Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rusty Keys to the Family Tree

On Monday I chatted with Carol Preston, whose love of writing historical fiction came after researching her own family history. 

I haven't hunted through my own family treasure chest. I can't. 

The stories I hold of my ancestors have passed down from my grandparents to my parents and then to me... but I'm not sure where I'd start finding out more. 

You see, my background is Greek and my search would have to be in the Greek language. I don't hold much hope for accurate record keeping in my grandparents' days, or the generations before that... but you never know what might be out there. Perhaps it's only a matter of time before one of my European cousins digs up a wonderful secret of our own. 

But I am privileged to own this original photograph. It's my darling grandmother at eighteen in 1928. What do I know about her from this photo? 

I know she desperately wanted to cut her hair into a bob, as was the fashion of the day. Her father refused, and to honour him she kept it long, styling it to look as close to a bob as possible. I know her nails were not painted, although they're varnished in the photo. She promised me the photographer added the gloss to the final print, where her father would never have allowed such fancies. 

I also know she'd already been proposed to. By the time she married my grandfather, he'd offered marriage three times, and in the end she agreed, to please her parents. 

I know these things because she told us, and I ponder them when I walk past her image in the hallway where her portrait hangs. And I often wonder about the scenes to her story she never shared. Somehow, I don't think I'll discover any more than what I already know. 

How about you?  Have you done a family history search? Do you have the keys to unlock the past, or are you more like me... with untold stories buried under centuries of dust and scribbled in another language?