I was reminded by the celebration on Sunday past of the late Florence Bushee’s life at the site of what had been her home on Newbury’s Newman Road that it sometimes takes jarring loss of the familiar for us to revisit the gifts of those who graced their time.
Florence Bushee died 35 years ago after a long and generous life, and we gathered to pay homage more in celebration of her foresight and generosity than we did with grief over the loss of what had been her home, barn and acreage.
Each of us had brought what we knew or didn’t know about her. What I had brought was a revitalized appreciation for those who made the history of this particular northeast corner of America.
My transport had been a Christmas gift of “Reminiscences of A Newburyport Nonagenarian” (Sarah Smith Emery), as edited and produced by her daughter, Sarah Anna Emery, and I kept drifting into it as I shared the moment.
The Emery reminiscences are about people involved in the origin and growth of Newbury-Newburyport. They are about the realities of change.
There had been that about Florence Bushee’s contributions that would have graced Sarah Emery’s work had they met in time.
It reaches from the early 17th century to 1879, and in a brief preface, she references her sources as related to her purpose.
“My desire,” the daughter explains in the all-too-brief preface, “ ... has been to give a graphic history of ‘Ye Olden Time,’ to faithfully portray the domestic, religious, political, literary and social life of a past age, with a description of ‘Ould Newberry,’ and of the business and aspect prior to the great fire of 1811. The ancient town has been rich in matters of world-wide interest and historic value.”