Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Heritage

http://www.sciencefictionforthinkers.com/bytes.htmI often wonder why people wonder where my roots are. I know people love to snoop and spy and, because of that, I'm as tight as a clam about just about everything except my books. I've got nothing to hide, but people today are just too damn nosy for their own good. That's why Hollywood gossip is more sought after than any scientific knowledge about the world around us. What a backward planet.

Anyway, I wouldn't even volunteer to tell anyone my favorite color because "what the hell difference does it make"? Somebody would just try to make a big deal out of some picayune, insignificant detail like that and put a label on me that they could just as well shove up their own ass, as far as I'm concerned. That's why I detest snoops.

Now, my family life is very personal and it always will be but the older I get the more I want readers and researchers to get my lineage correct. I've run across too many online postings tracing me to the wrong people, living and dead. Idiot snoops. The most interesting thing about this world is that it's diverse. The most boring thing about this world are people who try to make us all look the same.

So, I'm not into the ancestry thing at all and I guess that's because I've always known where most of my family roots were and the roots that I didn't know were so difficult to uncover that tracing them became more of a lousy chore than a fun thing. My family roots are half in Europe and half in the United Kingdom. I'll be brief and to the point because this is not something I really like to do.

For most of my life, I labored under the assumption that my last name, Casher, was an American derivative of the German name Kerschner. Well, it isn't, in my case. They're talking about the name Cashner, not Casher. If you trace the name Casher back far enough, you'll find Ireland, not Germany (or even Wales, for that matter). So, there isn't any German blood in me, as far as I know. I can't really blame some of my grandparents and great-grandparents for not telling us where our roots were because they were so happy to be Americans that they turned their backs on their ancestral roots and never looked back. That was their right.

But, it's also my right to know where I came from. Here's a quick peek, then, at my ancestry as I know it, as of *October 13, 2013. That means I'm only giving out the **last names here and only the skinny that I know and think I should share. Therefore, I'm made up of three major ethnic cultures plus three minor ethnic cultures. My three major ethnic roots are:

Slovakhalf (minus a fraction that's Swedish, Italian and Lithuanian)
Irishone fourth (plus a fraction of more Irish from other sources)
Welshone fourth (minus a fraction that's Irish and English)

My three major ethnic roots have sources in the following countries in the United Kingdom and central Europe: Wales, Ireland, Yugoslavia (Slovenia) and Austria.

My three minor ethnic roots have sources in the following countries in the United Kingdom and central Europe: England, Sweden, Italy and Lithuania.

**Author's Note 12-11-13: I decided to show the full names of my four deceased grandparents and the full name of my mother (still living) and father (deceased) in order to prevent any further misconception about who they are (or were) and what their real names actually are (or were). I'm still adamant about not divulging the full names of dozens of other deceased relatives for personal reasons. I did my research in person as a boy, young man, adult and as an old man, (i.e. I asked a lot of questions) and I'll never display the names of any living relatives besides the name of my mother (she gave me permission) in order to respect their privacy and security. The full names of my four grandparents and my parents are as follows:

My paternal grandparents:

Grafford Hilary Casher (Hilary with one "l" is a man's name and his father's first name; his nickname was Ted because he didn't like the name Grafford or Hilary; there was NO Theodore Casher in this family)

Winifred Geraldine (Bergin) Casher (Bergin is an Irish surname, pronounced with a hard "g". She was not a Bergen. That's Swedish. My paternal grandmother was Irish. She went by the nickname "Winnie" and she really disliked her middle name.)

My maternal grandparents:

John Frank Bugosh (spelled Bugos in Europe and pronounced BOO-GOSH, both in Europe and in the U.S., because the Slovak language has more than one "s" in its alphabet and this "s" has a "sh" pronunciation. In Europe John is Jonco, pronounced YONK-OH, and that's what his wife called him when she wasn't calling him "Dad".)

Elizabeth Dora (Jacobson) Bugosh (that's Jacobson, with an "o", not Jacobsen, with an "e", which is Swedish. Jacobson is Slovak. Grandma wasn't crazy about her middle name).

