Friday, October 29, 2010

A Rock

To you, it's a rock. To me, it's a piece of the Berlin Wall. I was in Germany from November 1989 to October 1990. The Berlin Wall fell in August 1989. I didn't get this piece myself, someone went to Berlin and brought me this piece and another smaller one with some paint on it. Sad news is, that I didn't have it authenticated. Give me a break, I wasn't doing genealogy then. Daryl, if you Ever see this blog, I would really appreciate a letter of authentication. Well... you kinda can't do that since I didn't get it then. But I would still appreciate a letter saying you did give me a piece.

Ha, if I were a Facebook user, I'd probably be able to find Daryl.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Who Do I Blame for Not Starting Sooner?

This is Part II for my previous post Who Do I Blame?

LOL. I think I am going to revise that December 2003 chapter in my book. I'm going to call it The Fever and the Bug.

Who do I blame for not starting to study genealogy sooner? I have nobody to blame but myself. When the mini series, Roots, came on TV, I had just started my first quarter at Vernon Regional Junior College. Before I started college, I created some ground rules for myself that were non-negotiable. I had a study schedule that I decided would be strictly followed and failure to follow would mean potential disaster for my college career. I decided early on that I had to have a study schedule. I was working full time; a young airman in the Air Force, single and had previously gone to the Airman's Club to party, sometimes, even every day. I didn't need that kind of attitude or lifestyle bleeding into or disrupting my studies. I decided that if I made an exception for Roots, then I'd probably find an excuse to make exceptions for other good reasons. So when Roots came on, even though I could have taken just that one week to watch Roots, I decided not to because I was studying every evening from 7-9 unless I was in class that night.

Correction: ...every Sunday through Thursday evening from 7-9 unless... That still left Friday and Saturday for partying.

I could also blame the Youngstown Public School System and all of my teachers for not being more stimulating or motivating to offer some kind of genealogy project in the curriculum. Oh wait, there I am blaming myself again. It is not the fault of my educators that I wasn't motivated or stimulated towards that area of study. Here's a quote, "You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself." Galileo Galilei

Actually, I can think of occasions where a couple of specific teachers offered some sort of stimulation, I just did not run with it as I could have. First grade, learning to read. My life was certainly more exciting than Dick, Jane and Sally with their pets, Spot & Puff. I don't know if you had the same first grade readers that I had, but "See Dick and Jane. See Spot. See Spot run. Run, Spot, run." was not interesting reading. Third grade, tracing silhouettes of each other and cutting them out, then shuffling them to try determining who was who. Fourth grade, studying geography for the first time. Pedro and Maria were a brother and sister couple that were living in Argentina. Why didn't I take that opportunity then, to start learning more about my own life, culture and environment? Seventh grade; studying the Aztec Indians (or was it the Incas?)... I remember creating a diary project that aged the paper with tea and burned edges to look old. Or even eighth grade, memorizing and reciting The Gettysburg Address.

Still blaming myself, why did I not take lessons from life and death that were not part of my school curriculum? Lessons like remembering the I have a Dream Speech, or deaths of notable people like Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy. Why didn't I want to pay more attention to remember stories of my father or my Grandmother Clara? Another great opportunity to have started sooner is recounted when my Grandma Ella died in 1969. I could have take the 'discussion' "When was she born?" and ran with that. What about when I was in college? Attending Wayland Baptist University after Vernon, I had to take two religion classes. I took Old Testament and New Testament History. In the Old Testament History, the instructor, who was a Baptist Minister's wife, took us through the genealogy of Jesus. All that is time or opportunities that I cannot take back or relive. Right now, I cannot think of any other opportunities that I have passed or missed. But isn't that enough? That's more than enough. All I can say about that is that I'm so happy I'm on it now!

Are there any missed opportunities in your life?

Who Do I Blame?

Last Saturday, Randy Seaver posted his SNGF post Who's To Blame.

Hey geneaphiles - it's Saturday Night, time for more Genealogy Fun for all Genea-Musing readers.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (and we need more of you to do this, otherwise it may end...), is to:

1) Read Brenda Joyce Jerome's post Who or What Do You Blame? on the Western Kentucky Genealogy blog. She asks these questions:

* Can you identify person or event that started you on this search for family information?

