Sunday, November 17, 2013

Grace M. Fogg

Among the numerous bronze and brass commemorative wall plaques in Christ Church, New Haven, my favourite reads: “ELEVEN / STATIONS OF THE CROSS / WERE PLACED IN THIS CHURCH / BY THE MUNIFICENCE OF / GRACE M. FOGG / IN MEMORY OF HER FATHER / EZRA D. FOGG / AND HERSELF.” I have never felt compelled learn more about the munificent Miss Fogg, I suppose because so much is hinted at in the inscription. The stations themselves are impressively large, and carved in fine-grained sandstone, possibly Portland. Miss Fogg paid for all but three. Which three? Did she have some objection to certain of them on scriptural grounds (or lack of these—although several more than three stations of the cross are absent from the Gospels), or was this simply a question of firmness in the face of an unfortunate budgetary overrun? The specificity of “eleven,” and not ten or twelve or some other tally is so very intriguing, and I cannot imagine it may be attributed to a pedantic executor. One senses that these are the words of Miss Fogg herself. She was certainly not given to false modesty; the stations commemorate not only her late father but herself too, hardly an afterthought. The desire to be remembered after we are gone is natural and widespread, but few people take steps to erect a church monument for that express purpose. I imagine Miss Fogg was a doughty New Englander who did not hesitate to call a spade a spade. She was evidently an only child. Perhaps in later years she concluded that nobody would do her the honors if Miss Fogg did not see to it herself. I see that Ezra D. Fogg was in 1899 president and treasurer of The Ezra D. Fogg Company at 87 Church Street, New Haven, wholesale lumber merchants (“SPECIALTY—Pine and Spruce Boxes and Shooks, and Brick Pallets”). Shooks are lengths of wood sufficient for one hogshead or barrel, prepared for use and bound up in a portable packet, a sort of kit. At this date Mr. Fogg resided at 389 Edgewood Avenue in Westville, not too far from me. I imagine Miss Fogg stayed there until she died, interesting herself up to a point in the affairs of the parish—and perhaps inadvertently terrorizing successive curates and churchwardens.

No comments:

Post a Comment