My parents:

John Edward Casher (he went by the name Ed Casher until the 1980s and then he went by the name John Ed Casher, for professional and business purposes, including that name on his business card)

Velma Helen (Bugosh) Casher (some of her older Slovak relatives called her Vilma and sometimes my dad called her Wilma (this was not her name, it was an affectionate nickname that my dad used for her and that some of her Slovak relatives also used for her and she liked it. Her other nickname was "Toots" and she also liked that nickname.)

Back to business:

My Welsh roots came from my father's father's side. His family name was Casher. My paternal grandfather (my father's father), was a native-born Welsh-American (born in the USA) and his parents' families were a mixture of native-born Welsh-Americans and Welsh immigrants from Wales, all having distant paternal roots in southern Ireland. My father's father's mother (meaning, my paternal grandfather's mother) was a Thompson and a native-born Welsh-American whose people were also a mixture of native-born Welsh-Americans and Welsh immigrant from Wales, with paternal roots in southern England. Whew! It took me most of my life to uncover this heritage because this side of my family never talked about "the old country".

The Thompsons ran a bakery on Fourth Street in downtown Snow Shoe. All my life I was led to believe that this was a Casher family bakery but it wasn't. My father's father's father married into this bakery. The Thompson Bakery sold bread as far away as State College and "Poppop" Casher (my dad's dad) drove one of their delivery trucks when he was only fourteen years old. The Thompsons were great bakers and their jellyroll was a top seller. Some of the locals called it "screw cake". When I was a kid a regular house stood on the spot where this bakery had been and that house has since burned down.

Later in life my paternal grandfather was a Pennsylvania Game Warden and a state Forest Fire Warden who also worked for PennDot (the state highway department) and finally as the head of maintenance for Bald Eagle Area High School. After his retirement he ran a pool room called "Ted's Billiards" (1970-1974) in the exact same spot and *building where he and his wife had run their restaurant in the early-mid 1950s and where a couple from Moshannon (a village four miles west of Snow Shoe Borough) had run a restaurant in the mid-late 1950s through the 1960s. A state "Wine & Spirits" store stands in that exact same spot today. "Poppop" Casher was "a Chevy Truck Man" who bought his 1/4-ton Chevy pickups brand new and only got another one when the one he had was almost worn out. He never liked the factory paint jobs and got a local body shop to repaint them black-and-white, his favorite two-tone vehicle color. When he was a young man, my dad's dad played first base in County League Baseball for "The Mounties". When I was a boy "Poppop" Casher was a big Pittsburgh Pirates fan who loved to hear Bob Price announce the games. He had to go to Harrisburg one day, when my Dad was still a boy (early 1940's), and that was too far away for a day trip back then (115 miles, *one way) so one of his friends, a World War I Veteran, flew him to Harrisburg in his biplane (an open-cockpit, double-winged airplane). They took off from the Kylertown Air Field in neighboring Clearfield County, just a half-hour drive from Snow Shoe — not from the Snow Shoe Air Field — and landed in a potato patch just outside of Harrisburg. The old Veteran pilot followed the railroad *tracks down and back, flying by sight without a radio. It must have been quite an adventure for "Poppop" Casher who had never flown before. Or ever again.

Author's Note 12-13-13: This is a text post on a personal blog. That's what A Portrait of the Author as an Old Man is. It's a personal blog. The following humongous paragraph about Snow Shoe Borough is not a definitive history of my hometown. It is a shared reminiscence of childhood observations, recollections of conversations with relatives and a result of personal research. As far as I'm concerned (i.e. my blog, my asshole opinion, thank you Harry Callahan), Snow Shoe's "Heyday" was between 1907 and 1963. If you want a history of Snow Shoe Borough, a personal blog is not the place to look. Go somewhere else for that.

