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Events/people that connect you to the distant past...


J-rap
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I was thinking about this recently, because of Veterans Day here.  When my mother attended Veterans Day parades as a little girl, there were old Civil War veterans marching in the parades!  That just blows my mind. 

 

Then that reminded me of when my dh and I were first married, and our very elderly neighbor and his wife used to have us over for coffee occasionally.  He was from Russia, and had been a good friend of the Czar of Russia and family!  He fought with the White Russians to try and stop the Revolution, and then ended up fleeing the country.  We had to talk to him through a long horn, because he was so hard of hearing.

 

For some reason that didn't seem so fantastical to me at the time, but now I can hardly believe it!  I also wasn't very knowledgable about Russian history at the time.  All the questions I wish I had asked him...

 

Things like that make the distant past seem not so distant.  

 

Others?

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I was thinking about this recently, because of Veterans Day here. When my mother attended Veterans Day parades as a little girl, there were old Civil War veterans marching in the parades! That just blows my mind.

 

Then that reminded me of when my dh and I were first married, and our very elderly neighbor and his wife used to have us over for coffee occasionally. He was from Russia, and had been a good friend of the Czar of Russia and family! He fought with the White Russians to try and stop the Revolution, and then ended up fleeing the country. We had to talk to him through a long horn, because he was so hard of hearing.

 

For some reason that didn't seem so fantastical to me at the time, but now I can hardly believe it! I also wasn't very knowledgable about Russian history at the time. All the questions I wish I had asked him...

 

Things like that make the distant past seem not so distant.

 

Others?

I can't think of any, but I love Russian History. Super cool you knew someone that close to the Czar's family.

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Our current neighbor (age 92) brought goods through the iron curtain (illegally obviously) during his career as a business man in sales.  His wife was the daughter of a French diplomat and lived in Vietnam during the first Indochina war.  They met in Vietnam when he was there for business.  

 

My grandfather was a mechanic aboard US submarines during WWII.  He recalled a story where a tiny fire broke out in the kitchen, sounding the fire alarm.  Within seconds, there were 12 guys in the kitchen, most of them in underwear, some completely naked as people just dropped whatever they had been doing (sleeping, showering) to put out the fire.  They all knew a fire in a sub meant death.  

 

 

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My great-grandparents didn't pass away until I was 12 years old, so I have distinct memories of them.

 

Both of them were born in the 1800's. I have a copy of their wedding day photo, in which they are sitting in a horse and buggy.

 

Great-granddad used to marvel at how he lived in the most amazing age: born in the time of horse and buggies, but able to witness putting a man on the moon.

 

That's neat that you had so much time with them!  My great-grandparents had all died by the time I was born.

 

I think about all the changes my parents have seen too, although they weren't born until the 1920's. My dad had a regular "ice box" for a refrigerator as a boy, and remembers the ice man delivering a block of ice daily on a horse and cart (although most families -- at the point where my dad remembers things -- had cars).    I guess the internet is probably the biggest change I've seen in my lifetime.

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My aunt left a handwritten family history for me. I revisit it from time to time, and when it became clear that a particular obscure health issue probably ran in the family, it was invaluable. The history contained hints, the history helped with some searches for causes of death, etc. It was pretty wild to see something that affects the larger family now traced through five generations (the trail ends there for that branch of the family unless we want to do international genealogy work). It also made me connect with their struggles in a different way too--we think about high infant mortality rates and things like that, and we chalk it up to poor medical care, lack of vaccines, etc. In our family's case though, while other families were losing children and even adults to diphtheria, the problems my ancestors had are still present and still something medicine hasn't completely solved or even completely identified--it's an area of heavy research. That was pretty awe-inspiring.

 

I also found a photo album from one of my great-great-great grandfathers. He was a Union officer in a well-known regiment during the Civil War. The album has autographed photos of officers he served with, most of whom came from my hometown as well. Some of the photos were taken by Matthew Brady's studio. He also placed family pictures in the album, and some of the people are completely unknown to us (I am hoping to find distant relatives who will know!). Others, we can parse out who they are (it's not labeled, but relative ages/genders of kids, things like that make it very specific). One of the coolest things was to recognize my son's face in the faces of this man's children! He looks just like my grandfather, but to trace the resemblance back a couple of additional generations was pretty wild.

 

I also had a great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather who had the Pandemic flu 100 years ago. My great-grandfather survived but not his father. I get my flu shot yearly with him in mind!

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FIL is 92 so he can tell some interesting stories. Dh's grandmothers both lived to an old age - one to 96, one to 103. After the 96yo passed away we found her diary from when she was a teen, In it she describes the end of WWI - how they were awakened in the middle of the night by a neighbor, there was no school the next day, and there were parades and celebrations "in town" all day and into the night. SIL read it aloud as a bunch of us sat in her living room after her funeral. It gave us chills.

 

I have my great grandmother's immigration papers from Ellis Island when they came here from Italy in 1885. She was 16 then.

