Tuesday, September 8, 2020

52 Ancestors Week 37: Back to School

From Amy Johnson Crow: Week 37's theme is "Back to School." Any stories of schools days in your family? (I'm thankful for the collection of my dad's grade cards through 8th grade.) What about teachers or principals in the family?

Back to life. Back to reality....
Back to life. Back to reality. If you have that Soul II Soul song stuck in your head, I am not sorry. It's a good song and my mom used to sing it the day I went back to school. I was never sure if she was happy or sad to see me go back after a long summer of doing nothing but reading comics, hanging out with friends and playing video games. I'm sure it was the latter. I'll keep telling myself that! I'm sure I got into my fair share of trouble! And to that I will always plead the fifth!
I think I know where I got my ears from....

When it comes to school, my mother and my grandfather went to Newburyport High School in Newburyport, Mass. The school is located on High Street and she would point it out every time we would head across the river to the marina where our boat was docked.

As far as I know, Robert Hamel was a great student. His father, Alfred was a jack of all trades since he had a Fix-it shop in the city. I mentioned before how Alfred's father, Eugene was a teacher in Amesbury. I still haven't been able to figure out what he taught or where. I hope I get a chance to find the answer, some day.

 My grandfather was a good student and it was right out of high school that he enlisted into the army Air Corps along with many of his classmates. Robert even had an aptitude for fixing things. Heh. I wonder where he picked that up! Either way, he ended up serving with distinction!

Sadly, I haven't got much more to go on on my grandfather's high school career. The picture above actually came from my uncle's archive. His yearbook has yet to be scanned and put on Ancestry. My grandfather never really talked to me about his high school years and I thought that was odd since I flipped through my grandmother's 1935 yearbook! We have the physical copy of it and it's also on Ancestry.

All isn't entirely lost of course! My mother's yearbook is on Ancestry's archive along with my father's and Grandma Ollie's! It's so surreal seeing your parents in high school. I'm pretty sure that's how the idea for the Back to the Future franchise came about!

I'm constantly using her
quote against her. =)
I really like the blurbs under my mother's entry. She was a medical technologist. Makes sense because she eventually went to medical school and worked for years at Merrimack Medical Lab as a supervisor. My mom was also involved with "Quill and Scroll" and other activities like chorus. Yeah, she can sing. Just too bad her son can't sing for his supper. Heh....Sigh....

When I first saw her yearbook many years ago, the "Ratty sneaker high command" bit got my attention. I kind of want to know what that was all about. But, she won't tell me. =)

Yearbooks are a great way to find out more about your ancestors' past and what school was like. It must have been interesting for both my mother and my grandfather since my mother went to school during the turbulent 1960s and my grandfather went to school just before the US entered the second world war. Joking aside, you know a lot of historic moments were happening all around them during the time they went to school.

Think about it. In the 1930s, America was in the midst of a Great Depression. Many people didn't go to high school. Many took on jobs working for their family as soon as they were able to. It was hard work. What's really amazing is how both grandmothers stuck with high school AND graduated!

Then came the 1960s when my mother was in high school. That decade saw rampant social upheaval on all fronts and many of the reforms we now have came about during that time period. It's amazing to think about and hear stories from the 1930s or 1960s. I'm not saying my mother was a hippie or anything. But, it's still interesting to think about when you look at yearbook photos. Putting everything into historical context can really paint a picture of what school was like for your ancestors.

Historic moments were even happening when I went to high school in the 1990s. I think it's part of the Chinese curse. "May you live in interesting times". But, maybe given the context of everything we should take my mom's quote in her yearbook to heart. "Well, that's life." Ain't that the truth!

See ya next time!

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