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Family History

I have this odd vase. Dark green with cherries, ugly/beautiful. It's called an Austrian Amphora.

Now, my mother had always told me my grandfather picked it up in Europe on a trip.

That's all. He picked up two other vases, too. My Thomas Forester art nouveau Rembrandt vases that I have on my mantle.

My mother always said this was a trip to Holland. So I could not help but wonder if he went to Holland on a fact finding mission with respect to water purity.

I believe he did and in 1909. Why, because in 1909 there was a typhoid epidemic and the papers were full of awful talk about Montreal's water.

"That the drinking water of Montreal appears to be a fairly reliable means to reaching the cemetary appears to be the consensus among experts at a round table..."

That's in the Gazette.

This vase is from the turn of the last century.

Anyway, the same article shows stats revealing that the typhoid rate is lowest in Holland and Germany.

Bingo! He went to Holland in 1909 when he was Assistant City Clerk and also on the City Improvement League Board.

Perfect for my play Milk and Water, about Montreal in 1927, where I have

Jules Crepeau, my grandfather, have a long talk with Thomas Wells, the President of Laurentian Spring Water about life, business and ethics.

They are sitting outside one of Montreal's more popular 'dance halls' awaiting the possible arrival of David, the Prince of Wales, on a private outing. They are bringing a supply of fresh water..

My grandfather will complain about Mr. Wells ruining the reputation of Montreal with his ads for Pure Water. He'll say the water has been fine since 1914 (when it was filtered.)

In the background you will hear the tune Hello Montreal by Billy Eckstein, "Who the heck wants water when you are dying for a drink?"

It's Prohibition in the US and at least one Canadian Temperance type has complained to the American Senate about Corruption at Montreal City Hall, specifically naming Jules Crepeau, my grandpapa, as a person who pulls the strings at the Police Department.