07 February 2012

Take the time to ask the questions

Yeah, that's a question!

The last known World War One veteran has died.  She was 110.

From a genealogist and history buff's standpoint, that statement brings sort of a sadness to my heart.  What stories she must have had!  Yes, the last veteran was a woman, who served with the Woman's Royal Air Force in England.  She didn't see combat, but she still worked alongside men who did. 

I hope her stories were written down, for they had to have been awesome!  From the article I read, most of them were told to family members, but how many were preserved, not only for her future generations, but for millions of history buffs?
(for her story - see Last Known WWI Veteran Florence Green dies at 110)

Take time to ask the questions.

We're losing what is known as "The Greatest Generation" quickly.  Out of ten children born to my mother's paternal grandparents, only one survives. All of her mother's siblings are gone, as are my paternal grandfather and his brothers and sisters.

My grandmother, who is about to turn ninety years old, still lives, and is a wealth of knowledge for me to uncover.  I enjoy asking her questions, from the mundane to the personal.  Her responses are fascinating, and prompt me to ask even more questions.  Yes, some have to pertain to family history, but more often then not the questions I ask are offering me a window into a world of the past.  It is a world that she makes come alive far greater then any history book.

Hey look, the study of memory

The best resource a genealogist has is the memory of an older generation.  Learn to ask questions.  If they don't want to answer personal natured questions, start with something as simple as "What street did you grow up on?" or "What was your favorite toy?"  Sometimes the answers will unlock a memory or a world that you can explore. 

And your older relatives don't have to be "the Greatest Generation" - they could be the remnants of the WWI generation or Baby Boomers.   They could be your own parents, or cousins, aunts, uncles, even friends can have stories to tell.

So get out there and ask!

03 February 2012

Lost photos are gems to find

Jesse Meyer and Jennie Hager Cox with sons c. 1942
Recently I found some old photos I thought I had lost. Most of them were in digital form made of scans I had done of photos various older family members had.  I lost them when my computer crashed over two years ago and was lamenting the fact that I might not be able to get them back, for I had foolishly not made hard copies of said photos NOR had I saved that particular set to a disk.  So it was nice to discover that I still had them.

These were photographs from my maternal grandmother's side, a side in which I do not have many contacts willing to share information, because many who had said information have passed on.

Where were the missing photographs?  They were still saved to my old email account's mail.
Dorothy and Jean Cox 1947
You see, I rarely delete emails if they have any family tree connection.  I will keep them for posterity in the account, and just happened to be looking through that account for something else when I discovered that the photos were still there. For those who were wondering - an initial search through the account after my computer crashed did not yield these photos, which makes me wonder if I was using the correct search terms the first time.

The pictures in question were among some that my mother's first cousin's ex-wife had sent me back in 2005 to add to my collection.  This is a family member that I sadly lost track of, so I couldn't ask for them back, nor could I find any of my family members that had these photos, so I was stuck with the fact that I'd never see them again.

It just goes to show you that you'll never know where you'll find photographs!

01 February 2012

Adventures in substitute teaching : The worksheet that's due tomorrow

This is a typical conversation that I got through at least once a week in just about EVERY period:

Directions from the teacher say this:
The worksheet is to be done in class.  If they don't finish, it is homework.  Tell anyone who does finish to hold on to it and we will go over it in class tomorrow.

So, after I take attendance, I pick up said worksheet and hold it in my hands.  After getting the class' attention, I make this announcement.

"This will be your assignment for today.  I will pass it out, we will go over the instructions, and then you will work on it for the remainder of the period.  You are not going to turn it in today.  If you finish the worksheet, put it in your notebooks in a safe place and find something to work on quietly.  Your teacher will correct it with you tomorrow."

I hand out assignment.  We read directions.  I ask if there are any questions.

First hand up is the wiggly kid who can't stay still. "Do we turn this in when we're done?"

I shake my head.  "No.  You will hold on to the worksheet until TOMORROW when your teacher will go over it with you.  Anyone have any other questions?"

Giggling girl who has been making faces at her friends across the room is the next question-asker called on. "Do we turn this in at the end of the period?"

"No.  You are turning it in tomorrow."

Someone finally asks a question about the worksheet at hand, I answer and turn the kids loose to work on assignment.  All is quiet for about fifteen to twenty minutes.  I answer individual questions.

Inevitably, at least one of those individual questions is "Do we turn this in today?"  Sigh.

Suddenly, from across the room comes a "Mrs Davis, do we turn this in today?"

Inwardly I quell the groan.  "No.  (Mr., Mrs. or Miss _________) will collect it tomorrow."

No sooner do I finish saying that when squirrelly kid who hasn't been listening to a single word I said throws down his writing utensil with a flourish and jumps out of his seat.  "Mrs. Davis!  I'm done!! Where do you want this?"

I stop the urge to roll my eyes as I look at him.  "What did I just finish saying?" I ask as calmly as I can.

Kid wasn't listening. "Uhhhhhhhh," he says, trying to make something pop into his brain.  "I dunno."

Sigh.  "You. Turn. It. In. Tomorrow." I say, firmly enunciating every word and syllable.

Hopefully by now, everyone in the room has heard what I have said.  Several are putting the worksheet in their folders.  I feel a little better, because I know that everyone is now on the same page.

At this point, the silent kid in the back who has been quietly working on the assignment this entire time and hasn't asked a single question comes up and hands me her paper.