Discovering lots about my folks. I suspect actually I’m rediscovering things that they had shared with me but that I had, in my youthful way, found too boring to listen to or too narrow of experience to understand what they meant.
You know the whole idea that you need to have a cultural context, something that you have experienced or read about, that would help give you an idea of what the person experienced when the story took place.
It’s one thing to talk about walking in high heels, quite another thing to walk from an event to the car in heels that are high. Choosing to speak in Spanglish, depending on who you’re hanging out with…That sort of thing.
I’m finding the same is true when it comes to looking through my folks’ papers. I’ve heard the stories, even seen some of the pictures. But now I better understand aspects of their lives that were unique to each of them.
Most recent (re)-discovery were some papers that I had previously filed. Running from this obligation to that obligation it’s so easy to not note how all the papers and images work together to tell the story.
Since I’m the only one who has touched my dad’s papers I know that I had placed the cert he, and everyone else on the S.S Admiral Hugh Rodman, received when the International Dateline was crossed. I had heard of his being on the pitching boat as they went to the Philippine’s. Here in color was a cert that acknowledged his crossing the International Dateline. Complete with artwork that a young soldier would have enjoyed viewing.
I also didn’t remember placing his discharge cert from the CCCs in the file box. But there it was.
I knew that my dad had worked on the road to Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft.). Here was the certificate told me a bit more about how he got to be there and how he was measured by those in charge. It also reflected attitudes towards ethnicity and race. And, to what would have been my dad’s consternation the noting, in black and white, his height. He claimed to be 5’6″.
My Cousin Delia sent me this image of our dads. As I recall my dad was home on leave.
They reaffirm things I knew about him; that I learned as I heard all those stories. My Uncle Tony was a dad and wasn’t drafted, my dad was a thirty- something single man when he was drafted. Different lives, different roads to travel; figuratively and literally.
|Pete R. Martinez, Tony Martinez
Back I go to the docs. I’ll try to learn a bit less and file a bit more. It would be good to have dinner at the table again.