55 posts categorized "History"

In copious tribute

Nov12_1955 My Mitza (48 years old), Pap (52 years old), and Grandmom (49 years old) on Clearfield Street in Philadelphia on the wedding day of their children / Nov. 12, 1955

“That humble current of little kindnesses, which, though but a creeping streamlet, incessantly flows; although it glides in silent secresy within the domestic walls, and along the walks of private life, and makes neither appearance nor noise in the world; pours, in the end, a more copious tribute into the store of human comfort and felicity, than any sudden and transient flood of detached bounty, however ample, that may rush into it with a mighty sound.” 

~ Anna Laetitia Barbauld, in The Female Speaker, or, Miscellaneous pieces, in prose and verse selected from the best writers and adapted to the use of young women

Happy 55th Anniversary Frankie and Berntz


PagebossCousin Page and young friend in Europe, WWII   

This was the day of dad remembering his cousins who had served in the war: Page, Junie, Charlie, Betty . . . 

Eddie did all that

Pappyremembers Stories passed down / Mountain House / Aug. 2008

This is the day of finding the piece of paper with scribbled notes of stories that Dad told me about his father (Pap):

  • When Pap's parents (Frank J. and Katherine) were older he and Grandmom (Eddie and Edna) would take them for a drive on Sunday afternoons to get them out of the house. They'd drive past a building and Frank J. would say, “I built that Building” or “I did all the work on ...” and Grandmom would respond, “Eddie did all that.”
  • Every crafts-person — electricians, bricklayers, masons, etc. — had a great opinion of Pap; he was always respected by everyone he worked with.
  • Dad worked with his father as a plumber's assistant during the summer from the time he was 12. One day he cut a thread on a pipe and then when he and Pap installed it, the pipe was slightly off. Pap took it out and measured the thread and it was off by 1/4". Pap made Dad cut it again. Pap said: “Even if it's in the wall and nobody will ever see it, I'll still know — it must all be plumb.”

Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar

Three_kings Three kings in the manger that Pap built; during Advent, each time we did a good deed we could take some straw "hay" out of a jar and put it in the manger to insure a comfortable setting for the baby / New Jersey / Dec. 2006

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany that celebrates the visit of the Three Wise Men to the infant Jesus. As children, we would take the wise men from the manger scene in the living room and put them somewhere else in the house. Each day during the four weeks of Advent we would advance them (and maybe a camel, too) toward the manger scene and, hopefully, we got them all there on time and in one piece (the ones we had as kids were bigger, made of ceramic, and had more detailed features than the ones here; I recall one being knocked off the stairs and some broken bits). I was always intrigued by the names of the wise men — Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar (and their multi-cultural appearance) and the We Three Kings carol with its E minor sound, both mournful and joyous:

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star

To great clouds, light and free


For Mary Alice who loved Goodnight Irene and the memory of hearing Paulo on the guitar and Tom singing to her . . . we'll see you in our dreams / New Jersey / Nov. 2009

In the wonderful book The Leopard, Don Fabrizio reflects on his imminent death:

“With the slightest effort of attention he would notice at all other times too the rustling of the grains of sands as they slid lightly away, the instants of time escaping from his mind and leaving him for ever. But this sensation was not, at first, linked to any physical discomfort. On the contrary, this imperceptible loss of vitality was itself the proof, the condition so to say, of a sense of living; and for him, accustomed to scrutinizing limitless outer space and to probing vast inner abysses, the sensation was in no way disagreeable; this continuous whittling away of his personality seemed linked to a vague presage of the rebuilding elsewhere of a personality (thanks be to God) less conscious and yet broader. Those tiny grains of sand were not lost; they were vanishing, but accumulating elsewhere to cement some more lasting pile. Though 'pile,' he had reflected, was not the exact word for that matter. They were more like the tiny particles of watery vapor exhaled from a narrow pond, then mounting into the sky to great clouds, light and free.”   ~ Giuseppe di Lampedusa

I love this idea of things sliding away here and being rebuilt elsewhere as we age. It makes me wonder ... when people die do they also take little particles of those that they love with them to a new rebuilding? It would explain some of the feelings of loss -- as if parts of yourself are falling away.

