Saturday, November 21, 2009

Earliest Memories

Now a blog is not a book but it is a way to get started on the massive amount of information I have collected in almost three years of doing family history. One way of structuring this blog is to use the same format of questioning that I used when I interviewed Jack and Pauline. In this regard, the contributions of other family members will make a completed family history more rich. Thus we begin with earliest memories.
Jack's earliest memory is one from nursery school . He attended Catherine Morrill Day Nursery on Danforth Street in Portland. The nursery has been in operation there since 1922. Apparently, how to eat crackers without getting crumbs all over the place was an important skill to learn in those days. Jack tells us how to do it: 
"The teacher showed you how to eat graham crackers without getting crumbs all over the place.  I remember that because I still do it today.  When you're taking a bite out of a cookie or a cracker like that you suck in so that the crumbs don't go all over the place, they go in your mouth."
After hearing Dad's story, I am surprised that the nickname of 'Cracker Jack' did not come to be!
He also remembers being served curdled Macaroni and Cheese at school and not ever liking it again. It's interesting how experiences with food can stay with you so long.

Mourning Wreath
An earliest memory of Pauline regards a custom no longer practiced. Wakes used to occur in the home of the deceased. She tells about it here:
"On the front door they used to have a wreath and you knew then that somebody had died. That’s the first time I had seen a dead body and she was laid out in the living room and my two sisters said, “Come on, let’s go see Aunt Marie.”  Her name was Aunt Marie. So they brought me in and I knelt down at the casket and I'm looking down and I didn't like it.  Then my sister Lorraine said, “Touch her, she’s cold.” I said, “No, I don't want to touch her!”  Aunt Marie was Memere's oldest sister who married an Irishman, John King. They lived on a farm in Limerick."
One of my own earliest memories is darting around Westwood Road in Augusta in my little metal car shown below. By this time, my oldest three siblings had begun school which left the youngest three to terrorize the neighborhood but it was much fun. In Augusta and Westbrook alike, our family was fortunate to have playable streets and friendly neighbors with lots of kids.
So what is an earliest memory of yours?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting Started

How I got started in oral history of Jack and Pauline:
In June of 2007, I took a 3 day course across the street from San Francisco City Hall.  This course was called "Legacy Oral History Workshop" and it got me started in interviewing Jack and Pauline in July that year. These interviews (approximately ten hours) were audio recorded and later transcribed. Conducting the oral histories of my parents was a combination of fun and work but humbling at the same time. By spending so much time with them, I not only heard their personal stories but also developed more of a rounded view of them on a whole life scale rather than from the sole perspective of a son.

How I got started in genealogy:
On a visit to see my brother, Bruce, in the mountains of North Carolina in May 2008, I was given the monthly meeting brochure at the housing development where he lives. On it they listed the monthly meeting of a genealogy group that meets on a regular basis. I hoodwinked Bruce's wife, Joan, to go with me. That meeting spurred me on to visit the local library in Brevard to try a "Siulinski" search on What was nice was the library was walking distance from Joan's art gallery. I was excited to find a record within minutes of searching...

The record was a WWI Draft Registration Card of 'Joseph John Siulinski' (shown above). Thinking this person had to be a direct relation to my grandfather, Adam Siulinski, I called Jack and Pauline right away. They reminded me that Adam's father was named Albert not Joseph and besides, the record was from Massachusetts not Upstate New York where Adam was raised. Could this man be Albert's brother? Since I know so little about Adam's life prior to his service in the Coast Guard, I have yet to break through this "brick wall". A brick wall in genealogy is not being able to find somebody. Impacting the wall will most likely happen when I make a research and discovery trip to New York where Adam grew up...hopefully in the near future. I do have some ideas of possible family members from Adam's life before his residence in Maine which I will report in this blog.