It is now very late August 2012 with that familiar Midwest comfortable cool nights and not too hot days. That has me thinking, not in any particular order, deep thoughts of inventories I have done of the things in my life that I have experienced. Last night prior to turning another page of my life`s existence with sleep I laid there wide eyed thinking of my recent trip back to my home in San Antonio, Texas to visit my baby sister. I have lived in Milwaukee for many years where I have staked my claim to life here with my own family, but San Antonio, and Texas in particular will always be home to me.
I thought of the hot humid air of that June Thursday morning when on the spur of a moment I hopped on a flight here in Milwaukee bound for Texas. I smiled as I thought of the weird astonishment I felt once I was sitting on that plane waiting to take off. Totally disoriented I at once lost the only carry-on baggage I was lugging, not realizing that a stewardess had place the bag in the storage compartment over my head. My only concern was feeling that my sister would be comforted with having me there with her unexpectedly. We had just lost our only brother Joe in May and she was taking our loss very hard. I rolled the dice against my old age and a huge degree of uncertainty of traveling to far off places and I managed to get to her in one piece.
I wrote here about my trip and how happy my sister was at seeing me by her side after so long. You are most welcomed to go read that diary on the link provided here because I do not intend to rehash my visit. I decided to write this entry for a different reason that derived based on that visit as the title suggests. However, I found that the house where I was raised as a child by people who joyed in brutalizing me in San Antonio -- a house that I wanted so bad to see, was no longer there. It is more likely than not, that it was a casualty of what the Great Depression`s tail had wrought after my escape from that area in late 1940. That the house was no longer there added fuel that traumatized me mentally. The only possible door that could have led me to where I came from had now vanished. I remember some of the neighbors around that house that knew my mother, and could possibly have had some input for me. They too, all vanished. Oh, at this point I knew I had come from Austin, Texas but I did not know why, or who I left behind or who my father was.
I returned to Milwaukee late Sunday night. My return flight was long and tiresome. I felt depressed and defeated. I made a promise to my Baby Mom to return soon. A nephew drove me to the airport to return the rented car, then he returned home in a cab.As I laid there in bed before turning the page of my life before sleep I was struck with the same thought of fright of never knowing who my father was, or who I left behind where I was born. I can attest to this statement with my views as a child more than seventy-years ago. I am as confused now as I was then. I think I said it best when I embarked on my personal mission not only to dull the pangs of emotional pain by writing diaries here at the site, but to resolve my own idenity here when I wrote my first diary on this journey:
No one answered the knock on the door and my mother knocked harder. I asked my mother why we came here. I gazed across the wide yard towards a high tall fence as I stood on that high porch because I suddenly realized that I was inside a yard and did not know what was on the other side or where I had come from. I do not even recall walking through the fence gate to enter the yard. For a boy my age at that time everything to me looked so big. The fence was a mental block in my mind that did not allow me to remember where I came from, or what it was that existed out there. There was no yesterday as I stood there searching in my head.It was on January 11, 2012 when I wrote this quote. This diary was the start of a series of stories I wrote on my life growing up in San Antonio. As I wrote I put out these feelers to readers hoping that someone would come with advise which would have led me to a satisfying solution to my confusion. I just kept on writing as an excuse not to feel different from those who have their parents and know that they will never experience the hardships I endured. It also helps that I have met wonderful folks here that make me feel like I am one of them. It is only when I am here that I feel like I belong to some group or another, whereas away from here I previously felt inferior like an outcast that I actually was in my infancy until I escaped the clutches of those who raised me.
By no means have I been idle in my quest to find answers to question that I have since learning of siblings that I potentially left behind since I arrived at my grandmother`s house on that hot Texas morning in San Antonio. I made a plea for help from the folks at the genealogy group when I wrote this message in a diary asking for help:
I started with my meager techie savvy on data search and always end up against a blank wall as I Google for "free" family tree searches. I have signed up and taken out an account with "FamilySearch", a free online that purports to help me find family roots and history. Yeah, right. Woe is me as I cannot even find myself online.This quote falls true on my ignorance in genealogy. After sending such a sarcastic quote about my inability to find results to my clueless searches, I was and continue to be amazed by the group`s swift response to come to my aid. Sixty-nine comments that include my own responses flashed before my eyes in an instant. Offers of help with issues such as searches on my behalf just overwhelmed me. This goes to show why I feel like I do here on this site. No only with the genealogy group, but with the whole community at large.
So I decided to join this group as a new member and the same result occurred. I was embraced and immediately learned to respect each and everyone here. Despite what I might expect in the form of having people hand me information, that was never my role when I joined. I have learned a significant part of doing searches with engines that have been made available to me by some in the group. I still find that I am different than some who write of locating members of their tree branch from as far away as 1800 or prior to that.
