Monday, April 30, 2012

How much are we influenced by our ancestors

How much are we influenced by our parents, grandparents and so forth. or is it in our genes?  Since becoming interested in my family history I have often asked myself this question.  I remember that I would think to myself that I would never act like my mom,  well that is not that case.  I find myself often times acting or saying things my parents would say to me, or I will see a young mother say something to her kids and ask her, did your mom say that to you and did you think you would never do that?  Their response to me has always been, yes and then we would share a laugh at how we once thought we would never act like our mothers.  I think its in our genes and how we were raised.  We often pass down to our own children and those generations that are younger than we are things our mothers and fathers taught us.   One can really see this if we examine the US Federal Census,  in one line my 3x great grandfather was a boot maker, his son my 2x great grandfather was also a boot maker.  His son was not a boot maker  because when he started a family, there really was no need for boot makers. But what happens if the generational line is broken by death or divorce.  My fathers father left him when he was a young boy, he was raised by his mother and his grandparents...his grandfather worked in a factory as a supervisor his mother went door to door selling mens shirts during the great depression.  So what did my father become?  He was in Sales and later a regional Sales manager and a Plant manager and now he owns his own Real Estate Company.  Makes one think, does it not... Is this always the case, no,  but I do think it happens more often than not.  Look at the Census,  what did your ancestors do for a living?  Make a spreadsheet listing where they lived and what they did for a living and did they following in their fathers footsteps,  did the daughter marry someone that was just like her father  or did she break the mold and go in another direction.  Family History is so much more than find documents and the such,  how did these individuals live, where did they live,  what was going on in the world at the time they lived and did this influence what they did,  History is so much more than wars fought by Kings and countries...what did your ancestors do during the great events of their time?  Next time you are driving down a road, think of those that came before you and the bones that you may be driving over,why did those  brave men and women leave the comfort of what they knew  and how they help to shape this great Country.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Family Vacations Part 2

One of the routes for this annual family vacation took us to Mt Rushmoore, The Corn Palace, Custers Last Stand, The Bad Lands and of course Yellow Stone National Park.  What a fun, fun time.  Lots of laughter during and after this trip.  My dad was always pulling jokes on use kids as well as my mom.  Of course, back then everyone would feed the black bears from their cars and we were no different.  My mom would roll the power windows down just a little bit to shove out some Oreo cookies at the brown bears.  My brothers and I still laugh at how my dad all of a sudden rolled the window a tiny bit more and how my mom jumped on my dads lap in the drivers seat, (good thing I was in the back this time between my 2 brothers).
   Our sleeping arrangements during these trips was either 2 connected rooms with one roll away for me. :)  But that changed when my oldest brother Micheal realized that one way to get his own bed and not share it was to scratch Marks legs with his toes during sleep.  I still think that Michael did it on  purpose, even though he said he didn't know that he was doing it while he slept.  So our sleeping arrangements now became, Mom and me sharing a bed, my Dad and Mark in the other bed and Michael on the roll away.  The only time that this did not occur was when we stayed at Yellowstone.  They ran out of roll aways because of a storm that caused more people to stay over night.  I had to sleep between 2 chairs pushed together.  I didn't care cause I just fit.
  The majority of time, I sat up front between my Mom and Dad.  But my Dad always had the air conditioner in the car turned up all the way,  now sure I could move it away from my face or close it  but some how I broke it or something just happened.  So the air just always hit me in the face until I figured out how to block it by putting a wet wipe on the dash board, problem solved!  It was during these trips that all of use kids learned to love the sounds of the "Big Bands."  In the Mood, Fly me to the Moon, Mares eat Oats, just to name a few, but when we got tired of singing, the discussions of current events or just random questions became the family debates.  This is my favorite memory....I remember one time asking my Dad why a spoon was called a spoon or a fork called a fork....well at first my Dad just said because, now being a kid I asked,  "why?"  There was another pause and this is what my Dad told me,  "well it was because the women of the tribes were the gathers and the men the hunters, so I am thinking that it was the women who decided to call it a spoon,"  Now seeing that it was a woman that decided to call it a spoon and being a  little girl, no more questions were asked.  Little did I know that I would later find out while in college, it was considered more than likely the case,  women of the group or tribe would be the gathers or those that tended the crops so they could talk where as the men who hunted had to be quiet.  Wow, my Dad was right.  Now when it came to my Mom,  it was she that drove the historical side to our trips.  When not stopping at the historical markers along the way,  our discussions would be along the lines of think of all those that came before us... all those people who brave the cold and unknown in a journey to head west. I would just sit there trying to look out the windows and think how we could be driving over the bones of dead pioneers.  When driving over the Rockies, talking about the Gold Rush,  or standing in the middle of Dead Wood, the gun battles, or looking over Custards Last Stand, the Indians against the Army, and what it took to venture out west to settle it.  I can honestly say that this is where my love of history came from, and I am pretty sure the same holds true from my brother Mark.  And it did not stop with the family vacations, but every Christmas, my mom would give us kids some type of reference books.  One year it was the World Encyclopedia,  or a reference book on WWII, Civil War or WWI.  She was always getting us these unbelievable books on history.  I got a great set of the history of the States.  Some where along the way I handed them off to Mark who gave it his kids and now they are lost and long gone, but not forgotten.   To this day, and even when growing up if a movie about the Civil War or WWI or WWII was on one of the "big" Three channels,  Mom, Mark and I would pull out these reference books to verify the facts.  I still have all of my College books from the late 70's in the basement in boxes.  Now I just google it.  The Christmas prior to my Mom's death, both Mark and I got or usual gift of National Geographic Magazine for the year from our Mom.  The funny thing is that this trait or unusual desire to know unusual fact has been handed down to my brothers Mark oldest kids,  What a great tribute that we could pass on...Thanks Mom.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Family vacations Part 1

Growing up in the 1960's our family vacations were combined with my dads work.  During this time frame my dad was a regional sales manager for a large manufacture of heating and air conditioners.  When he would be called to the National office, we would take or vacation.  I never knew the difference,  when we would be at some hotel, my mom would just say, your dad has to visit some of his work people so we will just stay here and swim all day.  What a great time we all had, than my dad would finish our business and we would continue on this wonderful journey.  These journeys would start at our home in Overland Park, Ks then we always headed west.  We would all pile in his company car, a Buick 225,  my dad driving, me in the middle and my mom next to the window.  In the back seat were my brothers.  My mom always packed a large bag of food to eat on the way, with a wet wash cloth in a plastic bag.  In my moms bag was things for us to do and lots of books to read.  It was so exciting to start out,  I never knew what we would find on the way.  My mom and dad always made it very exciting to be on the road,  I loved it whenever we would stop for lunch of for the evening all of us would see what states the licences plates were from in the parking lot.  Once we saw one car that was from Hawaii and in the same parking lot from Alaska.  How about stopping to see the worlds largest ground hog, ( it was made of concrete).  Lots of our surprises on the way were historical markers along the way, even today I look for historical markers and always stop to read them.  The routes were always different, but we always ending up in LA.  The southern route took us to 4 corners,  where 4 states all come together,  to this day, I can remember what I was wearing and how we all took a drink of Coke from our glass coke bottles in a different state, or how we all  put one hand in a different state, and our feet in the other 2, so each of us could claim that we were in all of the states at the same time.  My dad would take his 8 mm camera out and record where we were,  later on my mom would convert these memories on a VHS tape.  My mom and dad taught us Fly me to the Moon or Mares eat oats, and we all had interesting conversations about current events and historical events that shaped our country.  Little did I know how these family vacations would shape my choice in a college major or my love of genealogy.