A Melting Pot

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​When I was a kid, I would occasionally say that I was Canadian. My father would not have it. He told me I was an American, not Canadian. I tried to argue. But Grandpa was born in Canada. His family still lives there. Why aren’t we Canadian? We’re American he would say. And that was the end of the discussion.

It wasn’t a diss against Canada or our Canadian relatives, but to him it was more than important; it was pride, it was honor, it was a patriotic act.

When my kids have done their genealogy or ancestry in school or for class projects, they’ve asked, and we’ve told them where their families have come from. We’re Jewish so for us it wasn’t that we came from Eastern Europe, but that we were Russian, German, Polish, but always prefaced by being Jewish. It was our ethnicity more than our religion despite being both.

My kids are all of those things, but their families also come from Canada, Russia, Germany, Poland, and Ireland. We eat foods and follow traditions from all of those family histories.

I’m an American. And some of my family is Canadian. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and neither takes away from the other.

When I heard the first time someone referred contemptuously to Elizabeth Warren’s nod to her Native American ancestry, I had to shake my head at their myopia. She wasn’t saying she was Native. She wasn’t saying she was Indigenous. She wasn’t asking for a government benefit or acknowledgment. She was simply relaying a family story that she’d heard her whole life about her heritage, about the traditions in her own family.

It was the President who made a political issue out of it, and then the racists jumped onboard with their laughter and their name-calling. The President continued with his name-calling just this week.

Even Democrats criticized her for bringing it up now, a distraction from the important midterms, although I would remind them that the President is the one who brought it up, and Senator Warren simply responded. I know what it’s like to have that continual gnawing inside when someone says something about you or your family. They say it, and it’s forgotten, but not by you, not by the aggrieved. The hurt remains and festers and dogs in to all those places that have been hurt before.

I think she also knew the President wouldn’t follow through with his promise of a charitable contribution; he has never kept his word, and he’s not about to start now, but still…

Was she supposed to ignore his taunts? Is she supposed to take it because the timing isn’t right for the election campaign cycle according to some pundits? Is she just supposed to sit down and be quiet little lady?

As someone who lives in a melting pot, I understand where Warren was initially coming from, and the more air we give to the nonsense that this President does and says, the more air he sucks out of the room, and the rest of us, the rest of us are suffocating.

So good for Elizabeth Warren.

One day my kids will be telling someone about their Canadian or Irish ancestry, and they will be mocked because they don’t have the proof; just a handful of family stories they cherish, and I hope they don’t back down either.

50-10 – The Men on the Moon

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This Day in History – 1969

Apollo 11 landed on the moon today in 1969.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon with Michael Collins supporting their mission from the capsule.

My parents tell me I watched it on television, and I have vivid memories of visiting the Kennedy Space Center as a child. Space has always played an important role in my reading and television watching life from Star Trek to NASA to the Challenger to Pluto’s return as a planet with amazing photos.

Source: This Day in History – 1969

 

Originally posted one year ago today, I thought I would reshare it along with an additional anecdote that is part of my family’s lore. We all have those apochryphal stories that may be slightly embellished but it’s been so long that no one remembers where it came from or started.

My parents tell me that I watched the Moon Landing when it happened and despite being only two and a half years old, I was very much engaged in what was happenening on the television.

I have two uncles, both my father’s brothers; one named Neil and one named Buzzy. Upon hearing the astronauts’ names, I thought my uncles were the ones landing on the moon and pointed at the TV with as much excitement that a toddler can muster.

Another moon related family story is actually a piece of memorabilia that my grandfather had – a signed photo of the Apollo 13 astronauts with a flag that went with them on their misadvernturous trip to outer space. We still have this framed bit of history on my son’s wall, or at least that’s where it’s supposed to be. Photos at another time.

Somewhere in my assorted boxes, I have a doll-shaped, doll-sized, astronaut pillow from my family’s visit to the Kennedy Space Center. I loved that thing.