**Snow Shoe was once a bustling community that was the hub of business between Philipsburg and Bellefonte, the county seat. In its twentieth-century heydays, Snow Shoe boasted a bank, a restaurant (which my paternal grandparents — the Cashers — once ran, in the early 1950s; when I was in elementary school this restaurant was known to me as Olive's), three hotels (The Mountain House on Railroad Street, which some people called The Redding Hotel and which is now The Snow Shoe Fire Hall, The Washington Hotel, and The Mountain House where a private residence now stands; both of these hotels were on Moshannon Avenue), a railroad stop, station and warehouse that was part of the old Bellefonte and Snow Shoe Railroad (my dad *was working at this railway station *when he married my mother), an A&P grocery store, a Woolrich shirt factory (on the floor above the A&P Store in the yellow-brick Budinger Building and where my mother worked part-time after school when she was in high school and when she wasn't cheering the Snow Shoe High School football and basketball teams on to victory as a varsity cheerleader), three barber shops (two were still in operation when I was a boy), half a dozen hair salons (one of which was owned and operated by an Italian-American, married man in his own home; this man later owned and operated the most popular tavern in Snow Shoe and he was my real Godfather), a hosiery mill (Hall Bros), a state liquor store, a beer distributor (Rena Nastase, now Beer One, since 2010 or so), a downtown general store (when I was in elementary school this store was known to me as Bessy's), a shoemaker (Pete Mangino), a town jail (in the basement of Snow Shoe Boro Hall), a downtown VFW, a landing field for small planes, a drug store and soda fountain (Sullivan's, which later became part of Bessy's), lots of taverns (of course), a community playground downtown, downtown elementary and high school (grades 1-12 were in the same building until the mid-1950s), a red-brick gymnasium right beside the school which doubled as a town hall and community live theater, a community park uptown with a pre-NASCAR speedway called The Snow Shoe Speedway, a soda-pop factory (I'll try to remember sometime whose it was), a bakery (Thompsons), two "filling stations" two-blocks apart and right in the borough (Confer's and Kelly's), a Bon-Ton store specializing in women's fashions (when I was in elementary school, this building was known to me as Faye's candy store), three churches, a movie theater, and an opera house. This is the Snow Shoe I like to think about about.

The old wooden-frame opera house on Olive Street in downtown Snow Shoe was right beside the newer brick movie theater at the corner of Fourth & Olive. The opera house became a silent-movie theater and then a private residence which still stands today. The first owners of the new private residence were my father's parents. My father was born and grew up in a house that had once been an opera house and then a silent-movie theater. That's why it looked so unique. The old brick movie theater next door showed "talkies" and then it was a tavern for decades. Today it's part of a family-owned chain of Italian restaurants specializing in pizza. My grandparents sold "the old opera house" in the early 1970s to live in a mobile home uptown, which my father sold after my widowed grandmother died in 1985. Today the old opera house and the mobile home are abandoned properties littered with junk, refuse and rubbish. Also, none of the old, original businesses exist today, thanks to "progress". The wave of the future.

All four of my grandparents (meaning my parents' parents) were native-born Americans, born in the United States. This is what I mean by "native-born" Americans. It will save me a lot of editing to tell you this now instead of on an individual basis later.

Most of my Irish roots are on my father's mother's side. Her family name was Bergin (with a hard "g") and both her parents came from the Lakes of Killarney region in County Kerry, on the southwest coast of Ireland. Her father was a Bergin and her mother was a Cosgrove. Her father was actually born in England but both his parents were pure Irish stock from County Kerry. His being a "foreign-born Irish citizen" — born in England, of all places — was a big thorn in his side, especially when his wife, "Ma Bergin" called him a "Johnny Bull". She did this just to get his dander up. His response was as follows (and this is a direct quote via their daughter, my paternal grandmother): "If I was born in a barn would I be a bloody mule?" Then she would laugh.

The Bergins had a forty-acre family farm in Clearfield County and my grandmother had two brothers and eight sisters. Wow. According to my grandmother, "Pa" Bergin once walked the ten miles from the Bergin family farm to downtown Philipsburg, Pennsylvania (in neighboring Centre County), to hear Caruso sing. According to her, he said he occasionally "danced with the fairies" (leprechauns) and was also a member of The Black Hand, which I find hard to believe because that was a Serbian crime organization (according to some people), not an Irish one. Hmmm. I always thought The Black Hand was an Italian crime organization. Personally, I couldn't care less. But, who knows, whatever its origin in this country, they may have been recruiting others back then. Anyway, I've known this Irish heritage since I was a boy because this side of my family loved to talk about the old country. And I paid attention to my elders when they talked to me and when they talked to themselves.

