By Nicholas Herring
Milton James Rhode Acorn was born in Charlottetown, PEI, on March 30, 1923.
James Milton Rhodes Acorn (called Mickey by his brothers and sisters), whose descendants were German millers, was born in the old Provincial Hospital in Charlottetown.
Some people still incorrectly assume that “Milton Acorn” was a nom de plume.
His father, Major Robert Fairclough Acorn, was gassed by the Germans at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. He saw a man cut in two in front of him. One moment he was there, and the next gone, obliterated by nickel extracted from the Canadian Shield and exported by Americans to the Germans — such is the curious fate of natural resources during times of war. (Until the day he died, if the engine of a car backfired, he would scream and throw his hands up.)
With the assistance of AA, Robert gave up the disease of drink in 1953, around the time that Milt, while living in Montreal, was working on the poems that would comprise his first collection, In Love and Anger (1956). (Milt covered all publication costs.)
Robert was a ship’s carpenter. (He had a brother, named Milton, who died as an infant.)
Robert was a federal civil servant with the Inland Revenue Department; he wore a suit and tie to work every day.
His mother, Helen Carbonell, either a homemaker or a stenographer/bookkeeper for the Department of the Marine, was also a psychic with long, red hair that stretched to her waist. She cut it before her wedding, a custom at the time, and saved it in a box for 62 years.
Milt claimed that his grandfather, who took four wives (the last was 16 to his 51 years of age and illiterate when the marriage was arranged), had participated in the French Revolution.
This same man imported molasses.
Milt claimed that a great-grandmother was part Mi’kmaq.
Milt’s great-great grandmother was the first female preacher on the Island.
His paternal grandfather, a partner in a silver fox ranch, was bankrupted when the mother devoured her skulk.
John Eichorn (the son of millers from Hesse-Darmstadt), of Waldoboro, Maine, Milt’s great-great-great grandfather, was a witch and a pirate who came to the Island in May of 1782, after the Yankees betrayed his piracies.
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