One’s Legacy sometimes is discovered over time especially if it has not been written down or your direct descendants are not good at story telling or they just don’t care. Having discovered much of it from distant relatives or neighbors of the family or from those they attended church with the stories become even more valuable when those you are not close to tell a passionate story about your own legacy you never knew of.
One of the fun stories of my legacy includes the fact that my father’s father Walter Relph born in Leeds England March 20, 1889 grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood. Being left-handed learned the piano like ALL of the members of the Relph family did for the past 400 years. One unique thing for him is that they tied his left hand behind his back and taught him how to play the piano with his right hand first. Please note that before 1900 the culture thought a left-handed person, a southpaw was cursed. Somehow they believe if they tied up his hand that the curse could would be lifted or at least minimized. This practice may explain why he was not the greatest piano player, but he had a lot of fun with it and made a huge difference early in my life as he taught me how to match a tone, aka taught me how to sing at the age of 3. He turned it into a game convincing me that to learn how to sing was great fun with Grampa Walter. Through it he became my boy-hood hero. See he was the Fly-Weight Champion Boxer of England in 1907-8-9. During that time my father said his champion belt hung in the window of the local pub where he worked as the “tough guy,” aka the bouncer. Not impressive in size at 5 foot 3 inches, you had to test him. He had 15 Inch bi-ceps and had a body as hard as a stone. Being left-handed he broke many jaws with his signature punch as the punch came from nowhere. Needless to say the local hospital knew what must of happened when a patient ended up in emergency with a broken jaw. As a young boy he sat down with me and we watched Popeye the Sailor Man together many times. We would constantly be picking on one another around the antics of the show especially when Brutus the bully of the show got his just rewards (so we thought) after Popeye had his fix on that signature can of Spinach. Each time at the end of the show he would say to me… “Mike remember one thing… that you are an AmerI-CAN. That the last four letters of AmerI-CAN spell I CAN!! If anyone tells you otherwise, You send them to ME!! (with his left fist thrust into the air!). Needless to say I remember that everyday, and many days has powered myself through very difficult times. When he died I was 7 years old and he just turned 77. His Adopted Sister who was actually his Niece, Auntie Lena, she took my hand in the funeral parlor and walked me up to the casket and explained the whole process of what happens to someone when they die. What happens when they process a deceased body how they ask about how the executor wants the body displayed, clothing and all. She talked about if I went up to touch him what I would experience but most importantly she shared the fact that he was her life-long hero and that she loved him more than anyone else less God and Jesus Christ. She mentioned that I inherited the Family Bible written in 800ad in from France then in a London Museum. She then chanted his name over an over Walter my SirWalter softly like her own “pep talk” and I could she the energy rise in her soul in admiration for all he meant to her. It was an amazing humbling thing for me to see as a little guy, something just between her an I as we held hands in front of that casket.
“Sir Walter” moved to Calgary, Alberta in 1911 and got to know my Grandmother who had moved near Calgary on a homestead off the railroad just a few miles west of Buffalo Jump. The original homestead claim is here for you so see… All about the railroad… this is the same railroad that goes through Calgary and south to High River. High River is the town closest to the set for the show Heartland the longest running show to date (started 2006) where the culture of show is identical to this homestead. Sir Walter became friends with the local Indian Chief – Johnny Three Fingers. The chief asked my grandfather how to drive a truck, perhaps the very first motorized vehicle the North American Indians owned, and he agreed. As a result the Chief made my grandfather a Bloodbrother. There was newspaper article written by a Leeds, England writer in the summer 1954 for which is shown below. In the article shows a photo of him and his sisters, the only family photo we know to have of them together.