And, no, I wasn't these relatives' "pet" grandchild or nephew or anything like that or spoiled or special in any "favorite" kind of way. They were special to me. Each and every one of them. Hell, I uncovered at least half of my ancestry by asking questions throughout my entire life about these people because I was interested in them and their lives. I listened and I asked a lot of questions and I let them know they were interesting and special people and that's what makes it work. There's more to life than what you see in the mirror. A lot more.

My dad graduated from Snow Shoe High School in 1945 (the war was over). Before my father met my mother he was a test pilot for Piper Aircraft in Lock Haven, PA in the mid-to-late 1940s. His job was to test fly the Piper Cubs that came off the assembly line. He loved flying those single-engine, single-wing planes with a "joy stick" that controlled the flaps and rudder. He met my mother in 1949 when she was a senior at Snow Shoe High School. When they were first married dad worked at the uptown railroad station loading and unloading cargo from trains. Then he worked in the coal strip mines surrounding Snow Shoe and in neighboring Clearfield County for about ten years, starting as a "lube man" for drag lines but he spent most of those ten years operating bulldozers and graders, in all kinds of weather. When my father was in his thirties he was an amateur power lifter and won a regional power-lifting contest in Williamsport PA. That trophy is still with us. When the mines started going "dry" he worked in the Philadelphia area where there was a lot of new highway construction, operating huge graders and PANS (giant grader trucks) until that work ran out. Then he sold insurance locally for several years. This is when he met Ed Sullivan in New York City. During this period, he took advantage of a two-year program at Penn State's Altoona Campus that earned him a diploma in Machine And Tool Design. He was a machine and tool designer in the State College Area for the next 13 years and for the last 14 years of his life he was a manufacturing engineer in the Harrisburg Area. He was also President of the Harrisburg Chapter of The Society of Manufacturing Engineers for several years. This is when my parents met Robert Mitchum in Michigan. He was also the Mayor of Snow Shoe in the late 1970s. My dad was a loyal Penn State Football fan and a big fan of professional football, rooting especially for the Dallas Cowboys and then the San Francisco 49ers. He died in Harrisburg, PA in 1995.

My Slovak roots came from Yugoslavia (Slovenia), on my mother's father's side and from Austria on my mother's mother's side.

My maternal grandfather's last name was Bugosh (originally spelled Bugos, with a "sh" sound to the "s" because the Slovak language, like the Russian language, has more than one "s" in its alphabet). His parents were from Yugoslavia (Slovenia). My mother's father worked for Ford Motor Company during the Great Depression and they lived in Dearborn, Michigan at the time. This was the time of union busting and my mother said she's pretty sure this is why they came back to Pennsylvania. Because of the deadly strikes and especially after Henry Ford ordered his goons to fire on the strikers, killing five of them one day.

Then my grandfather became a Pennsylvania coal miner again (he started his mining career when he was nine years old instead of going on to the fourth grade), digging coal on his knees with a pick and shovel in a cold, wet mine shaft for nine lousy bucks a week. This was before strip mining was the standard coal-mining operation on the Mountaintop (Snow Shoe Township and Burnside Township). "Pappap" Bugosh pushed the mine car out of the mine himself when it was full. Not even a mule to help him out. My mother's mother also used the chilly mine shaft as a refrigerator. Their house was surrounded by a quarter mile or so of woods.

This detached, single family dwelling had no electricity, no central heating and no indoor plumbing. My mother did her homework by lamplight. Grandma did her washing on the back porch with a gasoline-powered ringer washer that you could hear long before you got to the house on washday. She made her own root beer and stored it in the cool mine shaft. She cooked on a coal stove and heated the house with coal and wood stoves. Pappap Bugosh sometimes worked the same coal vein with an African-American miner named Tom Rogers and then they had two people to push the mine car in and out, instead of just one person. According to my mother, Tom Rogers was a bachelor who lived nearby and he was also a family friend and a man well liked by the Slovak community in Clarence.

