It was some seventeen years ago that I made that memorable telephone call.
Why I had not done it long before is a mystery. Searching the internet I had found the number weeks before but stalled making the call. A couple of fruitless contacts had turned out to be the wrong person so this was my last resort and I feared what the reaction would be. Maybe he would not want to know me after well over forty years. My wife gave me the final nudge. “You’ve been looking at that phone all day”, she said, “Just do it”. I picked up the phone and dialled the number.
A voice from the past
A man’s voice with an American accent answered the phone. “Is that Trevor Chapman”, I asked. He replied that it was and I announced that I was his cousin Brian. “Brian”, he gasped and a very emotional conversation followed as Trevor apologised for not getting in touch when he first moved to the US way back in the 1950s. He explained how he had lost track of me after I had moved from my childhood home in Childs Street, Earl’s Court, London.
What Trevor revealed next both astonished and fascinated me.
He asked what I knew about our family history. I asked him what he meant and what I was supposed to know. “You remember what the Tyson side of the family looked like?” he queried, referring to the rather dark complexion of our mothers and their two brothers. “Oh yes”, I replied, “Grandmother Tyson was born into a gipsy family and adopted when she was very young”. “No”, he said, “That’s what I was told, but it’s not true. Our great-grandfather was a Red Indian who came over with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.”
I was astonished. If this was true. why had I not been told about it? Why had my mother told me that grandmother Tyson had been from a gipsy family? I had to find the truth.