An invisible cloak, The poetry of hands, 31


Uncle Josip, Jelisava & Anton jauntily watching over us / Philadelphia, PA / circa 1940s

“May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak to mind your life.”

~ a blessing from John O’Donohue

Remembering the 54th Anniversary of your most auspicious day. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad.

Comemoração de todos os Fiéis Defuntos

Comemoração de todos os Fiéis Defuntos (All Souls' Day); remembering our loved ones / a display at the Dia de los Muertos celebration, Houston, TX / Nov. 2007

"A raw and rainy night is left outside, as we enter a beautiful cozy room.

A circle of women is gathered but one friend is missing, one chair empty.

A ritual begins. Salt, water, sage, bells call forth a blessing of memory of their dear friend.

Gradually the chair holds a form, as stories are sculpted with the clay of loving words.

With laughter and tears, the women mold the clay with remembrance.

Each friend in the circle has fleshed out the beauty of this lovely woman; facets of personality, texture, movement, serenity and her endearing spirit.

The chair has been filled, the circle closed. Anita lives in our hearts and minds."

~ Remembering, by Franciska

Beautified by her presence


Mima on her porch covered with grapevines and overlooking the Adriatic Sea / She wrote: I recall all of you so many times and wish to see you all again along with the rest of the family. It is my duty to thank you all for those lovely memories with the pictures which remind me of you, so I can see you all and say to God, “Please let me see you all again.” / Sv. Vid, Croatia / May 2005

Over 100 years ago my great-grandmother Jelisava left her village in Croatia to join her husband in America. She never returned, but 95 years later her descendants traveled to her village and discovered her niece Katica (called “Mima,” for grandmother). Mima spoke no English but through the patient translations of her grandson Tonci we were able to learn more about Jelisava, her husband Anton, and their family and form a delightful bond with her. She knew the stories of things that had happened before she was born. She knew the Croatian songs that my mother had heard as a child. She made us Turkish coffee and gave us pure, cold water from the well in the back with the date '1863' carved into it. We had never known of her existence, but she had a photo in her house from the early 1950s of my mother and her siblings.

[A dear one, B, has called the story of how our families were reunited “a mythic tale if there ever was one”. Another dear one, K, describes “that day in Sveti Vid, when the sky literally opened up and God must have been blowing us all up the dirt road in Tonci's car, to the vine-covered patio, where a multi-generational bloodline met and the air became pregnant with memories and meaning. To me, that moment was both a treasured flashback of our ancestry and a testament to the imperishable love of family, even when the relationships are only through passed down stories and photographs.”]

We were beautified by her delight in finding us, by her love for us and her family, by her continued prayers for us. She died on Sept. 26th with her beloved grandson by her bedside. We shall miss her lovely presence.

“He 'adorned and beautified it by his presence,' the prayer book says — did it just by being there, presumably, just by being who he was, the way anybody we love very much and who loves us very much can more or less do it too.”

~ Frederic Buechner writiing about Jesus at the Marriage of Cana

Like the back of a picture

Anton's Prayer book in Croatian that traveled across the sea to America and then back to Croatia / Published in 1902 

Certain words now in our knowledge we will not use again, and we will never forget them. We need them. Like the back of the picture. Like our marrow, and the color in our veins. We shine the lantern of our sleep on them, to make sure, and there they are, trembling already for the day of witness. They will be buried with us, and rise with the rest.

~ Language by W.S. Merwin

Love for all we did have


Irma didn’t want my Dad to take her picture so she grabbed her skirt and pulled it up over her head while Christine and I watched. I’ve never forgotten the moment or the picture. [Happy 90th birthday Irma] / Ricketts Glen, PA / August 1964

“There isn’t many days that go by that I don’t think of the good family I had and the wonderful times as a child on up to old age. We all didn’t have lots of money — but love for all we did have.”

~ cousin Irma