A Family at War | historywithatwist

Charlie Weston, freedom fighter

Charlie Weston, freedom fighter

A man I have known for a long time was surprised to see me at a press conference recently for the launch of a report on life in Ireland in 1916. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) had put together a fascinating databank laying bare the low life expectancy, the grinding poverty and the chronic overcrowding of 100 years ago.

The figures were so stark that statistician Helen Cahill admitted at the press conference that she was in tears compiling the report, such was the deprivation back then. But my friend was puzzled to see me at the launch of ‘Life in 1916 Ireland: Stories from Statistics’.

“With a name like Weston, you guys must have been on the British side?,” he suggested, only half joking.On the contrary, I replied, there were…

Source: A Family at War | historywithatwist

Auschwitz, memory and truth: how trauma passes down the generations | Life and style | The Guardian

Originally posted in The Guardian.

Alison Pick's grandmother Liske and great-grandmother Marianne

I was a Christian child. I went to Sunday school. In the cool church basement, I drew pictures of Jesus and his disciples. Then one day, in the playground, another child approached me. “Your dad is Jewish,” he said. “No he’s not,” I replied instinctively. But deep down, in some profoundly buried part of myself, I knew this was true.

I knew it was true while at the same time not understanding what it meant. Jewish was something that belonged to my friend Jordan – the one who had accused me – but what did it mean to be Jewish? Jordan brought matzah (unleavened bread) to school on Passover, and went to Hebrew school. He was studying for something called a barmitzvah. That was all I knew.

The year passed. Despite the fact I was almost 13, the Easter bunny still came. My younger sister and I hunted for eggs in the rooms of our suburban home.

Easter, I knew, meant rebirth. It meant dying and coming back to life. I felt, deep down, that rebirth could happen to me too.

I came to know the truth about my family’s history slowly. I first learned the facts – my great-grandparents died in Auschwitz; my grandparents came to Canada and hid their true identities. They had been assimilated, non-practising Jews and Canada in the 1940s was hugely antisemitic. They wanted no part of it.

Later, as a teenager, I understood this more profoundly – what it meant to hide who you are. The effort that had gone into their charade, and the…

via Auschwitz, memory and truth: how trauma passes down the generations | Life and style | The Guardian.

VJ Day – in gratitude

A post about a Burma veteran written by his grandson and published in 2010.

George Blogs

August 15 2010 marks the 65th anniversary of VJ Day, the day that Japan surrendered, the official end to the Second World War. My Grandad was serving in Burma – now 92 his memories of that time are as vivid today as they were the first time round. My Grandad often says that he went to war as a boy and came back a changed man. He was, and is, a quietly reflective person; he’d admit himself that he’s a worrier, a sensible type; he’ll also readily acknowledge that he has only lasted this long with the support of my Gran, a solid tower of strength for him during and after the war. I can not begin to imagine what he must have been through, what he saw, what he had to live with. I know that my Gran discourages him from discussing the war nowadays as she feels it…

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Mark Twain Called by Death (1910) | The Yesteryear Gazette

Originally posted on The Yesteryear Gazette.

(An excerpt from the San Francisco Call – April 22, 1910)

Tragic End of Daughter Jeane Has Fatal Effect on King of Humor


Samuel Langhorn Clemens Passes Away after Long Siege of Angina Pectoris


REDDING, Conn. – Samuel Langhorn Clemens (“Mark Twain“) died painlessly at 6:30 tonight of angina pectoris. He lapsed into coma at 3 o’clock this afternoon and never recovered consciousness. It was the end of a man worn out by grief and acute agony of body.

Yesterday was a bad day for the little lot of anxious watchers at the bedside. For long hours the gray, aquiline features lay molded in the incretia of death, while the pulse sank steadily, but late at night Mark Twain passed from stupor into the first natural sleep he had known since he returned from Bermuda, and this morning he woke refreshed, even faintly cheerful, and in full possession of his faculties.

Unequal to Conversation

He recognized his daughter, Clara (Mrs. Ossip Gabrilowitsch), spoke a rational word or two and, feeling himself unequal to conversation, wrote out in pencil…

via Mark Twain Called by Death (1910) | The Yesteryear Gazette.

The sad story of the soldier Manetto | Alexis Fabbri

Originally posted on Alessio Fabbri. [Google translation]

So far I have focused on the father’s side of my family, about the name they harbor. But there is just as much curiosity and attention on my part against the maternal line, in which individual Manetto Manetti an excellent first step introduction. The reasons for which Manetto gives charisma from beyond are mainly related to the events that have marked the death, including the fact that his life was almost completely silenced by his family after his death, not to suffer, not to remember that wound.

Manetto was born on Dec. 18, 1896 in Villanova di Bagnacavallo, in the province of Ravenna. Formally baptized Manetto Carlo Domenico Manetti , the baby, who was born at 7 pm, receives the name of his uncle of his father, a priest named Manetto Manetti died in 1891. The son of Domenico Manetti and Adele Farini , the young man grows in the town of Romagna soon learning the craft of carter (who system wagons horse). They are hidden in me memories of all kinds: anecdotes, memories of youth, and so still has not managed to recover, conscious that perhaps never will happen. The first information is recordable with the discovery of military documents, which mark the…

via The sad story of the soldier Manetto | Alessio Fabbri

Life Before Social Security


Originally posted some three years ago elsewhere.


This year I will be 73 years old, assuming I make it and I have close family now into their eighties. I was born in the first year of WW II and my older relatives born in the 1930s during the Great Depression.

When I was a kid grandparents lived with their children and their grandchildren. One of the kids took in their mom and pop while the rest of the kids were expected to kick into the pot to provide for their support.

That’s the way it was before Social Security.

Folks were expected to work until they died which usually wasn’t long. The average life expectancy for a male in the 1920s was 49 years. If you lived longer there was no expected retirement age. You worked until you could no longer work or until you could no longer find work.

Then you were…

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