My problem is the opposite to them. They appear to have a living or deceased member of their family tree who is known to them and easy to track an ancestor of that person. This leads them to track that person`s ancestors and so forth whereas I have no one to be the starting point. I cannot even overlook their experience with genealogy. I am nil, nada on the subject. At least I did not know, until just recently who my father was. But that is as far as I can go. I know he fathered me and my brother Joe. I am stuck right there. My mother had a child by another man not my father and I know his name, but again, that is as far as I can go. I cannot find a clue on how to track other siblings that were born after my departure from Austin in 1940 that have come to my attention.
By no means does my inference of being different to some here who are so good at genealogy is intended as critique. I envy those who can zoom and zip through records when I cannot simply because I have no material to work with. Sure, I have step grandmother and aunts and uncles. I would rather not know about them for reasons that I believe could never lead me to the answers I seek about siblings I seek.
I got my hands on the address of the home where I was born in Austin, Texas in 1936.
I decided that I had become a true and savvy genealogist when I begin writing a letter to the occupants of that house. I started the letter: "Dear Occupants" and took extra care with written words. Some of you may recall the death certificate of my late half brother Alexander who was born in this same home one year after my own birth. He died a year later. The address of the home is on the document. I wrote a dozzy of a letter to the occupants of the address using the most careful and warm written language telling them that I might be related to them based on the death certificate.
But as any adult minded and intelligent enough individual would do, I decided not to rush with such a questionable and potential hurting letter if indeed relatives of the deceased actually lived there. It has been over seventy-five years and certainly they have forgotten and moved forward with their lives. Why would I need to be so insisting in asking questions that they probably wanted to forget? So I decided to do the next best thing. I would wait until I was sure of the occupants.
I would first find the house in a Google Maps search. I have the address so that would
be easy. Or so I thought.
I got on screen ready to go to the 508 Navasota Street address in Austin, Texas. Finding the street I scrolled up from the lower part of the block to reach the 508 address. At the 471 point of the block I stopped and froze on my tracks, well I stopped when I came to a railroad crossing with tracks running over the street. Tracks!! I thought. And I do not think this scene was caused by coincidence.
Remember, I started my life basically, as a four year old child growing up among railroad tracks and trains. My step-grandmother`s house was right next to the railroad tracks where my grandfather worked as a night guard on the trains that roared by day and night. It was those trains of my young days that gave me survival skills and help me be here today. I grew up to be a railroad man working as a telegrapher for years in Texas. I always remembered what railroad and the tracks mean for many people. I could not help but sense a weird premonition as I held my mouse over the railroad tracks at 471 Navasota Street.
Scrolling towards the 508 address I came upon the exact location where my birth home was supposed to be. The address is no longer there. No homes are in this location. In the place where houses used to be, there are now warehouses and trailer trucks are seen parked in front. The house where I was born is gone!
I wondered what I would have felt waiting for a response to my letter if I had mailed it. I also wondered if the railroad tracks were actually the bad premonition I felt as my mouse crawled over those tracks on Navasota Street just a few yards from the house in which I was born. My visit to my sister in San Antonio and the disappearance of the house where the devil played with my life as a four year old child flashed through my mind. I have to wonder if I am now paying for the sins of my parents. They would never want me to know the truth. I think of a void. A void that has no start or an end. I think of writers of threads who write of brick walls.
I have read some writings on the genealogy open threads when a writer claims to have reached a brick wall, excluding further avenues to a search. I think that description of brick walls as obstacles to a search sound very likely right. I hope someone can tell me if in genealogy there is such a thing as a void? apposed to a brick wall. What does it mean when you are searching for someone you know existed as a certain point, only to find that the certain point does not exist? I am 1200 miles away from the house where I insist I was born.
It was only after my Google Maps search and failure to launch that I asked Kossack living in Austin, Texas for help with this message:
Again, the responses came swiftly and ready to help me. My only regret is that we all finished agreeing that the house where I was born is no longer at the address where my brother Alexander was born and died. The same house where I was obviously born, but still kicking.
The weird sense of a bad premonition is real. I know that time waits for no one. But I have valid reason to think some force stronger than me, does not want me to find out what I seek. As a still very young child I was placed in a Catholic school because I was deemed incorrigible by my peers. A priest asked me one day as he prayed why I was so angry and that I would never find peace in this life. I now even remember the face of that priest and I think he had a good point.
I am now back to the drawing board. Maybe something will pop up in my mind that triggers a new effort on my part to go forward still. There is always possible ways to know who lived at that address and up until what year.
In the meantime, I want to thank every one of the Kossacks from beautiful Austin, Texas that took time to write to me an offer what they could in response to my short diary asking for their help with respect to the location on Navasota Street.
Thank you Austin, thank you. I will be around and I might just come back to you for additional information later on. In the meantime I am taking a breather and enjoy the nice weather we are having here in Milwaukee. I have only one regret arising out of this diary. I promised my baby sister to see her soon. I wanted to plan a trip to Austin if I could contact folks at the address in question here. It did not happen and appears to be a losing cause to follow that trail. I will have to break the news to her over the phone. I trust my sister. I trust that we will laugh at the way my mission is causing more grey hair to crop up in my head.