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  • Sam Darling

Great Grandfather Gustave Arents

My paternal great-grandfather was a rakish fellow from near Brussels, Belgium. The bit of family lore we do know about him is that he was good with the ladies and he was a champion billiards player. This was, in fact, his profession. Rumor has it he taught royalty how to play.

Here is a pastel done of him that I’ve photographed during the early days of digital cameras. Not the best image, but I think you can get a sense of his louche style.

Gustave Arents

Great grandfather Gustave eventually married the mother of his two youngest daughters.

Alice Arents with daughters

My grandmother on the left. She is the one I told you about, the future war hero.

Gustave and Alice had an eventful marriage although she outlived him by a number of years. This identification paper profile photo is kind of fascinating. They moved over the border together to live outside of Paris and then moved on to Vichy.

Gustave et Alice

I imagine there was a great deal of drama involved in their relationship since according to the paperwork he was married to his first wife when he had these daughters with Alice, but now that drama is lost to history. Often, with family research, we’re boiled down to a place of birth and a profession. All of the human tenderness and strong feelings are burned away with the years.

My partner says he’d like his epitaph to read a jaunty, “Be seein’ ya!”

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