The Flemish Bend

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This couple married 78 years ago today. On Friday the 13th. In New York City. Defying traditional convention. Archaic superstitions were of no interest to this modern couple, that kind of thinking belonged to the past.

Mont “Chum” Chumbley, and his bride, Helen Thompson Chumbley only looked forward, challenging and prevailing over old horse and buggy thinking. Theirs was a new era, a dynamic era, one of flight and of film. And this powerful force of optimism rendered one life time together too brief. So now their spirits carry on in my head, and in the pages of my book, River of January.

To say Helen and Chum were happy together would be shallow pandering–and an insult to the complexity of their distinctive temperaments. Still, their story has power, enduring power, pressing me on, returning time after time to their papers, searching for signposts of truth and direction.

A Flemish Bend, the title of this piece, ironically does have its roots in the distant past. The Bend is a sailors knot, also known as a square or figure eight knot. The same shape in mathematics is the symbol for infinity. The love Helen and Chum shared, as imperfect as it seemed at times, was powerful, and proved to be endless.

I too have been snared in those powerful cords, and for better or worse speak for their remarkable lives, lives too dynamic to have died with their passing.

And I’m grateful. It’s an honor. Happy anniversary Helen and Chum.

Order River of January, and enjoy the journey.

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