* Did you pick up researching where a relative had left off?

* Did your interest stem from your child's school project on genealogy?

* If you have been researching many years, it may be hard to pinpoint one reason for this journey.

2) Write your responses on your own blog, in a comment to this blog post, or in a note or comment on Facebook.

Below you will find an excerpt from my 'book'. It's not the first chapter, but is the first chapter that I wrote almost seven years ago.

Written December 2003:
The story behind this picture is one of several reasons that I chose to start studying genealogy. This picture was taken at Jerome's & Diana's (my son & daughter-in-law) wedding. The story behind the picture goes back of course to the planning of their wedding. Diana's father, Ray was deceased when Diana & Jerome married. I can tell Diana loved her father so much, she spoke of him often. So to honor Ray, Diana chose to walk down the aisle alone and to be not given away by a living person. Also as a tribute to Ray, along with all the other deceased relatives who couldn't come to the wedding in body, Diana decided to have a table of pictures. The pictures were of those folks to show how many were attending in spirit. The only living souls' pictures on the table were those of Diana and Jerome when they were younger.

I'm sure I heard of the plan to do this table tribute before that, but on 24 March prior to the wedding is when I can put a date to the plan of this table. I called family members to tell them to "bring pictures" and explained to them why. Among the calls I made were to my sister in law, YSB (Vonnie). During that conversation, Vonnie gave me a definition for this tribute. She said it's called libation and was derived from Swahili. I was so thrilled for the tribute to have a name, I had to go home and look up this word, libation.

Essentially the meaning of the word in context of the picture was spelling out the act of libation that I remember seeing in old movies and also on the streets of Youngstown as I grew up. The scene in the old movies would go something like this. A bunch of drunks would stand around as they were drinking a bottle of their favorite beverage. They would pour out a bit of the liquid; usually before they took the first sip themselves. And they would do so to commemorate those who were not in attendance; most often because they were deceased. I'm sure the original meaning was not for bunches of drunks to pay this tribute. As I looked at the definition, there were other meanings. Some religious in nature, as well as secular. As for the folks in Youngstown, they created their own meaning. Added to those who were deceased were those who were at that time in Viet Nam or those who were incarcerated.

As I start to write my personal & family history, you can see that I'm starting in the middle or you might even say near the end. Since the wedding of Diana & Jerome was only a year and a half ago, and there's no telling how much longer, I'm going to live… Farther along in the story, I'll share with you other reasons my love for genealogy is still going strong after a year and a half. Heck I can remember when I didn't even know how to spell the word, somehow I was trying to stick another o in it; a common misspelling of genealogy is geneology. And you know what? I didn't want to start the story with "I was born…" or "Once upon a time…". That's boring. I want this story to be one that will hopefully live on. And those who know me know that I love to tell stories.

As I reread this story, I see that the part about my great grandparents, Smith and Pinky are missing. All my life, I had known my grandmother Clara and had seen younger pics of her. I didn't know her husband but had seen a picture of him. I had never seen this picture of his parents.

Here is an excerpt from my blog, Sunday, January 17, 2010.

They are my favorites! When I first saw their photograph almost eight years ago, I said "Who are these people? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?" And wondered why I had never seen this picture before. That was the beginning for me. Almost eight years of finding more about my folks and finding more about myself that I didn't know before.

Further explanation goes that this is among the photos that were sent. Matter of fact, my cousin, FHNM (Fran) sent the Smith & Pinky photo about a week ahead even though she was coming to the wedding herself. I had been bitten by the bug in March; expecting that I would have descendants one day. The day I got that photo in the mail was THE day that I got the fever. If you take a look at the libation table photo, you can hardly tell, but Smith & Pinky are in the center back of the photos on the table.

Now, I blame my determination for finding the answer to My Simon and determination to write these stories; mine and my ancestors', to keep me on the genealogy path.

Thank you, Brenda, for providing the idea for last week's SNGF! And thanks to Randy for passing it forward!

Stay tuned for Part II.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010