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My aunt left a handwritten family history for me. I revisit it from time to time, and when it became clear that a particular obscure health issue probably ran in the family, it was invaluable. The history contained hints, the history helped with some searches for causes of death, etc. It was pretty wild to see something that affects the larger family now traced through five generations (the trail ends there for that branch of the family unless we want to do international genealogy work). It also made me connect with their struggles in a different way too--we think about high infant mortality rates and things like that, and we chalk it up to poor medical care, lack of vaccines, etc. In our family's case though, while other families were losing children and even adults to diphtheria, the problems my ancestors had are still present and still something medicine hasn't completely solved or even completely identified--it's an area of heavy research. That was pretty awe-inspiring.

 

I also found a photo album from one of my great-great-great grandfathers. He was a Union officer in a well-known regiment during the Civil War. The album has autographed photos of officers he served with, most of whom came from my hometown as well. Some of the photos were taken by Matthew Brady's studio. He also placed family pictures in the album, and some of the people are completely unknown to us (I am hoping to find distant relatives who will know!). Others, we can parse out who they are (it's not labeled, but relative ages/genders of kids, things like that make it very specific). One of the coolest things was to recognize my son's face in the faces of this man's children! He looks just like my grandfather, but to trace the resemblance back a couple of additional generations was pretty wild.

 

I also had a great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather who had the Pandemic flu 100 years ago. My great-grandfather survived but not his father. I get my flu shot yearly with him in mind!

I can see my dd's face in her great-grandma when I look at pictures of her at the age of my dd now.  Super interesting!

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FIL is 92 so he can tell some interesting stories. Dh's grandmothers both lived to an old age - one to 96, one to 103. After the 96yo passed away we found her diary from when she was a teen, In it she describes the end of WWI - how they were awakened in the middle of the night by a neighbor, there was no school the next day, and there were parades and celebrations "in town" all day and into the night. SIL read it aloud as a bunch of us sat in her living room after her funeral. It gave us chills.

 

I have my great grandmother's immigration papers from Ellis Island when they came here from Italy in 1885. She was 16 then.

 

That journal entry would have given me chills too!

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I have a friend who grew up In Eastern Europe. She was nonchalantly talking about when the Soviet Union collapsed. You know in the same way that I’d have said, “remember that episode of scooby doo.†The rest of us sat stunned. It had never occurred to us that she’d been in the middle of all that. She protested! She watched her nation and the world change. To her it wasn’t history. It was just her life.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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My great grandpa was a farmer selling windmills at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and had a booth next to a fella named Danforth who tried to get him to invest in his company. My great grandpa declined, saying that "Mule feed will never sell well in a sack."

It turns out that fella was the founder of what eventually became the Ralston Purina Company and the story of that missed opportunity has been told in our family ever since.

 

That's our only claim to fame ;)

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When I saw this title, I thought, "a good reason I don't have a Facebook account."

 

Concerning the actual import of the thread, my grandfather was an ice man in Chicago and was menaced by one of Al Capone's minions for not yielding while he was carrying ice up steps.  Al Capone told the minion to back off and leave the ice guy alone.  My grandfather died when I was in elementary school, and I only saw him a few times.  My father is the one who tells this story

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My kids were absolutely shocked when I mentioned that my next-door-neighbor growing up didn't have an indoor toilet.  I never really thought much about it, but looking back I guess it was the end of an era since I never again met someone who actively used their outhouse.  Miss Sarah was an avid spittoon user too.  She would make a fabulous character in a novel.

 

Our biggest link to history is a great... grandmother who was hung during the Salem witch trials.  It is weird to see a relative's name in your history book.

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This relates to my field, so I can think of many examples, but...

 

I am directly related to a founding father, and there are huge events at his home throughout the year. Those always feel poignant to me, especially the family events. As a kid, it didn’t feel unique though. And still, I probably don’t appreciate it as I should. Though when the resident historians added each of our kids to the family tree, it felt pretty special. :)

 

My favorite though: when I was in college, I spent many hours with a former Navajo code talker. That made it all come to life, in a fascinating way. My heart is warm, just thinking of him. I suppose he’s long gone now, and while I feel sad, I also know that there will always be elders for younger generations.

 

And for me very personally, my aunt has the cast iron skillet brought to this country in the early 1600s, by a many greats grandmother. Touching that skillet always makes me feel the past.

Edited by Spryte
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I was shocked growing up to learn that my g-g-grandfather had run a horse stop for outlaws in Oklahoma. Apparently Jesse James and his brother were good family friends! I would have loved to meet him - Sam was born in 1864 and died in 1969. The things he must have seen in his lifetime.....

 

 

I remember my dad telling about life during WWII as a kid. He used to go to a local widow's house and do chore in trade for sugar cookies because she had extra sugar and his large family didn't. And things like the coffee can having a particular stamp that nearly matched the sugar stamp, so you'd cut it out and then you could have sugar with the coffee. And things like feed sack clothes for the kids. 

