Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time in Reverse

The past few days have been really exciting for me -mainly because you know how I really enjoy getting things from the past, making new contacts and such. But over the past week now, that aspect of my life has almost been on a level near to overflowing!

First, I really enjoyed -and very much appreciated -all the comments from readers as to their reasons for beginning their blog and also, what keeps them doing it too. I think, like most everyone else, it is my love of communicating on many different levels, that keeps me blogging, keeps me reading too the myriad of blogs I currently subscribe to or that I follow. So many of you take me on trips I could never afford and show me through your pictures as well as words, the beauty of this wide and wonderful world in which we live. People like Rune, up in Norway, Lifecruiser in Sweden, David (Authorblog) McMahon in Australia and bloggers way too numerous to call out here in North America (the U.S. and Canada). You all know who you are though -great pictures and keep 'em coming, please! The information those three above mentioned bloggers put up almost daily on their sites is really fascinating and if you've never checked out any of their blogs, I would highly recommend you click into them. You won't be disappointed, trust me there!

But aside from that -and before I start to get really off track (something I am very good at doing -I think it's commonly called "Rambling" ) let me get to the point of my post today.

From the photo I received on Saturday from my friend, Ki -sister of one of the guys with whom I was confirmed almost 50 years ago -and which I posted here the other day too, I had sent that photo to yet another friend, Pat -a retired Penna. State Trooper. Now Pat and I have been friends for several years but after his class had their 45th class reunion, he did something I thought was really cool.

He researched every member of his class, tracked each one down, got their mailing addresses, e-mail addresses too for those who use that medium, and began sending messages out to the members of his class -asking them to share with him what they are involved in now, send pictures if they wished to share too -of themselves, of their children, grandchildren, trips they take, etc. Then, Pat sends these messages out to his list of classmates as well as a few others -like myself -so we can all kind of keep in contact -virtually anyway -with what others from our school, our area, are doing today.

Something I do have to explain here though is that Pat and I went to different schools together. Remember those old lines from years back -silly responses people would make that were a bit senseless -like "What's the difference between an orange?" Goofy stuff, ya know. Except that with Pat and his classmates, me and my classmates, it was the truth because we graduated from high school, all of us with diplomas that said "West Branch Area High School" on them but we attended different schools -physically speaking.

You see, back in the 50s, the five townships in this area that each borders on the other, decided it would be beneficial to the students as well as to the taxpayers, if they had one school district instead of having two, which had at that time been formed to educate those of us in this geographical area. But, in doing that, a new school had to be built and that took a couple of years to complete. So, for the classes that graduated in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, from the West Branch Area School District, the kids who lived in Morris or Graham Township attended the Morris Township High School and the rest of us, who lived in Cooper, Karthaus or West Keating Townships (the latter there also being in Clinton County I believe), well we all attended high school at the Cooper Township High School Building.

So, when Pat -who attended the Morris Township schools did this research on the Class of 1961, he did it on both classes -the kids he grew up with, attended school with at the Morris School as well as including those who attended the Cooper School and who he probably had little or no contact with during his school days. Quite a feat, really to do that!

Well, Pat took that Confirmation photo and sent it to his classmates network and last night, I received an e-mail from a girl from the class of 1961 but who had attended the Cooper school, same as I did. Gracie is an old, old friend of mine. We go back in time to probably 7th and 8th grade plus, she also was first married to the son of one of my close neighbors too -Bill Gurbal -who unfortunately was killed in an automobile accident in November of 1964 -just three months after their son -his only child -was born.

Over the years, Gracie and I lost contact although once in a blue moon, I would run into her when she was back in the area for a weekend visit or some such. But through Pat's list of classmates and because he has me on his recipient list -as a "thank you" for helping him to track down some stragglers from the Cooper Class -my e-mail address is included on his list, available to his real classmates.

And last night, I got this great e-mail from Gracie -reconnecting once again -as she told me how many memories she had of the kids in that photo as well as our old church here that had burned to the ground back in May of 1967.

Now, earlier this past week, I had e-mailed a gentleman who is originally from this area and who I have known all my life. HIs family homestead was about seven doors up the street from mine and his mother and aunt were very good friends of my grandparents. His mother and aunt lived in New York (Brooklyn, I think but I'm not positive on that) during the winter months and then, come late spring, they would return here to their homestead and spend the summer in a very familiar setting.

This man, Arthur Sherman, is now 88 years old -in very good health -both mentally and physically -surprised me completely last night when he phoned me! Seems when he awoke yesterday morning, he had (as he explained this to me) announced to his wife that he was going to call me yesterday. And the reason behind that decision was that they had recently purchased a new cell phone -one which gave very good reception to call out from their home (the one they had previously they couldn't get a signal from their home so used it only when they travelled) and with this new phone he also has a service plan that provides him with 700 free minutes per month, so as he told me when we talked, he is going to try his level best to use everyone -or as near as possible -of those 700 minutes of free calling time!

