Monday, December 11, 2023

And Then There was a Son


In trying to assemble the details of my father's life—since so much of it happened before I was even born—I guess I should be glad that he had a son. Not only that, but be glad that he had a son who followed in his footsteps, for it was that son whose online biographical sketches have filled in some of the blanks in the saga for me.

With the son's arrival in 1934, that pinpointed the fact that my dad and his bride had left their first home together in Manchester, New Hampshire. Leaving behind some painful memories with the death of their firstborn Maureen—and, likely, a lackluster entertainment scene for the household's musician breadwinner—the couple returned to family in the New York City area.

From that point, I'd have had trouble spotting my dad's career trajectory, if it hadn't been for the fact that his son very shortly afterwards followed in his footsteps. Researching the story thus means I am following two story lines: both my dad's and my brother's. From clues gleaned years later from interviews posted online of my brother after his passing, I'll be taking keywords and key names and researching them to explore the work life of my father from the early 1930s through the point at which we had first found him in his successes during the war years.

Without that additional resource of parenthetical comments about my father, drawn from articles about my brother, I'd have been at a loss to know what was next for my dad. I wondered, at one point, whether he returned to playing for the bands on ocean-going vessels, as he had done during his single years. One photo from his younger years, sent to me recently by my cousin, had always stumped me, due to the enigmatic background—could it have been during a smoke break while on a ship? Hard to tell.

This week will see us taking a detour to scour newspaper mentions of possible bands with which my father might have played during that decade of the 1930s, after his return to New York City. The online resources now available to us can be a great help in becoming familiar with the social history of our ancestors' times. That fact will be no different for my father—or for any near relatives of the previous generation.


Above image: Where is this? My father, caught by the camera while on a smoke break at an unidentified location, probably in his twenties or early thirties, leaves me with many unanswered questions.

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