Robert Temple - Author of The Sphinx Mystery

My Great Aunt ‘Mame’, i.e., Mary Millikin Temple, younger sister of my grandfather, Robert Kyle Temple. Her middle name refers to the fact that we are related to the Millikins of Hamilton, Ohio, where my great-great and great-grandparents lived, and where Aunt Mame and my grandfather were born. The most prominent of our Millikin cousins was United States Senator Eugene Donald Millikin (born February 12, 1891, in Ohio, died July 26, 1958), who served as a Republican in the Senate from 1947 to 1956, representing the State of Colorado. (A surprising number of my relatives moved to Colorado, and my greatest concentration of distant cousins is still to be found there.) Cousin Gene became Chairman of the U. S. Senate Finance Committee, where he was a proponent of high trade tariffs. He was also Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and of the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation. In addition, he was President of an oil company for some time, so that all his life his main interests were business and finance. Aunt Mame married Dr. Sidney Durst, who in addition to being my Great Uncle was also my godfather, and he was very attentive to me as a child on the occasions when I saw him. He was a warm, delightful, and cultured man who devoted his life to the world of music. As an organist, he made several 78 rpm recordings, none of which seems to have been preserved by any members of the family, much to my frustration and consternation. For many years until his retirement, Uncle Sidney was Dean of what was then called ‘the Cincinnati College of Music’, but which is now called the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he also taught musical composition. Uncle Sidney and Aunt Mame had one child, my cousin Louise Durst, who married Everett Hobart, and three of their children survive. In this photo, Aunt Mame appears in her graduation gown, at her graduation from high school in Hamilton Ohio, in 1889. She was born March 5, 1871, and died January 31, 1946, so that I never knew her. Aunt Mame and Uncle Sidney were rather formal, conventional, and prominent in social circles, and as grandparents to my Cousin Mary Temple Durst, now Mrs. Ted Lazaraton, were somewhat less than supportive to her as a young woman when she wanted to marry a man who was ‘not from the right kind of family’, but was merely a struggling medical student. They would probably have been horrified that she later married a Greek-American whose family (originally named Lazaratos) were not even demonstrably direct descendants of ‘acceptable Greeks’ like Plato or Aristotle. It is hard to keep in mind that this very formal Great Aunt was happy to play on rafts in her childhood ‘Mark Twain phase’ and risk almost getting run over by steamboats in pursuit of my grandfather’s fantasy island. But then, although kids will be kids, they often change into grownups and take on airs. After Aunt Mame’s death, Uncle Sidney married the ‘other girl on the raft’, their childhood friend who had spurned his love when young, the artist Clara Saunders. She owned seven houses in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., six of which she rented out to U.S. senators while she lived in the other where she was a prominent political hostess. I never found out what happened to all those houses! Or her paintings! She was a delightful woman, but the Hobarts tended to hate her for ‘taking Mame’s place’. But then, my cousin Louise Hobart, herself head of the League of Women Voters and a very ambitious political activist, seemed to me to hate everybody on principle who was of no direct use to her. She took great delight in burning all the family papers and getting rid of as many heirlooms as she could get her hands on and turning them into cash.

 



© Robert Temple 2009
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