On Family: A Fascinating Perspective this Holiday Season
This holiday season, instead of dwelling on the same old family issues, I decided to check out my family background. And wow! Listen to this information I dug up about two antecedents just by asking a relative a couple of questions:
My paternal grandfather, who died before I was born, is described by Lloyd Bradley in his book This is Reggae Music as “the most influential man in Jamaican music in the second half of the 1950s.” In 2012, it was stated in Jamaica’s leading newspaper (The Gleaner) that Vere Everette Johns’ contribution remains unmatched in the history of Jamaica’s entertainment business. His variety show, “Opportunity Hour,” helped launch the careers of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff among many others. He was also a journalist, radio personality, actor and war veteran who was awarded the then prestigious MBE (Member of the British Empire).
My maternal great-grandfather on the other hand was a guard in the palace of the last emperor or “czar” of Russia (Nicholas II). In fact, he guarded the bedroom of the queen or “czarina” (Alexandra). He was witness to one of the most dramatic sagas in Russian history, that of the “mad monk” Rasputin who was murdered because of his influence over the queen who believed he could cure the hemophiliac condition of her son, the “tsarevich.” The czar and czarina were executed along with their son and four daughters not many years later during the Russian Revolution. By that time, my great-grandfather had immigrated to America.
My mother, Diane Mason (pictured above) has fond memories.
“I remember my maternal grandfather, Max as a big, strong old man who took me to wrestling matches and believed they were real fights. – Believe it or not, my other grandpa took me to boxing matches!”
Why not check out your background this holiday season, instead of getting sad and depressed about family conflict. Ask your grandparents what state or country they came from and under what circumstances, and what their parents did for a living and may have witnessed in their time. If your grands are deceased, pump your parents or aunts, uncles and cousins. Or – check out ancestry.com or the massive Mormon archives.
Find out about the cars your earlier relatives drove, say in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. Or about the horse that once pulled the family buggy, or covered wagon, or what great great-grands rode for transportation, and what it was like riding a horse everywhere every day.
Inquire about historical figures that were alive in their time, about how your relatives dressed and entertained themselves, about sexual mores and attitudes, and their take on contemporary issues.
The past is fascinating! And you are personally connected to it.
And share your findings with me.