I’ve been looking up ancestors this past month. Searching for that missing link to a royal line, or proof that we really do own the Brink truck company, but it’s not as easy as it looks on TV. I’m convinced that someone has been paid ready money to hide all the important facts so that it takes longer to search them out, thus in the end, the inheritance you manage to dig up from the King of Siam is slowly paid out in monthly installments to Ancestry.com.
I started this little adventure because I was looking for information on my maternal grandfather. He was shot and killed at the tender age of twenty-five before my mother was born. My grandmother remarried and moved across the country, so contact with that side of my mother’s family was nil and void, thus leaving many questions in a little girl’s heart who never felt a father’s love. What was he like? Did she look like him, think like him, have any inherited quirks or mannerisms? Was he tall? Did he have a sense of humor? Would he have liked her?
Along my journey of ancestor enlightenment, I read through dozens of newspaper articles and headlines. The year was 1938 and in some respects it was a kinder, gentler era. Stories about local church revivals and community socials were common news that year. But just as in our own schizophrenic world of good and bad, the news was not all Leave it to Beaver. The opening of a soup kitchen shared the page with a story about a man trying to push his wife over the side of a cruise ship and jumping to his own death. There were reports of shootings, stabbings, bludgeonings, alongside the comical tale of a two-headed calf born on a nearby farm.
In fact, crime stories seemed to be just as prevalent, if not more so, than they are today. There was even mention of body parts turning up in bags and the search for a serial killer. Some of you probably thought serial killers didn’t exist until they were invented in Hollywood. Obviously, not so.
My search for family turned up a few interesting facts. Not necessarily the ones I was looking for, but more than I or my mother were privy to before my search began.
In one sense, the past is dead and gone, but put a writer on its trail and before you know it, there will be life. Like Dr. Frankenstein and his body parts – something is bound to come together…