My mother's family moved into the village of Clarence, three miles away, when she was still in grade school. Their newer semi-detached brick "row" house had electricity but no central heating. However, it did have indoor plumbing but no bathroom. By the time they could afford an indoor bathroom my mother was 40 years old with four kids and my grandparents were in their early sixties. When I was little they still heated their house with modern coal stoves and later with modern oil stoves. Grandma cooked on a propane gas range when I was a kid. Pappap Bugosh retired from coal mining and worked for many years in the local brickyard and then retired from there. Pappap Bugosh was "a Ford Man" who always drove a Ford Fairlane. He always bought his hard-top two-door coupes brand new in Bellefonte (the County Seat) and traded them in every five or six years. His very last car was a 1969 midnight blue, four-door Ford Fairlane six-cylinder sedan and the only car "Pappap" ever owned that I got to drive.

When I was a boy, my mom's dad coached Little League "B" Team baseball, me included, and my team was the "Yankees". That was before T-ball. "Pappap" Bugosh was also one of the feistiest and most animated umpires in local County League baseball. I watched him umpire ball games in Clarence with a feeling of pride and utter amazement, especially when he hollered "Steeee-bock!" instead of "Strike!", throwing his whole body into the call. One of my favorite things was when he'd spin around and walk sideways, nodding his head up and down, silently daring the crowd to challenge his call. He was a talented umpire and a bit of a showman when it came to umpiring. He loved baseball and was a big New York Yankees fan.

** John Bugosh senior (my grandfather's dad) arrived in America on a ship carrying horses from Europe. He was a "cowboy" for a while in Montana in the 1890s (he rounded up horses, not cattle) and he was an expert horseman until he died. He also had a "smokehouse" and knew a lot about smoking meat. According to one of his nieces, Great-Grandpap Bugosh traveled northern Centre County in the early part of the 20th Century on horseback, wearing *tan jodphurs, *plaid Woolrich shirts, and an 1898 Campaign Hat. Wow, how I'd love to have seen that. According to my mother, her dad's dad had a thick, squared-off dark mustache that she remembers best as being gray and that he lit his cigars at camp by striking the match on the seat of his jodphurs. Wow, how I'd love to have seen that, too. I'd like to think that he rode with Teddy Roosevelt up San Juan Hill but Great-Grandpap Bugosh was probably rounding up horses for them in Montana, instead. And that would be just fine with me.

My mother's father's mother's maiden name was Zimmerman and I have no idea where her people came from. Her people may have been German or maybe Jewish, I can't say for sure. The Zimmermans ran a general store in Clarence in the first half of the 20th Century and my mother worked there part-time before she got her part-time job in the Snow Shoe shirt factory. My mother's mother (my maternal grandmother) was a Jacobson and her parents were from Austria. Her father's mother was Swedish. My maternal grandmother's mother was a Gallo from Austria whose father was part Italian and whose mother was part Lithuanian. Thank heavens some of my Slovak relatives had a family history book and original marriage documents and things like that because they rarely talked about the old country.

Having Slovak great-grandparents who spoke English as a second language — or not at all — was a bit of a barrier to my learning about their immigration to America. Having some grandparents who spoke English but who expressed virtually no interest in their ancestry was another big hurdle to overcome in searching for my family roots. My maternal grandparents (the Bugoshes) and my mother's maternal grandparents (the Jacobsons) belonged to a Slovak Society called Jednota (pornounced Yed-NO-ta) based in Middletown, PA (Harrisburg area). They subscribed to the Jednota newspaper, which was in Slovak and, even though I only knew a few phrases in that language, I liked watching them read it and then talk to each other in Slovak about what they'd just read. Their local chapter was in Grassflat, PA (Clearfield County).

When I was twelve years old my mother was a housewife who began her clerical career at the local hosiery mill, part-time. Then she worked full-time for Penn State University for the next seventeen years. She started in Old Main for Property Inventory, researching the ownership of Penn State's buildings as far back as 1855, for cataloging. After two years she was promoted to Risk Management where she spent the next fifteen years handling worker's compensation claims and the insuring of Penn State's vehicle Fleet. My mother was the first "clerical" member of Penn State's Affirmative Action Committee. She was appointed by PSU Vice President Steve Garban and she served on that committee for ten years, until her retirement from PSU in 1980. She retired early, at age fifty, after seventeen years service in The PSU Controller's Office, to become a housewife again when my parents moved to the Harrisburg area, and she enjoyed being a housewife until my father died in 1995. She didn't make it to 25 years service at Penn State to get her 25-Year Penn State Chair but she was so well liked and respected for her dedicated work at Penn State that she received a Penn State Rocking Chair as a gift, paid for by donations from people who wished her well. When I was very young my mother used to draw cartoon and comic-strip characters freehand and then show them to us, just for fun. They were good enough for Disney, in my opinion. She's artistically inclined and it showed in her home decorating and in her great cooking skills. My mother is still a New York Yankees fan and a loyal fan of Penn State Football. From 2000 to 2007 she was manager of the Snow Shoe Senior Center.++

