Marcus Lorenzo Farlow was my great grandfather’s brother. Along with their other brother John Walter, he owned M.L. Farlow & Brother, a dry goods store in Atlanta. Marcus never married. Before my father died, he passed on to me a broken pocket watch, shattered would be a better description. All that remains intact is the case. He told me it was his grandfather’s watch and that it was in his pocket the day he died. The watch is broken because when his grandfather died on Valentine’s Day 1944, he fell and landed on the watch, shattering it to pieces. Uncle Floyd, dad’s older, brother recounts his death this way:
Papa’s death was sudden. He died from a heart attack. Even though he was 68 years old, he was not retired. He died on a Monday. He had worked the previous Friday.
I remember mama telling me about his last day. Papa had stayed home from work because he did not feel well. Mama prepared him a late breakfast. She said she “squez” him some orange juice. I corrected her saying she “squoze” it. My father settled the dispute by telling us that neither was right. She squeezed it.
Papa ate his breakfast and said he needed to go to the bathroom. Mama heard a thump and ran to the bathroom where she found him face down on the floor. She knelt down and cradled his head in her arms. She believed until her own death that Papa had died in her arms. The doctor told the family he was dead when he hit the floor. He suggested the family let Mama believe what she wanted to believe. It would comfort her to think he died in her embrace.
The trouble is, papa’s name was William Alvan Farlow, and that doesn’t match the engraving on the watch. It seems the watch he was carrying that day was not originally his but his brother’s – Marcus Lorenzo Farlow. The engraving on the back of the watch case is a detailed Masonic emblem above which is the initials M.L.F. The likely scenario is that when Marcus died in 1931, never having married or had any children, the watch passed to his younger brother William Alvan. Both men were Masons so the emblem would have been as significant to William as it had been to Marcus. It was Marcus’ watch, therefore, in papa’s pocket when he passed away.
In the picture I use as the header for this blog Marcus is on the far left. If you look closely you can see a watch chain leading into his front coat pocket. I can’t help but wonder if the watch case I have is the watch he’s wearing in the picture.
“Papa” by the way is the man in the center whose head is just above the word “Family.”