|Georgia & James in 1937|
with his brother Worthington (left)
Georgia, my grandmother, was visiting her uncle in Chicago in 1936. A 26-year-old second-grade teacher, she loved her students and turned down offers of marriage just to keep her job. She first met my grandfather, James, on a hot summer Saturday night while sitting on her uncle's front porch. He was tall and handsome, wore a black hat, and was thirteen years her senior. A mailman by day and previously a speakeasy buster at night, he sold the confiscated liquor on the side. They were married the following Wednesday after an eleven-day courtship and cherished each other for the rest of their days.
My mother's parents were 42 and 55 when she was born an only child in 1952. James was born the youngest of twelve in Virginia and was already losing brothers and sisters by the time my mother entered this world. His advanced age and poor health made travel difficult; most of his family never laid eyes on her. My mother cannot even recall the name of his parents.
Only a few scattered stories remain today of my family before my grandparents. A set of china, a Civil War-era quilt, and some portraits we can barely identify. No deeper roots, no stories of how they got here, no trace of their lives before America. What remains are only the questions and ponderings of how we came to be where we are, of how we came to be who we are.
As published in What You're Writing of Baltimore's Urbanite Magazine in January 2012.