An 80-year-old document, a transatlantic journey and a stunt man
Union Street in Aberdeen and 1946 American war film O.S.S may not, at first glance, have much in common.
But there is a link. And it starts with an 80-year-old piece of paper.
Recently, Colene Evans-Allen, who lives around 3,500 miles away in Canada, got in touch through our Facebook page.
She’d found a receipt from 1940 for money her grandparents paid Henry J. Gray & Connochie (later Gray & Connochie), to confirm their marriage “…including sheriff clerk’s dues… and dues of extract entry of marriage.”
The firm was based at 41 ½ Union Street and the amount paid, just under £4 in pre-decimal currency, is now worth about £225.
Colene had searched online for Gray & Connochie, and found out we’d merged with them. It’s fair to say we weren’t expecting this result when we issued the press release, almost two years ago to the day.
She found our Facebook page and sent across an image of the receipt, and was kind enough to tell us a little about her grandparents’ story.
The groom, Bill Freeland, was a Canadian who joined the RAF in World War II. His wife Jane, known as Jenny, Matheson was from Aberdeen.
After the war, in 1946, they emigrated with Colene’s mother, Sylvia, to North America, travelling by ship to New York city.From there, they crossed the border at Buffalo, New York state, to Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto in Ontario, where they built a house with the help of a veterans land grant.
That same year — as if a journey across the Atlantic wasn’t enough — Bill jumped out of a plane as a stunt double for Alan Ladd in O.S.S, a film about the Office of Strategic Services, a wartime intelligence agency and forerunner of the CIA.
Colene says: “They went on to have my Uncle Grahame, who still lives in Ontario. There are four of us grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter.
“And a still photo of that jump hung in the hallway of my grandmother's house until the day she died.”
So, while some social media critics say the networks we create online aren’t meaningful connections, we’d have to disagree.