Wednesday, May 16, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Another Language

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of May 14, 2018, is Another Language.

For this prompt, I thought of my immigrant ancestors and the languages they spoke when they arrived in America: English, Irish, Scottish, French, and German. There are probably others that I can’t think of right off hand without getting all technical and looking at my genealogy software or at a map. 

I also thought of my maternal grandfather, William Liming Redles, and my Aunt Catherine (his daughter and my mother’s sister), who both spoke several languages. My mom told me their father could speak five languages, including Spanish and Japanese and maybe Chinese, too. Will was a U.S. Marine and was stationed in Cuba and Japan, and he had visited China on several occasions as part of his U.S. Marine duties. 

My maternal grandfather, William Liming Redles

Aunt Catherine spoke German, Italian, Portuguese, and Brussels French, just to name a few. She’s lived all over the world working in the Foreign Service for the U.S. State Department until she retired.

My mom and Aunt Catherine were told that Will could speak Japanese fluently, and that if he was sitting behind a screen with native Japanese speakers, no one would be able to tell that one speaker was not Japanese. I remember Aunt Catherine saying that an Italian had complimented her on how well she spoke Italian, like a native-speaker. 

Aunt Catherine reminds me on occasion that if you don’t use the language you’ve learned, you tend to forget it. So true. I took Latin and Spanish in high school and French in college and can’t speak any of them now. The reverse might also be true, forgetting your native tongue. I have a British friend who lived in France for several years. He told me once that he was forgetting his English (he has since moved back to England). 

Learning a new language isn't easy. No wonder many of our immigrant ancestors lived in enclaves with people from their former countries who also spoke the language of the old homeland, even while trying to assimilate to their new home in America.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Mother's Day

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of May 7, 2018, is Mother's Day.

Mother’s Day was this past Sunday (May 13). We took Mama out for brunch. Not everyone in our large family was able to come with us but we still had a table full—11 in all. It was nice to sit with family for a meal. We don’t get to do that very often. 

My mother, Leona Redles Pendleton, and me not long after I was born

Three generations: my mother holding me, and her mother, Leona Roberts Redles, is on the right 

I’m my mother’s oldest; that means I made her a mother first! Ha! But that didn’t make me her favorite. Mama doesn’t have any favorites; at least she never acted like any of her five children were her favorites. That’s a good thing, I think. At brunch, I teased my son that he was my favorite son (he’s my only son). And he said I was his favorite mother. Kids!

I hope Mama had a great Mother's Day!


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Close Up

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for 2018. The prompt for the week of April 30, 2018, is Close Up.

I feel like I know my maternal grandfather, William Liming Redles, close up, because of the letters and documents he left behind that were saved after his death by his wife, my grandmother Leona Roberts. I don’t have such a volume of information on any other ancestor written in his or her own hand. My grandmother saved the letters Will wrote to her, even after he requested that she destroy them. I’m glad she didn’t listen. Stubborness runs on the Roberts side. 

My maternal grandparents Leona Roberts and William Liming Redles

I believe attention to detail runs on the Redles side, at least in Will’s case. Maybe that’s part of the reason Will made the Marines a career. It fed that part of his personality, or made it useful. I wonder if attention to detail can be passed down in our genes. I certainly have it, and one of my children and one of my grandchildren have it, too. I was told once it’s my greatest strength and my greatest weakness. I can’t see the forest for the trees, to use a cliche. In reading Will’s letters, it seems he picks apart detail after detail, focusing on the smallest of things. He was bossy as an older brother to two younger sisters and as an older husband to a much younger wife. I suppose my younger siblings, my children, and my grandchildren would say I'm the same way.

My dad had started a novel about the father-in-law he never met (Will died in 1932), but the book was never published. The story starts out as Will (Trent in the novel) lays dying, and then his story is told in flashbacks through letters from his sisters and friends, letters to his wife, and military documents. My dad changed all the names. I’ve wanted to write a biography about Will, but it will only interest my immediate family, if even them. And it feels like such a monumental task to get the details right (as much as I love detail). 

Rather than repeat what I've written about Will before, please take a look at my previous blog posts:

My Maternal Grandfather William Liming Redles
Church Record Sunday - The Baptism of William L. Redles
Sympathy Saturday - Scrapbook of a Death
My Granddad's Philadelphia

Maybe I’ll do like my dad, and write a work of fiction about my grandfather. I do find his life fascinating.