Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Remembering My Father

On one Memorial Day recently, when a website called Ancestry.com allowed people to search for free, I took advantage of it to find out more about my heritage.

I looked up my grandfather on my mother's side and found (definitely) his World War II draft registration and (possibly) his World War I draft registration.  For the first time in my memory, I saw his signature on the World War II document.

More intriguing, I found his town of birth - something I never knew - but it doesn't seem to exist -"Altsandas, Austria" - another mystery for a later date. (I am not sure what country it is in today, but it was Austria-Hungary when he came to this country around 1903). Last year, a blogger did some research, and it appears this town, and its residents, may have been wiped out by the Nazis during World War II.  At any rate, I can't seem to find it anywhere online.

I wondered why my mother's father had to register for the draft.  He was born in 1878, too old to serve in the U.S. Army in 1942, but I found out there was an event called the Fourth Registration, where all males from ages 45 to 64 were registered.  That's how desperate things were in 1942. 

I then looked up my father's World War Two enlistment record and found what follows.  After the war he worked for several years on Governor's Island, part of New York City, where his enlistment took place.  What I know of his enlistment is that he was already considered disabled (a childhood illness destroyed his hearing in one ear) and had tried to enlist without success.  But, by 1942, we needed anyone who could serve.



State of Residence: New York
County or City: Kings[Brooklyn]
Enlistment Date: 6 Aug 1942
Enlistment State: New York
Enlistment City: Fort Jay Governors Island








Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: 2 years of high school
Civil Occupation: Semiskilled occupations in manufacture of miscellaneous electrical equipment, n.e.c.
Marital Status: Single, with dependents
Height: 69
Weight: 130

More memories.  Why would my father have been single, with dependents?  I did know the answer to that question.  Because he helped to raise his youngest brother after his mother died.  Just as he raised me after his wife, my mother, died when I was 12.

I have so many memories of my father - the walks we took, the movie he took me to the day I graduated Elementary School (West Side Story), and then how life changed for him as he grew older, and ended up in assisted living in Brooklyn.

Right now, of all my aunts and uncles, only one survives - the man who my father helped to raise.  I visited him in 2002, and my uncle told me he owed a great debt to my father, who had sacrificed so much for him.  It was a debt he felt he could never repay.

And, as for me, I didn't know how much I owed to my father when I was a teen fighting to breakaway from him.  But I do know now.

He would have been 103 later this month.  Happy birthday in heaven, Dad.

Day 11 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

14 comments:

  1. The Ellis Island documents for my grandfather say he came here from Rustok, Russia in 1913. I can find no record of that city and I even checked my 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. I know that he was born in what is now Lodz, Poland, but at that time was Russian territory. Did someone read Lodz as Rustok? Who knows. Isn't Ancestry fascinating? When I have more time on my hands I will renew my membership there and search some more.

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    1. I may get a paid membership one day - whenever I retire. I think it is quite possible an immigration official made a mistake. Someone in my family has a slightly different last name because of an immigration mistake.

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  2. Your father sounds like a very caring and compassionate man. He may have made sacrifices to take care of you and the other gentleman but he did it out of love. I am sorry you lost your mom though. Happy Birthday to your dad. 103 wow. Have a Blessed day.

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    1. My Dad was a caring man. I didn't fully understand his sacrifices until I was a mother.

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  3. So, Governor's Island was my mom's dominion. Which was eradicated when all the folks working with my mom were eliminated by a Univac- and the headquarters of the Army was moved to the Pentagon.

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    1. My Dad lost his job when his agency was moved to Chicago. He didn't want to uproot and move away from his family. My life may have been way different if he had.

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  4. Alana, try contacting Yad Vashem in Israel, they have a database of all the towns the Nazis did away with. When my father visited Israel, he was able to locate the town where his parents were born. They came from a shtetl outside of Kiev, in the Ukraine.

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    1. Thank you, Songbird. I had done some preliminary searches (Wikipedia, for example, has a list of towns liquidated by the Nazis, but unknown how complete it is) I also know that towns have changed names over the years. A part of me wants to know, and a part of me - doesn't.

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  5. What a lovely tribute to your father. I have somewhat similar experiences with my own dad, especially never fully appreciating him until it was too late. Perhaps that is a not uncommon experience.

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    1. I have a feeling it is not uncommon at all, Dorothy.

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  6. Very interesting! I love to read about families! The way our society throws out the old, it make me happy to read about how much he meant to you. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. What wonderful memories to find about your father. I'm sure he's looking down and watching over you. Happy Birthday to you dad in heaven. <3

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  8. Interesting stuff. Almost makes you want an Ancestry subscription, right?

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  9. Interesting! In my extended family a male in-law came from Austria through Ellis Island. He considered taking his wife's English name, then decided to shorten his Slavic name to an English name, so that their child/ren wouldn't be teased about having a "Polish name." After he died his daughter did some research...turns out the family was actually Slovakian, and aristocratic, before The Revolution. Now she's proud of the "-ovic" form her father dropped.

    Humans are an interesting species...

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