Monday, September 24, 2007

Small World

This is the kind of story I love to hear, love to tell about too, for that matter.

I got a telephone call yesterday from my good friend and neighbor a few doors up the street from me. My life-long friend, Shirley!

She's a very upbeat, VERY bubbly person, rarely without a smile and always a friendly word to whoever she meets. Her youngest sister, Kate, is the same age as me and Kate and I have been friends for as long as I can remember. Kate's my oldest friend in terms of how long she and I have always been "best of friends" but I tease Shirley that she is my "oldest" really close friend since she is 8 years older than Kate and I and Shirley and I have, over the years, evolved into becoming very strong, close friends too.

But I digress. (I know, what the heck else is new, you're probably saying.)

Shirley had to call and tell me that she'd just had a phone call from her older daughter, Kathy, who lives somewhere down in the Philadelphia suburbs - don't know which town, just know she lives down in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Kathy had called because she couldn't wait to tell her mother what had happened to her at church yesterday. She said when it was time for the "Prayers of the Church" during which the minister prays for everything and anything, one of the things he mentioned was that a parishioner there had requested that the members of this particular church offer prayers for the family of Erling Young, who'd passed away earlier this week.

When Kathy heard that, her immediate thoughts were "Now, just how many people can there possibly be with the name of Erling Young?" Because their minister had given the name too of the party who requested this prayer, after the services, Kathy walked up to the lady and asked her where she'd been on Saturday.

THe lady was a bit surprised at Kathy's question but she answered her by saying she'd been to a funeral in Lanse, PA at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church to which Kathy had then informed her that church just happens to be her home parish! Imagine the look of surprise on the other lady's face to learn that this young woman -who she'd seen at church but didn't know a thing about her -was from the area in central Pennsylvania where her ancestors had lived years and years ago!

Shirley, true to her form, told me she could hardly wait to get off the phone with her daughter because she HAD to call and tell me about this, knowing me as well as she does, she just KNEW this was the kind of story I would really revel in. And you know what? She was right!

Ever since I got interested in researching the local history of the township where I've lived almost my entire life, I've become fascinated too upon transcribing old newspaper reports and especially old obituaries to learn what families are interconnected as well as how many folks I've read about in these old newspapers I've been researching have roots back to the ghost town about a mile or two down the road from my home.

You're all probably familiar with the game made popular several years back "Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon" (or a name similar to that in case I have a word listed incorrectly there.) Well, since doing this research I have developed an opinion that if you talk to people and get them to dig back in their families' roots far enough - maybe 8 or 10 degrees is needed to play my game - you'll very often find a link there back to this little ghost town that only really existed for roughly 30, maybe 40 years tops, just before the turn of the century and shortly thereafter.

It's something that never ceases to amaze me what a small - very small -world we do actually live in ya know!

Think about that awhile now and mentally try to track back where your ancestors - especially if they were Swedish or Slovak and came to this country in the late 1800's and perhaps were coal miners - that quite possibly they too may have a link to this little ghost town near to my home.

It could happen you know and you might just be surprised at learning where you ancestors once lived, what that area was like then, what it's like now.

All things that truly do fascinate me.

Now, with that song "It's a Small World Afterall" playing like a big old earworm in my head, I'm off to the kitchen to try to figure out some type of meal to feed the family for supper tonight.

Any suggestions are welcome in that department too!


Theresa said...

I love things like that!
At my last reunioun I found out that the sister of my best friends brother-in-law brother is married to my cousin
Cousin to cousin- 6 degrees :)

I too like your friend had to call right away and tell my best friend.

Anonymous said...

It really is a small world. Ask any of the Sally Jennings/President Jackson family.

Debo Blue

Patois said...

Totally fascinating! That is amazing.

Casdok said...

Yes it is a small world!