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Who's yo grandaddy?

Discussion in 'The OT' started by AntAltMike, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

    Nov 20, 2004
    I never got to meet either of mine. One died four years before I was born, of cirrhosis of the liver, and the other died of cancer when I was only one year old. From what people tell me, I didn't miss a whole lot.

    We had long believed my paternal grandfather to be Irish, but now know him to have been English and Scottish. As far as we can tell, he was the only disreputable member of a modestly accomplished family. The last four letters of his last name and mine are, "-land". I have now learned that the names was given to the clan that owned land on a certain English river, to which the suffix, -land was appended. Some day I'll have to do a title search.

    My other grandfather was a mystery man. He came to America from Greece in 1913 at age 21, and while he was largely secretive and sometimes told conflicting stories regarding his early life, he was pretty consistent in claiming he came in through Ellis Island, where he told them that his name was Epaminondas, and since no one in immigration had ever heard that name, they called him Peter, which became his American first name.

    A couple of years ago, a cousin of mine went through the 1913 immigration records but found no one with his name, which stumped us all, but then she connected with an uncle who had visited Greece in 1993, and we learned "the rest of the story".

    It seems my grandfather, his cousin and a friend all fled Greece in 1913 to avoid being drafted. They first went to Naples, where the friend was sent back to Greece, and then my grandfather and his cousin made it to America. The cousin gave his correct name and his immigration was refused, so my grandfather gave his father's first name as his last name and got admitted. And helping him further conceal his identity, someone at immigration got confused and swapped the first and last names he gave, and thus my cousin could not find him alphabetically by surname because she was searching for what she knew to be his surname while he was indexed alphabetically under his first name.

    This solves a mystery regarding the peculiar name of my eldest uncle, who has the same first name as last name. It is traditional for Greeks to name their first born male after his grandfather, but since his father - my grandfather - had appropriated his fathers first name as his new last name, it meant that his son would wind up having the same first name as last.

    My grandfather was forced to stop working when Social Security numbers were issued in the 1930s because he didn't want his identity scrutinized. Of course, he didn't need to work. He was the head of a typical, first generation Greek-American family, where all the "children" stayed home until they married (sort of like "Bonanza" but without the Ponderosa), and all the females had to turn their paychecks over to him (he gave them each a dollar a week spending money) and the sons had to pay board. And he got the income scheme rolling early by making two of them quite school at age 13 to go to work at "the mill" for $.10 per hour. He actually told three of them to quit, but the eldest, at age 14, told him to go to hell. He was thrown out at age 16 because he wouldn't quit school, so he had to support himself working part time and living in a boarding house while he completed high school.

    My grandfather's petition for U.S. citizenship was granted in 1946.

    Greeks are notoriously boisterous nationalists. If you ask a Greek to tell you something about himself, he'll say, "I'm Greek". If you ask him to say something else, he'll say, "I'm Greek!", which makes perfect sense to him because as far as he is concerned, there is nothing else to be said.

    I'm not that bad, but if someone asks about my ancestry, I always say I'm half Greek before I get into the other half, and I always mention my Greek surname - my mother's maiden name - because it is a Greek name that is historically significant. So while nothing I learned from this makes me any less Greek, it does make me feel less historically significant.
  2. smiddy

    smiddy Tain't ogre til its ogre

    Apr 5, 2006
    I have no idea who mine were. I spent my early years in a foster home and never knew my parents. I think it is very interesting to know your family heritage, I have none to go on, but you, you have some history which seems very intriging, to which I suspect you could write a book about, to be sure.
  3. puckwithahalo

    puckwithahalo Hall Of Fame

    Sep 2, 2007
    Where to start....I don't have time right now, I'll have to come back to this thread....I will just say my grandfathers both left a legacy hard to live up to.
  4. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

    Apr 17, 2003
    One of my grandfathers died a few months before I was born. I was told once I probably would have been named after him if he had not have died. My father grew up in foster care (in the days where that was practically legalized slavery with farmers fostering children to put them to hard labor) and wasn't proud of his father anyways. He died drunk in a car accident which sealed my father's opinion of him. I'm sure that grandpa did something right in his life but I never knew what it was.

    The other grandfather started counting backwards when he hit age 80 ... really nice guy, intelligent, worked for the government breaking codes in WWII. Cared for his wife until she passed then went a little crazy at the end. The freedom of not being responsible combined with not being asked to do anything by anyone. My mom has a book he wrote somewhere telling the tales of his life.
  5. brant

    brant Icon

    Jul 6, 2008
    i am fortunate enough to still have all of my grandparents living. i knew 5 of my great-grandparents, with the last one passing away about 4 years ago. my grandparents are in their early and mid 70's, and my great-grandparents lived to their late 80's early 90's. i have a 4 year old son and he gets to spend a lot of time with his grandparents and great-grandparents because we all live within a couple of miles of each other on a farm.

    i'm also very fortunate in that my family history is traced back in great detail to the 16th century. back in the 50's, members of my family commissioned an in depth genealogy book (i've actually found copies of it online for well over $100 as some type of collectible). it seems a lot of the information wasn't that hard to find as the family was tied closely to the bruce's of scotland and well documented throughout history. we also have a private website where family members from around the country login and update their end of the tree, and we meet every two years in a city founded by members of my family to update our family tree, share pictures, stories, eat food, etc. . . we're very big on pictures too; i have pictures of my family dating back to the first days of photography. we also have a family cemetery; the first burial was an infant son in 1847. there are around 75 family members buried there, with the last burial around 1920 or so; after that, family members began being buried at a larger cemetery about 5 miles up the road.

    its really something special to know your family history.
  6. phrelin

    phrelin Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

    Jan 18, 2007
    My wife is into genealogy and has traced her ancestors back into the European confusion and mine as far back as the records go in the U.S.

