Hello to all my fellow hermits. I am going to do a completely different article this month. We are going through a historic time in our world, our country, and our lives. It is important that we capture our experience for future generations. I urge each of you to write at least a brief summary of how the Corona Virus affected you and your family. What did you do to pass the time? Were you considered an essential worker? Did you have loved ones in a nursing facility or the hospital? Did anyone in your family contract the virus? Or did you have anyone in your family die from the virus? These are just a few ideas of what you might document.
My husband and I are retired so did not experience any disruption of our work schedule. One of the things that I did early on was to sew a couple dozen face masks for a friend and family members. Then I started cleaning a closet that has my craft supplies in it. I can’t begin to truly describe the excitement of what I found. The very first envelope contained several certificates and official documents including both discharge papers for my father’s time in the Civilian Conservation Corps. I had heard the story of him joining between his Junior and Senior year of high school then having his father ask to have him released to finish school. He would have been the only one of ten children to finish high school but now I had documented proof. They did release him and he finished high school then returned to the CCC. The second certificate gave me the actual date that he was discharged after his second enlistment. In this same envelope were his travel orders to Tokyo, Japan during the Korean War. Never knew what dates he actually served for this.
As I continued to dig through the stack of stuff, I found a meticulous list that my mother had written of the dates and places that she and my father had lived at from their marriage in 1943 to the final place that they lived prior to her death. I am working on a timeline that helps me to place events in our lives. I found pay stubs from the 1940s and 1950s of my fathers. This will also help me with the timeline and helps me piece together the very early years of their marriage, the time before I have any real memories of the family. Did I mention that my mother saved EVERYTHING????
I found booklets and military orders for our move to France in 1952. I thought that I remembered flying to France but the I found the orders that described the procedure for traveling to Bremerton, Germany and talking about a ship. We must have sailed. I’m still not sure and the only family member who might know has early Dementia. Then there were the letters that my parents wrote to one another, my father’s grade cards, many other cards and a few stray photos that I had not seen before. The grade cards helped to prove the story that my father spent most of the summer between his sophomore and Junior year of high school in bed after a bout of Typhoid Fever and that his memory was never quite as good after as his grades in his Junior and Senior year were mostly Bs and Cs instead of the mostly As and Bs of earlier years.
There were many more treasures in the two boxes that I was able to share with my siblings, nieces, nephews, and a couple of cousins. I share this with you to encourage each of you to take a look at those boxes that may be tucked away in a closet, the attic, basement or wherever. These discoveries added so much detail to the family history and also sparked several conversations with family, some of whom I have not talked to in some time. Until next month.
To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to jamestowngazette.com and visit Janet’s own web page.