Thursday, April 22, 2021

Who knew?!

Migrants disembarking from ship, ca. 1885 
photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Wikimedia Commons Public Domain 

If you're interested in how ancestors influence later generations, do take a "Look Inside" my new book Finding a Future [here], now on Amazon. 

It's a personal story of family history and reminiscence, recording some first steps to see what I could discover about the ways nurture, nature, and necessity influence who we become and the life we lead, using genealogy and recall. As a glimpse of one family's history, by analogy the story might resonate with life experiences in any number of families.

From the trails of genealogy and memory for all branches of the family, I've sketched: details of ancestors in the 1800s and earlier in the poorest areas of northern Europe; journeys and new settlement of voyage takers in the family; as well as the efforts of grandparents, parents, and other family in new lands; and what it was like growing up in subtropical Australia in the 1950s through the early 1970s, to find a future.

More than a decade ago, in a phone call with my Dad who was across the Pacific in Australia then, out of the blue, he asked how much I knew about my grandfather's time in the United States. He shared detail of what were also some of his own early yearsin school in California! 

The scribbled notes from what became quite a long phone call helped in understanding his father's critical decision to travel from New Zealand to Spokane and then Seattle in Washington State, in 1919, while the toll from the Spanish Flu was still being felt.

As noted in my first blog-post last May, it was almost a year after my grandfather's voyage that Nana and Dad (aged four years) joined him in North America; after "Pop," as Dad and the grandkids called him, had become the west coast manager for a major milking machinery company, based in San Francisco. And, after an initial too-rapid reopening of San Francisco in the later stages of the pandemic, which had led to the Flu's resurgence.

During the current pandemic, I used the notes from the phone call to start tracing many milestone details in ancestors' lives. 

Beyond curiosity about who they were and the everyday conditions for living in these earlier times, I wanted to see whether some hints of values, norms, and habits were evident across generations, amid the largely unspoken past of family history. 

The book was sure fun to write. Please let me know your thoughts.