Author's Note 5-3-14: Like everything else in this post, these are the facts of my heritage as they were relayed to me by actual living relatives. This is not being proud of my heritage. This is telling it like it is. My experience on Earth as a first-time living creature is that this is something I'd never want to experience again, or wish on anyone. This post is about the good stuff, the normal stuff. If you want the reality of my life, the living hell of it, you can read that about that nightmare here. You lurking freaks. You won't buy my books (with one exception, and thank you E.C.), you won't shop at my online store. I would have done that for you and been proud do do so. But not now. So, you want reality? Here it is: Every day of my life, I hope I never have to live to see another one. For me, the best thing about life is that one day it will fucking end.

++During this period, my mother and I worked very hard with local historian and museum curator, William Hall, on Grand Reunion 2000, a two-day event at the end of July 2000 for anyone who ever attended, I repeat, attended, Snow Shoe High School, from the first Class of 1911 through the last class of 1956. The two-day celebration featured a downtown catered picnic and a catered sit-down banquet for over 400 people in Our Lady of The Snows skating rink in downtown Snow Shoe. Many, many thanks to the wonderful, local woman who catered both events and the two women who helped her. We couldn't have done it without them. We were also very grateful to the men who helped us with the canopy tents, and the tables and chairs, and to the women who worked the registration table and who also adorned the skating rink with beautiful decorations. Yours truly made the blue-and-white (Snow Shoe High School colors) 8x12 foot Grand Reunion 2000 banner that hung from the wall behind the stage. My mother and I worked for over a year on this project — using a lot of our own money for all kinds of materials, postage, phone calls and other supplies — and I used my word processor and computer to make the name tags, lists, menus and whatever was needed in that department. Prior to this event, I helped her as she almost single-handedly put together the one and only high school reunion of the Snow Shoe High School Class of 1949 at a fine motel and restaurant just outside of Karthaus, PA. I designed and printed the "fancy", four-page menus and name tags for this event as well as a free, spiral bound memory book, with historical school photos and articles, for each person. During this period, my mother was also on The Board of Governors for The Lions David House, our local historical museum, and she spent many Saturdays there as receptionist and tour guide for visitors. Yours truly spent those same years driving her to and from The David House where I also shoveled snow and swept leaves from walks and entrances. During our preparation for Grand Reunion 2000, I convinced my mother that it was about time that The Mountaintop's official local historian, William Hall, was honored in public for a lifetime of service to the local community as the key preserver of our local coal, lumber, and cultural history. Yours truly wrote the description for the wood and metal award that I ordered and picked up from The Trophy Room in downtown State College. Mr. Hall was presented with this surprise honor (his wife's decision was for it to be a surprise, not ours) at the Grand Reunion 2000 dinner. I was very proud and honored to know this man. Velma Casher is 82 now and we still share a home in Snow Shoe Borough.

To the best of my knowledge, nearly all my great-grandparents were immigrants from the United Kingdom and central Europe in the 1880s and 1890s, except for the Cashers and the Thompsons who were here, in central Pennsylvania, as far back as the Civil War. Since I was never told when the Cashers sailed to the USA from Wales, I'm guessing that my father's father's parents were among the Cashers and Thompsons who lived here when Lincoln was President because one of my Casher relatives from the Mountaintop Area was a Civil War veteran who was attached to The Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry. I'm also guessing that my Casher and Thompson ancestors sailed from Bristol, England, because some records indicate that Bristol — just across the Bristol Channel from Wales — is where some Cashers departed for America in the mid-1800s to the late-1800s.

