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Those Were the Days!

Collection #33 in our Gray Historical Society research collection is entitled, simply, John Merrill Collection. The title alone does nothing to reveal the treasure within: about 35 small booklets, each capturing snippets in days long gone from Mr. Merrill’s life and times.

One could easily get lost in this set of diaries, each day with an entry of some small significance to the author. Here, quite randomly, are some of the musings captured within these volumes:

McCann Scrapbooks

Over a period spanning more than 30 years, Ellen Cole McCann dutifully snipped stories and photos of interest to Gray residents from local newspapers. Each year’s articles were collected into a spiral bound notebook. About thirty such notebooks are available on the open shelves of our research room on the second floor of the Historical Society.

Travel Diary

In 1977 Maynard Colley, M.D. distributed to members of his extended family, copies of The Family Line, his collection of family stories, genealogy and pictures. Since his first cousin, George Richard "Dick" Colley (my father) had died in 1976 , a copy was sent to Mary C. Colley, his widow, in Orlando, Florida. Eventually this copy was passed along to me, Mary Colley Stierer, a long time friend (as well as relative) of both Maynard and Olive. The story of the Colley's trip across country in 1918-19 is the remarkable report of a harrowing experience filled with adventure, misfortune and perseverance, told from the viewpoint of a thirteen-year old boy as remembered nearly sixty years later. One can laugh at the idea of taking three canaries in their separate cages, weep at the tragic death of a father trying to care for his sick family far from home, and sympathize with a mother' s dismay at the shabbiness of her brother' s accommodations waiting for them at the end of a long journey. But they did come through it all, contributing a fascinating chapter to the history of the Colley family. It is this story that I want to make more accessible to the younger members of our family, particularly our young granddaughters who live in California.

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