"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

History on a personal level

By on September 27, 2017 in Columnist with 0 Comments

Mike CassidyEditor’s notes by Mike Cassidy

I asked my grandfather when he was alive to tell the story about his family — where they came from, when they emigrated to the U.S., if we still had any known relatives in Ireland.
The only stories he knew came from when he was a youngster, such as the time his dad and twin brother owned a tavern in the wilds of Canada, where a bar fight left a man dead on the floor and the family on a quick night flight over the U.S. border.
I asked my grandmother to tell stories about her family, but she only told about terribly cold North Dakota, where she and her sisters and brothers lived with their mom and dad in a sod house on the prairie.
She hated North Dakota and was quite glad to accompany her father to northwest Oregon where he tried a spa treatment for a crippling disease I think that was severe arthritis.
At the spa, she met my grandfather, something of a wild seed, who was there visiting a relative. And so their family began.
When her first-born son was a senior in high school, she begged him not to drop out of his senior year to join the Army near the end of WWII. Instead, he followed all of his fellow classmates into the military, leaving just one girl to graduate in 1945 from Napavine High School.
By the time he finished basic training (he won a marksman medal as he was a keen shot from growing up on a farm with a single-shot .22 rifle) he was posted to Berlin, Germany as part of the occupation force.
My mother grew up in Berlin, daughter to a businessman. The family had a vacation home in what later became Russian-occupied East Germany. As one might imagine, Berlin in the aftermath of war was not a pleasant place for a young German woman. However, there were all of these soldiers… my mother’s good friend married a British soldier and my mother married my father and followed him home to the farm.
Life went on and their family began, and then unwound as they went their separate ways.
I was thinking about my family history after I read Brandon Harle’s story in this issue about his grandfather. Brandon — a history teacher at Wenatchee High School — likes to share his family’s story to give life to what can be a dry subject.
When I studied high school history, it seemed such an orderly flow… one chapter neatly leading to the next, one event carefully foreshadowing what was to come.
Yet, real personal family history can be messy, haphazard and subject to crisscrossing currents with hidden rocks.
After reading June Darling’s column this month about time perspective, I realized that maybe my grandparents were forward thinkers — they didn’t care much about their parents’ histories. They knew quite well that what was behind them — and even their childhood presents — couldn’t possibly be the best of times.
Looking ahead was the viable, preferred option.

Make your own history by planning today to make memories tomorrow. Enjoy The Good Life.
— Mike

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