Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Monday, May 8, 2017

flesh on the skeletons

 Long Island where I was born and raised is somewhat shaped like a whale. That is what I was always told. I was born on the south fluke (tail ) of that whale. I was raised a mere twenty miles from the end of the island itself. You could say my stomping grounds extended from Riverhead in the west to Montauk at the east. Now I admit I didn't do much stomping around Riverhead, that was a big city to me and avoided unless it was necessary. Well the fact is I didn't travel much further than Southampton most times. What I didn't know at the time I was living there was how many of my roots reached across Long Island sound to the North fluke of that whale. In later years I learned that Greenport and Southold was the birthplace of the Reicharts' in America. Yup, Dads' family all came from there. It is an amazing thing that I was so unaware of that. Surely my father knew that but never told. I guess it just didn't seem important to him. His grandfather was born on the fourth of July in 1870 at Greenport. His great grandfather was the first Reichart, of that family, in America. That family existed on the north fork for several generations and I'm certain descendants reside there still. I have made contact with a few distant relatives through Ancestry.
 There is much I would like to learn about those North fork Reicharts. By most accounts they had a bunch of hard luck in this country. That is not to say I haven't seen evidence of them being involved in the community and being successful folks. It is just that I really don't know much of the story and only uncovered the hard luck portions so far. Well isn't that usually the way ? If you are not extremely rich or famous little is left of your legacy. Great Grandfather Christian Reichart married into a well to do family but fate left him homeless. Great Grandmother Catherine passed away and how he would up dying alone in the Alms house at Yapank New York remains a mystery to me. He did have brothers and sisters. Why did they abandon him ? Did he abandon them ? Is their anyone that knows those answers ? Maybe there are, on the north fork. Family secrets can be difficult to uncover, especially if those secrets get buried in time. Perhaps all that remains are rumors and innuendo.
 As I said I have been in contact with some distant relatives. Yes, it was shown that we are directly related and therefore family. Those folks are still strangers though. Strangers in the family ! I do believe we all have them and some aren't even very distant. What I am thinking about is how much information we share, the skeletons in the closet we hear about. Those skeletons are indeed our families. The question is, does everyone in the family have a right to know ? I don't think so although I am curious for sure. If we aren't concerned with hurting someone's feelings we are concerned with damaging whatever legacy they may have left. Isn't that a strange thing how we assume responsibility for something our distant relative may have done. This is getting to be an ever more popular notion these days. Well, today we are being told we should assume responsibility for whatever wrongs our ancestors may have committed and to make restitution to their descendants. Personally I fail to se why I should do that, I can only be responsible for myself and those I'm in charge of. My kids are long grown and responsible for themselves. I'm in charge of no one ! Still, in trying to answer some of my questions I hesitate to ask those that may know. I wouldn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, do you know what I mean ? There is an old saying that figures into all of this as well. " Don't speak ill of the dead. " It was something I heard growing up and I believe it was practiced by many. I can understand the sentiment and hope I am spoken well of after my passing. All that I have done, good and bad ends with that event. I hope I left enough good behind to keeps folks occupied with those thoughts of me. If you are speaking ill of the dead that must be what you remember ! It is better to say nothing at all, is the sentiment there.
 Working on my family tree and learning the names of my ancestors has given me hours of enjoyment. It has been both entertaining and frustrating. I do think I have satisfied myself as to generations. I have discovered where those folks came from and how they got here. I have even found some interesting little pieces of information about some of them. I've had ancestors attacked by Indians, in the east though, not the old west of television lore, I had whalers, fisherman and tailors. It isn't that difficult to determine an ancestors occupation or where they lived. The hard part, and the most interesting part to me is discovering who they were. You could say putting flesh back on the skeletons to make them real people again. That is what I am concentrating on from now on. Should ancestry be just the facts ? Yes, the facts should be recorded as accurately as possible. Conjecture however does add spice to the story. I believe that should be included as well, as long as it is clearly defined as such. But perhaps that is why we do say, it is wrong to speak ill of the dead. Is that the resting in peace that we all wish for ? Perhaps if you have things to hide you will not rest in peace worried that you will be discovered ? As for me, I try to tell it all, the good and bad. Sure I've got some things I haven't told anyone yet and maybe I never will. Nah, I'm a talker and the conversation will come around to that sooner or later. I don't want to wind up a skeleton !