Over the weekend I spent a very enjoyable and memorable few days at a celebratory get together for my mother’s side of the family. Yesterday, after most of the relatives had returned to their various parts of the country, my uncle showed us some of the inventions of my great-grandfather’s, A.C.W. Aldis (1878-1953), that he has stored in his attic, along with some of his files of old letters and photos from within the family.
My great-grandfather did a lot of work in optics, inventing such things as the Aldis signalling lamp and an overhead projector. We saw a signalling lamp, along with several overhead projectors, a number of cameras, and an epidiascope. A steampunk enthusiast would have a field day with some of the items – lots of brass lenses and fine late Victorian or Edwardian engineering.
The inventions may have been fascinating, but the old letters were equally so. A.C.W. seems to have had a sense of humour, and penned the following letter to his young sister-in-law, containing some of the earliest instances of ‘text speak’ that I have yet encountered.
The letter dates from 1906, and is addressed to ‘Miss’ ‘Dollie’ ‘Smith’:
The following letter was also a very interesting read, in which my grandparents write back to the supporters of their work in Nigeria, announcing their engagement, and explaining the rather unconventional feelings and circumstances around it. It is also amusing to see how certain traits have remained in the family!