Several years ago, I belonged to a Genealogy Club, and was learning how to do research, in an attempt to find my long forgotten relatives. This was a lot more difficult than one might think. My heritage is English, Irish, and Scotch, two-thirds of them came to Canada on a boat. One would have thought it easy to do this research, and find the manifests with the names on it, but it wasn’t that easy! They could have entered the US or Canada in a rowboat, or a blow-up boat for all I know, because I couldn’t find them! The records are difficult to search through, even with help! Eventually, the researching took up so much time, that the dead relatives had to take a back seat. I had to decide if I wanted to sit in front of a computer getting a bubble butt, or did I want to paint. I decided painting was more important at the time, and to leave the bubble butt research to a time when I couldn’t paint, or see to paint. The irony is, if I can’t see to paint, I can’t see to do research! And, if I can’t see to do research, I can’t write either!
I’ll tell you though, it certainly is fun when you can find a lost, and forgotten relative that you knew was there, but had never been able to locate before!
I remember when I was about eleven going with my Father into Canada while on vacation in Michigan. We went to visit his two uncles who lived in the same farm-house that his mother, and her siblings grew up in. I loved going there, and remembered going when I was quite young. This one trip Dad, and I took in summer of ’54, was very hot, and humid. It must have taken us at least a couple of hours to drive from Michigan into Canada, but it was ok with me because there was a lot to see, and even then I loved to travel, explore, and see new things.
As we wound around the country roads in Ontario, my eyes must have been the size of saucers. The old trees, farm homes, live stock, and people were so different from where I was being raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Finally, we spotted this old, weathered, grayed farm-house. It had a metal fence around it and everything looked, ……well, it looked so worn out! It was worn out, it was most likely over a hundred years old by then. Just before we visited that year, my great uncles had sectioned off a little room, and put in a real working toilet. Today, they would call that room a water closet, and I’m here to tell you it was one of the first water closets! They had also finally put in running water in the kitchen, with a pump and a large oblong metal sink. I could hardly believe my eyes! Having big bathrooms, and a large modern kitchen was the norm in our home, and to think anyone in the ’50’s wouldn’t have running water, or a bathroom was amazing to me! Remember, I was eleven at the time!
What really fascinated me was the pump in the kitchen! I remember the pump squeaked when you pulled up on the handle, and had pressure when you pushed down. A little stream of water came running out while you pushed down. I just couldn’t get over it! The last time I had been to see my great uncles, the pump was outside, and they carried water into the house in buckets. This clearly was an improvement!
When I was maybe two and a half, or three my parents put me to bed upstairs, where I was lucky enough to sleep in a big feather bed. Never have I seen anything like that feather bed since. I remember a huge pot belly stove in the middle of the parlor to heat the entire house. Those memories will forever stay with me, and I still remain in awe of how people lived in those days. Most of my memories were of the inside of the house, but not so much of the outside. I do remember the outhouse, because I didn’t like sitting out there in that rickety building with a moon of the door (I’m not kidding here), on that round thing with a hole in it…one little bit! There were flies, bees, and hornets…..a cute little girl like me could get stung sitting out there! My parents moved to California just after my third birthday, and I never returned to the old farm-house again.
My uncle asked if we would like to stay for lunch, and of course we said “Yes!” Lunch that day was spaghetti, to me that sounded really good at the time. Until my uncle pulled out a can of Chef Boyardee Spaghetti. Do I sound like a snob? But, I was just a little girl without any experiences! Looking back maybe they didn’t have a lot of money. Thinking back on that today, I’m sure they didn’t have a lot of money, or why would things be in such horrible shape. On the other hand, they were farm boys, and bachelors at that. They weren’t young at the time, and had been living alone for many years….. who cared? I loved that old farm-house, and all the memories from when I was little. I loved being there, and didn’t really care either. The spaghetti wasn’t that good, especially since I was counting on home-made spaghetti. But Dad, and I ate it, and were grateful for our lunch, and being able to be there all together too.
Later in the day, we said goodbye to my great uncles, we got in our car, and drove back home to my Grandmother’s home in Michigan. I think about that house and what their lives must have been like growing up there. They were farmers, I’m told that my Great-grandfather was a live stock veterinarian, but my Grandmother didn’t talk much about any of them.
In doing research, I could only verify that my Great-Grandmother came to Canada from Scotland, but that’s all I could find. I want to know more, and until I give up painting and writing, things are put on hold. Dead relatives have to wait in line.
There is one thing for sure…..I have work to do, all kinds of work! Not only do I want it all, I want to do it all! You can understand, right?