My dad missed WWII by a few weeks. He early enlisted in the Navy, so he wouldn’t get drafted into the Army and have to sleep in the dirt. At least that’s what he used to say. A few years before he died something about Normandy came on the TV. He was visibly shaken, pissed and said something to the effect of, “they just threw those boys off the boat.”
I’m not interested in arguing about whether he was right or wrong, but that was the moment it finally got through my head, as much as it can, that this shit isn’t a story from an old book or movie. Real lives… thousands and thousands and thousands of them. My dad’s reaction was because they were his peers and his friends, and in recent wars they volunteered.
Most of us “honor” them by changing our profile pics – maybe a parade, then we eat and go to white sales or watch war movies on AMC and congratulate each other for it. Most of us are pussies.
I’m pretty obsessed with this geneology stuff right now. Like… first month of twitter obsessed, so I’ll likely continue to post the boring highlights.
It started a couple of months ago when my cousin in Iowa was working on getting a DAR scholarship for her son. A now deceased great aunt had sent my mom a big box of geneology information when I was a kid and my cousin needed information from it. She fount out we have some sort of royal lineage which perked my sister’s and my own interest. My interest was mainly in the cheap blogfodder I could get out of it.
Since then my sister has found out a lot. I knew we had one branch that went back to the Revolutionary War but figured the rest of us hadn’t been here for more than a few generations. I actually took comfort in the notion that we got here after slavery (as if the countries we came from weren’t involved in it) and, for my German lineage, before Hitler.
Oh well, turns out we were all up in the Civil and Revolutionary wars and owned some plantations. However, my sister also thinks she might have tracked us to Thomas Jefferson, which I hope means that we’re black. That makes us square right? No? OK.
That’s when I got interested. I’m gonna keep digging until I’m black. They do church music better.
In all seriousness, this is turning out to be a lot more than data entry. The story you can piece together from census reports is amazing.
First I found my great-grandmother Luella. She died the day my grandparents were married at the age of 46. I just turned 35 and have been thinking about mortality in general lately… feeling pressed for time. I’ve been thinking about how our lives have ten decades at best, and I spent an entire one racking up regrets I’ll never make amends for. But when Luella was my age she only had eleven years left. Shit. The farther back I go the shorter the life spans are.
Luella’s grandmother was named Jane. I noticed her husband had 18 children listed, and could see Jane died fairly young. Surely some of those must have been from a second wife. Nope, they were all Jane’s and the last three were born during the last two years of her life. Jim Bob Duggar call your office (I actually think the Duggars are fine people, but I fear for Michelle’s health).
So you see it’s the perspective and appreciation which are most valuable. So I’ll likely post about the stories of interest I find because perspective of the world all of our ancestors, especially in early America, lived in is valuable for everyone.
I joined ancestry.com. This is my great-grandma Luella, and I think she’s fantastic. I’m concocting a backstory about the relationship between her smirk in this picture and the fur she’s wearing. I’d run across her name before, but never saw a picture until today. We look alike. No matter what sweet delusions Mr. Waite has, this is pretty much what an unphotoshopped profile pic of me would look like. She died the day my grandparents got married at age 46, so this is almost the end of the line on that branch of our tree. My grandfather, her son, died of a heart attack at age 51, so I wonder if that’s what happened to her.
The limited information I have on her parents looks like, for some reason, they made it from the midwest to California only to head back to Missouri shortly before the gold rush.