Tuesday, April 26, 2016

One More Contribution to SNGF Childhood Memories

Last week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun was to answer six relatively mundane childhood memory questions about your own life (see http://www.geneamusings.com/2016/04/saturday-night-genealogy-fun-share-your.html).

Reader Nell Bentley emailed me on Sunday saying:

"Re 6 questions everyone should answer. I was about to criticize them as being superficial, things that just happen. A person has no voice in the matter, no choice, no problem-solving experience. There is no revelation of historical achievement. But first I set about answering them, to prove my point:

"1. In a newly rented farmhouse in Roseville, Michigan (outside Detroit), I and my two brothers—age 6, 5, and 4—had during one single winter the flu, chicken pox, and measles. My mother was beside herself. The house had no central heat, no fireplace, no indoor plumbing. The unfinished attic was our bedroom. Ours and the one across the street were the only houses on the long dirt road through cornfields. We and the neighbors often had to shovel a path through three feet of snow to get to the grade school at the crossroads. It was the depth of the Depression, 1936.

" 2. First funeral? We could not afford to visit relatives anywhere, much less attend funerals. No one kept in touch. I visited my maternal grandparents in Detroit only twice. There were no family chats to build a family tree on. No one could afford to have a funeral. And I have never been to one. Except for the memorial service for my son, age 20.

"3. My favorite book was Alice in Wonderland. It was my only book for some time. Grandma gave it to me one Christmas. I had learned to read at four and a half. As soon as I finished reading Alice, I turned back to page one and read it again. And again. Each time, I learned more of what the words meant. Jabberwocky did not faze me. It may be why I enjoyed four years of college studying French (my major) and German, concurrently. With a minor in education.

"4. My favorite class: Grades 5 and 6 at Fillmore Elementary School in Port Huron, Michigan. We loved going to school because it was warmer than home during the winter. But I especially liked those years because for some reason we had the same teacher for both, Mrs. Bradshaw. She was a cheerleader and she was kind. Someone to emulate.

"5. My favorite toy was a book. But when I was ten, in addition to the traditional orange in my Christmas stocking—we were Holland Dutch—I found a tiny gray kitten mewing in my Christmas stocking. The girl across the street got a beautiful doll with all kinds of clothes, even tiny perfect white gloves. I felt sorry for her, not getting a kitten.

"6. Swimming: We spent a lot of time at Grandma’s house in Port Huron, a two-minute walk to the water’s edge, at Lake Huron. Learning to swim as soon as we could walk was mandatory. As was being drilled in all the rules of safety in our world, no matter what.

"So, my apologies to the writer for doubting her suggestions. Because what came out of these answers, to my surprise, was a stoic appreciation of being alive and well despite history—like my forebears—and a great interest in endless minutiae. As in genealogy . . . !"

I am glad Nell took the time to ponder the questions, and to write the email to tell me about it.  I have a better understanding of life in the Depression era and Michigan winters than I had before.  I wrote her back, saying:

"Thank you for sharing!  They were simple questions - ones we rarely think about, yet they unleash memories that are unique - yours, mine, ours.  What each of us experience in our lives will resonate with some people, and educate others, and fascinate more.  I hope you share the stories, and many more, with your children and grandchildren, and nieces and nephews, etc.  That was Judy's point, I think."

Sharing the stories we each have is important for us as we relate to our family members, or friends, and even our world.  

Thank you, Nell, for sharing your six memories with us.


Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Diane Gould Hall said...

Randy. Since I have been out of town for a couple of weeks, I have some catching up to do. I plan to see what I've missed on your Saturday Night Genealogy Fun and may be late to the party, but answering those questions sounds like fun.