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16 October 2014

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Brothers Apart

By Brenda James
May 2004, Ammanford
A digital story from Capture Wales

Looking for Uncle Jim's grave

Brenda has fond memories on Uncle Jim who emigrated to Ohio, but what memories does she have of the uncle who emigrated to Canada?

"Two of Mother's brothers were very different.

Uncle Tom emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, but kept in touch. Every Christmas he sent us a 14lb box of candies, chocolates to us. Mother gave us one each to the six of us and she put the box back on top of the dresser out of our reach.

He came back to see us twice between the two world wars.

By the time that I got to Cleveland, Uncle Tom had died but his son, Tommy, took me to see the grave.

Oh I was so sad and I grieved for a dear uncle I'd known him.

Uncle Jim went to Canada in the '20s. He never came back to Wales and didn't keep in touch. He had lorries carrying logs to the saw mills in Victoria. He died here, an old bachelor in 1980.

As I travelled on Vancouver Island many years later, I walked past a saw mill in the town of Chemainus, I felt a cold shiver come over me as if someone was following me and asking me "Aren't you going to look for me?"

I had some particulars from the public trustee in Vancouver before I went back to Canada. I arrived at the Royal Oak Burial Park, Victoria and in the office I was directed to Section Q Plot 14 Grave 18.

"I've found you at last, Uncle Jim", I said as I placed a pot of flowers on his grave. I was sad but felt no emotion because I'd never known him.

Two brothers but oh so different in character."

Brenda James

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born on a remote farm in Talyllychau and once I left the Grammer School, I went to work in a bank in Ammanford. Got married, and for 41 years I shared the responsibility of running a business with my husband. I have given 45 years of sefvice to St. John's Ambulance, and then founded Rhos-y-Gar Drama Company through writing and producing. I'm a BLAENOR in my church and hold services for many chapels of different denominations.

What's your story about?
It's about two brothers and the two are so very different - both emigrated - one kept in touch and the other didn't. I wanted to compare the two exile brothers from Wales - one who loved his family and Wales and the other turned his back on everything.

How did you find the workshop experience?
An interesting and educational experience and I learnt how to say a long story in a concise way.

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