No matter where they came from or when they got here, I'm proud of my ancestors for having the courage to emigrate from their homelands and immigrate to the United States where they made a better life for themselves and also helped make America the great country that it still is today. The United States of America is the great "melting pot" that didn't completely melt and that was the best ingredient for preserving our national immigration heritage for future generations to treasure. And, yep, my great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents were either native-born American citizens or immigrants who became naturalized American citizens. That's right, I feel good that my ethnicity stems from immigrants who sailed to America and who cared enough about America to become American citizens.

So, to recap the family surnames that I'm made up of, here they are:

On my father's side: Casher and Thompson, Bergin and Cosgrove

On my mother's side: Bugosh and Zimmerman, Jacobson and Gallo

The four "Old World" countries that make up the bulk of my ancestry and ethnic heritage:

Wales, Ireland, Yugoslavia (Slovenia) and Austria

The Four "Old World" countries that makes up the rest of my ancestry and ethnic heritage:

England, Sweden, Italy and Lithuania

So, why didn't I pay someone to research my family trees or spend a lifetime doing it myself? Because where a person comes from or when they got here to America was never all that important to me. Who you are has less to do with your genes and more to do with what you do with your life. Choices and deeds are the real marks of a man or a woman and that's the real heritage and the real freedom that we all share with one another.

++Post updated 2-27-14 for additional material.

Author's Note 05-16-14. Hopefully, the LAST update regarding this matter: I finally convinced my mother that she really needs to start calling certain people back who have left messages on her answering machine. She had a fit, as usual, and took it out on me, as usual (and no, this is NOT ok but she doesn't give a shit about that or about me, and I still take care of her), so THIS post update is to VERIFY that Velma did call "D" back and told her that she doesn't want YOU or anybody else from that side of the family calling her. Then she felt better. Why she fought me for years about HER taking care of her own, personal, family business, instead of waiting for it to "go away", all by itself, is a mystery I may never fathom. These are calls that I cannot make for her, for obvious reasons. Thank heavens she finally came to her senses about taking charge of her own personal phone calls, instead of waiting for more SHIT LIKE THIS to happen to ME. Because, rest assured, THAT GODDAMN FUCKING SHIT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN. TRUST ME on that. Now you know, "D", (and NO , we just still barely know or remember who you people are, even to this day, because you never paid any goddamn attention to either one of us before) but now you know (I hope) that my mother is DISABLED and can only travel on a County Van equipped for wheelchairs ONE MILE to her doctor, at the local medical center. I go along to help because I have to watch her for pain signals that tell me she needs to adjust her feet/position/etc. SHE CANNOT GOT TO S's FUNERAL for that reason alone. The rest is HER PERSONAL BUSINESS. And why I don't go myself is because 1) I can't leave her alone that long and 2) All "S" ever did was talk to me incessantly about himself, never pausing ONCE to ask about me, and even dared to drive from home one day several years ago, down to our place, just to show ME a new handgun he'd bought — a WWII German classic firearm — and then he HAD THE GALL to not even let me touch it. He said he was going shooting with "J" but never though to invite me along, something I would have really enjoyed. And THIS was when I could have left mom alone for an hour or two. And, yes, we occasionally visited them and fussed over them but THEY never visited us, except that once when "S" showed off his P-38 pistol to me and then blabbed on and on about himself in our kitchen. And you people wonder why other people call you Slovaks dumb Hunkies, even though you're not Hungarian. But I know you're not dumb. YOU PEOPLE JUST DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ANYTHING OR ANYONE BUT YOURSELVES. Now, let's put some closure on this!

CLOSURE: In 1998 I drove my mother 160 miles one-way so we could attend "S & A's" 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration in Clearfield. We brought them presents and fussed over them and put ourselves up in motel rooms, at our expense, in Philipsburg. In 2008 we were living where we are now and I drove us a mere 15 miles to attend their 60th Anniversary Celebration in the town where they lived. We brought them presents and fussed over them and doted on them again, like caring relatives. BUT NONE OF THAT SENTIMENT WAS EVER RECIPROCATED. Now, that might work for you goddamn fucking Slovak assholes, but it sure as hell doesn't work for us, and especially not for me. "Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee." must be your ethnic motto. So, don't even THINK about spreading lying shit about how we didn't care, because THIS is proof, and it's just the tip of this hideous back-asswards "Hunky" iceberg. You follow? If I had my way, there wouldn't BE a Slovak white race on Earth. DO YOU FUCKERS FINALLY GET MY DRIFT?