 

Ditto with things like the CCC camps of the great depression. Dad remembered them and all the family working there at the one nearby.

 

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Oh just remembered another one. 

 

When I took Government in community college, my older professor always wore long sleeves in class {in south Texas in summer}. I didn't understand why until one day I happened to go by his office unexpectedly and he had his sleeves rolled up doing something. Turned out he'd been a concentration camp inmate in Germany as a older child / young teen, and had the number tattooed on his arm still.

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My kids were absolutely shocked when I mentioned that my next-door-neighbor growing up didn't have an indoor toilet.  I never really thought much about it, but looking back I guess it was the end of an era since I never again met someone who actively used their outhouse.  Miss Sarah was an avid spittoon user too.  She would make a fabulous character in a novel.

 

Our biggest link to history is a great... grandmother who was hung during the Salem witch trials.  It is weird to see a relative's name in your history book.

 

Wow, the witch trials! I can't even imagine.

 

On the outhouse thing...there was a little country church where some friends lived that had an outhouse until I was in college or so. At that point, a member left money in her will for a fellowship "hall" that included a small addition for gatherings/Sunday School, equipped with a little kitchen and bathroom! When I was a kid, the church also had the modern equivalent of a circuit riding preacher--he was shared among several small churches. 

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My great-grandmother was born in Londonderry in the late 1800s and came to the US around 1913 or 1914. She was pregnant when she booked passage, but the ship was delayed for some reason and she ended up giving birth to my grandfather a few days before they left. She smuggled him onto the ship, and then when they got to NY she claimed he'd been born on the ship just before they arrived, so the immigration authorities listed his place of birth as NY. She was quite a character — swore like a sailor and did not take crap from anyone! 

 

My great-aunt was born in 1898 and when she was 16 she secretly married (against her parent's wishes) a 26 year old widower with 4 kids who was Native American. Her parents wouldn't let her live with him, so for the first year or so she would spend all day at his house cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids, then she would go home to her parents' house! They were always very poor but they absolutely doted on each other. She was pregnant 8 times and lost all 8 babies though miscarriage or still birth; in retrospect it was almost certainly due to the fact that she was Rh+ and he was Rh-, but they didn't know anything about that back then. So heartbreaking. She raised four stepchildren plus my mother and her two siblings after my grandmother (her sister) died when my mom was 9. They had an outhouse and a well with an outdoor water pump until well after my mom got married and moved out, and they never had central heating — until the day my great-aunt died, she heated the house and cooked with an old cast iron coal stove. I can remember as kid watching my great-uncle get a bucket of coal from the shed to fill the stove, and my great-aunt would cook and can all day. She made the best applesauce and jams! 

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My aunt left a handwritten family history for me. I revisit it from time to time, and when it became clear that a particular obscure health issue probably ran in the family, it was invaluable. The history contained hints, the history helped with some searches for causes of death, etc. It was pretty wild to see something that affects the larger family now traced through five generations (the trail ends there for that branch of the family unless we want to do international genealogy work). It also made me connect with their struggles in a different way too--we think about high infant mortality rates and things like that, and we chalk it up to poor medical care, lack of vaccines, etc. In our family's case though, while other families were losing children and even adults to diphtheria, the problems my ancestors had are still present and still something medicine hasn't completely solved or even completely identified--it's an area of heavy research. That was pretty awe-inspiring.

 

I also found a photo album from one of my great-great-great grandfathers. He was a Union officer in a well-known regiment during the Civil War. The album has autographed photos of officers he served with, most of whom came from my hometown as well. Some of the photos were taken by Matthew Brady's studio. He also placed family pictures in the album, and some of the people are completely unknown to us (I am hoping to find distant relatives who will know!). Others, we can parse out who they are (it's not labeled, but relative ages/genders of kids, things like that make it very specific). One of the coolest things was to recognize my son's face in the faces of this man's children! He looks just like my grandfather, but to trace the resemblance back a couple of additional generations was pretty wild.

 

I also had a great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather who had the Pandemic flu 100 years ago. My great-grandfather survived but not his father. I get my flu shot yearly with him in mind!

I'm alive because of the Spanish flu epidemic: my great grandfather and great grandmother both lost their spouses to the flu. They ended up marrying each other, which resulted in my grandfather. Edited by maize
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My grandfather served in the USN during WWII on the USS San Diego (CL-53). He told me it was the first US warship to enter Tokyo Bay where the Japanese formally surrendered. He recalled carrying a gun and standing watch during the signing. My grandfather’s dad was a Rough Rider.

 

My DH served in the USN and while standing watch in CIC, watched the USS Vincennes (CH-49) shoot down the Iranian passenger jet. His ship also participated in Operation Praying Mantis, which destroyed the Iranian naval fleet.

 

And then my father was sent to Vietnam when I was 3 months old.

Edited by Heathermomster
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