Beginning in 1808, a young man begins keeping a secret, ciphered journal of his life with terse detail of his days. Astronomical observations, interpersonal relationships (to put it mildly), weather notes, and the minutiae of a planter's life in 19th Century North Carolina were collected into these volumes that were nearly lost, decoded in 1979 and mostly forgotten again. The Coded Life of William Thomas Prestwood.
What we knew of Angus was this: Angus—the only name we had for him—was a flight surgeon our mother had fallen in love with during World War II, planned to marry after the war, but lost when the Japanese shot him down over the Pacific. Once, long ago, she had mentioned to me that he was part of the reason she decided to be a doctor. That was all we knew. She had confided those things in the 1970s, in the years just after she and my father divorced. I can remember sitting in a big easy chair my dad had left behind in her bedroom, listening to her reminisce about Angus as she sat with her knitting. I remember being embarrassed, and not terribly interested. I was interested now. Even 30 years before, her affair with Angus had been three decades old. Now, 60 years after he had fallen into the sea, she wanted to follow him.[more inside]
Letters From A Private: "...[19 year-old Pvt. D. Bruce Hirshorn] was in the Army in 1944 and 1945. He wrote home almost every single day.... Today, Uncle Bruce is the same upbeat, funny guy. He’s 87 and he loves syrup and ships!" [more inside]
Of Ministers and Merchants, Sinners and Saints. The writer moved from Manhattan to same street in Brooklyn where his grandmother grew up. This prompts him to delve into his family history, where he discovers a cast of characters that includes Ulpianus Van Sinderen, a Dutch Reformed Minister who came to Brooklyn in 1747, prosperous merchants, tenant housing reformer Alfred Tredway White, and an embezzler. Brief appearances by Jacob Riis and Truman Capote.
The Life of Shelton Doyle Blalock, Everyday American. Doyle Blalock was a son, submariner, husband, mailman, father, gardener, rockhound, artisan, grandfather, and friend: a regular guy with a remarkable life. What makes him particularly remarkable, though, is that his grandson, Lance Dean, created such a thorough record of his life to share with the internet, from Doyle's childhood in Golden Grove, Mississippi, his service as a sailor during World War II, his return to Mississippi and marriage to the lovely Lodena Alexander, to his post-retirement vocation as an artisan, creating "sand paintings" and demonstrating his art. (Links are to images out of context. See the first link for descriptions.) [more inside]
For decades, the LDS church microfilmed old records of genealogical interest and stashed them in the Granite Mountain Record Vault for safekeeping. Copies could be ordered and viewed at local Family History Centers. Now, through massive digitization and volunteer indexing efforts, those records are starting to come online. [more inside]
The Berlutis have been making shoes for four generations. Often at Maison Berluti relationships are formed around the language of shoes. Men gather for shoe-polishing sessions, where champagne flows.