Author's Note 10-29-13: Listen up, D.J., stop calling my mother and leaving long, drawn-out messages for her, like you did this afternoon. She does not want to return your calls. She said she doesn't even know who YOU are. Do you get it? She KNOWS you're D.'s wife and she knows you have only one thing in mind. Not her, but the nosy details of our lineage. If you were concerned about HER you would have visited her or called her a long, long time ago. Do you think she doesn't know that? I don't answer her phone — EVER — and neither does she. She screens ALL HER INCOMING CALLS through her answering machine. The greeting you hear is HER idea, not mine. You WILL respect this and this is not a request. I will not get involved and call you back, not on any phone. SHE runs her own life, the way SHE wants to. Not me and definitely not YOU. You make her nervous and upset. She says you are too aggressive on the phone and she wants NOTHING to do with you. Is it sinking in yet? If you were a decent person, you'd simply go away and leave her alone. You brazen, horrid, ambitious creature. The three of you make me sick.

All her Slovak relatives ever did when they were around her or when we visited them was to talk about THEMSELVES — incessantly — like she was just here on earth to serve THEM. Not on my watch will you Balkan vampires ever make her feel like that again. She already has people to talk with when we go on the van or to the doctor or when visiting home health people come here. The county van drivers respect her more than you people ever did. This matter will go to a legal level if you insinuate yourselves into her life in any way. Is this what you "people" want? Think again about that. Who in the HELL do you people think you are anyway?

Author's Note 8-25-13: A warning to distant relatives! Leave us alone! DO NOT ever come to our home again and peer into our windows and rattle our locked doors like you did today. You scared the hell out of my mother who HID in a corner so you wouldn't see her and who never answers her phone. That's right, she told me she HID, refusing to answer the door or the phone. And, yes, she knew who was knocking, rattling, and annoying us. And, no, she's not senile, she's not comfortable with the way she looks, especially without warning, and she has a RIGHT not to have surprise visits from relatives on her side of the family, especially NOT from the wife of a relative, a woman she doesn't even know and who wants to pick her brains for heritage information, while the actual blood relative stands in our driveway and allows his wife to harass us. You spineless simp. How dare you! In addition to this, you interrupted a very creative afternoon for me at my computer. I was working on a farewell video for Thinker's Corner and thought all that vehicle noise was from the alley. By the time I got downstairs you people were gone. Then we found your note stuck in the storm door handle with all that contact information on it. Stuff that's all about YOU. Decent people ask for permission FIRST before they visit. Furthermore you positively WILL NOT pick my mother's brains for ANYTHING before she dies. Our heritage information is right here and that's all there is. I withheld full names to protect the privacy of the living AND the dead. Take it or leave it. And you people know who you are.

I don't give a DAMN about what you want from us. You've NEVER been here before today. Where were you when we could have used some company? Feathering your own caps, no doubt. Well, we WILL NOT be afterthoughts for anyone. So, STAY AWAY! Or the police will remove you. I'm not kidding and you can take that to the bank. Our worst enemies have been those who should have known better. And you self-centered, rude, ambitious louts know who you are. So, you can go back to New York state and Ohio or do what you want but don't come around us. We've been getting along just fine without you, with only each other's help and comfort. You freaks hounded a disabled old woman in a wheelchair over the phone so you can get what you want from her before she dies? Not with my mother you don't. How dare you! Now, listen up! Don't call, write, email or stop by again. You WILL respect our wishes or wish you had. And this comes from both of us.

This posting may or may not be updated as I learn more details about my heritage, which will be by accident or by suddenly remembering what a grandparent or other relative said to me one day. I'll also update this posting when I notice mistakes in grammar or problems with antecedents or parallelism, or whatever I find that sounds vague or misleading. It all depends on how I feel about sharing details with people who have no interest whatsoever in me as an author of fiction or as a living, breathing person. I write for a living and that's who and what I really am. So, beyond an occasional update to this blog post, I have no real interest in exploring my ancestry or my ethnicity. I'm an American and that's good enough for me. For me, the present and the future are far more interesting than a gene pool from the past over which I had no control.