Page:Our Philadelphia (Pennell, 1914).djvu/82

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62
OUR PHILADELPHIA

land for America was a feat remarkable enough to satisfy the ambitions of any one family and having then proceeded to rest comfortably on their respectable laurels, but we took each other with great seriousness. The oldest Aunt, who was married and lived in New York, received on her annual visit to Spruce Street the homage due to a Princess Royal, and no King or Emperor could have caused more of a flutter than my Grandfather when he honoured one of his children with a visit. Family anniversaries were scrupulously observed, the legend of family affection was kept up as conscientiously, whatever it cost us in discomfort, and there were times when we paid heavily. I would have run many miles to escape one Uncle who, when he met me in the street, would stop to ask how I was, and how we all were at home, and then would stand twisting his moustache in visible agony, trying to think what the affectionate intimacy between us that did not exist required him to say, while I thanked my stars that we were in the street and not in a house where he would have felt constrained to kiss me. We were horribly exact in this matter of kissing. There was a family legend of another Uncle from New York who once, when he came over for some family meeting, was so eager to do his duty by his nieces that he kissed not only all of them—no light task—but two or three neighbours' little girls into the bargain. I think, however, that every Philadelphia family took itself as seriously and that our scruples were not a monopoly brought with us from Virginia and Maryland.