The Mystery of Stan’s Mother Bessie


Would you believe this is Stan Watkins’ mother? This is her statue about four feet high, made in painted plaster – or it might only be patina occurring over the years. Because it is old. Betsy Caroline Doughty, known as Bessie, was born in 1866 and the family has always heard that this was a study of Bessie aged 7. She later married Sylvester Watkins and produced Stanley Sylvester Alexander Watkins, my father, the talkies pioneer.

The book has lost a corner, and Bessie has lost a toe, but her sweet smile remains.

For years she had traveled everywhere with Stan, and when he retired to Dulwich in SE London, she sat in the mullioned window of the upstairs hallway, facing the street. We have learned that one young neighbor lad was rather leery of her, but we all thought she was lovely. Bessie now lives in Stockholm with Stan’s grandson, Dan.

The thing is, we do not know who made her. If anyone recognizes the style, perhaps that would help identify her sculptor. We know that Victorian animal painter, Arthur Wardle, was a good friend of the family, but that wasn’t his medium. And I doubt he knew Bessie when she was seven.

Whoever carved Bessie, the family has always held her close to their hearts. And she remains in the family to this day when Granny Watkins, 170 years later, is still a beautiful young girl.

Daily Post – Interest

via Daily Prompt: Interest

You might be interested to know that Stan Watkins, talented electrical engineer, Vitaphone director, and thinker, also had lots of other interests. From a very young age he was fascinated by nature, both alive Рinsects, butterflies, and moths Рand dead Рfossils.

fossil fish

In my attic there are boxes and boxes of specimens caught and carefully mounted as people did in the Victorian age. He kept up his interest after retirement and even got his grandson¬† interested. There’s a tiny slip of paper giving the date each insect or butterfly was caught in Stan’s hand made net, and one says “Danny, 1969” (Dan would have been 9 years old).

SSAW butterfly collection 010

When I checked on the collection, for the first time in decades, opened the boxes with care and was interested to see that they were so beautifully sealed that the insects inside were mostly in perfect condition.

Nowadays we prefer to see them alive and flittering around (except perhaps house and horse flies!). But what an example of patience and scientific study which Stan explored with interest throughout his long life.

(P.S. please excuse the dates which my camera always puts on when I take a picture.)