A Visit To My History Through A Film
A city on Scotland’s northeast coast, where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. It’s the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. Its Old Town features 19th-century Inverness Cathedral, the mostly 18th-century Old High Church and an indoor Victorian Market selling food, clothing and crafts. The contemporary Inverness Museum and Art Gallery traces local and Highland history.
Irishman William Bennet came to Inverness Township in 1819, but the first colony dates to 1829 with the arrival of 12 families from the Isle of Arran, Scotland. Their descendants built two churches in the village: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian (1862) and the old Methodist Church (1862), now a bronze foundry.
My Grandfather Ernest Romanzo Davidson was born in Inverness Township, Megantic County, Quebec, Canada (a Scottish settlement) 14 November 1881 and died 4 September 1933 in Wells River, Vermont.
In the early 90s I drove to Montreal for a Dystonia Symposium for doctors, in place of the doctor who was invited and couldn’t attend. Although I wasn’t a doctor I had sufficient knowledge on the topic that he thought it would be beneficial, plus I have dystonia.
The evening before it started, I drove out to Inverness, about a two and a half hour drive. One very long paved, country road, no traffic, not a single car but mine.
When I reached Inverness and saw a general store, I got out and looked back to where I had started – it was flat land – and saw all the city lights of Montreal light up the sky in the distance, which made me decide to on head back before it got too dark. There were no street lights as I recall.
When I called my mother in Massachusetts and told her I went to Inverness, she asked if it was a town or a city. Frankly, “I don’t know”, I told her. All I knew was that I was in Inverness – what lied beyond that general store was a mystery. I didn’t see any signs of a town or city from that vantage point, only a store.
Well, this morning, about twenty-five years later, I thought to look up Inverness, Scotland and Inverness, Quebec. I didn’t know that Inverness, Scotland was the capital city of the Scottish Highlands. Upon looking up Inverness, Quebec, and seeing the images, it was a town for sure. It looked like there had been no population surge or building boom in that tiny region of Quebec. Not even a hotel – upon checking. Lots around them though at a distance.
One of the first images that stuck out to me was that General Store. Wow. Right there looking as it did back then, probably some changes in sign content. It was like I was there again.
I’ll never forget that drive along that long road, talking in my mind to Uncle Ernie I used to call him. My mother didn’t like that title. “No one ever called him Ernie, and he was your grandfather not your uncle, but me being playful stuck with the Uncle Ernie.
Frankly, I don’t think Grandpa Ernest minded – at least I was talking to him directly, how many others do that? They usually go through God in prayer.
Anyway I never know much about any of my roots from any of the countries linked to me by ancestry – my mother and father didn’t talk that way. There were always more pressing issues in life than obsessing over where your people came from. Others make careers out it, for the purpose of exploitation, or just because they have separatists natures and cling to their ethnicity or race or religion for comfort.
I didn’t find out that I was Scottish till I was in high school and my parents had the neighbors over for dinner, who were Polish, and one of them remarked, “I wasn’t expecting to be served pierogi in a Scottish household”.
Later that night after everyone went to bed and my father and I remained at the table, I said, “I didn’t know I was Scottish”. He quickly retorted rather gruffly, “You’re not, you’re Lithuanian and don’t ever forget it”.
I was a quiet, not-looking-for-trouble, rather everybody get along, have fun and don’t fight so much, kind of kid, rather to please than disrupt, still independent though and firm in my beliefs, although I kept them mostly to myself.
People can pretty much discern you by your actions; they don’t need to hear you pontificate or hypothesize, or tell your story or opinions that change like the wind.
Still, I do all that now, and love doing it, but never with malice, I truly do respect people for being people and the struggles they’re confronted with just by the fact that they’re living, and not so much for what they do, but again I usually do understand the ‘WHY’, and when I don’t, the ‘WHY’ is where I look first to bring out the truth – whatever that means – even I’m not sure. It’s not like I developed a standardized process for everything I think or do or figure out.
Actually, since early childhood till the present day my primary question in life is why people do what they do.
So yeah, looking back and later watching the entire Lithuanian surge for independence and hearing them sing while holding lighted candles, not so much in protest but rather to show to the world what they wanted and deserved in a peaceful, non-violent way impressed me. In fact they, more than the Africans, adopted Martin Luther King’s non-violent process for social change.
Seeing them fail only to rise again triumphant made me identify with them more closely than my other ethnicities, and even though I didn’t speak much ‘way back when’, my father saw those qualities in me from early on.
It wasn’t until I saw the movie Brave Heart or portions of it that my eyes opened and then wanted to shut, being too young and peaceful leaning to understand the type of brutality people endure and impose on each other for their freedom rights. It seems everybody wants to Lord over everybody else and when others oppose it, violence occurs to protect it. I see it all over the world. Minorities trying to rise to dominate the majority, and often times winning, but at a tremendous cost.
This was a film made about Scotland. I’m seventy years old and just started watching it again on NETFLIX only to be cut off halfway through. Guess I’ll have to wait a bit more till they fix it and maybe scold the person who broke it – in my mind at least.
But I found another one – a series with three seasons so far and I only have three episodes to go and when it’s done I will miss it. It’s called OUTLANDER, another movie about Scotland, more specifically, the Scottish Highlands and done so well and creatively that I had to start pacing myself, so it would last longer.
I don’t usually recommend movies, because Steve and I watch so many of them, but this one excels in all the right ways. One small criticism – the sex scenes are wa-a-y too long. Other than that, I look forward to a season four!
THE MAGICAL STONES
Visiting the past for the purpose of changing the future.
What a trip that was!