My computer play has been pretty desultory lately: I keep sitting down in front of my laptop, wanting to do something "computerey" and creative, and I can think of nothing I want to do, and I just end up surfing. But, finally driven by rainy-weekend boredom, I decided to take a look at that GRAMPS genealogical software, and sat down Sunday morning to figure out my family tree.
I'm totally hooked. It took a while to figure out how to use the software, but it seems logical enough once you get the hang of adding data and navigating among people and relationships. I input the stuff I knew, the low hanging fruit like my family, parents and grandparents, brothers and their families, cousins etc, with birth dates if I knew them offhand -- this "vital statistics" kind of biographical info is a big part of genealogy, and the genealogical software, but I know very few birth, death and marriage dates for even my closer relatives -- then broke out a history of my father's family (written by my mother) and spent Sunday afternoon and Monday parsing it for stuff I could use. I exhausted that family history, got in touch with some cousins on my mother's side, who'd done their own family tree research and got some online stuff from them, and in the course of that I contacted someone at Ancestry.com, who has info about the ancestry of my father's paternal grandfather, but needs info on his descendants and is willing to trade (I'm waiting to hear back)...
Like I said, I'm hooked; I found something to scratch my itch. I think I have most of my ancestors, their names at least, to about four generations back, and pretty much all their descendants; now I just need to start fleshing them all out with vital statistics, photos, and family stories.
Here's a story: My father's father died the year before my parents met, but my paternal grandmother was still alive when I was a small child. According to my mom's email, she died in August of 1967, which would be when I was four years old, and the month before we moved to Englishtown, and about the time of my earliest memories. (The earliest memories that I can date are of Kevin and me, arguing over whether I was still older when we were both three for a time, which means it would be late March or early April 1967, and some from the summer of 1967, when we visited the construction site for our new home -- but those might be mixed up with photos and 8mm movies of those visits.) So I'm guessing then that the one time I remember meeting my grandmother was (obviously) before August 1967, but not too much before.
It's just a few jumbled images: she was in a wheelchair, and maybe that wheelchair was on a a sort of dais or podium, and she seemed out of it, or possibly just unable to communicate, but happy. She had longish white hair and was maybe wearing a brownish cardigan; the walls might have been a light green but floor and furniture were brown wood, and the wheelchair seems to be wood and wicker in my mind's eye. My mom and dad sort of introduced us and put me in her lap, and she held me for a moment. They probably did the same with Kevin and Chris but I don't remember. It was the only time I can remember meeting her, and it was possibly the only time I ever did meet her.
Speaking Of "The Itch:" My dad tells stories about a really downscale second-run movie theater in his childhood neighborhood, nicknamed "The Itch" because it was a good place to end up with lice if you leaned back in your seat. I googled it once, and found that it was a generic NYC name for that type of theater back in the day. Who knew?