In the last ten years, much of my family has died. My Mom’s mom most recently. My Dad died not long before that. He passed in his family home where twenty years earlier his mother lay in the same living room on Lee street in Newport. I watched both of their bodies be carefully bagged and taken from us by Bateman Funeral Home.
Uncle’s Ron, Jim and Darryle have recently passed. My wife’s Grandfather and Grandmother are also gone, now. On the flip side, my Sister just gave birth to her first child Ellodie. And, my Brother had his newest baby Eva.
As a person who is overly fixed with maximizing my future potential, I have sensed for sometime, that I need to look backward. Understanding and archiving my family’s personal history is something that needs nurturing. With the passing of each family member, much oral and written history has been lost.
A couple of years ago I was able to spend a few days with my Aunt Shirley in Las Vegas. It was a wonderful opportunity to ask a lot of questions. And, I did. Why did they come to Newport? Did you know your biological father? How did Grandma and Grandpa meet? And, so forth. However, I didn’t do much of a job at writing down what she said. In fact, I didn’t at all. Now, I am realizing those conversations are already vague. Fail.
My mom gifted me a 23 and Me test. I’ve got the data. Future plans are to integrate the genealogy component. I’ll give some credit to my recent experience at the Day of the Dead celebration to revitalizing my motives. The blog has got me stoked. I need to document and understand this precious family history.
What will Reed know about his history when Cherity and I are gone?
My Personal Timeline – Quick Summary
I was born in Newport, OR in 1970. My Mom’s side of the family was more immediately rooted in Toledo and the Bay road. My Mother and her Brothers attended Toledo High School. My Dad was from Newport. He and his Brother and Sister attended Newport High School. Jerry Miller and Kathie Greenawald met at Richmaid Ice Cream where she was a sever, he was the son of the restaurant’s owners Jerry and Eva Miller. They were 17ish. And, from this union, I am a result.
My parents had a shot gun wedding and with help from family purchased their first home for $18,000 at 628 NW Lee Street – one house away from Jerry and Eva. As the story goes, he was a difficult person to live with. My Mom claims that my Father needed to finish his In a Gadda da Vida drum solo before taking her to Newport’s hospital while she was in labor. In 1972 my “Punky” was drafted into the Air Force. She sent him a dear john letter while he was stationed in Okinawa.
Not long after leaving my Father she purchased a Volkswagen bus, we hit the road, and landed in Lake Tahoe, California. My Mom survived as a photographer for tourists in our early Tahoe era. I recall the various boyfriends and roommates form these times. There was Jim the pool store owner, Tim the carpenter, and a few others. I vaguely remember their faces, blurry images of neighborhoods we lived in and the schools I attended. Her BFF’s included Sue Good the photographer and Sue Wheeling the card dealer.
Eventually, we would move to Truckee where she worked as a news reporter for the Sierra Sun, Truckee’s newspaper. She also ran a interior decorating business. Miller’s Interiors. I have more vague recollections of big homes with high roof lines, piles of fabric books, and installing window decorations in empty vacation homes.
In 1980, Kathie would rekindle a previous romance with my stepfather Bob. They were married. We moved to Veneta, OR. Bob was a trained viticulturist. Our first home was in the middle of a vineyard owned by Chatuea Benoit. There, my Brother and Sister, Scott and Alison we born. Just before my freshman year at Elimra High School I decided that should live with my Father and his wife Debbie and her daughter Jennifer in Linda, California. Mid way through my first year in high school I moved to California and enrolled at Yuba City High School on a inter district transfer. I graduated in 1988 as a Honker. While living at home I attended Yuba Community College. After receiving my AA, I attended UC Davis. I dropped out of college or more accurately, was dismissed from school as a 8th year senior (slight exaggeration) and moved back to Newport in 1997.
I stayed for short time with my Grandmother on “the farm” and with my Dad and Stepmother who had inherited the family homes on NW Lee street. I’ve been “home” ever since.
I lived at the top of Abbey street for about ten years, spent the next six on NW Lee and the last six, three miles down the Bay Road. During this time, I met my wife Cherity. Her entire family on her Father’s side, still lives on the same street in Crow, Oregon. Nine years ago we created a beautiful boy who we named Reed.
Building More History – Genealogy to Come
I have asked my Mother that we get together, go through photographs and possibly roll tape on her recollections. My Stepmother Debbie has recently been organizing photos from the Miller side of things. I would also like to roll tape with Aunt Shirley. She is the gatekeeper to much precious knowledge. I also want to have discussion with Cherity’s Grandfather Gerald. Her Grandmother, sadly is the later stages of Alzheimer’s.
Random Stuff while Researching
Genealogy is a curiosity for most, a hobby for many and an obsession for some. In this article we look at the practical and philosophical reasons that motivate people to spend time researching their ancestors. (http://www.genealogyintime.com/articles/why-genealogy-is-important.html)
The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)
In “A Profile of Death and Dying in America” they note “The typical American can now expect to live a lengthy life and die at an old age. In 1900, average life expectancy at birth was less than 50 years (Figure 2.2).2 In 1995, the estimated life expectancy reached 75.8 years, matching the all-time high attained in 1992. Women may now expect to live nearly 79 years and men, almost 73 years (Rosenberg et al., 1996).”
“Much of the social science literature on attitudes, particularly that generated in the 1970s and 1980s, has focused on the psychological construct of “death anxiety” (variously and confusingly viewed as a realistic fear of a real threat or as a neurotic over-reaction to the general prospect of death Dying is a both a biological process and a psychological and social experience that occurs in a cultural context.”