Monday, August 5, 2019


By Mary Kennedy                                     

Do you ever wish you could step back in time and ask deceased relatives about their lives, their times, their hopes and dreams? I know I do. As an only child, I have very few relatives left and I wish I had spent more time encouraging my family members to talk about their lives. 

My grandmother was born at the turn of the century and it's hard to believe that in those days, women didn't even have the vote! I wonder if any of her friends were suffragettes.
I also think about the incredibly cumbersome fashions of the day. How did she really feel about wearing layers of clothing, in the days before air conditioning? Did she accept it? After all, that was the style and maybe no one questioned it. The flappers did, of course, but that came later.

I wonder if she ever wore any of those old fashioned bathing suits when she went to Rockaway or Jones Beach? Or maybe she just strolled along the boardwalk. Come to think of it, I never saw her go swimming on family vacations in later years. Maybe she never learned how. It would be easy to drown in one of those get ups!

And I think about the major events of the time, like World War II. My father and my uncles were in World War II and I wished I had encouraged them to talk about it. Even though the memories must have been painful because rarely did anyone discuss it.

And the Great Depression! I remember tales of men selling apples in the street. How desperate people must have been.

How about you? Do you ever wish you could find out more about your family history and what your loved ones thought about the events of the time? I wish I had asked them to let me record their thoughts. Memories slip away and can never be retrieved. 

Mary Kennedy

3 comments: said...

My 2 grandfathers were both immigrants. One from Italy and one from Canada. One grandmother was from Italy and the other was from the US as far back as we can trace. One great grandfather was born and raised in NY state. He was born in 1849 and lived to 1932. His wife was born in 1860 something. The things they saw and experience is hard to believe. Civil War, World War I, electricity, Radio, President shot,gold discovery, women's right to vote and many other things. I would love to have talked to them about the life they experienced.

Karoline Barrett said...

My mom is 98 1/2 and remembers a lot-- she is still sharp! I was adopted at 3 days old and recently, through DNA testing, found out who my biological parents were. They are both dead, but I met other family members. I am 50% Irish, and the rest is English, German and a little French, which exactly matches my mom (the one I grew up with!). I love because I've learned so much about my biological relatives. Really fascinating!

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

It is amazing what's happened in those years, Lois. If only we had asked more, listened more. They would be like living history books for us.