However, he had also told me that he and his wife don't tend to check their e-mail daily but later yesterday afternoon, in checking their e-mail he had found my note to him from two or three days earlier and that note, along with some of the things I had written about to him, solidified his decision then to telephone me!

Now, I ask you, how cool is all of that? Some of these little contact things have come to me via posts on my blog and some, from the wonderful invention of e-mail too. But all of them tie back in one way or another to the tool we all have to have in order to use e-mail or to blog -a good old computer, don't 'cha know!

And finally -yes, all good (or bad sometimes) things do eventually come to an end but I have one more thing that happened yesterday that really fascinates me too.

You'll recall if you've followed my blog for any length of time now, that I am very interested in family tree stuff and I love being able to learn more too about my ethnic background, which is Swedish and Scottish. Since about late 1999 or early 2000 -shortly after I got my first computer at home -I have been communicating with a lady in Mellerud, Sweden -Anneli Andersson. I've even been lucky enough to have met her too on two of her visits to this country -in 2006 and again, in 2007. We write back and forth now and then but not on a steady, regular basis.

However, yesterday I received an e-mail from her telling me about a program she and a friend of hers are going to be starting this coming fall in their local school in Sweden. This will involve children around the ages of 11-12 years old and to set it up, she would like to find a school perhaps in this country that would be willing to set up a program in conjunction with the one she and her friend are going to be doing in Sweden. This would be a communcations type of learning experience for kids in that age range in this country and Sweden that would help these young people to learn language skills, particularly for the Swedish children to learn English better and maybe even assist kids here to pick up a bit of the Swedish language. But it would also be a means for a cultural exchange where each group would learn traditions, the culture, of another country, in a more personal manner. She was thinking perhaps it would only be of interest to children with some Swedish ethnic background, but I think it would be a wonderful way for all kids, regardless of their ethnicity, to learn about another culture -the history, the geography, the social mores and such.

I'm going to work on this here to see if I can stir up enough interest and support between our school district, perhaps through members of the church I belong to as well, and who knows, maybe someone reading this somewhere would be interested in helping my friend, Anneli in Sweden, to get this learning experience off the ground, up and running!

I already volunteered my grandson, Alex, to be a pen pal with Anneli's son, Jonathon. Alex will be 12 in August and Jonathon will be 11 so they are close enough in age to have a lot of common interests and such and I'm fairly certain Alex would really enjoy doing something like this too. Maybe, through him, I could get a teacher or group from his school in Bellefonte, PA to take part in this experience too.

Anneli would also like to receive stories too about people who came to this country -preferably from the Dalsland area in Sweden but I don't think she would turn down emmigration stories from other parts of Sweden (maybe even other countries too) about our ancestors and their journey from there to here.

So, now I ask you -my readers -wherever you are, whatever your ethnic background may be too -do you have any stories passed down from generation to generation about your ancestors and their passage to this country?

I can think of three about some of my ancestors -I'll save them for another post though. (Yeah, I know you're all probably wiping your brows in relief to hear that, aren't you?) How did your ancestors come to America (Canada or the U.S.) ? What made them decide to come here? What difficulties did they have to just get on the boat or on the trip and after they arrived? What type of work did they do then after setting up a home here? And do you or your family observe today any of traditions from the "old country" too?

Lots of questions there and I'm sure many of you could give me lots and lots of stories, answers to these questions.

So if any of you reading this would even like to participate with Anneli in her quest to help the children in her area of Sweden to learn what life was like for the people making this difficult move -regardless of how many years ago it was -that would just be, as the old saying goes, "Icing on the cake." All you have to do is contact me and I can then put you in contact with Anneli too!

Wouldn't it be great though to be a part of a way to share and learn a bit more history and a lot more about other countries, other cultures?

And the value of that would be absolutely priceless.

3 comments:

Mary said...

Jeni,

Great post. I enjoyed hearing about how you have contact with some of your old schoolmates and how your friend in Sweden is trying to set up the class in her school to communicate with those in other countries. Fascinating. How blessed we are to have the Internet.

You asked how my ancestors came to be in Canada? Well, my paternal ancestors came to the US because of the potato famine in Ireland. Many people there were literally starving and they heard that land and freedom was to be had in the US. From there, some immigrated to Canada, to this part of southern Ontario. I don't know much more than that, but sure wish I did. I must remember to ask Mom more questions. Dad has been gone for 27 years and I wish I had asked him more.

Thanks for an enjoyable read. You might want to check out the book on Aspergers that I posted on Tuesday. "Look Me in the Eye" is a fantastic book.

Blessings,
Mary

terri said...

Your interest in your family history is one of the things that first drew me to your blog. Even though I have no connection, it fascinates me.

Sadly, I was just talking with a coworker about the complete and total lack of family history in my family. Not that I don't have one, it's just that no one did much to preserve the memories or traditions. My sister has worked very hard at putting a lot of the pieces together, but most of those who could fill in the blanks are long gone.

Debo Blue said...

What a great read! And that guy Arthur is 88 and uses email? Wow!