss. It's a pretty thing -- pink flowers, a butterfly, an anchor (? -- must be some meaning for that, I'm sure), her name in a lovely font -- but honestly, it's nothing special. It's in color, but no embossing, or anything that would set it all that far apart from hundreds of other calling cards. But her name -- Thalia A. Twiss. That's the kind of name that invokes visions of...well, I'm not quite sure who. Would Thalia be a wispy, thin, ethereal creature, with soft, wavy blonde hair and luminous blue eyes? Or maybe Thalia is a stern schoolmistress, hair pulled tightly up on the top of her head, black dress covering her from chin to wrist to boot-toe? Truly, I'm not sure. So, I did what any curious person would do these days -- I Googled her.

Although there wasn't a lot to find, I did find a marriage record for Thalia Angeli Twiss, who married Orlin Gorman (an equally exceptional name, I think) on October 27, 1865 in Geauga County, Ohio. Although there may be more to Thalia's story that could be teased out of the labyrinth that is the web, many of the other sites that might have had additional information charge a fee. And, I have to admit that, while I'm curious to know more about her, I'm just not that curious. Still, at least now I have a reference point in which to place her life.

I've framed Thalia's calling card and set it on my desk. As I look at it, a tiny thing from nearly 150 years ago, I realize that it serves as a connection between a woman who lived long before the age of computers and me, sitting here in front of my laptop. And I realize that despite its ephemeral nature, this little scrap of paper has lasted longer than the memory of the woman it represents.


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