The Sands of Time Intertwine

Shared Paths Without Ever Meeting

Shadows Pub
3 min readMay 8, 2022


image by author

As I was browsing through the accumulated newsletters in my inbox this morning I came across a link to an interesting article.

The article told the story of a choirboy, a resident of the Sunderland Orphan Asylum in Sunderland, England. It was 125 years ago and the 13 year old scribbled a note on the back of a chorister’s sermon and hid it behind a metal plate in the choir stalls.

The boy would soon be 14 years of age and would have to leave the orphanage to make his own way. His thoughts expressed anxiety about this approaching life change.

He wrote:

“Dear friend, whoever finds this paper think of William Elliott who had two months and two weeks and four days on the 11 of August 1897. Whoever you are that finds this paper don’t tear it up or throw it away…
“Keep it in remembrance of me, W Elliott… I was the leading boy of this choir…
“I love you if you love me.”

The parishioners framed the letter and hung it above the pew where it was found. But the story didn’t end there. A research specialist searched out what happened to Elliott after he left the orphanage in 1897.

The boy made his way to America, joined the Navy and was discharged in 1916 with the rank of Chief Yeoman. He became a citizen, married and had a daughter before re-enlisting. He served through WW2 as an assistant supply officer before retiring in 1945.

As read through the article I was struck by the parallels between Elliott and my own maternal grandfather.

Both men born in different parts of England, my grandfather in 1898 in Southampton.

Both men traveled immigrated to North America, Elliot to America. My grandfather to Canada.

Both men experiencing an abrupt transition to adulthood at the tender age of 14 years of age. Elliot discharged from the orphanage, my grandfather having lost his father on the Titanic was declared self-sufficient because he worked sweeping floors in an office.



Shadows Pub

Writer | Publisher — I write what catches my interest. A lot catches my interest. I create books to use. Life is a marathon, set your pace & enjoy the trip.