We also grew up near the Cradle of Aviation, Roosevelt Field. Long before the museum that is there now was there, there was a much smaller version, like old space equipment in an airplane hangar, warehouse-style that we took our class to. We played on the replica Apollo capsules and wandered around, learning about space exploration. It was a fabulous adventure.

A trip to the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum during their Star Trek exhibit in the early 90’s gave me the once in a lifetime chance to sit in the Captain’s Chair from the original series and use the transporter.

These are memories I will cherish and long before digital cameras, so I can’t readily access them to share with you. It does give me incentive to get into the basement and sort through some of those boxes, though.

Happy 100th Birthday, Grandpa

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Today is my grandfather’s 100th birthday. He died in the seventies when I was around five, but I still have vivid memories of him and visiting his house.
His name was Richard, but everyone in the family called him Mo. That was short for Moshe. There are several men in my family who were given Hebrew names, but used English/American ones their whole lives.

This is a photo of he and my grandmother on their wedding day. I think they were married in the 1930s.

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I did a quick check and I thought I’d share with you what I discovered:

1915.                                                           2015
Woodrow Wilson               President         Barack Obama
$3200                           Buying a House     $177,600
$2005 (which is           Buying a Car         $31,252
               $46,879 in today’s prices)
$.15                                  Gas/gallon         $2.29
$687 (for a man)             Take-home          $53,046
                                                Income
$.07                                    Loaf of bread    2/$5 on sale
$.34                                   Dozen Eggs        $3.49
$.09                                   Quart of Milk      $1
$.26                                   Steak/lb.              $5.99
$.10 – .15                           Movie tickets     $11
$.02                                   1st Class Stamp $.49

There was no minimum wage (except in certain places and only for women and children.)
A recent headline (from May, 1915) would have been about the sinking of the Lusitania.

(Source of Price Differences: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/01/02/a-glimpse-at-your-expenses-100-years-ago?)

Intro to History

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If you asked my kids what their feelings on history is, I’m pretty sure they’d answer: “Don’t care,” “Hate it,” “Eh” in that order.

However if you asked child #1 what she thinks of poodle skirts or headbands of the seventies, she’d be on Google faster than The Flash.

If you asked child #2 about the first comic book ever printed, or who holds the record for the most breakouts of Arkham Asylum, he’d tell you. In infinite detail.

My third child could tell you the history of his fire department, and if you asked him the difference between a pumper truck and a medical unit, he’d know.

History is one of those things that we either love it or we don’t know we love it. All three of them are blase about their social studies and history classes, but ask them about something they’re interested in, and they can give you the rundown from ancient times until the present day, up until the point you cry ‘uncle’ or lose yourself in their droning.

My love of history is primarily American and European focused with more interest on the American Revolution and Civil War and the Middle Ages, respectively. I’ve studied the history of language, of writing, of The Celts, Law, Drinks, the Civil Rights Movement, Catholic Church, and quite frankly the list goes on and on. I’ve made historically accurate garments, made and ate historically accurate food, played games, brewed and infused, embroidered, etc.

With the seventy-first anniversary of D-Day approaching at the end of the week, I thought we would take a peek this week at our own views of history: what we think of it, what we think of as history, which histories we’re interested in learning more about, plus some reading recommendations that I’ve personally found enlightening and of course, interesting.

Let’s start with our usual Monday prompt:

Think about your view of history. If you like/love it, great! Which is your favorite historical period? If you don’t like it, think about what you do like and if you might be interested in how it came to be.

Other prompts for this week to think about:

Your State’s (City’s/Town’s/Etc.) History

Family History – who are you named for? Why? What happened to that person? How did your parents meet? What’s your first memory?

When was your house built? Talk about that time period and what your street/community might have looked like.

What’s your favorite hobby? Who started that? How long have you been doing it? How long have others been doing it? (Remember this one for next week’s theme of collections.)