    In terms of experience my paternal grandfather died from a stroke before I was born and my maternal grandfather died from a brain tumor when I was 4. Both grandmothers lived long lives and were interesting people though a bit odd. (You know, they were not normal like me and you, but I'm not so sure about you.:sure: )

    Now I'm a grandfather. I don't envy the grandkids. One has 4 grandparents on her father's side and 3 on her mother's. The other has 4 grandparents on her father's side and the usual 2 on her mother's, but even the two are divorced, just not remarried. I guess they will have "richer" memories of all these weird old people.
  7. Cholly

    Cholly Old Guys Rule! DBSTalk Club

    Mar 22, 2004
    My maternal grandfather and paternal grandparents all died before I was born. My paternal grandfather was captain of Rescue Squad #8 of the Chicago Fire Department. He suffered second and third degree burns over much of his body during the great Chicago Stockyards fire in the 1920's, but recovered completely with the aid of Vaseline being used liverally over the burn areas. He died of a heart attack at the age of 55.
  8. puckwithahalo

    puckwithahalo Hall Of Fame

    Sep 2, 2007
    My grandfather joined the army during WWII. The army wanted to send him to college instead of war. He basically purposefully failed all his classes until the army had had enough and stuck him in the 501st unit of the 82nd Airborne. He jumped into Italy and Sicily. The rest of the 82nd pulled out to prepare for D-Day, the 501st stayed behind for several more months, pulling out just a few weeks before D-Day. The 501st was so decimated (only 1 in 4 made it out of Sicily), that they were taken off the slate for D-Day. 9 men from the 501st volunteered to not only jump on D-Day, but to be pathfinders. In the airborne, that means first out of the plane and secure the landing zone. Grandad was one of those 9. That was the kind of man he was. His sense of duty to this country was unrivaled. He survived D-Day, and later jumped into Holland. If you've ever seen the movie A Bridge Too Far, he was part of that operation as well. 1 in 2 men didn't make it across the river. He was one that did. He was captured by the Germans, and somehow managed to escape (he never would tell us how). There are so many stories from the war, but it would take hours to type them all, so I'll leave WWII with this thought. Grandad received two purple hearts during the war. What we only found out after he died was that he got both of them in less than 30 days.

    After WWII, Grandad volunteered to be sent to Korea for the war there. After that, he tried to volunteer for Vietnam, but the army told him no, they had plans for him in the middle east. It turns out that those plans were to station him in Saudi Arabia, and send him on "vacations" to Syria and Egypt...as a spy for the CIA. From that point he was a CIA field operative as well as a soldier. Later on, he got out of the Airborne and was sent to ordinance training. He became a nuclear weapons specialist. His graduation paper from ordinance training is great, its got the silhouette of a mushroom cloud in the background.

    The stories about grandad literally read like a novel. And it wouldn't be a short one.

    I'll post about my other grandfather later. Not quite so eye-popping, but he was an impressive man in his own right.
  9. Richard King

    Richard King Hall Of Fame

    Mar 25, 2002
    My grandfather on my mother's side, as was somewhat common, abandoned the family at the depths of the Great Depression, so I never met him nor know anything about him. The grandfather on my father's side was educated as an engineer at the University of Pennsylvania and held several patents with Westinghouse Brake Corporation for designs of braking systems used on trains. Once WWII rolled around he got involved in woring in the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb. He had a stroke at the age of about 62 or so and walked with a cane for a few years before he had a second stroke that took his life.
  10. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    I'm so old, I am my own grandpa! :stickman:
  11. rudeney

    rudeney Hall Of Fame

    May 28, 2007
    My grandfathers are not terribly interesting, except that both were hard working. My maternal grandfather was a welder in a pipe mill and my maternal grandfather was an electrical foreman in a large fabrication facility. Both are gone and terribly missed. I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandfather but I still regret not spending more. He was very smart and taught me everything I know about mechanics and electronics.
  12. dbconsultant

    dbconsultant Hall Of Fame

    Sep 13, 2005
    Temecula, CA
    I was raised by my grandparents - they were the only normal ones in the family! When my grandfather passed at 98, I started looking through his things. I found his birth certificate and found out that he had been born in the same small town as my husband's grandfather, Clay Center, Kansas. It was such a small town back in the 1880's - 1890's that our grandparents had to have known each other. Then I found a picture of a group of people in with Grandpa's things. My Aunt Pearl I recognized but I didn't know the other two. I turned the picture over and the lady was identified as "Aunt Treva of Clay Center".

    My husband's mother had a very unusual name, Treva, and he'd always been told that his grandparents named her after a Treva from Clay Center; we're not sure whether or not the original Treva was a relative of his but she turned out to be a great great aunt of mine.

    We decided it was good that we'd decided not to have children together!

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