Saturday, December 18, 2004

Family Secrets

Last night after I got home from work, I changed clothes quickly, The Feared Redhead and I grabbed a bite to eat, and we headed to a church just outside Eugene, to attend a Christmas cantata. The cantata was performed by a choir and orchestra composed of individuals from three churches, including the church where my aunt and uncle worship. After the cantata, we stayed to visit with my aunt and uncle for a few minutes. The central theme of the ocnversation was the fact that the church where the cantata was performed (not their church) is the church that my parents and I attended when I was but a wee lad of four. During the course of the conversation, some interesting information came to light. Apparently I have two relatives, including a direct ancestor, whom I have never met, because of a family rift. And apparently, they once lived in this very community, even though my father's family is primarily Californian.

My father's maternal grandfather, and my father's maternal uncle are at last report still alive and living in the Pasadena, California area. They have never had contact with us, in part because the grandfather's second wife wanted nothing to do with her husband's son, my paternal grandfather. But my grandfather and his still living brother did live in Eugene for awhile and in fact built three houses that still stand on Willamette street. I'll have to go look at them.

I'm not sure how I feel about this new information. My father never spoke of his great grandfather, and though I remember him mentioning his uncle, I don't recall him ever telling me they were still alive. It may have hurt him too much. My father's mother died when he was only 5, and his devastated father took to the bottle and to the road, dragging his kids up and down the west coast from one temporary job to another. He was a skilled carpenter and had a voice like an angel, from what I have heard, but alcohol destroyed him. He would go into bars on weekend nights and sing for tips, but then he'd spend it all on drinks for himself and the other patrons, and little of it ever went to help the family. It wasn't until my father was an adolescent that a family here in Oregon took him and my uncle in and gave them some semblance of a normal life. Eventually, my father attended Bible College, then served in the Navy, and became the man I still look up to today, 3 years after he left this Earth.

Ever since his death, I have been obsessed with knowing as much about him as possible. But now that I have learned something completely new, I don't know what to do with it. I'm curios to know what his grandfather and uncle are like, but I have nothing in common with them. they may as well be strangers.

Part of me wants to know more, part of me wishes I had never found out.


My mother emailed me in response to this blog entry. She provided me with further insight. Some of what she wrote:

The old biddy (your grandfathers stepmother) never accepted them as part of her family and kicked your grandfather out of the house with his brother when they were 13 and I believe 9 or 10. The younger brother had some type of physical problem. I beleive it was like asthma or epilepsy - I cannot remember exactly. Needless to say, he learned how to travel from one place to another, picking up whatever job he could from an early age. I do know that he took care of his brother until he was grown. You can begin to see why he was so devastated when he lost his wife. Life had dealt him some pretty hard deals from the time he was a child.


The Pasadena people are your grandfathers' stepbrothers family. Your dad visited them a couple of times when he was in the navy - before we met. His only comment to me was that they looked down their nose at him and he did not want to have anything to do with them.
[Works for me too.]

The comments that were made to me were that this woman was from Old Eugene Family and that she ruled the roost. That your dad's grandfather pretty much let her decide what went on and that he did not resist when she decided to put his children out of the house. I believe that she was an Aubrey and that Aubrey Park was named after that family.

As you can see, these people, except for marriage, had no relationship with your dads family. And as far as I am concerned, could not supply you with any information that would not be pretty tainted. However, at the end of your dads life he was doing as much as he could to try to gather family information and I do not blame you for doing whatever you need to do the same.

Interesting stuff. At least, for me. But I think my mom's right, these people have nothing I want nor need, and I really don't see much use for them, knowing what I've learned.