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Friday, May 6, 2016

Gray Matter: Tying some loose ends

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

After recently writing of  problems concerning immigration and the "English Only" policy,  I  was reminded of another aspect of that issue. 

My maternal grandparents, Scotch-Irish from Northern Ireland, emigrated because of the potato famine.  Grandmother was born in Illinois after her people had come to New Orleans and up the Mississippi to settle there.  When a family member, researching her story, could find no records at Ellis Island or the earlier Castle Gardens, she was advised to look for listings in New Orleans. That was when I first learned how many mid-westerners had emigrated through that southern port of entry.       

Grandfather was a bit older when he came.  He seems to have experienced great difficulty in the old country (or possibly remembered it more vividly) for I was told he would never speak of the past. He even took pains to erase any hint of a brogue from his tongue to complete the break.   

He and Grandmother met and married in Illinois, but eventually settled near Holdrege, Neb, a heavily Swedish community.  Mother used to speak glowingly of her father having been their rural school director, Sunday School superintendent, and township clerk, among other things.  I can still remember her looking a bit annoyed when my sister and I would teasingly suggest that all of that might not have been so much a tribute to his talents as it was due to the fact that hardly anyone else spoke English, the language used in all of those entities.  As I say, another, and a bit lighter, view of the "English Only" experience. 

            On to other matters -- When I wrote of Walter Miller and Brian Peavey and their  involvement with NASA, some time ago, I promised to see if I could find any other area connections with that  program.   I have found some very interesting material, but I  must do some further checking and organizing, so bear with me a little longer.  

            Then I know some of you remember the story concerning Eleanor Peterson,  retired teacher living in Odebolt, who taught in both Marcus and Quimby.  She tells me that two more false reports have circulated since I wrote of hearing (mistakenly) that she had died.  First there was a rumor that she'd had a stroke.  Then it made the rounds that she was  residing in an area nursing home.  She and I call each other occasionally, and I often start a conversation by asking, "How are you?"  Recently she answered, "For someone who died, has had a severe stroke and is in a nursing home, I am really doing very well !"

She is  doing well, as she nears her mid-eighties.  In spite of  serious surgeries and other health problems which would daunt most of us, she serves on the board of  Odebolt's library, as well as that of their historical society where she still volunteers.  She is also a regular participant in several card clubs. 

Yes, our friend, Eleanor, is living  proof that you "can't keep a good woman down !"

There are "Eleanors," or their male counterparts, in most  of our communities, so be sure to remember yours and to greet them warmly the next time you meet.